Thursday, March 24, 2011

restoring my sense of calm....

*this is a copy of my guest blog for dulles moms this week*


The flier read…

At your wits end?

Stop defiance, yelling & power struggles…

Create a calm home…Create stress-free mornings and bedtimes…Improve behavior and focus…

That was all I needed to see….well, and that there was free babysitting available during the workshop! I was SO THERE!

I’m talking about the “Celebrate Calm” workshop with behavioral expert Kirk Martin and his teenage son, Casey, which I attended this past week. It quite possibly may have been the greatest 2 hours I’ve invested in my children, my family, my life and myself! That being said, I figure it’s only fair to share some of the things I learned.

*Please note that this list is based upon my understanding of the workshop. For a full understanding of “Celebrate Calm”, visit and/or attend a workshop yourself. I HIGHLY recommend it!

1 –The ONLY person we can control is ourselves…WOW….that was a big ah-ha moment for me! I don’t know about you, but I constantly find myself trying (unsuccessfully) to control things (and people) within my family. Rather than trying to control our children, we need to TEACH THEM self-control. Think about this…Your child is going to be around irritating people all of their life. How are YOU going to teach them how to handle that? If we constantly interject ourselves and our emotions into their dilemmas (such as arguing with an annoying sibling), they will never learn this important life skill. If instead, we allow them to work it out with their sibling, we are teaching them and helping them! The quickest way we can change our child’s behavior is to control our own! Ask yourself….do you know how???

2 – Beware of the “If/Then” track…it puts your children in control of your emotions. Ex…“If you don’t pick up your legos right now, then you’re not watching TV for the rest of the day.” By saying that. You’ve just put your CHILD in control! Remember, you CAN NOT make them perform the act of picking up the legos. They really may not care if they lose TV time…and next thing you know, you’ve got a messy house AND a kid without TV for a month! What have you accomplished? NOTHING…IT SIMPLY DOESN’T WORK!!! Let me ask you this…Does your child’s mood sometimes determine your mood? I know that’s the case for me….a lot! Try this…repeat this to yourself and then SIT DOWN and tell your child, “Your mood does not determine my mood. You can be miserable, that’s your choice. I can be happy, that’s my choice.” It’s amazing what can change when you SIT DOWN. You automatically tell your child that you are remaining calm and relaxed….NOW THAT IS POWERFUL!

3 - As a mom, I MUST begin to take care of myself. If I can’t demonstrate that my time is as valuable as theirs (be it your child, your spouse, your boss, your in-laws, etc), they WILL NOT value your time either!!! Listen to this point….When we step back, it gives our kids an opportunity to step up! LOVE IT!!! Kirk’s suggestion….at some point during the day, while your children are home, simply sit on the couch and read a book. Sit back, relax and observe what happens! Um….yeah….I can do that!!! All of a sudden the kids start DOING THINGS FOR/BY THEMSELVES!!!

4 – Our anxiety does two things; it causes the opposite result of what we desire and it tends to sever relationships. We, as moms, need to STOP being so rushed. Think about your morning routine…if it’s anything like the one in my home, it goes something like this….”c’mon, you’ve gotta get up….we’ve got to get to school…let’s go…get dressed already…you’re not going to have enough time for breakfast…hurry up…blah…blah…blah!!!” Does that ever work??? NOT IN MY HOUSE! In fact, it usually makes my kids move SLOWER! Kirk suggests this idea instead…start the morning routine by sitting on your child’s bed next to them, start the day with a compliment (out of the blue), ask about something THEY are into (ex. “while we eat breakfast this morning, why don’t you tell me about your baseball game last night”), and lastly GET THEM MOVING. Do something fun in the morning…such as a scavenger hunt…when you wake them, say “I’ve hidden one of your lego creations in the basement. I’ll bet you can’t get dressed and find it before I have your breakfast on the table.” CREATE A CHALLENGE FOR THEM! They don’t WANT to get up and out of bed…our job is to make it something they want to do!

5 – There is a difference between a “temper tantrum” and an “emotional meltdown.” Tantrums are rational; meltdowns are irrational. Here’s how Kirk suggests we handle both of these situations. When faced with a “temper tantrum”; give no emotion to it, just sit and don’t give in, the “no” must be matter of fact, put your energy in to problem solving with your child. When you find your child having a complete “meltdown”; hear it as a cry for help, step back so you can have a conversation rather than a confrontation, don’t add fuel to their fire, keep in mind that MOTION CHANGES EMOTION, get your child moving and give them something to do/focus on (other than the meltdown!). For example, if you have a young child, you may want to begin coloring when they start to have a meltdown. Simply pick up a crayon and start coloring. Then hold another crayon up in your other hand (for them). Do not make eye contact. Simply say, “Jacob, I’m coloring this giraffe and I could really use your help with coloring the tree next to him.” Let the child come to you. Engage him in this “other” activity. Afterward, you can always revisit the meltdown and talk with your child about new ways to handle the situation should it happen again. Remember that in order to teach our children how to manage their emotions, we must manage our own!

As I mentioned, this is only a brief snippet of the WONDERFUL information I received by attending the “Celebrate Calm” workshop. I am working on implementing these lessons into our family and look forward to hearing how it works for you!

“Make today be the day your family changes forever!”


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