Thursday, December 3, 2009

Celebrate Calm newsletter

The following newsletter is from Kirk Martin and is posted with permission. Check out Sign up for free e-newsletters and special offers.

Casey: How Kids Can Have Better Moods & Attitudes
Tonight: Woodbridge, VA (Dec. 3, 2009)
Calm Casey Workshop on Sunday, Dec. 6 (two spaces remain)
Next week: Ashburn, D.C./Georgetown & Sterling

Hope to see new friends in Woodbridge, VA tonight. Two families had to cancel for Sunday's Calm Casey Kids please let us know if you want to attend and we'll send you details.

Click here for the Celebrate Calm Facebook page with events and tips.

Casey has been working out with me five days a week and it's made huge improvements in his focus and attitude. Last Friday, he put his sandals and sweatshirt on my workout bag at the gym. When I finished my workout and headed to the car, I grabbed my bag, but left his sandals and sweatshirt in the gym.

We got home and had to shower before heading downtown to help feed the homeless (HUGE SIDE TIP: service projects with your big-hearted kids is a GREAT thing to do). He came into the bedroom-and because of HIS anxiety-demanded that we go back to the gym. It was my fault, of course! Well, I don't do demanding. It's an immediate way to get me to slow down.

So I responded, impulsively, with a smart comment about the fact that he doesn't get to command me to do anything. Naturally, this prompted him to begin ranting. I was smiling while I said it, but I still inflamed the situation.

I realized where this was headed and decided to reset using these steps:
1. I sat down. Practicing a calm posture is my first step in any stressful situation with anyone.

"Kirk, I am a police officer and most of my calls are domestic disturbances. I can't always sit down because of policy and procedure, but when I enter a home, the first thing I ask each of the parties to do is sit down. It immediately lowers the tension, reduces aggression and calms the situation. I've used this with my kids and it has led to some of the greatest talks instead of more fights."
Policeman in Canton, OH

2. I use our pre-established code word that means we need to stop and talk: "chips and salsa." When we began learning to speak calmly to each other, we'd step away, grab some chips and salsa, sit on the deck and talk. Now the phrase is a clue to immediately stop and reset. During the heat of the battle, our kids don't hear much-that's why having verbal (code word) and non-verbal (sitting down) cues are important.

It works much better than each of us raising our voices, trying to outdo each other, trying to get the other to listen to OUR point of view, because, you know, each of us is always right and needs to prove it. (I know you are nodding your head right now).

"Kirk, my son and I used to have all-out wars every evening. He was angry since the divorce and I couldn't believe what I'd hear coming from his mouth and the more I lectured, the worse it got. He just couldn't stop. He was sitting at the table one night with his iPod on while I was fixing dinner and listening to the defiance CDs. I didn't even know he was listening until he blurted out, 'That'll work, Mom. Our code word should be Uno.' He must have thought I was cutting up onions because I started to cry. Since he was a little guy, we had always played Uno together-it was one time when we'd always laugh and have a good time.

But for the past few years, we didn't have many of those moments-it was just yelling and grounding him constantly. Well, the next night, we got into a battle over weekend plans he had made without my consent. In the middle of it, my son gets this funny look on his face and yells, 'UNO!' He went and grabbed the Uno cards and started dealing them at the table. We sat down and while we played, we talked about the weekend plans, apologized to each other and even laughed. You gave us a tool to work through our problems and I can't tell you how wonderful it is to laugh with my son again."

3. I apologized. "Hey, Casey, I'm sorry." Powerful, modeling words from an adult. This can lead to teachable moments.

4. I addressed his concerns/root need, with a specific, concrete solution. The antidote to anxiety (fear of the unknown/Am I going to be late or lose my sweatshirt?) is to provide concrete actions. Denying their frustration or just saying, "It'll be fine" or "We'll take care of it later" doesn't work. Because your kids know you are just saying that to get them to shut up!

"Casey, I know you are anxious because you don't want to be late to see Reggie, Obbie and Daniel (he has gotten to know some of the homeless guys quite well and was going to take his guitar to play with one guy known as The Professor, who ended up giving Casey a lesson!) and you also don't want to lose your sweatshirt. So let's each grab a quick shower, I'll get the food loaded and I promise we'll have time to stop by the gym on the way downtown. Cool?"

With that, his anxiety was relieved. His face, body language and tone changed immediately. "Thanks, Dad. I'll help you load stuff, too."

5. Create a success. When our kids continually have meltdowns, talk back and get in trouble, it creates a debilitating sense of failure inside. They feel like "bad" kids; they feel inferior to siblings and classmates; they begin to shut down or live down to the expectation of failure. That's another reason providing tools is so important--we want our kids to be and feel successful.

When I got into the car and headed downtown with Casey, I was able to compliment him. "Casey, thanks for calming down and helping me out. You did a good job and I appreciate it."

Give your kids powerful, practical tools to make 2010 the year your family changes forever.

Kids are listening to Casey's CD and emailing him questions, which is a great sign. It means they are engaged and taking ownership.

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