Tuesday, March 2, 2010

More CelebrateCALM news

The following is from Kirk Martin's e-newsletter today. Kirk's website is http://www.celebratecalm.com/, where you'll find all sorts of helpful information and online courses.

Kirk and his 16-year-old son, Casey, will be in Elmhurst on Saturday and Oak Park on Monday. Look on this site and on http://www.woodstockadvocate.com/ for more information.

Kirk will be happy to add you to his email distribution list. Just write to him at celebratecalm@yahoo.com and tell him "Gus sent me".

You can forward this article by using the small white envelope at the bottom of this article. Just click on it, fill in your friend's email address, add a note, try to decipher the scrambled code of letters, and hit "Send Email".

You Mean There's Nothing Wrong with Me, Mom?
It is sad what society is doing to our kids. Can you identify with this Mom?

"My son has had difficulties with concentration, social skills and sensory issues since preschool. The reports from school make it seem like he has such a dreadful future-it's so negative and doesn't describe my son. It makes me want to cry."

You are not alone. You love your son, your daughter, you remember the innocent joy they spread as little ones. Then that moment comes-maybe at a birthday party, the first day of pre-school, perhaps midway through grade school-when you realize your child doesn't necessarily fit the mold. He's different. We get scared, even embarrassed, and fear our children won't be successful. Let's teach our kids three truths to break free from dangerous premises.

1) There is nothing inherently wrong with you. Instead of celebrating a child's unique strengths and individuality, our society perpetuates a false premise-that there is something wrong with kids who think differently. This flawed premise leads to a pernicious conclusion-that society must change these children to make them learn like everyone else. That's the message our kids internalize throughout childhood. It leads to devastated confidence, confusion ("I feel okay, but why does everyone treat me like I'm not?") and an endless focus on the negative.

The truth is that while our kids need tools to overcome weaknesses, they are purposefully wired with unique strengths. Do we lament the fact that many compliant kids lack creativity, initiative and imagination, that they often wait to be told what to do?!

This email will break your heart, but it's very common.
"Kirk, my daughter had just gotten suspended...again...driving her home, I'm fuming, embarrassed, wanting to lecture so I put the Kids CDs in...look in the rear view mirror and Katey's iistening... I hear her call out real sweet, "Mom?"...She says, "Does that mean there really isn't anything wrong with me, I have a good brain?" I just about it lost it...pulled over and climbed into the back seat next to Katey...she asked if we could just listen to the rest before we went home...we talked about why she gets in trouble, what she can do differently next time, all the good things...we got home and made a poster of all her good qualities...we filled that poster up and hung it in her room...every morning and night before bed, we pick a quality and talk about it...thank you to you and Casey for this gift to our kids. Katey is on her way."

2) You have advantages and strengths other kids don't have. We spend so much time trying to fix our kids' weaknesses that we have little energy and time left to focus on their strengths. And the truth is that the happiest, most successful people in life have one thing in common: they are using their unique skills and passions to help other people.

So like the Mom above, it's important to identify and actively cultivate our kids' gifts and passions. What do your kids enjoy doing? What are they naturally good at doing? Who do they have an affinity for--younger children, senior citizens, animals, handicapped children?

You know what else our kids have that's unique? Huge hearts. Get your kids involved in a service project, using their talents to help other people, and I guarantee you will see defiance, boredom and negativity fade away. Using a strengths-based approach in the classroom is proven to improve academic and behavioral performance.

3) Society needs you-you have a great future ahead of you. Ironically, the very society that has labeled and devalued these kids desperately needs the unique qualities our kids possess. Who else possesses the energy, creativity, innovation, passion and persistence that lead to breakthroughs in science, the arts and business?

One of the big ah-hah moments on the CDs in when kids hear that the iPod (and just about every innovative product, service, video game, movie and music we enjoy daily) was created by someone whose brain was wired exactly like our kids'. Casey and I spend time talking about finding your purpose...because once kids find their purpose, much of the anxiety and defiance fades away.

When we empower our kids with strategies to overcome issues with concentration, social skills, anxiety, meltdowns and more, they can be wildly successful. Ask your kids how they want to use their talents. Use the workbook on the CD to create a positive action plan with your children--this is the very tool Casey continues to use to chart his path.

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