Monday, October 18, 2010

When kids don't try

The following is copied from a recent newsletter of Kirk Martin, "America's Calm Coach", and his 17-year-old son, Casey. Kirk and Casey travel the eastern half of the U.S. to present workshops for parents, teachers and students. Visit and also check out their radio talkshow schedule.

"As educators and parents, we all want children who are confident, curious and responsible. We see kids struggling and are so tempted to say, 'If you would just apply yourself more...' or 'If she would put forth more effort...'

"It's frustrating because we see bright kids struggle with academics and behavior. But why is our first assumption that it's only a matter of 'applying yourself?' If it were that easy, don't you think our kids would try harder to avoid harsh consequences?

"Sometimes we don't realize that our kids ARE trying, that it takes herculean emotional energy to survive a school structure that exploits your weaknesses: you have to sit, listen and recall information under pressure; you are a conceptual, idea person, but tests are based on sequential, multi-step instructions; it's difficult to focus with kids surrounding you, some of whom pick on you; recess and lunchtime are supposed to be a release, but they cause great anxiety. So you spend all your energy holding it together and then an adult comes along and says you aren't applying yourself.

"Want to know my reaction? I used to cry, shut down or defiantly say two words I can't say here. So if your child or student is not performing to standard, I encourage you to ask yourself this one question:

"What kind of tools can I provide the child to be successful? Please think tools. No child wants to fail; he usually needs tools. Does the student need more challenging work or is she overwhelmed? Does he need his brain stimulated in my class? Do I need to provide specific, concrete directions? One of Casey's passions is helping other kids like him take ownership of their academics. Listen to what one student did after listening to the Straight Talk for Kids CDs.

"'I burned your Kids CD stuff onto my iPOD and it's pretty interesting. So I made a deal with my Geometry teacher. I'm allowed to stand or sit on the floor in the back with my knees up and book on my knees. She lets me chew gum and lay down when I'm working on problems and that helps a ton-I've always done better when listening to music or chewing on stuff, but now I get why that is. She asked if I'd feel weird being back there like that and I said no way, I've always felt different and it helps me so it doesn't bother me at all. It lets me spread out plus I'm more comfortable and I can bounce my legs without bothering anyone. When we get partners and solve problems together, about half the class ends up on the floor. I told my teacher that I'm not weird, I'm a trendsetter! I'm getting a B now instead of a D so I'm pretty psyched because that means I can drive soon! Thanks for getting it.'
Josh Z., Atlanta, GA

"How can you motivate your child/student internally by getting them using their particular gifts and passions? How can I control my own anxiety about their struggles so they don't shut down?

"Praise and encourage kids to be themselves. Get tools for your child so they can take ownership and be internally motivated at school. Thousands of kids listen to Casey's CD daily for encouragement and use the Workbook to plan their future."

Subscribe to Kirk's free e-newsletter. You'll be glad you did. Go to

Kirk and Casey will be in Geneva, Ill. on Saturday, October 23. Their program starts at 10:00AM.

No comments: