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Stop relatives from doing this–it destroys kids.

I saw a boy get destroyed today and no one noticed.At a friend’s Christmas party, families streamed in and a familiar scene took shape. Uncles, aunts and grandparents began to echo the dangerous lie that good children have good grades and good behavior. “Look how smart he is, dear. He made the honor roll again! Here’s a little extra gift for you.” “She’s such a well-behaved and polite girl. I can see why you are so popular in school.” As the children were paraded around, Jacob sat in the corner by himself quietly building with his Legos, listening to all of this.

He struggles with behavior in school–it’s hard for him to sit still, memorize information and get good grades. He works five times harder than the rest of the kids, but struggles. Know what he feels like? A bad kid. A stupid kid. No wonder he shuts down and has no confidence. No wonder he says, “I’m stupid” and verbalizes open frustration. No wonder he’s oppositional. He has trouble sleeping, doesn’t like many different foods, is very sensitive. And sometimes he’s just a difficult kid…because he’s so misunderstood.

Not one single person at that party praised Jacob for his amazing imagination, ability to see in three dimensions and create/build/draw/invent. All they said is that he pushes people’s buttons. But they missed the fact that he’s good at pushing buttons because he gets people, he understands what makes people tick, he’s an old soul…and one day he’s going to help a lot of people because he has a huge heart. But Jacob doesn’t fit the mold so he suffers something worse than bullying everyday.

Know what Jacob hears every day of his life? “You are different. And your different isn’t good. You, in fact, are difficult. Why can’t you be like your siblings and relatives? Until you can learn to fit in and be like the others, your opinion isn’t as valuable and our affection will be withheld. The fact is you embarrass us, Jacob. Too bad you get diminished, destroyed and shoved aside because we are too weak as adults to focus on what’s really important, and instead value outward appearances. Just shape up and we’ll accept you, too.”

I am going to speak bluntly here. I hadn’t planned to write this today and it’s not a nice Christmas message, but it’s critical we hear this. Because this scene will be repeated in millions of homes this coming week. It’s not always aunts and uncles and grandparents who do this. In some homes, a father tears his kids down. Because that’s what his father did to him. We as men need to grow up and stop taking out this anger on innocent kids. In some homes, the Mom is relentlessly negative and harps on the kids because her Mom was like that. She better get control of her anxiety or it will literally destroy relationships and the child’s confidence.

If your child needs to hear that they have a great future ahead of them, that their difference is a GOOD thing, then let them listen to the CDs we created. It will change your children and how YOU view your kids. We give you specific, step-by-step words and actions that help your kids be successful, stop the yelling and defiance. Make 2012 radically different–you can change your family tree and break these generational patterns for good. But it doesn’t happen without specific help. Everything is on clearance and we work with everyone’s budget so call or reply to this email.
Take the Calm Challenge to start the New Year with a 40-day plan to overcome your anxiety, perfectionism or yelling with new habits. We’ll help you learn to be assertive, control yourself and be that calm, confident person you’ve wanted to be. Be bold and take action so your kids don’t suffer in silence.

Keep enjoying your kids. Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas!

Chores aren’t that important?

There are mythologies we like to create around parenting. If you just parent the right way, your kids will be well-behaved. If you teach kids to do chores when they are little, they will grow up to be responsible. If kids study hard and go to college, they will be able to get a job. Not always.

So much is out of control that we want to know, “If I do x, then y will happen.” We want that formula so we know with the right input, we’ll get a consistent result. But relationships can’t be defined by a formula. That’s why they are so hard.

Watch what happens. You know what it takes to be responsible and successful in life. You teach these basic life lessons to your kids. “Do your chores. You’ll learn to be responsible. Life isn’t about fun things and what you want to do–there are things everyone has to do that aren’t fun or enjoyable.” When your child doesn’t do his chores consistently or follow your directions, how do we react?

We get anxious. Uh-oh. They aren’t following the formula. Warning bells go off. We press more, demand more, make them do it. They resist. We get angry. Some of us (me in my Freak Dad days) then begin to subtly cut our kids off–we withhold affection, praise, warmth. “If you’re not going to listen to me, then I’m going to withhold something from you. I am going to punish you because you are causing me anxiety, you are going to embarrass me, you are going to fail. After all the energy, time, money and emotional that I have put into you…and you respond by NOT doing what I ask or say?”

We may not say it so bluntly, but it’s underneath the surface. Our acceptance and love becomes conditional. We justify it. Ready to go deeper? Some of us use this as an excuse NOT to have a deep, vulnerable relationship with our child. I find that with many of the Dads I work with. It’s easier that way. It’s either my way or the highway, and when they choose the highway, it’s a relief. We have an excuse not to connect and do the messy work relationships demand.

 One reason we created a dedicated Christian parenting site is that I’ve seen this dynamic more in Christian homes than others–there is so much pressure to perform, to have the “good kids” so you’re not judged, to have the perfect family. Relationships between fathers, mothers and children get severed at the altar of what we perceive as disobedience. (By the way, I cringe every time I see Christian and Parenting together–you may be surprised by the new website).

Can you see how this becomes all about US? All about MY anxiety and MY embarrassment and MY disappointment at the child’s behavior? That’s why you can’t just boil this down to some formula. Some kids don’t do chores when they are 8…and become highly responsible. Some kids look lazy and undisciplined at 12…but find their passion and never look back. Sometimes there is no right answer or strategy. You know what I really want? Kids who are merciful, compassionate leaders.

People love our curriculum because it is filled with hundreds of concrete, practical strategies to help create responsible, respectful children. So we believe in that. That’s why 45,000 parents use our CDs. They want that assurance. And it’s very effective. But at the end of the day, I have zero interest in tricks and tips. What this is really about is transformation. It’s not about WHAT YOU DO as much as WHO YOU ARE.

By the way, I expect kids to do chores. And I can show you how to get your kids to do their chores.  But I think sometimes people expect 7-year- olds to act like 35-year-olds or do it with this great enthusiasm. Do not allow your fear or anxiety to make the expectations ridiculous or cause a powder keg in your home. Your best lecture is your example–model the behavior you want to see. And remember that your relationship is primary.

Do you agree or disagree? Need clarification? Post on the blog below (you can do so anonymously using a fake name!) or email me anytime. And remember to share this with other parents if you found this helpful.

(This post was originally send out as a Calm Christian Parenting newsletter. You can join our Facebook page or newsletter list by clicking on this www.CalmChristianParenting.com link. Lots of controversial posts and a refreshing perspective you haven’t seen from most Christian parenting sites. Take a look.)

My view on medication

Medication can be an effective tool to help your child. Some children absolutely need medication. I am against physicians using medication as a first resort or as a magic pill in isolation without using other tools. I don’t like when teachers expect the child to change, without changing the way they teach the child. I don’t like when parents expect the child to change, without changing their own behavior. I like to use as many tools as possible to help a child succeed.

I prefer to use any number of tools first:
Control myself and my anxiety
Create a calm home with order and structure
Meet root internal needs for order, stimulation and sensory
Teach children how their brains work best
Use proactive strategies at home
Use proactive strategies in the classroom
Nutrition—deal with root digestive/gut issues
Use gifts and passions to help with confidence, social skills and motivation
Therapy (psychologist, counselor, Occupational Therapy)

Be careful before you judge others. Walk in another person’s shoes first. You have no idea what other people have tried first, second, third and tenth. You have no idea of the energy, money and tears spent by many parents. You don’t know how hard many parents have tried to change diet and a dozen other things.

Let me make the distinction for you. Yes, we all hate that society as a whole has resorted to medication to solve everything. But I know something about the parents here who follow Celebrate Calm—these are the most engaged, hardest working parents out there. We challenge parents more than most. We’re tough on ourselves as adults. You can count on the fact that if there is a parent on this page, they have exhausted their resources first before making this choice.

I have something FREE to share with you. In the first five minutes, it makes our approach very clear.  This is the first of three CalmCourse sessions on Medication. Very helpful. Click here to listen for FREE online.

I wanted to make sure my position is clear so there is no misunderstanding. Is this clear? Need more clarification? Agree or disagree?

More help with social skills

Q: My teenage boys struggle with making friends. Any tips?
One of the best ways to form friendships is by working on a project together with other kids, especially if they share a common passion or interest. One of my favorite strategies is asking teachers to pair your child with another student who shares similar interests–ask them to work on a special project together. During the process of working together, they find interests they share in common; they learn how to ask questions about each other. Then see if you can get this student coming over to your house or doing things together with your child.

I also like older kids working outside the home–whether at a job, internship or volunteering. Just getting out among other kids–especially if they share a common interest like feeding the homeless or working with animals–provides more opportunities to connect.

Lots of other social skills ideas to come. Click on this blog post to see other social skills tips.

Your son can’t have an IEP because he’s gifted.

IEP Myth: “Your child doesn’t qualify for an IEP because he is in the Gifted & Talented program.”

Do not believe this myth! It will keep you from getting your child the help he needs and deserves in school. A common tactic is to “lump and dump” children in with others to disqualify them from special education services. But that is completely contrary to what the law says. That is why it is called an INDIVIDUALIZED Education Program. It is all about the needs of the individual child, not a group such as “gifted” students.

Take the time to learn the truth about getting your child special education services. There are so many myths, lies and confusion. But it doesn’t have to be difficult. You just need a step-by-step plan.

Click here to watch this video showing you how to advocate for your child. This is the best IEP resource on the planet.

Yes, I am angry.

There is some anger in today’s newsletter. We discuss a decision made by a school that I term “idiotic.” Perhaps I should have used a different term. Like short-sighted, destructive, stupid, ignorant, cowardly. You tell me. I’m tired of seeing kids’  confidence shot while supposed grown-ups refuse to problem solve or give kids tools to succeed. It must stop. Read the newsletter and share your thoughts below or on our Facebook page.

If you don’t get the newsletter yet, click here to sign up. It’s free and helpful.

Homework anxiety–3 steps

A Mom who struggles with anxiety shared this story. I bet you can use the same three steps in your life.

“I picked something up yesterday from the Calm 24/7 CDs.  When stuck in traffic with anxiety, you said you do three things…give thanks, put yourself in the other driver’s place, and ask what’s the worst that could happen.  So, I am making it my new routine to ask those same things.  I went in the laundry room and whispered to God thanks for having healthy children and spouse…I put myself into a 10-year-old’s shoes…he has way too many expectations from his teachers…lots of homework, a high level of organization is expected to keep all this going.  Of course this is overwhelming and I really am amazed that he handles it as well as he does. And what’s the worst that can happen? Well, I don’t know.  So maybe he doesn’t do any homework this weekend.”

How can you apply this to your life?

I refuse to change my child…

I refuse to change my child to make others more comfortable or alleviate my own embarrassment. I love his creativity, intensity, imagination and wit. I prefer his strong will, strong opinions and strong sense of self. His behavior isn’t perfect, but his heart is golden. He is not a follower; he is a leader. I refuse to allow other people’s opinions to determine how I view my child. I celebrate my child’s flaws and gifts.

I’ll take curiosity over good grades anyday…

We are systematically crushing the curiosity of an entire generation of children. Why? We prefer blind compliance because we don’t have the time or emotional energy to reward curiosity. Our schedules are packed and we put so much pressure on ourselves that we simply don’t have time for a child to ask why. “I’m not really interested in your curiosity, son. Just do what I say, how I say, when I say!” We don’t have the energy to explore and answer questions…that aren’t directly related to our school curriculum.

A key premise of our Courageous Parenting DVD is that we have transitioned from a factory model (your security lies in working for a company who will take care of you) to an entrepreneurial society. YOUR kids are likely more suited to be entrepreneurs. But unless you make some courageous choices, your child’s curiosity will not be developed. Read the following article (excerpt below) and comment.

A principal factor in entrepreneurial achievement is persistent curiosity.
So what is it that successful entrepreneurs are prepared to do? A study of 5,000 business innovators, described in the recent book The Innovator’s DNA, identifies five mental habits that characterize how successful entrepreneurs operate: questioning, experimenting, observing, associating, and networking. It is clear that curiosity is at the heart of these mental habits—the desire to find out more about something that one finds interesting, to tinker with it, and to forge something new from ways that have grown stale. Curiosity is fueled by a passion to explore the world.

Read the whole article here:

Don’t these qualities sound like ones that our children naturally possess?
Then let’s purposefully create an environment that fosters development of these qualities. (If you want the Courageous Parenting DVDs, which includes a workbook for you to use as a written plan for your children, call Brett at 888-506-1871 or email Brett@CelebrateCalm.com. The Brain Boosters are a phenomenal tools to help your children with focus, attention, sensory issues, anxiety and more. He can provide a nice discount for you!)

Do you want to “manage” or understand your child?

“Celebrate Calm came to my attention after our counseling ended. Celebrate Calm has been MORE helpful, more encouraging, more practical.  And your CDs cost us less than the professional counseling, by far.  Your work, Kirk, helped my husband and me to stop trying to just manage our son and to work to understand him and appreciate him.  Gaining appreciation and sensitivity for our youngest child, THAT has been valuable.”
A Great Texas Mom