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The prescription for anxiety

What’s more fun? Rushing around snapping at people or being relaxed and productive? Many of you know our three-step prescription for anxiety. Guess what? It works for adults as well!

Tomorrow, we are filming a conference titled, “IEPs from A-Z” in the nation’s capital. This always creates a great deal of anxiety. There are so many unknowns and things beyond our control. The one thing we can control is the content–I didn’t create it all so I can say in an unbiased way that it is, without a doubt, the most comprehensive, practical program on the planet. I can’t wait to share the strategies. BUT that gets overshadowed by the uncertainty of working with a new colleague, with new videographers, at a new facility–and with a live audience, cameras, lighting, microphones. Too many “new” things! Throw in the investment of time and expense, the risk, traffic and weather concerns…and the anxiety hits.

So we took step one this evening to create as much familiarity as possible. We are staying at the hotel that is our home away from home. We drove to the video facility and timed the trip. We met the lead videographer and walked through the space thoroughly. We stood on the stage, looked through the cameras to get the right angle, set the chairs up the right way, went over wardrobe choices (no plaids or bright colors!) and methodically covered my detailed list of concerns. Whew! That feels so much better. Tomorrow morning, we won’t be rushing to get there, searching for a strange new building, wondering if everything is set up correctly. It’s done.

We are planning to arrive extra early tomorrow (like when your kids ask to leave three hours early before you really need to!). I had a great cardio workout tonight and can read for an hour to relax. I’ll sleep better knowing all the details are taken care of. I won’t be tense and snap in the morning in a rush. This isn’t rocket science, but there are specific strategies that, if done consistently, can transform daily life. Pretty cool, huh?!

An amazing communication insight

In today’s newsletter, I shared a very small…but very powerful communication insight. It’s something that most of us get wrong on a consistent basis. And we end up with negotiations and fights…instead of trust and kids who listen. Do you get the newsletter? If not, click here to subscribe to our free newsletter.

Read it and come comment here.

Want a great way to stop sibling arguments?

Does anything irritate you more than your kids arguing? In today’s newsletter, we share the specific words and actions you can take to end these arguments. Sign up for the free newsletter here, read the newsletter and then come back here to share your comments and questions. It’s that easy.

The most important gift for a teacher

The most important gift for your child’s teacher is insight into your child. Create a one-page sheet (please don’t take in 15 pages of evaluations and test results!) that lists:

  1. Your child’s gifts and talents. Give teachers concrete suggestions for connecting with your child and showing off their talents.
  2. After defining your child by his gifts (important), then list your child’s struggles, but don’t stop there.
  3. Explain specific ways you have dealt with these struggles or quirks in the past. “My son struggles with focus, but in the past teachers have allowed him to do x, y and z to improve attention.” You want to be a collaborator who solves problems, together.

Our Brain Boosters program contains over 100 specific strategies to help students be wildly successful. Equip your child with the tools he needs to make homework time less stressful. And schedule our professional Development training for teachers at your school. CallBrett at 888-506-1871 with questions.

Kirk Martin
Celebrate Calm

What is the purpose of discipline?

Listen to our latest Radio Show and discover the answer to this and 10 great questions:

What to do when in-laws discipline your kids; the purpose of discipline (may surprise you!); how to get kids to rise to do their best; picky eaters (mac and cheese/chicken nuggets anyone?!); teenage girls and cell phones; bossy kids who correct others incorrectly; getting kids engaged in sports; how do you get other people to understand your child?; why many marriages stink.

Click here to listen to Kirk.

And remember to call Brett at 888-506-1871 if you need help with any of our resources.

When family members judge you and your kids…Part I

Do you end up dreading family vacations or get-togethers because your parents or siblings judge you? Do you stay on edge worried that your kids are going to misbehave, break something or be too loud for your uptight family? Here are 5 ways to discipline your children; be respectful of relatives; and keep judgment, embarrassment and false expectations from stealing your peace.

1. Be honest and be confident. There’s no need to sugarcoat reality—you happen to have more intense, emotional kids. Good. They will rule the world one day. You’re not a bad parent because your kids are more brilliant, passionate and like to think outside the box. You’re just more stressed and have more grey hair  J

2. Be assertive. Tell other people what you and your family needs. “Ryan and Samantha get really wound up when there are so many people around. So when you guys go out, we may stay here and have some down time. I know dinner time is stressful because General Patton there wants us to eat like soldiers. So a couple nights we’re just going to grab a relaxing dinner by ourselves.”

3. Disappoint your parents/in-laws. You’ll pretty much guarantee this any time you are assertive! You are a grown up now, not their little child. Your kids and spouse come before your parents. If hubby is more afraid of disappointing his Mommy than his wife, we have issues. Who are you more afraid of disappointing—your parents or your own family? (If you want help with issues like this that are devastating relationships, join Calm BootCamp. We want you to be free!)

4. Show and tell others what works best for your kids.
“Ryan and Samantha have a ton of energy. I like it and it’s the reason your kids are going to work for them one day (smile), but I know it can be overwhelming when we’re all together. So here’s what works best for them: specific, concrete directions. Clear expectations. Purposeful missions. They love helping, not just being bossed around. Listen to them. Ask for their ideas. They are bright kids. Treat them more like adults and you’ll get a better result.”

5. Praise and play to your child’s strengths. At some point, Perfect Peggy is going to brag about her perfect kids. You and your kids will shrink into the background. Go on the offensive. Tell everyone about your child’s amazing ideas, stories, Lego creations, big heart. Set your kids up to succeed—have them engage in activities that show off their natural strengths.

Later this week, we’ll look at other ways to irritate your extended family and enjoy your kids! You may not agree with it, but it’s fun to do! What are the most difficult situations you face when you are with family?

How do you handle conflict?

As long as you interact with people, you will experience conflict and bad news. It’s a given. We must be introspective again and understand how we deal with conflict. Because how we handle conflict will largely determine whether we have healthy relationships or not–with our children, spouse, siblings, parents, bosses, friends and ourselves. It is so critical that we discuss this in detail in each and every BootCamp–Calm, Marriage and Teen. You can’t ignore this.

This is very personal, but I want to share it. When I was a kid, my parents fought almost continually. There would be huge blow-ups, intense yelling and even screaming. It was frightening. My brothers and I would run to our rooms because that’s what you did in those days. I would hide out and wait for the storm to pass. After things sounded quiet for awhile, I would peek out of my bedroom. I’d see Mom upstairs while my Dad was downstairs in his room. Slowly, we would re-gather as a family, usually around my Mom, but occasionally I’d go down and watch an old Western or sports with my Dad.

There was NEVER a discussion of what just happened. No apologies, no problem solving. In the world I grew up in, everything was either really good or really bad. There were no grays and there was never an understanding of how to deal with conflict. We ignored it, we waited until it blew over. And then everything was good again. And unfortunately, that’s how I learned to deal (or NOT deal) with conflict or bad news. I would ignore it and withdraw from my family, just waiting for it to pass. Or if directly confronted by it, I would try to “overcome” or “dominate” the situation by demanding that people (my wife or son) change so that we didn’t have to deal with such bad situations.

We can react in many different ways to conflict, but most of us learned unhealthy ways. We shut it out, ignore it, avoid it, withdraw and hope it goes away. Or we try to force it to go away by yelling, demanding and creating worse drama. I added my own special wrinkle. I would occasionally throw a big pity party, saying how stupid I was and, “You guys would just be better off without me!” Sound familiar? It was another way for me to escape, blame and not deal with the real issue. Not because I was a bad person, but because I didn’t have the tools.

I hope it is becoming obvious that our kids and situations around us have little to do with the real issues we are facing—they are just triggers that cause us to come to terms with our own immaturity and emotional needs. We can either fight and resent that and change our kids—or we can continue to do the hard work and change ourselves. That’s what BootCamp is about–parents being honest with themselves and changing their family tree.

So what is your style? How do you handle conflict?

If you want us to show you step-by-step how to handle conflict with your spouse, kids, boss, relatives and even with your child’s soccer coach…then I can personally mentor you through our BootCamps. Be assertive and call or email for help.

How do I get my kids to stop being so moody?

Q: How do I get my kids to stop being so moody? It just irritates the heck out of me. I try to give them games to play and engage, but then end up yelling. And it doesn’t do any good. So how do I get them to change their attitudes?

A: I know how irritating it can be to be in the same room with a moody teenager …or 15 moody kids at a time. But allow me to challenge you with this question. What gives us the right to dictate another person’s emotions or moods? On days that you feel irritable, would you like your husband to tell you to “just get over it”? Kids are allowed to be moody if they want. Here’s the real issue:

Why do you need your child to be happy or in a good mood?

Just so you don’t think I’m being a jerk, I used to do this all the time with my wife. If she didn’t respond “the right way” or the way I needed in the morning, I’d ask her, “What’s wrong? Can I do something to help you?” Was I really interested in helping her? Not really. I wanted to CHANGE her mood…so that I could be in a good mood. I was dependent on her acting a certain way.

If you try to control other people’s behavior, it always leads to power struggles and frustration. Instead, we need to have this attitude:
1. You are allowed to be moody and unhappy.
2. Your mood does not determine my mood.
3. I am not responsible for your happiness or your mood. You are.
4. I am responsible for my own mood. By controlling myself, I influence everyone around me. The most effective way to change a child’s behavior is to control my own.
5. If you need help because something is bothering you, I’d be thrilled to help you (but I’m not going to change you).

Honestly, this compulsion in parents causes more power struggles than strong-willed children. If you want to be free from this, I’ll personally mentor you through one of our BootCamps. Click here to learn more.

3 Examples
(1) Two siblings are squabbling. Instead of yelling at them to stop, Mom and Dad sit on the living room floor and play a board game, laughing and enjoying themselves. Guess how this affects the kids? They come and ask, “What are you guys doing?” You reply, “Oh nothing, just playing a game. You guys can keep fighting and being miserable since you seem to enjoy it, but we’re having fun in here.” The kids will join you.

(2) What if kids’ moods and actions are causing the other children to react or ruining dinner at Red Robin? Throwing your own tantrum by yelling at the kids doesn’t help! Definitely listen to the Parenting or Defiance & Disrespect CDs to get very specific strategies for the most difficult situations.

(3) Your daughter is slouched on the sofa, pouting and harrumphing. Instead of lecturing (“I don’t see why you have to be so ungrateful…”) or making a snide comment, you walk by and say sweetly: “I can tell something is bothering you. I’m going to get some popcorn and sit on the porch. Happy to listen to you if you want to join me.” Now you are giving your intensity to your kids in a positive way (rather than yelling at them), modeling how to get along and connecting with them.

Or you can continue “getting on them” and trying to change them, which will only engender defiant kids who do not trust you. I’m tired of this. Are you?! Comment below and let me know why kids being in a bad mood bothers you so much. Is it because your parents never allowed that? A religious conviction that kids are supposed to be happily obedient? Because it makes you think your kids are so ungrateful?

“Cut it out!”

When your child is being annoying, it’s easy to bark, “Cut it out!” That just inflames the situation and tells the child, “I’m not interested in helping you. I just can’t deal with it right now.” Instead, sit down. Put your feet up. Take a deep breath. Control your own anxiety and seek to understand, “What’s really going on? How can I help?”

Do you know why? Because that’s what you and I expect others to do for us when we are struggling. When you are upset, do you respond well when your spouse minimizes your feelings or snaps, “Just deal with it!”? Didn’t think so.

Handling it the calm, connected way changes the entire interaction. Easy? No. Critical? Yes.

I’d like feedback on two areas:
1. What are the dismissive comments spouses make that hurt most?
2. What situations do you find the most annoying? Here a list of about 100 triggers (QUESTIONS WE ANSWER)–notice any of these in your home?!

Enjoy your weekend!

When kids make threats…

What should I do when my daughter threatens to run away? How do we normally react as parents to such threats? Our anxiety and fear kicks in–and we immediately respond with our own threat–we spout whatever consequence comes to mind. That inflames the situation and makes the child want to run away more! If we create a power struggle, many kids will follow through just to make their point.

So let’s rethink how we handle such situations. What is my goal? I want to use every single situation–especially the intense, emotional ones because these are memorable–to build trust and teach my daughter how to solve problems in a positive way. I want MY CHILD to choose to face the real issue, decide running away isn’t a good idea, and deal with her emotions in a positive, constructive manner. So here are a few options.

Instead of reacting, use a calm, non-emotional tone. Smile and say, “Why don’t you come upstairs and help me find a suitcase?” You walk calmly and let the child know, “I really don’t want you to go (some kids are very literal, so if we grab the suitcase, they may think we really want them to go!), but I could use some help if you’re serious about this.” As you get the suitcase out, you could ask them: “Where do you think you’ll go? Why would you go there, that’s an interesting decision? How long do you think you’ll be gone so we know how many socks to pack?” Ask them to start making a list of everything they need: food, personal items, stuffed animal, etc. Walk to the laundry room to show them how to do laundry. Be helpful, not sarcastic.

At some point, you’ll want to pivot, preferably in a low-key way when not making eye contact. “Honey, there may be another option here. I understand that you’re upset, but you aren’t really running away from me, you’re running away from what made you upset. So if you want, I’ll sit down with you and we can figure out why you’re upset and what we can do about it. How about a bowl of cereal together while we talk this through?” If you enjoy doing an activity together (scrapbooking, kicking a soccer ball, coloring, etc.), then invite your child to do that while you talk through the issue. Listen to their concerns, don’t dismiss them.

Ask these questions:
(1) “So the next time you feel this way, what could I do to help you?”
(2) “When this situation occurs again, what could you do differently than calling me names?” “What could we both do differently next time?”

You are problem solving. After you finish your snack, hug and forgive each other, role play the situation again. What exactly will each of you do differently? Then praise your daughter for being mature enough to deal with her emotions.

So the question comes back to us. Do you “run away” from problems? Do you blame others? Are you being assertive and taking care of yourself, or have you grown resentful and bitter about your situation? Do you know how to handle conflict–or do you run away, ignore it or try to control the other person? We are showing parents how to handle these situations, step by step, through the BootCamps and CDs & DVDs this summer. It is extremely effective because I am able to personally mentor you and answer all your questions this summer.

If you have found this helpful, hit the SHARE button below and share this message with others. What other threats do your children make? What do you need help with most? Post below and I’ll be glad to help!