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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.

Moms, this is insanity!

Moms, you must take a stand and stop this insanity. Let’s destroy several myths that are causing you to be stressed, overburdened, resentful and at your wit’s end.

1) Expectations of Moms are simply ridiculous. You can’t do it all. The sad part is that many Moms allow societal expectations to shape their view of themselves. You have to fight this, Moms. Do not compare yourself. Don’t give in to this idealized vision of Moms you see on TV. Angelina Jolie has an entire team of people to help her look like a movie star and mother who has it all together (okay, maybe not all together, but you get the point).

2) Being a great Mom doesn’t mean your kids are well-behaved all the time, or even most of the time. If you have kids who aren’t exploring, wrestling and messing up the house rather routinely (no, I don’t mean kids totally out of control without any boundaries or discipline), then something is wrong with your kids. Kids are supposed to act like kids. They are supposed to push the limits, try new things, explore, color outside the lines, poke things and people. We need to encourage that curiosity, not demand 24/7 compliance.

3) It’s not your fault! Yesterday, a really great Mom sent me this message because her daughter is a picky eater. “I am up late because it is on my mind and bothering me.  I am going over all the ways I have caused this to happen…how this is all my fault.”

Do not beat yourself up over things like this. This is not your fault. Neither is it your fault that your child is bossy, struggles socially, has difficulty focusing on boring subjects, leaves a mess wherever he goes, can’t seem to find anything, etc. We can show you exactly why your kids behave like this and how to stop it, but don’t beat yourself up.

4) You are not responsible for your child’s behavior. You are not responsible for your child’s happiness. Your child is.
I was journaling to get it off my mind and what came out was ‘if she would eat better I would feel like a better mom. My success as a mom depends on her eating behavior.'” 

DO NOT base your Mommy goodness on your child’s behavior or happiness. It is impossible to control the behavior of another human being. This is a huge trap because we’re basing our feelings on what someone else does. Please listen to CD #4 on the Parenting set: we will show you how to get your kids to be responsible for themselves…and relieve you from your guilt!

5) How do YOU behave when your kids misbehave? Our job as parents isn’t really measured by how kids act. Rather, it’s how WE respond when they act up. Are you able to stay calm when your kids get wound up? Or do you respond by yelling? Does your husband freak out when he comes home and things aren’t perfect? Do you end up managing everyone else’s emotions…and lose control of your own? It’s time to take a stand and eliminate the power struggles, unrealistic expectations and resentment. If you are feeling resentful toward your kids and spouse, thatis YOUR issue–it means you have taken on too much responsibility. Which of these 100 triggers set you off? Let me know. And get help now before this separates you from your kids and spouse.


Why does my child act up to get attention?

Q:  Why does my child always act up to get attention?
A: Unfortunately, the phrase, “He’s just doing it to get attention” has become a pejorative. Of course kids want our attention–even more than that, they need our intense, emotional involvement. But in our rushed, over-scheduled society with its unrealistic expectations, we don’t have time for that. “Tell me about it while I cook dinner / read my Blackberry / get ready to go.” Sometimes the ONLY time they get our emotional investment is when they do something wrong–because THEN we respond immediately (usually by yelling).

It is also a way for kids to assert ownership (i.e. control). When we rush, we don’t hear our kids’ subtle cues. They don’t have the maturity to say, “Mother, I’m feeling quite stressed about our hectic schedule. Can we retire to the den and speak?” Instead they slow down, they say no. Because that gets our attention. The vicious cycle continues because we train their brains to seek our emotional involvement by misbehaving. The good news is that we can retrain their brains.

So here’s a powerful new action. The next time your kids are defiant or are acting up, sit down, ask them questions, connect. Here are several practical examples.

Teen Tantrums
“Kirk, when my son (13) didn’t respond with an immediate yes, I’d jump all over him. Why can’t you be responsible, after all I do for you, blah blah blah. We listened to the CDs together and I asked him if your way would work better. He just smiled and nodded. So now I’m trusting him, found a way to motivate him and using ‘drive-by praise’ as you suggested. He’s doing his chores 95% of the time without being prodded. I’m more relaxed and we’re actually having some good talks!”

Class Clown
“Kirk, after you came to our school, I stopped giving negative attention to the class clown. He is very bright and dramatic so I asked if he could help me in class. He tutors other students in math, keeps my water bottle filled, acts in skits and helps me teach sometimes. Once I understood him, the change was quite amazing.”
Karen S, 3rd grade teacher in Chicago, IL

(P.S. We offer 3 powerful workshops addressing teachers, students and parents on the same day. Call or email for details.)

Lego Defiance
You are rushing out the house, telling your son to put up his Legos and get moving. He’s says, “No!” You kneel down and say, “Brian, I know you want to finish your Lego project. When we get home in two hours, I promise I’ll get on the floor and help you finish building your spaceship.” It takes an extra 30 seconds and a calm voice.

Try it and let me know how it works. When you calm your own anxiety and slow down, you’ll notice the meltdowns slow down as well  :)

Tired of perfect Peggy and judgmental family? Part II

Are you sick and tired of living defensively, afraid of how your kids are going to act, anxiously waiting for the meltdown? That’s no way to live. You need to be a calm, confident parent! Let’s look at 5 more ways to enjoy your kids even when they aren’t perfect.

6. Let family see your kids at their best. Ask grandparents to be, well, fun grandma and grandpa. You can discipline, they can spoil! Your kids are great one-on-one so have family take them out to do fun activities each day. Let them see your kids at their best.

7. Stay calm in the moment. Things are going to go wrong. Count on it. When they do, do not react immediately from embarrassment, anxiety or fear. This causes you to lash out harshly and pour fuel on the fire. Treat your kids the way you want to be treated when you mess up. Assume the best. Remove them calmly from the situation—discipline in private. Don’t put so much pressure on your kids—or yourself—to be perfect.

8. Help family understand your kids. Our kids are a puzzle, a walking dichotomy. But there is a reason your kids act the way they do. Countless parents have asked their family to listen to the Parenting CD #1 because it helps them understand these kids inside and out. Take the time—I bet your family finds they share some of the same qualities as your kids.

9. Ask for help. “Instead of yelling at the kids and making them behave because that’s more expedient and comfortable for us, we’re showing them how to control THEMSELVES. And we’d really like your help with that. If, however, you are only interested in judging us, then you can go f—feel superior to us.” (You really do want to say that, don’t you!)

Sometimes families get stressed because everything feels out of control and they don’t know how to help. So give them specific tools, words and actions they can use to help you. Make them feel part of it.

10. Show self-respect and get some time alone. Make time everyday to enjoy a few minutes of quiet time alone. Ask family to help so you can have a date night, go for a walk on the beach alone, etc. Don’t make yourself a victim and not ask for help. Then you are hurting yourself and robbing your family of the opportunity to help you.

What can you do to show self-respect on vacation? More importantly, on a daily basis? Do you understand why your kids behave the way they do? Are you comfortable asking for help? Let me know and we’ll work through these issues together.

P.S.  Click here to read Casey’s blog today for the story of how one boy tormented his brother…with kindness!

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.