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.
(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?
If you do not make a firm decision and have a plan to guide your values, the tide of societal pressure and expectations will sweep you away. You will be left clinging to what schools and society generally value: good behavior, good grades, getting homework done. Next school year will be another anxiety-ridden pressure cooker as you race to obtain this elusive goal. It’s like a carrot that society dangles out there, saying you have to have this. But it’s like chasing the wind. You never get it…and in the end, you wake up each day exhausted and disillusioned.
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!
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!
A Dad who is going through Calm BootCamp emailed me this weekend after the following adventure at Six Flags north of Chicago. I asked him to share the process he went through so we could all learn from him. I bet you can relate to this even as you laugh.
Kirk, I had an inkling I was off to a bad start when my daughter’s friend was one minute, twenty-five seconds late. Great, the whole day is going to be ruined. Now I had to make up time. I felt the anxiety grip my chest as I gripped the wheel tighter.
The past 500 times this has happened, my daughter has looked over and seen my face all stern. And when she asks, “Dad, what’s wrong?” I just snap back, “Nothing.” But that’s when I see her hang her head and this wave of guilt engulfs me because I’ve made it about ME and not HER. Your words rang so clearly in my ears: when you are anxious, you lose sight of others and what’s really important.
I looked over at my daughter and thought, “This is my daughter’s day, not mine.” I kept the focus on her. So what if the plan was unraveling? She was happy and enjoying the ride to the park.
When we got to Six Flags, my carefully mapped-out plan of which rides to hit first began unraveling. It’s all about me again! I recognized the anxiety and made the decision that it just didn’t matter. The girls hit random rides and were LOVING every minute.
By this time, I was convinced if I just stayed out of THEIR way and didn’t add MY anxiety all would be ok. I kept a check on my anxiety and expectations throughout the day and you know what? It was a picture perfect day. And the best part was my daughter saw that I was in control of myself…something that doesn’t always happen. Thanks a million!
- Dan G., Chicago
Parents like Dan are my heroes. Notice something important. Dan’s feelings of anxiety didn’t go away, but he controlled his anxiety instead of it controlling him. And that anxiety was the only thing separating a joyful day with his daughter from a day ruined by stress and power struggles.
If you want me to mentor you personally like I have with Dan, click here to learn about our BootCamps. And I bet if you call Brett, he can squeeze you into the July or August BootCamps so you’re ready for the new school year. 888-506-1871.
Can you relate to Dan? What causes YOU the most anxiety on vacations and summer trips?
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. Together, we have thousands of problem-solving leaders the world desperately needs. Are you allowing other people’s opinions to determine how you view your child? Are you tired of changing your child? Are you ready to embrace your child as he is and enjoy him, rather than constantly lecturing and fighting? This ISN’T the way life is supposed to be. If you are ready to get control of your anxiety so you can enjoy your child, learn about the Calm BootCamp or Teen/Tween BootCamp. I can personally mentor you.
I refuse to spend 80% of my time fixing my child’s weaknesses and focusing only on the negatives. Instead, I am going to spend 80% of my time and emotional energy cultivating my child’s gifts, talents and passions. I am going to say no to my anxiety and say yes to relentlessly praise my child. Every time I am tempted to lecture, I am going to tell my children they have the courage and smarts to know how to make good decisions. I am going to address my child’s weaknesses proactively by giving them every tool possible to succeed—whether that includes exercise, diet, sensory tools, self-regulation routines, social skills or praise. I am going to be a Courageous Parent and focus on the 10 Skills Kids Must Have to Succeed.
I take back control of my life. I make the choices and decisions that are best for my family. Let this be your affirmation. Do you ever struggle with feeling embarrassed about your child’s behavior? Have you noticed your child pulling away from you because of negativity? Does your child feel confident about his future? Comment below and let us know. We can help and encourage you.
I just got this message from a Dad who’s been battling with his daughter “since she was born,” as he likes to say. She is very strong-willed and he’s spent the past 11 years engaging in power struggles. He and his wife said they finally had enough of it and were willing to be honest with themselves. And their daughter. They’ve been participating in BOOTCAMP this summer together, each making changes. Can you relate to what this Dad says?
“I didn’t want to hear my daughter’s side of the story because I didn’t want to spend the time to hear her out. It’s partly not wanting to deal with conflict and partly because I’m the authority figure so she should just obey whatever I say. I just wanted it over with so it would go away. But she always left dejected, hurt and not understanding why she couldn’t explain.
“What you’ve taught us goes against everything I was lead to believe about parenting. But when I listen, really listen to her, it gives me a perspective to understand what’s inside her head. And then build on that experience. There is a trust now so she feels like she can come to me and talk things out. Not perfect, but it’s given me a newfound respect for her because she’s articulate and cuts me at the knees sometimes with her insights. Thank you. We’re building a relationship I thought was gone forever.”
Gary A., Dallas, TX
Have you ever felt these same feelings toward your child? The traditional parenting methods you’ve been told don’t work with our kids–if they did, you wouldn’t be here! If you’re ready for a transforming experience, call Brett at 888-506-1871 or email Brett@CelebrateCalm.com. Learn more about BOOTCAMPS here. We only have three spaces left for July BootCamps and five for August. Brett will work with your budget–we want to change your family for generations to come.
Kudos to Gary and his family for doing the hard work to rebuild a trusting relationship that will last a lifetime. What do you struggle with most in your relationship with your kids?
Do you or your kids wait until the last minute to get ready? Do you push the time limit, trying to get two more things done quickly…then regret that rushed, anxious feeling you get as you drive to your appointment? Hmmm. What need is driving that behavior? What are you really looking for?
If you have listened to our CDs or been to a workshop, you know what makes our approach different. Rather than just reacting to outward behavior, we focus on proactively meeting internal needs. That way we get to the root of the issue instead of wasting time on side issues. All behavior is driven by humans trying to meet needs.
The two primary needs intense, creative people have are (1) Order, structure and consistency and (2) Stimulation. Let’s see how this works in this situation.
(1) ORDER. You may push to get those extra two tasks completed because it means you won’t have to do them later when you get home. Ahhh, that feels good. It gives you a sense of ownership, makes you feel like you’ve gotten a head start, so you’re not overwhelmed. It provides a sense of mastery—more things crossed off your list. And that makes you feel in control. For those who struggle with OCD tendencies, it’s more of a compulsion. “I just need to get these two things done NOW. Otherwise, it will bug me the rest of the day.” “My anxiety is really kicking in and I won’t feel settled leaving the house without taking care of this now.” Making things just so meets that need for order and structure inside of you. Sometimes it’s healthy, but often times it’s a compulsion that drives you.
(2) STIMULATION. There’s a physiological reason our brains need to be stimulated. (Arguing and fighting with siblings is one way kids meet this need, in negative ways!) In this situation, it’s stimulating, challenging to get those two extra tasks completed in a compressed time frame. Your heart races, blood flows to the brain and you’re super focused…in this moment. Can I get it done? Sure, it may mean you have to rush to get to your appointment, but that’s a challenge as well. Because just getting chores done and driving to an appointment is pretty mundane—it’s too easy. So you unconsciously make it a challenge. It’s also why your kids get in trouble sometimes—now they have the challenge of trying to argue their way out of it.
Take this quiz and see if you can guess which needs drive THESE behaviors. It’s fascinating.
Are you tired of feeling compelled, like life or your anxiety is driving you? Tired of that need for stimulation driving you to unhealthy habits or patterns? I know what you feel like because that’s the way life drove me during my first 30 years. But here’s the flip side. When we understand ourselves and our kids, we can take back control of our lives. We feel confident and purposeful.
Can you relate to this? How do you think you can change these patterns? Comment below and I’ll help you out. (You only have to sign in once and you won’t have to do it again–it’s a great way to get help anonymously and share with others.)
If this doesn’t cause you to choke up a bit, I’m not sure what will. Just received a very powerful testimonial from a Mom who has thrown all her energy into the Calm BootCamp this month:
“When you grow up with a father who is an alcoholic and a mother who retreated emotionally to protect herself, you become a people pleaser. I would do anything for a smile from my parents. I repeated this same pattern in every relationship I’ve had. The stories I could tell you! 22 days ago I decided I would muster all the strength I have to develop new habits and new ways of thinking about myself. Some days I don’t know if I can do it and I can’t tell you how many tears I’ve cried. But for the past 22 days of my life, I have respected myself. I’ve liked myself. Every day begins with me taking care of myself emotionally and spiritually and physically. I can do this. I am doing this. Thank you for this gift.”
Sometimes kids meltdown and act defiant when they feel like they have no control or ownership of a situation. I never want to give a strong-willed child control of my home or emotions, but I do want to give them ownership. A sense that they have a choice. Casey teaches kids to have “power” over their emotions. So listen to what a couple of brilliant parents did on summer vacation to turn a potential meltdown into…an opportunity to build confidence, mastery and calm in an intense child:
“My husband came up with this brilliant idea a few days ago while on a potentially disastrous trip, with my entire extended family, to the world’s loudest, most overwhelming, hottest, most crowded and ‘happiest’ place on earth–Disney World!
“Here’s the brilliance…Jacob was starting to melt, for good reason, and then my husband gave him the power back and it was amazing! We told him that he had a free pass to take a break whenever he felt like he had had too much, but that in return for that, he would have to do A and B with all of us. He used his pass during the afternoon, we took the pass without any attempt to talk him out of using it, and he went along with the rest of the day’s plan without a complaint…and even happily!”
How can you use this insight to give your kids a sense of ownership, control and mastery in the most difficult situations?