This week’s article is from Kirk Martin, the founder of Celebrate Calm. I first heard him and his son speak at the Oklahoma Christian Home Educators Consortium Convention in Tulsa a few years ago.
I learned a couple of very valuable things from them:
- I can only change ME and my reaction to things.
- I need to respect myself enough to ask for the things I need, no matter what they are hugs, communication, or a new pair of shorts.
These things have been tremendously helpful to me. I no longer expect Mike to guess what I want and I don’t think I can coerce, nag, or convince Mike to change anything he does. I work on ME. Sometimes that is hard because I don’t always have good reactions to things.
This weeks article is about ways to calm your child. I hope it will be a blessing to you.
Until next time, God bless,
When kids get frustrated, disappointed or upset, they often hit, kick, bite, scream, say things they don’t mean, throw things, or throw themselves on the floor. Some kids get visibly angry, some just shut down.
When parents get frustrated, disappointed or upset, they often yell, say things they don’t mean, or withdraw. And some throw themselves on the floor!
When kids (or your spouse) gets upset, remember to do these three things:
(1) “That doesn’t sound like you. Sounds like you’re frustrated and I totally get that. I would be as well.” Acknowledge that their emotions are legitimate even if you don’t understand. It feels good to be understood instead of someone barking, “I don’t know why you have to make everything so difficult…”
(2) Give people space when they are upset. Don’t stand over them. Instead of changing their behavior or emotions first, focus on controlling yours. The more people around me get upset, the calmer and more even, matter-of-fact tone I use. Lead them to a place of calm by doing an activity that’s calming.
(3) Motion changes emotion. Movement is a tool we give kids to help process emotions and calm down. You can’t think yourself calm. But here are some things kids (and parents) CAN do when upset: color, build with legos, pet the dog, listen to music, do a crossword puzzle, kick a soccer ball back and forth, do pushups or jumping jacks, jump on the mini-trampoline.
So let me give you two cool, but odd ways, to use this from real life examples:
HUGS AND SOFA CUSHIONS
So a Mom got our CDs and listened to them, then asked her emotionally explosive 7-year-old son, “I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but sometimes I lose it and need help calming down. Could you listen to these and come up with some ideas to help me calm down?” Mom was vulnerable and made it about her instead of her son. His idea? He said, “Mom, sometimes you just get overwhelmed being a Mom. What if our code word was HUG every time you got upset?” So he began giving her a hug when she was upset. That naturally led to his calming routine.
You know I love code words. Her son’s getting upset and she knows he likes physical pressure. So her pre-established routine is to say, “I can tell you’re frustrated. SOFA!” And that’s the cue for her son to take the cushions off the sofa and lie down on that hard frame. She then puts the cushions on top of him and lies down. The physical pressure is calming and they have an amazing talk because she’s not threatening him or looking him in the eyes.
Weird? Yes. Effective? Absolutely. Want to hear another weird calming routine that works? I dare you to try this sometime!
A SAFE PLACE TO SCREAM
After listening to Casey’s kids CDs about how he calms himself down, a daughter told her Mom, “I just need to let out some steam by screaming without getting in trouble.” Mom thought for a moment and told her daughter to get her shoes and meet her at the car. The daughter kept asking where they were going.
Mom said, “I’m taking you somewhere to scream as loud and long as you need to.” Her daughter was stunned, but smiled as her mom pulled into a cemetery.
Mom said, “Well, the people in the cemetery won’t mind you screaming!” It’s completely out of the box and helps relieve the anxiety. The cool part? They don’t have time to go to the cemetery all the time, so anytime either of them gets anxious or upset, their code word is, “Is it time to visit the cemetery?”
I know our stuff is weird sometimes, but it’s practical and works.
In the moment, when you feel helpless and like a bad parent, it doesn’t matter if it’s weird or not. Nothing feels worse than not knowing how to help your child.