Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Celebrate Calm

My oldest child and I are slowly but surely figuring out how to minimize the amount of conversations that cause us to lock horns. I attended the most helpful workshop I've ever attended at a recent homeschool convention. It was given by the owner of Celebrate Calm and it felt as if he was speaking directly to me. He is the parent of a strong-willed child and he has developed a methodology that helps parents to manage their emotions but also gets results from kids that want everything to be done their way. It centers around the idea that the parent has to stay calm but in control. This week, I had an opportunity to try some of this stuff out.

"Hey bud! You can play with the hose but you need to turn it way down," I said to my oldest.
"Why?" He said, his eyes shooting up and his heels digging in. 
Take a deep breath. This doesn't need to escalate. "Because the water costs money, bud. Turn it down."
"But I don't want to turn it down. You said I could use the hose. And it doesn't cost that much money, right? I mean, it's just water!" 
He continued to spray the hose full blast, confident that his bullet proof argument had swayed me. I tried to tamp down the need to just rip the thing out of his hand and spray him in the face with it (Is that over sharing?) "Okay, sure. You can keep it running full blast. When I get the bill, I can just split it with you. Cool?"
His eyes shot up again, this time with a look that measured my seriousness. I smiled back at him. "No big deal, bud. You have twenty bucks saved. That should probably cover it." And I meant it. If he wanted to pay for it, I was fine with it. He sensed this immediately.
"Umm, actually I can just turn it down. That's fine. I mean, I don't really need that much water." He laughed nervously and checked my face again.
"Whatever you want to do, bud," I said as I went back to my book, unruffled and cheering silently for this small victory.

I'm realizing that he needs to make the choice himself. I'm realizing that I have the power to give him acceptable choices. "You want to create a bubble solution in the middle of the kitchen? Sure, you just have to clean it all up before you play with it. Or you could just do it outside and avoid that nonsense." Easy choice, right? He's feeling empowered if a little puzzled by my new attitude. He's waiting for me to be upset. He's preparing an argument twenty steps ahead but I'm cutting him off at the pass. He's way smarter than me; there is no use arguing with him. He would win every time. So I'm choosing to back off, be loving, give him space when he's angry and give him more choices. And suddenly he's hugging me more and asking me to play with him more. We're laughing at inside jokes instead of playing a verbal game of King of the HIll. I'm not sure how long all this will work but I do know it's nice to have my boy back. 

Do you have a strong willed child? Check out Celebrate Calm or just begin to see the relationship as more important than the win. Give them choices but make sure you're okay with whichever option he decides to take. Our strong willed children will be the CEO's, the world changers, the innovators, the inventors. Love them for their strength and give them opportunities to use it in meaningful ways. 

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