Friday, April 27, 2012

Midwest Homeschool Convention - Are You at Your Wit's End?

The second seminar I attended at the Midwest Homeschool Convention in Cincinnati was given by Kirk Martin of Calm Christian Parenting. The title "Are You at Your Wit's End?" caught my eye since I feel like that a lot of the time. The description appealed to me - who wouldn't want less arguing and fewer power struggles?

Are You At Your Wit’s End? 10 Secrets to a Stress-Free Home
Do you need help calming your explosive household? Tired of yelling at, negotiating with and bribing your child? Do you want your child to take responsibility for his school work, chores and attitude? It’s time to stop the yelling, arguing and power struggles with toddlers and teens. Moms, it’s not your job to manage everyone’s emotions and make everyone happy! We’ll show you how to create stress-free mornings, school, dinner and bedtime. We promise you will laugh and leave with a dozen practical strategies that really work.

I took only a few notes in this seminar. It wasn't as organized as promised - no list of "10 Secrets" or "a dozen practical strategies", however, we all laughed and we said, "ouch" too. I'm just going to list out the notes I took and some of the things I remember along with those.

I attended this with a friend and we arrived long before the starting time. Kirk was already talking to the audience, getting their thoughts and ideas about what kinds of problems they are facing. I didn't, in fact, realize that the seminar hadn't yet started until I looked at the time.

Kirk referenced a long term change as our goal and mentioned generational patterns as some of the reasons for kids' behavior.

"You can't make anyone else happy." You are only responsible for your own happiness.

"You are your brother's puppet if you let him control your behavior." Something to say to kids that are always being manipulated by a sibling. Kids don't want to be a puppet and need to know they are not at the mercy of the sibling. They can tell their sibling (in their head, if necessary), "You don't get that control over me."

He talked about honesty and humility. 90% of parenting issues stem from my OWN control issues. (or lack of control, as it were....)

Kirk advised us to start from a place of calm leadership. Sitting down is always better because it's calming. He suggested sitting on the floor for 3 minutes with kids and laying out the plan calmly, rather than ranting and raving. He illustrated the difference between standing and shaking your finger at a child or sitting with one leg crossed over the other talking to them. It's nearly impossible to be so angry when sitting in a relaxed position.

Too much lecturing kids is "provoking" them, which is something parents are advised against in the Bible.

He advised us to teach self-control (self-discipline) and to practice it ourselves. It's bad practice to tell your children to control themselves while we are screaming.

Provide opportunities for self-control and recognize it when you see it (comment on it positively). You want a child who can control his own behavior, because self-control lasts for a lifetime.

Don't be a Pharisee; live by grace.

Anxiety often manifests as defiance, especially among nervous children. Allow them to acclimate to a new environment. Talk to them about what's bothering them in a new situation. Ask other adults to give your child jobs to make them feel more comfortable in a situation.

Kirk Martin was amusing and serious at the same time. I really enjoyed his seminar; it was convicting and encouraging too. My friends bought materials from Calm Christian Parenting, so we will have a chance to peruse them at more length. You can view samples of Kirk's seminars HERE.

The main thing I came away with was SELF-CONTROL. Learn it and use it and teach it to kids.

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