Tag Archives: calm

How to Get to Calm: Lessons from the Oregon Trail
Getting to Calm

What would it take for you to stay calm when it comes to managing your kids’ behavior? Sometimes it feels like a herculean task.

Remember the Oregon trail? One wagon after another followed the tracks made by earlier wagons. The ruts got deeper and deeper as more wagons rode west. In places, a person could stand in ruts up to their waist. It would have been impossible for a wagoneer to veer off in another direction.

When we react to our children the same way over and over, we dig ourselves into emotional and behavioral ruts. Ruts run especially deep when they stem from beliefs we hold about ourselves learned in childhood. If you believe you’re never good enough, a disappointment, or unlovable, etc. from remarks made by parents or teachers, those beliefs stick and can drive your behavior.

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The 10 Second Rule

“If only I could stay calm…”

“I just react… I can’t help it!”

Every success story I have ever received from a parent includes, I was able to stay calm. Okay, easier said than done, I know. Human beings are reactive. When we feel threatened, we automatically retaliate. It takes self-awareness and consciousness to intervene before that retaliation. Mostly we gain that self-control in the growing up process, but when our buttons get pushed, old stuff gets triggered self-control feels out of reach.

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Nature/Nurture

I had a really interesting dinner conversation the other night. A friend asked me what ratio I would put on the old nature/nurture argument. Everyone chipped in their opinions, and it led to a very lively discussion. Even though the topic was the content of my masters thesis, I hadn’t thought about how I would rate each side’s importance in a child’s life. I quite quickly said 40%/60% nature to nurture. Even though how a child is born—whether shy or outgoing, aggressive or calm, introverted or extroverted, learning disabled, neurologically, physically or mentally challenged, gay or straight, etc., etc.—has all to do with how a person perceives the world. But how the world perceives him or her has all to do with how confident that person becomes. Someone born with musical talent for instance, will have way more of a struggle in life reaching his potential if his personal world devalues artistic achievement than one with support and encouragement. A child with ADHD will have a far easier time in life if her environment understands her innate tendencies and gives her appropriate structure in which to understand herself. One’s self-confidence is paramount in determining whether or not that person reaches potential. It is for this reason that I weigh in on the side of nurture.

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