Written by J. Jaques, edited by Heather MacKenzie
In February’s newsletter, we discussed how calm adults are critical in creating calm children. Despite this, you’ll often see adults trying to help an upset child by telling him, “Just calm down!”. By then, neither the adult nor child is at all calm. I (Joselynne) can become enraged if someone tells me to “just calm down”. So why would we use that phrase with children?
There are many reasons why we might be ‘on edge’ and losing our cool. It’s impossible to be calm if you’re bothered, distracted, exhausted, or feeling unsupported or unloved. It’s also easy to blame other people when something has stolen your calm – for example, that driver deserved to have me yell at him, he cut in front of me!
To teach children how to self-regulate and further develop their executive function skills, we need to rid ourselves of CALM stealers. The CALM acronym was developed to help us remember what it is that can steal our sense of calm and how we can help ourselves.
Read carefully through each feature of CALM and see which ones work for you. Then work on each of the resources included in the fourth column (“So we need to ..”).
Model and discuss the features of CALM (Content, Attentive/engaged, Loved/supported, Mindful of self-care) with your child. Tell them and show them how to develop their own independent CALM traits. These are crucial life skills that lead to greater personal happiness.
Always remember that adults have better problem-solving skills and strategies than children. When two adults don’t agree on something, we need to ask, “Who’s going to be the adult in this situation and take a step to solve things?” With children who are already struggling to self-regulate and problem-solve, the adults need to take the first step to modify the situation so the child can be successful.
Problem-solving takes time and guidance so avoid power struggles. Teach problem-solving in calm, positive ways so that these skills can also be used in more stressful situations in the future.