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So do you have a child who, when given instructions, reflexively responds by saying no or asking why? Of course you do. And it's irritating. Is this just a defiant child who's purposefully being difficult or is something else going on? That is what we are going to discuss on today's episode of the Calm Parenting podcast. So welcome. This is Kirk Martin. You can find us at celebratecalm. Com. If you need help, reach out to our son, Casey, C-A-S-E-Y, at celebratecalm. Com. Tell us about your family, ages of kids, what he's struggling with. We will get back to you, usually pretty quickly and very personally, because that's our mission to help. Here's the thing. If you're a generally compliant, rule-following person by nature, you're going to struggle with your strong will child. Because if you view your child as a rebellious, defiant, pig-headed, unmotivated kid. Nothing, absolutely nothing you say or do will work. It will all backfire. Your child will resist and shut down, and you'll slowly grow apart and resent each other. How's that for the beginning of a podcast? I just realized that's hard-hitting. But look, it's just the truth, right? Here's the hard part.


When someone asks you to do something, your first thought is, you just do it. But that's not what your strong will child thinks or does. Their first thought is either an immediate no or to question why. You've heard that, haven't you? In this podcast, I want to delve into why kids ask why Why, primarily. But here's some quick insight into the immediate no. Some kids reflectively say no because they are buying time to process what you just asked while they contemplate how they are going to respond. Some of your kids are very slow processors of information. So this becomes a habit. And they may be thinking, I heard what you said, but I'm trying to figure out if there's a more interesting way I'd like to do it. They may be thinking, I heard what you said. I am contemplating whether it's worth taking the consequences you will eventually give me in order to keep doing what I'm doing right now and ignore you. And they may just be ignoring or putting you off. You need to know that that's what's going on in their brains. And we've covered how to handle this extensively in prior podcasts and in the Calm Parenting package, so refer to that.


But what I really wanted to talk about today, let's keep it focused, is this. Let's consider why kids respond so frequently with why. It's not just to push your buttons, although if it does, then you're realizing you have buttons to push and you can start working on that. You can be grateful to your strong-willed child for bringing out all of your issues and your immaturity because we all have it, and they're just bringing it out. You tell your kids to do something, and their response is, Why? And your response may be similar to my father's. It was either, Because I said so or ours is not to question why, ours is but to do and die. There's a great paraphrase quote from the Charge of the Light Brigade. That's what I grew up hearing. My dad was career military, so you didn't question why. You just did what you were told immediately. But your child is going to ask why. Is he always being defiant? No. But you're going to be tempted to think he or she is. If you don't get this, you will have endless His power struggles with this child, and you will have created many of them yourself.


So I want to avoid that. Look, your child asks why because he needs context. If you take notes, write down the word context in really big notes. Strong-willed children are big picture strategic thinkers overall, and we want that quality in them because it serves them well in real life. We just don't want it when they're kids who were supposedly supposed to Oveas. So he's asking why because because he knows how you want him to do it, but he wants to evaluate if there's a better way to do it. Again, you won't like that because you want unquestioning obedience. I get that, so do I. But it's not happening with this child. By a better way, he means a different way than you want him to do it. It could be a more challenging way, a more interesting way, a more creative way that you've never even thought about. And it won't always make sense because in your head, this is very, very clear. I ask you to do something, you do it, and then you be done. Does it always have to be so hard? Why do you have to make everything so difficult? And you're going to want to pull your hair out and possibly his, but don't, not yet.


So see, giving kids ownership, not control, is one of the foundational elements you have to understand with a strong-willed child. I do not give kids control of my home, but I do give them ownership of their choices within my boundaries. This isn't about being permissive. It's about being wise and flexible. And my warning to you is this. If you or your spouse or the grandparents dig in and adopt the my way or the highway approach with this child, I will bet, I will guarantee three things will happen. Number one, you will have endless power struggles with this child. Endless. Number two, your relationship will be strained and then broken. Three, your child turn into an angry teenager and young adult with no one he can trust. I don't want this to happen. Look, if you've got the Calm Parenting package, listen to the Strong Will Child program daily until you have internalized these lessons and these insights so you know exactly what's going on inside your Strong Will child's brain and heart. Dads, especially, drop the rigid stance. Look, it's what comes naturally to me as well. I tried it with my own son with 1,500 kids who came in our home.


It doesn't work. It just alienates them. And in our programs, look, I can teach you how to be tough with these kids because you can't let them walk all over you, and I don't want that. But this isn't time to fall on your sword and escalate situations. It's a time to proactively provide context. And I have a little aside here. Be aware of the following. Some of you, moms and dads, inadvertently escalate situations like this with your kids, simply to create drama as a distraction, perhaps from your own marriage. Or maybe there's internal self-sabotage of your parenting and marriage and your relationships. I'm We're talking with several couples who are struggling with this very dynamic. They reach out because like, Oh, we need to talk to you about our kids. And then we find out, No, this goes deeper than that. This is about you. It has literally nothing to do with their child, which is great. Think about If success is dependent on changing the outward behavior of a child or spouse, then it's not going to work. I can't tell you what I wrote in my notes because sometimes I shortcut it with swear words, and I said, Then you're, you know what?


But you are. You're screwed. That doesn't work. But if success is dependent on changing yourself, see, we can do that. I can't always change the behavior of another human being, but I can change myself. And when I do that, other people start to change, and it's really cool. Okay, so let me give you an example using a father and son, and it could be a mom and daughter, mom and son. It doesn't matter. But I'm going to use this because I'm very comfortable with the father-son thing. It's a Saturday morning in your home, and let's say your child is 8 or 10. It doesn't matter. Look, the principles apply if your child is 5 or 15 or anywhere in between. I use I can use this from an early age through the teen years, so it doesn't matter. But I'm going to say they're like 8 or 10. So your child can't wait for Saturday morning because he doesn't have to rush out the door and go to school. And you've told your child, Hey, free morning, play, create, build with Legos, nothing else going on. So your son is happily sitting in his PJs with Legos all over the floor.


And dad walks into the room and says, I'm going to use it for how it happened in our home. Hey, Casey, hey, pick up your Legos, put your shoes on. We need to go now. And predictably, your strong-willed child responds, Of course, Father. I can tell you're in a hurry, and this must be urgent. Must be an important mission we're on. I shall prioritize your desires above mind. Is there anything else you need help with? Now look, if your child did that, you would rush him immediately to the hospital for an examination because that would be weird. So predictably, your son replies without even looking up from his Legos, Why? And most of us respond with a sharp tone and irritated expression. I didn't tell you to ask why. I told you to put your Legos away, put your shoes on, and get ready. Is that clear? I'm not going to repeat that again. Now, this is a kid that you have who doesn't give up easily. But dad, you guys said I would have all morning to play and build, and now... And can you hear that tone in voice, and it's pleading now.


You can hear that. That's a first warning sign to know, Uh-oh, child has taken this to a very emotional level. And if you go emotional, you're going to escalate. But we as guys, and sometimes as moms, say, You know what? You either Pick up the Legos now, young man, or you're going to lose them for a month. It's very much a guy thing. Guys give consequences they can't keep. Because I did that. Many of our kids, sensing that they're going to lose everything anyway, and why even bother with a grown adult who's clearly not in control? They just go for the jugular. You know what? You're the one who lied and told me I could play all morning. Oh, and now the whole morning and the whole day blows up. Dad loses it. Mom hears a kid crying and has to run into the room to figure out what's going on. Now look, all of you have been there. Should your son have complied right away? Sure. But he never has. So why do you keep expecting a different result. One of the key breakthroughs we need as parents is understanding this is the child that you have been given.


Wishing it or he or she was different creates more issues. Digging in won't work. It doesn't mean you have to put up with defiance, but this was not defiance.


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For the type A parents out there, of whom I am or was a former one, you're thinking, Well, this kid has to get with the program. Just listen to me. And my response is, Look, you don't handle things in the real world like you do with your kids. With people at work, you use a multitude, a multitude of different communication styles and reward systems. You do it intuitively. You talk to different people differently. So let's rewind and handle this in a different way. Saturday morning, plans have changed suddenly. You jump into action, and instead of stopping to slow down and control your own anxiety, you rush to the living room and start issuing directives and demands which have never worked with this child. So your first step is to always slow your world down, calm and control your own anxiety. And then you set about enacting your plan. If you're just going to react, it's never, ever, ever, ever going to work. That's something completely in your control that has nothing to do with a strong-willed child, everything to do with you slowing your world down. So think about this from the kid's point of view?


All week, he's been looking forward to chilling on Saturday morning with no pressure. Then all of a sudden, a parent barges into the room and blows up his plans. Is it reasonable to think that he'll handle it in stride? Well, do you handle changes and plans that well? Because you're not handling this resistance well. It would be weird if your son just hopped to it. It's normal for any thinking individual in this situation to ask, Hey, why? What changed? I wouldn't want a child to always be so compliant and never question anything. That's not healthy. You take 20 seconds. You reset your own attitude and demeanor and tone of voice. You walk into the living room and you look, that's your son sitting there. And look, sometimes we get this thing of like, Well, I'm the parent and that's the child. And they become ponds in this larger game of like, I've got stuff to do and check off my list. I got to get the kid rolling. And sometimes we forget the humanity of our spouse, of ourselves, of our kids. That's your son sitting there doing what he or she loves, maybe for the first time all week.


Now, you need to get going quickly, but you've learned from listening to the Calm Parenting package on the app repeatedly that your anxiety causes the exact opposite response from your child. So this time, you do the opposite of what your anxiety is screaming at you to do. You get down on one knee on the four. You adopt a curious look, and you look at what your son is building, and you say, Man, that is a really cool spaceship. Now, you can stop there. You could add a quick little question about how he did that. But then you transition and you say the following, Hey, Casey, that's a really cool spaceship. Man, you're really good at building and seeing three dimensions Listen, plans have changed. Grandma called and she's really sick. We need to go help her. But I promise we will have time to build more this afternoon when we get back. Could you do me a favor? Put your shoes on, grab some from the pantry, and meet me in the car in seven minutes. Now, I'd also be prepared to acknowledge with some intensity, yes, I hate when plans change, too, especially when I was counting on being able to do something that I love doing.


It stinks. I can also add, but in this case, we need to do the right thing and help grandma. So don't dismiss how important building is to your child, whatever your child is doing in that moment, because we're always like, Just stupid little Legos. You can play later. It's no big deal. Well, to your kid, it's not no big deal. So I don't dismiss it. I acknowledge it. Yeah, of course. Of course, you should be frustrated. All week long, you've been looking forward to this, and now plans change. I don't like that either. So let's break this down. You started by getting out of your anxious agenda and seeing the world from your child's point of view. It's always a good place. You acknowledge that what he is doing is important to him, and you complimented him. Hey, nice job. That's really cool that you're doing. See, that's called connection. Connection breeds compliance. Really important. For those with strong, well It's the connection part. Look, consequences don't change behavior, really. Connection changes behavior. Two, hey, listen, plans have changed. This simple statement gives your child a heads up. A few seconds to process and comprehend, oh, crap, this isn't good.


My morning's ruined. It's just smart to do with a child who isn't great at transitions, who likes order and consistency, and struggles with anxiety. Hey, listen, plans have changed. Uh-oh. What's he going to tell me? It gives him a couple of seconds to adjust. Hey, number three, grandma called. She's really sick. Okay, here's the context. Now, as a kid, I know why you are ripping me away from my Legos. This at least makes sense. Now, I know some of you are hung up on immediately obeying and not questioning, but one, listen to the podcast We did, I think it was back in February on that or January, really important on immediate obedience, really important for you to listen to. I know you're hung up on that. But look, I don't want to send a compliant, unthinking robot into the world to get taken advantage of. I want a kid who has the honesty, courage, and insight to ask, Hey, what changed? Why? You told me this, and now it's different. See, now I just said, Hey, grandma called. She's really sick. Now your child has some context, and that's settling. Hey, number 4, Hey, we need to go help her, but I promise we will have time to build more this afternoon when we get back.


See, there's more context. You are proactively answering the only thing your child cares about right now. Will I get to build later, or is this going to ruin my whole day? Are we going to be stuck at grandma's smelly old house being bored? Now, you proactively reassured him. For those of you who are in business, It's the same thing you do with a potential client. You know what their objections to your product or service are, so you proactively address those. Number 5. Hey, could you do me a favor? Put your shoes on, grab some soup from the pantry, meet me in the car in seven minutes. See, now you've given your child a role to play, some ownership. Pick up your Legos and they get in the car is just a command. See, this gives them a way to help and be part of it. Sometimes our kids are really good at helping other people. Sometimes I'll say seven minutes or even seven and a half minutes. Specificity when kids are upset is actually very grounding and calming. Then six, when your child predictably resists that it isn't fair or that grandma's house is boring, spare the moralistic lecture.


Well, your grandmother's not feeling well, and you should... Stop. He's a kid, right? He's not supposed to put down his stuff right away and say, You know what? I'm as concerned about grandma as you are. Would that be awesome? Yeah, but it's probably not going to happen right now, especially at that age. So you can acknowledge with intensity, Yeah, I hate when plans change. That stinks. Don't be dismissive. Work with the situation. Look, you'll get a better response when you give context and ownership. Here's perhaps the most important part of this scenario that you can teach your child later. See, when you just demand blind obedience, you are setting the strong-willed child up for failure because he will begin to internalize that he's just a defiant, difficult kid that nobody's happy with, that he's always trouble, and he'll likely turn this anger inward, right? I'm so stupid. Why am I always in trouble? And then outward by taking it out on siblings. See, instead of doing this, we have an opportunity to teach this child how he's made about his very nature. So later on, you have a couple opportunities to do really cool things.


So maybe on the way to grandma's house, if your child handled this reasonably well, you can say, Man, I really hate when plans change, especially when I'm looking forward to doing something. But you know what? You did a really good job this morning, or I appreciate you helping me out this morning. Shows me you're growing up. See, that would be an amazing thing to hear from your mom or dad. Way better than, Why can't you ever just do what we ask you to do? How many times do... Instead, I can pick out and say, You know what? You resisted at first, and I get that because plans changed, but then you pulled it together. Fist bump. Well done, my friend. Number two, son, you've got this really strategic brain. You like to understand how things work. That's why you tinker with things, including my brain. You're a great thinker. What you are often looking for is context. You want to see the big picture first so you know how all the details fit together. It's a great trait. A lot of engineers are like that. It's a great problem solving technique. Here's what's going to happen in the future, son or daughter.


You're going to have parents, teachers, coaches, and bosses tell you what to do. They're going to tell you to do things. Now, just replying no or why will lead them to think that you're being defiant or a smart aleck. But that's not true at all. So here's what you could say instead. Hey, coach. Hey, boss. Whoever it is, teacher. I've heard what you want me to do. Could you tell me what our larger objective is because I'd like to know what I can do better to better meet that goal. So if I can accomplish or even exceed that same goal in a different way, Would it be okay if I tried that? Now, the reason this is so important to me is that nobody taught me this. I went through the first probably 34 years of my life not knowing until I finally learned this so I could go into my boss and say, Look, this is what the objective is as far as I understand. Is that correct? And he'd say, Yes. And then I'd say, I know the way you want me to approach this, but I have a different idea. As long as I accomplish the same objective, that you've given me, corporate objective, can I try it a different way?


And oftentimes my boss would say, Yes. And then I could run with it. And if my boss frequently said no, I began working on my resume because I wanted to work places where I had what? Ownership. When I worked for other people, I didn't want to just do whatever I wanted to do. I wanted some ownership of my choices within the larger boundaries of the corporate goals. I just wanted some latitude and freedom. And if you're honest, if you work in the corporate world or for someone, you want some latitude to do some things your own way. Now, some of you don't. Some of you are like my younger brother. He's just He just wants you to tell him to do X, Y, and Z, and he'll go do that. He loves taking orders and just, I don't want to have to think a whole lot. Just let me accomplish things. I got to check them off my list. Some of you are like that, and that's awesome. But many of you, you want a little freedom at your job to be able to use your gifts and talents and do things in a different way because that's satisfying.


See, when you can do that, you've now built your child's confidence. You've created a closer connection, and you taught your child a new skill. See, that's disciplining your child. Discipline means to teach. It doesn't mean to yell at them and punish. You're teaching them how to operate in this world, teaching them how to work with their very nature. It's one of the reasons. I hate saying I plead with you, but I do. I plead with you to go through the parenting programs, and especially the strong will child one first, because you can now give this child insight into his nature so he doesn't go through life thinking, I'm just defiant, I'm stupid, I'm dumb, nobody likes me. He can understand or she can understand how their brains work and their hearts work. It is very, very empowering for these kids because you can teach your child self-awareness and a really practical life skill. So that is what we are after. So dig into the programs on the app until this becomes second nature to you. Look, this all gets so much easier once you understand what's inside your child's brain and heart. So this week, I want you to find a situation when your child asks why, and then respond with context.


Go through the different steps and provide some context, and give a little bit of ownership within your boundaries. Look, as always, if you need some help, contact us at kccay@celebratecom. Com. If you have questions or you need help, if you need financial help with anything, just let us know. It's what we exist to do is help out. Hey, love you all. Thanks for listening. Thanks for sharing the podcast. Bye, bye.