Introduction to CALM parenting


Whether your child has special needs or not, chances are you and your children could use more calm, loving interactions and less nagging, arguing and distress.


Awhile back, Dr. Allison Andrews and I put our heads together and realized that all families (including our own) could benefit from learning strategies to stay calm and more connected to each other. Over time, we developed our CALM model of parenting.


CALM’s goal is to increase calm and connection for kids and families in a stressed-out overwhelming world.


What is CALM and what does it stand for? Each letter describes an important piece of the model:


C- Create peace inside and out

A – Allow for Authentic Success

L – Let go of “shoulds” and shame

M – Make strides toward independence


The CALM Child Development Model brings less stress and more peace at home, in school and in the community.


Over the next few weeks, our newsletter will focus on CALM and offer tips and ideas on how to implement the model at home with your family. Whether your child has special needs or not, this model will support you in being positively engaged and connected with your children and significantly lessen the conflict in your home.


Let’s start today at the beginning: C-Create peace inside and out.


As parents, we set the tone for our children’s behaviors and attitudes. For example,  research robustly supports the fact that an anxious parent will most often have an anxious child. Our children model us and look to us to show them what healthy and “normal” is in a family.


Unfortunately, if we model unhealthy behaviors and emotions, our children will follow suit. What other models do they have? Who else will they emulate and learn from?


This is why C-creating peace inside and out is so important. You as a parent need to create peace for yourself first, then you can provide peace for your children.


We know you are busy and the idea of making time to create calm and peace if your life may sound frivolous or impossible. We know you can’t get out for an entire day to the spa or pick up a book to read for hours, so here are some ideas on how to inject peace into your life in little ways throughout your day.

  1. Wake up 15 minutes early to get some quiet time to yourself before the daily chaos begins. Sip your coffee or tea in quiet. Maybe do a few stretches or yoga positions to wake up your body gently.
  2. Schedule time to exercise and take care of your body. This can also be 10-30 minutes in a day. Maybe when the kids are at school or daycare. If you are with the kids all day, ask someone to watch your child for a bit while you get out, or take care of yourself when the child’s other parent returns home.
  3. Turn off the tech. When you are out and about in the world, waiting for appointments or coffee or red lights, resist the urge to pick you your phone and stress out about whatever you see there. All texts, emails, notifications can wait 10-15 min while you chill out. Constantly picking up our phones when we have a few minutes of wait time is stressful and unnecessary. When you do have quiet time in your day, be mindful of what is going on around you. Is the weather hot or cold? Can you feel a breeze? What colors are the walls in the room you are in? Do a quick body check-do you feel stress anywhere? Take a few minutes to do a re-set of your mind and body.
  4. Once a week, engage in a guilty pleasure for an hour. For me, this is heading to the local book store, grabbing a coffee and browsing books. This is so rejuvenating and relaxing for me. Again, find someone to hang out with the kids while you do this.
  5. De-clutter. Clutter is very stressful. It makes it hard to find things and there is always a lot of work to maintain clutter and live in a space at the same time. Donate things you no longer use or need. Stop buying little things you don’t really need. Aim for useful simplicity in your home.
  6. Take a deep breath. When chaos arises (and it always will) try to be mindful enough to pause and take a deep breath. This will immediately slow down whatever is going on, and relax your body and mind.
  7. Keep in mind, most issues and situations are not crises. A crisis is a near fatal car accident, a cancer diagnosis, falling off a cliff. Poor school grades, a behavioral meltdown, picky eating, and disorganized homework are NOT crises. They are concerning and can lead to negative outcomes but no one will die or be permanently harmed by these issues. Triage your problems. Put them in metaphorical buckets of concern. Save your panic and high stress for real crises. Everything else you can address mindfully and consistently without high anxiety and drama.


These are just some ways you can introduce calm into your life.  Start by adding one or two to your routine and you will find you are feeling better and more available to be peaceful with your children.


Next week, we will talk about the A in CALM, how to Allow for Authentic Success.

Why is it that parenting in 2017 feels so stressful and overwhelming?