Is It Ok To Use A CALM Approach With A Child Who Misuses Drugs and Alcohol? With Brenda Zane

Hopestream for parenting kids through drug use and addiction
Hopestream for parenting kids through drug use and addiction
Is It Ok To Use A CALM Approach With A Child Who Misuses Drugs and Alcohol? With Brenda Zane
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ABOUT THE EPISODE:
It's a shorty episode today, tackling the question of whether a calm approach can work when you have a child misusing substances.

I share my perspective on why I believe parents often think they need to use aggressive, confrontational tactics to get their children to change and invite you into an experiment to test the theory.

I then provide a four-step way to move into a CALM approach when things get heated with your child. It's a simple but effective way to have less drama and more control.

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Brenda:
 0:02You’re listening to Hope Stream, the place for those parenting teens and young adults who are misusing drugs and alcohol in a treatment program or working their way toward recovery. It’s your private space to learn and to gain encouragement and understanding from me. Your host, Brenda Zane. I’m fellow parent to a child who struggled, and I’m so glad you’re here. To learn more about all the resources available to you besides the podcast, please head over to Hope Stream community.org. Hello friend. It is just us today. It’s been a while if you’re listening in real time, and I wanted to share a few thoughts I’ve gathered up in the past month or so. When I record a solo episode, I always look through the notes on my phone because every day as I hear really great ideas or insights from people, I put them in the notes on my phone so I don’t lose track of them. So I usually end up with dozens of these little sayings and quotes and snippets of ideas. That sometimes takes a little bit to decipher because I’m usually out walking or driving when something hits me. And then I use the voice to text feature. And it doesn’t always pick up what I’m saying. So it’s a funny exercise that I go through to try and figure out what exactly it was that I was trying to remember to bring to you on a solo episode. But one of the nuggets I found in my phone was this idea that the invitation to change approach that we talk about a lot here might seem contradictory to the circumstances in your world. And I wanted to expand on that a bit today because I hear this and I think it warrants a bit of an explanation, and then I’ll share a simple way. You can gain some control over situations where you may be losing it with your child because trust me, we all do this. And speaking from experience, it just doesn’t feel good to lose control and do and say things in the heat of the moment. So first, let’s talk about the Invitation to Change approach, or you’ll often hear me and Kathy talk about itc. So ITTC is an evidence-based approach for parents and family members to use, but it looks different from what you might see on TV when it comes to intervening in someone’s life, when they’re misusing substances. If you’ve ever watched intervention or other shows where someone is trying to get someone to go to treatment or to stop using, there’s often a lot of drama, and that’s because in the US at least, drama sells. So you may have been conditioned to believe that harsh confrontation and aggressive behavior on our part will work to guilt or scare or coerce our kids out of their unhealthy relationship with drugs and alcohol. After all, who’s gonna watch a show or a movie where parents are calmly and empathetically relating to their teenager who has checked out of life with weed and pills and alcohol that’s probably not gonna sell. And at the same time, it is so scary to watch our kids self-harm and self-destruct. Which can lead us to believe that we need these big, dramatic and drastic interactions with them to get them to change. So an approach like the ITC that actually advises against drama and aggression might appear weak or timid, especially if you have family or other well-intentioned people in your life who are witnessing the rollercoaster that you’re on, because from the outside looking in, it can seem like you are not doing much, when in fact you are being highly intentional and strategic just in a very stealth way. And what is important to recognize is that the ITC approach is grounded in decades of world-class psychology and research, and has been studied in multiple settings as the most effective way for parents to motivate their child toward positive changes and even to move them to accepting help, but, It can feel strange to take a calm, collected approach to a dangerous, disruptive, and chaotic situation. It feels counterintuitive to meet these turbulent circumstances with logic and love and compassion. So let’s try a little experiment. You know, I am a fan of experiments. Close your eyes if it is safe. And think about a change that you have wanted or needed to make in yourself. You might wanna press pause for a minute or two and find something that feels true and a bit difficult. It might be related to your weight or your health. It might be a job that you wanna leave or one that you wanna pursue, or a certain relationship that you need to address. And it feels uncomfortable and the outcome feels unknown. You may have been ambivalent about this change for a while, starting and stopping, trying one thing and then trying another. It might feel really important one day, and then the next day you’re like, nah, I’m good. I’m okay with the way things are right now. So take a minute, have that thing in your mind, and feel some of the emotion around it. Maybe you feel frustration, embarrassment, or shame. You might feel disappointed in yourself. You might feel hugely ambivalent about it. and now think about someone very close to you. Maybe it’s your spouse or partner, maybe a parent or a sibling, or your best friend. Think about what words they could say that would help you consider making this change. And also importantly, think about what actions they could take that would help motivate you. so maybe press pause again and really think about what would feel supportive as you embark on this change. My guess is you probably didn’t imagine them yelling at you, taking away your phone, embarrassing you in front of your family, or telling you how disappointed they are in you. You might have imagined they acknowledged how hard this change feels to you. They may have recognized that change is difficult, and especially when it’s a change that’s gonna have some immediate negative downsides to it. You might have imagined them modeling for you a similar change so that you could see what it looks like or you may have imagined them saying something supportive and encouraging even if you were really hesitant to start. In other words, not a lot of drama, not screaming and shouting and anger, all the stuff that comes pretty naturally when we see our kids doing the things they do. And because it’s usually easier to remember stuff when there’s a system. Here is my little acronym that you can use when you’re tempted to do the dramatic thing to help you respond with CALM instead. So the acronym spells calm. C stands for Catch Yourself Reacting. You probably feel the highly emotional reaction coming somewhere in your body. It might be a racing heart. A pounding in your chest, your hands might start to shake. You might get sweaty on your forehead, or a pit or knot in your stomach. Catch yourself at this point. Catching yourself when the lights are yellow instead of red is going to help you slow down the A and CALM stands for anchor. Anchor yourself. Once you’ve cut yourself, allow yourself a few minutes or hours to step away and get anchored in something that makes you feel in control. So that might be stepping outside in the fresh air, calling a friend, walking around the block, listening to some specific music. By anchoring yourself, you immediately model to your child emotional regulation, and you benefit from the pause. And that is probably something that you would like to see them do. Next is the L in calm and that stands for look. Look at the situation from the balcony seats. Imagine yourself climbing a set of stairs and sitting down because now your emotions are in check and you can look at things from a top down place of observation. This is gonna give you the perspective of someone who isn’t entangled in the drama and will allow you to come up with a more rational, well thought out response. And the M in calm is model. Model. What would be helpful for you? So from the balcony seat that you’re now sitting in, come back to whatever was going on and model from a response that would be helpful if you were trying to make the change and having a hard time doing it. You might model active listening or positive reinforcement. You might model radical self-care or natural consequences. Now, I know this sounds simplistic, and the situations you find yourself in are not simplistic in any way, but this actually works well even when things are upside down. And the more you use this, the more you start to feel centered and confident. And the next time it’ll be easier. And as it gets more natural, you’ll start to respond differently to situations with your child. That allow you to be more strategic versus reactionary. This doesn’t mean that they are gonna change overnight, but you will feel better, and when you feel better, it creates conditions for your child to feel better. The irony of this whole thing is that the love required to help our kids is the same love that ties us so closely to them, and often it ties us so closely that we have a hard time putting this. Non-emotional, calm wrapper around our hearts so that we can respond calmly to a situation that would freak anyone out and let our kids start to find some answers themselves. If we didn’t love them so much, we could be objective and emotionally untethered from them. But we do love them so much, and our love can get in the way of doing what we need to do and letting them do the work they need to do. So those are the notes I found in my phone and wanted to share with you today, just a shorty episode. But sometimes it’s good to have a little snackable size episode to listen to or to share. It can be helpful to break some of these ideas down so that you can just work on them one day or one moment at a time. So for a quick review of the calm approach, C is for catch Yourself a Anchor Yourself. L look at things from the balcony, seats and M model, what would be helpful for you. I’d love to ask you to do one quick thing before we sign off, and that is if you enjoy this podcast, if you would go into your podcast player, whether that’s in Apple or Spotify, or Audible or Google, and just tap the stars to rated. That allows other people to see that people are listening and engaged in the podcast. And you’ll be helping another parent who is in a difficult time to find the podcast. So if you’re in Apple in particular, you’re gonna go to the main page of Hope Stream and then just scroll down and you’ll see the stars. And it also gives you an option to write a little review. So if you do listen and enjoy it and get something out of it, that would mean the world to me. That is it for today. If you’d like to get a transcript for the show, there’s always a transcript at the show notes page, which is at brenda zane.com/podcast. You can either scroll and find the episode that you’re looking for, or you can always just do a search and type in a person’s name. You can type in a topic, and you can also find all of the resources that we’ve mentioned in the episodes there as well. And if you haven’t downloaded my free ebook yet, I’d invite you to do that. It’s called hindsight. Three things I Wish I knew when my Son was misusing drugs. It’ll give you some really good insight into why your child might be doing the things that they’re doing, and there’s some really great tips of things that I learned along the way that I so wish I would have known. It’ll also give you great ideas on how you can navigate this in a healthier way to preserve yourself, your sanity and your wellbeing, which we all need. So that is at brenda zane.com/hindsight. As always, thank you so much for listening. Thank you for putting in the time and the work and the effort and energy into getting your family into a healthier place, and especially for your child, and I cannot wait to meet you right back here next week.

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