117: Stop Sibling Fights, with Kirk Martin

Picture of hosted by Penny Williams

hosted by Penny Williams

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Siblings fight. It’s true. It’s something most parents have come to expect, but still find it impossible to accept. And you really should only expect that it happens on occasion, not all the time. What I found so intriguing from my conversation with Kirk Martin, of Celebrate Calm, for this episode is that the fighting is more often about boredom and low confidence than anything else. It circles back to one of my favorite life tenants — when you feel good you do good. Kirk shares how to help your kids feel good, so they’re good to each other.


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My Guest


Founder Kirk Martin and his son, Casey, have helped almost one million parents stop the yelling, power struggles and meltdowns… and start building confidence in children with ADHD and Autism. He shares his concrete, practical strategies as host of the Calm Parenting Podcast. Learn more at  www.CelebrateCalm.com.



Intro (00:03): What if I came to your house and followed you around for like 12 hours and literally pointed out every single thing that you could have done better, you would hate me, but that's kind of a volunteer parents. And it's suffocating.

Intro (00:22): Welcome to the parenting ADHD podcast, where I share insights and strategies on raising kids with ADHD straight from the trenches. I'm your host, Penny Williams. I'm a parenting coach, author ADHD, a highlight and mindset mama honored to guide you on the journey of raising your atypical kid. Let's get started.

Kirk Martin (00:51): Welcome back to the parenting ADHD podcast. I'm really super excited in this episode to be talking to Kirk Martin of celebrate calm, and we are going to talk about sibling fights and what those are really about and how to help kind of reduce some of that stress. That's so stressful for parents when their kids are fighting. So I think this is going to be a super helpful conversation. I know all of your work Kirk is so helpful for families out there. Will you start just by introducing yourself, let everybody know who you are and what you do.

Kirk Martin (01:23): Hey Penny, thank you for having me on your podcast. So our organization, we started it originally in celebrate ADHD and what I'll give you the brief brief overview, our son, Casey, who's 27 now really struggled in school, ADHD, odd kind of the typical strong-willed child. And so I started volunteering at school and I wasn't even in this field, but I, I, I found I was really good with the kids who were kind of misfit students really fit in. And so my wife and I had this idea of, Hey, why don't we invite these kids into our home so we can show them how to handle their emotions, right? Cause they tend to be kind of volatile at times and how to control their impulses. And so, as it turned out over the course of a decade, we had about 1500 kids in our home and we learned a lot on the spot by just watching and observing and working with these kids. And now 20 years later, our son's all grown up and we kind of travel a lot and speak. And the original name of our organization was actually celebrate ADHD because there are so many positives that society tends to overlook in our kids and those of us with ADHD. So kind of take a very positive view of of these kids, even though they do have these challenges.

Kirk Martin (02:36): I love that. And your son works with you now, right?

Kirk Martin (02:38): Yes. He'd actually does all the work. So yeah, we always joke that when he was a kid in our home, he was virtually useless in the sense that he didn't do his chores at home, but he was amazing for other people. Right. And your parents are gonna find that out, right. That works. And so all the traits that irritated us most when he was a kid are the very traits that we admire now, right? Like that obstinance turns into persistence. And that ability to think outside the box is really helpful in the real world is not always in school.

Kirk Martin (03:18): Definitely. That's amazing. I love that he is working with you now. And my own son who actually just graduated from high school two days ago has been on the podcast once. And I'm hoping to do it more with him because he's so passionate about it. He's so passionate about kids like him, not struggling as much as he did in school, helping teachers to understand them more. And so we're thinking about ways that he could sort of take a similar stuff and, and be able to help other families too. It's really amazing to see that happen.

Kirk Martin (03:49): That's awesome. I have some ideas, apart from this, because Casey does school assemblies across the country and speaks to a lot of kids. So I bet your son could do something like that. Right. Going into school. We can talk about that on the side, but that's awesome.

Kirk Martin (04:03): That is awesome. Let's jump into your sibling fights. Almost every parent, I coach almost every parent in our Facebook group. They really struggle with their kids, fighting with each other and struggling with how to manage it, how to improve it. And I know some of it is certainly born from impulsivity with ADHD, but I know that also there's a lot of other underlying things going on there. So let's unpack some of that and get your advice and your wisdom on, on first. How do we understand what's really going on? And then what do we do to help?

Kirk Martin (04:39): Okay, good. Good, good. So I'll divide this into two sections, right? I think for the most part, sibling issues come from two places. One is boredom and the other is actually a confidence issue. So let's do the boredom first part first. So you get any siblings on the face of the earth and you put them in a room and they're going to get bored at some point. And especially our kids I'll call them. Our kids have ADHD on the spectrum because they have these brains that need a lot of brain stimulation, right? And that's why they fidget and doodle and tap their pencils and bounce their legs. It's why they procrastinate by the way. It's why they're oppositional, like to argue with you as parents, because when they can push your buttons and draw you into an argument, think how stimulating that is for the brain.

Kirk Martin (05:28): Right? And that's where impulsivity, procrastination, all of those things kind of come from the need for brain stimulation. So I'm kind of bored in the afternoon, sitting around, well, what am I going to do? I'm going to look at that human being next to me and poke them. Look at them, steal something from them and get a reaction. Because as soon as that sibling, the brother or sister says, mom, dad, he's picking on me. He's yelling at me. He touched me. He looked at me all of a sudden, I'll just watch how this works. All I had to do is almost poke my brother. He is getting upset. My mom now walks into the room and she starts yelling at me. Why can't you just keep your hands to yourself? How many times do I have to tell you when the mom gets upset, dad tends to get upset because we can't handle it.

Kirk Martin (06:16): When our wives are upset. So one kid by maybe poking a brother or sister can get two or three other people upset. And they're all revolved around him, which gives him an awful lot of power in the home. Right? And so what they learned very quickly is if I do something wrong or irritating, I get a lot of intensity and an encourage you. If you're listening to this podcast or write down that word intensity, because it is a very powerful thing for our kids. They need brain intensity. And what happens is they tend to only get it when they do something wrong in school. When do they get attention from the teacher and the principal when they did something wrong? When does dad come into the room like this? And look, say, look at me, look me in the eyes while I'm talking to you.

Kirk Martin (07:11): It's when they're in trouble. So one of the main things we have to do for our kids is give them positive brain intensity when they're making good choices. So when we break it down this way and I walk into the room instead of just correcting the child for his misbehavior, leave your brother alone. One of the core principles we teach is whenever you tell a child to stop doing something, when you say, no, you have to say yes to something appropriate, right? So picking on your brother. No, but, and that's when we kind of transition and Penny, you and I kind of mentioned this before we started the podcast of trying to get to the root of the issue. No matter how many times you send your child to his room or take away his video games, the sibling fights, the impulsivity, whatever he's doing wrong will not stop until you get to the root. Does that, does that kind of makes sense. So far

Kirk Martin (08:11): 100% always have to figure out why in order to change things.

Kirk Martin (08:16): Yes. And it's irritating as a parent because the parent you're thinking, well, why like, why can't he just stop that? Right? Like, doesn't mean, and, and if it were, I always like to remind parents, if it were that easy for the child, he probably would have started doing it already because no kids wake up and think, Hmm, today. I think I want every adult in my life to be mad at me. And I want to lose all my privileges. Like that's not what they're thinking. They just need some tools. So this works in a little bit of our other stuff on kind of like controlling yourself first. When I walk into the room and get, start getting upset, what, how many, how many times do I have to tell you not to pick on your brother? If you keep doing that, right? Like all that drama, it just adds to the drama.

Kirk Martin (09:02): But imagine that I were, as a parent, I were to walk in that room and maybe even sit down, we're going to lie down on the floor, which will freak your kids out. And it's really cool. Now I get to teach and discipline literally means to teach doesn't mean to punish or send the child to the room. Now I can address this sibling issue in this way. First thing I do is I address let's call it the there's always the provoking child and the reacting child. So let's say my provoking child's name is Jacob. And I say, Jacob, listen, guys, I've seen the scene unfold in our home, like 43 times this month. Right? Because they do it again and again and again and again. So here's, what's happening, Jacob, you have this really awesome brain. It's running all the time and you're filled with ideas.

Kirk Martin (09:54): You're like a junior Thomas Edison. It never really stops. And your brain needs a lot of stimulation, which is really cool. So what just happened is you got bored. And in order to satisfy that need for stimulation. You picked on your brother, you called him a name. I come in a room and what's going to happen is you're just going to get sent to your room and lose your privileges. And I don't think that's working out for you. So here's another option. I've got to go get started on dinner. If you want to come help me. I bet we could brainstorm three different ways to stimulate that brain of yours. Maybe to earn some money because you love money. Because a lot of our kids really like money, man, you have a big heart, never really toward me, but toward other people, you have a big heart.

Kirk Martin (10:42): Now you don't have to say it like that. That sarcasm, you can think thinking inside, right? Watch what we're doing. Instead of you stop that behavior. Why are you such a bad kids? Like, no, I know what's going on and there's nothing wrong with you. Just need your brain stimulate. So when I invite him into the kitchen or to go for a walk, I'm teaching him now, every time you get bored, you have an option. Pick on your brother, push my buttons, lose your stuff. Or what if we started a little business in the neighborhood, because I know that you really love animals. You could get a job walking dogs in the neighborhood. You love physical work because many of our kids have sensory issues and they love to like dig holes, shovel. You could work out there. You could get a job, maybe a shoveling, a mulcher, someone, or doing yard work for them.

Kirk Martin (11:30): Or we could do a service project, right? And I'm starting to give them other ideas of ways to use their particular gifts, talents, and passions, to help other people, either as a service project or to make money. But I'm no longer ma it's not a sibling issue. Now it's also, and this will irritate you as a parent. When I say this, especially for moms, but we often go in and we talk to them like, honey, you just, you just need to practice kindness towards your brother. And like, they w they don't care. Right? And it's not like I I'm not Downing us, but I kind of, we, we say things all the time, because that's meaningful to me say as a 40 year old to practice kindness, but that's not in the realm of what he's thinking about. So I love the process of like, Hey, this thing that you're doing right now, it's not already me.

Kirk Martin (12:23): It's really hurting you. And I want to show you a different way to use your brain in positive ways. And then I can address the other child, right? Who's always reacting and say, you've got a choice in life because no matter where you go, other people are going to be irritating. Teachers are irritating. You're going to marry someone, irritating your ear, right? Like, and if all you're ever going to do is react to irritating people. You will be powerless and miserable in life because your brother has complete control over you whenever you react to him. So why don't you let me show you how to not react and how to respond differently. And that also assumes that you don't react to your strong-willed child, which most of us do. So we've got to master that first, but does that make sense? That that process,

Kirk Martin (13:18): It makes total sense. And I have to say, I never really thought about it that way. I'm sure a lot of other parents haven't either is looking at why. I mean, I'm always talking about looking at why things are happening and addressing the why, because punishing is not addressing why it's going to happen. And so it's going to be really hard for them to adjust their behavior just because they got a punishment. They didn't like a week ago. Right. And so then thinking about shifting, shifting their focus, if they're focused on each other, they're probably bored. And what can we do to shift that focus and turn it on its head. I loved when you said to offer positive brain intensity and so much, I think of behavior is sensory and emotional. And that sensory piece can be really so much bigger of a player in that than we realize often.

Kirk Martin (14:09): And so when we're thinking about giving them positive intensity and stud, there's so many sensory activities and so many things that they can do big and small, or, they can be a helper or young kids love to be a helper. And that's so easy to do. Come in the kitchen, let's cook together removing them from the situation without punishing, so often it's, well, you can't get along. And so you have to go away. Right? And I think that inadvertently teaches our kids that we don't like, and we don't want to be around them. You know, they misinterpret a lot of that in that way. And so saying instead, Hey, this wasn't great, but I still really want to hang out with you as a pretty powerful thing. Yeah.

Kirk Martin (14:52): It's a big thing when we kind of teach about meltdowns and when kids are really upset, we tend to say, go to your room right now. And inadvertently, we send them away from us in the moment that they most need us. And one of our key phrases we talk about is being able to communicate to your child when your world is out of control. Mine's not, I can't have anything that's going on. So that's good insight from you to kind of see that. That's awesome.

Kirk Martin (15:22): Yeah. I love shifting as parents, we have to shift for kids with ADHD are on the spectrum. And really what we're trying to do is teach our kids to shift too. Right? Where do you want them to regulate when they're dysregulated? And that's really finding a way to shift what's going on?

Kirk Martin (15:39): That's a good, I like that this shift, the first thing that we do is try to shift my own before I change the child's behavior. I have to first control myself and shift my thinking. So when I'm walking into that room, my, my normal thing is like, Y Y you know what? I do so much around here trying to make dinner, I try to help out and you guys can't even get along and it makes it all about me. And when I shift to, okay, I'm a problem solver here, and I've got this kid, who's done this 140 times this month, something else is going on. And when I shift now, I can actually build him up and say, I know what's going on in your brain, right. Instead of like, there's something wrong with your brain? No, you've got an awesome brain that is filled with ideas.

Kirk Martin (16:25): It's always moving. You can, you don't really have a focus issue. You have, cause you can hyper focus. It's more of a motivation issue. And so where you put that brain energy not to throw out too much stuff, but I just, cause we won't get to it all. But one of the key things we teach is that it's not really about managing your child's time. It's about managing their energy because they work a lot on momentum and creating a success. Totally, totally shifts their mindset into, Oh, so I went from irritating, my brother to now three minutes later, I'm in the kitchen or going for a walk and we're talking about weight, running my own business where I can make a little bit of money and maybe we can give money to charity. Like that's an entire shift and it wasn't ignoring at all what he was doing to his brother. It was just saying, that's not going to help you. So let's shift here, which is awesome.

Penny Williams (17:23): Yeah. Let's shift that energy. I love that. And it's really creating opportunity for wins and successes, creating opportunities for our kids to succeed. And the more they succeed, then we have, more neural connections and more positive sort of stuff going on in the brain that I don't explain very well because I'm not a neuroscientist, but you know, these things feed each other, right? The more positivity, the more success, the more brain is set up for that. The more negativity, the more you're in trouble all the time. And you think you're not capable, then the more your brain is set up for that? And so really finding those ways to say, Hey, your brain is awesome, but we've got to shift where that energy is going. I just love that. It's such a good message for kids who have differences,

Kirk Martin (18:10): I would encourage the moms out there. Cause I know from our own podcasts, that's typically moms listening to encourage your husband, the dad for one week, just say for one week, here's what I want you to do every day. I want you to bring your intensity to the positive qualities, to the good choices our child makes just for one week because men have a habit we all do of focusing on the negative. Why do you always do this? You need to do this better, but bring some intensity to, Hey, that was a good choice. I love how you do that. You know what? I, what a great phrase is. I wish I was more like you. I wish I was more persistent. Like you, I wish I had the courage to question things like you do now. You may not mean it at first, but I just want you to be a compliant little child who does everything I do, but what a great phrase for an adult to come to a child and say, I've been trying to change you your whole life.

Kirk Martin (19:07): Cause that's what happened with my son and I, and then I finally figured out, no, I need to change myself. And the way that I view this child and that came by starting to verbalize, Hey, that situation there, where you looked at it differently and you hang off the sofa upside down, I need to be a little bit more like you and look at situations from a different perspective. And then you just walk away and you leave them with this big seed that you just planted in their hearts of like, and it begins to feed this thing in it. So there's nothing wrong with me. No, nothing at all. No, there's nothing wrong with you. Do we need to work on things? Yes, but so do I, but at the core, man, you've got everything you need to succeed. And so I just encourage you for the next week of firm for what is already there, what they are already doing well, instead of always pointing out what they need to do better, because I will tell you I, as a 54 year old, man, if you just affirm me because men are like puppy dogs and Pat me on the head, I'll do anything you want.

Kirk Martin (20:14): But if you start just pointing out, well, Kirk, you really I'm like, Nope, I'm out. I'm out. Cause you, cause you know what I know. You're not going to be happy with it anyway, because you always want one more thing. Can I mention one other thing before we get, you mentioned intensity and the body and sensory issues. I would encourage parents. I kind of joke about this, but I really mean it to build an obstacle course in the basement in the backyard. And it can be $5, $10 use the things that your kids have to crawl through, grow over an underage climb under things. And even in the morning to be able to say, Hey, do you know where I hid your breakfast this morning outside of neurons? And it's kind of a joke, but it's not because so many of our kids would love to start the morning instead of gone, you've got to get up, got to get dressed, do all the things you don't want to do in the morning and go to school where you're going to be on red, on the behavior chart all day, right?

Kirk Martin (21:08): I mean, that's kind of what they hear in the morning too. Hey, I had your breakfast out in the obstacle course or down in the basement. Now it's a challenge. Now they have to go work for it a little bit. And it's a really good thing. And I'm not being funny with this. If they eat outside in the morning, away from you and their brothers and sisters, they're probably going to be very happy and everybody else will be happy too. Right? It's a very thing. But I do use obstacle courses a lot and very physical exercise when kids are really upset. Sometimes I'll get down on the floor and start doing pushups and try to lead them into a physical activity. And then the other thing I was going to mention is adult jobs. You hit on that. Penny. Many of our kids will not do regular chores, but they will do adult jobs in the home because it's a challenge. And I'd encourage you. If your kids don't like doing chores, which is probably 99% of them change your list of chores to allow them to do some of the more adult jobs like cooking one or two nights a week, right. Going to the grocery store and let them go in by themselves because they like to be independent. And they don't like people looking over their shoulders. And sometimes you can get them to take on big responsibilities, even though they won't do simple things like unload the dishwasher or make their bed or brush their teeth.

Penny Williams (22:34): I love that. Yeah. Adult responsibilities, especially with teens and even middle school aged and tweens, they really crave independence. And we're still, especially at that middle school age, we're still really hovering. We're still really trying to control. And I talk all the time about finding ways to say yes and finding ways to give them as much independence as possible. At least a feeling of independence and control of themselves makes a huge difference. A huge difference in your relationship with them and in your different struggles that that might come up, their intensity and meltdowns and emotional dysregulation and all those things. When we give them some control, even if we've still set boundaries or given them measured options, it really changes that dynamic.

Kirk Martin (23:25): That's awesome. We would call that ownership, right? I will give you ownership of this choice within, so your point within my boundaries, here's my expectation. Here's what I want done. How you do it. I don't care if you want to do it in some weird way, in a creative way, in an odd way. That drives me crazy. I'm going to control my own anxiety and my own control issues. I here's what I expect, how you get it done. I don't care. And that is that it's really hard to do, but that's that sense of ownership where we hand off responsibility. One of our phrases is when we step back as parents, it gives kids space to step up and be responsible for themselves. The hard part is they're stove touchers and you have to give them space to touch the hot stove and mess up and get hurt a little bit, you know figuratively and without jumping in and say, Oh honey, let me show you a better way to do it.

Kirk Martin (24:28): And that's shut down. Not going to do it. You give them space to wrestle with it, to come up with a different way. And then mom and dad come in and you bite your tongue. And you're like, nice job. The way you did that, you don't have to like the way they got it done. But I encourage you to affirm and say, what would have never thought to do it that way? That's why you're creative and I'm not. And then you bite your tongue and go away and say, he's just different than I am. And that will, when you give them that kind of ownership, they will start doing it. But the moment that you hover all the time and try to make them do it your way, instant shutdown, I'm just not going to do it.

Penny Williams (25:08): Yeah. And that is such a hard thing for most of us as parents to let them do it their way to let them make a mess, to let them make mistakes, to let them sometimes have some pain and figure their own way through it. You know, I, I, I started out very much a helicopter parent, like the world's worst helicopter parent. And I had to step back and realize at some point that I was actually doing more harm than good. My kids couldn't do anything for themselves. You know, they, they never learned how to build resilience because I wasn't letting anything go wrong. And that was a mistake. And it's just, it's very counter to our intuitive nature as a parent, especially moms, I think, but it's hard. It's hard. It's easy for us to talk about it. And we've had years of practice, you and I of doing that, but it's, it's hard shifts for parents, but it's so, so powerful.

Kirk Martin (26:03): It's, it's the, it's the hardest thing I think is controlling your own anxiety about your child's future because we start projecting, right? Oh, how is this child ever going to be successful in life? And that makes us want to kind of pounce on them and kind of, it's almost like we're trying to create their success for them instead of stepping back and saying, I'm going to give you some tools to be successful and let you work that out. It's hard. And in our own control issues, because you know, I'm a control, I'm a control freak by nature. I look, I know the best way to get it done, son, just do just do it. Look, you can hear the frustration, right? Just do it the way I told you, if you would just do it my way, we'd be done in seven minutes instead of it taking seven hours or seven days.

Kirk Martin (26:52): And that's my own issue. And I have to work on that. And then that gives kids a little bit of space. I'm big into giving kids space because we have to remember like, you're a young Penny, but I'm old. I'm 54 when we were kids, our parents just weren't around us that much. We were outside doing stuff every day when we came in our parents, weren't like, Oh, tell me about your day. What did you guys do today? They didn't, we, we just went out and did stuff and we figured life out. And I, I try to remind parents, I think it's incumbent upon us. I think we owe it to our kids to give them the same kind of space that we were given as kids to figure things out, to be mischievous, to mess up. So not notice it, like sometimes I'll tell on our podcast, I'll mention. Cause you know, as parents, we just get on our kids all the time and I'm like, what if I came to your house and followed you around for like 12 hours and literally pointed out every single thing that you could have done better, you would hate me, but that's kind of the fall into his parents and it's suffocating.

Penny Williams (28:02): Yeah. And it's from the best of intention, we have the best of intention for it by I, I think a lot of parenting mistakes we make are, are through a place of great intention and love, but they're just misguided.

Kirk Martin (28:15): Yes. Agree. So let's segue.

Penny Williams (28:20): Yeah. I was just going to say, wait, we still need to touch on that confidence piece.

Kirk Martin (28:24): Okay. So I'm a kid got ADHD. I'm strong-willed kid, I've got something going on. And here's what I kind of internalized about myself. School's a little bit harder. I have to work harder. My brother and sister just do their homework and they're done really quickly. Many of our kids struggle with they have something asynchronous development, so they tend to get along better with little kids, older kids, animals, but they struggle with their peers. So they often get left out of the birthday parties and the sleepovers. Well, I've got a brother and everybody loves him and school's hard. I tend to get yelled at a lot in the home because I'm impulsive. And I, and I pushed the limits and it seems like everybody's against me and the teachers are against me and I'm kind of swimming upstream. And when I go to TaeKwonDo class, I feel a little bit overwhelmed.

Kirk Martin (29:08): And the other kids aren't always friendly with me. And when the grandparents come, I can kind of feel they favor the good kid in the family. So if I'm feeling that it makes sense that I would then, as an immature kid, I'm going to take things out on one of my other siblings. And it is even in a non-religious way, w some of the most ancient literature tells a story of an early family. And one of the first things that happened was one brother murdered his other brother, evil that aside from the religious context of it, that's ancient literature telling what happens in a natural family dynamic when one child is failing wavered over the other. And it hasn't been since the beginning of time. And so that's when I come into the room or I step back and I say, okay, it's a confidence issue for this reason, a child who feels confident and purposeful, it feels good about himself has a mission in life.

Kirk Martin (30:10): Doesn't feel the need to knock other people. I don't have time for that. And I'm not getting anything out of that. Right? So that is a, a longer term solution. But so how do we build confidence? The main way you build confidence is through competence, right? When you are good at doing something, it makes you confident, right? Words are important, but no matter what you say, I can say all day long, Oh, you're a great kid. You're a smart kid. Well, if I don't see proof of that, that's just my mommy been sweet to me. So I want to go with that is to, we mentioned it before giving kids tools to succeed and let's stay in school. So I want to give them some tools so that when they're sitting in class, they have a little sensory strip. They can put under their desks so they can keep focused and they can play with it without making any noise.

Kirk Martin (31:05): I want to give the teacher some tools. So if my child has impulse control issues and gets up, has trouble sitting for an hour that the teacher after 17 or 18 minutes gives my child a job to do refilling the water bottle. Right. And I want to give them jobs to do in school. And I want to teach them, Hey, if you work better sitting underneath your desk in my classroom, I'm good with that. You want to take a test under there. You want to do your writing assignment while you're laying on the floor. I don't care. And I'll use music and I'll give them lots of tools in school at homework time, the allow them to move, maybe experiment with listening to music. I have older kids now that do their homework in the car. Cause they're sitting usually in a big SUV or minivan and it becomes like their office.

Kirk Martin (31:51): And they can listen to music and their own. It's weird, but sometimes weird things work. So give them tools, the main thing I want to do. And especially as you get a little bit older is and I'll try to make this easy for people to remember mission, okay. And mentor. I want to give them a mission of some kind using this, their particular gifts, talents, and passions, because for most of our kids, what their childhood really is, is, Hey, get up. You have to go to this place that pretty much accentuates all your negatives and doesn't allow you really to do much of what you're really good at, right? Because if there were great for building with leg goes or arguing, or right, like creative for kids, we get all A's. And so so I encourage parents to make a list of your child's gifts, talents, and passions.

Kirk Martin (32:43): What are we? Natural gifts? What are you good at doing? Do they connect well with, and let's get them doing give you a quick example. And then let me do the mentor and I'll tie it together. The mentor idea. They don't have to have an official mentor. It's just another adult who can see good things in your child and also hold your child accountable because moms and dads, your kids don't really listen to you, Penny, like with your son, if I were to come and talk to your son, I'd be like, wow, you're really awesome at this. Wow. That's cool that you can do that. But then I could say, Hey, if I hear that you're talking back to your mom and you're not keeping B average in school, Hey, you ain't going to work with me. So he would listen to me because I'm not his nagging.

Kirk Martin (33:28): Mommy and daddy. So couple examples, we've mentioned before with overcoming the brain the boredom and giving intensity of doing some kind of little business on the side. Cause many of your kids are born entrepreneurs doing service projects, but I'll give you a very practical example. So we had working with a 12 year old it was actually a live workshop. Mom came and said, Hey, I've got a 12 year old daughter and she's kind of shut down. It doesn't care about anything. Consequences. Don't work. She goes, what can I do? I said, okay, tell me very quickly. What is your daughter into? Well, she loves soccer. She's really good with younger kids. So like, okay, cool. If COVID allows for this, go and find a soccer coach in your community, who's coaching little kids. And so I'll make it shorter.

Kirk Martin (34:16): The mom went up to that, found a coach and said, Hey, I've got this daughter. She loves locates. She's awesome at soccer, could she come out and help you with practice? She'll do whatever you say, not for me, but she'll do it for you. Right? So this daughter goes and this coach reaches out to her and it's sometimes it's helpful when the other adult, whether it's a teacher, an assistant principal, someone in your neighborhood, by the way, older people, senior citizens are phenomenal with our kids, love the energy. They're affirming they're patient. And they can also kind of put your kids in place as well. But this coach said, Hey, Rebecca could use your help. We know what happens. The first thing she goes out, these little girls on the soccer team love Rebecca. Why? Because little kids love older kids. And she's getting all these hugs.

Kirk Martin (35:02): When she came home from that soccer practice, do you think she had a bad attitude? You think she was picking up? No, she felt good because she was using her gift and she knows that little kids like her. So the cool thing was the coach said, Hey, you're helpful. Can you come out? You can help me coach Saturday morning at the game. So she does after the game, two sets of parents come up to the school girl and say, Rebecca, our daughter, all she talks about is you. She loves you. But our daughter is you struggling in school, would you, would you mind tutoring our daughter? And then they asked her not this girl had not done schoolwork really for years. But see, now she has a reason to do well in school because she's going to be tutoring, younger girls. And the coach can say, Rebecca, if you want to hang out with these girls, I better not hear that.

Kirk Martin (35:52): You're mouthing off to your mother. And you better be keeping the B average because I'm looking for a leader. See, she had a reason. And the phrase we use is you have to, you have to discover what your child cares about what I as parents, why care about good grades and good behavior? Well, your kids don't necessarily care about that. What do they care about? And when I start to put some energy into that, that girl, Rebecca, after that, do you think she picked on her sister anymore? Now? She didn't really have time. She didn't see a need to, because her brain was stimulated and she had a mission that she was working toward and she had a better attitude toward her parents toward life towards school because we found something she cared about. And that's a big key for our kids.

Penny Williams (36:45): Yeah. Huge. Just finding a purpose. You know, a lot of kids too, especially those who are gifted end up having these existential crises. And my son had a heck of one, I guess his sophomore year in high school. And it was so hard. He just felt like why he had no purpose yet. He hadn't found his thing. And we really just had to keep throwing opportunities at him. What do you want to try? What are you interested in? What kind of class might you want to take? What can we do to really give you this opportunity to feel good about yourself, to feel like you are succeeding because he was struggling monumentally in school. And that was really overwhelming what he thought about himself. And so finding those opportunities and they can even be little, little things. They don't have to be begged. They don't have to, now coach soccer and be a tutor. They can be smaller things too. Just whatever gives them that sense that they have something to offer. They are good at something,

Kirk Martin (37:51): Man. That's good. What you just said when a person, child or adult feels like they have something to offer, even helping an elderly neighbor, right. Go down the light bulbs, help them with a smoke alarm. I, you know that 15 minutes you picture one of our kids, we all know what they're like and how they struggle. And all of a sudden they're walking down and they go into someone's home. They're like, Oh, you're so helpful. Thanks for coming in here. Can you reach that for me here? I made some cookies. I made some stuff and you know, our kids, they're great at talking to other adults. Right? And now you find out they come home three hours later and they're like, Oh yeah, Mrs. Henderson helped me out with my homework. We, I actually have done that quite a bit of asking a retired people to, with our kids because you've got a lot of retired teachers in the neighborhood.

Kirk Martin (38:39): We were just sitting around at night, not really doing a lot. And now they have an opportunity to work with one of your kids and to just do one subject with them, you might have a retired mathematician down the street, right? Who can help. Don't be afraid. Moms. Don't be afraid to ask other people for help. I know it's hard for moms, but don't be afraid because it cause a lot of people who want to mentor you know, small business owners are really great with our kids because most of them have ADHD, which is why they're not working in a corporate office. And they started. So when Pacey, our son was a teenager, I sought those people out and I just say, Hey, can case come work for you? You don't even have to pay them. I just want you to mentor them a little bit, show them what it takes to run a smoothie shop, how hard you have to work, what you have to do.

Kirk Martin (39:27): And it can be a really cool thing, but you're right. Penny can be tiny, tiny little things that give meaning to them. And that phrase of, Hey, I could really use your help. One thing before I forget, this will be like a, for middle school, high school kids bonding with them, especially, it's a really good one with dads, because look, I'm a dad. And I know a lot of times dads have a really hard time with ADHD kids and they have a hard time connecting. One of the best ways to connect with your kids is to ask your child to teach you something. Because we spend our whole lives. Like, listen to me, listen to me. I need to teach. I'm going to lecture. You're having a to point out everything. When you slow down and say, Hey, I'm curious, I'm struggling with this. How would you do this? I could really use your help, man. That builds confidence a lot. That is so amazing. Yeah. It's a really cool thing for for dads to do even like, Hey, show me how to do a tick talk video, and then you're going to need to go drink. But but it's, it's fulfilling.

Penny Williams (40:31): Yeah. I just wanted to mention to you about senior citizens. You're often also giving them purpose. They are often struggling in a similar way feeling, they're retired, they're not working. They're not contributing. They don't have kids at home anymore. A lot of times they need to feel like they have purpose to and connecting with kids. They're helping each other.

Kirk Martin (40:55): Yeah. It's all, Penny you know how I guilt trip moms into doing this. Cause moms I'll say, if you don't help that retired person down the street, if you don't ask them for help, you are robbing them of the opportunity to find meaning and to give back because they really don't be selfish. Moms ask me so hard for moms. Well, you're not bothering them. You're saving them from another night of jeopardy and boredom because they've been married for the same person for 40 years. And they ran out of things to talk. And now all of a sudden, your little nine year old or 14 year old comes into the room and it's like, now you just gave them something. Now they're reliving their memories from childhood and they get to talk about like, wow, he's that? Kid's really smart. But man, I'm glad he goes home. Cause he does have a lot of energy and you just re re invite. I don't even know what word I'm looking for. You just re-energize like this old life and your child gets to be around two people that love on them all afternoon or evening and feed him. And he's probably going to start grabbing his books after school and saying, Hey, I'm going down to miss Jenny's house and I'm going to do it. And you're gonna be like, okay, just, you know, come home whatever. And it's a really cool thing.

Penny Williams (42:12): Yeah, it's amazing. And it gets them out of the house and away from the sibling just to circle back full circle. Yeah. Such amazing, amazing ideas that you have shared and so much wisdom I know from experience over the years too. And I'm so, so thankful that you gave us a little bit of your time to share some of what, and hope our parents we're going to link up Kirk's website, podcasts, social media, all sorts of ways to connect with him and learn more from him and Casey and their work. And then that will be in the show notes for this episode, which will be [email protected] slash one, one seven for episode 117. Again, thanks so much. I really, really appreciate it. I'm honored to have you on the podcast and we will really hope that everybody connects with you more. I know there's so much more to learn from, from you and Casey as well.

Kirk Martin (43:14): Thank you, Penny. You're doing awesome work and I'm really excited. Thank you

Penny Williams (43:20): With that. We'll end this episode, I'll see everyone next time. Thanks for joining me on the parenting ADHD podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe and share and don't forget to check out my online courses, parent coaching and mama [email protected].

Thank you!

If you enjoyed this episode, please share it. Have something to say, or a question to ask? Leave a comment below. I promise to answer every single one. **Also, please leave an honest review for the Beautifully Complex Podcast on iTunes. Ratings and reviews are extremely helpful and appreciated! That's what helps me reach and help more families like yours.

I'm Penny Williams.

I help stuck and struggling parents (educators, too) make the pivots necessary to unlock success and joy for neurodivergent kids and teens, themselves, and their families. I'm honored to be part of your journey!

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Join me as I help parents, caregivers, and educators like you harness the realization that we are all beautifully complex and marvelously imperfect. Each week I deliver insights and actionable strategies on parenting neurodivergent kids — those with ADHD, autism, anxiety, learning disabilities…

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