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Calm the Chaos Newsletter

In store for you today:

  • Self Care: Wake up call for self care
  • Parenting like Columbo: Behavior as communication
  • Parenting Coaching Package

Challenging behavior getting you down?
I have two openings available this week. Check out
the Calm the Chaos Parent Coaching Program

Self Care: Wake up call for self care

You may have noticed that this newsletter is very late this
month. I usually send out two each month - one towards the
beginning of the month and one towards the end of the month.
Well, on November 4th I had a wake up call which delayed the
first newsletter this month.

I was in a car accident. Another car turned left into my
car. I hit my head and wrenched my back pretty badly. I got
to experience my first trip in an ambulance. (An experience
I would have been happy to avoid.) Since then I have been
going to the chiropractor and the massage therapist and plan
to start acupuncture soon to help deal with the pain. I’m
on the mend.

A Wake up call

This experience has made me aware of how much I have always
taken my body for granted. Before the accident, when I
needed to walk some place, I would just jump up and go, but
now I can’t just jump up - it hurts! So I get up carefully
instead of jumping now.

Its SO frustrating! But I can also see how dealing with
pain can be a gift. I am thankful that I CAN walk around.
I’m thankful that I didn’t break anything. I VERY thankful
that my head wasn’t more hurt than it was.

I’m grateful for insurance so that I can get the treatments
I need to start feeling better.

As I continue my process of healing, I intend to maintain
this feeling of gratitude and to honor my body rather than
take it for granted.

If you would like to join me, take a moment to sit in
appreciation for all that your body can do.

Parenting like Columbo: Behavior as communication

Some of you might remember the detective show called
Columbo. (There are episodes on if you want to
see them.) As the audience, we always knew who the "bad guy"
was, but the fun was in finding out how Lt. Columbo would
catch them. He didn’t do it with flashy cars or expensive
computer systems. He caught them by asking a lot of
questions with a calm, curious attitude. The suspects rarely
felt defensive, because he was always "just curious." With
the information he received, he was able to solve the
mystery and catch the murderer.

In my work with clients, I often help problem solve how to
change specific challenging behaviors such as refusing to go
to bed, melt downs in the grocery store or aggressive
behavior with a sibling. Parents tell me that they want to
stop these types of behaviors. I have a lot of great
techniques and ideas that can work great, yet I find that
Columbo’s techniques are an important first step. Through
calm questioning with a curious attitude, my clients can
find out what their child is trying to communicate with that
challenging behavior.

Behavior is a type of communication

Children can’t always use their words the way that adults do
to express themselves. Even many adults are challenged in
this area. So, for example, a child might be feeling jealous
of a baby sibling and wanting some attention from mom and
dad. Chances are you will not hear, "Hey mom, I want
attention too!" Instead, you might see your already potty
trained daughter suddenly wetting her pants or your normally
generous son grabbing toys out of baby’s hands.

Older children may have enough self-awareness to be able to
talk to you about why they are doing that annoying behavior,
however don’t be surprised if you have to do a bit of
detective work to get the bottom of it. Here’s some keys to
help you unlock the mystery just like Columbo:

Key #1

Talk with your child when you are both calm and comfortable.
Columbo usually waited a day or two before questioning a
suspect rather than doing it in the heat of the moment. Your
child will be much more likely to talk to you about a
situation once he has calmed down and gotten some

Key #2

Have an attitude of respectful, curiosity. This will help to
avoid defensiveness which can shut down all communication.
Something like this often works: "Hey Johnny, remember
yesterday when you got really upset in the grocery store?
What was up with that?" This gives the child the opening to
explain without feeling judged for the bad behavior. Columbo
was a pro at this one.

Key #3

Be patient. It may take more than one conversation to really
figure it out. Johnny might say, "Oh, I just hate the
grocery store!" Asking more questions might yield that the
grocery store is noisier at certain times of the day than
others. From there it's easy to problem solve by going
shopping during quieter times if you must bring Johnny
along. Columbo was always patient and tenacious which was
why he was so successful.

Mystery Solved

There are some great benefits of knowing what a challenging
behavior means before you try to eliminate it including:

  • Your child will feel loved, valued and understood.
  • You will be able to problem-solve much more effectively
    since you get to the root of the issue.
  • It will be easier for you to remain calm during
    challenging situations since you will know that your
    child is trying to communicate something to you, not just
    trying to drive you insane.

It is not necessary to wear the famous Columbo trench coat
and the cigars he smoked are a horrible idea while you solve
the mystery of challenging behavior, but that puzzled look
works really well!

Hoping you and yours had a happy Thanksgiving!


Calm the Chaos Parent Coaching

Are you worried about your child’s behavior during the holidays?

The holidays are stressful on everyone - including your
child. Do you have family members who mean well, but just
add to your stress? Now might be a great time to get that
extra support that you have been wanting.

Better yet, ask for a Parent Coaching package for Christmas.
Several grandmothers have mentioned to me that they wish
they had more support when they were young mothers, so they
bought a package for their children and grandchildren.

Check out the details here:


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Calm the Chaos Newsletter

This Newsletter is copyright (c)2007 Karen DeBolt, all rights reserved. You may freely reprint in any newsletter, website, or print journal. Please send me a copy and include the following attribution:

"Calm the Chaos Newsletter article (c)2007 Karen DeBolt, MA.
All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission. Helping families
Struggling with Chaos at home to have happy, successful children. Sign up for the newsletter at and receive a copy of the free report, ‘Conquering Bad Behavior Without Stress.’"

I send out an extra email now and then detailing programs and offers.

Karen DeBolt, MA. Parent Coach and Family Therapist
Struggling with Chaos at home and want happy successful children? Download our free report, “How to conquer bad behavior without stress.”




Copyright 2010 Karen DeBolt, MA All Rights Reserved
5234 NE Farmcrest St., Hillsboro, OR 97124 * 503-459-2073 * Email

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