Best-Selling Parenting and Children's Book Author

Gentle Parenting tips, support, and resources

Gentle Parenting is about guiding instead of controlling, connecting instead of punishing, encouraging instead of demanding. It's about listening, understanding, responding, and communicating. Here you will find parenting tips, articles, and research to help parents, teachers, and caregivers develop a kinder, more peaceful, and instinctive approach to growing our most precious natural resource...our children!

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Practical, Gentle, Effective Discipline

[Portions reprinted from The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline by L.R.Knost. Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and StagesWhispers Through Time: Communication Through the Ages and Stages of Childhood; and Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting also available on Amazon and through other major retailers.]

Many people believe that gentle parenting is a form of unparenting, but nothing could be further from the truth. Gentle parenting is involved parenting ~interactive, engaged, active parenting. It takes focused attention, planning, participation, research, and so much more to be an empathetic, responsive parent who is in tune with their child’s needs and who is prepared to make whatever sacrifices are necessary to meet those needs. That said, in any home, like in any civilized society, boundaries are necessary for everyone’s safety and comfort. It is in the choosing and maintaining of those boundaries that gentle parenting distinguishes itself. In a gently parented home, boundaries are focused on guiding rather than controlling children and are maintained through empathetic and creative resolutions rather than harsh punitive consequences. If you’d like to transition to a more gentle mode of parenting, but don’t know where to start, below are links to alternatives to punishment, and here is a guide to help you set yourself up for success in your journey to gentle parenting…12 Steps to Gentle Parenting.

 

When Things Get Physical: Hitting, Throwing, Kicking, and Biting

The concept of using consequences, physical or otherwise, as a deterrent for hitting is based on the misconception that small children have the capacity for forethought (i.e. If I hit, I will get in trouble. Therefore I will not hit.) and that they are choosing to disobey. The fact is that the prefrontal cortex, where reasoning, logic, and forethought take place, is highly immature in toddlers and preschoolers and actually doesn’t develop fully until the mid-twenties! Small children act instinctively and impulsively even when not stressed simply because that is what they are developmentally capable of, but when they are stressed even the small amount of self-control they may have attained flies right out the window, and before they know it (literally!) they’ve reacted physically to their stress. Read more

 

Testing the Boundaries~What’s a Parent to Do?

Typically, I advise parents to use Time-Ins instead of Time-Outs in order to connect-to-correct, but there is one area that I advise the use of Time-Outs…the ‘Time-Out Toy Box!’ When a toy is misused (i.e. thrown, used to hit, drawn on, fought over, etc) and a gentle redirection has been given, the next step for the toy is to be put in the ‘Time-Out Toy Box.’ Little ones generally find the concept of a toy being put in Time-Out rather humorous and go along with the removal without a fuss (the toy can be returned after an exaggeratedly stern warning to the toy letting it know what is expected of it and that it must listen to ‘the boss’ ~the child, lol. They love that!), but remember to communicate, listen, and be flexible. If the removal of a toy brings about a strong negative response, it may be that the inappropriate behavior was more than just…Read more

 

 

You’re Not the Boss of Me!

Few things ignite a parent’s temper like defiance. It feels like a slap in the face, a direct challenge to our authority. Power card…played. Gauntlet…thrown. Challenge…accepted?

Time out! No, not time-out as in punish your child, but time out as in hit the parental pause button, take a step back, assess the situation, and get some adult perspective.

There are three things to consider…Read more

 

Toddlers, Tantrums, and Time-In’s, Oh My!

Punishing them, yelling at them, sending them to their room, or putting them in time-out disconnects them even further from their source of security and not only delays a resolution of the issue, but misses an opportunity to equip them with the tools they need to handle future problems.

One effective tool for use in helping little ones cope with big emotions is a Calm-Me-Jar…Read more

 

strong willed child

Parenting a Strong-Willed Child

There are some children who are born into the world with the incredible life-gift of a strong will and an indomitable spirit. These children are often deeply misunderstood, and there are rows of books lining bookstore shelves with instructions about how to break their will, how to subdue their spirit, how to force their obedience. What an incredible loss of leadership, passion, and insight this world suffers when parents follow these punitive parenting practices. Not only can we parent these gifted children with gentleness and respect, but the gifts we get in return are priceless! Read more

 

 

balktalk is a cry for help

Backtalk is Communication…LISTEN

When a child backtalks, sometimes also referred to as mouthing-off or sassing, they are in the throes of a huge, internal maelstrom of emotion. Whatever they are reacting to in the moment, whether it’s being told ‘no’ about something or being asked to do or not do something, it is rarely those issues that are at the root of the problem. The moment at hand is just the tipping point causing a fissure in the child’s heart that lets out a bit of the steam inside. The real concern should be that there is, metaphorically, steam in the child’s heart to begin with.

It is at this point that parents have the opportunity to model self-control and self-regulation by controlling their own knee-jerk reaction to their child’s backtalk. Instead of meeting fire with fire, childish outburst with childish parental outburst, child’s tantrum with adult tantrum, parents can slow down, breathe through their own emotions, and then listen through the fiery storm of their child’s words to the hurt, fear, and anger behind the words. Read more

 

teddy bear 1

The Problem with Punishment

Want to know a dirty, little secret about punishment?

It doesn’t work.

Punishment may be able to control a child’s behavior temporarily while they’re small or when they are in their parents’ presence, but it cannot control the person.  As with all humans, outward behavior is merely a reflection of our inner selves: our needs, our hurts, our emotional states.

While the temporary ‘payoff’ of punishment may be compliance, the need behind the behavior is never addressed and those needs merely get driven underground and often emerge later in more potentially damaging behaviors such as lying, sneaking, anger, outright rebellion, depression, aggression, addictions, etc. Read more

 

toddler saying no pointing fingerThe ‘No’ Zone

The life of a small child is comprised of a daily onslaught of tempting surfaces begging for the artistry of a crayon, tall places crying out to be scaled, lovely little objects in need of a mouth or nose to visit, and dozens of other alluring glass and liquid and sharp things to be explored through the physics of gravity, the kinetics of concoctions, and the application of Newton’s Laws of Motion. There is only one force powerful enough to defeat this nearly irresistible call of adventure, imagination, and discovery…the No! Read more

 

child belt spankingSpare the Rod: The Heart of the Matter

The Bible does NOT command spanking. Dissecting the original Hebrew texts of the ‘rod’ verses. Read more

 

 

 

 

 

Easy Peasy DIY Parenting Tools

I-spy Water Jars, Quiet Bags, Calm-Me-Jars, Cozy Corners, Punch Bags, and more…Read more

 

 

 

 

 

To a Toddler Sharing is a 4 Letter Word~MINE!

Almost from the moment a baby is born, parents teach them not to share. “No, no, sweetie. That’s mommy’s” and “That’s daddy’s, not yours” accompanied by the removal of whatever the forbidden item is are daily realities for little ones. This is unavoidable, of course, since bacteria-ridden keys don’t belong in little mouths and iphones don’t work well when soaked in drool.

But the challenge comes when our little ‘reflectors’ are expected to share their toys with anyone and everyone who takes a liking to them…Read more

 

Your Baby isn’t Trying to Annoy You; He’s Trying to Communicate! From the moment a child enters the world, they are trying to communicate. Crying, grunting, making eye contact, mirroring expressions, all of these things are the instinctive tools built into infants to reach out into a brand new world and make contact. They can do no more. It is entirely up to the parent to make the connection, to respond, to build those all-important ‘lines of communication’ that will be so vitally important to parents in later childhood. Communication is not something that just happens. It is not something that begins when a child becomes verbal, and it’s not a product of a child’s advancing maturity. Communication is a process, a relational building block, a result of intentional and responsive parenting. Read more

 

Babes and Boundaries~A Gentle Parenting Perspective Gentle parenting doesn’t mean parenting without boundaries! Believe it or not, the foundation for discipline (guiding, leading, teaching…NOT punishment ) begins in the newborn and infancy stages. When parents respond quickly, consistently, and gently to their baby’s cries, the trust relationship that the parent is establishing becomes the cornerstone for later discipline. Boundaries need to be established for a child’s safety and growth into a successful citizen of our world. A child who is secure in the knowledge that he doesn’t have to fight to be heard or to have his needs met is more open and adaptable to limits. And when the ‘limit-setter’ is a person the child trusts, the enforcement of those boundaries becomes a matter of connection and communication instead of conflict and struggle. So, what might setting and enforcing boundaries using gentle parenting look like in real life? Read more

 

Parenting in Public~What’s in Your Quiet Bag? More and more public places are becoming child un-friendly with snarky signs saying they’ll give your child an espresso and a pony if you don’t control him or charge you extra if you dare to enter their establishment and support their business with your hard-earned money or even flat out ban you altogether if you bring ‘the beast’ out in public with you! So what’s a parent to do? Read more

 

 

 

Discipline & Behavior via Dr. Sears

You probably never thought of attachment tools, such as breastfeeding and babywearing, as being acts of discipline, but they are. Attachment parenting is like immunizing your child against emotional diseases later on. Your knowledge of your child becomes like a sixth sense enabling you to anticipate and control situations to keep your kids out of trouble. Discipline is based on building the right relationship with a child more than using the right techniques.

 

Parenting toddlers made simple. via T.E.A.C.H. Through Love

Toddlers can be loud, boisterous, erratic, funny, messy, witty and smart all at the same time. They soak up everything they see and hear and that includes our reactions to their actions.

 

 

What Children Need Most When They Deserve It The Least via Happy Families

Parents prefer not to have their authority questioned. So rather than considering why a child may be resisting, they up the ante, doing their best puffer-fish impersonation, and make threats.

 

Positive Parenting in Action: Exploration/Danger via Positive Parenting

Don’t mistake independence for defiance. Some toddlers are more strong-willed and independent than others. My first son was very mellow and content under my wing, while my second wanted independence early. He doesn’t want to hold my hand in parking lots (we’ll address that one!) because he says “I can walk by myself!”

 

Gentle Discipline: So what DO you do? via The Path Less Taken

Some people, for any number of reasons, do not know about alternatives. They don’t know that there’s another way. Some people want to do things differently, and want to break their cycle, but they honestly do not know where to start.

 

 

Proactive Discipline and Well-behaved Children via Gentle Christian Mothers

Most people seem to think that physical punishment is the only way to elicit good behavior and assume that children who aren’t given prompt and regular spankings will be out of control “monsters”. Well, my kids are not perfect little robots. They have to be reminded to do things and they fight with each other. But my focus is not so much on obedience (do what I say right now!) as you might have expected. Instead my focus is on raising kids who are generally polite and content and care about how those around them feel. And that’s what I’ve got, kids who are noticeably considerate to adults and other children alike.

 

6 Steps to Stop Yelling Dr. Laura Markham/Aha Parenting.com

We all know that our kids respond better if we don’t yell. Instead of escalating a difficult situation, if we can stay calm, it settles everyone else down. Our relationship with our child strengthens. They cooperate more. They start to control their own emotions more. Bottom line: How can you expect your child to control his own emotions if you don’t control yours?

 

The One Thing You Can Do That Will Drastically Improve Your Interactions with Children via Real Child Development

If there was one thing you could do differently that would drastically improve your interactions with children would you want to know? Would you like to know the key that would increase cooperation, reduce tantrums, fighting and negative behavior?

 

Gems via Mothering by Grace

This is a FAST way of making your child feel loved, valued and secure. GEMs help your kids feel affirmed and noticed, so their need to get your attention in negative ways decreases. Your energy levels will rise as you enjoy your child and remember what it’s all about. By focusing on your child and meeting their emotional needs for connection you are actually taking care of yourself at the same time. It takes only a few minutes to have a GEM, yet the positive effects last for ages.

 

Why Spanking is Never Okay via Peaceful Parenting

Scientific research shows that physical punishment does not work in the long run, is associated with an increased risk for many behavioral and psychological problems, and is simply unnecessary given that we have non-violent discipline techniques that are very effective.

 

L.R.Knost is a best-selling parenting and children’s book author and founder and director of Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources, an online resource for gentle parenting education, articles, and research. Books by L.R.Knost include Whispers Through Time: Communication Through the Ages and Stages of Childhood ; Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages ; The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline ; and Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting (Release date: May 2014) the first four books in the Little Hearts Handbook gentle parenting series, as well as her children’s picture books Petey’s Listening Ears and the soon-to-be-released Grumpykins series available from Amazon and other major retailers.

The Bookshelf: Tips, Tools & Techniques for Sharing a Love of Reading with Children

[Portions reprinted with permission from Raising Bookworms: Life, Learning, and Literacy by L.R.Knost available November 2014; Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages, Whispers Through Time: Communication Through the Ages and Stages of Childhood, and The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline by L.R.Knost available on Amazon and through other major retailers.]

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bookshelves“I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves.” ~Anna Quindlen

There’s no denying that reading is a vital part of successfully navigating our information-driven world, but literacy, true literacy, is so much more than simply acquiring information. Literacy is a love of and appreciation for the wisdom of the ages. It is a quest for the knowledge of those who have gone before us and shared their thoughts, discoveries, and experiences in dusty old tomes and modern paperbacks.

Sharing that love, that appreciation, that quest with our children is the gift of a lifetime of exploration, imagination, and revelation. It is the gift of curiosity, wonder, and discovery. Truly, to paraphrase George R.R. Martin, it is the gift of a thousand lifetimes lived in just one.

To that end, here is my virtual reading room, its bookshelves filled with literacy tips, book recommendations, literary quotes, learning through play ideas, and more. Pour yourself a cup of coffee, grab a cozy chair, and join me on the journey of a lifetime…

  • When it comes to reading, do you want your children to become readers or just learn the mechanics of reading? Do you want them to love to read or just to know how? If a love of reading is your goal for your children, here are some ideas to get you started… 8 Tips for Raising Bookworms
  • toddler and mommy readingFairy tales in childhood are stepping-stones throughout life, leading the way through trouble and trial. The value of fairy tales lies not in a brief literary escape from reality, but in the gift of hope that goodness truly is more powerful than evil and that even the darkest reality can lead to a Happily Ever After. Do not take that gift of hope lightly. It has the power to conquer despair in the midst of sorrow, to light the darkness in the valleys of life, to whisper “One more time” in the face of failure. Hope is what gives life to dreams, making the fairy tale the reality. Fairy Tales~The Lost Value of ‘Once upon a time…’
  • Imagination is the language of childhood, so speaking their language when introducing our language only makes sense. Let’s ditch the flashcards, turn off the educational dvd’s, and throw out the worksheets…because learning is child’s play! Alphabet Fun~Imagination From A to Z!
  • Successful reading means far more than possessing the ability to read. Engaging the hearts of students moves reading success beyond a life skill and turns it into a life style. And graphic novels are too powerful of a tool in our arsenal to be disregarded because of pride or prejudice… Raising Super Readers~The MARVELous Power of Comic Books!
  • There is such a rush these days to get children sleeping through the night, weaned off the breast, eating solid foods, potty trained, reading independently, and on and on, that we seem to have lost the ability to simply enjoy life as it happens and let our children do the same. A Return to Childhood
  • Albert Einstein said, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” Unique learners have beautiful minds just waiting to find their genius. We just need to look outside of the box to help them find it. Helping Unique Learners Find Their Genius
  • Think homeschooled children are unsocialized, over-controlled, locked-away-from-the-world misfits? Think again! My Renaissance Girl
  • My SPD/SLD/ADD (Sensory Processing Disorder, Specific Learning Disability-Dyslexia, Visual and Auditory Processing Disorders, Attention Deficit Disorder, etc) sweetie, aka Renaissance Girl, has raised the bar on my homeschooling skills more times than I can count. Her beautiful mind sees the world through a unique lens similar to those of historical icons such as Thomas Edison, Leonardo Da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin, and Albert Einstein…Beautiful Minds
  • March 1st is World Book Day, and March 2nd is Dr. Seuss’ Birthday Extravaganza which includes the release of the much-anticipated new movie, The Lorax! If you’re a book-obsessed, homeschooling, movie-loving, Seussiac like I am, it’s practically a national holiday! And when you add my excitement over my newest little home-grown reader, it’s definitely time for a Seusserrific Celebration! In honor of all of this wonderfulness and to help launch my new little reader into the wonderful world of books, I’ve been scouring the web, the bookshelves, and my scattered brain for all the Seussical fun I could find for my little people and yours. Here are a few of my finds… Seuss-ified~Craft-astic~Snack-errific~Education-cool~Fun!
  • Parenting choices strongly impact the level and type of attachment a child develops and, by extension, the development of a love of learning. A love of learning grows when it isn’t stifled by fear or stress or regimented by over-structuring or a focus on achievement or competition. Parents fostering a healthy attachment are thus also fostering a life-long love of learning in their children. Love, Play, Learn!
  • Truly, what is our goal for our children? Knowledge memorized in lists and tables and regurgitated on bubble-in tests? Or knowledge coupled with experience that leads to understanding and, ultimately, wisdom? Benjamin Franklin said it best when he said, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” The Many Adventures of My Little Pooh Bear
  • 188.) Make them a cozy reading nook; 189.) Squeeze yourself into their reading nook and cuddle up for storytime; 190.) Read them fairy tales; 191.) Buy them comic books; 192.) Make paperchains for the Christmas tree; 193.) Have a birthday party for Jesus before opening presents on Christmas morning; 194.) Make blessing bags and mail them to our troops; 195.) Build bookshelves and start a home library for them… 200 Ways to Bless Your Children with a Happy Childhood
    • If you give a toddler a book

      It’s never too early to share a good book

      He’ll climb into your lap
      While he’s in your lap
      He might lay his head on your chest
      When he lays his head on your chest
      He’ll hear your heartbeat
      When he hears your heartbeat
      He’ll probably ask if you can hear his…
      If You Give A Toddler A Book…

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

L.R.Knost is a best-selling parenting and children’s book author and founder and director of Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources, an online resource for gentle parenting education, articles, and research. Books by L.R.Knost include Whispers Through Time: Communication Through the Ages and Stages of Childhood ; Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages ; The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline ; and Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting (Release date: May 2014) the first four books in the Little Hearts Handbook gentle parenting series, as well as her children’s picture books Petey’s Listening Ears and the soon-to-be-released Grumpykins series available from Amazon and other major retailers.

‘Myths and Facts About Night Wakings’ by Tracy Cassels, Ph.D. Candidate in Developmental Psychology – Friends of L.R.Knost Rock the Guest Posts while She Battles Cancer

When you hear of most people talk of night-wakings in infancy, there seems to be a fear that somehow if they aren’t stopped (usually by a parent), one will be looking at long-term problems that will follow your infant into childhood and beyond.  It’s really rather dramatic, especially for something that is so biologically normal for infants.  After all, they biologically expect to breastfeed and the fat content of our human milk is much lower than in other mammals, meaning our babies need to feed frequently to simply stay alive and grow.  (This is why scheduled feeds with hours between are linked with a ‘failure to thrive’ condition in the short-term[1] and lower intelligence in the long-term[2].)

But what is the situation with respect to night wakings across infancy, toddlerhood, and childhood?  At what point do frequent night wakings pose a problem that will follow a child long-term?  Or is it simply a state like any other state?

awake childMyth: Your baby should be sleeping through by 3 months of age.

Fact: Night waking is normal for babies and toddlers.

I think we first need to be clear that night waking itself isn’t really the “problem”.  The “problem” is that when younger children wake, they often require parental help to fall back asleep, and so parents view night wakings as a problem[3] despite them being biologically normal and not contrary to healthy development.  We must also be clear that when people believe their baby or child “sleeps through the night”, they can only refer to the fact that they do not wake when or if their child wakes.  Babies and children can wake and fall asleep on their own again (though not all will) and so parents simply have no idea how often (if at all) these babies are rousing during the night.

How normal is night waking?  Well, in a longitudinal study looking at night wakings between birth and 3 years of age, the percentage of infants/children who did not signal their parents at night from 6 months to 3 years only rose from 29.58% to 37.94%[4].  At 3 years of age, 25.6% of toddlers were waking and signaling their parents 3 or more nights per week.  And notably, none of these children suffered any clinical problems or sleep disorders.

Myth: If your baby wakes regularly into the night, they will continue to wake in the night until you stop it.

Fact:  Early night waking does not predict later night wakings.

Sleeping toddlerWhat do I mean?  Well, I mean that night waking in infancy does not predict night waking at later ages, at least based on a very comprehensive, longitudinal study out of Switzerland[5] and there are no studies I have found that counter this finding.  In this particular study, which examined 493 children and their families, night wakings from 3 months of age onward actually rose consistently until age 4, when over half of the children were waking at least once per week and 22% were waking every night.  These numbers then declined slightly until age 10, but even at age 10, over 20% of children were waking at least once per week and around 4% were waking nightly.  Notably, night waking in infancy (< 1-2 years) was not predictive of night waking later, but later (> 1-2 years) night waking was associated with further night wakings.  Now, what the authors do not measure, and acknowledge as a limitation, is how long the child wakes, the reason for waking, does the child require parental help, breastfeeding, etc.

Notably, night wakings were not associated with other sleep disturbances, such as bedtime resistance and sleep-onset problems (i.e., the ability to fall asleep relatively efficiently).  This implies that they are distinct from other sleep behaviours that parents find problematic.  Though only my opinion, my take is that these other behaviours reflect social or emotional issues (e.g., anxiety around sleep, stress) while night wakings are more physiological or biological in nature.

[Somewhat off topic but fascinatingly, they found that increases in bedsharing in the toddler years was associated with less bedtime resistance or sleep-onset problems, suggesting that children are yearning for contact and experiencing separation anxiety which bedsharing provides a “fix” to.  The authors propose this as well as cohort effects found that children raised in an earlier time did not have the bedsharing rates later groups did and had much greater reported problems associated with bedtime resistance and sleep-onset problems.]

Myth: Night waking is a sign that something is wrong and you have to do something to fix it.

Fact: Night waking often reflects developmentally appropriate behaviour across all ages.

One of the highlights of the Swiss research mentioned above was the acknowledgement that night wakings may not be negative at all, but rather reflect the individual developmental stage of any child.  As they so wonderfully put it,

[N]ight wakings must be understood in the context of cognitive, emotional, and physical changes that occur at different developmental stages.  Some children may need parental proximity during the night as during the day depending on their developmental level, individual characteristics, and attachment behavior.[5]

In the toddler years, night wakings are often associated with children coming into bed with the parents as many toddlers are first put to sleep in their own room or bed.  The degree of separation anxiety that toddlers feel can be great and they require the proximity to parents to help feel safe again[6], leading to night wakings and moving sleep locations.  This same feeling of anxiety or security can come at all ages throughout childhood, though, and a child that still demonstrates this at 8 or 9 years of age is still in the developmentally normal range.  There is also the issue of nighttime fears and nightmares which increase with age through childhood until a peak (often early childhood) then start to decrease again; these fears are considered cognitively, socially, and emotionally normal[7], but do result in night wakings that often require parental involvement.  Then of course there are the reasons we all tend to wake at night (adults included): Going to the bathroom, too much on our mind, stress, etc.  These things can affect children as well, especially school-age children who have to cope with school, evolving relationships with friends, possible stress in the household, and more.

***

Lots of people today worry that night wakings reflect a “problem” and that they need to deal with it or else they will face long-term sleep problems.  Well, first let’s be clear that night wakings in infancy have no predictive power over later night wakings.  So you can put that little myth to rest.  Second, you can be sure that night wakings are entirely normal through toddlerhood and are not associated with any ill effects for your child.  Not all children will experience them, but those that do are not experiencing anything problematic.  And finally, many of the children who continue to wake do so for very normal, developmentally appropriate reasons; just as adults often wake at night too.  There may be times when parents need to seek help about their child’s sleep, but these will often be due to more than just night wakings.  Clusters of problems are what parents should be concerned with, not night wakings alone.

So the next time someone – anyone – tells you that you need to stop your child from waking in the night, you can – at the very least – smile, nod, and go ahead and do absolutely nothing.  Without worry.

Tracy Cassels is the founder and primary writer for Evolutionary Parenting.  She obtained her B.A. in Cognitive Science from the University of California, Berkeley and an M.A. in Clinical Psychology from the University of British Columbia.  She is currently a Ph.D. Candidate in Developmental Psychology, also at the University of British Columbia, where she is studying how certain evolutionary factors affect children’s empathic behavior. She can also be found on Facebook here.

Related posts:

Parenting Through Cancer: Coping with Emotions

‘Patience Doesn’t Feel Patient’ by Sarah Sprague – Friends of L.R.Knost Rock the Guest Posts while She Battles Cancer

‘Encouraging Safe Negative Emotional Expression (i.e. Stopping the Peeing, Spitting & Kicking)’ by Guggie Daly – Friends of L.R.Knost Rock the Guest Posts while She Battles Cancer

‘The Myth of Baby Sleep Regressions: What’s Really Happening to Your Baby’s Sleep?’ by Pinky McKay – Friends of L.R.Knost Rock the Guest Posts While She Battles Cancer

’12 Ways to Get Past No’ by Dr. Laura Markham – Friends of L.R.Knost Rock the Guest Posts while She Battles Cancer

‘5 Keys to Setting Limits that Minimize Tantrums and Meltdowns’ by Amy Bryant – Friends of L.R.Knost Rock the Guest Posts while She Battles Cancer

‘What I Believe He Will Believe’ by Abby Theuring, MSW – Friends of L.R.Knost Rock the Guest Posts while She Battles Cancer

My Cancer Story, Part 1: The Diagnosis

L.R.Knost is a best-selling parenting and children’s book author and founder and director of Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources, an online resource for gentle parenting education, articles, and research. Books by L.R.Knost include Whispers Through Time: Communication Through the Ages and Stages of Childhood ; Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages ; The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline ; and Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting (Release date: May 2014) the first four books in the Little Hearts Handbook gentle parenting series, as well as her children’s picture books Petey’s Listening Ears and the soon-to-be-released Grumpykins series available from Amazon and other major retailers.

Parenting Through Cancer: Coping with Emotions

Funny Face“Bedtime. Go grab your toothbrush from the suitcase, okay?”

“Why?” my eight-year-old asks.

“It’s late, and we all need to sleep. Please go brush your teeth and get ready for bed,” I reply, distracted as I pack the last few things for my extended hospital stay after my surgery in the morning.

“Why?” her determined voice questions.

“We need to get ready for bed, sweetie,” I answer, still not glancing in her direction as I mentally go through my checklist to make sure I’ve packed everything I’ll need.

“Why?” she persists, her volume rising.

My attention is finally caught by her challenging tone, and I turn to look at her.

Belligerent eyes stare me down.

I take a deep breath to get through my first knee-jerk, stress reaction, then consciously slow my breathing, quiet my thoughts, and focus fully on my strong-spirited little girl who is clearly in contrary mode.

I wait.

She shifts, uncomfortable, then shoots, “Why?”

I soften my gaze and offer a slight smile.

I wait.

“Why?” she snaps again, a bit more quietly.

I hold her gaze calmly, knowing she needs space and time to work through her feelings before she’ll be able to share them.

I wait.

She turns away, her small shoulders stiff as she sits on the side of the bed, her back to me.

I wait.

A minute passes, then two. Then, in a soft voice, “I don’t want you to go.”

“I know,” I say quietly.

I wait again.

Moments pass in silence, then she whispers, “I’m scared.”

“I know, baby. I am, too,” I reply, struggling to hold back my own tears as I hear hers start.

And I wait.

Soon a small body crashes into me and my girl wraps her arms around me tightly. I hold her close, my heart breaking at the pain and fear I wish she never had to feel. After a few moments she slips away and brushes her teeth, then settles quietly into bed.

I lay awake throughout the night, listening to the even breathing of my sleeping eight-year-old nearby and cuddling my tiny cosleeper close and praying desperately for all of my children as I head into the unknown.

Hours later, I slip out of bed and kiss each sleeping child, then leave for an early hospital check-in. My heart stays behind with my feisty sweet girl and my little cosleeper and each one of my six incredibly unique and wonderfully kind-hearted children. This is so hard. Cancer sucks.

Related posts:

My Cancer Story, Part 1: The Diagnosis

The Gift of a Strong-Willed Child

Backtalk is Communication…LISTEN

Bridge Over Troubled Waters~Parenting a ‘Problem’ Child

The Problem with Punishment

12 Steps to Gentle Parenting

Spare the Rod: The Heart of the Matter

Toxic Parenting: Spanking, Shaming, Threatening, Manipulating

 

L.R.Knost is a best-selling parenting and children’s book author and founder and director of Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources, an online resource for gentle parenting education, articles, and research. Books by L.R.Knost include Whispers Through Time: Communication Through the Ages and Stages of Childhood ; Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages ; The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline ; and Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting (Release date: May 2014) the first four books in the Little Hearts Handbook gentle parenting series, as well as her children’s picture books Petey’s Listening Ears and the soon-to-be-released Grumpykins series available from Amazon and other major retailers.

‘Patience Doesn’t Feel Patient’ by Sarah Sprague – Friends of L.R.Knost Rock the Guest Posts while She Battles Cancer

mom and daughterThey say that bravery doesn’t feel brave or fearless because if you’re not afraid it is something other than bravery. I guess that patience is one of those things, as well.

From the outside it looks like calm and peace but from the inside it can feel more like the tested limits of self control.

Learning to be patient is learning how to separate what we feel from how we act. It is learning to accept our feelings while choosing to not act on them. It is learning to say to ourselves:

I can be angry without acting angry.
I can be impatient without acting impatient.
I can be upset without acting upset.
I can be hurt without acting hurt.
I can feel without acting on my feelings.
I can feel without reacting to what I feel.

When I choose to act patient I slow down. I speak more slowly than I normally would. I lower my volume and I pace my words so that they won’t rush together in an explosion of words that no one will understand and that will act as a precursor to yelling. There’s a rhythm to this patience that doesn’t feel patient. A slow rhythm. A careful spacing of words. A slowness to how my body moves as I make sure that no part of me will gain a momentum that will feel like hitting or grabbing or being anything other than soft and gentle.

  • When my toddler hits again.
  • When my seven year old is upset that he doesn’t understand his homework and is avoiding doing it instead of asking questions.
  • When my four year old has snuck his safety scissors into the other room so that he can cut apart a travel pillow to see what is inside, and the entire world feels like it’s covered with tiny Styrofoam pellets.
  • When the two-and-a-half gallon water dispenser has been opened by someone curious and it has flooded the kitchen.
  • When my three year old fed the fish every container of fish food all at once and the twenty nine gallon aquarium needed to have all of its water cleaned and replaced at bedtime.

I slow down to try and run in quicksand. I go slow-motion like walking through an empty room with a strobe light. I try and move my body through a thickened air. And I try to slow every word down so that it comes with a peace and gentleness that doesn’t show any of the frustration that I feel.

I grasp at all of the excuses that my child doesn’t yet have the words to offer. I try and see what positive or curious motivations they  might have, or what stresses may be driving them to this place. I try to wrap every part of my heart and brain around empathy and love.

He sits at the table fiddling with his pencil. Nothing has been done on his worksheet, not even his name. He has gotten up to do half a dozen things. I have to make dinner. I have to sweep the floors. I have to do all the things on my to-do list.

“Issac.. Can you please do your homework?” I ask.

“Okay.” He says. And he picks up his pencil and stares off into space.

I am feeling anything but patient. My daughter has not napped today and she claws at my knees to be picked up, asks to draw on his homework with his pencil, and wants no substitutes for this thing that she cannot have. So now I’m being screamed at. I tap at his worksheet and he tells me to help Keenie calm down. So I walk away to find her some playdoh so that we can work on his homework together.

I come back. Nothing’s been done.

Breathe. Slow down. Find the reasons. Seven hour days at school with fifteen minute recesses. Not nearly enough time to decompress after school. He’s having a hard time reconnecting to what he’s trying to do.

I move slowly, lay my hand on his shoulder as softly and gently as I can. On contact my own tense muscles relax. This is my child. My son. He is seven and I love him dearly.

I plant a kiss on his head, and sniff his hair the way I used to when he was tiny, when he was a toddler. It smells just like him.

My other hand comes down to his worksheet. I’m standing behind him, my body enveloping his. Supporting and soft and patient, not angry and looming. My finger pointing to where he needs to write his name. Slow voice. Quiet voice. “Isaac, what does this say?” I ask. Trying to get him to look at the worksheet long enough to begin writing.

He writes his name.

“Now what’s the next question?” I ask. Soft. Slow. Clear. Strong.

He doesn’t answer. He doesn’t move.

I tap the paper. His eyes move to where I’m pointing.

“Can you read this for me?” I ask. He reads the question out loud.

“Do you understand what the question is asking?” I ask.

The dam breaks. He doesn’t understand. He screeches frustration and tells me that he didn’t understand in class.

My frustration is gone. I understand now. We go over what he can do if he doesn’t understand something in class. I ask him if he wants me to help him figure out how he can answer the questions or if he wants me to write a note on the top so that his teachers will know he needs more help with this topic. He chooses to have me try and show him how to work out the answers.

I sit down next to him. He’s fully engaged now.

Patience did not feel patient at first.  But then. At the end of it, when I’ve responded well? When the crisis is past. When the messes have been cleaned up? When I’ve helped my seven year old slow down to re-focus and understand what he refuses to understand? When I’ve had self control and when I have acted patient?

That is when patience feels patient. When we’re past the thing that has me pulling my hair out. When we’re past the thing that has me wanting to move faster and raise my voice. When we’re past the thing that has me wanting to throw a tantrum all of my own.

That.. Is when I feel patient. Radiant. Powerful.

And it takes my breath away.

Sarah Sprague, creator of the ‘Wait-It-Out’ gentle sleep learning method (WIO), writes at Nurshable: Joy in Gentle Parenting and can be found on Facebook at Nurshable.

Related posts:

‘Encouraging Safe Negative Emotional Expression (i.e. Stopping the Peeing, Spitting & Kicking)’ by Guggie Daly – Friends of L.R.Knost Rock the Guest Posts while She Battles Cancer

‘The Myth of Baby Sleep Regressions: What’s Really Happening to Your Baby’s Sleep?’ by Pinky McKay – Friends of L.R.Knost Rock the Guest Posts While She Battles Cancer

’12 Ways to Get Past No’ by Dr. Laura Markham – Friends of L.R.Knost Rock the Guest Posts while She Battles Cancer

‘5 Keys to Setting Limits that Minimize Tantrums and Meltdowns’ by Amy Bryant – Friends of L.R.Knost Rock the Guest Posts while She Battles Cancer

‘What I Believe He Will Believe’ by Abby Theuring, MSW – Friends of L.R.Knost Rock the Guest Posts while She Battles Cancer

My Cancer Story, Part 1: The Diagnosis

 

L.R.Knost is a best-selling parenting and children’s book author and founder and director of Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources, an online resource for gentle parenting education, articles, and research. Books by L.R.Knost include Whispers Through Time: Communication Through the Ages and Stages of Childhood ; Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages ; The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline ; and Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting (Release date: May 2014) the first four books in the Little Hearts Handbook gentle parenting series, as well as her children’s picture books Petey’s Listening Ears and the soon-to-be-released Grumpykins series available from Amazon and other major retailers.

‘Encouraging Safe Negative Emotional Expression (i.e. Stopping the Peeing, Spitting & Kicking)’ by Guggie Daly – Friends of L.R.Knost Rock the Guest Posts while She Battles Cancer

A common stage that can start around age 2 but typically peaks by age 4 is the passive aggressive communication of negative feelings. This stage occurs on its own as a normal milestone because the child needs to develop verbal skills and emotional intelligence. But, for some children, the stage can be especially difficult due to various factors.

First, if the child has been emotionally invalidated frequently by other caregivers or cherished peers, this behavior might become a way to passively share emotions or cry out for help, or even attempt to take back some semblance of control. Watch out for common invalidating comments. Take steps to remind the adult that your child is learning and respect is required. Briefly but firmly reassure the child when invalidation occurs. Some examples of emotional invalidation:

Oh, you’re ok! Stop crying about it.
Hey! There’s no reason to be angry about that, quit it.
Oh, you’re being a scaredy cat. That’s not scary at all.
Why are you crying over such a silly thing? Don’t be a baby.
I don’t care if that makes you angry. That doesn’t matter.
I can’t stand when you cry like that. Knock it off already.
Your brother isn’t scared of the dark. Why don’t you be like him?

Besides directly hurting the child, invalidating situations deprive the child of an opportunity to practice emotional processing and emotional regulation. It’s a loss of skill development. Try whenever possible to defend your child from invalidation.

Second, if the child is experiencing any language difficulties or delays, or other circumstances and conditions that interfere with easy verbal communication such as hearing difficulties, autism, hyperactivity, etc, then this stage can persist because it is simply easier to communicate physically. Or it might be impossible from the child’s perspective to communicate in ways society deems appropriate. In these cases, removing the obstacle when possible and working on coping skills can help create a bridge from the physical outbursts to safer expression.

When your child only expresses negative emotions in your presence

Many parents report that their children do not act out at school, daycare, the other parent’s home, in front of peers, etc. But, seemingly the moment they get home, suddenly the children are throwing things, screaming, spitting, wetting their pants…why the sudden change?

If your child only expresses negative emotions in your presence, or in specific areas such as only at home, this is a sign that she feels safest with you. It’s not a bad sign. It doesn’t mean she’s taking advantage of you or that you’re too soft on her. On the contrary, it means she has big emotions boiling up inside her and she only trusts you to see them.

Think about it. If you’re really stressed out about something you feel is perhaps slightly embarrassing (read: invalidating or shamed by others) you probably keep it hidden. You don’t cry your eyes out at work. You don’t curse and go on about someone who hurt you at the playground. You wait until you’re home and with a safe person to finally let go of your feelings. Children do this, too. And if your child is doing this frequently, it could be a sign that he feels shamed, judged, or invalidated. Remember this when you are facing frustrating behavior, so that you can respond in a way that builds the trust while developing the communication skills.

When your child begins to use emotional outbursts to exert control

Children who feel stifled emotionally can feel powerless. This can cause intense feelings of resentment and anxiety. The child is stuck experiencing what feels like a very large crisis, but the adults around him ignore it or punish him if he lets them know about it. He’s new to the world and has very few skills for handling it, so he’s lost in himself and lost to others.

As he begins to act out, he comes to find that certain ways of expressing his emotion not only feel good, letting off steam and relieving that anxiety inside him, but might also cause a reaction in others. If it feels good and gets him what he wants, it must be a good idea to keep using it!

Suddenly, you have a child who spits on you when she’s angry or pees her pants when she’s rejected. Who throws toys at children at the park when she feels left out or pretends to choke on food she doesn’t like.

Emotions don’t just melt away. They will find their way out, and in children who haven’t developed healthy emotional skills, they will come out in ways we dislike. Ways that might hurt others or cause negative reactions. Ways that tempt us to rain down punishment and consequences.

If your child is falling back on crude emotional expression to get your attention, it’s a sign that she needs your help, not punishment at this time. No, I’m not saying to condone the behavior or to go all wishy-washy. I’m warning against hyper focusing on the negative behavior to the point that skill-building is squeezed out. Even if the child is punished enough to be convinced to stop the emotional outburst, she still needs to learn healthy ways to process and express her emotions. The need is still there. Start processing with her.

Great. So how is this done? 

Let’s use a real life example of a 3 year old who is fully potty trained and does not wet her pants at preschool or with her father. But, she frequently wets her pants when with her mother. Not only does this warn us that she feels safe in her mother’s presence and that she has some big emotions building up inside her, but the child has also begun to use the emotional outbursts to cause reactions in others.

For example, when the mother walked away from the 3 year old to care for the baby, the 3 year old wet her pants.

At this point, a lot of different approaches could be taken ranging from shaming and punishment to completely ignoring it and remaining emotionless while cleaning up the mess. These are merely superficial responses, however, and do nothing to encourage her to develop emotional skills.

Let’s say the mother has just come back from caring for the baby and the 3 year old is sitting on the floor with wet pants and with an angry and slightly rejected expression on her face. What does the mom do for her?

She gets down on one knee, moving close to her, making eye contact and making physical contact such as by touching her arm gently. While keeping physical and eye contact, she begins assessing the situation.

Hey. I see that you peed in your pants. You must be feeling pretty embarrassed right now. Can you use your words to tell me why you peed your pants? Pause for response. You were feeling angry because I left you to help the baby, huh. It made your heart hurt? Pause for response.

You know, it’s okay to feel angry. That’s a strong feeling, but it doesn’t make you a bad person. Everyone feels angry sometimes. When I feel angry, it makes my stomach squeeze. What does it feel like for you? Pause for response.

Next time when you feel angry, I want you to use your words to tell me. Say, “I’m angry!” Let’s try it right now. Ready? Tell me! Pause for response. Remember, instead of peeing your pants, it’s okay to tell me that you’re angry. I’ll always listen to you.

And if you begin to recognize individual triggers, briefly remind her before they happen:

I’m going to focus on caring for your sister right now. Remember, if you feel alone, come grab my hand and tell me instead of peeing your pants.

I’m going to leave the room to make dinner. If you feel scared inside, come and get me, ok? Remember to keep your pants dry.

Tonight, we’re going to be very busy with the baby at the park. If you start to feel angry, be sure to tell me with your big girl words! I will listen.

Remember to keep it as simple or long as needed, pausing when needed and following cues to go where the conversation leads you. As children begin to realize how much connection they can make with words, lots of thoughts might tumble out in little situations like this. Try to listen intently and to provide a safe place for those emotions to come out.

Realistically in the beginning it might take several incidents before you see your child come out of his shell and begin to share with you. And especially if he has been mocked or shamed in any way, it might take a long, dedicated effort to show him that it’s safe to share. So don’t give up too soon!

Guggie Daly, taking a break from her studies in neuroscience to care for her four young children, hopes to share relevant, up to date information with other parents so that they can take advantage of foresight and not live with hindsight.  You can find more information on her blog at Guggie Daly: Empowering Information and on Facebook at The Guggie Daily.

L.R.Knost is a best-selling parenting and children’s book author and founder and director of Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources, an online resource for gentle parenting education, articles, and research. Books by L.R.Knost include Whispers Through Time: Communication Through the Ages and Stages of Childhood ; Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages ; The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline ; and Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting (Release date: May 2014) the first four books in the Little Hearts Handbook gentle parenting series, as well as her children’s picture books Petey’s Listening Ears and the soon-to-be-released Grumpykins series available from Amazon and other major retailers.

‘The Myth of Baby Sleep Regressions: What’s Really Happening to Your Baby’s Sleep?’ by Pinky McKay – Friends of L.R.Knost Rock the Guest Posts While She Battles Cancer

baby-sleep-eye.jpgThe 4 month sleep regression, the 12 month sleep regression, the 18 month sleep regression – what is happening?

Of course, any time your baby’s sleep suddenly seems to go pear shaped , you wonder what am I doing wrong? Having a neat little term like ‘sleep regression’ gets you off the hook – it’s not you, it’s your baby. It’s a sleep regression. It’s normal and common and it will pass.

The term ‘sleep regression’ sounds more helpful than the patronising label ‘accidental parenting’ which implies you have done something to create your wakeful baby but you are such a half-wit you didn’t even realize you were doing something ‘wrong’. It sounds much smarter too and even a little bit intellectual, as though you have done your homework about infant sleep.

But here’s the thing: your baby isn’t having a ‘regression’. Sleep isn’t a milestone – even though it certainly feels like an achievement when your baby starts snoozing for several hours at a stretch. By the way, ‘all night’ in infant sleep studies means five hours sleep in a row –not eight hours like an adult or twelve hours like some baby books will tell you. The real, measurable, important milestones that signal your baby’s actual development can influence your baby’s sleep, or lack of it. So, when your baby, who has been sleeping in peaceful blocks, suddenly starts waking more frequently, it usually means he is approaching a real developmental milestone – he is not ‘regressing’, he is ‘progressing.’

Developmental milestones can be physical (rolling, crawling, cruising, walking), emotional (separation anxiety) and neurological. Neurological milestones are outlined in ‘The Wonder Weeks’ , a book by Dutch researchers, psychologists Franz Plooij and Hetty Van Der Rit , who observed many children in their homes over a number of years. They describe the ‘wonder weeks’ as critical periods of development that change the baby’s perception of his world. For instance, at 26 weeks, babies start to perceive distance. This means that as you walk away, your baby is now more aware of the distance that separates you and he will yell at you because the increasing distance between you and him is confusing and a bit scary.

As babies approach any new developmental phase, their perception of the world changes so, although this can be just a blip on the radar for some babies, more sensitive babies will need extra reassurance and can become quite clingy or generally unsettled at these times.

Because babies process information during their sleep – circulation to the brain almost doubles during REM sleep – it’s perfectly normal for them to wake more often as they are approaching new milestones. For instance, at around four months (the four month sleep ‘regression’ that everyone is talking about), babies are becoming much more aware of the world – they are babbling (this is the beginning of language acquisition), exploring things with their mouth (soon that will include their feet too as they suck their toes), they are recognizing familiar people (and becoming anxious around strangers – separation anxiety is kicking in), many babies are starting to roll over so they wake because they have unintentionally rolled onto their belly and this has woken them. They are confused and upset because they really wanted to be sleeping but that tiny brain processing information has resulted in some extra ‘practice’ of their new skill. All of this adds up to a very busy little brain that finds it difficult to switch off. And, as well as often having difficulty getting to sleep in the first place or resettling after being woken by their busy brains and bodies, when he wakes, confused, your baby will call for help from the most important person in his world – you.

Of course at any time if your baby suddenly becomes unsettled or wakeful, it’s important to check that there isn’t a medical reason for this or an impending illness such as sore ears or a urinary tract infection (babies generally wake when they wee if they have a UTI because it hurts), or if your baby has recently started family foods she isn’t upset by food sensitivities.

Once you have ruled out illness as a reason for sudden changes in your baby’s sleep patterns, consider your baby’s development: what new skills is your baby learning? Is she a bit more clingy during her awake times? Does she seem more sensitive right now? And try to see her wakefulness as a positive – she is not regressing, she is progressing. She is learning and developing in leaps and bounds. She isn’t waking because you have done anything wrong. You aren’t encouraging ‘bad habits’ you are helping your baby feel secure as she grows through these intense developmental stages. You don’t have to justify your baby’s behavior with fancy labels or reasons for her waking (except perhaps, to yourself if it makes you feel better).

The good news is that, as your baby masters each new milestone, there will be spells of sound sleep again – until the next developmental leap!

pinky mckayPinky McKay is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant and best selling author of Sleeping Like a Baby, 100 Ways to Calm the Crying, Parenting By Heart and Toddler Tactics.  For more baby sleep tips, check out her bundle - Sleeping Like a Baby plus the recording package of interviews by leading international sleep researchers ‘The Truth About Infant Sleep – Science, Wisdom and Gentle Solutions’ 

Related posts:

’12 Ways to Get Past No’ by Dr. Laura Markham – Friends of L.R.Knost Rock the Guest Posts while She Battles Cancer

‘5 Keys to Setting Limits that Minimize Tantrums and Meltdowns’ by Amy Bryant – Friends of L.R.Knost Rock the Guest Posts while She Battles Cancer

‘What I Believe He Will Believe’ by Abby Theuring, MSW – Friends of L.R.Knost Rock the Guest Posts while She Battles Cancer

My Cancer Story, Part 1: The Diagnosis

L.R.Knost is a best-selling parenting and children’s book author and founder and director of Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources, an online resource for gentle parenting education, articles, and research. Books by L.R.Knost include Whispers Through Time: Communication Through the Ages and Stages of Childhood ; Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages ; The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline ; and Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting (Release date: May 2014) the first four books in the Little Hearts Handbook gentle parenting series, as well as her children’s picture books Petey’s Listening Ears and the soon-to-be-released Grumpykins series available from Amazon and other major retailers.

’12 Ways to Get Past No’ by Dr. Laura Markham – Friends of L.R.Knost Rock the Guest Posts while She Battles Cancer

“2 year-olds argue with their parents 20 to 25 times an hour.” — Study reported in Child Development Magazine

Between 11 and 15 months, we learn a wonderful word:  “No!”

It’s an ecstatic discovery. We learn we are separate, autonomous beings with a will of our own who can impact what happens in the world.  We delight in saying, “No!” at every opportunity.

Our “No” is actually a big “YES!”

It’s an awesome, pure expression of our life force.

After the first cute “No” or two, our parents are usually less than delighted.  In fact, this developmental stage launches what’s often called the “terrible twos.”  Rarely are our ecstatic expressions of primal life force affirmed.  Do you remember your father or mother saying:
“I love your independence and autonomy!”
“I see that you’re learning to stand up for your own truth, which will really help you later in life.”

More common messages are along the lines of:
“Don’t you dare talk back to me!”
“We’ll nip this in the bud!”

There may be the threat—or the reality—of punishment or physical force.  There is almost always the withdrawal of love, as parents walk away when little ones tantrum–the only way they know to make their No heard.

Being powerless and utterly dependent, we soon learn to hide our No’s.  We begin to resort to whining, passive resistance, and manipulation. By the time we reach adulthood, we’ve often lost touch with our own needs.

So when our little one falls in love with the word NO, danger signs flash inside us.  We know that NO is dangerous, even if we don’t know why. We think we MUST teach him who’s in charge, right away. Defiance from our child, whether two or twelve, is met with an emotional slap-down as we put him in his place.

The problem is that defiance is a sign that your child is having a problem. When we just rush in with an iron fist, we don’t address the real issue. Which might be that she feels you aren’t listening. Or that she needs your help to cry. Or that she needs you to teach her how to express her needs and wants without attacking the other person. Or maybe she feels she’s sticking up for her integrity.

If she’s a tween or teen, that should make you rejoice. Research shows that teens who are willing to stand up to their parents are also more likely to stand up to their peers. (After all, she could just lie to avoid a confrontation, which is what most teens do.) And kids who can stand up for their own truth start as toddlers.

So even though you get triggered, this isn’t about who is in charge.  Your child knows you’re in charge.  This is about your child’s right to his feelings, even while you honor your responsibility to keep him safe and healthy.

It IS possible to say “No” in a way that honors your own truth, while still staying in positive contact with your child.  It IS possible to honor both your needs and your child’s age-appropriate need to assert herself. The secret?

1. Stop seeing your child’s NO as something you need to overcome. Instead, see it as a YES offering in a duet dance of negotiation. Every dance is a chance to partner with your child, and that foundation of partnership will create more joy — not to mention better behavior–in the years ahead.

2. Don’t take it personally.  Your child is allowed to have a different view than yours.  Her willingness to be different is a strength you want to nurture.

3. Listen to your child’s No.  “You’re saying NO, No bath!  I hear you!”  Sometimes being heard is all our child needs. And the more your child feels seen, heard and acknowledged, the less he’ll need to get your attention by being contrary.

4. Listen to the YES behind the NO.  “You love playing with the toy horse; you don’t want to stop for a bath, right?  That’s okay, you can keep right on playing with the horses… Let’s gallop them into the bathroom!  They’re all dusty from riding all day!” 

5. Sidestep the NO! by making your request an invitation to play.  The secret to smooth transitions is using yourself as the bridge, and no child can refuse your invitation to play.  “Climb on my back, Cowboy, we’re headed for the bathtub in the hills!”

6. Sidestep the NO! by giving your child a choice.  Win-win solutions mean you both get what you need.  “NO bath?  Maybe you and the horses need to be hosed down in the kitchen sink?”  Who cares where he gets clean?

7. Sidestep the NO! by honoring his autonomy without giving up your request. “NO Bath right now?  Ok, Sweetie.  We’ll wait five minutes. Then you may look at the plastic containers in the kitchen and be in charge of which ones you want to play with in the tub.”   Telling your child he “may” do something is magic.  You won’t be able to restrain him from the bath.

8. Join the No. In a joking voice: “Whatever you do, DON’T get in the bathtub.  NO, NO, NO, don’t turn on the water!! NO, NO, NO, don’t take off your clothes!!”

9. Honor the autonomy under the NO.”Want to be in charge of turning on the water and deciding what toys go in the bath?  Who should take your clothes off?”

10. Teach your child to express his needs without attacking you. “You sound worried…Oh, you’re worried about that song about the child who goes down the bathtub drain? Don’t worry, you can be in charge of the plug. We won’t pull it out until you’re out of the tub, and then you can watch the water go down. You’ll see that only water can fit.”

11. Just say YES!  Match the exuberance of your YES! to your child’s No.  Trust yourself to find a way to make both you and your child happy by responding to her No with all the Yes energy you can summon.  “YES, it’s time for your bath, and YES you can bring your horses, and YES you can ride on my back up the stairs on my back up the stairs, and YES I love you so much and YES, LET”S GO!” Your child will match your generosity of spirit.

12. Honor the disappointment when you can’t agree with the No.  When you need to put your foot down, you can say your No with empathy and compassion for your child.  “I’m sorry, Sweetie, it’s time.  That makes you sad, I see. You wish you could play more. I bet when you grow up you’ll play all night, every night, won’t you?” (That will get a yes!)

These examples are all from the toddler years, but if you start off raising your child this way, you’ll raise a tween and teen who can stand firm in his own integrity while he respects yours.

Remember that you can always find a way to meet both your needs.  If you keep your sense of humor, and honor both your own NO and your child’s, you can always find a way to get past the word NO —  to the YES! energy right behind it.

PeacefulParentHappyKids_FINAL.inddDr. Laura Markham is the author of Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How To Stop Yelling and Start Connecting. You can get her free coaching posts right in your In Box at AhaParenting.com.

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L.R.Knost is a best-selling parenting and children’s book author and founder and director of Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources, an online resource for gentle parenting education, articles, and research. Books by L.R.Knost include Whispers Through Time: Communication Through the Ages and Stages of Childhood ; Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages ; The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline ; and Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting (Release date: May 2014) the first four books in the Little Hearts Handbook gentle parenting series, as well as her children’s picture books Petey’s Listening Ears and the soon-to-be-released Grumpykins series available from Amazon and other major retailers.

‘5 Keys to Setting Limits that Minimize Tantrums and Meltdowns’ by Amy Bryant – Friends of L.R.Knost Rock the Guest Posts while She Battles Cancer

Guiding children sometimes includes setting limits or boundaries, and is a necessary part of keeping our children safe and helping them learn about themselves, their relationships, and the world around them. And we can guide children and set limits with them in ways that minimize tantrums simply by creating an emotionally nurturing environment and by our approach to limit-setting. This is also an opportunity for us to model respect, collaboration, and focusing on solutions!

We can choose to engage with our children and reinforce boundaries in ways that minimize triggering an emotionally overwhelming response.

5 Keys to Setting Limits That Minimize Tantrums

  • Connect
  • Respond With Intention
  • Model Appropriate Emotional Responses
  •  Use Positive Language
  • Implement Creative Solutions
When we set limits with our children, how we set the limit is key. In order to minimize tantrums and meltdowns it helps to consider their developmental ability to handle both the limit and the delivery of the limit. This does not mean we “fall all over ourselves” to keep from upsetting them; it simply means we consider their emotional development when we choose our approach to setting a limit. Children are able to deal with limits when they are set in ways that are emotionally nurturing.
Here are some examples of language you can practice with your children today:
Your toddler is throwing blocks and dumping toys all over the house…
Your immediate reaction is to think, “unsafe! big mess! stoooooooooop!”
Instead, take a deep breath and respond:

 “I can see you’re having fun throwing the blocks and dumping the toys. We want everyone to be safe. You can throw them in this laundry basket or you can drop them on a pillow.”

First we connect by acknowledging the fun our child is having. This allows our children to know we understand their actions and that we are in partnership with them versus have a power struggle against them. Then we take time to respond with intention, which models appropriate emotional responses by remaining calm and empathetic. Finally, we model positive language and show our child a creative solution so the child can continue to learn about the world in safe ways.

Your preschooler wants ice cream while you’re cooking dinner.
Your immediate reaction is to think, “I’m working hard to fix a healthy dinner. Ice cream will ruin your appetite. No way!”

Instead, take a deep breath and respond:

“Ice cream is so yummy. Wouldn’t it be fun to eat it all the time? We can have ice cream after we eat dinner.”

First we connect by acknowledging our child’s wishes, which maximizes a collaborative relationship with our child. We connect by acknowledging how fun it really would be to eat ice cream! Then we take time to respond with an intentionally appropriate emotional responses – we remain calm and empathetic; and we use positive language to set the limit, telling the child when s/he can have what she wants.

Another example: In May my daughter (age 4) and I bought sushi to eat before grocery shopping. She wanted ice cream first, so we talked about food as fuel for our bodies and she came up with a creative solution, “How about I dip my sushi in my ice cream?” I knew she was very hungry, so I agreed. She dipped her sushi in her ice cream until all the sushi was gone, then gobbled up the rest of her ice cream (mango, ginger sorbet…an excellent choice for a sushi dip, eh?! LOL). Knowing our children is an important part of this process too!

Your 7-year old wants to stay at the zoo until it closes even though everyone is exhausted after 7 hours at the zoo already.
Your immediate reaction is to think, “No. You’re tired and we need to get home and have dinner before we all have a meltdown!”

Instead, take a deep breath, consider their request, and respond:
“You’ve have had so much fun at the zoo today and you’re not ready to leave. I had a lot of fun today too and I wish I had the energy to stay as long as you want. But I’m tired and hungry, and I don’t want to be cranky with anyone. Let’s choose one more animal to visit and then talk about a game to play on the way home.”

First we connect with our child, then we let them know our own limits (we do have them!), and then we collaborate with our child on what they can do and use positive language to let our child know what they can look forward to doing in the future. Again, we take time to respond with an intentionally appropriate emotional response.

What are some more alternatives to responding to these situations in ways that model appropriate communication and solution-focused interactions? What are some other scenarios you want help with to minimize tantrums and create connections?

Amy C. Bryant, EdS, LPC is a therapist, educator, writer, and child advocate. She founded Parenting Beyond Punishment to support parents  move into a connection-centered approach to living with their children. Amy provides online parenting consultations worldwide and writes a collaborative blog on the Parenting Beyond Punishment website. She is also a contributing writer to Play At Home Mom, a blog designed to help parents connect with their children through play. She lives and plays with her daughter and husband in Atlanta.

Related posts:

My Cancer Story, Part 1: The Diagnosis

L.R.Knost is a best-selling parenting and children’s book author and founder and director of Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources, an online resource for gentle parenting education, articles, and research. Books by L.R.Knost include Whispers Through Time: Communication Through the Ages and Stages of Childhood ; Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages ; The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline ; and Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting (Release date: May 2014) the first four books in the Little Hearts Handbook gentle parenting series, as well as her children’s picture books Petey’s Listening Ears and the soon-to-be-released Grumpykins series available from Amazon and other major retailers.

‘What I Believe He Will Believe’ by Abby Theuring, MSW – Friends of L.R.Knost Rock the Guest Posts while She Battles Cancer

I came across the concept of Core Beliefs in grad school for Social Work. The idea hit home with me as I could relate to it on many levels in my personal life. I was able to identify my own Core Beliefs and see how these affected my thinking habits. It wasn’t until recently that it hit me that now that I am a mother this concept is far more important than I could have ever imagined.

Core Beliefs are the basic beliefs that make up how we see ourselves and our relationship with others and the world. These beliefs are developed at a very young age. These beliefs come directly from our primary caregivers. These are where our conscious thoughts and feelings originate. Core Beliefs live deep inside of us and are not accessed directly. Because they are so long in the making and so deeply ingrained, they are inflexible and rigid. There are positive ones such as “I am lovable.” “I am worthy of love.” “I matter.” “I am good enough.” “I am safe in the world.” “I have control.” And there are negative ones such as “I am not good enough.” “I am not lovable.” “I don’t deserve love.” “I am not valuable.” “I am powerless.”

A few of my personal negative ones that affect my thoughts and feelings are “I can’t handle this,” “I am not safe,” “I am not good enough.” These affect me in my daily life when I have big emotions that feel unmanageable, scary and never-ending. For example, if I am feeling overwhelmed with Jack I can become consumed with frustration. The frustration rises and I perceive it as bigger than me, scary and threatening. I tell myself I can’t handle the emotion or situation. Because I tell myself that I can’t handle it the feeling increases and I feel even more out of control. With a lot of work I have learned that I can intervene by using positive self-talk; “I can handle this,” “I can manage my big emotions,” “I am OK.” Or in a similar situation with Jack I might tell myself that I am not good enough to be a parent. That I am not capable of being a good mother. I try to remember to intervene by telling myself I am good enough and I am trying my best.

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Intervening as early as possible is key. The earlier we intervene in our negative thinking (that is ultimately a result of our Core Beliefs) the easier and quicker we can ward off intense negative feelings. It’s a matter of remaining aware of our emotions at all times. But seriously, who does that? It’s normal to become overwhelmed and feel trapped by certain emotions. Every single one of us has a list of positive and negative Core Beliefs that affect how we react to situations. It’s really not possible to be aware at all times unless you are some sort of Zen Master. Which I am not. So just trying our best to recognize when our thoughts are leading to negative emotions and intervening as soon as possible is what counts.

I learned a lot about this in training as a Social Worker and the personal therapy that I engaged in as a young adult. It all seemed fine and well until I had Jack. Then I got to learn about the receiving end; Jack. I was always looking at this as the adult who had many years ago developed my Core Beliefs from my parents. Now I think about it as the mother who is affecting a tiny boy’s future Core Beliefs. It’s difficult to accept that I am passing down negative beliefs to Jack. It hurts to know that Jack will take all of this in and live his life with negativity passed down from me. But it is true, it happens to all of us, and I want to remember this so that I can continue to do the work to understand myself, make changes and challenge my negative thinking when it arises.

Jack sees me struggle to handle big emotions, become overwhelmed and tell myself that I can’t handle it. He will learn to react this way to big emotions if I myself don’t routinely work to manage my own. He will learn that big emotions are scary and are to be feared and overcome by. When he is having his own big emotions I try to tell him everything will be OK, that he is safe, that mama is here. No, this won’t fix everything, but it’s my effort to give Jack what might have been missing when I developed my personal Core Beliefs. And that’s all I can do. He will develop his own and maybe the very ones that I try to ward off. But I tried. I put in the effort to understand myself and how I affect his life in the long run. I gave him… something.

It becomes clearer and clearer to me that gentle parenting is not about Jack. It’s really about me becoming self-aware. Learning how my early experiences affect me now and how I pass this onto Jack. I came into gentle parenting through breastfeeding struggles that led me to Attachment Parenting that led me to a broader sense of parenting gently. I look back at Attachment Parenting as a beautiful set of tools. They say “the 7 B’s are tools not rules.” I truly understand this now. Bed-sharing, breastfeeding, babywearing and so forth are wonderful concrete concepts to introduce parents to that they can fully understand and participate in if they choose. But these truly are just tools. Being close to my baby, being fully present for my baby and focusing on positive attachment depend on something much bigger. This comes from a place deep inside me. I can bed-share until the cows come home, but unless I focus on being aware of myself and what I am passing down to Jack I am not really present in our relationship. Which is the whole point. To me it’s the thing that takes the word “parent” from a noun to a verb.

Abby Theuring, MSW has a master’s degree in Social Work and worked with abused and neglected teenagers for 14 years before her son, Jack, was born. Upon the birth of her son she quit her job and refocused her passion for advocacy to breastfeeding and gentle parenting. Abby struggled to get started with breastfeeding and now hopes to empower mothers through blogging and public speaking to breastfeed, breastfeed in public and practice gentle parenting. Abby’s blogs can be found at http://www.thebadassbreastfeeder.com and www.breastfeedingbasics.com. Facebook-TheBadassBreastfeeder.

Related posts:

My Cancer Story, Part 1: The Diagnosis

L.R.Knost is a best-selling parenting and children’s book author and founder and director of Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources, an online resource for gentle parenting education, articles, and research. Books by L.R.Knost include Whispers Through Time: Communication Through the Ages and Stages of Childhood ; Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages ; The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline ; and Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting (Release date: May 2014) the first four books in the Little Hearts Handbook gentle parenting series, as well as her children’s picture books Petey’s Listening Ears and the soon-to-be-released Grumpykins series available from Amazon and other major retailers.

My Cancer Story, Part 1: The Diagnosis

married lifeMany of you have been following my oncology saga and have been so supportive with your comments, prayers, and thoughts, and I will be forever grateful for each and every one of you. Some have asked for an address to send cards and letters and pictures their little ones have drawn, so here that is for you:

L.R.Knost c/o Little Hearts Books, LLC
10524 Moss Park Rd.
Suite 204-288
Orlando, FL 32832

I know that Facebook doesn’t show all of my updates in your newsfeeds, so I thought I’d share all of the updates to this point for those who’ve missed them and then share my diagnosis at the end:

June 6, 2014

Okay, friends, I’m freaking out just a little bit here and need lots and lots of positive and hopeful stories! I’m going in on Tuesday for some tests. I have some lymph nodes that have been swollen for way too long and now I have a small lump under my arm and some numbness and tingling in that arm (makes typing interesting!) and some other minor stuff going on. Chances are it’s just a stubborn low level infection, but when people start running tests for scary stuff, things start getting really real. I’m super healthy and never go to the doctor, even if I do get sick. I prefer homeopathic remedies and don’t even take over-the-counter medicines, so just going to the doctor makes me uncomfortable. In fact, until this I didn’t even have a primary care doctor! So share some positive stories with me so I can focus on those, please!!! :)

June 10, 2014

Ugh. This is nerve wracking. I’m sitting here waiting to find out what tests they’re going to run, and I’m already stressed out, lol. How am I going to handle the wait for the test results! I have to say, finding a lump under your arm does not make for a peaceful heart. I’m having to focus copious amounts of self-control and intentional gentle thoughts to stay a peaceful mama at the moment, but the positive side is that practicing peace intentionally toward others has a rebound effect of peace from others that is incredibly healing and lovely. Prayers and positive thoughts welcome, gentle friends! <3

June 11, 2014

Raise your hand (or, you know, click like or leave a comment ;) ) if you are like me and say stupid things when you’re nervous. I’m pretty sure my incredibly likeable and excellent new doctor thinks I’m a world-class flake because I totally forgot to eat today (I do that when I’m writing sometimes, which I was before my appointment) but I forgot that I forgot to eat until she was scheduling a fasting blood test for me and I blurted out, “Oh, wait, we can do that now because I forgot that I forgot to eat today!” She looked at her watch and gave me a ‘mom look’ and said, “It’s 5:30. Don’t do that anymore.” What do you think she’d say if she knew I was up til 2-3 am every night working on my next book deadline? (Let’s just keep that a secret, lol.) Hope you’re having a great evening, mamas and daddies! :)

June 13, 2014

Someone tell me to stop Googling ‘swollen lymph nodes’ please! They’ve got me scheduled for tests Mon, Wed, Thurs, and Fri next week, so I’ll know something soon enough without reading all of this scary stuff. Ugh.

June 16, 2014

Full week of hospitals and doctors and tests for these swollen lymph nodes, friends, so it’ll be a bit quiet here on FB. I have a little one on breathing treatments, too, so positive thoughts and prayers for my family are much appreciated this week! <3

June 18, 2014

Heading out for more medical tests (lucky me ;) ) but just wanted to pop in and address a few comments I’ve seen recently. I’ve said this before, but it needs to be repeated:

“Little Hearts is not a religious page, but I am a Christian. My purpose in writing my newest release, ‘Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting,’ and sharing excerpts from it is to right wrongs within a specific community, not to convert anyone or preach to anyone. It’s not my job or my desire to subjugate anyone’s belief system. It is my job to protect children and educate parents about the immense power of kindness, gentleness, connectedness, communication, and compassion to create happy, peaceful homes. It doesn’t matter what culture, religion, gender, or ethnicity you identify with or lifestyle you live, you are welcome here with open arms to grow and learn together with us in this community of gentle parents, always.” <3

So, let’s take some time today to share a bit about ourselves here in the comments, to open up and get to know and appreciate the colorful array of backgrounds, beliefs, cultures, and parenting choices represented here. Whether you’re attached or single, whether you’re Christian or Muslim or Hindi or atheist, etc, whether you breastfeed or bottle-feed or both, whether you bedshare or room share or have separate sleeping areas, whether you babywear or use a stroller, whether you work outside or inside the home, whether you live in the US or in some other place across this lovely planet, share a bit about what makes you uniquely and wonderfully you.  :)

June 20, 2014

Just a little vignette of gentle parenting at work from a bit earlier today I thought I’d share with you, mamas and daddies :) :

I’m one seriously stressed out mama these days with all of these medical tests, and that means I’ve got little ones who are showing some stress behaviors despite my best efforts to keep things as normal as possible in their lives during this diagnostic process. For instance, my super mellow non-tantrum-prone littlest had a major meltdown after I got home from my doctor appointment today. It puppycame out of the blue and made no sense whatsoever, but as she stomped and screamed about her stuffed animals’ “wenning” (“wedding”) being “Woo-end! Dust woo-end!” (“Ruined! Just ruined!”), I breathed through my initial stress reaction and took a few moments to listen and observe so I could respond intentionally and compassionately to the need she was expressing instead of just reacting to the behavior itself. I realized that even though she has no idea what’s going on, she was sensing the unease in the house and also was stressed by the unusual amount of time she’s spending apart from me while I go through these tests. I stayed close and told her that I was here and I heard her and asked how I could help her. At first she got angrier and tried to hit me, so I gently stopped her and told her that it was okay to be upset, but not okay to hit me, and I asked her if she needed something like a pillow to hit or kick or if she needed a calm-me-jar to shake. She screamed “No!” and shook her tiny fists, but didn’t try to hit again, then she calmed just enough to tell me “I mad a you, mama” (“I’m mad at you, mama”). I told her it was okay to be mad at me and asked if she knew why she was angry. She repeated that I had ruined her stuffed animals’ wedding (no idea how I was involved in the destruction of a stuffed wedding while at the doctor’s, lol), so I said that I was sorry and asked if I could help her to fix it, and after a few more moments of upset she calmed and wanted to hug and then decided to accept help to restore the wedding. We were able to reconnect through play and go on with our day peacefully, but more importantly she was able to work through some big emotions she was feeling and had no idea how to express.

Life will throw us curveballs and bad things sometimes happen, but our little ones only get one childhood and they need us to be the adults and help and guide and empathize and encourage and comfort them no matter what we’ve got going on in our lives. It’s not easy, but it is so important, and they are learning from us not only how to handle their emotions in the present, but also how to handle life’s stresses and hardships. They are always watching, always learning, and always so, so vulnerable and precious. It’s hard, yes, but so very worth the effort. <3

June 21, 2014

“We’re referring you to an oncologist for more tests.” It’s taken me a few days to process that. Scary words, yes, but they aren’t a diagnosis, just a step in the diagnostic process which I am still expecting to turn out just fine. I’m seeing an oncologist on Tuesday where I’ll learn what that further testing will be. I’m obviously a bit preoccupied and also time-pressed with all of the time I’m spending at hospitals and doctor’s offices, but I’ll still pop on Facebook off and on when I can. If you’ve messaged me with a question or posted one on the wall, please just know that I’ll get to as many questions as I can when I can, okay? Thanks for understanding. Hopefully things will be back to normal soon. :)

June 24, 2014

At the oncologist waiting to be seen. Anyone want to help keep my mind off of things by sharing something cute or sweet or funny your little one’s done lately? :)

June 29, 2014

For those of you following my oncology saga, my only update at the moment is that there are no updates. I have several more tests coming up to investigate the two small lumps next to my spine and several small, swollen lymph nodes in my neck, under my arm, and in my leg. I feel healthy and look and feel perfectly normal, but knowing that something ominous may be going on in my body makes me feel a bit like a deer in the headlights. As the benign causes get eliminated one by one, the chances of finding something like lymphoma increase exponentially. It’s like seeing danger race toward me and being frozen in place, unable to escape. I’m coping and keeping our lives as normal as possible outside of all the time I’m spending in hospitals and doctor’s offices, but I’ll be honest and tell you it’s really, really hard to think about anything else right now. My energy is focused on helping my children process all of this in age-appropriate ways and my sweet hubby’s energy is focused on supporting me and helping out wherever and whenever he can. I’m still here on the board a few times a day sharing what I can, but if I don’t get to your questions during this time, please understand. Thank you to everyone who has left comments and sent me messages and emails expressing your care and concern. You don’t know how much that means to me. I’m trying to share this process with you because I believe that giving you little vignettes of life in the midst of crisis and stress is as important as giving you slices of normal day to day life so that you can see and know that I’m ‘in the trenches’ with you every day and understand the highs and lows, struggles and monotony and joys and sorrows of real life. We are all connected in the deepest of human experiences, and I find such joy and comfort in knowing that this global community of gentle, loving parents is on this journey with me, whatever may come. I appreciate all of you more than you know. <3

June 30, 2014

Okay, this isn’t a rant, just something I want to share with you, friends…

I just had to delete a snide comment from the Little Hearts site, which I have to do every once in awhile. It doesn’t really bother me when people have a differing opinion as long as they express it politely, but that is rarely the case. One thing I’ve noticed is that these negative comments often come with riders like “in your idealized world” and “clearly written by someone who doesn’t have children” and “just wait until your children reach their teens” and “the writer has obviously never had to deal with a strong willed child” etc. The thing that really gets me, though, is how often these negative comments (and even reviews on my books) include things like “the writer only tells why punishment is bad, but doesn’t give alternatives.” There are hundreds of posts on the Little Hearts site with gentle parenting alternatives to punishment, and every single book I’ve written gives specific tools for working with children through specific behavior issues. In my latest book, ‘Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting,’ for instance, even though the focus of the book is on examining the doctrinal misinterpretations and misunderstandings that have led to the often harsh punitive parenting practices promoted by mainstream Christianity, I also included excerpts from each of my other books for the sole purpose of providing gentle parenting alternatives to that punitive parenting. And, as far as the other comments, there is an ‘About the Author’ page on the Little Hearts site that gives all the information people need about my background and children. For the record, though, I have six children from young adults all the way down to a preschooler, two of whom are strong-willed, three with sensory issues, two with ADD, and one with a significant learning disability. And as far as my ‘idealized’ world, I started my gentle journey as an unwed, pregnant teenager, and my hubby and I have been through layoffs and accidents and sicknesses and the loss of a son in our 27 years together so far, and right now we are facing a possible cancer diagnosis. So, no idealized world here. BUT I do have ideals, and I fight for them passionately. Having ideals simply means that I work for what I believe, and when I fail (and I do) that I keep working and trying again and again until I get it right. :)

July 5, 2014

Do you have anyone in your life who just always seems to say the wrong thing at the wrong time or a family member or friend who said the wrong thing when you were hurting? I sure do. On this oncology journey, for example, there have been a few times I wish I lived in a Hobbit Hole far, far away. The one time in my life that rain butterfly really stands out, though, is when my son was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder that was ‘incompatible with life.’ We knew he was going to die, and we were working our way toward accepting that and simply loving him as long as we had him when a long-time friend contacted me to tell me that I didn’t have enough faith because if I did, my faith would heal my son. I remember feeling like I’d suddenly been punched in the stomach by someone I trusted just when I needed support and understanding the most. That was unbelievably hurtful, honestly, but I realized something then and at other times when the wrong words were said at the wrong times that has helped me to respond to the heart of the person rather than to their words. I realized that every person’s belief system is a collection of deeply held hopes that are based on their own unique life experiences, and when they share words of comfort and advice it is really their hope that they are offering. While I may not agree with their belief system, I can appreciate their heart and respond to their intention rather than their articulation with a simple smile and a hug. And then I can let the words themselves fade away and focus on the loving heart that prompted the person to reach out. We all need hope. And we all want to share our hope with others who are hurting. When it is shared in a less-than-expertly-wrapped package, we have the choice to discard the wrapping and accept the beautiful gift of hope.

July 5, 2014

I try to prepare ahead for ‘life’ as much as possible because I’m a planner by nature, but sometimes life just happens and you have to roll with it. I admit that I’m overwhelmed with life right now as I spend day after day in hospitals and at doctor’s offices undergoing tests in this present curveball life has thrown at me, and yet a truth that I’ve discovered over time and experience still holds true…It’s the unexpected that catches me by surprise and creates the most joy, the most pain, the most memorable of life’s moments, because it is the unexpected that we remember most, whether good or bad, ordinary or extraordinary. It is those unexpected moments that make life beautiful and mundane and exhilarating and painful and unutterably, exquisitely rich…moments all wrapped up in small, timeless vignettes of shared tears and laughter and hugs and arguments and hopes and failures. It’s hard to treasure those moments in the moment, I know, when the tears seem to outnumber the giggles and the pain seems to outweigh the joy and the hopes seem to be crushed by the failures, but as the years go by and these present moments become part of the past, they soften and mellow and one day we suddenly discover that the things we were so desperate to leave behind are the very things we hold onto as our most precious memories. Don’t try to treasure these moments as they happen, mamas and daddies. It’s just not possible to see the beauty and the strength and the wonder of our daily lives without the clarity of hindsight. But do hold onto the knowledge that these days will pass and one day you will look back and be so proud of yourself for your successes and forgiving of your failures, and try to remember that all the hard moments and small triumphs and tired tears and warm hugs and little frustrations and big belly laughs will be the most beautiful memories imaginable when tiny, pattering feet grow into the footsteps that will take your children out into the world to create a lifetime of memories of their own. :)

July 7, 2014

Back in the hospital for the day for a contrast CT. Then I’ll see the oncologist on Wed. for results and to see where we go from here. What are you up to today, mamas and daddies? Want to share some cute stories about your little ones to keep me distracted? :)

July 9, 2014

Well, saw the oncologist today for some results and he had good news and bad news. The good news is that the swollen lymph nodes didn’t show signs of malignancy, so they are just reacting to something else going on. The bad news is that they found two small masses in my lungs and one in my liver, so I’m off to a consulting pulmonary oncologist tomorrow, then an MRI and then a PET scan over the next few days, then we’ll discuss the results. Ugh. This is kind of starting to freak me out. :(

July 12, 2014

Words you want to hear from a pulmonary oncologist, “Hopefully it’s benign.” Words you don’t want to hear from a pulmonary oncologist, “It’s a pretty big mass, though, and you do have one big risk factor.” You know, I’m not an angry person. I’m not walking wounded, blaming my childhood traumas and anything and everything else I can for my adult mistakes and issues. But it does make me angry that I even have “one big risk factor” for lung cancer because I have never smoked, don’t drink and so have never been clubbing or hung out in smoke-filled bars, never done any drugs, and don’t have any diseases that increase my chances of lung cancer…but because my biological father spent the first few years of my life filling my tiny, developing lungs with second-hand smoke before he abandoned me, I now have “one big risk factor” for a potentially deadly disease. Please, mamas and daddies, if you or anyone else in your child’s life is a smoker, don’t expose your children to it, not ever. It’s not their choice to fill their little lungs with a carcinogen, but they may be the ones who have to face the consequences of your choices one day. <3

July 13, 2014

For those of you following my oncology saga, I’m having an MRI on Wednesday and a PET scan on Friday this week. I’ll be radioactive after my PET scan for a few hours and have to stay away from my littlest, which neither of us will enjoy particularly, but my older children will keep her occupied. (Oh, and my older children are rather excited about the radioactivity, btw. They’re pretty sure I’m going to turn into a superhero, lol. Any thoughts on what my superhero name should be?  ;) )

July 14, 2014

I shared the status above yesterday, and I so appreciate the amazing support and love that you mamas and daddies poured out in the comments. Thank you all so much. Your encouragement and prayers are absolutely priceless. There was one comment, though, that stood out because it was abrasive and sarcastic (I deleted it and won’t share it here because I don’t want the commenter to feel targeted by this post) and I wanted to share my thoughts about it with you to share how I process things ‘in real life.’ I’m going through a scary, difficult time right now, and I’m human just like everyone else, so my immediate internal reaction was a lot of negative and chaotic feelings. But instead of responding defensively and reactively to the person, I breathed through those negative feelings instead of acting on them and simply waited for the internal storm to pass. Then I reread the comment with the much clearer eyes of peace and compassion and ‘read between the lines’ to see that this person was clearly reacting to their own internal storm. I don’t know what private pain fueled their reaction, but I do know that it is hurting people who hurt people, and so I can give this hurting person grace and compassion. That is my ‘in real life’ processing in a nutshell.  :)

July 16, 2014

I’m back in the hospital on this grey and stormy morning for some more tests as I continue my oncology saga, mamas and daddies. Some of you have asked why I’m willing to share such a scary and difficult time in my life with you, and I wanted to share my thoughts about that before I go in for my next test. The thing is, we all share in these things in one form or another. We all have good times and bad times and hopes and fears and successes and failures and joys and traumas and triumphs and tragedies in our lives. We all have to live and work and be good citizens and spouses and friends and parents and just good people, even in the midst of crisis. That’s just part of the human experience, and I believe that all of our human experiences have value, even the hard ones. We can learn and grow and develop empathy and compassion through our experiences if we don’t allow ourselves to be hardened and embittered by them. And we can exponentially expand the value of our experiences if we share them instead of isolate ourselves with them. Sharing the hard things in my life like the devastating loss of my son, Sammy, makes those hard things a little less hard, a little more bearable, because knowing that someone else finds comfort and healing in my words is deeply comforting and healing for me. And sharing this scary oncology saga with you as I go through it makes it just a bit less scary because I know how life-enriching it is seeing someone go through a difficult time and watching how they process it and learning that sharing the good things in life, the necessary things like kindness and hope and compassion, doesn’t just stop when bad things happen. Giving those good things to my children, to my husband, to my family, to my friends, both in real life and virtually, becomes even more necessary, more precious, a gift that I can continue to give even though I am scared and stressed and feeling overwhelmed. The precepts of gentle parenting…respect, understanding, connection, communication, cooperation…don’t just apply to children, and they aren’t just for stress-free, idyllic times in our lives. They are ideals, yes, but that just means that they are the goals we shoot for, day in and day out, even in the midst of crisis, even when we’ve failed, even when we’re hurting, even when life stinks. I’m sharing my journey here so that you can see that I’m living what I write, what I believe, what I KNOW, even when life is hard. <3

July 18, 2014

Ugh. It’s 2:30 am and my littlest just started vomiting out of the blue. I’ve got to be up at 7 am to go for my PET scan in this endless oncology saga and I’m going to be radioactive and have to stay at least five feet away from her for 24 hours, but all she’s going to want to do is cuddle with mommy because she’s not feeling well. This stinks. :(

me mri 2July 18, 2014

Took a selfie before my MRI. Now I’m heading in for some more oncology tests. This time it’s my PET scan, so I’ll be radioactive for the next 24 hours. I’ll try to write something super once my superhero powers kick in. :)

July 18, 2014

Stage 1 of ‘radioactive mama’ is complete! When I left for my PET scan at the crack of dawn, my son laid down with my little cosleeper so she wouldn’t be alone and scared if she woke up and so he could handle things if she started throwing up again (he’s my pre-med guy <3 ) but she didn’t wake up or throw up. Success for Stage 1! Now my middle two are playing with my two smallest and keeping them away from me per the oncology dr’s instructions. So many more hours to go, though! Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. :)

July 24, 2014

If you’ve left me a question in the private messages and haven’t received a reply, please know that I’m not intentionally ignoring anyone. I just haven’t been able to keep up with everything while I’ve been spending so much time in hospitals and at doctors during this seemingly never-ending oncology saga. Some of the testing has caused adverse reactions, and I pretty much feel like I’ve been hit by a truck most days, lol. I’ll get to as many questions as I can over the weekend, okay? Thank you so much for your patience, gentle friends!

July 29, 2014

In the van on the way to my oncology appt:

Renaissance Girl (15): “If anyone ever tries to mind-control me, I’m just going to say ‘wannawannawannawanna’ over and over until they stop trying to take over my brain.”

Me: “Ooookay.”

Older brother: “Sorry. It’s my fault. I let her read my comics.”

Me: “Ah…”

#lifewithteens ;)

July 29, 2014

For those of you following my oncology saga, I’m going in for surgery tomorrow or the next day (they’re calling me at the crack of dawn to tell me when to head in to the hospital) to biopsy the “suspicious node” in my lung. The node is in the center of my chest at the back and bottom of my right lung, so it’s pretty difficult to access. They actually talked about removing a portion of my lung (yikes!), but they are going to try to put me into a cat scan machine to guide the hollow core biopsy thing between my ribs and see if they can get it to the right area of my lung. It’ll be an outpatient surgery as long as there are no complications, but since they are technically puncturing my lung there is a risk of pneumothorax (my lung could collapse o_O) in which case they’ll have to put in a chest tube and I’ll be in the hospital for a few days so my lung can heal. I’ll get the results of the biopsy next week, I guess. Then I’m headed up to Mayo with all of my scans and labs and results so they can evaluate everything and possibly do another biopsy, this time on my lymph nodes.

I’ll be honest, at the moment I’m far more scared of the lung surgery than the possibility of malignancy, but I’m guessing that will change once the surgery is over and I’m waiting for the pathology results. I appreciate you, friends, more than you know. All of the support and prayers and encouragement you have given me through this has been absolutely priceless. Thank you all. I’ll update when I can.

July 30, 2014

Okay, on my way into surgery in a few minutes. Thank you all for your support and prayers. <3  ttyl!

July 31, 2014

Here’s the latest update: I got the call first thing yesterday and went in for surgery soon after. They ended up having to go in through my back right next to my spine (o_O). I had an adverse reaction to the meds and also ended up with a probable minor pneumothorax (a small pocket of air trapped outside of my lung) which makes it very difficult and painful to breathe. I’m a bit better today, though, and hopefully will have the results from pathology sometime next week. Thank you to everyone who took the time to pray and send me positive thoughts and encouragement. I’ll update when I know anything.  :)

August 4, 2014

So I may or may not get results of my biopsy today which, of course, necessitates me being late because I had to paint my toenails. Clearly, you have to have pretty, pink toenails if you’re facing a possible cancer diagnosis, lol. On a more serious note, though, this particular type of biopsy is only about 50% accurate when it comes to negatives/false-negatives so I don’t know that I’ll really know much even if I do get the results today. Next step is lymph node biopsy which is far more accurate. I kind of wish they’d have just started there, but they have their reasons, I guess. This diagnostic process seems endless, but I think I’m getting to the stage where the process feels like a safer place to stay than actually getting a diagnosis. Nearly all of the benign causes have been ruled out already. Kind of scary. Well, more than ‘kind of,’ to be honest. All of your support, encouragement, and prayers are helping, though, more than you know. Thank you! <3

August 4, 2014

For those of you following my oncology saga, I got the results of my biopsy today and…well, they recommended another biopsy, only this time of my lymph nodes instead of my lung. Not entirely unexpected since they couldn’t get to the lung node with the hollow core biopsy and had to settle for a fine needle biopsy which has only a 50% accuracy rate. They were able to rule out lung cancer and metastatic melanoma, which is great. BUT the biopsy did indicate some findings that are highly suspicious for lymphoma, which is actually what they’ve been suspicious of from the beginning. We’ve been working our way toward a lymph node biopsy all along, so that isn’t surprising. Anyway, I’ll keep you updated about what’s to come when I know myself. Thank you for your love and support, mamas and daddies! You’re awesome. <3

August 5, 2014

Since I’m a “difficult to diagnose case” I’ve been referred to the Oncology Department at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville. My first appointment is August 11th.

August 5, 2014

“It’s not our job to toughen our children up to face a cruel and heartless world. It’s our job to raise children who will make the world a little less cruel and heartless.”
L.R.Knost

Every time that quote is shared I get comments and messages from people saying things like, “Maybe gentle parenting works in your ideal world, but people have to live in the real world,” and, “If you lived in the real world like the rest of us you’d know that crap about not toughening up your children is just setting them up to be bullied and walked all over for the rest of their lives.” I understand where those comments are coming from. The world can be cruel. And the world can be heartless. I know that first hand. Here’s a bit of my story:

My parents divorced when I was a small child. I was neglected and abused while in the ‘care’ of my biological father who spent 99% of his waking hours drunk, locked me in his car in the parking lot of various bars so he could get even drunker, got in drunken brawls that I broke up, left me with his Reflections on Gentle Parentingabusive addict sister whose own children were taken away for child abuse repeatedly, and more often than not spent the little money he had on alcohol instead of food, leaving me to go to bed hungry and often left alone while he went out drinking again. Thankfully, he eventually abandoned me and my mother got full custody. My mother (who astounds me to this day with her ability to remain strong and kind and good despite what my biological father put us through) eventually remarried, and my wonderful new stepfather adopted me when I was sixteen. I got pregnant soon after and married my baby’s daddy. My amazing hubby and I have struggled through multiple lay-offs, injuries, sicknesses, and the loss of thirteen babies, including a set of triplets I lost at three months pregnant and our sweet son, Sammy, who we lost at birth. In the midst of all of that, we had our six children, four of whom were preemies. Of our six, we have some with asthma, a couple with heart issues related to their prematurity, three with sensory issues (one with full-blown SPD, severe dyslexia, ADD, visual and auditory processing issues, and other learning disabilities), and two of our children are gifted with wills of steel. My oldest son has been through two spinal surgeries in the last couple of years, and, in the last year alone, my hubby was injured in a terrible mower accident that kept him out of work for almost three months and then a few months later was out of work again after a foot injury, and, to top it all off, I have been going through months of diagnostic testing for suspected lymphoma.

So, no, my world is not and never has been ideal. But, yes, gentle parenting is not only possible, but POWERFUL, even (or especially) in the midst of ‘real life.’ And kindness, goodness, compassion, and gentleness are not weaknesses in this often cruel and heartless world. They are the strengths that make navigating this world and changing it for the better possible. L.R. <3

August 13, 2014

Playing at the park with my little ones today in between tests and appointments at Mayo.  Looks like I’ve got a major surgery coming up soon to take out the part of my right lower lung with the mass in it. Pathology will confirm or eliminate lymphoma at that point. I’ll know for sure on Friday and update then. Thank you all for your love and support. You’re awesome. :)

August 15, 2014

Things you don’t want to hear an oncologist say:
“I’m getting ready to say some scary things.”
#MayoClinic #NotMyBestDay #MoreLater

August 22, 2014

I appreciate your thoughts and prayers more than you know. I haven’t had my ‘D-day’ yet (diagnosis day) so I’m being careful about what I share. This thing has taken so many turns that I want to wait until I get an official diagnosis before sharing it with everyone. The doctors at Mayo are 99.9% certain that it is cancer, but the rare type of tumor that I have is even rarer in its location (it’s not lung cancer, but the tumor is in my lung) and presentation, so they don’t know if it’s a met (secondary tumor) thrown off from a primary tumor somewhere else or if it’s localized. I’ll be having a major lung resection to remove the part of my lung with the tumor in the next couple of weeks, then they’ll know more about prognosis and treatment plans, etc. I’m trying my best to keep the Little Hearts page updated with a regular stream of memes and posts and updates at the moment so if I have an extended downtime while fighting this beast I won’t lose everything I’ve worked so hard to build. My main focus right now, though, is helping my littlest ones through all of this upheaval as we’ve had to travel six hours round trip for appointments, sometimes more than once a week, and I’ve been gone from my smallest for more time than I’ve ever been gone before. My older children have been amazing about stepping up and taking care of the little ones so my hubby can keep working and keep our insurance up to date, but it’s wearing on all of us already and we haven’t even begun to actually deal with the surgery and recovery and whatever treatments are to come yet. I’ll keep you updated as soon as I know more. :)

August 23, 2014

Many of you have asked how you can help as I head into this major surgery next week and then possibly chemo/radiation treatments in the coming months. One super helpful thing you can do is share some of your ideas with me. I’m very concerned about my little cosleeper, Cricket, and how she’s going to handle being away from me while I’m in the hospital. My eight-year-old, Funny Face, is also already showing some anxiety, and I’ve been working with her to help her process her feelings and fears. On a very practical level, though, I’m looking for ways to help my oldest children cope with the two littlest who will undoubtedly be stressed and probably exhibiting stress behaviors such as difficulty sleeping and unwillingness to cooperate. One thing I’m doing is buying small presents for each of them (wrapped up and labeled ‘From Mommy – I love you to the moon and back, and I’ll be back very soon! ‘) so that each night my older children (one of whom will be taking my place cosleeping with my little Cricket) can remind the little ones that they have something special waiting for them in the morning and each morning when they wake up without mommy’s special cuddles they’ll have a gift from me to open instead. I’m also spending time with my little ones at the house they’ll be staying at so it will feel comfortable and familiar to them, and I’m stocking the fridge and pantry with their normal foods, bringing along their own blankets and pillows, and packing a few of their favorite toys to bring.

I’d love to hear your ideas about how to make this easier for everyone, both for my little ones and for my older ones who will be stressed themselves but still need to take care of their little sisters.  :)

quote bucket list mommyAugust 27, 2014

The recovery from the surgery to remove this tumor, I’m told, will take months, and then I may be going into months of chemo/radiation which will make doing some of the things we love to do as a family impossible for a time. My two littlest have been increasingly clingy and cranky recently as my surgery date approaches and, while some believe that preparing children for a separation involves getting them used to separation by leaving them for increasing periods of time, I’m taking the opposite approach. I’m spending time with them in the places and with the people that will be caring for them so they will be comfortable with those people and places. And I’m filling their buckets with my time and my presence and my patience and with laughter and cuddles and sweet memories that we are building together. We’ve been to the zoo and we’ve painted and gone to book stores and spent time exploring new parks and going on walks and just hanging out together in the quiet peace of our home. Here is the Bucket List for a Happy Childhood that I wrote awhile back with some of the things that we do on a regular basis along with some we’re revisiting to make new memories these days. :)

August 28th, 2014

Many of you have asked me how I’m staying so calm and positive in the face of a rapidly approaching surgery to remove the tumor that doctors are 99.9% certain is a rare form of cancer. The simple answer is, “I’m not, at least not entirely.” There are times I feel overwhelmed and stressed and can’t help thinking about the ‘what-ifs’ and times I worry desperately about my children’s futures. Those are the times that I gently ‘parent’ myself and I find my children gently ‘parenting’ me. When I’m lying awake, too stressed to sleep, I tell myself, “It’s okay to be scared and overwhelmed. Those feelings are normal,” and then I try to identify specifically what it is I’m stressed about at that moment and come up with at least one solution, one proactive thing I can do, to address the issue. Once I’ve identified the problem and come up with a solution, I can sleep more easily.

When I’ve spoken with a bit less patience than I normally do to my littlest, she will first ‘check with me’ to see if I’m mad at her, “Do you mad a me, mama?” (“Are you mad at me, mama?”) and I’ll say, “No, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to speak so impatiently to you. I’m feeling a little stressed, but it’s not your fault.” Then she will climb into my lap, put her tiny hands on my face, look into my eyes, and say, “Wet’s bweef togedew, k?” (“Let’s breathe together, okay?”) Note: I don’t get mad at this tiny little newcomer to our world, not ever, but she’s in the stage of identifying emotions and often will ask about emotions as a part of her learning process.

Gracie blue eyes 2My little Funny Face (8) is gifted with a will of steel and a heart of gold. She’s clingy right now, having a bit of trouble sleeping, asking a lot of questions, and using the word ‘cancer’ frequently (causes a minor shock to run through me every time, but I’m getting used to it…I guess) because that’s how she processes things, chipping away at them and examining them and familiarizing herself with them. She is alternately acting out her own stress and worries (and we’re working together through those feelings and behaviors) and stepping up to help in any way she can.

My sensory sweetie, Renaissance Girl (15), is like a lovely, sweet, emotional barometer. When I’m getting overwhelmed she will often simply feel it without me saying or doing anything, and she’ll quietly ask if I need her to take the smaller ones for a bit so I can have a break. She’s also been making dinner on a regular basis, which, as you’ll know if you’ve followed Little Hearts for any length of time, is a HUGE blessing for me. I haven’t set the kitchen on fire in over a month!

My pre-med guy, Doc (now 20!), is that stalwart rock of a person that everyone needs to have in their lives. He’s preparing for his MCAT’s, working on his medical school application, taking classes to get certified as an EMT so he can work his way through med school, and is working his schedule around helping out with the girls and has arranged time off to go with us when we move temporarily to Jacksonville for my surgery and recovery. The girls are used to being with him at home, so this is greatly easing my mind about how they’ll handle me being in the hospital for several days.

My older children are checking in with me frequently to see what they can do to help, rearranging their work schedules to be available during and after my surgery, and pulling together to put in place a plan for my surgery, recovery, and possible treatments afterward.

And, of course, my burly bear of a hubby is being his normal amazing self, offering to talk when he thinks I need to, asking what he can do to make all of this easier, taking the small ones for ice cream and to the park, and simply being the good, kind, and wonderful person that he is.

So, no, I am not all zen about facing surgery and cancer. I am human. I am scared. I am overwhelmed at times. But, I’m using the gentle coping strategies that I normally employ with my children, and I’ve got my incredible family support system, and I have all of your wonderful and supportive thoughts and prayers to help me through.

This I know, I cannot control all of the random happenings of life, but I can control my response to them. This is a hard thing, but not the hardest thing I’ve ever faced. I have survived in the past, and I will survive this…no, I will do more than just survive. I will not only live through cancer…I will continue to live and love and enjoy my life and my family and my work throughout this cancer journey. I think my new motto is going to be ‘I cancerVIVE’ because I can, and I will. (Vive is French for ‘to live’ or ‘live long’ and has the connotation of a zest for life, to be full of life, a life well lived)

Here’s a video from this time last year with me and my four youngest, just so you can put faces to names (well, nicknames :) ):

September 3, 2014

My littlest is too young to know how serious all of this is, and yet somehow she knows, and so she clings to me as if her very life depended on it and she cries that it’s too hot or too cold or she’s thirsty or hungry or full. Those are the only words she has right now to express the unease that she instinctively feels as the time that “mama goin’ a hotiboo” (“mommy’s going to the hospital”) rapidly approaches. I offer to turn on or off the fan, offer drinks and food, but nothing satisfies and her clinging and crying intensify. And so I hold her close and whisper, “I hear you, sweet girl, I hear you. Mama’s right here,” and my heart breaks because I want to promise her I’ll always be right here, I want to promise her a lifetime, and yet for the first time I can’t. I don’t know what tomorrow holds. I guess you never really do, but you think you have forever and there’s so much confidence and comfort in that thought. I can’t promise her forever, as much as my heart aches to, and so I simply hold her and tell her I’ll love her forever because that is a promise I can keep. This is so hard.

napping in mommy's arms 2September 3, 2014

We leave for the 3 hour drive to Mayo in Jacksonville early tomorrow (Thursday, September 4th). My pre-op is scheduled for that afternoon and my surgery for the following morning on the 5th. I broke down when I started packing for the hospital and realized that, for the first time ever, I couldn’t pack my two littlest’s clothes in my suitcase along with mine like I usually do because we were going to be apart. So I stopped packing. Holding my little one is way better than packing, anyway.

 

September 4, 2014

Okay, final update (and a small anatomy lesson as a bonus :) ) on this crazy oncology journey before my surgery, friends. The working diagnosis at this point is a rare pulmonary neuroendocrine tumor. The neuroendocrine system is a network of cells distributed throughout the human body. It consists of nerve cells and endocrine cells and exists to regulate all of the functions of the other body organs and systems. Neuroendocrine cancers can be localized or spread throughout the body. The doctors at Mayo won’t know if or how far the cancer has spread until they get me into the operating room. They plan to collapse my lung (o_O), take out the portion with the tumor, and then look for any evidence that the cancer has advanced beyond the tumor. I’ll know within a day or two if their diagnosis was correct and what kind of treatments I’m facing. Oh, and here’s a fun fact: Neuroendocrine cancer is often a ‘signal’ cancer that either precedes or coexists with other cancers. Super scary stuff. But I cancerVIVE…and I will. I have to…

My littlest is barely out of diapers and just self-weaned in February. She NEEDS her mama.

My Funny Face (8) often conceals her sensitive heart behind her will of steel. She NEEDS her mama to gently guide her to a happy, healthy balance between her heart and her indomitable spirit.

My Renaissance Girl (15) already struggles with Sensory Processing Disorder, Auditory Processing Disorder, severe Dyslexia, and a myriad of other issues that she handles with incredible grace and maturity for her age. But she NEEDS her mama to continue to support and encourage her and protect her as she grows.

My youngest son, Doc, newly graduated from university at the tender age of nineteen and working to get into med school, takes the weight of the world on his strong young shoulders. He NEEDS his mama to remind him to live and laugh and love because life is not all work and responsibility.

My oldest daughter and her gentle hubby are pregnant with their first child. She NEEDS her mama for those middle-of-the-night calls from a first-time mother in search of wisdom and guidance, and she needs her mama to remind her that she’s doing a good job and that she’ll never be a perfect mother and that’s okay because she’ll always be the perfect mama for her children.

My oldest son and his sweet wife are expecting their third little one. He NEEDS his mama to listen and understand when he’s stretched and stressed and overwhelmed and to remind him that he is a good man and father and daddy when he feels like he’s not enough.

My kind-hearted hubby is the strength and bedrock of our family. He NEEDS his wife to grow old with him and hold hands and take walks and laugh at corny jokes and see beyond the inevitable signs of age to the young lovers who first made each other’s hearts race and now make each other’s hearts melt.

And this crazy, beautiful, messy world needs me, too. I’ve made it my life’s mission to ‘Change the World, One Little Heart at a Time,’ and I have not completed that mission, not by a long shot. I am not done. I have work to do, both for my family and for the world. I’m not going anywhere.

Peace and blessings, gentle friends. Ttys :)

Related posts:

A Boy, A Girl, and A Baby~Journey to Gentle Parenting

Tattered Tapestries: Weaving Trust Through the Chaos

Forever Friends: A Marriage of Equals

L.R.Knost is a best-selling parenting and children’s book author and founder and director of Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources, an online resource for gentle parenting education, articles, and research. Books by L.R.Knost include Whispers Through Time: Communication Through the Ages and Stages of Childhood ; Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages ; The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline ; and Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting (Release date: May 2014) the first four books in the Little Hearts Handbook gentle parenting series, as well as her children’s picture books Petey’s Listening Ears and the soon-to-be-released Grumpykins series available from Amazon and other major retailers.

Sandbox Soapbox: Toddler Insights

[Excerpt from The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline by L.R.Knost. Whispers Through Time: Communication Through the Ages and Stages of ChildhoodTwo Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages, and Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting also available on Amazon and through other major retailers.]

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 quote toddler talkAs we step into the toddler zone, let’s start where we should always start…with observing and understanding so that we can not only grow happy, well-rounded children, but also grow as parents and as humans ourselves. So to begin to implement the Three C’s of gentle discipline – Connection, Communication, and Cooperation – let’s take a peek inside the mind of the toddler by listening in on a sandbox conversation at the park:

 

toddler girl in sandboxToddler 1: You look a little frazzled, Dude. Hard day?

 

 

toddler boy parkToddler 2: Hard doesn’t even begin to describe my day!  I love my mommy to pieces, but seriously, she does NOT know how to share. I took one little thing out of her purse, and she freaked! Snatching and saying, “Mine!” and everything. And right in the middle of the store, too! So embarrassing. Everybody was looking at me, rolling their eyes. I felt like a total failure.

 

 

toddler girl in sandboxToddler 1: I hear you! I have the same problem. And mine has been getting into EVERYTHING, too! Like, I stashed my cracker under the couch so I could have a little snack later, and she totally threw it in the trash! Who does that?

 

 

toddler boy parkToddler 2: You think that’s bad? Check this. I’m minding my own business, just chillin’ with my toys, and she just snatches me up and carts me off and straps me in the highchair, no warning at all. And I’m not even hungry! Then she gets all upset when I do a little physics with my food. Btw, so cool how sometimes it falls straight down and sometimes it splats against the wall. I think it has something to do with the consistency of the food and the angle of my trajectory. Just a working theory atm, though.

 

 

toddler girl in sandboxToddler 1: Cool! Let me know what you figure out. How about this. I can’t get anything done! No joke! I spent all morning building this stellar block tower. Dude, you should have seen this thing. It was epic! So, I walk away for like one second, and she dumps the whole thing in the toy box! An entire morning’s work, gone. I don’t know why I bother sometimes.

 

 

toddler boy parkToddler 2: Same! And what’s with this new ‘time-out’ thing mine’s into all of a sudden? I get the slightest bit upset about something, and, just when I need a cuddle, she sticks me in this chair and won’t let me get up! Like a chair is a good hugger? Really?

 

 

 

toddler girl in sandboxToddler 1: That is just wrong. Hey, how about this whole potty training dealio? She wants me to do my business in a little plastic bowl. We eat out of those things! Seriously, you gotta wonder what goes on in their brains sometimes.

 

 

toddler boy parkToddler 2: You’re lucky. Mine keeps propping me up on that big white contraption with water in it. I could drown! And you should see what happens when she pushes down that handle in the back. Can you say vortex of DOOM?!?

 

 

 

toddler girl in sandboxToddler 1: Not cool, Dude, not cool at all!  Are you dealing with tantrums yet? Mine has got a temper like you wouldn’t believe! Anytime she doesn’t get her way, watch out for the fireworks! She yells and flaps her arms and stomps around, and, I hate to say it, but she’s starting to hit. Like that’s going to solve anything. I have no idea how to handle these aggression issues! Why can’t they just be reasonable like us?

 

 

toddler boy parkToddler 2: I think it’s a communication issue, myself. I mean, they’re just barely starting to understand us when we talk to them, so I try to cut mine a little slack when she starts getting frustrated. I just stay close, maybe pat her arm or offer her a toy. Sometimes she settles down a bit and starts smiling again, but sometimes she just needs a little time to calm down. I stay present, though, so she knows I’m always there for her.

 

 

toddler girl in sandboxToddler 1: I think you’re messing up there, Dude. You need to walk away, just walk away and let her deal. If you comfort her, she’ll expect you to help her process her emotions, and that’ll lead to dependency issues, mark my words! When she freaks, you’ve got to force her to control herself! When she’s ready to be reasonable and listen, then you can be friends again.

 

 

toddler boy parkToddler 2: I don’t know. Mine flat out won’t listen. I can’t tell you how many times I have to ask her to play with me before she finally looks up from her toy. What is it with parents and electronics, anyway? And then all she does is say, “Just a minute, hon.” What exactly is a minute, btw?

 

 

 

toddler girl in sandboxToddler 1: ‘Just a minute’ means ‘This is more important than you,’ Dude. Come on, get with the program. You have to make them pay attention! Yell. Throw something. Bite the cat. Whatever it takes! Don’t let them get away with disrespecting you like that or they’ll never pay attention.

 

 

toddler boy parkToddler 2: Word. Talk about getting with the program, how do you handle the sleep issues? I just cannot take another sleepless night! She keeps me up for hours every. single. night. It starts out great, bath-time, a book and cuddles, but then she just clocks out like I’m some kind of a toy she can switch off when it gets dark! And, man, is it dark. I don’t know what’s living in my closet, but it is ginormous!

 

 

toddler girl in sandboxToddler 1: Sleep training, Dude! It’s the only way. They turn that light out and shut the door, you follow them! Every. Time. Or, if you’re too scared (totally get that, btw) then just start hollering and don’t stop. If you can’t sleep, make sure they can’t, either! And don’t give in. Not even once. You let them get away with that stuff one time, and you’ll never get any sleep, ever! They have to learn that it’s their job to take care of you day and night, even if all you need is a hug!

 

 

toddler boy parkToddler 2: Got it. Oh, man, here she comes. Seriously, do you have this problem, too? We’re at the park. Everybody’s having a good time. And she just up and decides to leave. I think she’s got some anti-social tendencies. I’m thinking of having her tested.

 

 

 

toddler girl in sandboxToddler 1: Same here! But I’m working on it. They’ve got to learn it’s not all about them, and it’s our job to teach them. Look, here comes mine, too. Watch and learn, Dude. I’m using the arched-back, flail and wail today. Deep breath and, “No! No! Noooooo…”

 

 

 

 

 

Seeing our own actions from another perspective is uncomfortable, no doubt, but the understanding we can achieve is well worth the discomfort if we can learn and grow from it as parents. As Maya Angelou, American author, poet, and self-described Renaissance Woman, wrote, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

Related posts:

Toddlers, Tantrums, and Time-in’s, Oh my!

The Gift of a Strong-Willed Child

Backtalk is Communication…LISTEN

When Children Act Out ~ Reflecting Our Emotions

The Problem with Punishment

Bridge Over Troubled Waters~Parenting a ‘Problem’ Child

The Taming of the Tantrum: A Toddler’s Perspective

Practical, Gentle, Effective Discipline

200 Ways to Bless Your Children with a Happy Childhood

12 Steps to Gentle Parenting

The ‘NO’ Zone

When Things Get Physical: Hitting, Throwing, Kicking, and Biting

You’re Not the Boss of Me!

L.R.Knost is a best-selling parenting and children’s book author and founder and director of Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources, an online resource for gentle parenting education, articles, and research. Books by L.R.Knost include Whispers Through Time: Communication Through the Ages and Stages of Childhood ; Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages ; The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline ; and Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting (Release date: May 2014) the first four books in the Little Hearts Handbook gentle parenting series, as well as her children’s picture books Petey’s Listening Ears and the soon-to-be-released Grumpykins series available from Amazon and other major retailers.