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Parenting for a Peaceful World (Guest post for Parenting Beyond Punishment)

[Guest post for Parenting Beyond Punishment with excerpt reprinted from Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting 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 The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline also available on Amazon and through other major retailers.]

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Parenting crosses all cultural, ethnic, economic, life-style, and faith boundaries. It connects us as humans in a way that few things are capable of doing. As adults we are, each and every one of us, products of our childhood. Whether good or bad, filled with connection or neglect, characterized by healthy or harmful relationships, we are indelibly marked by the etchings of our past.

When our childhood is filled with safety, joy, and secure attachments, we take the tools of healthy relationships and life choices with us into adulthood. But when our childhood is marred by pain, insecurity, small boy and fear, we not only enter adulthood lacking the tools to create a healthy, happy, successful life, but we also carry a heavy baggage of unresolved anger, confusion, and anxiety with us into the future. We may forgive and heal and move on, but the reality is that the scars we carry, though perhaps faded and forgotten, remain part of who we become.

Recognizing that our perceptions and beliefs about parenting are rooted in our own childhood experiences is a vital step toward parenting from a place of intention rather reaction.  It is in that recognition, as we discover that we are carrying forward practices that will negatively impact our own children, that we become empowered to step back and unpack our childhood baggage in the past where it belongs rather than unloading it onto our children in the present and setting them up carry the negative practices and resultant baggage into their own adulthood.

But what about when destructive parenting practices are carried forward intentionally? What about when parenting practices become generational, passed from parent to child with conscious intent? Why are some parenting choices, even those such as spanking which research has shown to have powerfully negative impacts on children and the adults they will become, carried on from one generation to the next in the vast majority of homes across the planet?

Studies have revealed that in excess of 90% of American parents admit to spanking their children at some point in their childhood, and more than 50% concede that they employ spanking on a regular basis. Worldwide, it is estimated that in excess of 80% of children are spanked, typically in the most vulnerable early developmental years.

While cultural influences and stressors such as economic hardship and family instability and a lack of education are all certainly involved in the continuing high rates of physical punishment of children, one factor that cannot be overlooked in its continuation is the prevalence of punitive parenting guides that promote such practices. These books that instruct parents on the tenets of child-training and behavioral modification often use spanking as the ‘gold standard,’ the ultimate tool for controlling children, and many of these guides intimate or even outright state that parents MUST spank children because, in their view, “the Bible commands it.”

In order to stop the damaging generational cycle of violence against children, we need to take on that pseudo-Biblical viewpoint, disseminate the doctrinal beliefs underpinning it, and make sense of the original texts in the original language of the Bible.

Jesus the Gentle ParentHere is an excerpt from Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting that does just that:

Parents worldwide have one thing in common…a deep, heartfelt desire to raise their children ‘right,’ to do their best to raise healthy, responsible, happy people. And, again almost universally, those parents look to others to help guide them on their parenting journey. Sometimes they look to their own family or to close friends, but often they seek out parenting guides, trusting that what they read in a book from a parenting ‘expert’ must be right…right?

What they don’t realize is that anyone can write a parenting book, and it’s often the expertise in marketing rather than in parenting that sells the most books. Here are excerpts and quotes from some of today’s most widely read and trusted self-proclaimed parenting experts:

“After ten acts of stubborn defiance, followed by ten switchings, he surrendered his will to one higher than himself.” (about whipping a 15 month old) …”Don’t wait until they are one year old to start training.  Rebellion and self-will should be broken in the six-month-old when it first appears” …never show mercy. One squeak of a scream gets a switching.” (about whipping a 3-year-old) …“For young children, especially during the first year, the rod is used as a training tool. You use something small and light to get the child’s attention and to reinforce your command. One or two light licks on the bare legs or arms will cause a child to stop in his tracks and regard your commands. A 12-inch piece of weed eater chord(sic) works well as a beginner rod. It will fit in your purse or pocket. Later, a plumber’s supply line is a good spanking tool…A baby needs to be trained all day, everyday.”(Michael Pearl, To Train up a Child)

“Pain is a marvelous purifier…It is not necessary to beat the child into submission; a little bit of pain goes a long way for a young child. However, the spanking should be of sufficient magnitude to cause the child to cry genuinely… Real crying usually lasts two minutes or less, but may continue for five. After that point, the child is merely complaining… I would require him to stop the protest crying, usually by offering him a little more of whatever caused the original tears.”(Dr. James Dobson, Dare to Discipline)

“Even at mealtime, be looking for training opportunities in order to avoid retraining. Don’t allow poor eating habits– such as fingers in the mouth, playing with food, and spitting out food–to become a normal pattern of your child’s behavior. It only means correcting the child at a later date” (Ezzo, Babywise II, p. 44) …”Chastisement [spanking] is the price paid to remove the guilt thus free the child from his burden. If the parents do not remove the guilt, the child lives under the weight of sin.” (Gary Ezzo, Growing Kids God’s Way, p. 212 )

“A parent must recognize and see clearly that Biblically beating his child sensitizes that child not only to the fact of sin but also to its ugliness. In addition, the child will see that the penalty must always be paid when we sin…The one who does not Biblically beat his child, in a loving and consistent way, in a very real sense predisposes that child for hell and even has a very direct part in sending him there.”  (Ronald E. Williams, The Correction and Salvation of Children)

“The rod is a parent, in faith toward God and faithfulness toward his or her children, undertaking the responsibility of careful, timely, measured and controlled use of physical punishment to underscore the importance of obeying God…If you fail to spank, you fail to take God’s Word seriously. You are saying you do not believe what the Bible teaches about the import of these issues. You are saying that you do not love your child enough to do the painful things that God has called you to.” (Tedd Tripp, Shepherding a Child’s Heart)

These self-styled parenting ‘experts’ and others mandate strict, unemotional behavioral controls, often enforced punitively, stemming from a shared core ideology that children need to be trained…trained to self-soothe, trained to sleep alone, trained to play independently, trained to instantly obey.

Much of the root of the idea that children need to be trained comes from the Old Testament verse, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)

The word translated train up in that verse is the Hebrew word chanak/chanokh which translated literally means ‘to dedicate or to initiate.’To dedicate means to ‘commit to a special use’ and ‘to focus on a specific purpose.’ To initiate means to ‘introduce to, create an appetite or a taste for’ and ‘to set on the path.’ In every other Old Testament usage of chanak/chanokh it is translated ‘to dedicate or to initiate’ except for the ‘train up a child’ verse.

Thus, the verse literally reads…

Train up Introduce a child to/set a child on the path in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)

That verse, coupled with a handful of others such as the ‘spare the rod’ verses (see Chapter Eleven of Jesus, the Gentle Parent for a discussion of the original translations and misinterpretations of those verses), has led to an entire parenting paradigm based on Old Testament practices of rigid expectations and harsh consequences, purported to be ‘God’s way.’ (Read more)

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.


Grace has a Face…It’s Yours

[Excerpt reprinted from Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting 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 The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline by L.R.Knost also available on Amazon and through other major retailers.]

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“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them,
for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these”
Luke 18:16

toddler girlThe tiny girl stood timidly at the top of the stairs, her small face anxious as she called out in toddler-eze, “Dada, do you comin?”

The man sitting in front of a small group of church leaders gathered in his living room grimaced. “Oops! Forgot I told her I’d be up in five minutes to tuck her in and say her prayers.” He shook his head and glanced around the room with a self-deprecating grin, “I forget my promises more often than not, unfortunately. Hazards of a busy schedule, I guess.” He sighed, “I told her to wait in her bed for me. Now I have to go spank her, poor thing. It’ll be the third time today. I wish parenting was easier.”

An older man stood and gestured to the others in the room to gather around the man. “Let’s pray for strength for our brother to fulfill his fatherly duties unwaveringly and cheerfully.”

As the church leaders joined hands and prayed, the lone woman in the group stood aside. She looked from the tiny face still peering down through the stair railing to the gathering of adults solemnly praying over the little girl’s father, her heart racing as a flood of memories darkened her mind.

The prayer ended, and the father started up the steps.

The woman’s breath caught in her throat as a smile lit the toddler’s face when she saw her daddy approaching, her little hand reaching out trustingly to take his as he led her back to her bedroom. The bedroom door closed and silent moments passed, then muffled thwaps and cries of pain split the silence. A few minutes later the door opened, letting the sound of the small girl’s sobs drift clearly down the stairs before they were muffled again as the father emerged, his own eyes wet with tears, and closed the door softly behind him. The father hastily wiped his eyes, then rejoined the group downstairs.

The church leaders patted the father on the back, reassuring him that everyone made mistakes and forgot things at times, so he shouldn’t feel guilty about forgetting his promise to his child. They offered a few pieces of sage advice about securing a child’s unquestioning obedience with consistent punishment and reminded him to be unwavering in its application.

Then they returned to their meeting, trying to come up with a church program to share the unconditional love and freely given grace of their Heavenly Father with the wounded, the broken, the lost. The woman excused herself, and as she moved toward the front door she heard one man propose that they call the new program, ‘Grace is for Everyone.’

She barely made it to her car before collapsing into soul-shaking sobs.

The woman had been that little girl, once upon a life-time ago. Now she was the wounded, the broken, the lost. Her childhood wounds so often gaped and grasped, sucking any momentary joy from her heart and unexpectedly festering into flashes of anger that shocked her when they suddenly surfaced. Her broken trust shattered her relationship with her heavenly Daddy again and again as she grappled to understand and accept an unconditional love that she had never experienced at the hands of her earthly father. Her way seemed littered with roadblocks and pitfalls as she wandered in the darkness of a lost world, terrified that she would fail and be lost forever.

With a shuddering breath, the woman started her car and drove away, her heart aching for a tiny girl sobbing herself to sleep alone in a dark room and for an adult who would soon be doing the same thing.

*This is a true story. Some details have been changed for confidentiality.

How much different might it have been if the story had gone this way, instead:

The tiny girl stood timidly at the top of the stairs, her small face anxious as she called out in toddler-eze, “Dada, do you comin?”

The man sitting in front of a small group of church leaders gathered in his living room grimaced. “Oops! Forgot I told her I’d be up in five minutes to tuck her in and say her prayers.” He shook his head and glanced around the room with a self-deprecating grin, “I forget my promises more often than not, unfortunately. Hazards of a busy schedule, I guess.” He sighed, “I told her to wait in her bed for me. Now I have to go apologize to her, poor thing. It’ll be the third time I’ve had to apologize for dropping the ball today. I wish parenting was easier.”

An older man grinned and said, “Go take care of your little girl. We can wait.”

The father started up the stairs.

As the church leaders chatted while they waited for the man to return, the lone woman in the group sat silently. She looked at the tiny face still peering down through the stair railing, and her heart raced as a flood of memories darkened her mind.

The woman’s breath caught in her throat as a smile lit the toddler’s face when she saw her daddy approaching, her little hand reaching out trustingly to take his as he led her back to her bedroom. The bedroom door closed and silent moments passed, then muffled giggles wafted through the silence. A few minutes later the door opened, letting the sound of the small girl whispering, “Dood night, Dada!” drift clearly down the stairs as the father emerged, his eyes wet with tears, and closed the door softly behind him. The father hastily wiped his eyes, then rejoined the group downstairs.

As the father sat down, he cleared his throat, a bemused smile lighting his face. “I guess that’s why Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me,’” he said, “because children are so good at Jesus the Gentle Parent final front covergiving unconditional love and forgiving and trusting. No matter how many times I disappoint that little girl, no matter how many promises I break, she always forgives me and trusts me completely.”

The church leaders smiled and nodded, reassuring him that everyone made mistakes and forgot things at times, so he shouldn’t feel guilty about forgetting his promise to his child, after all, he was only human. They offered a few pieces of advice about juggling a busy schedule with children and reminded him that family always comes first.

Then they returned to their meeting, trying to come up with a church program to share the unconditional love and freely given grace of their Heavenly Father with the wounded, the broken, and the lost, both in their church and in their community. One leader mentioned, “I think that beautiful analogy about your daughter you just shared would make a perfect starting point for our program.” As the others in the room nodded their approval, someone proposed that they call the new program, ‘Grace is for Everyone.’

A few minutes later, the meeting broke up and everyone made their way home, but the woman sat in the dark driveway in her car with tears running down her cheeks.

She had been that little girl, once upon a life-time ago, waiting…hoping for a father’s love, but she had never received the compassion and humanity that she had witnessed that evening. Her childhood wounds so often gaped and grasped, sucking any momentary joy from her heart and unexpectedly festering into flashes of anger that shocked her when they suddenly surfaced. Her broken trust shattered her relationship with her heavenly Daddy again and again as she grappled to understand and accept an unconditional love that she had never experienced at the hands of her earthly father. Her way seemed littered with roadblocks and pitfalls as she wandered in the darkness of a lost world, terrified that she would fail and be lost forever.

With a slight smile, the woman started her car and drove away, her heart swelling with the unfamiliar feelings of hope and healing as she thought of a tiny girl peacefully sleeping in the safety of her father’s love and of an adult who might actually be doing the same thing for the first time in as long as she could remember.

Here’s the thing, parents, either grace is sufficient for all or it is sufficient for none. There is no in-between. You are your children’s first taste of God, their first understanding of love, their first vision of grace. How you treat them in that capacity will inevitably affect their relationship with Christ. Choose love, because he is Love in the flesh. Choose gentleness, because he is the Gentle Shepherd. Choose grace, because he died so that you could.

Grace has a face…

It’s yours.

“Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice.”
Philippians 4:9

Related posts:

Stealing God’s Gift: Free Will is a Gift to be Nurtured, Not a Curse to be Broken

Spare the Rod: The Heart of the Matter

Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting

Tattered Tapestries: Weaving Trust Through the Chaos

Fear Doesn’t Lead to Faith: Becoming Your Child’s Safe Place

Where Did You Learn Love, Child?

Gentle Journeys: A Book Club for a New Generation

Practical, Gentle, Effective Discipline

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.


Where did you learn love, child?

[Reprinted from Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting 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 Childhoodand The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline by L.R.Knost also available on Amazon and through other major retailers.]

Jesus the Gentle Parent final front cover

Where did you learn love, child?
I felt it in my mommy’s arms.

And where did you learn joy?
I heard it in my daddy’s laugh.

Where did you learn peace, child?
I saw it in my mommy’s life.

Where did you learn patience?
I heard it in my daddy’s voice.

And where was kindness learned?
I felt it in my mommy’s touch.

And what of goodness, child?
I saw it in my daddy’s heart.

And where was faithfulness?
I heard it in my mommy’s prayer.

And gentleness, my child?
I felt it in my daddy’s hands.

And what of self-control?
I saw it in my mommy’s eyes.

And what will you do with what you’ve learned?

I will love freely and share joy,
practice patience and self-control,
show kindness and pursue goodness,
and live a life of faithfulness
as I walk gently and in peace
through this wonderful world we share.

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control…

“And the greatest of these is love”
L.R.Knost

quote where did you learn love feet 2Related posts:

Fear Doesn’t Lead to Faith: Becoming Your Child’s Safe Place

Stealing God’s Gift: Free Will is a Gift to be Nurtured, Not a Curse to be Broken

Grace has a Face…It’s Yours

Tattered Tapestries: Weaving Trust Through the Chaos

Spare the Rod: The Heart of the Matter

Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting

Practical, Gentle, Effective Discipline

The Problem with Punishment

12 Steps to Gentle Parenting

Bridge Over Troubled Waters~Parenting a ‘Problem’ Child

200 Ways to Bless Your Children with a Happy Childhood

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.


Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting

Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting

by

L.R.Knost

Intelligent, Well-Researched, Compassionate ~ L.R.Knost has done it again. With her compassionate tone, relational style, and intelligent, well-researched writing, Jesus, the Gentle Parent is like a refreshing, peaceful  Jesus, the Gentle Parentwalk through the scriptures with a friendly and knowledgeable tour guide. This book differs from Two Thousand Kisses a Day, Whispers Through Time, and The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline in that it takes a Christian approach to parenting as L.R. takes on big names in the Christian child-training sect such as Dr. James Dobson, Tedd Tripp, Gary Ezzo, and Michael Pearl, breaking down their doctrine and reexamining such issues as spanking, instant obedience, submission, free will, and more in light of the original Hebrew and Greek texts of the scriptures. As always, L.R. offers gentle parenting alternatives along with real-life examples of their applications, but in Jesus, the Gentle Parent she goes even further and shares parenting insights based on the life of Jesus that will turn the mainstream Christian world on its head. This is truly a grace-based parenting book which shows parents how to be “their children’s first taste of God” by following in the gentle, wise, grace-filled footsteps of Jesus. ~ The Parenting Review

Back cover: In this examination of mainstream Christian parenting practices and the doctrinal beliefs behind them, best-selling author, L.R.Knost, debunks common cultural and theological beliefs about spanking, original sin, sin nature, submission, authority, obedience, breaking a child’s will, and more, along with providing grace-filled, gentle solutions to behavior issues.

Here’s a bit from the foreword by Samuel S. Martin (Biblical scholar and author residing in Israel):

“Jesus, the Gentle Parent is a book to read, reread, and internalize.

In these pages, you will find keen insights and powerful Scriptural truths which I am only beginning to grasp the significance of, myself. Before agreeing to write the foreword for Jesus, The Gentle Parent, I carefully read and examined how L.R. had engaged the subject, and I can say without hesitation that I am a better person, a better father, a better human being, and a better Christian for doing so.

I come from a background of high academic achievement in the area of Biblical studies. My late father, Dr. Ernest L. Martin (1932-2002) was one of the founding members of the Foundation for Biblical Research and an internationally recognized Biblical scholar with multiple books and academic credits to his name.

Growing up, I lived in Israel (my permanent adult residence since 2001) for five summers, living in the Bible lands while my father was involved in the largest excavation taking place in the Middle East at that time. For my summer vacations, I toured Biblical sites in Israel as well visiting Greece and seeing where St. Paul journeyed.

I grew up in a house with a room dedicated to my father’s library which numbered over 10,000 volumes when he passed away. These are the tools that I was taught to use. I’ve been exercising these tools now for some twenty years as I have studied and written exhaustively about doctrinal issues, including publishing a book on corporal punishment (spanking) in the Bible in the hope of shedding new light on that issue.”

Check out Samuel Martin’s book: Thy Rod and Thy Staff, They Comfort Me: Christians and the Spanking Controversy

Other gentle parenting resources you may find helpful:

Two Thousand Kisses a Day-Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and StagesTwo Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages Calm, Reassuring, Likable ~ Written in L.R.Knost’s signature easy-to-read and conversational style, ‘Two Thousand Kisses a Day’ offers an overview of gentle parenting from birth through young adulthood along with concrete suggestions and insights into how to implement gentle parenting in each stage of childhood. Her seasoned and practical approach based on extensive child development research and years of parent mentoring as well as over twenty-five years of parenting her six children is as likable as it is reassuring. Parents with children of any age will find this information-packed book with its bite-sized chapters and practical approach to parenting a helpful and encouraging addition to their home library, as well as a welcome gift for new or struggling parents. ~The Parenting Review

 

Whispers Through Time: Communication Through the Ages and Stages of ChildhoodWhispers Through Time: Communication Through the Ages and Stages of Childhood Sweet, Funny, Insightful ~ Award-winning ‘Whispers Through Time’ by L.R. Knost is destined to be a dog-eared favorite, passed down from generation to generation. L.R. Knost shows parents how to find their own answers for their own children and their own families in this guidebook as she challenges conventional thinking with a wisdom born of experience and a healthy dose of research to back it up. Written with the same unique blend of sweetness and humor, grit and honesty, reassurance and insight that made L.R. Knost’s first book, ‘Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages,’ a best-seller, ‘Whispers Through Time’ has become a runaway hit in its own right. ~The Parenting Review

 

The Gentle ParentThe Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline Relaxed, Reassuring, Practical ~ Written by L.R.Knost, best-selling, award-winning author of ‘Two Thousand Kisses a Day’ and ‘Whispers Through Time,’ ‘The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline’ shares the simple secrets of a peaceful, happy home in the Three C’s of gentle discipline–Connection, Communication, and Cooperation. In her signature relaxed and poetic style, L.R.Knost gently guides parents through the steps of applying the Three C’s in real-life scenarios from tantrums to defiance to parenting a strong-willed child to healing a broken parent/child relationship. Practical and proven, this newest installment in the Little Hearts Handbook parenting series will be tucked into diaper bags, kept handy on nightstands, and shared with good friends for its research-backed, experience-based, and humor-rich insights, ideas, and inspiration. ~The Parenting Review

 

Gentle Parenting Workshop 1 Getting Started on Your Gentle JourneyGentle Parenting Workshop 1: Getting Started on Your Gentle Journey The Gentle Parenting Workshop series from award-winning author, L.R.Knost,  is a companion series to her best-selling parenting books, ‘Two Thousand Kisses a Day,’ ‘Whispers Through Time,’ and the newest release, ’The Gentle Parent.’ This first workshop in the series, ‘Gentle Parenting Workshop 1: Getting Started on Your Gentle Journey,’ will help you set your gentle parenting goals, identify specific parenting problems, and target practical solutions to help you along on your journey to gentle parenting.

 

 

Gentle Parenting Workshop 2: Healing From Your Past So You Don't Pass It Along To Your ChildrenGentle Parenting Workshop 2: Healing from Your Past so You Don’t Pass it Along to Your Children, will help you walk through the steps of recovery from a painful past, leading you on a journey of healing and forgiveness, of unloading negative emotional baggage into the past where it belongs instead of unloading it onto your children and passing it along to the next generation, and of renewal to open the pathway to a more peaceful and gentle approach to parenting.

“Forgiving someone doesn’t mean telling them that hurting us was okay. It means telling ourselves that it’s okay to stop hurting. It doesn’t mean we have to trust them again. It means we can learn to trust ourselves again because we deserve it. It doesn’t mean we have to give them a free pass back into our lives. It means we are free to take our lives back again. Forgiving is letting the hurts of the past go so that we can move freely into the future.”

The Gentle Parenting Workshop 2 walks you through five stages of healing and emotional freedom, including multiple action steps for you to take along the way from making the decision to change to identifying your triggers to forgiving your own mistakes of the past to coping when life hits hard.

“When a tragedy strikes in the form of a death or a life-changing illness or an accident, or when our lives are suddenly turned upside-down due to a divorce or other major life event, we need to grieve the loss of our old lives, our old ‘normal,’ our younger, more carefree, and unwounded selves, so that we can embrace our new normal and learn to live fully and joyfully again. Just as if a person had hurt us, we are hurting humans and we need to take the time and make the investment in self-care to work through the hurt and emerge a wiser, more mature, and more compassionate human.”

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.


I live. I laugh. I love. And, sometimes, I run away…

quote embracing the rain small“Life is hard. That’s an intrinsic part of its breathless beauty. What joy would there be in a rollercoaster with no steep climb? What triumph in a race with no competition? What  accomplishment in an endeavor with no risk? What motivation in a life with no death? I don’t speak lightly of hardship. Hardship involves suffering, and I have suffered more than I am willing to share. But I choose to embrace the beauty, to rise to the challenge, to submit to the fire…because that is where life in all of its rich, messy, glorious fullness is found.”

I really believed those words when I wrote them once upon a lifetime ago, when the hurts from dark days in my childhood had been sorted and catalogued and filed away under ‘life lessons: forgiven, though never forgotten’ and I was ready to move on…

Then came loss. One miscarriage after another, each knocking the wind out of me, shaking my faith, draining a bit of life with all its zest and hope and glory from me. One, two, three…nine miscarriages, the last with triplets, three precious babies lost at once. I was crushed. But I survived, bruised and bloody and scarred, yes, but not broken.

And then came my Sammy. I lost his twin at nine weeks, but Sammy lived on, waving and bouncing around at every ultrasound as if to say, “I’m here, mama! I’m still here!” What a tough little guy.

A tough little guy with a death sentence. A random mutation, incompatible with life. But he did live. With my body playing a most willing host, my little invited guest grew and thrived, kicking and rolling and LIVING. I enjoyed every moment of his life, treasured every movement, stored up every memory. It was all I would ever have of him, so I drank deeply of the days and saved my tears for the nights when all was still and the knowledge of death pressed too hard to ignore.

And then one day my Sammy unexpectedly slipped into and out of the world, still and silent and beautiful, bearing the imprint of his siblings on his tiny features. It was an unexpected home birth. I was alone. I can still remember the feeling of stunned disbelief as I realized he was coming NOW. I had no time to call anyone or prepare anything. He was just suddenly there, in my arms.

I’d known that he couldn’t survive outside of my womb from the minute the words ‘incompatible with life’ had entered my world. But I had chosen to give him every moment of life within me that I could, to savor every kick and tumble, to share my life and body with him until it was time for him to leave me. The movements had stilled, though, some hours before he came into and out of the world, an emergency ultrasound had confirmed that he was gone, and hushed voices had spoken of inductions and deliveries and funerals and burials and other words that should have been separated by a lifetime. I went home in a stunned fog to prepare for checking into the hospital the next morning to be induced, labor, and deliver my lost son, but the last cruel card had yet to be played. In the early hours of the morning, a sudden rush of blood and pain caught me alone and unprepared. I’d known that he would be leaving, but this, this unexpected, solitary moment of birth and death, this silent entry into heaven, this unutterable aloneness, this I could not have anticipated.

I remember the soft warmth of his body as I held him, waiting for help to arrive. I remember staring at his tiny profile and being scared to turn his face fully to mine, afraid of seeing my other children’s features reflected in his still, small face. I remember my husband finally coming and the look of shock and grief on his face as he realized what had happened. I remember the gush of blood, the tiny box, the rush to the hospital, the emergency surgery. I remember the surreal feeling of returning home, to the place of family, of ordinary days, of life and love, and feeling both wrapped in the warm comfort of familiarity and struck by the stark reality of loss.

And I was broken.

And I remained broken. Someone once asked me how I ever got over losing my son. My answer, “I didn’t.” There is no getting over the loss of a child. There is moving on. There is healing. And there is living. But I am forever changed. A part of me will always be broken while I live on the underside of Heaven and my son awaits me topside. That is a fact of life and loss. I have moved on. And I have healed.

But living is another matter altogether. Living, really living, is embracing life in all its fullness, laughing and loving, twirling in dizzying abandon in the rain with my little girls, and playing a sorry game of basketball with my boys while they alternately chuckle at my crazy aim and earnestly try to help a lost cause. Living is cuddling on the sofa with my hubby watching midnight movies while he snores in my ear. Living is feeling and hoping and stretching and experiencing. It is breathing in all the joy and breathing through all the hurts. It is planning for the future, the great unknown, brilliant with possibility and studded with thorns.

Living is not hiding. It is not stale and distant and cold. Living doesn’t cower under covers or behind locked doors…or in front of computer screens.

I thought I was done, that I’d handled losing Sammy to the best of my ability and moved on and healed and started living again. But as I stopped to take stock of life recently, I was suddenly brought up short. The incredibly sharp rear-view-window vision of hindsight revealed a startling fact. I had moved on, yes, and I had healed, but I was in many ways functioning on auto-pilot, not fully living.

I loved and I laughed…but hope, that most basic of human needs, was transparently thin and unutterably fragile in a heart afraid to live like mine. The future brims with more pain than possibility when viewed through a veil of tears. Fear reigns, and life suffers under its dictatorship. Life abundant becomes life restrained.

And planning for the future was too breathtakingly daring to even consider, and not just because of my own losses.

You see, I have a list of people I pray for every day, children, adults, babies, all fighting for their lives. Some of them, a precious five-year-old little girl, a sweet mom with breast cancer, an infant with spinal cancer, and another baby with a rare brain disorder, have lost their fight for life, and my heart grieves with their grieving families. Others are just starting their fight, a little one waiting for a kidney transplant, a newborn baby boy born with half a heart, a one-year-old who recently had a liver transplant, a four-year-old boy whose body is riddled with tumors, and so, so many more. My thoughts, prayers, and hopes are never far from these small people and their heroic families. Their struggles and losses press themselves deeply into my soul.

My hindsight view revealed a constant battle with fear. I am all too familiar with how fragile life is and how suddenly life can change. I am filled with joy at the blessings God has given me, but my joy was often stolen by fear. My heart waited for the next bad thing to happen, always secretly wondering what would be taken from me next. I knew God didn’t want me to live that way. I knew that “Perfect love casts out all fear.” (1 John 4:18) I knew these things in my head, but it was my heart that kept me awake in the darkness, locked in a battle with fear. God gives, and God does take away. I needed to be at peace with that, trusting my Father’s perfect will. But I was afraid. I was so afraid.

I wish God never said ‘No’ when the whispered prayers of scared mamas and daddies reached his ears, when a child’s desperate prayers for a sick parent are sobbed in the night, when hearts and voices storm the gates of Heaven on behalf of a beloved friend. But he does say ‘No,’ and his ‘No’ is the right answer, even though I’ll never understand it this side of Heaven.

I wish I could understand, though. I wish I could sit and talk and reason with God…but that is prayer, and so I decided to sit, and to talk, and to reason…and to learn to trust. I decided to reject the fear and withstand the pain and cling to the Cross in the storm. And I discovered that trust isn’t a feeling or a destination. It is a process, a journey, a two-steps-forward-one-step-back dance, an intricate, intimate relationship between Creator and created. Maybe that is faith, though, not really trusting, not fully, because the heart is human, after all. Maybe faith is choosing to wait, to hold on, to struggle, never fully trusting, but always hoping, always believing.

I have felt the pull back into life in the tiny hands of my new miracle baby tugging me to follow toddling steps into adventures untold, in the never-give-up attention seeking of my curly-topped second grade dirt magnet, in the budding womanhood of my daydreamer-artist teenager, in the endearing, emerging solidness of a man of character in my young adult son, and in so many other ways that I can no longer hide from the message, “It is time to live freely again.”

And so I will live. I will embrace the messy and the beautiful. And, just days from now, when Sammy’s birth-death day arrives and the memories crowd close, I will take my earthside children and run away. We will go somewhere that is not here and we will stand beside swaying reeds and feed toddling ducklings. We will ride our bikes under tall trees and marvel at the newly hatched turtles tumbling over each other on the banks of shining waters. We will stop at a little pizzeria and get a market street pepperoni pie and sit outdoors in the sunshine and eat and talk and laugh. We will celebrate each other and life and love, and then we’ll come home and it will be home again. And I’ll be okay, because…

Life is hard. That’s an intrinsic part of its breathless beauty. What joy would there be in a rollercoaster with no steep climb? What triumph in a race with no competition? What  accomplishment in an endeavor with no risk? What motivation in a life with no death? I don’t speak lightly of hardship. Hardship involves suffering, and I have suffered more than I am willing to share. But I choose to embrace the beauty, to rise to the challenge, to submit to the fire…because that is where life in all of its rich, messy, glorious fullness is found.

Related posts:

Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting

Tattered Tapestries: Weaving Trust Through the Chaos

Fear Doesn’t Lead to Faith: Becoming Your Child’s Safe Place

Where Did You Learn Love, Child?

Spare the Rod: The Heart of the Matter

Gentle Journeys: A Book Club for a New Generation

carry on warriorThis post is part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!

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.


When Toddlers Become Teens

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

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sistersWith society’s propensity for blaming social issues on ‘kids these days,’ and with struggling, frustrated parents seeking support by sharing stories of their teens’ attitudes and ingratitudes, it’s not surprising that adolescence gets a bad rap.

But the truth is that teens are just people like the rest of us, subject to human imperfections and simply trying to find their place in the world. They may have some hormonal ups and downs, but just as women don’t appreciate being grouped together and defined by exaggerated stories of PMS and men don’t like every decision they make in middle-age to be labeled evidence of a midlife crisis, teens don’t deserve that kind of disrespectful stereotyping, either.

The thing is, adolescent behaviors that parents fear most such as rebellion, drug use, eating disorders, etc. don’t just appear out of nowhere. Teens don’t grow up in a vacuum. Our early parenting choices matter far more than we can imagine in those first months and years of our children’s lives. Our early parenting not only shapes who our children will become, but also has a powerful impact on our relationship with our teens. We are, literally, building our relationship with our teens while we’re parenting our toddlers and preschoolers.

Ideally, preparation for the teen years begins in infancy as we spend those first months of our children’s lives laying a foundation of trust. Then, in the toddler years, that preparation continues as we establish safe and reasonable boundaries with gentle guidance, patience, and proactive parenting like planning shopping trips around naps and bringing along snacks and favorite toys to avoid tantrum triggers.

In the preschool and middle years, preparation for adolescence builds on the trust foundation we laid in the first months and years of our teen’s lives as we grow a spirit of cooperation rather than compulsory compliance, establish a healthy relationship with our children based on teamwork instead of a dictatorship based on forced obedience, and create strong lines of communication rooted in hearing and being heard rather than the often-closed hearts and minds that result from lectures and control-based parenting.

The result…

  • Children who don’t have to fight for independence because they don’t have anything to rebel against or any motivation for rebellion
  • Children who feel that they are respected and that their opinions are heard and valued and therefore don’t have the angst to fuel negative attitudes
  • Children who trust and feel trusted and don’t want to lose what they instinctively know is of great value ~ our mutual trust relationship

Thus the groundwork is set for gently parenting through the teen years.

Once we’ve done the groundwork for the teen years, preparation shifts from preparing for adolescence to preparing our adolescents for adulthood. In the day-to-day parenting of teens, preparation means getting them and ourselves ready for their advent into adulthood by intentionally and incrementally handing over the reins of their lives into their inexperienced, but capable hands.

Another aspect of parenting our teens is participation in their lives. In the early years, participation means joining our little ones as they explore the world with mud-splattered walks in the rain and building tilted block towers which tumble and are rebuilt time and again. It means reading bedtime stories and welcoming midnight visitors in our beds and sharing morning tickle-fests and kissing imaginary boo-boos.

In the teen years participation means much the same, only instead of blocks tumbling, it’s plans and hopes and hearts that sometimes tumble into disappointments and need our support and understanding to be rebuilt. It’s midnight visitors who tap softly on our door and ask if we can chat for a bit. It’s shared hugs and cheers and tears and whispers of encouragement. It’s being there, being aware, being in-tune. It’s active, proactive, and intentional parenting.

And, finally, how we interpret our children’s behavior in the early years sets the stage in a very real way for how we will interpret their behavior in adolescence. In the early years, interpretation means that instead of assigning negative ulterior motives to our little ones’ crying, curiosity, outbursts, explorations, tantrums, and other behaviors, we seek to interpret what they are communicating and empathize with and validate their emotions. It means we try to meet the needs behind the behaviors first, opening the door to gentle guidance so that we can equip them with better ways of expressing their needs as they grow and mature.

Interpretation in the teen years means exactly the same. We listen, assume the best, meet needs, listen more, give grace for being human, empathize with and validate emotions, listen and listen some more, and continue to create open hearts and minds through connection and communication so that our gentle guidance can be heard and received and trusted.

Here’s the thing, yes, our teens are human and they will act like the imperfect beings they are at times, just like we all do. But when we’ve grown our little humans in an atmosphere of connection, communication, and cooperation, those imperfect human moments stay exactly that…moments. They don’t explode into rebellion or fester into addictions or plummet into depression because they’ve been punished, suppressed, and ignored. They are simply normal, small moments of life that we work through together before they become big life problems.

If, however, you are new to the idea of gentle parenting and wonder if it’s too late to rebuild and repair your relationship with your children, the answer is, “No.” One of the miracles of human nature is the ability to forgive, heal, and start again. Here are some links to articles with specific suggestions for walking with your children through that process so you can begin your gentle journey in parenting peacefully, kindly, and effectively with your older child:

The Color of Change

Backtalk is Communication…LISTEN

The Gift of a Strong-Willed Child

The Problem with Punishment

12 Steps to Gentle Parenting

Bridge Over Troubled Waters~Parenting a ‘Problem’ Child

Why Whining is a Win!

Rethinking Tattling

Two Thousand Connection Points a Day: Attachment Parenting Beyond Infancy
 

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.


TWO MILLION Reads Celebration!!!

2,000,000 READS CELEBRATIONWhat an amazing thing to know that my gentle parenting articles have now been read over TWO MILLION times by people from more than 200 countries around the globe! Visitors have logged in from such wonderfully exotic places as Fiji, Nepal, Rwanda, Cameroon, the Congo, Malawi, Montserrat, Seychelles, Madagascar, and many, many more!

To say a huge ‘Thank You’ to all of my readers for their support, shares, likes, and follows, I asked the 18,000+ gentle parents on my Little Hearts Facebook Page what they’d most like me to offer as a celebration — a giveaway or a book sale — and they overwhelmingly voted for a book sale. So I’ve asked my publisher to drastically drop the prices on all of my parenting books for a one-time, 48-hour Celebration Sale. For the next two days the normal price of $8.99 has been deeply discounted to $5.99 and if you buy a paperback edition you can get the Kindle edition for only .99 cents to keep or to give as a gift! And, so those who voted for a giveaway don’t feel left out, I’m also giving away a $25.00 Amazon gift card. To enter to win, simply share this post and leave a comment saying you shared…super easy! [Contest runs through 11:59 EST on January 16th. Winner will be randomly selected and notified by email. Open worldwide.]

Here’s an overview of each book courtesy of The Parenting Review :

Two Thousand Kisses a Day-Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and StagesTwo Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages by L.R.Knost

Calm, Reassuring, Likable ~ Written in L.R.Knost’s signature easy-to-read and conversational style, Two Thousand Kisses a Day offers an overview of gentle parenting from birth through young adulthood along with concrete suggestions and insights into how to implement gentle parenting in each stage of childhood. Her seasoned and practical approach, based on extensive child development research and years of parent mentoring as well as over twenty-five years of parenting her six children, is as likable as it is reassuring. Parents with children of any age will find this information-packed book with its bite-sized chapters and practical approach to parenting a helpful and encouraging addition to their home library, as well as a welcome gift for new or struggling parents. ~The Parenting Review

 

Whispers Through TimeWhispers Through Time: Communication Through the Ages and Stages of Childhood by L.R.Knost

Sweet, Funny, Insightful ~ Award-winning Whispers Through Time by L.R. Knost is destined to be a dog-eared favorite, passed down from generation to generation. L.R. Knost shows parents how to find their own answers for their own children and their own families in this guidebook as she challenges conventional thinking with a wisdom born of experience and a healthy dose of research to back it up. Written with the same unique blend of sweetness and humor, grit and honesty, reassurance and insight that made L.R. Knost’s first book, Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages, a best-seller, Whispers Through Time has become a runaway hit in its own right. ~The Parenting Review

 

The Gentle ParentThe Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline by L.R.Knost

Relaxed, Reassuring, Practical ~ Written by L.R.Knost, best-selling, award-winning author of Two Thousand Kisses a Day and Whispers Through Time, The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline shares the simple secrets of a peaceful, happy home in the Three C’s of gentle discipline–Connection, Communication, and Cooperation. In her signature relaxed and poetic style, L.R.Knost gently guides parents through the steps of applying the Three C’s in real-life scenarios from tantrums to defiance to parenting a strong-willed child to healing a broken parent/child relationship. Practical and proven, this newest installment in the Little Hearts Handbook parenting series will be tucked into diaper bags, kept handy on nightstands, and shared with good friends for its research-backed, experience-based, and humor-rich insights, ideas, and inspiration. ~The Parenting Review

Gentle Parenting Workshop 1 Getting Started on Your Gentle Journey

In Gentle Parenting Workshop 1: Getting Started on Your Gentle Journey L.R.Knost does what she does best, offering clear, practical, doable steps as she gently guides parents to find what works with their own children and families. This workshop delivers exactly what it promises as it helps parents to discover their parenting strengths and weaknesses and establish goals to become the parents they want to be, and it does so with the usual conversational and reassuring style that has made L.R.Knost a best-selling, award-winning author and successful parenting consultant. The Parenting Review

*For international purchases of all Little Hearts parenting books click here.

Most-read articles:

12 Steps to Gentle Parenting: A Year of Baby Steps to a Happier Family

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

Ten Steps to Surviving the first three months with a newborn

200 Ways to Bless your Children with a Happy Childhood

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

Why Whining is a Win

 

My deepest gratitude to each and every one of you who are walking out the gentle parenting journey in your own homes and who have helped to spread the message of gentle parenting to the far reaches of this great big beautiful planet we all share! Together we are truly changing the world, one little heart at a time. ♥

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.


Two Thousand Connection Points a Day: Attachment Parenting Beyond Infancy

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

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mom and daughterFrom kicking and rolling and stretching to being lulled to sleep by the rhythmic cadence of a mama’s heartbeat, little ones spend the first months of their existence wrapped in a warm, dark, gently swaying cocoon, a life-giving embrace, the ultimate hug, readying themselves for their grand entrance to the world.

Then, in those first moments of life beyond the womb, when the muffled sounds of the outside world become clear and the muted lights become glaringly bright, a warm chest with the scent of life-sustaining milk and the sweet sound of a familiar heartbeat welcome the little one to the comfort and safety of a mama’s arms.

In the days, weeks, and months following, little fingers and toes are counted and kissed again and again and again. Soft cheeks are snuzzled and a fuzzy little head is nuzzled, and two thousand kisses a day seems a reasonable number to a mama’s heart overflowing with tenderness for this tiny new member of the family.

Then comes the rolling and sitting and crawling and walking, and soon the two thousand kisses dwindle to brief morning cuddles before a toddler is off to explore the world, healing kisses on boo-boos, and goodnight snuggles with a bedtime book.

Time passes and the little one grows in independence, getting up and dressed and ready on their own, grabbing their own band-aid for a scrape, and reading themselves to sleep. Gone are the snuzzles and nuzzles of infancy, and the two thousand kisses a day are simply sweet memories.

Growing independence, though, doesn’t have to mean growing separation. Humans were created to be relational beings. We may outgrow our dependency, but we never outgrow the need for community, interaction, appreciation, reassurance, and support.

Infants, children, and adults alike all share this life-long need for connection. While over time that need will also be met through friendships, business engagements, social interactions, and the like, family relationships are the steady and sure bedrock of secure connection and belonging that ground us and assure us that our needs will not go unmet even in the darkest of times.

Attachment parenting is often misconstrued to be simply about breastfeeding, babywearing, cosleeping, etc. But, while those are possible choices for creating and maintaining a secure parent/child connection in the early years, they are just a small sampling of the relationship-building choices that parents can make throughout their children’s lives.

As little ones outgrow the ‘two thousand kisses a day’ stage, parents can begin consciously creating ‘two thousand connection points a day’ to replace those tender expressions of love with age-appropriate expressions of appreciation and approval, love and support.

From responding empathetically to a preschooler’s whine, to paying attention to a seven-year-old when they tell their endless stories, to listening ‘between the lines’ to the angst of a teen, maintaining a secure parent/child connection beyond infancy is simply about meeting emotional needs consistently, intentionally, and relationally.

Creating two thousand connection points a day isn’t about quality time, and it isn’t even about the quantity of time spent with our children. It is, instead, about being there in the small moments, the moments that matter to our children, and consciously meeting with them right where they are. It is about…

    • Simply smiling and letting our eyes light up with welcome when our children walk in the room
    • Maintaining eye contact when our children talk to us instead of letting our eyes constantly stray back to our laptop/iPhone
    • Voicing our sincere appreciation for their latest ‘masterpiece’ or victory or achievement
    • Expressing our affection physically in whatever way our children are comfortable with, whether it’s a wrestling match, a knuckle pound, or a hug
    • Giving our children our undivided, wholehearted attention when they share their latest treasure or sing a never-ending song they make up as they go or just want to sit and be close for awhile
    • Listening to what our children need to say without the threat of repercussion
    • Inferring what they aren’t able to express verbally
    • Welcoming our children into our daily lives, whether we are discussing politics or cooking dinner or fixing the toilet
    • Allowing our children to express their emotions, even when they aren’t pretty
    • Validating their anger, hurt, frustration, or embarrassment instead of minimizing or dismissing their feelings
    • Helping them to process those emotions by listening and reflecting back what we hear
    • Guiding them toward understanding of their own feelings and empathetically equipping them with coping mechanisms for the future
    • Sharing our own hurts, disappointments, and mistakes in age-appropriate terms so they’ll know it’s okay to be human
    • Honoring our children’s intense need to avoid embarrassment by offering guidance privately and respectfully, even if their behavior issue is public and/or disrespectful
    • Sharing their interests even if the life-cycle of a snail wouldn’t be our first choice of dinner conversation
    • Offering choices so they can grow in independence and confidence
    • Supporting them even when their choices lead to disappointment or failure
    • Being gently and kindly and completely honest about our own disappointment or hurt when their behavior negatively affects us so they’ll know they can trust us to be truthful, even in the hard things
    • Helping them whenever and wherever they express a need for assistance so they’ll know they never have to go life alone

These connection points are all about maintaining and enriching a strong parent/child relationship through all of the ages and stages of childhood so that, through a foundation of trust and mutual respect, parenting takes the form of guiding instead of punishing, encouraging natural growth instead of forcing independence, and creating a strong, intimate, interwoven family fabric that will stand the test of time.

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 Twelve Elves of Christmas~An Advent Storybook

[By L.R.Knost, best-selling author of The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective DisciplineWhispers Through Time: Communication Through the Ages and Stages of Childhood and Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages available on Amazon and through other major retailers.]

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“If you love all of the Elf on a Shelf ideas floating around the internet, but don’t like the idea of using Santa as a threatening figure who sends elves to spy on children and report back to him, then this new children’s book that will be released next year is for you! With a lyrical cadence and engaging rhymes, The Twelve Elves of Christmas shares the real meaning of Christmas while capturing the fun of playing hide-n-seek with a dozen visiting elves as they help you and your children count down to Christmas with shared acts of kindness, giving, and love. A new Christmas classic, for sure!”

The Parenting Review

 

Here’s a small excerpt (don’t want to give it all away!) and some of the very early concept art from The Twelve Elves of Christmas which will be released next year. Based on the concept that kindness begets kindness and giving spirits come from hearts that are overflowing with love, the book will include hundreds of creative ideas for using your elves to share the true meaning of Christmas with your children in fun and unexpected ways.  Enjoy the sneak preview!

 

***The Twelve Elves of Christmas***

It’s Christmastime! It’s on the way!

It’s time for elves to come and play!

Jingle, Merry, and Snowflake, too

Are bringing friends to share with you

 

elves concept art 2Holly, Jolly, Kringle, and Yule

Twinkle, Happy, and Noel, too

And last but not least are Carol and Frost

Mapping their route so they won’t get lost!

 

Each will visit, just one a day

Coming to help in some small way

With acts of kindness they will share

Joys of giving from hearts that care

 

 

Look for happy, small elf faces

Hiding in all kinds of places

Find them in boxes and on shelves

Look high and low for your friend elves

 

They’ll make your bed and feed the cat

They’ll clean the spot where your toys sat

They’ll bring small gifts, surprises, too

They’ll write kind notes like, “I like you!”

 

And when you find your friendly elves

Then you can become elves yourselves!

Go give your elves to someone new

Share some help and a smile or two

 

These friendly elves come every year

Bringing loads of Christmas cheer

To fill our hearts with love each day

So we have more to give away!

~ L.R.Knost

 

The Spirit of Christmas… The Great Santa Claus Debate

24 Tips for a Safe, Stress-Free & Jolly Holiday… A Very Toddler Christmas

The Reason for the Season… Celebrating Jesus with a Santa Claus Christmas

Making gratitude and generosity a standard of life… 7 Tips and Traditions to Make Giving a Standard of Living

From hitting to defiance to tantrums to testing the boundaries and more, here are gentle parenting tools, tips, and techniques… Practical, Gentle, Effective Discipline

Fairy 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. Fairy Tales~The Lost Value of ‘Once upon a time…’

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.


Helping Unique Learners Find Their Genius ♥

middleschool girl

[From Raising Bookworms: Life, Learning, and Literacy by L.R.Knost available 2014; Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and StagesWhispers Through Time: Communication Through the Ages and Stages of Childhood, and The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline now available on Amazon]

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middleschool girlHomeschooling a unique learner can be challenging simply because they don’t get the benefit of access to testing and professional support without a lot of initiative, research, phone calls, and door-knocking on your part. But the trade-off is the freedom to tailor your teaching and learning environment to your child’s needs, and that is of incredible value when educating a unique learner.

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!

Here are some of the tips, tools, and techniques I’ve learned through years of homeschooling my unique learners to help them work through the challenges they face on a daily basis:

1.)    Lighten up…Everything in life is easier if you take it with a grain of salt and learn to laugh. Our unique learners will have more struggles and challenges than the average person throughout life, not just during their school years. That is an unavoidable fact. But who wants to be ‘average’ anyway? Help them to celebrate their uniqueness and embrace the future with grace and humor by sharing your own struggles, modeling coping techniques, and being able to laugh at your own mistakes. Make ‘even missteps are valuable steps on the road to success’ your homeschool motto!

2.)    Play…Children learn best through play, and that applies to therapy, as well. Experience is the only true path to learning, so let their imaginations soar as they do the hard work of learning to cope with their unique challenges. (See some play-based, brain-enriching, and eye-tracking activities below)

3.)    Jazz it up…Music truly is medicine for the soul. Buy a good set of headphones (not earbuds) and play classic instrumentals softly while your unique learner is trying to concentrate, whether it be on reading or writing or drawing, etc. Filtering out the cacophony of life and soothing their stress levels with the gentle strains of Mozart are only some of the benefits of music. Another benefit is that the rhythms, cadence, and timing of music actually have an organizing effect on the brain!

4.)    Exercise…Invest in an exercise bicycle (We got ours for $15 from a yard sale!) that lets your unique learner sit in a comfortable seat while pedaling. The cross-over action of pedaling also has an organizing effect on the brain, and, if used while reading or playing video games (Video games can be great exercises for eye-tracking if you choose the right ones!) can actually increase the speed and effectiveness of learning.

5.)    Get crunchy…Believe it or not, another ‘brain organizing’ activity is chewing, particularly crunchy foods, while reading, etc. Some good choices are pretzels, carrot sticks, celery, granola, and nuts. (If you’ve got a sensory sweetie like I do, be careful to let them choose something that won’t send their senses into overdrive.) Sugarless chewing gum can be substituted when you go places where foods aren’t appropriate, but still would like to offer your child a calming, organizing aid.

6.)    Listen, listen, listen…Your unique learner will have more than their share of stress and possibly a harder time articulating it than others might. Slow down and really focus on what they are communicating. Listen ‘between the lines’ to their heart, their hurts, their fears, their needs. Be their safe place, their source of comfort and renewal.

7.)    Hug it out…Physical closeness is healing, and so make sure that along with the extra struggles and challenges your unique learner faces, they get lots of extra cuddles, snuggles, and hugs. When they get older, a gentle touch on their shoulder or a light hand on their arm will be instantly calming and comforting because it will tap into those feelings of comfort and closeness from earlier childhood.

8.)    Watch and learn…Just as every child is different, every child with challenges is unique in how they manifest those challenges and how they handle them. Paying careful attention to your own unique learner’s personality, struggles, aversions, triggers, etc. will give you clues as to how to help them learn to cope. With SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder), for example, avoiding unpleasant stimulus and providing needed stimulus is the name of the game. Typically, you’ll want to provide a quiet learning area at home, lots of freedom to move, permission to step away and de-stress when they feel overwhelmed, etc. and, when going out, avoid buffet-style restaurants and loud, crowded shopping and entertainment venues.

9.)    Guide them gently…Discipline (guiding, modeling, teaching, etc.) invites communication and strengthens your parent/child connection. Punishment stifles communication and strains parent/child connections. Keep those vital lines of communication open and your parent/child connection healthy by providing consistent boundaries and gentle guidance, being open to discussion, and modeling the desired behavior.

10.)   Read, read, read…Successful readers are not simply those who understand the mechanics of reading any more than successful biking is understanding the mechanics of a bicycle. Readers are born when a love for reading is fostered. Let them see you reading often. Cuddle up and read to them when they are young. Co-read (you read a sentence, they read a sentence, etc) when they are new readers or when they are tired or struggling. Let them read comics (The relation of pictures to words is a huge aid in reading comprehension.). For more reading tips, see Raising Bookworms.

 

Here are some exercises and activities that have helped my Renaissance Girl with her challenges with SPD, dyslexia, ADD, visual/auditory processing disorders, dyscalculia, etc:

Gross motor and fine motor cross-over exercises to get the two sides of the brain communicating more efficiently…

~Bouncing a brightly colored ball back and forth between us using alternate hands (left, right, left, right, etc.)

~Skipping, marching, swinging while singing

~Climbing

~Balance beam

~Bicycling

~Piano

~Sorting

Brain-organizing activities…

~Memory matching

~Tonal music

~Free-style building with blocks, Tinker Toys, Legos, etc.

~Design-matching building

~Sensory bins

Eye-tracking activities…

~Laser pointer games-following a laser pointer light in a darkened room, pointing to moving targets (i.e. bubbles), etc.

~Ceiling tracing-following the seam of the wall and ceiling from corner to corner moving only the eyes

~Video games-Flash Focus and Brain Age are good choices for the Gameboy. Wii Fit, Carnival Games, and Sports Games are good for the Wii. There are also great games for improving eye-tracking for the X-box, Playstation, and online. If you do the research to find what best fits your child’s interests, you’ll have much better participation!

Visual-motor learning…

~Clay letters-tactile learning by forming letters and words on a template with clay or dough

~Contextual learning-Children with dyslexia tend to learn better in context than by breaking things down to their parts, so phonics-based learning is often mind-boggling for them. Flashcards are a no-go because speed and movement impede their attempts to focus rather than help them. Writing-based learning such as copying and illustrating short poems, copying a short sentence from a wall-mounted chalkboard or large paper taped to the wall and illustrating it, writing and illustrating their own stories, and writing stories on the computer are great ways to help them learn to read.

~Once they are beginning to read, graphic novels, large-print chapter books on topics that interest them, and continued creative writing are excellent practice.

~Online reading games can be helpful, but only if they are untimed (Timed anything is a huge stressor and sets them up for frustration and failure.) and your child feels comfortable with the level of activity and brightness on the screen as otherwise these can cause headaches and their eyes to tire quickly.

These tips are not, of course, exhaustive or a replacement for professional therapies. But as you work your way through what can often be a labyrinth of paperwork, meetings, appointments, etc. on your way to finding the services your child needs, these may help to ease the wait a bit. :)

 

Related posts:

Children who love to read…READ! Engaging children’s hearts in the wonder of reading instead of just training their minds in its mechanics. Raising Bookworms

It’s time for a return to childhood, to simplicity, to running and climbing and laughing in the sunshine, to experiencing happiness instead of being trained for a lifetime of pursuing happiness…it’s time to let children be children again. A Return to Childhood

Think homeschooled children are unsocialized, over-controlled, locked-away-from-the-world misfits? Think again! My Renaissance Girl

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!

In the world of a child wonders are as simple as sticks and sheets, leaves and books, boxes and giggles, and the promise in a rainy day. The Seven Wonders of the World of Childhood

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. Live to Play~Play to Learn~Learn to Live!

 

If you give a toddler a 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… If You Give A Toddler A Book…

 

Einstein recognized his unique lens and often commented about it and about how organized education systems didn’t accommodate individuality and creativity. Here is a look into this ‘unique learner’s’ mind in his own words…Beautiful Minds

 

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.


Baby on the Way! 25 Tips to Prepare Children for a New Sibling

[By L.R.Knost, author of  Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and StagesWhispers Through Time: Communication Through the Ages and Stages of Childhood, and The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline available on Amazon and through other major retailers.]

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toddler kissing mommy's pregnant bellyPregnancy is a time of introspection, excitement, and, often, anxiety for most new mamas. When those new mamas also have other small children at home, that anxiety can become overwhelming as they worry about how they’ll cope with more than one child and how the current little loves of their life will cope with a new sibling. While these are very valid concerns, there are steps you can take to prepare your child for a new sibling and help them to adjust when the new baby arrives that will also help you to cope with life as a mama of more than one little blessing.

Once you discover you’re expecting, you’ve got months and months to prepare your child for the arrival of a new sibling, so here are 25 tips for during your pregnancy and after the new baby arrives to make the new baby transition a smoother and sweeter journey for everyone:

  1. Help your older child make their own ‘sister/brother on the way’ announcements so they feel like they are part of the transition from the beginning.
  2. Bring them along to sonograms, doctor’s appointments, shopping for baby things, etc.
  3. Reassure them that parents’ love multiplies instead of divides and that they will always be loved and important. Point out other families with more than one child so they can see that truth for themselves. If they’re old enough to understand, try a simple illustration such as letting them put different colors of water beads, one for each family member including the baby-on-the-war, into a glass of water. Tell them the water is like love, and it grows the beads into a rainbow of beautiful colors just like love grows our hearts bigger and bigger so there’s plenty of love for everyone.
  4. Present the new baby-on-the-way as ‘theirs,’ a special gift sent just for them so they will have a best friend for life. Talk about their friends who have siblings and how they always have someone to play with and someone to help them when they need it.
  5. Find children’s books about welcoming a new sibling, taking care of a new baby, when mommy breastfeeds, etc. to read to them before the birth. Here is a great list to get you started.
  6. Let them help decorate the nursery, put together the stroller, pack up the hospital bag (or prepare for your homebirth), buckle in the car seat, etc.
  7. Ask the person giving your baby shower to let your child ‘co-host’ and help with the party planning, set-up, serving snacks, and playing games.
  8. Help them make a special ‘welcome’ gift for the new baby and wrap it in paper they’ve decorated with stamps or finger paint.
  9. Buy them a special ‘welcome’ gift that you give them when they visit their new sibling for the first time. One idea is to buy them a child-sized baby carrier along with a doll, some diapers, wipes, mini baby blankets, etc. so they can take care of their baby while you take care of yours.
  10. Help them make their own family scrapbook with places to put the new baby’s pictures and pictures of them with their new little sibling when the new baby comes.
  11. Tell them stories about when they were born and show them pictures of their homecoming and first weeks of life.
  12. Let them help you work on updating their baby book.
  13. Take them to pick out a baby book for the new baby.
  14. Begin an open-ended conversation about how they’re feeling about having a new baby in the family to allow them to express their natural worries about how their role in the family might change, if they will still be able to play with their own toys, if the baby will cry a lot, etc. Continue this conversation throughout your pregnancy and after the new baby arrives to keep the communication lines open and your connection intact.
  15. Take them to visit the hospital and stop at the gift shop to buy a baby gift and a little treat for them to build excitement.
  16. Have lunch at the hospital cafeteria two or three times leading up to your birth to help them get used to the environment.
  17. Work on building other attached relationships with significant adults in your child’s life (spouse, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.) so that your little one is used to having their needs attended to by someone other than mama at times and so they can play and get one-on-one time with another caregiver while mama is busy with the new baby.
  18. On their first visit with their new sibling, let them sit in bed with you and hold their new little sibling. Have a ‘big sister/brother’ t-shirt for them to wear and take lots of pictures of both of them together and with other family members. Ask whoever you have caring for your older child to stop on the way home to print out a few of the pictures and then help them put the pictures in the scrapbook they created with you at home.
  19. When the new baby arrives continue to present the baby as ‘theirs’ to love and enjoy and care for. Include them in helping with diaper changes, snuggling on your other side with storybooks for you to read while nursing/feeding the new baby, singing the baby to sleep, etc. Make sure you invite them to participate instead of insisting because they may need some time to adjust to the newness of everything before they’re ready.
  20. Keep your expectations in line with your child’s developmental stage and make accommodations whenever possible. For instance, expecting a toddler to willingly give up their crib to a new baby is probably unrealistic. Moving your toddler to a new bed early in your pregnancy and then involving them in getting the crib ready for the new baby later on, after they’ve adjusted to their new bed, might be more successful.
  21. If your older child is a toddler or preschooler, you can expect some regression into babyish behavior as they work to adjust to their new role and find their place in the new family dynamic. Don’t respond with punishment, shaming, or pressure to ‘be a big boy or girl.’ Instead allow them the space and time they need to explore how it feels to be a baby again while at the same time drawing their attention to the benefits of being the older sibling (i.e. “Look how you can walk on your strong legs wherever you want to go! Your baby sister can’t walk yet, can she?” or “Wow, you can pick out your own shoes and even put them on yourself! Your baby brother can’t do that yet, can he?” or “Look at all the yummy foods you get to eat. It’s nice being bigger so you don’t have to just have milk, isn’t it?”)
  22. Be specific about how your child should treat the new baby. Instead of “Be nice!” try “Can you use a kind voice with your brother?” and instead of “Don’t be so rough!” try “Can you give your sister a gentle hug?”
  23. Make sure your child’s boundaries are clear and consistent. If you let them hop around the baby’s bouncer to make the new baby laugh one day, you can be sure they’ll try bouncing around the baby’s bouncer again and again and again. If you think that’s dangerous, set a clear boundary, explain the reason for the boundary, and give them an alternative (i.e. “Hopping next to the baby is dangerous. You might fall on the baby and hurt him! That would make you sad, and the baby would be sad, too. If you need to hop, you can hop like a bunny over here next to me.”)
  24. Keeping a consistent, familiar routine for your older child will help them to feel less out-of-control as they adjust to all of the other changes going on in their life. Make sure you’re flexible and in-tune with your child’s changing needs, though. They will most likely communicate their natural anxiety at this big transition in the family with some acting out behaviors, clinginess, whining, and/or resistance to bedtime and other normal routines. For instance, they may have been fine with one story and a hug at bedtime before the new baby arrived, but after their new sibling comes home they may need extra cuddles, time, and the reassurance of your love and ongoing commitment to their wellbeing before they’re able to go to sleep.
  25. Talk, talk, talk to your little ones throughout each and every day. Your hands may be busy more often than not, but you can still maintain that all-important connection through communication!

Keep in mind that nothing will completely eliminate the possibility of some jealousy, regression, or acting out when a new baby arrives because it’s a huge transition and it will take time for everyone in the family to adjustment, but these suggestions will go a long way toward setting the stage for the smoothest transition possible.

quote new second babyRelated posts:

Ten Steps to Surviving the First Three Months with a Newborn

The Gift of Breastfeeding

Love in the Time of Cosleeping

300+ Nicknames for Your Babykins…Doodlebug…Snugglebunny…

Babywearing Basics Resource Guide

Breastfeeding, Babywearing, and Bouncing Back into Shape after Baby

The Thoughtful Parent’s Guide to Positive Parenting Guides

12 Steps to Gentle Parenting

The Taming of the Tantrum: A Toddler’s Perspective

Practical, Gentle, Effective Discipline

10 Ways to Play with your Children when Play is the Last Thing on your Mind

200 Ways to Bless Your Children with a Happy Childhood

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.


Bridge Over Troubled Waters~Parenting a ‘Problem’ Child

[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 Stages and Whispers Through Time: Communication Through the Ages and Stages of Childhood also available on Amazon and through other major retailers.]

bridge over troubled water

We all have times when we struggle, when life gets hard, when stresses overtake us and the constant demands to grow and change and learn inherent in simply being human just feel like too much to bear.

Children are no different than adults in that they, too, can often feel overwhelmed by life. The sheer volume of growth and change and learning integral to childhood inevitably produce stress, though that isn’t necessarily a negative for all children. Some children, just like some adults, seem to have an innate ability to cope with stress, to adapt to change, and to face and conquer challenges. Some personalities even thrive on it!

But then there are those children who simply seem to struggle with life. Growth spurts cause incredible stress and discomfort. Change produces intense anxiety and resistance. And learning, being introduced to new thoughts and ideas, being stretched and challenged, inspires unease and distress.

These children are often labeled problem children, strong-willed, difficult, entitled, or brats. The reality, though, is that these are often the most sensitive children, small people who were created to be intimately in-tune with their bodies, their environment, and their fellow human beings. They feel, deeply and empathetically, other people’s pain and distress. They endure shifts in their surroundings like frontal assaults to their safety and security. They experience touch and movement of their bodies, and growth within their bodies, with painful intensity.

All too often, these sensationally gifted children are misunderstood. Their strong reactions to stimuli are misinterpreted as willfulness and stubbornness. They are punished instead of helped, controlled instead of supported, hurt instead of heard.  Their uniqueness, gifts, and insights are forced underground where they often simmer in silence, bursting forth in flashes of rage or turning inward in brooding depression.

These children don’t need labels. They don’t need to be contained or controlled. They need what all children need…love, understanding, and guidance to grow into the gifted, unique individuals they were created to be.

Helping and supporting your sensitive child who is struggling is like building a bridge over troubled waters using the Three C’s of gentle discipline:

Connect:

  1. Observe and really get to know, understand, and appreciate the gifts and needs of the unique little person you are privileged to parent.
  2. Build a foundation of trust and respect in your parent/child relationship by ‘listening’ to the needs being expressed by your child’s behavior even when their behavior seems completely out of proportion to the situation.

Communicate:

  1. Keep an open door policy, particularly in the late evening hours when the house is quiet and everyone else is settled for the night. Sensitive children often need stillness to feel safe enough to begin processing all of the overwhelming stimuli and emotions they experience throughout the day.
  2. Help them to verbalize their feelings and experiences by listening to their hearts and not just their words, and quietly offering observations to help them to put things into perspective.

Cooperate:

  1. Work with your sensitive child to help them find coping mechanisms that will help them deal with overwhelming sensations, emotions, and situations. Some ideas are to offer them options such as…
    • wearing noise-cancelling headphones to block out extraneous noises
    • escaping to a Cozy Cave to take a break from the stresses of daily life
    • creating a private code word that they can use to let you know they are feeling overwhelmed or that you can use to alert them that they may need to take a break or to dial things down a notch or two
  1. Equip them with tools to express themselves in acceptable ways (i.e. “It’s not okay to be rude, but it is okay to tell someone you need a break” or “It’s not okay to run away at school, but it is okay to go to your teacher and tell them you’re having a hard time.”)
  2. Work with them intentionally on a daily basis to overcome the stresses and minimize the impacts of what is, to us, normal daily life, but to them can be deeply troubling experiences.

Building a strong, supportive bridge into the future with your sensitive child will provide them with the coping skills they’ll need as adults to overcome normal stresses and challenges as well as those that come when life inevitably flows into troubled and turbulent waters.

For more tips for parenting your sensitive child and helping them learn coping mechanisms to deal with stresses, see The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline.

 


Related posts:

Backtalk is Communication…LISTEN

The Gift of a Strong-Willed Child

The Problem with Punishment

When Children Act Out ~ Reflecting Our Emotions

Why Whining is a Win!

Rethinking Tattling

The Incredible Power of the Whisper

The Taming of the Tantrum: A Toddler’s Perspective

12 Steps to Gentle Parenting

The Thoughtful Parent’s Guide to Positive Parenting Guides

Simon and Garfunkel – Bridge Over Troubled Water Studio Version

When you’re weary, feeling small
When tears are in your eyes
I will dry them all

I’m on your side
When times get rough
And friends just can’t be found

Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

When you’re down and out
When you’re on the street
When evening falls so hard,
I will comfort you

I’ll take your part
When darkness comes
And pain is all around

Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

Oh, if you need a friend
I’m sailing right behind

Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind…

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.


Rethinking Tattling

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

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tattling“She won’t share!”

“He took my crayon!”

“They won’t let me play with them!”

“He looked at me!”

“She poked me!”

“They’re jumping on the couch!”

“He won’t be my friend!”

Few things irritate adults as quickly as a tattle-tale. The kneejerk response is often “Stop tattling!” or “Handle it yourself!” or even to shame or punish little tattlers.

But stop for a moment and think: What is being communicated? What is a child actually trying to tell us when they tattle? What message is a child getting by our response?

Tattling is, in effect, a child seeking wise counsel for a situation they don’t know how to handle. When faced with a conflict that just weeks or months earlier would have resulted in tears or snatching or hitting or some combination of all three, a child who has matured and begun to develop some self-control is learning to stop and think instead of just react. But what do they do if no solution presents itself? What if they’ve tried to reason or negotiate with the object of their conflict and been unable to come to a resolution?

What do adults do when they don’t know what to do? Typically, they either respond with maturity and seek out someone they respect and trust to help them deal with the situation, or they degenerate into chaotic emotions and resort to anger, power-plays, and manipulation. Often their response is influenced by their own childhood and how they were taught or not taught, as the case may be, to handle conflict.

When a child tattles, what they are actually doing is a rudimentary form of the advanced life skill of ‘Pause. Think. Respond.’ but they need help finding an appropriate and effective response. The child who seeks out an adult for guidance is indicating trust in the adult and respect for the adult’s opinions and abilities. If the adult reacts with irritation, “Stop tattling!” or rejection, “Handle it yourself!” or punishment, the child learns not to trust, not to seek guidance, and not to share struggles and problems with those entrusted with their care, a potentially dangerous mentality, as we’ll discuss later. In addition, an excellent teachable moment is lost.

When a child approaches a trusted adult with a problem, the child is saying, “This is important. Hear me. Help me.” This is a wonderful opportunity to guide the child through the process of conflict resolution. So often we relegate life skills such as conflict resolution to textbooks and worksheets, if we address them at all. But learning is far more powerful and effective if it is tied to real-life, real-time issues that are important to us, that impact our lives, that matter.

So how do we handle the kneejerk irritation response when confronted with a tattling child? First, tossing out the tattling label entirely helps to adjust our mindset and focus on the child’s need for guidance. We can rename it ‘sharing’ or whatever else will help us in the rethinking process (though in our home it is just a normal and accepted part of our parent/child interaction and doesn’t have a name of its own to distinguish it from any other kind of communication).

Next, we can have prepared responses ready so that we aren’t ‘stuck’ when we’re trying to cope with our instinctive irritation in the same moment that we need to focus on helping an upset child in need of guidance.

Here are some possible responses:

If the child is over-wrought…

  • “I can see you’re upset. Let’s take a minute and breathe together, and then we’ll be able to think clearly.”

When the child is calm enough to talk…

  • “Can you tell me what happened to upset you?”
  • “Why do you think they did that?”
  • “How do you think we should handle that?”
  • “What could you have done differently?”
  • “What would you want them to do if you had been the one to do that?”

Often just feeling heard is enough to help the child find their own solution to the problem, but if further guidance is needed we can brainstorm solutions with them, walk them through some possible scenarios, or step in and help them to resolve the problem.

In addition to teaching valuable conflict resolution skills, giving our children the sure knowledge that they aren’t alone in the world and don’t have to cope with life on their own is a vital message. Logically speaking, does it really make sense to teach our children that they can’t trust us with their problems, can’t come to us when they’re stressed and don’t know how to cope, can’t seek wise counsel when confronted with situations that are beyond their ability to handle?

The potential ramifications of that mindset are chilling. Can we really expect children to have the mental clarity and emotional maturity to be able to distinguish ‘good’ telling from ‘bad’ telling when faced with bullying or peer pressure or sexual predators? It’s well known that sexual predators manipulate children with threats such as, “No one will believe you,” and, “No one will listen, anyway.”

Guarding our children against those lies, against the bullies, against pressure from their peers is essential, and keeping the communication doors flung wide open is certainly a powerful step in the right direction.

Related posts:

The Thoughtful Parent’s Guide to Positive Parenting Guides

The Gift of a Strong-Willed Child

When Children Hit~10 Tips for Parents

The Problem with Punishment

Backtalk is Communication…LISTEN

12 Steps to Gentle Parenting

Practical, Gentle, Effective Discipline

Why Whining is a Win!

The Color of Change

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.


All the ‘Right’ Parenting Moves

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

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Gentle Parenting doesn’t cure childhood because childhood isn’t a disease. It doesn’t fix children because children aren’t broken. Time is the only cure, the only fix. Time passes. Childhood ends. Gentle parenting simply recognizes normal childhood behavior as normal and guides children through the normal ages and stages of childhood with compassion and respect.”

~L.R.Knost

mommy's little kittyEver have one of those days where you make all the ‘right’ parenting moves, but your children still act like children? (Do I hear a resounding “YES!!!” bouncing off the walls of cyberspace? Lol.) Of course we all have, and a whole lot more than just one day, too!

I’m still chuckling over the comment someone left me that said something along the lines of me clearly never having had a ‘problem child’ and wishing me good luck if I ever have more than one child because then my chances of having said ‘problem child’ would increase. For the record, amongst my six children I have two with sensory issues, one with full-blown Sensory Processing Disorder, two with ADD, one with Auditory Processing Disorder, and two who would be labeled ‘strong-willed’ or ‘high-maintenance’ or even ‘problem children’ by people who want to label children.

quote imperfect humanThe thing that people so often misunderstand, though, is that gentle parenting is not about stopping our children from being children. It’s about guiding our children through childhood with gentleness, compassion, and respect. It’s about viewing normal childhood behavior as normal, and working with our children in developmentally appropriate ways to teach and inspire and encourage them to become the extraordinary people they were created to be.

So, when my extraordinary little people act like children and I make all the ‘right’ parenting moves and yet it still turns out to be a frustrating, tiring, out-of-sorts kind of day for all of us, that’s perfectly okay with me. We all have days like that. We start over again the next day…and the day after that…and the day after that. That’s just how crazy, beautiful, wonderful life with children goes. ♥

 

For more gentle parenting resources, check out:

The Gift of a Strong-Willed Child

Bridge Over Troubled Waters~Parenting a ‘Problem’ Child

Backtalk is Communication…LISTEN

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 Thoughtful Parent’s Guide to Positive Parenting Guides

When Children Hit~10 Tips for Parents

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

You’re Not the Boss of Me!

Toddlers, Tantrums, and Time-Ins, Oh My!

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.


Why Whining is a Win!

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

whiningIt’s seven o’clock and you’re finishing up the dishes before starting bedtime baths. And then it starts…the whining. Every. Single. Night. Your four-year-old knows the routine. She knows you are going to read her favorite bedtime book. She knows you will let her choose which pajamas to wear. She knows she has to brush her teeth. But that doesn’t stop her from standing in the kitchen night after night whining about the same things.

So what’s the deal? Short-term memory loss? An innate desire to drive you crazy? A disorder of the vocal cords that makes using a normal voice impossible after the sun sets and every time she doesn’t get her way all day long?!?

Here’s a shocker for you: Whining is actually a sign of maturity! Yep, that unnerving, endless, nails-on-a-chalkboard, make-your-head-explode whine is a sign that your little one is growing up and, get this, gaining self-control! I can see your heads shaking, but read on, parents, caregivers, and bleeding ears of the world, read on.

Whining, believe it or not, is an advanced skill. Babies come into the world with exactly one form of verbal communication–crying. They may smack their lips and root for the breast when hungry. They may arch their back or wiggle in discomfort when they need a diaper change. But when physical expressions don’t result in needs being met or their needs are emotional rather than physical, then crying is always the ‘default’ communication. Every need, every discomfort, every bit of loneliness or anxiety or frustration or stress has to be communicated through that one single venue.

Over time as babies grow into toddlers, they begin to learn new ways to communicate, pointing, grunting, picking up a few words here and there, and they move into a more interactive stage wherein they make attempts to communicate in these new ways, but fall back very quickly into crying if they aren’t understood and responded to quickly.

As time goes on, toddlerhood gives way to the preschool years and language skills advance, becoming the main source of communication for a little one. But even so, their grasp of language is limited and their prefrontal cortexes (center of forethought/pre-thinking skills) are still developing. This leads to a rather dichotomous situation in which they know what they want to say, but often can’t quite put the words together quickly or clearly enough for us oh-so-impatient adults.

As they work to communicate, their frustration levels rise and stress hormones sap the blood flow from those underdeveloped ‘thinking’ portions of their brains and, just when they need the use of language the most, they begin to lose the ability to articulate their needs. As toddlers they would fall quickly back into crying at this point, but as preschoolers their more advanced self-control helps them to avoid immediately dissolving into tears and, instead, they fall into the ‘middle-ground’ of whining.

Whining is, in fact, just an advanced form of crying and, as such, is just as grating on the nerves as crying because it is designed to get the attention of a caregiver. The difference is actually in our attitudes toward whining. We accept crying as a normal part of baby and toddlerhood, but label the whining of a preschooler ‘bratty’ and ‘spoiled’ and refuse to listen to them until they ‘use their normal voice’ just when they need us to listen the most!

If we, as adults, would adjust our mindsets to accept the normalcy of whining, it would lose a bit of its power to annoy while enabling us to respond empathetically to our children when they’re mustering all their newly-developed coping skills to avoid a meltdown.

So, what can we do when our little ones lapse into ‘whine-eze’ and we feel like tearing our hair out? Well, as always, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure:

  • Pay attention to the time of day whining seems to occur most often.
  • Watch for triggers such as hunger, missed naps, and over-hurried schedules.
  • Make whatever adjustments you can to prevent the whining before it starts.
  • If all else fails and the whining does commence, remember that your little one is struggling to communicate in that moment. Respond by slowing down, sitting with them or kneeling down in front of them, and giving them your full attention.
  • Use a quiet, soothing tone to reassure them, and listen patiently all the way through as they work their way back through the frustration and find the words to express themselves.
  • You may not be able to give them the toy or snack or whatever else it is they want at that moment, but giving them the chance to be heard is often enough to forestall an all-out meltdown.

More than anything, though, giving your little ones the gift of your time and attention when they need it most (and often seem to deserve it least) will help foster that all-important connection that provides the basis for gentle guidance and boundary-setting. And, as an added bonus, children who feel heard tend to outgrow the whining stage much earlier than children who feel like they have to fight to be heard.

Related posts:

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 Children Hit~10 Tips for Parents

You’re Not the Boss of Me!

Toddlers, Tantrums, and Time-Ins, Oh My!

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.


Backtalk is Communication…LISTEN

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

balktalk is a cry for helpWith more than 90% of parents admitting to spanking or otherwise physically punishing their children at least occasionally, mainstream American parenting can certainly be defined as punitive. If you go to the library or browse the shelves at Barnes & Noble or check out Amazon’s best sellers in the parenting genre, you will find a predominance of popular, punishment-based, obedience-focused parenting guides. Whether its spanking or time outs or removal of privileges or time confined in their room, the vast majority of children in the United States are raised with punitive parenting.

When it comes to children talking back to parents, many of these punitive parenting guides dictate a zero-tolerance policy. By their definition, backtalk is often characterized as verbal or emotional abuse of parents, defiance, rudeness, or threats:

  • Verbal or emotional abuse of parents is considered any statement that insults or hurts a parent such as, “You’re so mean!” or “I wish I didn’t even have parents!” or “I hate you!”
  • Defiance is any statement containing the word “No” in response to a parental      command.
  • Rudeness is defined as anything from deep sighs to rolled eyes to stomped feet.
  • Threats are any statements that give conditions such as, “If you take away my cell phone, I’ll just go get a new one!” or “If you don’t drive me to my friend’s house, I’m walking there!”

These parenting guides direct parents to decide which punishment to mete out when their child talks back to them, specifying that the deciding factor should be whichever punishment would be the most unpleasant, painful, and distressing for the child. Punishments are to be carried out swiftly and without discussion. When the retribution for the child’s actions is over, it is to be followed with a lecture laying down the laws of the family. Again, no discussion is allowed, but if the child expresses appropriate penitence, love and hugs can then be offered.

In addition to the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach at the thought of children being subjected to this kind of harsh, punitive parenting, I’m saddened by the upside-down reasoning that shuts communication down instead of utilizing it to bring healing, understanding, and restoration to the parent/child relationship.

Take a look at the order of parenting prescribed: First, punishment meted out by the parent. Second, lecture delivered by the parent. Third, conditional reconnection based on a proper expression of remorse to the parent from the child.

In gentle parenting, the order and intent of parenting would be the polar opposite: First would come listening for the need behind the behavior and reconnecting with the child at the point of need. Second, would be initiating a two-way communication about the problem and brainstorming about how to address the issue in ways that will meet everyone’s needs. Third, would be offering guidance and equipping the child with better ways to express needs in the future.

The punitive parenting approach focuses on the child as the problem and attempts to solve the problem by ‘fixing’ the child through intentionally unpleasant external forces.

The gentle parenting approach focuses on the child having a problem and attempts to help the child solve the problem through connection, communication, and inviting cooperation.

Now look at the definitions of backtalk–verbal and emotional abuse of parents, defiance, rudeness, and threats. The questions that immediately arise are: What about the parents? Are they held to the same standards as the children? Or do they threaten? Do they say ‘No’? Do they sigh? Do they hurt their children?

As parents, our actions will always be reflected in our children’s behavior. Children learn what they live. No amount of lecturing can undo the powerful impact on a child of their parent’s own behavior and choices.

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.

In the same way that “a gentle answer turns away wrath,” a soft-voiced, “Let’s take a minute and calm down so we can work through this together, okay?” from a parent is a magical, healing balm that immediately begins to diffuse tough situations and creates an atmosphere in which connection and communication can bring effective, peaceful solutions not only to the issue at hand, but to the inner turmoil that prompted the outburst in the first place.

Meeting a child at their point of need when that need is expressed through meltdowns, yelling, disrespect, or defiance takes patience, self-control, and empathy on the part of a parent, which can be a huge growth experience for the parent if they, themselves, were not parented that way. But the impact of living those positive life skills in front of our children is immeasurable.

Parenting isn’t a perfect science and parents aren’t perfect people, but creating an overall atmosphere of respect in a home starts with the parents modeling respect in their own tone of voice, in their own reactions to stressful situations, in their own interactions with their children.

It’s not easy, for sure. But the best things, the most valuable things, in life rarely are. Working toward being understanding, available, and responsive to our children’s needs yields a priceless return in our relationship as the years fly by and adulthood looms. Not meeting those needs, though, may have serious negative consequences…

Dear Daughter,

You entered your teen years with a bang a few years ago, and the explosions have been shattering our home ever since. I’ve begged, threatened, bribed, and punished; cried, shouted, and bargained; but I just can’t find a way to reach you anymore. You constantly say I don’t listen to you, but how can I when you won’t talk to me? You say I don’t understand you, but how can I when you push me away? You say we aren’t a family, but then spend every day with earphones in your ears, blocking us out. You ask me why I hate you, then roll your eyes when I tell you I love you. How did it come to this? We used to be such a happy family. Please, let me be there for you during this huge transition in your life. Let’s really try to communicate with each other. I’m just lost here, honey, and I need you to reach out and help me reconnect with you. I love you.

Your Dad 

 

‘Dear’ Dad,

Happy family? Are you kidding me? No, I guess not. You never did get it. Okay, you asked, so I’ll tell you. You were always happy because you were always in control. Want to know why I don’t talk to you now? Because you never listened when I was little. When I was scared in my room at night and called you, you either ignored me or threatened to spank me if I didn’t go to sleep. I’d lay there, crying so hard I’d almost throw up, terrified of the sounds and shadows in my room, but even more terrified of you. So, sorry, but I don’t buy that you’re ‘there for me’ when it’s only ever been at your own convenience. When you were mad at something I’d done and I tried to explain myself, you’d call it backtalk and smack me in the mouth. So forgive me if I don’t really believe you when you say you want to ‘communicate’ with me now. When I’d try to show you a dance I’d made up or tell you about how someone had pushed me on the playground, you couldn’t even be bothered to look away from your stupid computer while I was talking, so if I’m wrapped up in my electronics, I learned that little trick from you, Father Dear. Oh, and reconnect? Really? That implies that we were once connected. But when I was a little girl and invited you into my world and asked you to play with me, you were always too busy. So if you don’t understand me, sorry, but that invitation expired years ago. Want to know why I think you hate me? Because your actions told me so. Your ‘love’ is just words.

‘Your’ Daughter

 

Not all children react this way to harsh, punitive, control-based parenting, of course. Some children, due to personality, other influences and mentors in their lives, or simply as a survival instinct, will turn out okay despite how they are parented.

But ‘okay’ is too mediocre a goal when it comes to growing our children into the adults who will one day lead our world. Instead of raising children who turn out okay despite their childhood, let’s raise children who turn out extraordinary because of their childhood. Let’s grow excellent, outstanding, remarkable adults who will be world changers for the next generation and the generations to come.

Related posts:

When Children Act Out ~ Reflecting Our Emotions

The Problem with Punishment

Changing the World, One Little Heart at a Time

12 Steps to Gentle Parenting

Practical, Gentle, Effective Discipline

The Color of Change

Children of Violence

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 Terrible Trouble with Toothbrushing: A Toddler’s Perspective

[By L.R.Knost, author of 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 available on Amazon and through other major retailers.]

toddler toothbrushing 2A Toddler Speaks…

Okay, let’s just get right to the point. I don’t like having my teeth brushed. In fact, I don’t think it’s overstating it to say that I flat-out despise having my teeth brushed. And I’ve got good, solid reasoning on my side.

Let’s look at the facts, shall we?

  1. Teething hurts, and I’ve always got either a tooth burrowing its way painfully through my gums to the surface or a newly-emerged tooth still partially embedded in inflamed gums or a tooth that’s just fully come in and is surrounded by irritated gums. Can you say, “Ouch!!!”
  2. I have very little control over the outside of my body. People (You know who you are!) are always picking me up without warning and putting me places I didn’t ask to go and wiping my face off without asking (Those wash cloths totally cover my mouth and nose, btw. Suffocation = not cool.) and putting clothes on me without even asking my opinion (Yes, I do have an opinion, and it is a valid one even if I can’t articulate why those purple pants bother me or why the brown shoes feel better than the blue ones.) and the list goes on. So losing control of the inside of my body is a really, really big deal!
  3. Ever heard of a gag reflex? If not, you should Google that. It’s real.
  4. Seriously, would you like someone getting all up in your face with a stick and shoving it in your mouth? (Btw, you might want to consider brushing your teeth before trying to brush mine. Or at least use a breath mint.)

Okay, so now that we’ve considered the facts, let’s take a look at a few suggestions to make toothbrushing a happier experience for all of us (Mainly me, of course.):

  1. I like choices, so how about offering some? You can let me choose between two brushes or two toothpastes or whether I want to brush before or after my bath. I may still be a bit resistant, but I’ll feel a little more in control of what happens to me.
  2. Speaking of choices, there are tons of toothbrushes out there, and some even have handles so I won’t feel like it can go down my throat and some have soft bristles all the way around the top so I can chew on it and get a lot of brushing out of the way painlessly. Who knows, it might even feel good on these aching gums!
  3. This should go without saying, but seriously, remember the sore gums, gag reflex, etc. Be aware. Be careful. Be gentle!
  4. Again, this should be obvious, but I am a real, live, thinking person with real, valid feelings, so how about asking if I’m ready to have my teeth brushed? And if I’m not ready, how about respecting that and modeling a bit of that patience you want me to learn (At least, I’m guessing that’s what you want me to learn since every time I ask you to play with me or get me something you say, “Just a minute, honey.” Just saying.) and waiting a few minutes. We could read a book or sing a song or something to get me in the toothbrushing mood.
  5. And speaking of modeling, go ahead and brush your teeth first while I hang out on your hip and watch. Seeing that it doesn’t hurt you and that everyone has to brush their teeth is very reassuring. Better yet, let me have a crack at brushing your teeth before you brush mine. Turn-about is fair play, right?
  6. I really do need to feel like I have some control over my body (Foundation for potty transitioning and all that sort of thing, you know.) so how about letting me brush my own teeth first and then you just finishing the job up and getting in all the hard places?
  7. Silliness is my language, so definitely get your funny-bone in action. Try calling toothbrushing more palatable names like ‘tickling the ivories’ or ‘tackling the tooth monsters’ or ‘tickle teeth time.’ I may or may not go along with your goof-ball approach, but I’ll appreciate the effort.
  8. Get your groove on and start singing your way to sparkling teeth. You can make up toothbrushing words to the ‘A,B,C Song’ or ‘If You’re Happy and You Know It’ or whatever song you like. Something like “This is the way we brush our monkeys…no, that’s not right…This is the way we brush our toes…” combines silliness with singing. Win-win! By the time you’re done messing up the song my teeth are all brushed, and I’m giggling so hard I don’t even realize it!

Well, that about covers it. Give it some thought, will you? Your toddlers will thank you!

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Remember, parents, gentle approaches to childhood issues won’t necessarily ‘work’ to eliminate normal behaviors, and resisting toothbrushing is a totally normal behavior, unfortunately. Gentle parenting is about working with your child through normal behaviors as kindly and respectfully as possible. They may still resist, but they will get that you aren’t just forcing things on them. Over time, your gentle and respectful approach will bear fruit, though, in a healthy, connected relationship.

Related posts:

The Taming of the Tantrum: A Toddler’s Perspective

Practical, Gentle, Effective Discipline

10 Ways to Play with your Children when Play is the Last Thing on your Mind

200 Ways to Bless Your Children with a Happy Childhood

Playground Confessions~Look Who’s Talking!

12 Steps to Gentle Parenting

When Children Hit~10 Tips for Parents

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

You’re Not the Boss of Me!

Toddlers, Tantrums, and Time-Ins, Oh My!

Easy Peasy DIY Parenting Tools

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 ‘NO’ Zone

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

toddler saying no pointing fingerThe 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!

Every child knows the power of the No to circumvent the most well-laid plans. Even tiny babies just weeks into the world are introduced to its power when they grasp a fistful of hair while nursing or reach for some lovely, squishy stuff while getting a diaper change. That itty bitty two-letter word is packed with a force beyond comprehension to a toddler, and when they finally figure out how to wrap their little lips around those letters and form the word “NO!” themselves, the possibilities seem limitless!

Do you want a cookie? “No!”…Well, actually, yes, but how cool is it that when I said “No!” I controlled whether or not someone gave me a cookie!

Do you want Daddy to hold you? “No!” Well, yes, but I got to decide whether someone held me or not for a change!

Do you want to play outside? “No!” Actually, I do, but do I really get to decide for myself where I go? Cool!

That kind of power and control can go to a little person’s head, for sure! And the change in the big people when the word is used against them clearly demonstrates its incredible value. Their faces go from happy to serious or even angry, and sometimes a little person can even make a big person yell. What dazzling power!

And then when little ones manage a few more words in their vocabulary, they can add direct quotes from the most powerful beings they know ~ mommy and daddy. Quotes like, “I said ‘No’!” and “Don’t you tell me ‘No’!” and “No means ‘No’!”

The authority! The dominion! The clout! And using them against those powerful beings, watching them turn red in the face and yell and threaten…well, it’s a little scary and makes a small person feel really disconnected and upset…but the surge of intense pleasure at feeling powerful and in control almost makes them feel like a big person for a moment!

And that’s what they most long to be, just like mommy and daddy ~ big and strong and smart and powerful.

So what’s a mommy or daddy to do when confronted with the No from their little power-mongers? First, take a deep breath, and then engage those adult brains.

What inherent power is there, really, in a little two-letter word? Only the power we give it! What if, instead of that tiny word being able to push our buttons, we just disconnected the buttons entirely and didn’t react to the No at all? It would simply become a no, just another word to celebrate our precious little people adding to their fledgling vocabularies.

What if we backed up even further and disenfranchised the No from the beginning? When our newborn baby’s flailing hands caught a tiny fistful of hair, what if we just smiled and gently removed it and kissed those itty bitty little fingers?

When our intrepid little explorers discovered the wonders of kitchen cabinets, what if we used cabinet locks but left one or two full of pots and pans and plastic bins for them to discover?

What if when our little people headed for the walls to do their best Michelangelo interpretation on them, we simply intercepted them and offered alternative canvases?

Or what if when they ascended the kitchen cabinets, we just scooped them up and headed outdoors for some climbing adventures?

The thing is, the No is only the No when we, the adults, make it the No. And it can become simply a no when we get creative and interactive and stop using a tiny two-letter word like it has “Phenomenal Cosmic Power in an itty-bitty living space!” (Aladdin 1994)

Related posts:

When Children Act Out ~ Reflecting Our Emotions

The Problem with Punishment

7-Year-Old Gentle Parenting Crusader

Changing the World, One Little Heart at a Time

12 Steps to Gentle Parenting

Practical, Gentle, Effective Discipline

The Color of Change

Better Children, Better World

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.


Stepping in When Parents are Out-of-Control

[By L.R.Knost, author of The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective DisciplineWhispers Through Time: Communication Through the Ages and Stages of Childhood and Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages now available on Amazon and through other major retailers.]

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

gracie girl raincoatParents often ask how they can gently and effectively approach a parent who is berating or smacking or otherwise mistreating their child. While the reality is that there is no way to intervene without offending the parent, no matter how kindly it is done, that doesn’t necessarily mean we shouldn’t intervene. Obviously if we believe the child is in danger we should always contact the authorities immediately. Other times, though, there’s no real physical danger, but we can see the parent is out-of-control, is struggling with parenting, or is just too stressed or self-focused to care. What do we do then? Can we intervene in any meaningful, effective way? Should we even try?

To answer, let me first me share with you an interesting encounter my seven-year-old little funnyface had recently. She was away from me for four hours in a backstage room with around forty other two- to seven-year-olds for their second ballet recital of the day. A parent volunteer in the room apparently lost her temper with her five-year-old, grabbed her arm, and dragged her across the room with her daughter screaming and fighting to get away, then shoved her in a corner, yelled at her, and pinched her among other things. My seven-year-old related this to me on our way home from her recital and said:

“I saw the mom was having trouble balancing her temper, and I wanted to help her and her poor little girl in the pretty blue ballet dress. The mom cornered the little blue girl and kept yelling and pinching her and flicking her. So I went to her and told her that my mom wrote gentle parenting books and asked if I could have her address so I could ask you to send her one. She didn’t respond to me, but her friend who was there asked for your name, so I told her and she looked it up on her phone and found your books. And then I heard the mad mom tell her friend that she just didn’t know what to do. I said to her that she gets that reaction from her daughter because that’s the reaction she gives to her daughter. I told her that it was like putting a trail of gas all the way to her home because the fire will follow the gas and make the house on fire. Because, you know, anger is like fire. She didn’t talk to me, but her friend did, the one who looked your books up on her phone. I told her that if her friend didn’t know what to do, she just had to listen, because then she would know what to do. Listening is always the first step. And I said to her that kids aren’t just, you know, like things or nothings, we’re people. I wasn’t mean to her, mama. I was very kind when I talked to her even though she didn’t listen to me or talk to me back. I was kind because I wanted her to see how nice kindness felt, then maybe she would want to be kind, too.”

Did the mother suddenly decide to change her parenting? No. But her friend overheard the exchange and wanted to know more. Did the “little blue girl” escape the manhandling and anger of her mother’s adult temper tantrum? No. but she, too, overheard my daughter’s words, and she saw that someone cared. No one can possibly measure the impact a single moment of kindness has on another soul.

And what about my little funnyface? Children learn what they live. They imitate what they see their parents, their most powerful role models, doing. My children have seen me gently intervene on a number of occasions when a parent was out-of-control. They have patiently waited for my attention while I answered a parent’s email or message asking for help with a parenting issue. The older ones have proofread my books, and the younger ones have offered ideas for chapter titles and book covers. They have seen gentle parenting advocacy at work, day in and day out.

Children really do learn what they live. They also walk out what they learn in their own unique way. One of my six, my oldest daughter, went into psychology and became a Family Therapist. She now works with Social Services trying to help families at risk before their children end up in foster care. Another one feels other children’s distress so deeply that we’ve had to leave shops, restaurants, and parks because she gets so upset by ‘normal’ parenting, but she writes her feelings rather than confronting people directly. One day you’ll see her thought-provoking children’s books on store shelves, mark my words. My seven-year-old, as evidenced by the vignette above, is very much like her oldest sister, ready to take on the world in defense of the defenseless.

The value of stepping in when a parent is struggling with their parenting cannot be measured by the parent’s response alone. The parent will most likely be offended and respond negatively, if at all. That momentary break in the parental meltdown, though, does often give the parent a chance to pull themselves together and regain some semblance of control.

But far beyond the value of the moment is the value of a child, helpless in the hands of an angry parent, seeing that someone cares. Of far greater worth than the momentary discomfort of confrontation is the courage and willingness to confront with kindness. And the value goes on and on, in the life of the child, in the hearts of those who overhear and those who hear about it later, and in the life and heart and mind of those courageous enough to meet wrongs head-on and to do so with gentleness.

That value lives on in the beautiful heart and brave spirit of my sweet girl, my little funnyface, my seven-year-old gentle parenting advocate. She is the very definition of my motto, “Changing the World, One Little Heart at a Time.”

If you are confronted with a situation in which a parent or other adult is mistreating a child, don’t hesitate to call authorities if the mistreatment constitutes abuse. But if the adult’s actions wouldn’t be considered abuse by authorities (even if you think they should), here are some ways to step in with the same gentleness and respect with which you would like the adult to treat the child:

  1. Walk over and speak to the child, quietly asking them what’s wrong and if you can help. Most adults won’t appreciate that, and it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to follow through with your offer, but the child will get the message that they aren’t alone in this world.
  2. Walk over and speak to the adult, calmly observing that you can see that they are having a hard time and you’d like to help. More often than not they’ll tell you to mind your own business, but sometimes they will unleash some of their frustrations in a torrent of complaints and you may be able to offer some constructive suggestions. Either way, the child will get the message that someone cares.
  3. Walk over and speak to both the adult and the child at the same time with a friendly smile and share that you’ve been there and understand the frustrations both of them are feeling. Ask if you can help with some suggestions about things that have helped you in similar situations in the past. The adult will often still react negatively, but the child will get the message that there is another way.

Giving the adult a chance to regain control of themselves and to remember that others are watching may at least temporarily stop the mistreatment. More importantly, however, the goal is to help the child feel less alone, less helpless, and more cared for. Never forget that an act of kindness in the life of a child has a ripple effect that expands immeasurably, affecting not only their present, but also impacting who they will become and how they, themselves, will treat others in the future. We may never see the results, but we can rest assured that, “”No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” – Aesop

Related posts:

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

Why Whining is a Win!

Rethinking Tattling

The Incredible Power of the Whisper

The Taming of the Tantrum: A Toddler’s Perspective

Changing the World, One Little Heart at a Time

12 Steps to Gentle Parenting

Practical, Gentle, Effective Discipline

The Color of Change

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.


Loss-Colored Glasses

[By L.R.Knost, author of Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages]
sadFour years ago today I lost my son, Sammy.

Someone once asked me how you get over losing a child. I told them you don’t. It becomes part of who you are, how you view others, how you interact with the world. A part of me is and always will be broken.

But there is value in brokenness, as in every experience in life. I know how precious every smile, every giggle, every hug, every tear, every moment is I get to share with each of my children. I know how brief and fragile life can be. I know every sacrifice I make as a mother, whether it’s sleep or convenience or money or time, pales in comparison to the gifts I get in return.

I spend literally thousands of hours every year researching and studying and writing to bring you the best of the best parenting resources, information, and support. But the lessons I’ve learned over more than 25 years of parenting through life and loss are of far greater value than research. I’m living, day in and day out, the things I share with you, not just quoting studies and theories.

And today I’m living through loss, and I’m hurting, and I want to share that with you, too. I want to share it because I want you to look into your child’s eyes and smile today. I want you to focus on the irreplaceable, unique, wonderful person you’ve been blessed with growing and guiding for such a short season. And I want you to remember to enjoy your little one, to treasure them, today and every day.

We don’t all have to experience loss to appreciate life. Sometimes others’ experiences can give us that gift more gently and peacefully.

So that’s what I lend to you today, these hard-won, tear-washed, loss-colored glasses that bring into breathtaking focus the miraculous, extraordinary, priceless gift of a child. ♥

quote i wish youRelated posts:

200 Ways to Bless Your Children with a Happy Childhood

I Am Your Midnight Hug…

10 Ways to Play with your Children when Play is the Last Thing on your Mind

11 Ways to Overcome the Dreary Weary Mama Blues

12 Steps to Gentle Parenting

Practical, Gentle, Effective Discipline

12 Tips for Gently Parenting Your Adult Children (Hint: It starts when they’re newborns!)

Top Little Hearts Posts

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.


A Mother’s Day Wish

[By L.R.Knost, author Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages now available on Amazon]

A Mother’s Day wish for moms who change the world everyday because they are the world to a little heart ♥

quote i wish you

Related posts:

11 Ways to Overcome the Dreary Weary Mama Blues

7 Parenting Tips for Working from Home with Young Children

I Am Your Midnight Hug…

20 Parent Savvy Pinterest People to Follow

12 Steps to Gentle Parenting

Practical, Gentle, Effective Discipline

200 Ways to Bless Your Children with a Happy Childhood

10 Ways to Play with your Children when Play is the Last Thing on your Mind

12 Tips for Gently Parenting Your Adult Children (Hint: It starts when they’re newborns!)

Top Little Hearts Posts

 

 

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.


Making Moving Easier for Children

Making Moving Easier for Children

[By L.R.Knost, author of 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 available on Amazon and through other major retailers.]

Transitions are hard on everyone, and when the whole family is affected such as in a big move to a new home, parents often get so caught up in the logistics of the move and their own stresses that helping their children cope with the move can get lost in the chaos. Here are a few things you can do to ease the transition for your little people without adding more stress to yourself:

  1. With small children, it can be tempting to build up the move beforehand to make it seem like an exciting adventure, but over excitement can be just as stressful and overwhelming to small children (and big ones!) as anxiety can be. Instead, try to keep things as low-key as possible. Wait until it’s close to time to actually start packing before discussing the move with your little one, and then use simple, age-appropriate language to tell them that you are all moving together (emphasize together so there’s no misunderstanding!) to a new house.
  2. Show them pictures of the new house, the new yard, their new room, the kitchen, bathroom, living room, etc. Ask them where they’d like to put their bed and draw it on the picture with a marker. Do the same with their toy box, toothbrush, high chair, sandbox, and anything they ask about to reassure them that their things are coming along on the move and to begin to familiarize them with their new space. Give them a marker and another set of pictures of the new house to draw on so they can begin to make it their own.
  3. Put boxes in their room a few days before the move and let them begin to pack their own things in their own time. You can go back and repack the boxes when they’re asleep or playing elsewhere if needed. Giving them some control over the move will help tremendously with their feelings of being taken away from their familiar home.
  4. Keep a few familiar toys out for the actual move to help your little one see that their things are coming with them. If possible, let them help with loading the boxes from their room onto the truck, too. Knowing that their toys and clothes and bed are coming with them on the move is very comforting.
  5. Pack a travel bag with new toys and activities and healthy, familiar snacks for moving day. The novelty of the new toys will help them to travel more happily, and the familiar snacks will keep their tummies settled and hunger at bay making for a calmer trip for all.
  6. At the new house, unpack your little one’s things first if at all possible so that they can see for themselves that they made the trip and can begin settling in right away. Take the time to play with them, too. It’s amazing how a few minutes of playing together can settle a small child when they’re stressed!
  7. Don’t be surprised if your little one is clingy and whiney for a few days after the move. After unpacking their things, don’t try to rush to unpack everything else all at once. Give your child all of the time and attention they need to help ease the transition for them.
  8. Nighttime can be the hardest for children in a new home, so be prepared for lots of cuddling and possibly a night visitor in your bed for a while. Being there for your little one at night is as important as being there for them in the day!
  9. Involve them in unpacking and putting away everything from kitchen utensils to books to linens to clothes. Children are very tactile, and actually touching all of the places and putting familiar things from their old home away in the new home can help them to begin to feel at home themselves.
  10. Stick to familiar routines such as bedtime, naptime, etc. But don’t be rigid about schedules. Your little one has been through a huge change and needs extra attention and understanding from their source of comfort and security…you!
  11. Introduce new things like playgroups, pediatricians, babysitters, churches, etc. slowly, spread out over as long a period of time as possible. The move itself is overwhelming enough in its newness without adding in a ton of other unfamiliar things right away.
  12. Find some things near your new home that are familiar to your little one from your previous home such as a chain grocery store, toy store, restaurant, etc. Seeing and visiting familiar places is vastly reassuring for small children because they can see for themselves that you can still buy them food and other necessities even though you’ve moved.

Giving your child the reassurance that some things will remain the same even when so many things have changed helps to stabilize and assure them that their needs will still be met and life will still go on in many of the same patterns and routines they are used to. Remaining calm and available for your little one, even in the midst of your own stresses over the move, is key. But take care of yourself, too. Change is hard on everyone, so cut yourself some slack and don’t try to do everything at once. Remember, slow and steady wins the race!

*A mama shared a great idea: “When we moved we made my just-turned-3-year-old son a picture book.  It told a story of a little boy who had to move, showed photos of our old house, and told about what things (toys, furniture, etc.) would go to the new house with pictures of the boy’s new room, yard, activities he’d do in the new house, a moving van, boxes, etc.  It included emotion pictures, too, and the story talked about how sometimes the boy felt scared/sad/excited/nervous/etc. It went through the whole process til a happy ending with the boy and his family settled into the new house.  The boy’s name in the book, of course, was my son’s and the photos were all of his stuff and of the actual house we were moving to. He loved the book.  Read it almost everyday, sometimes many times a day when he’d start to stress out.  I only forgot one thing.  Neither my husband or I thought to explain that our pets would come with us.  The first night we slept at the new house, the cats stayed behind so we could get things settled a little first.  Big boy made it through two horribly stressful days of hauling stuff to the new house, fighting back the meltdowns, until his little world fell apart that first bedtime in the new place.  Two hours of tears later, he finally managed to say that he was sad that we’d never see the cats again.  OH!  We felt so bad!! A year later he still talks about the move a lot.  It is amazing what an impact a change like that makes on a small child!”

Related posts:

12 Steps to Gentle Parenting

Practical, Gentle, Effective Discipline

200 Ways to Bless Your Children with a Happy Childhood

29 Messages in a Bottle

12 Tips for Gently Parenting Your Adult Children (Hint: It starts when they’re newborns!)

Tots to Teens~Communication Through the Ages and Stages

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.


11 Tips to Beat the Dreary Weary Mama Blues

11 Ways to Overcome the Dreary Weary Mama Blues[Portions reprinted from Whispers Through Time: Communication Through the Ages and Stages of Childhood by L.R.Knost. Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages and The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline also available on Amazon and through other major retailers.]

Mountains of laundry. Piles of toys. Diapers and dishes and dust. Sticky fingerprints to wipe. Muddy shoeprints to mop. Bills to pay. Appointments to keep. Shopping to do…

The parenting list is endless because ‘done’ doesn’t exist in a world where little ones live and play and grow. But parents are people, too, and we can get overwhelmed at the sheer redundancy of the cycle of life with children if we don’t intentionally take the time to feel the joy of little arms wrapped around our necks and to find something of ourselves in the busyness of daily life. If you’re on the verge of losing the battle of the blues, here are eleven ways to energize, prioritize, and conceptualize your way back to a healthier, happier you!

  1. Go outside! No joke. Taking your problems and frustrations outside shrinks them down like shrinky-dinks in an oven. When you’ve got the warm sun on your face and you’re watching your little ones tumbling in the green grass and you’re listening to giggles replace their whines, life feels good again.
  2. Write it down to turn your frown upside-down. Seriously, writing down a list of all the good things in your life in one column and the bad things in another helps to restore a healthy perspective.
  3. Go to the dark side. No, really, take a good look at the bad things on your list and see what you can do to cross off or minimize some of the things on the bad side. Sometimes just eliminating one sore point or reducing one stressor can make a world of difference!
  4. It’s okay to have a disposable day. Take one day a week and use paper plates and plastic cups and utensils to give yourself a chance to catch up on those pesky dishes. It’s okay. Really.
  5. The Earl of Sandwich invites you to dine. Another way to beat the dishes doldrums is to have a sandwich day. Egg sandwiches for breakfast. Cheese sandwiches for lunch. Turkey sandwiches for dinner. And who really needs to have a plate to lay their sandwich on, anyway? A paper towel will do for a plate and a napkin all in one!
  6. A load a day keeps the mountain away. Doing one load of laundry every day instead of storing it up for a huge ‘laundry day’ once a week is one way to tame a daunting mountain into a doable molehill.
  7. Spray the stickies away. Little people usually love spray bottles or water guns, so harness that love for some rock ‘em sock ‘em cleaning help. Put a pair of daddy’s white sports socks on little feet and little hands and arm your small ones with a bit of water in a spritzer or water gun, then join them for an all-out blitz on fingerprints, dust bunnies, and jelly smears!
  8. There can never be too many cooks in the kitchen. The littlest member of the family can be worn in a baby carrier while the cook cooks or the cleaner cleans. For tinies who are a bit bigger, instead of barring them from the kitchen, turn them into little sous chefs and let them measure and sort and stir. If they’re too little for actual cooking, put pots and pans and measuring bowls on the floor with a bit of sudsy water so they can whip up a storm while you’re cooking or cleaning. Afterward, scooch some towels across the floor with your feet for a bit of exercise and a semi-cleaned floor as a bonus!
  9. And speaking of exercise, get some of that groovy stuff. Doing knee bends while you brush your teeth, lunges while vacuuming and babywearing, and boogying with your children to some funky music while straightening can all contribute to a mood-lifting, age-defying, endorphin-releasing surge of healthy goodness while weaving in some far out fun!
  10. Daydreamer, dream on. Don’t forget that you’re a one-of-a-kind, never-before-seen, gift-to-the-world, and you’ve got a super-special purpose for being here. Raising your children is an amazing and wonderful privilege, but you’ll have a lot of life left to live once your children are out of the early stages of intense need for your time and attention. So take a few moments every day to dream those dreams while staring out the window over a steaming cup of coffee, and journal those thoughts and ideas and plans. Your time will come, mama!
  11. Don’t forget the chocolate! Everyone likes to be appreciated, and a sweet reward at the end of the day says “Good job” like few other things can. So stash some luscious dark chocolate next to a good book and escape the joyful chaos of life with littles for a few minutes every evening after everyone’s asleep and the still-messy house lies quiet and serene. The mess will be there in the morning, but the quiet moment won’t. Relax, mama. You deserve it!

Any super, stress-busting ideas you’d like to share? Pull up a chair in the comment section and share away!

Related posts:

Healing Your Hurts So You Don’t Hurt Your Children

7 Parenting Tips for Working from Home with Young Children

20 Parent Savvy Pinterest People to Follow

12 Steps to Gentle Parenting

Practical, Gentle, Effective Discipline

200 Ways to Bless Your Children with a Happy Childhood

10 Ways to Play with your Children when Play is the Last Thing on your Mind

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.


Celebrating One MILLION Pageviews!!!

happy earthI am humbled and amazed (but clearly not speechless! ;) ) to know that the articles I write here on Little Hearts have been read one MILLION times. A MILLION! That’s 1,000,000! Wow! And that’s not all. My site stats have logged readers from 123 countries spanning the globe reading my site in the last two weeks alone! They’re not just accidentally landing here and clicking away, either. They typically stay for 10, 20, sometimes 30 or more minutes at a time and read post after post after post. People visit from Hong Kong, Singapore, China, Germany, Bosnia, Australia, Vietnam, Romania, Malaysia, Russia, Brazil, Mexico, Haiti, Pakistan, Egypt, Israel, Iceland, Slovenia, Qatar, and the list goes on and on and on.

To know that the nights spent typing away on my little laptop while my children sleep nearby (or typing one-handed while nursing!) are not wasted, to feel that I’ve touched hearts to make a real difference in the lives of children,  to see that what I write resonates literally around the world is deeply humbling and incredibly validating for me. It gives me hope that true, lasting change is possible for a globe that is suffering from violence and power-mongering.

quote toughen upIf we as parents stop using violence and intimidation to control our children and instead work together with them through connection and communication, the adults we send into the world when they are grown will be world changers.

It’s not our job to toughen up our children 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. If I can help make that happen in even a small way, then the many sleepless nights and the one-handed typing while nursing and the neglected laundry will be well, well worth it!

little hearts product giveawayAs a ‘thank you’ to all who have read and shared my articles and bought my books and shared their thoughts and encouragement, I’m hosting a Facebook Party! today, March 20th 2013, from 2 pm to midnight EST. Join me for giveaways every hour and fun Q & A’s and word games so we can get to know each other better!

Check out some of the awesome Little Hearts products that I’ll be giving away–>

At midnight there will be a Grand Prize package, too, so don’t miss it!

See you there!

 

You might also be interested in:

Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages ~ Book Launch Tour

12 Steps to Gentle Parenting

Practical, Gentle, Effective Discipline

200 Ways to Bless Your Children with a Happy Childhood

29 Messages in a Bottle

12 Tips for Gently Parenting Your Adult Children (Hint: It starts when they’re newborns!)

Tots to Teens~Communication Through the Ages and Stages

The Bookshelf: To Read or Not To Read

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.