Award-winning author, L.R.Knost

Posts tagged “attachment parenting

A September to Remember: Flexibility Mints

Our next ‘vintage post’ for ~A September to Remember~ is Mandy from  A Bona Fide Life .         

Mandy ~ Unschooling mom of a leukemia survivor, a tree climbing rock star, and a dog loving toddler. Wife of a pirate. Self-proclaimed weirdo. Learning to not take myself too seriously and to have a heart of gratitude, no matter what life may throw my way. These days I mostly blog about unschooling, leukemia, art, food, books, television, God, and gardening.

 

Months ago… and I do mean MONTHS (before Hunter got sick), Ronin found a cook book for kids at Goodwill. She brought it home and immediately picked out these (God forbidden) GREEN mints made with (gasp) powdered sugar. She decided that she wanted to make them.
She’s gotten the book out at least ten times and asked to make the mints each time since then.

Fast forward ten or so months… and I finally remember to buy the powdered sugar at the store (what? we never shop the middle aisles at regular super markets and when we are at places like Whole Foods, it never occurs to us to look at things like sugar).

So today was the day that we were going to make the mints. I had just assumed that we’d skip the green food coloring. I have food coloring in the house… but it’s for art projects. Not food. Right?

But the green food coloring was really important to her. And the recipe only called for two drops. At first I said no. I said we could just leave them white and brown. But she got this really sad look on her face and I realized that I was being a real killjoy. So I apologized and we added the two stinkin’ drops of food coloring. And it felt amazing.

The whole thing felt like the opposite of a parenting fail. Would that be a parenting pass?

She looks beyond blissful, doesn’t she?



 

Don’t forget to check out Mandy’s other awesome posts at A Bona Fide Life !

Award-winnning author, L.R.Knost, is the founder and director of the children's rights advocacy and family consulting group, Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources, and Editor-in-Chief of Holistic Parenting Magazine. 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 the first four books in the Little Hearts Handbook gentle parenting series, and children’s picture books Petey’s Listening Ears and the soon-to-be-released Grumpykins series.


A September to Remember: Don’t Miss Out on this Incredible Opportunity!

How many missed opportunities are there in your day? This question has been beating in my chest the last few weeks. Let me back up a little and explain what I mean.

I keep getting a sense that the greatest skill I can develop in my life is the ability to listen. People, including my children, don’t need or want my advice or opinions, they just want to be heard. It is our heart’s cry to be truly heard and understood – and this is a powerful thing. It’s one of the greatest gifts we can give to another human being.

Why is Listening so Powerful?

Life brings all of us different challenges and experiences; some full of heartache and pain. We all have emotions surrounding the different events and scenarios in our life. When someone listens to us, it creates a safe place to share and release those emotions. By listening, you are providing that person an opportunity to process and work through how they’re feeling. Listening helps those difficult feelings to surface and be released. This is healing. The more you feel, the more you heal.

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Award-winnning author, L.R.Knost, is the founder and director of the children's rights advocacy and family consulting group, Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources, and Editor-in-Chief of Holistic Parenting Magazine. 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 the first four books in the Little Hearts Handbook gentle parenting series, and children’s picture books Petey’s Listening Ears and the soon-to-be-released Grumpykins series.


A September to Remember: Gentle Discipline~Request or Demand?

Our next awesome guest for ~A September to Remember~ is Zoie from Touchstonez!

Gentle Discipline, Part 1: Request or Demand? A point of distinction

Part 2: Flipping off your kids (included below)

I’m at the library escaping my love-filled, but very noisy home full of boys. Aside from the noise of fellow library patrons’ laptop startup/shutdown tones, vibrating cell phones (just as loud as a ring tone!), occasional person who actually thinks it’s okay to have a conversation on said cell phone (!) it’s a peaceful break for me to concentrate.[1]

A mom with 2 small boys looks down at them  and asks, “Do you want to leave the library now? It’s time to go to soccer practice.” Of course, the answer she gets from both boys is, “No! I don’t wanna go to soccer!” The mom says, “It’s time to go now. I told you it’s time for soccer.” The boys protest further, “I don’t want to go! I don’t like you, mama!” One bolts for the audiobooks and begins knocking them to the floor. From there, the situation further degenerates into the mom making threats to not take them to soccer, the boys loudly melting down, until she angrily scoops them both up and carries them out the door.

It’s a scene that you see all the time. But I do find it remarkable how quickly a question asked from a place of disconnection can escalate into an all-out anger and pain tug-o-war.

Ironically, as I watched this family, I’m at the library to write a post about gentle discipline [2] and how if we do not connect with ourselves as parents first, we can not hope to connect with our children.

I make the claim that connection is what it really is all about.

Hybrid Rasta Mama wrote a great post about how often kids are told, “No!” And, of course, since I’m in the middle of writing this post, my comment is lifted directly from what I was writing:

As my kids get older, one of the things I try to do in addition to many of the insights you [Hybrid Rasta Mama] list is to remember the mantra “connect before you correct.” This refers to 3 connections:

What is my need here? (safety, quiet, peace, etc)
What is my child’s need here? (Exploration, hunger, affection, etc)
How can I honor both our needs here and now? Once I’ve identified these (the hard part), I can find the yes in the no (the easy part)

Point 1 is vitally important and one we, as parents, most often overlook. Once you have connected with your own need, you can decide whether you are asking your child for something or demanding something. To put myself in the place of the library mother, I might find that I would like to get to soccer practice at the appointed time. My need is for punctuality. Point 2, what are my children’s needs here? They need fun. Point 3, How can I meet both of our needs and find the yes in the no?

I am not going to ask them if they “would like” to go because what do I do if they say no? If I am going to ask them something, it will be something that meets my need for punctuality and their need for fun. I may ask something like, “I see you are enjoying the library and want to have fun. I need to ensure we get to soccer practice at xx o’clock. Soccer practice begins in xx minutes. How would you like to run around on the grass out front?” This moves us toward the door, reminds them of soccer, and allows them to play. Hopefully, then I can continue this gentle moving toward the soccer appointment from there.

But, what if I check in with my needs and find that a “No, I don’t want to play on the grass” is not an acceptable answer to me?  I need to find out if I am really making a request or if I need to tell them something. If I am making a demand, then I need to state that clearly (nothing wrong with stating what you need, right?) Like that library mom, she was not actually asking a question, she was making a demand but was hedging about it. She was moving from a place of disconnect into further disconnection with her children. [3]

If it’s not acceptable to receive an answer you don’t want, then don’t ask the question.

Gently, tell what you need and explain what will happen. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. As many times as necessary and then some more. The trick to maintaining your patience with this, is that you are moving from connecting with your own needs (you are meeting your needs.) As long as you can continuously check in with your needs as you are making your statements, you can do so from a place of abundance instead of a place of deficiency, and children really do feel this from their parents and they do respond.

If you haven’t been practicing connected parenting in this way, it may take quite a lot of patient repetition on your part to maintain this constant checking and rechecking in for connection, but it will come together eventually.

Part 2 of this series continues with Flipping Off: Another trick to connecting while correcting

[1] Okay, maybe I’m holding a little resentment from the noise. Breathing through it now…

[2] Now, a series. Yikes!

[3] I know I am not taking into account what happened before or after the portion of their interaction that I witnessed. So, this is a simplistic example. There are times when melt downs happen both for parents and for children. Then, maintaining connection, while scooping up a melting down child includes, explaining what you are doing, stating your feelings without referencing the child (i.e.: I am feeling sad that we have an appointment when I see you want to continue playing. Not, I feel annoyed that you don’t come when I say, for example) I’ll explore this topic further in a later post

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Gentle Discipline, Part 2: Flipping off your kids~Another trick to connecting while correcting

One of the biggest gentle discipline challenges for me is parenting during transitions. Going from one task to another or leaving one place for another can try the patience of the most keyed in parent-child pair. Some of the techniques I’ve used with success to ease the transitions are:

  • Explicitly stating that we will be going somewhere or moving to a different task, making sure to include sharing that this means stopping what we are currently involved in.
  • Getting down on their level, making eye contact and possibly using touch to be certain they understand
  • Explaining how long before the transition will happen and either
      • Let them set a timer or letting them know I am setting it
      • Verbally counting down the time left, along with reminders that this means our current activity will be ending and the new one beginning
  • Talking about things to look forward to after the transition
  • Keeping It Simple
  • Giving them a job to help us get out the door so they feel like they are contributing to our family
  • Affirming their power to choose for themselves, whenever possible, anything they may want to wear, bring or do while going
  • Always using a calm, reassuring voice (even when annoyed or frustrated)[1]
  • If necessary, modeling my feelings of worry about not meeting my needs, etc, using “I” statements.

Some of you may read this list and think I’m going through an awful lot just to get us out the door peacefully. I could simply ignore their needs, bundle them up and get them out the door. But, that will end in tears-usually for all of us. And this is what I would like to avoid by honoring everyone’s needs.

I feel it is my job as a parent to guide and facilitate through things that are difficult for them. They are learning about the world and don’t have the frame of reference that I do (hopefully) as an adult. I try to respect that until they have enough repetition with transitions, this can be challenging for them. Eventually, these tools will no longer necessary and we’ll move more easily from one thing to another.

Most of the time, these techniques allow us to move fairly smoothly from one thing to the next. I rarely need to use all of these techniques at once. But, sometimes I do use them all.

And sometimes I use them all and there’s still a toddlerpreschoolermommy meltdown.

Sometimes there’s a breakdown in our communication. Sometimes a meltdown is inevitable as a pressure valve simply needs release. Sometimes there’s not a reason I can point to.

I have to admit, I do not do well with meltdowns. The noise, that particular pitch of children, goes directly through my bones. I have to use all of my will to contain my feelings of anger. And this is where I gain some understanding of what it must be like to be a child who is so much smaller than an adult;

An adult who can turn the world upside down with one word, look or hand used in anger.

If I’m the (supposed) adult in control here and I’m having trouble not melting down, how must it feel to someone without experience with emotional control? I’ve had PPD and a bit of experience with the fear of having an emotion so large that there’s no guarantee that it will ever stop or that it won’t swallow me whole.

This is what I call “Flipping Off My Kids”

It’s a slightly tongue-in-cheek reminder to lighten up and ask myself:

  • How would I feel if I were in the middle of something and had to immediately drop what I was doing?
  • How would I feel if I declined the request and the person yelled at me? Would I feel it was a request or a demand couched as a request?
  • How would I feel if my needs weren’t listened to and I was made to go somewhere or do something without any say in the matter?
  • How would I feel if all my power was subsumed by someone physically and emotionally larger than myself?

I remind myself of how completely absorbing activities can be for children; how hard transitions can be. I flip my own false belief which leads to the reaction “Look what they are doing to me!” into empathetic understanding that this is what they are feeling without the (supposed) adult maturity and frame of reference to handle such overwhelming feelings.

I slow down. I breathe. I calmly state what I’m feeling. It doesn’t matter whether I think they are hearing me. They will respond to my mood, if not my exact words. If I can let go of our appointment or task, I let it go. I’ll take a break if it means not yelling. Even if I don’t have an adult to spell me out. I would rather close the door on my kids, after explaining that I need a moment of quiet time, than yell something I’ll regret later. I pull out all my stops for self-soothing that I need to get us to where we need to be.

Once I can get to a little bit of calm within myself, then I can figure whether they need me to hold the space for them, distract them, talk with them, soothe them… Whatever works to help them come back from that scary tantrumy place and know that, yet again, they were able to control their emotions, that they are not their emotions, and that emotions are neither good nor bad. Emotions just are.

And most importantly, I want them to know that they are always loved and always Good kids. Nothing they could ever do could change that.

I’ll reiterate that this is one of my most challenging parenting times and I do not always succeed the way I wish. Especially when all three are wailing and I just want to wish myself away, I can often feel most affirmed, most loving, and most alive if, if, I can bring myself into the present moment and be with myself and with my kids.


[1] Although, I do think it is valid to show your emotions in your voice, but always with “I” statements. No matter how much the urge is to punish, shame or blame, I stick to the “I” statements.

[2] This will soon link to an upcoming post about identifying needs

How do you handle transitions? Have you tried some of these ideas or do you have any other tools that have been effective for you? Are there some tools that do not work for your family? Do you think you’ll try “Flipping your kids off?” I’d love to hear from you.

This is a series, but I haven’t written the next part, yet. Are there any parenting issues you would like to see here? Please let me know.[2]

Check out more awesome parenting insights from Zoie over at Touchstonez!

Award-winnning author, L.R.Knost, is the founder and director of the children's rights advocacy and family consulting group, Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources, and Editor-in-Chief of Holistic Parenting Magazine. 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 the first four books in the Little Hearts Handbook gentle parenting series, and children’s picture books Petey’s Listening Ears and the soon-to-be-released Grumpykins series.


A September to Remember: Memories

This has been such a full year for our family. I find myself wondering often, though, about my little boy. At two and a half, what will he remember of this year? Anything?

Will he remember the wonderful four months we spent with his grandma, grandpa, and four aunties this summer? Will he remember the time he got to spend with his daddy during the day, the fun they had together, the way it strengthened the bond they already shared?

Will he remember any of the first three houses we’ve lived in so far this year? His very first home in Ottawa? The beautiful house in Manitoba, with acres of land to run around on and a bountiful garden that he watched us dig, till, plant, water, weed and harvest? Will he remember the place we’ve called home since our arrival in Vancouver this fall, the place we had hoped to live in for our four years here, the place we will be saying goodbye to in only a couple short weeks?

What of the other people who have been a part of his life? How long will he continue to remember his first friend Luke? Will he recognize those relatives we see rarely – great grandparents, great aunts and uncles, cousins? If only we could all be together, always, instead of so far flung from each other.

Will he remember those experiences that he talks of so often and so fondly right now? Trips to the aquarium, the farm, the theatre. Riding the train at the mall. Dancing with his mom in the snow at the park, his hands buried in her sleeves to keep warm. Visits to the midwife, listening to his baby brother or sister’s heartbeat, endless conversations – “talk more about the baby, Mom!” Will he remember that tiny baby being born?

What will he remember?

What will he forget?

Sometimes I feel sad over the thought of all that will slip from his mind over the years. I’ve long felt that way over my own life. A box full of journals from my teenage years doesn’t seem to be enough. What about the little everyday things, the moments I failed to record, the milestones I didn’t notice at the time, all the things I have already forgotten? I wish I could record all of these happy moments of his own life, both for his sake and for mine. I want him to remember, and I want to remember them myself.

Other times, though, I worry about what he will remember. Will he remember that I sat by his bed every night, singing to him as he drifted off to sleep? Or will he remember instead the times I spoke harshly, wanting him to just go to sleep so I could go do other things (as though washing the supper dishes was more important than being a comforting presence to my son)? Will he remember the trips to the park, the library, the farm – or will he remember instead the times I was overly anxious to get back to the comfort of our home, rushing him along instead of allowing him to linger and explore as long as he liked? Will he remember the times I dealt with him lovingly, patiently, respectfully, discipling him into greater maturity – or will he remember instead my moments of failure as a parent, treating him roughly, speaking to him harshly, failing to hear him, allowing my selfishness to come first, badgering him into submission rather than discipling him into true obedience?

Sad that he will forget, worried that he will remember, I become increasingly conscious of the memories I am creating for this little boy, aware of their significance.

And so we bake gingerbread moose and shortbread trains. He kneads his own small piece of dough as we make our weekly bread together. We avoid daily television and instead snuggle together for a special movie treat. We read endless piles of books together. I warm up a glass of chocolate milk when he wakes one night, allowing him to climb into our bed and join us as we sip our own hot cocoa. I offer comfort in a daily routine and excitement in the occasional deviation from it.

And we talk. Days filled with conversation, recalling the good times that have passed, praising the people we have grown to love, anticipating the good that lies ahead.

This, in hopes that some day down the road, he’ll say, Mom, remember when…, and I will smile, because he remembers, and I remember, and the things we remember are all the best moments of our lives.
__________________

Cynthia is the mother of two little boys, an inquisitive preschooler and an energetic toddler. She blogs at The Hippie Housewife, where she shares her thoughts on attachment parenting, natural living, life as a Jesus-follower, and more, all tied together through her journey towards a more intentional life.

This article was previously published on The Hippie Housewife.

Award-winnning author, L.R.Knost, is the founder and director of the children's rights advocacy and family consulting group, Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources, and Editor-in-Chief of Holistic Parenting Magazine. 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 the first four books in the Little Hearts Handbook gentle parenting series, and children’s picture books Petey’s Listening Ears and the soon-to-be-released Grumpykins series.


A September to Remember: Protecting Natalie

The first installment in ~A September to Remember~ is from Jen who writes over at The Path Less Taken. Thank you, Jen, for contributing!

 

 

Natalie is a beautiful little girl with long dark hair and huge brown eyes. She is three years old, is an only child, and doesn’t go to preschool. Natalie, her mother and I were sharing a waiting room with Paula, whose favorite thing is reading; Diane, who is a special ed teacher; and Scott, who mostly kept to himself but was very friendly when spoken to. The reason I know more details than normal about my fellow strangers-in-waiting is that little Natalie was serving as the social director, introducing herself to everyone, asking questions, and just generally being a friendly and vivacious three year old.

Natalie’s mom was tired; I could see that just by looking at her. Tired and most likely stressed, and possibly feeling beat down by life in general. I say that with sincere empathy, because I don’t know what kind of hand she’s been dealt. I don’t know her life story, and I don’t know where she’s coming from.

All I know is that she was treating her daughter very unkindly, and her daughter didn’t deserve it (not that any child ever does)

She was short and impatient as she spoke to her, and the first time she actually yelled – when Natalie stood up on her chair – she yelled so sharply and abruptly that everyone in the room looked up from what they were doing.

“Sit DOWN! And leave that poor lady alone!!”

Undeterred, Natalie sat down, and picked up a book.

“Can I read this to you?” she asked her mother.

“You don’t know how to read,” her mother snapped. “Just sit there. And sit there quietly.”

That was when my heart truly broke for her, for this innocent little girl who I’d never seen before and would never see again.

I was called to see the dentist then, but she didn’t leave my mind. Later, when I was at the checkout desk scheduling my next appointment, I felt a tiny presence beside me. A little hand suddenly appeared on the desk next to me, holding a pink ball covered in suction cups. I turned to see Natalie looking up at me. I said hello and told her what a cool ball she had. She smiled at me, stuck her ball on the desk, and plucked it off again.

As I was finishing up with the receptionist, one of the dentists came by and showed her how to throw it against the wall in the hallway. They were playing, and laughing, when her mother came around the corner.

There you are!
Stop throwing that!
I don’t care what he said!
Give me that ball!

The last image I had of little Natalie was of her crying because her mother had taken her ball, and was demanding that she say “please” and ask nicely before she would consider giving it back.

I don’t remember getting reprimanded a lot as a child, but I do remember how it made me feel. Some incidents, as many as 30 years ago, are as fresh in my memory as if they happened yesterday. I still remember when once as a kid I really needed to tell my mother something when she was on the phone. I knew she was talking on the phone, but I also knew that I just. couldn’t. wait. So I “Mom. Mom. Mom”‘d her until she put her hand over the phone, looked me in the eye, and yelled, “Shut UP!” I still remember how ashamed I felt, how devastated. I still remember that sick, sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.

My husband tells of a time when he was helping his mother change the sheets on the bed. He was holding the edge of the mattress up, and slipped and dropped it on his mother. She yelled at him for the mistake, called him a “little sh*t,” and he was so crushed he ran off to cry. He’d learned not to cry in front of her, because that would lead to his being called a crybaby.

If we can remember these isolated incidents with such clarity, what must a girl like Natalie grow up feeling? How indelibly those negative words must be marked on her soul.

I can’t do anything about Natalie. And I can’t do anything to change my past mistakes with my own kids. What I can do – what we all can do – is to remember that feeling we had as kids, to remember that with each time we yell or belittle or cut them down in any way, we take away a piece of not just their happiness, but of their soul. That each time we’re less than kind to our kids that we risk damaging not only who they are right now, but who they’re going to be. That just because we’re the ADULTS, we have the responsibility to love, nurture, and protect not just our own children, but all children. If we as adults can’t treat them with kindness and respect, how will they treat each other? How will they treat their own kids? When does the cycle stop?

As I was finishing up this blog, I received a comment on Facebook telling me that I needed to stop judging Natalie’s mother. And I’m not. This really has nothing to do with her, and everything to do with an innocent and defenseless baby who did not deserve to be treated that way. We need to stop letting political correctness stop us from saying the things that need to be said.

We need to be adults. We need to start treating our kids better.

Yes, even when we’re sleep-deprived.  Even when we’re sick, when we’re fighting with our spouses, or when we’re stressed about finances.  Even when we’re having a really crappy day, and the last thing we want to do is be patient and kind to anyone.  Because we are the grownups.  Because if we don’t do it, no one else will.  Because somewhere along the way, someone decided that it was okay to treat kids with less respect than we’d treat fellow adults.

It’s not okay.  

Think of the last time someone hurt your feelings.  The last time someone said something truly unkind, or unnecessary, or mean.  The last time someone really insulted you, or belittled you, or was even just less than supportive.  Think of the last time someone said something to you in anger, something that was so cutting that even if you knew they regretted it and they instantly apologized, you will carry the scar the rest of your life.  Have the feeling?  Now imagine that you’ve gotten that hurtful treatment and you’re 3 years old.  Or 5.  Or 12.  You’re still figuring out the way the world works.  You’re still figuring out who you can really trust.   You’re still figuring out how to treat people.  You’re still figuring out emotions, and self-worth, and social nuances.  You’re still figuring out where you fit in.  You’re still figuring out your own sense of YOU.   How do you feel now?

Let’s break the cycle today.  For ourselves, for our kids, and for Natalie.

 

Don’t forget to check out Jen over at~

And check back all month long for some of the personal favorites from some of your favorite writers!

Award-winnning author, L.R.Knost, is the founder and director of the children's rights advocacy and family consulting group, Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources, and Editor-in-Chief of Holistic Parenting Magazine. 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 the first four books in the Little Hearts Handbook gentle parenting series, and children’s picture books Petey’s Listening Ears and the soon-to-be-released Grumpykins series.


My Little Caboose and the Very Bad, No Good…Month :(

~The Confession~

 

This adorable little person has been a royal pain in the ‘caboose’ for the last few weeks. She has whined, cried, ignored direct requests, climbed on me, hung on me, played with her food, snatched things from the baby, been in my face and space incessantly, and on and on.  And the more difficult she got, the more I ‘powered up’ on her. Oh, I didn’t yell or punish. No, I pulled out all my gentle parenting techniques, spoke calmly and respectfully to her, offered diversions and alternatives, read her books and provided lots of reasonable and kind council. She occasionally responded with a half-hearted attempt at cooperation or humorously declined to cooperate, but more often than not just dug in her heels and determinedly upset the normally peaceful and happy timbre of our home.

 

And then it happened. A few nights ago, I stood in the shower listening to the goings-on outside the door (A mama’s ears are the proverbial ‘eyes in the back of her head’ you know!), and it hit me. Over and over, I heard my older children tell my little ‘caboose,’ “No,” as she made one unfortunate decision after another. Over and over, I heard her whine and argue and cry. Over and over, I heard the older ones correct her, not hatefully or harshly, but repeatedly, gently, and firmly. And, over and over, I realized I was hearing myself as my older children reflected what they were seeing and hearing from me…repeated, gentle, firm correction…but no listening…none. And my heart broke. I realized that I had been parenting from a position of disconnect from my precious little ‘caboose.’ Between jumping through all the hoops necessary to get a homeschooler into a pre-med university program to working with my publisher on the super slow and cumbersome process of getting my books onto store shelves in Barnes & Nobles and Family and Lifeway Christian Stores, to writing an upcoming book, my busy schedule had overtaken my parenting.

 

 

 

How many times had I told my little ‘caboose,’ “Just a minute,” when she needed me, and how often had that ‘minute’ stretched into an hour? How many times had my eyes strayed back to my computer screen in the middle of one of her stories about how terribly painful the invisible scratch on her pinky toe was or how pretty the light looked as it danced through the dust motes in front of the window? How often had she fallen asleep waiting, waiting, waiting for me to come and read her a bedtime story? (Oh, my mommy’s heart hurts.)

 

 

And so I took my own advice…advice I’ve given umpteen times to other mama’s who were experiencing a ‘parenting disconnect.’ I took my disgruntled, whiney, clingy, disruptive child who I felt like sending to her room just so I could get a break and to make her think about her actions and to get her behavior ‘back in line’…and I pulled her closer than close, under my mama’s wing. I took her everywhere with me. I let her sleep on a pallet next to my bed. We cooked dinner together and made a museum out of her paintings and folded towels together. And I listened and listened and listened…intentionally and thoughtfully and responsively. And my little ‘caboose’ and I reconnected. In just a matter of days, life in the Knost household returned to its normal cadence of what we affectionately call ‘joyful chaos.’ People see the difference and ask me, “What did you do?” And I simply respond, “I listened.”

 

~Here’s a little story to illustrate~

The little caboose chugged along, clickety-clack, clickety-clack, happy as could be as she followed her mama engine and brother and sister cars along the tracks. Up and down hills, around curves and through tunnels they went, all strung together with their secure couplings. And at the end of each day, they headed back to the station to get all fueled up and rested for the next glorious day. One day, the little caboose was startled when mama engine took off extra early without checking to make sure all the couplings were tightened. As they chugged forward, the little caboose could feel her coupling slipping a bit, and she ‘choo-chooed’ loudly to get mama engine’s attention. But mama engine was too busy to notice and kept picking up speed as they began their journey up and down the hills. Alarmed now, little caboose tried to pull backwards and slow the train down, but mama engine chugged on, ‘choo-chooing’ encouragingly. Little caboose felt her coupling getting looser and looser as mama engine sped toward the dangerous curves and tunnels ahead. In a panic, little caboose screeched ‘choo-choo’ over and over and tugged and pulled backward frantically. Mama engine just chugged on, this time ‘choo-chooing’ firmly and giving a gentle extra tug forward. Little caboose spent the rest of the day screeching ‘choo-choo’ and pulling and tugging backward until they finally arrived back at the station, everyone exhausted and cranky from the difficult day. Little caboose was so overwrought from the fear of being disconnected all day that she continued to screech ‘choo-choo’ and pull at her coupling even after they were stopped for the night. Mama engine chugged ominously in her direction, determined to restore order, but suddenly paused, hearing for the first time the fear and exhaustion in little caboose’s ‘choo-choos.’ She looked carefully and noticed the loose coupling. Pulling little caboose closer than close, mama engine tightened the coupling and ‘choo-chooed’ a soft, reassuring lullaby, and little caboose finally stopped her screeching and tugging and relaxed gratefully into her mama engine’s embrace.

 

~The Challenge~

If you have a parenting issue right now, any parenting issue at all for any age child, take a mental snapshot of what a typical day looks like at the moment. Then take one week, just a single week out of your life, and listen to your child. Listen intentionally. Listen consciously. Create opportunities for your child to talk. Open conversations to get them started, then stop talking and stop planning your response and stop mentally going over your to-do list and just listen. Take your child with you whenever you can, wherever you’re going. Involve them in your day. Invite them into your life. ENJOY them and get to know them, get to really KNOW the unique and remarkable person they are. They are a precious, priceless gift, and their childhood will be over before you know it. And, at the end of that week, take another mental snapshot of what a day with your child looks like. Then you can decide which path to take. Will you go backward or forward? Is connecting with your child worth your time and effort? What will you choose?

Award-winnning author, L.R.Knost, is the founder and director of the children's rights advocacy and family consulting group, Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources, and Editor-in-Chief of Holistic Parenting Magazine. 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 the first four books in the Little Hearts Handbook gentle parenting series, and children’s picture books Petey’s Listening Ears and the soon-to-be-released Grumpykins series.


Transitioning from Cosleeping: A Toddler’s Own Space at a Toddler’s Own Pace

[Excerpt 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, The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline, and Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting also now available on Amazon and through other major retailers.]

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

quote transitioning from cosleepingLooking for ways to gently wean your little one into their own sleeping space? Here are a few ideas:

1.) Place a mattress beside your bed and start out each night there with your little cosleeper, then move up to your bed when they are fully asleep. When they wake, be sure to either take them back into your bed with you or join them on the mattress to make the transition as seamless as possible. (You can also start out the night in your bed as usual and move them to a small toddler bed beside your bed once they fall asleep fully if that works better for your space.)

2.) When you feel they are comfortable with the new arrangement, move the mattress a bit farther from your bed, either against the wall or at the foot of your bed, and repeat the same process of starting the night with them and welcoming them into your bed or joining them on the mattress if they wake.

3.) The next step is to move the mattress into their room and repeat the process.

4.) When you feel they are spending enough time in their room each night to feel comfortable with it, you can try staying with them until they are almost asleep and then telling them you are going to the bathroom or to brush your teeth (make sure you actually do what you say you’re going to do!) and will be right back. Come back quickly so they will be reassured that you can still be trusted. If they follow you or get upset, wait and try this step again in a week or two.

5.) When they are happy to stay in bed waiting for your return, start letting them spend a bit longer alone. Always tell them what you are going to do, and always do just what you said. Make sure to return when you are done so they know they can trust you and don’t need to come get you.

6.) Over time, this gradual weaning will result in them falling asleep on their own, and you can move on to the stage of books and cuddles and hugs and telling them goodnight, then leaving them with the reassurance that you’ll be back to check on them in a bit. Of course, always come back and check like you said you would!

7.) I can’t emphasize enough that this is a trust issue. The more that you honor what you say and stay in tune with their needs, the smoother and easier the process will go for both of you.

More resources:

Fights Sleep via Dr. Sears

 “Parents usually need their children to go to sleep earlier than the children need to. Sleep is not a state you can force a child into. It is better to create an environment that allows sleep to overtake the child.”

 

 

 Gentle Baby and Toddler Sleep Tips via PhD in Parenting

“Be reasonable and patient with your child and understand that not every child is the same and also that a child that did once sleep well, may not always sleep well. If a child is teething, growing through a growth spurt, sick, working on a developmental milestone, hungry, didn’t get enough exercise or fresh air, is preoccupied by a scary situation that occurred during the day, or any list of other things, that can wreak havoc on their sleep.”

 

 

peaceful parenting: Three in a Bed: Why You Should Sleep With Your …

“Twelve years ago, people told me that I would regret the whole cosleeping thing. I couldn’t give them an adequate reply. All I knew was that I was enjoying my nighttime parenting, perhaps more than any other aspect of new motherhood. I found I was more relaxed at night than during the day. There were no time crunches, no ringing telephones, no urgent chores to complete. No health professionals or well-meaning relations to tell me I was doing something wrong. Just me and the baby and the night.”

 

 

Bed to Crib, Moving Baby via Dr. Sears

 “Remember that the goal of nighttime parenting is to create a healthy sleep attitude so that your baby learns that sleep is a pleasant state to enter and a fearless state to remain in. Falling asleep snuggled up next to mommy or daddy is a wonderful way to transition from a busy day to a restful night.”

 

 

Night Terrors via Dr. Sears

“It’s the middle of the night and you are awakened by your child screaming from his bedroom. You rush in to see what’s wrong and you find him sitting up in bed with a blank stare but very agitated. You try to wake him, asking him what is wrong but he doesn’t respond, he just keeps screaming. You are scared and don’t know what to do.”

 

 

Related posts:

Practical, Gentle, Effective Discipline

Love in the Time of Cosleeping

The No Zone

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

Award-winnning author, L.R.Knost, is the founder and director of the children's rights advocacy and family consulting group, Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources, and Editor-in-Chief of Holistic Parenting Magazine. 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 the first four books in the Little Hearts Handbook gentle parenting series, and children’s picture books Petey’s Listening Ears and the soon-to-be-released Grumpykins series.


Co-sleeping Safely~Is it possible? Decide for yourself!

SIDS: The Latest Research on How Sleeping With Your Baby is Safe | Dr. Sears Official Website | Pare

Dr. Sears is considered the leading authority on gentle/attachment parenting and is a proponent of co-sleeping. Here he examines the research linking decreased SIDS risks with the increase in co-sleeping rates. Dr. Sears~ “Here are some ways to educate parents on how to sleep safely with their baby.”

 

Cosleeping and Biological Imperatives: Why Human Babies Do Not and Should Not Sleep Alone

“In Japan where co-sleeping and breastfeeding (in the absence of maternal smoking) is the cultural norm, rates of the sudden infant death syndrome are the lowest in the world. For breastfeeding mothers, bedsharing makes breastfeeding much easier to manage and practically doubles the amount of breastfeeding sessions while permitting both mothers and infants to spend more time asleep.”
 
 
 
 
 

“While many theories are flying around about the cause of SIDS, most focus on the deepness of sleep and how it affects the child’s breathing…Another theory which you may not be familiar with is that the crib mattress itself is to blame for SIDS cases…Arsenic, phosphorus and antimony are intentionally added to crib mattresses by the manufacturers as fire retardants. SIDS was very rare prior to the 1950s when these additives became standard.”

 
 
 
Practical guidelines for safe co-sleeping practices.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
“By emphasizing how to create a safe sleeping environment—rather than trying to browbeat parents into avoiding bedsharing—more babies’ lives would be spared.  And as an extra plus, more families would also get a better night’s sleep!”
 
 
 
 
 
“In Japan, which is a highly modern society, co-sleeping is still the norm. Children sleep with their parents until late childhood, and many move to a grandparent’s bed when a new baby comes along. It is considered beneficial to the child and to the elderly person. It is interesting to note that Japan has the lowest rate of SIDS in the world (James McKenna, PhD).”
 
 
 
 
“L.A. may be the city of dreams. But, for us parents, Boston is the city of sleep. All of the greatest pediatric sleep doctors practice there…To us, they are superstars: Sears, Brazelton, and, of course, the great Ferber.  The man who made “cry it out” a household phrase. A man so famous that he has his own verb: Ferberize. As in, ‘We can’t go out tonight, we’re Ferberizing little Max.'”
 
  
 
 
 
 
“Whereas many Western parents view a child’s sleeping in his own bed as an important milestone toward independence, the Japanese emphasis is on promoting a sense of closeness and security in small children to help them become more confident and capable in the long run.”

 

 

Related posts:

The Gift of Breastfeeding

Baby Led Weaning

And Baby Makes Three~Surviving the First Three Months with a Newborn

Bizarre Anti-Cosleeping Ads in Milwaukee a Red Herring?

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

 

 

 

Award-winnning author, L.R.Knost, is the founder and director of the children's rights advocacy and family consulting group, Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources, and Editor-in-Chief of Holistic Parenting Magazine. 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 the first four books in the Little Hearts Handbook gentle parenting series, and children’s picture books Petey’s Listening Ears and the soon-to-be-released Grumpykins series.


Wishes Week 2011~Wrapping it up & putting a bow on top!

  

Thank you to all of my awesome guests this week for Wishes Week 2011! You gave me a very special birthday gift I will never forget by sharing your wishes with me. Here’s a ((hug)) for each one of you! And now, the ‘wrap up’~

 

 Glimpses My opening contribution to Wishes Week 2011~Glimpses of hope and healing

 

 

 

 

Meanderings by Rosemary Jones Gritty urban prose by one of my favorite writers…powerful!

 

 

My Parenting Wish: Through A Child’s Eyes  A beautifully intimate look at compassionate parenting by The Hippie Housewife. Love this!

 

 

Birth Wishes Thank you to Becoming Crunchy for this powerful and heartfelt look at birthing options and empowering women…awesome!!!

 

I wish that I were the Mother that I play at the grocery store.  Here is a quirky look at the realities of mommyhood by Jessica, author of Parenting Wild Things!

 

 

“What I Wish Every Mother Knew About Babies and Sleep” This wins the prize for most viewed post of the week from Adventures in Mommyhood over at Instinctual Mamas. This is a passionate, informative, and convicting article on meeting babies’ needs gently. Beautiful!

 

 

Mommy Wishes From one Mommy’s heart to yours~Mommy Wishes by The Mom: Informed

 

 

 

When God says ‘No’ ~ Wishes Week 2011 

~My closing post for Wishes Week~

 

 

Thank you to everyone who joined me for Wishes Week 2011! Your comments and ‘presence’ (lol) were much appreciated!

Award-winnning author, L.R.Knost, is the founder and director of the children's rights advocacy and family consulting group, Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources, and Editor-in-Chief of Holistic Parenting Magazine. 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 the first four books in the Little Hearts Handbook gentle parenting series, and children’s picture books Petey’s Listening Ears and the soon-to-be-released Grumpykins series.


What I Wish Every Mother Knew About Babies and Sleep

My original guest post for Little Hearts Wishes Week was going to be a list of things I Wish I had Known Before I Became a Mom.  However, the sleep portion sort of took a life of it’s own on and that combined with my total disgust for so called “sleep trainers” created this post instead.  So my new wishes blog is“What I Wish Every Mother Knew About Babies and Sleep”

 

 1. There is no such thing as “Sleeping Through The Night”-

Babies do not just magically start sleeping 10+ hrs a night at 6-8 weeks old like so many claim.  The term “sleeping through the night” simply means baby sleeps for a 5 hour or longer stretch at one time, and this does not usually begin until 4+ months.  If baby goes down at 7pm and you don’t go to bed until 10, don’t be surprised when baby is back up at 12am.

Honestly, you don’t WANT your baby to sleep for long stretches like that anyways~it increases the risk of SIDS.  We now know that babies need the constant stirring and waking to keep them from slipping into too deep of a sleep that they are then unable to rouse from.

Young children do not completely develop a true sleep pattern until around age 5.  Before that the human sleep mechanisms are not completely formed.  So from birth until 5 it is completely normal for your child to wake in the night, and they will.  Each of my kids do not wake every night, but since I have four, I am up several times a night with someone (and  Sariah does wake 1-2 times every night on top of me getting up with the others a minimum of 1-2 times).

Don’t fall into the Mommy Wars of “my baby is better than yours and this is why…” 

To quote Dr. Sears: “An important fact for you to remember is that your baby’s sleep habits are more a reflection of your baby’s temperament rather than your style of nighttime parenting. And keep in mind that other parents usually exaggerate how long their baby sleeps, as if this were a badge of good parenting, which it isn’t. It’s not your fault baby wakes up.”

2. Co-Sleeping is perfectly natural, safe, and NO you will NOT end up with a 6 yr old in your bed still!-

Co-Sleeping, when done safely and correctly, will NOT spoil your baby, and actually INCREASES the success rates of breastfeeding, DECREASES SIDS rates, and will INCREASE the amount of sleep everyone gets.  Think about it, baby is right there with you (whether in your bed or in a side car crib) so when they do start to wake you can get to them quickly instead of stumbling around in the dark down hallways and into another room.  The faster you can get to baby, the faster baby will return to sleeping.

I promise it will not last forever, and your baby will eventually transition into their own bed when they are ready.  Don’t push them because, as crazy as it sounds now, when they are gone you will miss it.  I miss snuggling with my Little Man at night.  He stayed in our bed the longest of all of our kids (to date, as Sariah is still sleeping with us) and he was 3 when he transitioned into his own bed.  A far cry for the 5-6 age range so many warned me I would be “stuck” with (and honestly I would not have considered myself “stuck” anyway).

3. Babies DO need to eat/drink at night and this does not mean only newborns-

Not only do babies need the nightly wakings to keep them from slipping into too deep of a sleep, they also need the constant night feedings to grow and remain healthy.  It is not healthy, and actually can be dangerous, to try and force a baby to sleep through/skip a feeding that they need.  Babies, especially newborns-3 months, are at risk of having their blood sugar levels dip dangerously low if they go too long without eating.  If a baby wakes to eat, they are NOT trying to manipulate you. A baby cannot manipulate you, and it’s so sad that so many feel that they can.

Children from birth until about the age of 5 can and do need some sort of nourishment in the night.  They are small and still growing at dramatic rates.  Their systems are different than ours.  Honestly, I wake up 1-2 times a night needing to use the restroom and get a drink, so if I am waking up thirsty, why should I tell my kids they have to wait until morning?  My kids do not wake every single night asking for something to eat or drink, but when they do wake asking for that, I give it to them.  I never ignore them or tell them they are not hungry/thirsty.  I would not tell myself I am not hungry/thirsty when my body says I am, yet so many feel that a child’s pleas in the night for food or drink should just be ignored.

4. Please do not fall in the “sleep training” trap-

Sleep Training is harmful to babies, not only increasing their risk of SIDS, but also creating unsecure attachments which can hinder baby’s development.  I know it’s hard, trust me I do!  I have not slept through the night in almost 6 years now, not ONCE, EVER!  Someone is always waking in this house.

I know you can become desperate for sleep, but please do not ever let that desperation go so far that you do things you do not feel comfortable with.  If it feels wrong, if your body screams out at you that what you are doing is not right, listen!  Trust your instincts, not what some author is trying to sell you. They are out to make money, and that’s it.

There are several so called “Sleep Trainers” and “Sleep Whisperers” out there, each more ignorant and dangerous than the next.  This all started 50 years ago with Dr. Spock (no, not from Star trek!).  He was the original CIO (cry it out) advocate and had an entire generation of parents believing their tiny babies were out to “get them” from the moment they were born.  These “terrible” little babies were on a mission to break and control mommy and daddy, to “manipulate” from day 1 and parents had to rule with iron fists and learn to ignore those ‘manipulative” cries.  Funny how so few realize the Dr. Spock recanted everything he taught on his death bed, stating he was wrong and that babies’ cries should be responded to.  He said babies should never be left to simply CIO.   

Since then many more quacks have paraded around the same CIO dribble as Dr. Spock in a pretty new packaged selling is as “sleep training” for babies.  Currently, the worst one (in my opinion) would have to be Tizzie Hall.  She calls herself “The Sleep Whisperer” and her method “Save Our Sleep”.  Her so-called methods are what got me in such a “tizzie” that my entire blog morphed into this.

If you have never heard of her, like me, you probably live in the US.  She is really big overseas in places like Europe, the UK, Ireland, Australia, etc.  The Dangers of Baby Training (from FB) describes her as…

“She does have 2 little boys (aged 3 and 1) but wrote the book before she had children. She doesn’t have any qualifications past a normal high school education. Among other things she advocates crying, a 3 hourly feeding schedule if you BF or 4 hourly if you FF, overwrap babies with excessive bedding (which is what The Analytical Armadillo has been questioning recently), has some very misinformed views and ideas which are all based on her observations and opinions, rather than any that can be substantiated by scientific evidence and had some weird notions that babies can poo and vomit on cue to manipulate their parents. In her toddler book, she advocates the use of the ‘holding technique’ to restrain kids and teach them not to touch things (there’s a video on youtube of her demonstrating this) and thinks babies should only be fed purees until they are 12 months, then mashed food, then only real food at approx 24 months old and thinks BLW is ‘inappropriate.’ She is all over facebook at the moment (and not in a good way)…. “

These are quotes taken directly from Tizzie Hall herself either from her book or her forums/FB page.  Ironically she has tried to come back and say many of these things she never said or were taken out of context.  I have also been informed that she now charges for answers on her forum and refuses to answer anything on FB because those who were against her so called “system” would pick apart her answers….

“I often come across a baby who has learnt to vomit at bedtime during failed attempts at controlled crying. If you have one of these babies you will need to teach your child that vomiting will not get your attention or buy any extra time. This is hard, but it has to be done to stop the vomiting. The way you achieve this is to make the bed vomit-proof. Layer the towels in the bed and on the floor so it is easy for you to remove the vomit. When your baby vomits take the top towels away, leaving a second layer in case of a second vomit. If the vomit has gone on her clothing, undress her and put clean clothes on without taking her out of the cot by moving her to the other end. Do not make eye contact or talk to her while you do all this and be calm and confident through out, so you can fool your baby into thinking you don’t care about vomit.”

-This was taken directly from her book but she claims it was “out of context.” You be the judge.

To go along with this, in the article Victoria White: As a mother I take serious issue with the so- called Baby Whisperer Victoria quotes Tizzie about babies “manipulating” their parents by pooping and instructs parents to ignore this and let baby sleep in the poop to “teach them a lesson”

“‘When he pooed instead, they left him lying in his poo because they “realised” it had become “a game” They changed him after he’d gone to sleep. Don’t worry if you don’t get the bottom of your sleeping baby perfectly clean, says Tizzie, ‘a little bit of poo will not do any harm between then and the morning’.”

Or how about this winner, which is what sent me spiraling into this blog:

Question posted from a follower of the Save Our Sleep Program:

 Q ~ ‘I’ve recently started my 7 month old on s.o.s routine. Day 4 and our nights are getting so much better. Before starting bub was waking every 2 hours sometimes less. My partner and I were exhausted. The first night he slept for 4 hours before needing to be resettled, second night was 7 hours and last night was 9.5 hours. Praying tonight is 12. Two little issues, first my boobs are killing me in the mornings now- I’m so engorged. And the second issue is that i think he is getting cold at night. I sleep him in a long sleeve onesie, a sleeping bag and a cellular blanket but he manages to wriggle out from under the blanket and when i go in to check on him he is sleeping on top of the blanket, and he is cold to touch.’

Tizzie’s response:

 A ~ Do you have the bedding guide from the SOS website? It shows you what to dress bubs in for temps in various states. Best $9 you’ll ever spend! Need to make sure everything is 100% cotton (incl. mattress protector) otherwise bubs will sweat. Most of us use many more blankets than the guide, every bubs is different eg. I’m in Sydney and in a room of 24.2C my 6m has 12 blankets on + the clothing, bag and wrap mentioned in the guide.

Check out The Analytical Armadillo for a much deeper look into this issue, she actually asked Tizzie about the increased risk of SIDS in regards to babies over heating from too many blankets, here is some of Tizzie’s reply:

“As all of you know before giving any advice I do countless hours of research so I stand by all of my advice. These ladies don’t seem to be aware of the current SIDS guidelines stating as long as your babies head and face are uncovered and you are using cotton or bamboo bedding then it is perfectly safe to layer up the amount of these blankets to keep your baby warm. My opinion and research shows this in return keeps our babies in the safe back sleeping position. Also it is now clear overheating is only cited a risk factor and not as big a factor as was first thought but we do live in a generation with parents so scared of over heating their babies they are doing the opposite and under heating them which in my opinion a greater factor because a cold baby will roll to his or her tummy and sleep face down in the mattress.”

Click the link above to view her full response and so much more.

Sadly there are many more Tizzie Hall’s out there, people looking to make a quick buck on the desperation of sleep deprived parents at their wit’s end.  They prey on this desperation to get parents to do things they otherwise would never even consider.

My wish is that parents would just throw all of this baby “training” crap out the window and trust their instincts!  Listen to your baby; listen to your body.  If it feels wrong, then it IS wrong.  Your instincts are there for a reason.  My second wish, that parents would stop listening to society and believing their babies are out to “get” and “control” them.  A baby is not capable of manipulation; they have no understanding of that.  They have simple, basic needs, and their only way to communicate those needs is to cry.  Listen to their cries, respond to them, please do not ignore them.  Studies now show that when babies are left to CIO or CC (controlled cry, a so called “nicer” form of CIO where you go in every 2, 4, 6 minutes and comfort baby only to leave again) they release the stress chemical cortisol, which is DAMAGING to their little brains.  As little as 5 minutes of crying can actually cause damage and prolonged CIOing can lead to developmental delays later on.

I saw a great comparison the other day that took words about leaving a baby alone to CIO to teach them to stop “manipulating” and replaced the word ‘baby’ with ‘grandma’.  It was a mock response to Tizzie Hall, thanking her for saving the author’s sleep.  The author thanked Tizzie for giving the her the strength to ignore her elderly grandma’s cries in the night and show grandma who was boss in that house.  When grandma vomited from being so upset, the author cleaned it up and left grandma without saying a word.  After a few nights, grandma stopped crying, and the author said grandma doesn’t say or do much during the day, either, she just lays there silently.  The author broke grandma’s spirit-is that what you really want to do to your child?  Do you want to break your baby’s spirit, to teach them that mommy is “boss” and will not be “manipulated”?  Sure, CIO seems to work. Babies do stop crying at night, but it’s not because you trained them to stop “manipulating” you, you simply trained them that mommy will not respond to their needs so why bother crying.  (See full text here-Dear Sleep Trainer Expert,It was a great visual to show that we would not treat an adult like this so why is it ok to treat an innocent baby this way?

A HUGE thank you shout must go to Anneke Temmink from The Dangers of Baby Training who provided me with all of the awesome links and quotes about the so called “sleep whisperer”.  She is awesome!

 This guest post is from Christy Reed who you can find blogging at Adventures in Mommyhood: Mommy Outnumbered!
 
 

Award-winnning author, L.R.Knost, is the founder and director of the children's rights advocacy and family consulting group, Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources, and Editor-in-Chief of Holistic Parenting Magazine. 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 the first four books in the Little Hearts Handbook gentle parenting series, and children’s picture books Petey’s Listening Ears and the soon-to-be-released Grumpykins series.


I wish that I were the Mother that I play at the grocery store.

I’m not really a patient mother.  I just play one on tv at the grocery store.

I am an excellent actress, too.  Oscar worthy.  Anyone who sees my weekly Kroger performance probably thinks I’m a saint. 

I am not.

In the privacy of my own home when no one is looking I am selfish, I am impatient, I say no more than I need to, and I don’t listen very well.

But at the grocery store?  I am kind.  I am patient.  I am gentle.  I am slow to speak and quick to listen.  I am permissive.  I float on air and quote Jesus.

Or maybe it’s unfair to say the good me isn’t the real me.  Maybe the pressure of knowing people are observing is just the push I need to be the me I wish I was. Maybe that’s why cultures and families used to live in community more and why villages raised children.  Maybe we’ve lost something with our nuclear families.

Maybe I should just starting hanging out at the grocery store more…

Do you find that you’re a “better” mom in public?

 

Today’s ‘Wishes Week’ guest poster, Jessica, is the mother of four children whom she affectionately refers to as “The Wild Things”.  Being home 24/7 with her Wild Things inspired her to prayerfully and painfully delve into what it means to be a good mother and inspired the writing of her eBook Parenting Wild Things – Surviving the Rumpus.  She loves to laugh, write, and dig deeper into her faith. You can find her doing these things aplenty on her blog Bohemian BowmansFacebook, and Twitter.

Award-winnning author, L.R.Knost, is the founder and director of the children's rights advocacy and family consulting group, Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources, and Editor-in-Chief of Holistic Parenting Magazine. 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 the first four books in the Little Hearts Handbook gentle parenting series, and children’s picture books Petey’s Listening Ears and the soon-to-be-released Grumpykins series.


My Parenting Wish: Through A Child’s Eyes

It’s Wishes Week here at Little Hearts Books and we’re wishing your host a happy birthday by sharing our own parenting wishes!

What would I change in the parenting world if I had a fairy “parenting” wand? As I considered that question, every possibility seemed to boil down to one thing: compassionate understanding.

Adulthood brings with it an awareness of the world that lends perspective to situations. Children have much less of this life experience on which to draw. They act as a child, they speak as a child, and they see things through a childish perspective. They usually have the best of intentions even when their actions suggest otherwise.

And yet too often parents will automatically ascribe negative intent to their child’s immature actions. Children are seen as being defiant, deceptive, and manipulative. In talking with others about their childhood and thinking back to my own, there are many recollections of the injustice and indignation felt when negative intent was ascribed to the child’s motives. There are memories of being punished for things not done or not known to be wrong. There are memories of being misunderstood, of having feelings overlooked, and of feeling angry, afraid, ashamed, anxious, insecure, violated, and unloved. There is also the knowledge that communication and understanding would have been far more effective and connective than the yelling, shaming, spanking, or other punishments received.

My parenting wish is that parents would have the ability to view situations through their child’s eyes. When we take the time to consider our child’s perspective or to talk with them through what happened, we find more often than not that their motives were sincere and good at best, and merely ignorant (lacking in experience, understanding, and wisdom) at worst.

Is he “pestering” you, or is he lonely? Is she being “bratty”, or is she hungry and tired? Is he “mean”, or is he confused and overwhelmed by changes in his life? The labels and motives we apply to our children affect the way we view them and act towards them. Looking past the actions to the driving needs behind them often presents a very different view.

With that in mind, we can assign positive intent to our children’s actions, approaching the situation with compassion and understanding. Their intent need not play into our response. When we are parenting with love and grace, using gentle discipline rather than the behaviour modification tools of punishment and praise, we will generally respond in the same manner regardless of their underlying motive. This saves us the guessing game of discerning our children’s hearts, and by assuming the best in them, we set high standards for them to aspire to.

Discipline means “to teach”, and we can teach our children the appropriate action to replace an inappropriate one without needing to first determine whether their intent was good or bad. Repeated issues may call for more focused discipleship in that particular area, but the response to the situation itself should not vary depending on the parent’s view of the child’s motives.

We can’t presume to know our children’s hearts. Assuming the best, taking time to consider their perspective, and responding with compassionate understanding will serve to encourage our children and strengthen our relationship with them. This connection and relationship must remain the focus of our parenting, as it is the foundation and driving force behind all other areas of parenting and discipline.

_____________________

Cynthia is the mother of two little boys, an inquisitive preschooler and an energetic toddler. She blogs at The Hippie Housewife, where she shares her thoughts on attachment parenting, natural living, life as a Jesus-follower, and more, all tied together through her journey towards a more intentional life.

Award-winnning author, L.R.Knost, is the founder and director of the children's rights advocacy and family consulting group, Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources, and Editor-in-Chief of Holistic Parenting Magazine. 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 the first four books in the Little Hearts Handbook gentle parenting series, and children’s picture books Petey’s Listening Ears and the soon-to-be-released Grumpykins series.


A Tale of Two Tantrums~A Time-In vs. Time-Out Story

[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; The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline; and Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting available on Amazon and through other major retailers.]

toddler twin girlsMattie was hungry and tired…so, sooo hungry and so, sooo tired! Her diaper was rolled under on one side, bothering her bottom, and her shoe was pinching her big toe. MISERY!

She marched…well, toddled, into the kitchen to let the big people know all about it. Mommy was making dinner, and taking a super-duper long time doing it! And Daddy was talk, talk, talking.

Mattie drew a deep breath and said, “Brrrffft umpha nay!” There! Now the big people would fix her diaper, take off her shoe, hurry up and feed her, and she could finally, finally go to sleep!

But what was this? Mommy and Daddy just smiled at her and went back to doing what they were doing! What about her bottom? What about her big toe? Didn’t they know she was hungry and tired and MISERABLE?!?

Fine, she’d just take her shoe off herself and SHOW THEM HER BIG TOE! She sat down, making that irritating fold in her diaper downright painful, and tugged and pulled on her shoe until she finally managed to pry it off, then waved her big toe at Mommy and Daddy. “Ooomm ffrr!” she insisted. But, once again, Mommy and Daddy just smiled, and Daddy winked at Mattie, and they went back to what they were doing!

Enough was enough! Mattie was just done, done, done! She threw her shoe, accidentally landing it in the pot of noodles, flopped backwards, smacking her head on the ground quite painfully, and began to kick and wail out her troubles. Daddy scooped Mattie up and headed to the comfy ‘Time-in’ chair for a cuddle.

It took Mattie a few minutes to to wind down, after all, her diaper was still bothering her bottom and she was still hungry and tired, but Daddy just cuddled her close and rocked and rocked, singing Mattie’s favorite song softly, so softly, until her body relaxed and her sobs turned into funny little hiccups that made her giggle. Then, Daddy changed her diaper…oh, wonderful relief, that annoying fold was finally gone…and Mommy fed her, and then they settled into bed for a goodnight story.

 

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Meggie was hungry and tired…so, sooo hungry and so, sooo tired! Her diaper was rolled under on one side, bothering her bottom, and her shoe was pinching her big toe. MISERY!

She marched…well, toddled, into the kitchen to let the big people know all about it. Mommy was making dinner, and taking a super-duper long time doing it! And Daddy was talk, talk, talking.

Meggie drew a deep breath and said, “Brrrffft umpha nay!” There! Now the big people would fix her diaper, take off her shoe, hurry up and feed her, and she could finally, finally go to sleep! But what was this? Mommy and Daddy just smiled at her and went back to doing what they were doing! What about her bottom? What about her big toe? Didn’t they know she was hungry and tired and MISERABLE?!?

Fine, she’d just take her shoe off herself and SHOW THEM HER BIG TOE! She sat down, making that irritating fold in her diaper downright painful, and tugged and pulled on her shoe until she finally managed to pry it off, then waved her big toe at Mommy and Daddy. “Ooomm ffrr!” she insisted. But, once again, Mommy and Daddy just smiled, and Daddy winked at Meggie, and they went back to what they were doing!

Enough was enough! Meggie was just done, done, done! She threw her shoe, accidentally landing it in the pot of noodles, flopped backwards, smacking her head on the ground quite painfully, and began to kick and wail out her troubles. Daddy picked Meggie up, headed to the ‘Time-out’ chair, and firmly sat Meggie in it. Her head hurt from smacking it on the floor, and her diaper was rubbing her raw, and she was still hungry and so tired, and now she was sobbing uncontrollably and couldn’t catch her breath.

Meggie tried to go to Daddy, but he just put her back in the ‘Time-out’ chair. So she tried to go to Mommy, but Daddy put her back in the chair again, sternly instructing her to stay put.

This time, she stayed…stayed on the raw, rubbing diaper roll, stayed away from the scary, stern Daddy who had just been smiling at her a few minutes ago, stayed away from the Mommy who had rescued her from the scary next-door doggie this morning, but was just ignoring her cries now.

It took Meggie a long time to wind down, after all, her diaper was still bothering her bottom and she was still hungry and tired, but eventually her shaking stilled and her sobs quieted. Daddy came back and spoke sternly to her, making her tear up again, then he hugged her and she laid her head on his shoulder cautiously, not sure if he was going to stay the hugging Daddy or become the scary Daddy again. Daddy changed her diaper and Mommy put her in the highchair, then went to get her plate. But Meggie was too exhausted from crying to stay awake any longer, and she fell asleep in the highchair with her tiny head cradled in her arms, still hungry.

 ~~~~~~~

Behavior is communication. As the only adults in the relationship, it’s up to us to listen.

Related posts:

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

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

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

12 Steps to Gentle Parenting

The Thoughtful Parent’s Guide to Positive Parenting Guides

 

Award-winnning author, L.R.Knost, is the founder and director of the children's rights advocacy and family consulting group, Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources, and Editor-in-Chief of Holistic Parenting Magazine. 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 the first four books in the Little Hearts Handbook gentle parenting series, and children’s picture books Petey’s Listening Ears and the soon-to-be-released Grumpykins series.


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

My sweet, quirky daughter-in-law!

Many, many years ago (more that I will admit to!) a small, scared, pregnant, teenaged girl walked down the aisle to her tall, scared, clueless, young man and they said their “I do’s.” But what were they going to do? No earthly idea! They didn’t have the internet to surf for blogs about parenting and marriage, couldn’t afford the few paltry magazines available on those subjects at the time, and weren’t convinced the way their parents had raised them was exactly what they wanted for their unexpected little blessing. So, they just joined hands and hearts and figured it out the old-fashioned way~through trial and error.

The young girl gave birth prematurely and, after a terrifying NICU stay, brought home her barely 5 lb baby boy. Since the young couple were living on one income and barely able to feed themselves, it made sense to them to breastfeed their little one. Neither one had ever even heard of a lactation consultant and no one at the hospital had mentioned breastfeeding at all, so the two young people just kept working through the cracked, bleeding nipples, engorgement, over-supply, and other issues until they got it figured out~and then they were breastfeeders!

The young girl discovered their first night home how much easier it was to simply take her baby boy into bed with her and breastfeed him when he was hungry~and then they were cosleepers!

Neither one of the young couple had ever read a parenting book and had never even heard the words ‘cry-it-out,’ so the two of them just did what came naturally and picked up their baby when he fussed or grunted or just looked cute and finally found it easier to just pop their little preemie into a baby carrier and tote him around with them wherever they went~and then they were babywearers!

As their precious little guy got bigger and began to explore his new world, the young couple delighted in everything he did and simply moved him and distracted him with songs and toys if he got into things. They couldn’t bear the thought of hurting their son, so just pulled him into their laps for a ‘time-in’ cuddle and chat if he got upset or needed to settle or be redirected~and then they were gentle discipliners!

As time went by and more children entered the family (six, to be exact!) other issues such as education and vaccination decisions had to be made, and, while at first the young couple followed the norm and the first two of their children started out in public school and fully vaccinated, it just didn’t sit well with the parenting style they’d developed. Neither one of them had ever known anyone who homeschooled, so that was a truly scary idea, but public education wasn’t for them and they were just too ‘economically challenged’ to afford any kind of private school. So, they did what they’d always done and withdrew their children from school and figured it out as they went along~and then they were homeschoolers!

After a terrifying pediatric intensive care unit ordeal following vaccination-induced seizures in one of their little ones, the young couple ran head-long into the medical establishment’s refusal to report the reaction, and that prompted them to start researching vaccines~and then they were nonvaxers!

Now, this journey might sound like an easy one when summed up this way, but I can assure you it wasn’t! The young couple, my amazing husband and I, encountered strong criticism of our parenting choices over and over through the years from many, and a refusal to accept or accommodate those choices from some. We were warned that our marriage would suffer at the very least, and our babies would suffocate at the worst, if we slept with them in our bed instead of putting them in isolation to sleep. We were informed that my breasts would look like deflated balloons and reach my knees by my thirties if I breastfed beyond a couple of months. We were admonished that our children would grow into spoiled brats if we responded to their needs instead of teaching them to ‘deal with it’ on their own, and would end up criminals if we encouraged and guided them instead of spanking them. We were advised that our children would be uneducated social outcasts (i.e. homeless or still living at home at forty!) if we homeschooled them instead of putting them into the institutional public education system. And we were cautioned that our children would be at risk and put other children at risk for dread diseases such as chicken-pox if we didn’t vaccinate them. These challenges to our parenting style were difficult at the time, and they sometimes even resulted in people choosing to de-friend us (not facebook de-friending, silly, in real life!), but they had the powerful positive effect of making us really examine what our beliefs were and, as a result, strengthening and solidifying our beliefs and our family.

As for the dire warnings listed above: Our beautiful, strong, loving marriage is in it’s 25th year; our children all survived cosleeping (our littlest, 14 months, is still safely and contentedly sleeping in our bed); my breasts are, well, normal except for being a couple of cup sizes larger at the moment since I’m breastfeeding, lol; our children are, in order, a 24 yr old pastor (our firstborn son mentioned in the story above who is expecting his first son!), a 22 yr old family therapist, a 17 yr old entering his third year of pre-med, 12 and 5 yr old beautiful and well-behaved homeschooled girls with lots of friends (soooo not social outcasts!), and a sweet and happy 14 month old baby girl. They are healthy despite (or because of?) being unvaccinated (and I would contend that considering them a danger to vaccinated children calls into question the efficacy of vaccinations, period!).

Our journey to gentle parenting has had another, somewhat unexpected, effect. While we may not agree with others’ parenting choices, we have been on the receiving end of criticism far too long to not have learned this lesson: Gentle parenting is for parents, too! We have learned to respond gently to our friends who don’t agree with us, even when they don’t respond gently to us. Responding with harshness and criticism doesn’t work with adults any better than it does with children! Responding gently to those who disagree with us may or may not affect their parenting choices, but what it does do is model respectful behavior and conflict resolution to our children and, most of the time, preserve dear friendships.

So there you have it~our journey to a breastfeeding, cosleeping, babywearing,

My funny, handsome 'unexpected blessing' on his wedding day!

gentle disciplining, homeschooling, nonvaxing, happy family of eight! Well, including our awesome son-in-law, daughter-in-law, granddaughter, and grandson-on-the-way, I guess I should say family of 11 2/3! One boy, one girl, and one baby have come a long way, Baby!

Award-winnning author, L.R.Knost, is the founder and director of the children's rights advocacy and family consulting group, Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources, and Editor-in-Chief of Holistic Parenting Magazine. 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 the first four books in the Little Hearts Handbook gentle parenting series, and children’s picture books Petey’s Listening Ears and the soon-to-be-released Grumpykins series.


To Spank or Not to Spank (via Real Child Development)

Beyond the “Rod”~Sometimes as Christians in our discussions and books on parenting, it appears as if we base our entire parenting philosophy around 5 scriptures in Proverbs that talk about “the rod.” A discussion of those scriptures is for another time – many others have posted different ideas of what these scriptures actually mean. But, Biblical interpretation aside, I feel it is foolish to place so much emphasis on 5 verses, when there is an entire Bible FULL of chapters and passages all about how we are to relate to each other. Many times we don’t automatically think about applying these scriptures directly to our relationship with children. But they DO apply, because a child is a person as fully deserving of love and respect as any adult.

“I believe that God designed us to begin our lives as babies, totally dependent and vulnerable, because He intended the family to be the setting in which His love was modeled.” – Floyd McClung, The Father Heart of God

Isn’t that amazing? God designed the family to be a place where His love is modeled to children. And more than that, He designed children in such a way that their primary way of learning is through modeling. When God’s love is modeled to a child, the child’s concept of love from and for God will not be abstract, it will be real.

“Our job as parents is to reflect God to our children so they will want to know and love Him. “ –Dr. William Sears

So dive in with me, will you? As an example of what I’m talking about, let’s look at Romans 12:15-18 “Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.”

When I read this verse it makes me think of comforting my children – when they’re happy I am to rejoice with them. “Watch this, mommy!” one shouts as he swings across the monkey bars again for the 20th time – be happy with those who are happy – that’s the appropriate response.

What about when one cries? He’s sad, he’s disappointed, things didn’t go his way, or he’s hurt, or he’s so angry all he can do his cry – weep with those who weep -comfort him, that’s the appropriate response. The Bible tells me exactly what to do!

Live in harmony with each other. What can I do that will help us all live in harmony? Keeping calm, not shouting, controlling my responses, being filled with more love and patience will bring harmony to my home.

Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. This speaks to me about enjoying my kids. It tells me to get on the floor and play with them – wrestling, laughing, kicking the ball, giggling. Putting my distractions, my desires, my boredom, my pride aside, making eye-contact and enjoying my kids.

And don’t think you know it all! How many times do I enter a situation where my children are arguing or fighting, and I jump in with the immediate answer. I “know” exactly what will fix the problem. Do I take the time to listen? To help them problem solve? To find out what’s really going on, how each person feels? Or do I just think I know it all because I’m bigger?

Never pay back more evil with evil. Hurting people for any reason to me is evil. When our children behave in an evil way, we should not pay them back with more evil.

So that’s just one verse dissected and applied to our parenting. Hopefully you are beginning to see that being a sensitive parent will help you be a more sensitive Christian. And it will help our children learn about the character of God, laying the foundation for their own personal relationship with God to grow and deepen.

I’ll be sharing some more scriptures, so keep watching!

Award-winnning author, L.R.Knost, is the founder and director of the children's rights advocacy and family consulting group, Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources, and Editor-in-Chief of Holistic Parenting Magazine. 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 the first four books in the Little Hearts Handbook gentle parenting series, and children’s picture books Petey’s Listening Ears and the soon-to-be-released Grumpykins series.


Sweet Drifting by Rosemary (via Rosemarinus Officinalis)

Snuggle to Sleep

Six inches of arm flop over my breast as you
press your face in close to nurse.
Each night you scoot and wriggle,
telling me with your body
no space is allowed
between us.

An ache rises up and my fierce love for you chokes until it
hurts to breathe.

The little baby body that won’t roll over yet
somehow manages to curl from her back to her side
craving closeness
stretching chubby legs to kick at me as you did in the womb.

Your daddy marvels at your instincts
your hunger for connection
and says
“She needs you”
with awe and tenderness

I wrap around you and graze your wispy hair with my lips.

Your face close to mine
your heavy eyes gaze at me and blink long and slow.
Noses touching, I breathe in your
sweet milky breath and we
sink
into
sleep
together

Award-winnning author, L.R.Knost, is the founder and director of the children's rights advocacy and family consulting group, Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources, and Editor-in-Chief of Holistic Parenting Magazine. 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 the first four books in the Little Hearts Handbook gentle parenting series, and children’s picture books Petey’s Listening Ears and the soon-to-be-released Grumpykins series.


“There he is!” (via The Path Less Taken)

Jen & Kids 2011

Guest post author Jennifer McGrail and kids from The Path Less Taken

The words were my husband’s, and the day was February 19th, 1997. We’d just gotten our first-ever look at our new son, the son that would transform us at once from simply a couple, to a couple of parents. I remember looking at him, his tiny body buried beneath the full head of black hair and the skin he’d yet to grow into. I remember staring at his face, memorizing its features, almost made breathless by a sudden realization: He was a whole, unique, brand-new person. And he was my son.

We would go on to have three more children after that day, and each time I welcomed them with that same sense of awe. What would they look like? Who would they be? Not just extensions of my husband and myself, they were their own little individuals. They had their own personalities, their own indomitable spirits, and their own beautiful souls.

So much of what mainstream parenting advice has to offer is based on the supposition that children need to be controlled, manipulated, and otherwise forced into behaving a certain way. In effect it tells us that they are somehow lesser citizens who wouldn’t possibly do the right thing unless they were prodded, punished, or cajoled into doing so. Gentle parenting believes very much the opposite. At its core, it is simply a call to return to treating children like people. To move away from a top-down system of rewards and punishments to one of love and partnership. It’s not about trying to be a perfect parent, but about striving to be a connected parent. It’s about placing your relationship with your children first, and about giving them the respect and the consideration that they both desire and deserve.

Every parenting decision I’ve made since that first day 14 years ago has been sent through the same filter: Is this manner of treating someone the same way I’d treat anyone whom I dearly loved? Am I showing them gentleness, kindness and respect? Am I treating them the way that I myself would want to be treated? Will this action or these words bring us closer together or will they pull us further apart?

I have made mistakes as a parent to be sure. But as I look back at the last fourteen years, the moments I’ve wished I could take back have always been the moments when I’ve been too reactive. Too quick to speak, and too slow to listen. Too quick to focus on a behavior, and too slow to focus on the child. Too quick to judge, and too slow to understand.

Not once have I regretted being gentle, or thoughtful, or kind. Not once have I ever thought, “What I really needed was to be more tough with them.” No, time and again, the answer was the same: What was needed was more compassion. More kindness. More understanding.

My relationship with my kids is one based on love, trust, and respect. It is a living, breathing organism that only thrives when it is made a priority. It only grows when it is tended to. And just like any other relationship, I get back whatever it is I put in. The best part about a good relationship with your kids though, is that you get it back ten times over.

Award-winnning author, L.R.Knost, is the founder and director of the children's rights advocacy and family consulting group, Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources, and Editor-in-Chief of Holistic Parenting Magazine. 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 the first four books in the Little Hearts Handbook gentle parenting series, and children’s picture books Petey’s Listening Ears and the soon-to-be-released Grumpykins series.


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