Award-winning author, L.R.Knost

Posts tagged “gentle discipline

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

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

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

The things that challenge us are the very things that refine, strengthen, and grow us. Each of my children has stretched and molded and defined my parenting beliefs in their own unique way through the years. And, as is so often the case in life, it is times when I am not at my best that my children seem to need the most from me. Here is a recent ‘mommy fail’ that has reminded me of my blessings and redefined, once again, my priorities and purpose.

~~A Confession and a Challenge~~

~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, 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? 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 mamas 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 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 Who Almost Came Loose~

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?

Related posts:

Backtalk is Communication…LISTEN

The Gift of a Strong-Willed Child

The Problem with Punishment

12 Steps to Gentle Parenting

Bridge Over Troubled Waters~Parenting a ‘Problem’ Child

Rethinking Tattling

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

Spare the Rod: The Heart of the Matter

 

 

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.


Positive Parenting Crusaders!

I am part of an amazing online community of writers who tirelessly work to promote positive parenting through sharing information, research, and personal experiences and observations. Here are just a few:

Attachment Parenting International shared this touching story from Astrid Lindgren, author of Pippi Longstocking and children’s rights activist ~

~Never Violence~

When I was about 20 years old, I met an old pastor’s wife who told me that when she was young and had her first child, she didn’t believe in striking children, although spanking kids with a switch pulled from a tree was standard punishment at that time. But one day when her son was four or five, he did something that she felt warranted a spanking, the first of his life. And she told him that he would have to go outside himself and find a switch for her to hit him with.

The boy was gone a long time. And when he came back in, he was crying. He said to her, “Mama, I couldn’t find a switch, but here’s a rock that you can throw at me.”

All of a sudden the mother understood how the situation felt from the child’s point of view: that if my mother wants to hurt me, then it makes no difference what she does it with; she might as well do it with a rock. And the mother took the boy onto her lap and they both cried. Then she laid the rock on a shelf in the kitchen to remind herself forever: never violence.

Astrid Lindgren, author; acceptance speech, Peace Prize, 1978. Reprinted from “Foster Focus,” published by the Olmsted County Foster Care Program, Rochester, Minn.

 ~~~~~

Dulce de leche, a wonderful Christian mama and stellar writer shared this:

~Spiritual Roots of Discipline~

“When I have wanted to punish, it was not because of love, despite any lofty motives I might claim.  It was because I was impatient.  (They should know better!  They should do what I want right now!)  Unkind.  (Shaming).  Prideful.  My pride wounded because they didn’t demonstrate the respect for me that I wanted.  Embarrassed by what others might think.  Dishonoring them by dismissing their feelings and thoughts.  Self-seeking.  Trying to bulldoze through with my agenda, without regard for their feelings or developmental levels.” Read entire post

 ~~~~~

Real Child Development, missionary, child development advisor, Christian mama, and excellent writer shared this:

~Do you want your children to be obedient or have good judgement?~

“I want my child to do what is right, because in his heart he knows it is the right thing to do. I want him to have that inner strength to make those hard choices and go against the grain when it is the right thing to do. That takes strength. That takes courage. That takes knowing deep inside what is right and what is wrong. I don’t think punishment will teach that. But love will.” Read entire post

~~~~~

The Hippie Housewife, a talented writer and sweet Christian mama shared this:

~Hana Williams: Another child “disciplined” to death~

“This Saturday will mark six months since the tragic death of thirteen-year-old Hana Grace Rose Williams, born Hana Alemu, who died at the hands of her adoptive parents Larry and Carri Williams.

Hana is the third in a string of deaths linked to the use of training methods outlined in Michael and Debi Pearl’s book, “To Train Up a Child”. The deaths of seven-year-old Lydia Schatz and four-year-old Sean Paddock were also attributed to the use of these teachings. The siblings of all three children were found to have been struck repeatedly with plumbing supply line, the tool recommended by the Pearls for “training” children as young as six months old.” Read entire post

 

~~~~~

Parenting expert Dr. Laura Markham of Aha! Parenting shares: All of us want to raise children who become self-disciplined — and happy — adults.  The only question is how best to do that.  Luckily, we know the answer.  Research studies have been following children from babyhood to adulthood for decades, so we actually know what works to raise great kids. Here are the five most important things we know… Read more

~~~~~

 

A few other amazing gentle parenting crusaders:

Positive Parenting: Toddlers and Beyond

TEACH through Love

The Way of the Peaceful Parent

 

Janet Lansbury – Elevating Childcare™

Natural Child Project

Gentle Christian Mothers

 

Click here and look on the right sidebar of my facebook page for a more comprehensive list of positive parenting crusaders!

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.


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

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

When a little person feels frustrated, overwhelmed, or just plain old out-of-sorts (read: tantrum time!) it’s tempting for parents to focus on correction rather than connection. But when children are intensely stressed, the prefrontal cortex of the brain (which in early childhood is an under-developed, mushy ‘ball of playdoh’ waiting to be formed) is flooded with cortisol, aka the ‘stress hormone.’ The result is what is known as the fight-freeze-or-flight syndrome in which higher brain functions (learning, reason, self-control) are markedly hampered and lower brain functions (instinct, physical reactions) take over. This is an in-built survival mechanism that gradually comes under conscious control through years of growth in a safe and supportive environment.

Expecting young children to have the maturity and self-control to overcome this God-given survival instinct is unrealistic. Threatening, punishing, or even reasoning with them while their higher brain functions are suppressed is futile and actually just adds more stress to the situation (more stress=fuel on the tantrum-fire!).

What they really need is help…first, help coping with their big emotions…then, help reconnecting with their source of safety and security (you!)…and last, help processing the problem that sent them into a maelstrom of emotion in the first place. Punishing them, yelling at them, sending them to their room, or putting them in time-out disconnects them even further from their source of security and not only delays a resolution of the issue, but misses an opportunity to equip them with the tools they need to handle future problems.

Drawing them close (time-in), offering words to help them express their frustrations (reflective language), and modeling coping skills and self-control for them are all ways of reconnecting with them to help them successfully navigate their present difficulty as well as cope with those they’re confronted with in the future.

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

Here are our Calm-Me-Jars~

They are made from the little round plastic Coke bottles sold around Christmas time. (Other times of the year you can get Aquapod water bottles which are similar.) I like them because, first, they aren’t glass (who really wants to hand an upset toddler or preschooler a glass anything?!?) and, second, they are perfect for small hands to shake and manhandle to their heart’s content.

Glitter glue gel didn’t work at all because it stayed all clumped up. Just basic craft glitter glue from the Dollar Tree worked really well, though. Cold water kept the glue clumpy, too, so lukewarm tap water is the best bet. I used colored glitter glue with a tiny drop of food coloring in the colored Calm-Me-Jars, and just silver glitter glue with the clear one. I also added actual glitter to each jar because the glitter in the glue was itsy bitsy. The combination of the two types of glitter really turned out pretty. Add about one ounce of glitter glue in each bottle and then as much glitter as you like and a tiny bit of food coloring if you want to make the colors deeper.

When each of the bottles had the look we wanted, we glued the tops down with hot glue, then added ribbons for decorations. Our original Calm-Me-Jars are approaching a year old, and they haven’t become cloudy or clumpy, etc, so it seems that as long as you keep the lids on, they’ll last indefinitely! Here’s a closer view:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cat in the Hat Can Help You with That!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(If you’re really into Dr Seuss, here’s some Seussical fun for your little one!)

When my littler ones have meltdowns (or, if I can catch it, before they reach that point), I pull out one of the Calm-Me-Jars and shake it up and just let them hold it while I hold them or, if they aren’t ready to be touched, I stay close by and talk or sing quietly. When I feel their body relaxing and their breathing slow down, I might say something like, “It’s sad when we can’t have a toy, isn’t it?” or whatever else will reflect what they seem to be unable to express.

If they’ve hit someone or thrown something, I first reflect what my little person is feeling (after tending to the other child if they are hurt or upset), then, when they’re a bit calmer, I go on to reflect what the other person might be feeling, “It hurts Sissy when you hit her.” Then I offer a suggestion about the next step. “Why don’t we go ask Sissy if she’s okay? If she has a boo-boo, we might need to get a bandage for her.” It’s very intriguing for little ones to feel like they can ‘fix’ something, and often the idea that they have that kind of power makes all the difference in the frequency and intensity of meltdowns, not to mention the positive impact of learning to think and care about the feelings of others.

When an older preschooler/early elementary-aged child is about to have a meltdown, I first try to help them begin to recognize those feelings by verbalizing for them, “I see you’re feeling upset. It’s hard not getting things we want, isn’t it?” (Or “having to do things we don’t want to” etc). Then, depending on how much they seem to need connection vs. simply calming down, I either ask if they want to use their Cozy Corner (see below) to help them calm down, “Do you want to head over to your Cozy Corner for a few minutes and grab one of your Calm-Me-Jars so you can have a break for a bit?”

Or if they need to connect, I scoop them against my side into a big hug and head into the Cozy Corner with them (or just my rocking chair) for a cuddle (aka a time-in). While we’re cuddling, or before if they’re feeling too angry to be touched, I let them shake the Calm-Me-Jar as hard and often as they want right at first as a physical outlet for their intense feelings, watching to see when their breathing begins to even out and their body to relax. When they’ve calmed just enough to hear me, I quietly talk them through the calming process, “Look at all that fairy dust bouncing around like crazy! I bet that’s how it feels inside when you’re so upset. Look at how it’s starting to slow down and settle to the bottom. If we breathe really slowly, we can feel ourselves settling like the fairy dust.” Sometimes we sing a quiet song or I offer to read a book or pray with or for them, depending on the circumstances.

When my five-year-old is mad at one of her siblings, she’ll often bring one of her Calm-Me-Jars (Goodnight Moon is a favorite at night!) and work out some of the upset physically by shaking the jar like crazy and telling me how angry she is. When she’s a bit calmer, we’ll have a little cuddle and watch the glitter settle while saying goodnight to the moon, all the furniture, and whatever other silliness we come up with until she’s calm. If there’s a discipline issue, we’ll work through it at that point because I know that’s when she can hear me and really process what I’m saying. (With Starry, Starry Night we sometimes sing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star; with Hello Kitty Princess Ballerina she likes to dance her frustrations away while the glitter dances with her; and with Nemo Under the Sea we speak ‘whale’ like Dorry or make fishy faces at each other.)

The key to all of this is being in tune with your little one enough to understand their personality and work with it instead of against it. My five-year-old is spunky and silly, so having a long, serious talk would drive her nuts and accomplish nothing, whereas when some of my older ones were little they really liked to talk things through (and still do!).

Here are some Cozy Corner ideas for when your little people need a little space to cope with this great big world:

Set aside a small corner of the family room so they can still be close to you and let them help decorate it and choose a favorite blanket, some comfy pillows, and a few special books and stuffed friends to keep there. Here’s a cool tutorial for how to make this tent for under $25!

Let them help name their special place so they’ll know it’s theirs. Some suggestions are Cozy Corner, Comfort Zone, Quiet Cave, or Happy Place. And keep in mind, the Cozy Corner is a place for little ones (usually preschool and older) to go when they decide they want a break, not when we decide they need a break (or that we need a break, lol!). It’s a safe, comfortable, quiet place for them to relax alone if they want to or for us to join them for a time-in cuddle or chat.

 

 

 

And, for times when all else fails, sometimes a little fairy magic is all it takes to turn a bad day into a good one or to help a little one fall asleep. When your toddler/preschooler is a bit cranky, sloooww down, give lots of cuddles, listen, listen, listen, and ask if they need you to sprinkle some fairy dust on them to turn their frown upside down! For sleeping issues, sprinkle a bit of fairy ‘sleeping’ dust on their bed and stay with your little one, softly humming, stroking their back, or just quiet and reassuring, depending on their needs (they’ll let you know!) until they’re asleep. It’s typically the long, dark, lonely separation from mama causing the problem, instead of a sleep issue, anyway!

You can click on the picture to follow the link to buy these adorable fairy dust jars filled with microfine glitter, or you can go to Michaels and buy some cute little bottles and microfine glitter (You can find it next to the fabric paints and t-shirts instead of with the regular glitter, for some reason. Lol) and make your own little bottles of fairy dust!

Related posts:

12 Steps to Gentle Parenting

Practical, Gentle, Effective Discipline

200 Ways to Bless Your Children with a Happy Childhood

Testing the Boundaries~What’s A Parent To Do?

When Children Hit~10 Tips for Parents

Easy Peasy DIY Parenting Tools

One Slippery Sock & Other Silly Tools for your Parenting Toolbox!

You’re Not the Boss of Me!

The No Zone

Jesus~The Gentle Parent

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~Journey to Grace-based Discipline

Up next in ~A September to Remember~ is The Peaceful Housewife with a ‘vintage post’ about modeling grace in our parenting. Lovely!

 

~~~To the Time Out Corner!~~~

As I’ve blogged about previously, we are on a new journey into grace based discipline in our house.  I am learning so much about Christ from my children and about parenting my children from Christ.  I am seeking to model my parenting from how my heavenly Father parents me.  He is, after all, the ultimate parental figure.

In grace based parenting, your connection with your child is foremost.  As a result of that connection and the relationship you build with your child, true loving obedience is born.  This seemed strange to me at first, as one of the suggestions you often see is time-in’s, or loving your child during the undesirable behavior rather than sending them away to sit by themselves as punishment for their behavior.  Sending them to time out can send the message that you will not love them or be connected to them if their behavior doesn’t please you.

In reflecting on this, I wonder if that’s part of why so many people are codependent.  I also think that’s part of why I struggle with understanding how Christ can love me with my character defects.  The manner in which I discipline, or disciple, my children teaches them about Christ and His love.  I have a very sobering responsibility to ensure that I model Christ’s actual love and correction rather than a skewed version that is overly heavy on punishment or on grace.

So I asked myself how Christ corrects me when I am sinful.  He convicts me and speaks to me gently but  firmly, and then He waits for me to ask for forgiveness and make amends.  He never breaks His fellowship with me or throws a tantrum.  He doesn’t lash out at me in anger.  He always has the end result in mind – when I am made perfect and whole in Him when my life here is done.  He doesn’t demand that I apologize when I don’t yet fully understand why what I’ve done is wrong or try to make me feel guilt and shame in order to force me to behave.  The connection is first.  The relationship.  I am not capable of being fully and constantly sinless for Christ.  Praise God, my relationship with Christ isn’t dependent on my actions or character.  He loves me and disciples me even when my character defects are rearing their ugly little heads.  He is constantly reaching out to me, drawing near to me, guiding me, filling me with His Holy Spirit.

So how does this translate to my parenting?  I need to be constantly drawing close to my children, guiding them, filling them with wisdom and grace.  I need to remember that my relationship with my children is foremost and should not suffer because of their character defects.  I need to disciple my children gently but firmly and help them to understand Godly character and the fruits of the Spirit.  I don’t need to demand superficial apologies that aren’t sincere or try to control my children’s’ behaviors by making them feel guilt and shame.  I need to ask the Holy Spirit to convict my children and be there to help them understand that conviction.  I need not behave in anger and I must keep the end result in mind – I have been entrusted with the very important job of helping to raise up a servant of Christ.

I am constantly reminded of this in the 12-steps of Celebrate Recovery.  In step 12, having had a spiritual experience as a result of these steps, we try to carry this message to others and to practice these principles in all our affairs.  The verse that goes with this step is Galatians 6:1, “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently, but watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.”  My children are children of God.  They are my  brother and sister in Christ.  If they are caught in a sin, I need to restore them gently, using caution to ensure that I am not sinning against God by abusing the responsibility that He has entrusted me.  It is a sobering responsibility.  One day, I will be called to account for how I raised my children.  Will I have neglected that responsibility by being overly permissive and not enforcing boundaries?  Will I have abused that responsibility by attempting to control and change my children into what I believe that they should be?  Or will I have done the best that I could with Christ’s help to model the love of Christ and give them a healthy understanding of God’s love, grace and conviction?

 

Your natural-parenting, money-saving, joyful-homemaking blog

 

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: Making Space

This week’s guest post is from Melissa of  The New Mommy Files! Don’t forget to check out her site after you fall in love with her post :0)

 

Photo Used by Creative Commons License

Credit: Kevin Harber (Kevin H.) on Flickr.

It’s hard to imagine what the world looks and feels like for a very small child. Every piece of furniture in a standard house is too large to climb on to unassisted. People may be all around you, but it’s all but impossible to tell what they’re doing, since you have to crane your neck to see above their waist. You can only go as far as the room you’re in, unless someone has been kind enough to leave a door open for you. Even if they have, it may have been by mistake and no sooner will you make it into the next room than someone will swoop in unannounced to scoop you up and take you back to the place they think you ought to be. 
Leaving the house requires that you be strapped tightly into a seat, where your movement is restricted and you can see very little. If you’re lucky, you may be taken to a park or some other open space where you can be free to move about and explore at will. There’s a good chance that you may be going along on errands, however, where you are just as ill-fitted to the space around you. Again you may find large furniture, items too high for you to reach, people who either ignore you altogether, or reach in to touch you without your permission and perhaps make silly, unintelligible noises to coerce you into performing for them with a smile or a giggle. For lack of something better to do, you oblige. 
The vast majority of spaces we find ourselves in on a regular basis are designed specifically to be comfortable for adults. The law dictates that they be made accessible to differently-abled adults, so most make at least the bare minimum of effort required to be within the law, but there are no laws requiring that establishments consider the children who may visit them. The children do not have a vote, so they are expected to make do with what they are given. 
This is a very sad state of affairs. There is no more important time than childhood for an individual’s development, but children cannot develop freely without space to move about. Without environments suited to their needs, numerous obstacles are placed in the path of the child’s development. As adults, we often fail to see the problem, because everything works just fine for us. 
The Montessori “Children’s Houses” were created as an answer to this problem by providing a space where children can move about freely. Every piece of furniture in a Children’s House is scaled to the child’s size so that it can be used by them, and even moved about and rearranged at will. All of the items in the Children’s Houses, including the art, are placed at the child’s level so that they can be easily enjoyed. Everything in the environment is safe for the child and is placed there for his or her use. For those children who attend a Montessori school, this is wonderful, but what about the rest?
We can prepare our homes to welcome our children, providing furniture that is suited to them and items for them to use and explore placed at their level. We can design safe spaces for our children so that they can be permitted to explore without danger or interference from adults. There is much that we can do in our own homes, but what about when we leave the home? 
The older my daughter Annabelle gets, the more she wants to explore, and the more challenges I am faced with when we’re out and about. She needs opportunities to explore, and opportunities to move about unhindered, but this can be a real challenge in places like the grocery store, where people are moving about without looking down at her level, and could easily collide with and harm her, and where there are many enticing items that are not safe for her to touch. I have implemented a few strategies that allow me both to respect Annabelle, and respect the space that we’re in, but I still find myself feeling as though I’m forcing her to conform to expectations that are not reasonable or realistic for her, because the space we’re in affords me no other choice. I would love to hear your thoughts, and what works for you.
Taking some time to climb the stairs at the mall

before picking up groceries

  • Leave plenty of extra time to get things done, so that it’s easy to move at Annabelle’s pace without becoming stressed or frustrated.
  • Allow time before and after going into a place where Annabelle cannot safely walk about (such as a crowded grocery store), to allow her to walk and explore. I let her wander around on the lawn outside the grocery store for awhile before going inside, for example.
  • Have more than one plan. When we go out shopping, I bring a sling and our shopping cart cover with a favorite object and a snack tucked inside the pocket. When Annabelle tires of riding in the cart, I place her in the sling instead. This respects her need for a change of scenery, and also gives her two separate places from which she can have a bird’s eye view. We don’t use a stroller, as it keeps her from being able to interact with me and others around us. When we’re in a place where she can safely walk, I allow her to do so.
  • Empathize and speak respectfully. Occasionally Annabelle becomes frustrated at points when it’s hard for me to step away and tend to her immediately, such as when my groceries are already half checked and I need to pay for them. When this happens, I simply do my best to acknowledge her needs and let her know that I will meet them just as soon as I can. Her feelings of frustration are valid and she needs to know that she is heard.
I do believe that there is value in taking our children out into the community where they can see new people and places and experience our culture and the world firsthand. It’s also not realistic for many parents, myself included, to avoid taking our children on errands, even if we’d like to. They deserve our consideration, however, both for their emotional needs and for their physical development – no matter where we are. We owe it to them to make space for them wherever and whenever possible.
How do you make space for your children at home? What about outside the home? Do you take your children on errands, or leave them behind?
 
 
 

Melissa started blogging at The New Mommy Files when her firstborn was just three months old, but has found that no matter how familiar the mommy label becomes there is always something new to discover. She shares stories, thoughts, ideas, and inspiration from her journey on facebook and twitter as well as on her blog. In addition to mothering, topics that come up often include Montessori philosophy, elimination communication and cloth diapering, veganism, and finding a rhythm and balance in everyday 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: Embracing Respect

Click to read more!

Today’s though-provoking ‘vintage post’ is from Jessica Bowman, author of

 

 

 

 

 

 

To read more awesome insights from Jessica, you can find her over at  Bohemian Bowmans!

 

~Embracing Respect~

Well, the New Year is around the corner, in case you weren’t aware.  And now that the Christmas sugar buzz is wearing off, I suppose most people, like me, are starting to reflect on 2010 and peer curiously towards 2011.

There are some a lot of circumstances in our life that I have no control over.  This post is about the other things.

The things I can do.

First of all, I’m not a resolution making person.

I never make New Year’s resolutions.  I think the “success” rate of them is abysmal, and I don’t want to be disappointed in myself later for not meeting some silly and entirely too specific goal.  Instead, I just enter every new year with the obvious plans of growing wiser that year, becoming a better parent, wife, friend, and follower of Jesus.

However.

This year, I can feel myself funneling my regeneratory New Years powers in a certain direction.

No, it’s not a weight goal.  Though it probably should be.

I’m not wanting to climb a mountain.

Or learn to make jewelry.

Or visit Disneyworld.

 

It’s a Family Mission Statement whittled down to one. single. word.

Respect.

I’ve been thinking a lot about respect the last couple of months.  In regards to parenting.  In regards to learning.

I began to learn about respect in marriage a few years ago when I read a book about it.  I had never thought very much about respect before then.  I had never realized the importance of it.  The magnitude of it.

But, for some reason, though that book did shift my respect paradigm in relation to my husband, it didn’t leave that little box that I put it in.  It never occurred to me that the concept could spill over into seemingly unrelated areas of life, like education.

But in the last quarter of 2010 I began to think a lot more deeply about education.  About learning.  About parenting.

And the theme I kept coming back to is Respect.

I’ve realized anew this year, that in practice, I don’t respect my children very much.  I hold my authority over their head and play my “because I said so” card too often.

I often times feel like I am living out Colossians 3:21.

“Parents, don’t come down too hard on your children or you’ll crush their spirits.”

I’ve been crushing the spirits of my children.

With my impatience.  With my harshness.  With my disrespect.

So with tears and the simple, unrefined prayer of “help” repeated untold times as I lay in bed at night, I began to grasp a hold of the practice of respect in our day to day.

I’ve increasingly stopped talking to them as if they are children, but instead as if they are grown ups.  Or, more accurately, as if they are people.

As if they are people created by God with talents and purpose that I have no right to squash with my annoyance.

So much of what children do that exasperate us are not “sins” at all.  They are just people with very little experience at life who need to be led by example.

Our example.

Examples in authority are powerful.

It is ever so hard to step outside of the parenting you were parented with.

Or the marital skills that were modeled for you.

And it is ever so illogical to think that if we are harsh and impatient with our children, they will learn to be respectful and loving of their siblings and friends and future families.

So, I’ve been learning to respect my children.  To treat them as people.  To listen.  To explain things they don’t know yet, as if they were another grown up, instead of as if they are inconveniences and ever disdainful children.

And, lo and behold, the more I’ve treated them with respect, the more they have respected me.  And each other.

The more patient I’ve been with them, the more patience they’ve shown each other.  The calmer I’ve been with them, the calmer they’ve been with each other.  The more attention I’ve shown them, the more attention they’ve shown each other.

I realize this isn’t a complicated concept.  And is the second greatest commandment at it’s base.

Treat other people the way you want to be treated.

But sometimes that can feel truly hard to practice and own.

So, that is my purposeful word for my family this year.

And it is already changing us.

 

Click to read more!

Don’t forget to check Jessica out over at Bohemian Bowmans, and take a look at her ebook!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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: Respectful Communication And Self Esteem

Our next guest for ~A September to Remember~ is The Twin Coach .  If you enjoy her post (and you will!) don’t forget to check out her website!

 

I had the good fortune last night to attend a meeting at which Sara Schuelein Perets, the director of our children’s preschool, was speaking. I have written about her and the school in previous posts and am truly a huge fan of hers. The topic of the meeting was using empathetic communication to avoid power struggles with our children. As parents we all want our children to have good self-esteem. But it is not where they go to school or what gadgets they have that gives them this; it is a relationship with their parents that is full of honor, respect and optimism that allows our children to grow up into the adults we envision them becoming. Our language, and the way we choose to communicate with children, reflects who they are and how they see themselves. For me, that is the key to self-esteem; the way we speak to our children is more important than anything we do or even what we actually say. 

 

Understand Your Child’s Needs

So how do we build this honest relationship with our children? According to Sara, it all begins in getting to really know your child. As a preschool director as well as a parent and teacher educator, she knows that in order to do this you must learn to observe your children well. At every moment every child (in fact, every person) has a need. It is your job to figure out what your children’s needs are. Do they need to construct? Do they need to feel powerful? Do they need to figure out how things work? That is, ask yourself “in this moment that my child is (having a meltdown, banging a pot on the table, arguing with his baby sister etc.) what does he need?” Does he need a hug? Is he needing to understand how things work? Does he need to be understood? Is he in physical discomfort? If you are able to step back and consider what need is being met or what need is not being met, you will have a better idea of how to connect as opposed to simply reacting.

 

Learn About Child Development

Sara’s advice for the second step in building your relationship with your children is to really learn about child development. By this she doesn’t simply mean the “flavor of the month” latest in pop psychology, but by beginning with the real theorists such as Eriksson, Piaget and Skinner [note: if these seem too intimidating, or you don’t agree with these theorists’ views, I highly recommend the series “Your One Year Old”, “Your Two Year Old” etc. I have “Your Three Year Old” highlighted in my “Great Parenting Books” section]. When you really understand a child’s stages of development you know what is age appropriate and you can accept what is happening much more easily. There is less anxiety as a parent when your 2 year old is biting if you know that this is actually a developmentally appropriate stage.

 

Reflect The World Back To Them

The next thing discussed was using reflective language. This allows your children to experience things through their own eyes as opposed to coloring it with our value judgments. If we can avoid evaluative statements such as “that’s a beautiful painting!” or “you did such a good job!”, we avoid raising children who become reliant on praise and who look to us to know whether something is of value. Instead, reflective language such as “I see you are painting a picture. Can you tell me about it?” allows them to reflect their place in the world and their experience as they see it. Additionally, as parents we need to reflect emotions that are varied, subtle and which move beyond just “happy” and “sad”: “I see that you are very frustrated/disappointed/lonely now. I’m sorry about that.” Be in the emotion with them as opposed to trying to solve it. Instead of saying, “Don’t cry”, let them know that all emotions are fine, but all behavior is not. Really let your children feel the fullness of their emotions. If you are constantly trying to fix things for them you don’t allow them to feel the full range of emotions and they don’t learn to work through these emotions. I always point out (to women in particular) how frustrating it is for us when we complain about something and someone (usually our husbands) immediately launches into “fix it” mode; sometimes all we want is to be heard, to feel felt, to complain. The theory is the same when it comes to our children. You don’t need to solve everything for them; it is often better to just reflect what they are experiencing (“you’re having a hard time getting that puzzle done”) and then sit back and see what happens next.

Family Mission Statement

 
We’re all somewhat familiar with the idea of a mission statement from college term papers or even resume writing. Sara’s idea in this case is quite similar. Write one or two sentences that capture what you want to achieve as a family or what values you want to instill. In some ways, without this declaration of intent, you are just drifting through your days. So give it some thought; what things do you believe in? What do you stand for? What rituals have meaning for you? An example of a family mission statement is “To treat each other with love, respect and honesty and to always listen to each other”. Once you have your statement, frame it, hang it up, put it on the door of your children’s bedroom; basically, show that this statement has some value and importance to your family. And don’t forget, you’ll want to revisit your statement from time to time, as your children get older to see if it needs updating.

 

Respectful Communication

 
Sara spoke about a few key ingredients for diffusing power struggles and building self-esteem, in particular “I” messages and tone of voice. Imagine that your child has thrown all of his toy trains around the room and is refusing to clean them up. You might feel like saying: “You are making such a mess! You never clean up and you’re making me so frustrated!”. The problem is, this type of language, and the tone in which you would probably would say it, succeeds in making your child feel small, weak, powerless and very defensive. This is a perfect scenario for a power struggle. If, however, you use a calm tone of voice and say something like: “I’m really frustrated. It looks like there are too many toys here; maybe we need to get rid of some” you are instead setting up a situation in which they have some power and they feel respected. When they feel this way they want to cooperate. When your children do what you ask them to do, don’t use “good job” as a way to praise or say thank you. Instead, say something along the lines of “I’m so happy that you remembered to clean up; that makes me so happy”. This way of speaking shows that you appreciate them. Additionally, it is specific enough so that they understand what they did to make you happy, thus giving them a clear idea of what they can do the next time.

 

Empathetic Listening and Being a “Big Boy/Girl”

 
The last part of the evening Sara spent discussing these last two concepts. When we set boundaries and our children experience natural consequences, they will probably be upset, angry, sad etc. We must be empathetic about these emotions. By saying to them “Don’t cry, everything will be OK,” we are telling them that their feelings are not ok to have. You want to comfort your children but not coddle them. Additionally, teach them to cope and sort out how they feel. For example, if your child were to fall down you could say, “Did you fall down? That must have hurt! Let me make it all better” which is a very natural reaction for most parents. However, you might want to draw out their experience by letting them tell you what happened and, as described above when I was talking about reflective listening, don’t add your judgments into it. Perhaps it didn’t hurt. Maybe they were startled or embarrassed or scared. Let them figure out their emotions and then, perhaps, offer an empathetic “I’m sorry you fell. That must have been scary (or whatever the emotion was). What would you like to do now?” 

As for the “big boy”, “big girl” comments which many parents use as praise or a way to encourage cooperation, Sara’s belief is that this can actually backfire. For most children the world feels really huge and, in comparison, children can feel awfully small. Constantly referring to your children as “big” when they don’t feel that way can result in the child acting out in an effort to feel powerful. Additionally, when you label a child “big”, she then feels that she has to live up to that label which can cause regression in some instances. For example, Sara brought up the “big girl bed”. When your child moves from the crib to a big bed it can be really scary for them. If it is loaded with all sorts of “encouragement” about how the child is now a “big girl” and gets to have this wonderful new thing because of it, the child may think along the lines of “if I do something where I’m not acting big, will I have my bed taken away?”. Better to just call it a new bed or a big bed but not label your child as “big”. Another example Sara used was in reference to potty use. “Look at Johnny! He’s such a big boy, he goes pee pee in the potty!” and the there’s Sam who has felt like a big boy up until now but begins to wonder if maybe he’s not big after all because he’s not quite ready to use the potty. Better to just say Johnny must feel so proud of himself for peeing in the potty and Sam will go too, when he’s ready.

And so the evening ended. I think we could have gone on talking to Sara for hours more. I am a compulsive note taker when I go to these types of workshops. In part because I anticipate being able to write a post which I hope will interest and enlighten those who read my blog; I’ve also noticed that in taking these classes, attending these lectures and writing these posts I am able to take information I am somewhat familiar with already and make it fresh in my mind once again. Thus, today I noticed myself being much more patient and more in tune with our children. I think, for me, the act of writing about parenting keeps me in the moment and in the best frame of mind to be the kind of parent I want to be. Thanks for indulging me!

 

If you are interested in private parenting consultations with Sara Schuelein Perets or to put together a group workshop with her (6 weeks, 10 person maximum), she can be reached at sara@thesunshineshack.com. We feel truly blessed to have found a school run by such a remarkable woman. If you have the chance to work on your parenting skills with her one on one or in an intimate group, I highly recommend it.

Thanks for reading!
-Gina, The Twin Coach

 

 

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: I am a good mom, and other reasons labels don’t work…

Today’s awesome guest for ~A September to Remember~ is NurturingtheNaturalMama!
 
 
 
I am a good mom. 
 
I love my kids, and they love me. 
They look to me for guidance, respect, affection, and compassion. 
I hope they always feel they get that. 
I babywear, 
I breastfeed, 
I buy mostly organic, 
I do my best to find alternatives to most disposable items, 
I cloth diaper, 
My family eats a majority of whole foods, 
We barter,
We recycle, 
We compost,
We LOVE hand me downs and other thrifty finds, 
We are avid craigslist-ers, 
We heat our home with biofuel
We keep our heat down, 
We run our washer on cold, 
and we air dry when possible (we do live in Maine, mind you)…
 
 
…That being said, 
I have also bottle-fed and formula-fed both my babies in addition to nursing, 
my kids also occasionally eat McDonalds and Dunkin Donuts, 
we eat meat, 
my kids only co-slept until they were both about 4 months old, 
my son IS circumcised, 
we do not wear organic clothing, 
I buy sheets and other necessecities at stores by supporting stores like WalMart and Target, 
my kids watch TV,
my husband drinks water out of disposable water bottles (even though it makes me shudder), 
we run the dishwasher,
we take hot showers, 
we probably let the water run to long,
I use disposable pads and tampons, 
and regular baby wipes….
THERE. So if all this means I’m not a ‘natural parent’, or an ‘attached parent’, then I am ok with that. 
Call me a follow-my-child’s-lead-semi-organic-semi-natural-loving mommy.
 
 
Or you can just call me mommy, that’s the best label I’ve ever had anyways 🙂 
 
You can find more awesome posts from Theresa over at NurturingtheNaturalMama!

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.

(more…)

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

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

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: 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.


Mommy Wishes

When Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources asked for everyone to post about their * WISHES*, I jumped at the chance, thinking of how it would be easy to come up with a *WISH* to write about. It turns out that I was wrong…it turns out that I have WAY too many *WISHES* I would like to see come true. I *WISH* I could adopt all of the kids with no parents or bad parents; I *WISH* I could bring peace to the world; I *WISH* I could cure cancer…

So, I decided to narrow it down to the one *WISH* I have that I am actually doing something about and hope to help be one of the many that are also making it happen. I *WISH* for ALL moms the world over to be “Informed”, to know their options for themselves and their kids. I *WISH* for all moms to take charge of their pregnancies, their births and their mothering. I want moms to be educated and strong. To know all the options and get to choose for themselves the best road to take. To never be at the mercy of another’s knowledge. There is a saying…I forget how it goes exactly, but, it’s something like, How can I make a choice if I didn’t know the options? Well, my *WISH* is for ALL women to know the options, that way they can make an informed decision and not rely on “experts”, family, friends, or partners to do their deciding for them. Instead of relying on what society tells them to do, they can take a stand and follow their heart and nature. 
     
Maybe my *WISH* seems “out there” or silly or impossible, but, I know that I am not the only person that feels this way. I see proof everyday of others that share this *WISH*. From this blog to all of the other parenting and mom and dad blogs I see…we all belong to this wish. Hopefully in the future, we won’t be needed for this and will move on to even bigger dreams and *WISHES*. Maybe this *WISH* can happen. 
     
 
So, think about what your *WISHES* are and see if there are any you could help bring to fruition. Maybe today is a day you *WISH* could come true. Maybe today is a day you could help another with their *WISH*. 
 
Guest post by Leslie LeCompte/The Mom: Informed~You can follow Leslie on facebook at  The Mom: Informed or her blog at The Mom: Informed .

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.


“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.


Categories

Pinners Welcome