Award-winning author, L.R.Knost

Posts tagged “positive parenting

10 Steps to Surviving the First Three Months with a Newborn

[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 now available on Amazon and through other major retailers.]

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So, your precious baby has finally arrived! After a perfect pregnancy and blissful labor and delivery, you’ve come home (in your pre-pregnancy clothes, of course!) with your beautiful baby, ready to start life as the perfect parents of a perfect child. Yeah, right! Actually, after a pregnancy in which you threw up more times than you can count and yet still managed to gain an embarrassing amount of weight, and where your feet swelled to unrecognizable lumps at the bottom of your legs, you finally suffered through a hideously long, painful labor and delivery only to arrive home (in your largest maternity outfit which barely fit!) with a screaming, vomiting, miniature human being who can’t tell you why he’s upset and who poops what can only be described as TAR! What are you going to do now?!?

First, call your mommy! No, really, if you have a mom or a grandma or an aunt or a good friend who has any experience with babies, ask for help! As long as there have been babies being born, there have been women gathering around to help new mamas through those first intense weeks with a newborn. Experienced helpers can make all the difference in how well you survive the sleepless nights, crazy hormones, and vast uncertainties that come with being a new parent.

Beware, though, the experienced helpers who are a bit too helpful and try to push you out of the way even to the extent of trying to guilt you into leaving your baby behind to go on a walk or a date-night ‘for the good of your marriage.’ In the first place, having to leave your baby behind to preserve your marriage isn’t a great precedent to set with your husband. You two are in this together and setting a precedent of family first is a good idea! And secondly, the whole point of having help is not only for you to recover, but also so you can become experienced yourself in taking care of your baby. And on that note…

Second, while accepting help is vital, make sure that everyone knows that this baby is YOUR baby and YOU will decide what is best for you and your child. Listen to all the advice; take what makes sense to you; and chuck the rest. Let your helpers do the housework and the cooking and the errands while you take care of and get to know the new little addition to your family. If your instincts tell you to hold your baby, even while she sleeps, then hold your baby even while she sleeps! If your instincts tell you to nurse your crying baby even though you just nursed fifteen minutes ago, then nurse your baby!  God gave you those instincts for a reason, so don’t ignore them!

Third, I know we’ve all heard the ‘sleep when your baby is sleeping’ advice. Listen to that advice! Short little naps may not seem all that helpful in theory, but they can be lifesavers when getting used to the rigors of new parenthood. And keep reminding yourself that it will get better, because it will!

Fourth, whether you’ve chosen to breastfeed or bottle feed, expect your little one to eat erratically right at first. Remember, babies nutritional needs were met with a constancy and lack of effort in utero that can’t be fully replicated outside the womb. Their tummies are only about the size of a walnut in the first days, so they can’t eat enough at a feeding to last them more than two or three hours at most, and often far less! Also, if you’re breastfeeding it’s common to worry that your baby isn’t getting enough milk, but if you keep in mind how itty bitty their little tummies are, you’ll realize that it doesn’t take much to fill them up. Things to consider with breastfeeding are getting a good latch and establishing your supply, among others, and it’s often helpful to consult a lactation specialist for guidance. There are excellent resources available in most communities through your local hospital as well as online resources such as La Leche League and Kellymom.com.

Fifth, while bathing baby may be fun, it really isn’t necessary and might be rather traumatic for them. ‘Topping and tailing’ is a term that means taking a warm, wet cloth (no soap) and gently washing their eyes (inner corner to outer corner to avoid infection), face, ears, head, and neck, and then washing their bottom, being careful to clean out all the little cracks and crevices. Follow that with cord care (gently cleaning the cord area with a cotton swab moistened with a bit of alcohol or just water), and you’re done!

babywearing daddy 4Sixth, birth is a huge transition for a baby. From a warm, dark, weightless environment where all their needs are met, sounds are muffled, and mama’s heartbeat lulls them to sleep, they are abruptly ejected into a cold, loud, bright world where they experience hunger and discomfort and loneliness and fear for the first time. You can help your little one cope by easing the transition for him. Keeping the lights a bit dimmer and the sounds a bit more muted right at first is helpful in welcoming your baby to your world. Also, it’s helpful to wear your baby in those first transitional weeks (and often far longer when you discover how convenient it is!). Babywearing is a term that refers to using a baby carrier, wrap, or sling to keep your baby close to you where he can hear your heartbeat and feel your warmth and closeness in an approximation of your womb. All of these things will help to reduce your baby’s stress as he acclimates to his new environment, and a less stressed baby tends to result in a less stressed mommy. And, don’t forget daddy! Babywearing is a wonderful way for daddies to bond with their babies. Studies have shown that close physical contact between fathers and their infants causes a hormonal response similar to when a mother gives birth, increasing the nurturing response naturally and paving the way for a healthy attachment and strong parent/child relationship.

Seventh, there is a big divide in parenting circles between the ‘co-sleepers’ and the ‘crib-sleepers’ so be aware that whichever choice you make will probably be challenged by more than one of your friends or relatives or even complete strangers who seem to have no issues with giving advice to someone they don’t know! Bottom line, if you choose to co-sleep, check here for ‘safe co-sleeping’ options, and then follow your instincts! If you choose to put your little one in a crib or bassinet, do yourself a favor and put it next to your bed to reduce your travel time in the middle of the night. You’ll thank me, I promise!

Eighth, your baby is completely and totally helpless in every way. Her main mode of communication is crying. Medical experts agree that it isn’t possible to spoil a newborn, and you are just at the beginning stages of building a trust relationship, so respond promptly to your little one’s cries! Your immediate response to your baby’s needs will help her begin to learn that she can count on you when she needs you and that she doesn’t have to ‘fight’ for your attention. Babies left to cry-it-out often do sleep through the night sooner than babies whose needs are responded to because they have learned to give up on their needs being met. But that ‘gain’ of sleeping through the night is accomplished at the ‘loss’ of trust, and the long-term consequences  of a child giving up on her parents simply aren’t worth it.

Ninth, baby yourself! Whether you’ve had a c-section or a vaginal birth, your body has been through the wringer; your hormones are all over the place; and your lack of sleep is not helping matters! Have someone make you a ‘survival basket’ with water bottles, granola bars, minty gum, hand sanitizer, diapers, baby wipes, burp rags, and, most importantly, chocolate! It needs to be small and light enough for you to take from room to room with you while carrying your baby. Also, have someone make a comfy area in your living room for you to nurse (with your survival basket within reach!) and a changing area so you don’t have to go back and forth to the bedroom or nursery throughout the day. Take showers when you can. Accept casseroles and other offerings of meals from friends and church members and co-workers. And, if you don’t have help for the housework, just do the bare minimum so you can rest and recover and focus on getting to know your precious new baby!

Tenth, baby your marriage! This is a huge, huge, huge transition for you and your husband, so both of you apologize to each other in advance for any temper tantrums, thoughtless words, or unmet needs that might (will!) occur in the foreseeable future. You are going from ‘the two of us’ to ‘we three’ and, just as with anything else, change isn’t easy. Husbands, it’s not about you right now, period. Yes, you have your own issues to deal with in becoming a parent for the first time, but you need to put that aside for the first weeks and concentrate on your wife and child. Your wife isn’t just having to deal with becoming a mommy, but her body has been through an incredible transition during the previous nine months followed by the trauma of labor and delivery followed by crashing hormones, the trials of learning to breastfeed (or deal with engorgement issues if choosing to bottle feed), and the exhaustion of dealing with a newborn’s erratic sleep patterns. If she’s also had a c-section, you can add major abdominal surgery to that list! So, husbands, put your own issues aside and baby your wife and baby for the time being! Wives, a little verbal acknowledgement goes a long way with husbands, so try to muster up enough energy to tell your husband that you appreciate him and understand that he is trying to figure out this new life just like you are, and assure him that eventually you will be you again! (Yes, you will. It just takes time!)

Final thoughts: One of the things that has kept me going through giving birth to six children (and losing several others along the way) is the assurance that ‘this too shall pass.’ As with all changes in life, it takes time to adjust, but reminding yourself that this ‘will pass,’ and you will adjust, and life will go on is very, very helpful! Also, take time to enjoy the little things–the sweet smell of your newborn’s tiny head, the soft sounds of his breathing as he sleeps, the sight of your spouse staring into your beautiful baby’s eyes–because too soon this time will pass and these precious moments will become mere memories. Congratulations and God bless!

quote just wanted you to know 5Related links:

Breastfeeding: Manna from God

Love in the Time of Cosleeping

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

300+ Nicknames for Your Babykins…Doodlebug…Snugglebunny…

200 Ways to Bless Your Children with a Happy Childhood

Mona Lisa Smiles

Babywearing Basics Resource Guide

Breastfeeding, Babywearing, and Bouncing Back into Shape after Baby

Practical, Gentle, Effective Discipline

Four Ways Attachment Parenting Can Reduce the Risk of SIDS

The Science of Sleep: Newborns

Where Did You Learn Love, Child?

 

quote where did you learn love feet 2

 

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.


Babies Do Not Manipulate-They Communicate

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

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black baby cryingOn a recent trip to the park, I overheard a parent ranting and raving about a little one “being a brat and always pitching fits.” It took me less than two seconds of looking at the child to realize his mother had put him down on hot asphalt without shoes on, and his ‘fit’ was actually cries of pain as he danced around trying to keep his poor little feet off the asphalt while trying to push past his mommy to get back into the car. In a few years this mother will wonder why her ten-year-old is always so sullen and silent.

Later the same day in Wal-mart, a three-year-old asked her mommy what plastic wrap was for. The mother rolled her eyes and snapped, “For wrapping food in plastic, duh.” A few years from now, this mother will confess to a friend that she has no idea why her nine-year-old is so mouthy and rude.

Minutes later, a two-year-old riding past me in a shopping cart pointed at a toy and babbled in her cute baby language, looking at her daddy with a delighted smile. Her father ignored her first few attempts to get his attention, then finally barked, “Shut up!” without ever looking at her. In a few years this father will complain to his co-workers that his teenaged daughter never talks to him.

Communication in my son’s Tae Kwon Do classes is called, “The link between the world and me.” In the parent/child relationship, communication is entirely…hear this…entirely the responsibility of the parent. From the moment a child enters the world, they are trying to communicate. Crying, grunting, making eye contact, mirroring expressions, all of these things are the instinctive tools built into infants to reach out into a brand new world and make contact. They can do no more. It is entirely up to the parent to make the connection, to respond, to build those all-important ‘lines of communication’ that will be so vitally important to parents in later childhood. Communication is not something that just happens. It is not something that begins when a child becomes verbal, and it’s not a product of a child’s advancing maturity. Communication is a process, a relational building block, a result of intentional and responsive parenting.

quote babies cannot manipulate 2Crying is often mischaracterized as manipulation, and adults are certainly capable of using it that way. But to project such motivations on a baby is to grant them a level of skill and control far, far beyond their capabilities, and that is a potentially disastrous mistake. A parent’s perception of the motivation behind their child’s behavior is often the single most powerful determinant of the parent’s response. And the parental response or lack of response to a nonverbal child’s cries either builds or damages their communication and connection. There is no in between, no neutral.

Babies cannot and do not manipulate. They communicate. Listen. Respond. You aren’t being manipulated. You are being a parent.

And hear this well, parents, your relationship with your teenager is being established now, while your child is still a toddler. Your discipline issues with your nine-year-old are being minimized or intensified right now, while he is reaching out to you in infancy. Preschooler’s tantrums are being moderated or exacerbated at this moment by your response or lack of response to your baby’s cries.

And the responsibility for building communication and connection with your child doesn’t end when your child becomes verbal. There is a reason children aren’t classified as adults until they are, in fact, adults. They simply do not have the judgment, experience, or maturity of an adult. Parents, you are the center of your child’s world for many years, and they will model themselves after the example you set.

If you listen to them, they will learn to listen. If you are rude to them, they will learn to be rude. If you treat them with respect, they will learn to be respectful. If you are angry, demanding, and harsh with them, they will learn to be angry, demanding, and harsh.

You decide every day by your parenting choices what kind of an adult you are going to raise. So live out how you want your children to turn out. That is the heart and soul of gentle, effective parenting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Related posts:

12 Steps to Gentle Parenting

The Taming of the Tantrum: A Toddler’s Perspective

When Children Act Out ~ Reflecting Our Emotions

Backtalk is Communication…LISTEN

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

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.


Jesus, The Gentle Parent

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

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Jesus, the Gentle Parent

“…a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord,
but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake,
but the Lord was not in the earthquake.
After the earthquake came a fire,
but the Lord was not in the fire.
And after the fire came
a gentle whisper…”
1 Kings 19:11-12

God has gone to great lengths, superhuman lengths even, to reach out to his wandering children and call them home, back into the safe shelter of his arms, into the warm welcome of his presence, into the tender delight of his heart.

Throughout the Old Testament, he spoke through prophets, dreams, angels, and even a bush! He revealed his character in his ‘commandments’ (in the original Hebrew text ‘tsawah’ which literally means ‘directions’ or ‘guides’) and in the names he called himself and in his interactions with that lovely, stubborn, chosen nation, Israel.

And, finally, in the New Testament, he just stuck his feet right in the dirt and somehow stuffed his infinite Being Jesus feet sandalsinto the skin of a human.

God with us.

GOD. With. Us!

Why in Heaven’s name would he do that? Well, that’s been the subject of dusty tomes and esoteric debates for centuries, but in truth the answer is very simple: God is a father, a daddy who wants to connect with and build a relationship with his children.

In the Old Testament God revealed himself as a father who is Creator, Provider, and Protector. He showed himself to be an involved father, interested in every detail of his children’s lives, from what they ate to how and where and when they worshiped him. And he revealed his purity, his incomprehensible holiness that kept his beloved children hopelessly separated from him and helpless to change that fact. All the rules for cleansing, all the rituals, and all the formulas, only served to highlight the pitiful fallen state of God’s beloved children.

Then, in the New Testament, God stepped in. He stepped out of Heaven, and he stepped into the muck and mire of life among his precious children.

And that ritualistic, external, temporal cleansing? It became relational, internal, and eternal.

Stones once thrown in righteous judgment were laid down in humble mercy. Punishment was replaced with grace as Righteousness Himself stood between sinful man and his dire fate.

And so we have Jesus, God Himself with us in the flesh, God’s heart in a very literal sense laid bare for all the world to see, the perfect Parent to model ourselves after.

We have the Father…not a father, but THE Father…to look to for guidance about how to parent our children.

So, let’s get practical. What does God’s parenting look like, and how can we model ourselves after him?

Well, Jesus raised twelve children, so let’s take a look at how he did it!

Twelve of God’s children, all with different personalities, backgrounds, and talents, became Jesus’ disciples. The word disciple is the root word in discipline, so in a completely literal sense to discipline our children means to disciple them.

So, what characteristics defined Jesus’ discipleship? How did he treat his disciples? Was he harsh? Did he yell? Did he punish them? Clearly, he had the authority to! But since he came to free us from punishment, it really wouldn’t make sense for him to start meting it out, would it?

Was he distant, unresponsive to their needs? Did he make demands, insist on instant obedience, and toss around kingly commands?

No, no, no, and no! Jesus treated his disciples gently, tenderly. He listened. He responded to their needs, answered their questions, spoke their language. Jesus encouraged and guided and taught his disciples.

He drew them close to himself, lived with them, ate with them, travelled with them. Jesus didn’t just say he loved his disciples. He didn’t simply feel love for his disciples. Jesus lived love for his disciples. And he lived that love daily, mercifully, sacrificially.

So, what are the characteristics that defined Jesus’ discipleship?

Gentle. Tender. Responsive. Available.

Listening. Encouraging. Teaching. Guiding.

God, himself, intimately and empathetically connecting with his children.

That is perfect parenting.

supermomI, however, am NOT a perfect parent. In the time it’s taken me to write this so far, I’ve failed at pretty much every single one of those perfect parenting qualities. I only say that to point out that we aren’t shooting for perfection here.

If perfection were possible, the Cross wouldn’t have been necessary. (Galatians 2:21)

I have failed and will fail again as a parent. But even my failures have great value because they lead me back to the Cross, time and time again.

My failures remind me to turn to my perfect Parent, God, and trust him with my children. And my failures offer me the opportunity to be transparent with my children, to ask for forgiveness, to show them it’s okay to be human and to make mistakes.

In short, my imperfections are perfect for demonstrating God’s unconditional love.

So, what are some ways we can reflect Christ-like qualities in our never-perfect-but-best-effort parenting?

  1. Build your relationship. Everything, absolutely everything, in raising children is dependent upon a secure parent/child relationship, and the foundation is trust. We talk all the time in Christian circles about needing to trust God more. Why? What’s so important about trust? Trust is the secure knowledge that we will be cared for, that the person we are dependent on is who they say they are and will do what they say they will do. Without trust, there is no relationship. You build trust in your children starting from day one by responding faithfully and quickly to their needs, day or night, even if their ‘need’ is simply reassurance that you’re there.
  2. Be there in the moment. This isn’t about quality time or quantity time. This is about actually being with your children when you’re with them. I’m talking about muting the television and making sustained eye contact all the way through the story of how they had the piece of string first and how it was taken by a sibling when they only set it down for a minute and…well, you get the picture. Jesus showed he cared by listening and responding to what was important and relevant to his children. Even when he was sound asleep on the boat, when his children cried out to him in fear, Jesus responded to their needs, soothed his children, and calmed the storm.
  3. Encourage, don’t discourage. Jesus built up his disciples, giving positive directions, allowing time and opportunity for them to try, helping when they needed it, and forgiving them when they failed. Never, not once, did he lash out at his disciples in anger. He taught them gently and encouragingly, often in stories that related to their daily lives, and he was always available to discuss or clarify or answer questions.
  4. Practice what you preach. This is foundational, right along with trust. If you don’t live out how you want your children to turn out, you can be pretty much guaranteed they’ll go an entirely different way. Listen to your children if you want them to learn to listen. Respect your children if you want them to learn respect. Model compassion, kindness, honesty, forgiveness, and a grateful spirit if you want your children to grow into adults with those character traits. Jesus certainly lived out every one of those qualities for his children.
  5. Don’t make excuses. If you fail (and you will) apologize. Nothing penetrates hurt more deeply and with more healing power than an honest, open apology.
  6. Give grace. The unconditional love of God is beyond human comprehension. Even ‘veteran’ Christians resort to trying to earn God’s grace when they’ve already been given it freely. We all fall into that trap, time and time again, because we just can’t wrap our human brains around something as awesomely simple as unconditional love. We think it MUST be more complicated, and we end up complicating it by trying to pay for something that is free! So, help your children while they’re looking to you, their earthly parent, for an example of how their Heavenly Parent operates. Give them grace. Guide them gently. Forgive them when they fall, and get down on their level to help them back up again.
  7. Enjoy your blessings. Your children are a reward, a blessing, a gift straight from the heart of your Father to you, his precious child. He wants you to feel what he feels, to experience him in a unique way through parenting your children in the way that he parents you. He wants you to delight in your children so you’ll understand how he delights in you. He wants you to feel the depth of concern he feels when you stray into danger, the heights of joy he feels when you run trustingly into his arms, the pangs of compassion he feels when you are hurting or scared. Take the time to enjoy your children, and you will find yourself closer to the heart of your Father than you can possibly imagine.

“Whoever receives one of these little children in My name receives Me;
and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him who sent Me.”

Mark 9:37

Related links:

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

Spare the Rod: The Heart of the Matter

Did Jesus Have a Temper Tantrum?

Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting

Tattered Tapestries: Weaving Trust Through the Chaos

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

Where Did You Learn Love, Child?

Practical, Gentle, Effective Discipline

12 Steps to Gentle Parenting

 

Award-winnning author, L.R.Knost, is the founder and director of the children's rights advocacy and family consulting group, Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources, and Editor-in-Chief of Holistic Parenting Magazine. Books by L.R.Knost include Whispers Through Time: Communication Through the Ages and Stages of Childhood ; Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages ; The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline ; and Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting the first four books in the Little Hearts Handbook gentle parenting series, and children’s picture books Petey’s Listening Ears and the soon-to-be-released Grumpykins series.


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.]

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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.


College for Struggling Learners

 

by Lee Binz
The HomeScholar

Learning to Compensate

 

Dealing with learning challenges is difficult, but in high school, it can become seriously concerning. You don’t have to be afraid! With the great student to teacher ratio of homeschooling, and the love for your child, you have what it takes!

Debbie was at her lowest point when she realized her 12 year old son, Dan, could not read or write in his Sunday school classes. She had to carefully shield him from the judgment of others. Her homeschool friends were very understanding, but she worked hard to keep him away from situations where he would have to read aloud. She was distraught. Again and again they changed curriculum, hoping each time that a new curriculum would change everything. It seemed like nothing would ever work. He struggled with learning all the way through high school. She never had him officially tested, because she didn’t want him to be labeled as an adult. Dan has achieved wonderful things since graduating homeschool!

When Dan turned 18, he started working at Starbucks. An excellent worker, he received nothing but positive feedback which motivated him to continue his education. He decided to attend college. He didn’t score well on the SAT, so they did not report his scores to colleges. He entered college “through the back door” his mother said, by attending community college first. His excellent work ethic and love of learning helped him thrive where others felt adrift. Dan transferred from community college to the university with a 3.89 grade point average. There were 300 applicants to the business school this year, and Dan was one of only 100 admitted. Debbie says “He finally realizes he can do it!”

Debbie has some great advice for parents. Don’t push them before they are ready. She was glad she kept him home, so that he could avoid the negative feedback from a public school setting. She read aloud to Dan constantly – even his high school textbooks, when necessary. She used verbal assessments in all his classes, and didn’t introduce essay writing until much later.

She recommends books by Dr. Raymond Moore, including Better Late Than Early: A New Approach to Your Child’s Education and Grace Llewellyn, The Teenage Liberation Handbook: How to Quit School and Get a Real Life and Education and Cynthia Tobias, The Way They Learn. She says, “You feel like you’re failing – like you didn’t do something right.” Don’t be deterred, though. It takes a lot of one-on-one time, but that’s the benefit of homeschooling. Read to them their textbooks, and the classics. Even in college they can be allowed help with reading.

In her lowest moments, Debbie would remember her grandfather. He also could not read. His wife would read blueprints to him each night so he would be prepared for work the next day. Still, he grandfather was a successful businessman. He was able to compensate. Her son Dan is able to compensate now.

Her biggest surprise was realizing that Dan wanted a college degree. She had never thought he would go to college, and only vaguely considered a technical school. But when he worked at Starbucks, he identified his gift in business. So her additional advice is the same as mine. She says, “Even if you think they won’t go to college, they may – so always be prepared!”

Dan is so thankful he was homeschooled. He has said he would never put his own children in public school. He knows that if he had been in public school, he wouldn’t be where he is today. Nurturing is critical, and homeschooling can provide that best. Debbie says, “I remember the hopelessness. They CAN succeed and excel – just give them the tools.”

Learning to Teach

JoAnn homeschooled her two daughters, feeling extremely unsure of her abilities – until her girls were officially diagnosed with learning disabilities. Once she had the diagnosis, she realized that homeschooling was the best option. She didn’t want her girls ostracized and placed in a “special” group that would have a negative effect on their socialization skills. Even her mother became increasingly supportive of homeschooling after the diagnosis was made.

Her two girls could not read until half-way through 5th grade. They struggled in reading, writing, and spelling. Joann took her children to The Slingerland Institute. She recommends two pamphlets that really helped her cope. One is Why Wait for a Criterion of Failure. The other is An Adaptation of the Orton-Gillingham Approach for Classroom Teaching of Reading, both by Beth Slingerland.

JoAnn’s advice is “Never despair! The timing of brain growth is on your CHILD’S timetable, not yours. Accept it, because you certainly can’t change it!” She wishes she would have dropped more academic subjects when they were in elementary school. Still, she is so glad she homeschooled. “Homeschooling is better for dyslexic kids for the positive encouragement and socialization.”

She taught with multi-sensory input and multi-sensory output. In every subject she worked to provide lessons with audio, visual, AND tactile input. She would supplement courses with drama, hands on projects, and verbal assessments all the way through school. Her daughters were especially helped by the use of color. Her daughter still color codes her college lecture notes to improve her retention.

JoAnn’s older daughter went directly into the University and majored in biology with a minor in chemistry. She has recently graduated with an advanced degree as a Veterinarian Technician. Her younger daughter also went directly into the University. She will graduate with a degree in interior design, and has already done some design work for Bill Gates as a college intern. Both girls were very successful in college.

Learning to Cope

Jill is hesitant about labeling her daughter in any way, but knew she faced some unique challenges even though she wasn’t formally diagnosed. Her daughter recently became a National Merit Scholarship Semi-Finalist. Here is what Jill says about her daughter’s struggles: “She worked hard and I’m very proud of her. She is the daughter that would fit into the statement ‘I could never homeschool my child because….’ She is very active, intense, dramatic and a joy to be around. I am convinced that if she were in the public school we would have been ‘encouraged’ to put her on medications (the standard line around here, when she is getting jumpy is to ‘run up to the mailbox and get the mail’ which is a mile round trip). She has forced me to think outside of the box and, well, it is an adventure I’m sorry to see come to a close.”

Like the other mothers, Jill was able to find a way to harness strengths and weaknesses, and teach her child to compensate for difficulties. With a parent’s close attention, unique coping mechanisms can develop. A homeschooling parent can see small successes, and learn to shape and mold new ways of coping with each challenge.

Joelle is right in the thick of things, with her young child. I asked her for some advice for others, and she emphasizes that coping comes from faith. This is Joelle’s experienced advice.

“A learning ‘disability’ (a word I hesitate to use for anyone who doesn’t have a severe condition) isn’t something you can just make go away if you have a clinic and a handful of web links. A learning challenge is best addressed with being sensitive to learning style and interests, which, as you know, vary from child to child. A learning challenge is also a mindset, a lifestyle, and sore knees from prayer. A learning challenge means you’ll come face to face with your pessimism and lack of faith through tears of mourning for the child you don’t have. But lest anyone abandon hope, a learning challenge also means seeing God answer those tears by turning them to tears of what is, hands down, absolutely the most incredible joy when you see the triumphs. You will see those victories sooner or later on Earth or in Heaven.

A learning challenge leads to personal growth in the siblings of the challenged child. A learning challenge is a worldview, a lens, a perspective. It’s the fierce mother-bear love you have when you whisper to your child, ‘Don’t listen to the naysayers. I love you no matter what, and I’m still your teacher.’ I can’t put this in a box. I can offer a short list, but there’s only one resource on here that I can guarantee hands down will help everyone. The rest can be labeled ‘of interest.’

1) The Bible. Children are people – in fact, they are the most human of people. There are lots of passages on how we are to deal with our fellow humans. This is the only resource on this list that I can guarantee *will* help.
2) Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv – read this concurrently with #3
3) Smart Moves: Why Learning Is Not All in Your Head by Carla Hannaford – which will probably lead to curiosity about #4
4) Brain Gym or similar therapies offered by #5 and #6
5) The National Association for Child Development ( )
6) The Developmental Movement Center, Seattle (206) 525-8038″

 

Learning to Grow

Jay Smith of Linfield College says this, “The advice that I’d give to your students, is to simply be proactive in their college search process. The students shouldn’t be afraid to ask colleges if they offer support for students with learning disabilities, and what that support entails. We have high expectations of our students, but we also understand that we all learn in different ways.”

 Some colleges have an extremely supportive environment for children with learning disabilities. Redeemer Pacific College is a small Catholic college in Langley, BC, affiliated with Canada’s premier Christian liberal arts university, Trinity Western University. Admissions Coordinator Jennifer Friesen says, “All RPC students are able to use the services for students with disabilities offered through TWU, including access to the Learning Resource Centre and starting off their university career at TWU’s Freshman Academy.” The Learning Resource Centre offers services such as note taking, accommodated examinations and providing material in alternate formats.

Freshman Academy is a program for students who have not met the requirements for admission into university due to a low grade point average or missing academic courses. Friesen says, “Freshman Academy allows students to go through their classes in a small cohort with the support of their professors, a faculty Learning Coach, and their classmates. Once students have completed Freshman Academy they are able to directly enter their second year of university at Redeemer Pacific and Trinity Western.”

When I go to college fairs, I notice how many colleges truly specialize in students with learning struggles. They WANT your students, and they are ready, willing, and able to teach them.

Learning to Succeed

You can request accommodation for the SAT and ACT if necessary, which does require a doctor’s diagnosis. If you don’t want accommodation for the college admission tests, a diagnosis may not be necessary. You may feel comfortable with your homeschooling methods, and don’t need additional help or direction. Perhaps a specialist will not impact what you’re doing, and a diagnosis may not change anything or be worth your while. On the other hand, if you are completely baffled about how to teach your student in a way that makes sense, and the input of a specialist will help you and change what you are doing, then evaluation may be useful.

If you think a diagnosis will help YOU, then I think it will help your child. In that situation, testing would be worthwhile, even if it’s inconvenient. If testing will not help you, then it may not be necessary.

Keep in mind your long-terms goals. You want your child to grow up and have their own home. You want them to succeed and thrive in anything they choose. There are colleges that specialize in learning disabilities. There IS a great college out there for him, and they will understand and accept any learning issues without hesitation. Search and you will find just the right college.

Copyright Lee Binz, 2011
Lee Binz, The HomeScholar, specializes in helping parents homeschool high school. Get Lee’s 5-part mini-course, “The 5 Biggest Mistakes Parents Make Homeschooling High School.” You can find her at http://www.TheHomeScholar.com. Sign up for our newsletter, The HomeScholar Record: http://www.thehomescholar.com/homeschool-newsletter.php

 

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?

 

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Award-winnning author, L.R.Knost, is the founder and director of the children's rights advocacy and family consulting group, Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources, and Editor-in-Chief of Holistic Parenting Magazine. Books by L.R.Knost include Whispers Through Time: Communication Through the Ages and Stages of Childhood ; Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages ; The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline ; and Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting the first four books in the Little Hearts Handbook gentle parenting series, and children’s picture books Petey’s Listening Ears and the soon-to-be-released Grumpykins series.


A September to Remember~Unschooling and Unparenting: What’s In a Label

Jen from The Path Less Taken is our next ~September to Remember~ guest!

 

~~Unschooling and Unparenting: What’s In a Label~~

 

A few years ago, there was a piece on one of those nightly new programs (20/20, Dateline, or something similar) entitled, “The Dark Side of Homeschooling.” Against my better judgment, I watched it. The story was about a family that claimed to homeschool – because they wanted to keep the authorities away from their house – while they abused and neglected their children. The kids were living in squalor, existing amidst rotting food and feces. It was a horrific, heartbreaking story.

Now, a logical, thinking person would watch something like this and know that despite its gratuitous title, it is not about homeschooling. It has nothing to do with homeschooling, and everything to do with abuse and neglect, things that sadly can (and do) take place among ALL educational paths, ALL different socioeconomic and religious backgrounds. It’s not about homeschooling. The problem arises from the fact that not everyone is a logical, thinking person. There are people who watch things like this, people who may already have a bias or a poor understanding of homeschooling, and unfairly use it as further fuel… justification to continue to mistrust, misunderstand, or hold animosity towards alternative means of education.

This is why I’m never really thrilled by the idea of homeschooling or unschooling being in the media, and why I think it’s so important that we’re mindful of our wording when we talk about them. Words DO matter, especially when a poorly chosen word gives the wrong impression.

Earlier this week, I read a blog post about homeschooling “extremes” that used words that I just couldn’t reconcile in my mind with unschooling. I have since read it over and over, and I believe the author’s intentions were good … but that she ended up missing the mark.

The first thing that caught my attention was the phrase, “hands off.” If you look at a school-at-home style of homeschooling, one in which the mother assigns work, gives tests, and prescribes a set of a “must-do’s” as “hands on”, then I suppose the opposite of that would be hands off. Unschoolers don’t assign work, they don’t give tests, they don’t prescribe a set of “must-do’s” They do not direct their children’s learning at all. The problem with the description of “hands off” though, is that unschoolers are quite the opposite of hands-off! Unschooling parents are there on the floor playing with their kids. They’re in the backyard looking at worms and mud puddles and butterflies. They’re in the kitchen, making cookies. They’re in the library, helping to find books on photosynthesis or engineering or stingrays or whatever the newest passion may be. They’re in the car, driving to scouts or baseball or gymnastics. They’re answering questions, providing supplies, and playing games. They’re fetching scissors, they’re holding tape measures steady, and they’re making life-size chalk drawings in the driveway.

They’re present. They’re involved. They’re hands-on. Regardless of the original intention of the words, hearing a phrase like “hands off” doesn’t help anyone understand unschooling.

But what has really stayed with me – and quite honestly, confused me – was her assertion that “unparenting” was a common term used within unschooling circles. And by all means, my unschooling circle is not very large. I went to my first unschooling conference three years ago, and began reaching out on the internet even more recently. But I’ve talked to hundreds of unschoolers, and not once have I ever heard anyone claim to be an “unparent.” In fact the only time I’ve heard the term referred to by an unschooler has been in the context of:

Unschoolers do NOT unparent.

By its very nature, the word itself is a negative word. The prefix “UN-” means “NOT.” And the word “parent” (per my standby, dictionary.com) means “to be or act as a mother, father, protector, guardian” *English lesson over* So I’m left wondering, why would an unschooler – or anyone for that matter – embrace a label that literally means to NOT act as a protector? As a guardian?

Make no mistake… radical unschoolers do parent differently than the traditional, authoritative model of parenting that many people are used to seeing. They believe in giving their children freedom, and they allow their children to be autonomous when it comes to decisions about things like bedtimes, meals, and media usage (three big ones that are frequently mentioned) But within that framework of freedom there is loving support. There is guidance. There is protection. There is parenting. Yes, it may look different from “because I’m the parent and I said so” parenting, but it is parenting. Based on the word alone, unparenting, or “not parenting” isn’t a style of parenting. It’s neglect.

Take my bedtime example up above….

A) In a more traditional household, a good and loving parent would probably have set a specific bedtime based on their family’s needs. They may follow a schedule when it comes to things like getting ready for bed. They may do a snack. They may do a bath, read books, say prayers, and say goodnight with a hug and a kiss.

B) In an unschooling household, a good and loving parent would probably allow their child the freedom to follow their own internal clock when it comes to sleep (which works for most unschooling families) As the evening winds down, they may watch TV together or play together. Parents and children go to bed when they are individually ready. They may do a bath, read books, say prayers, and say goodnight with a hug and a kiss.

C) In a non-parenting household, the ‘parent’ may ignore the signs of a tired child altogether. There are no goodnights, no hugs and kisses, no winding down together. There is no protection. There is no guidance. There is no parenting.

 

Parent A and Parent B do things differently, but the end result is the same…. a child who goes to bed feeling loved, safe, and protected.

Parent C, the unparent, is neglecting their child.

Now I have to be honest and share that during the couple of days that I was working on this post, a friend pointed me a website that showed me that there is indeed an entire positive movement calling itself “unparenting.” Some of its tenants are unconditional acceptance, engaged listening, authentic responses, getting to know your child inside and out, lightening up and finding humor, being a friend, and excavating joy…. which are absolutely beautiful and SO MUCH a part of how I parent!

Oh but that label…

I don’t want to parent according to someone else’s set of rules and guidelines. I don’t want to be bound by a label – ANY label – that can only serve to further misconceptions and prejudices, to box me in in someone’s mind, to lump me in a category with anyone else. Unschooling itself is so misunderstood – so misunderstood! – and I can’t believe that there’s any good to be had in using labels that literally mean “not parenting” when talking about it to others. It will not help people understand it, and it will only make it harder for those just trying to live their lives under the watchful eye of skeptical outsiders.

I have many friends who parent differently than I do. Friends who I respect, and friends who I admire. And while I may not always agree with all the decisions that they make – and vice-versa – I do know, without a doubt, that they love their children as fiercely as I do. I know that they would take a bullet for their kids, gladly. I know that they are good parents.

And I would hope that when they talk about me, and my own parental choices, that it’s not within the limits of a confusing and negative-sounding label like “unparenting.” I would hope that they too know, without a doubt, how fiercely I love my children. That I would take a bullet for my kids, gladly. That I am a good parent, with no labels, and no qualifiers.

 

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.


A September to Remember: Babies deal with stress naturally

Today’s guest poster for ~A September to Remember~ is Leslie from . Be sure to head over and check out her site!

 
Stress. I have it, you have it, and chances are even your kids feel it. To deal with stress, most people self-soothe and learn a coping mechanism. Some people smoke, some people run, others take medicine. I notice that I have quite a few soother habits; I bounce my leg or twirl my hair or chew the inside of my cheek.

Some autistic folks develop quite the arsenal of self soothing exercises…some spin to center themselves, some flap their arms, some repeat words, numbers or phrases. People with OCD have their own unique quirks for dealing as well.

Babies and toddlers have ways to deal with stress themselves…crying, sucking, nursing, sleeping. Babies who nurse get their non-nutritive sucking needs met by suckling the breast. That’s how they seem to best get their stress dealt with. Bottle fed babies sometimes go for thumb or pacifier sucking to meet that need. Other kids hold blankets or dolls.

The point of this post is to get you to look at pacifying and thumb-sucking and non-nutritive nursing in a new light. It isn’t something for lazy mom’s to use. It isn’t something kids use as manipulation. It starts out as a reflex that is found to be quite soothing and stress relieving. Most kids stop using a pacifier between 2 and 4 all on their own. Most kids stop sucking their thumb between 4 and 6 all on their own. A couple of great medical posting on non-nutritive sucking and why it’s normal are HERE  and HERE .  Did you know that thumb-sucking and pacifier sucking release endorphins(the feel good hormone)? Yeah, that’s why it is an excellent tool for babies to cope with stress. Sucking starts out as a reflex that develops into a tool.

So, before you dismiss baby’s need outside of food or even your toddlers need, remember, it is a not a bad thing. It is healthy and natural. And for the most part…most kids give them up on their own when they are old enough to understand and deal with stress in a better manner.

 
 
Leslie LeCompte/The Mom: Informed
My Photo

My name is Leslie and I am PASSIONATE about educating moms through pregnancy, birth and beyond. I live by this quote: “If you don’t know your options, you don’t have any.” I want EVERY woman to KNOW ALL OF THEIR OPTIONS. I never again want a woman to have to say, “I just didn’t know/if only I had known.”
 
 

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’ve Gone to the Dork Side

 

Such a sweet ‘attic find’ from Zoie @ TouchstoneZ!

 

~~I’ve Gone to the Dork Side~~

 

A Lego CityImage via Wikipedia

Nat has a fairly decent obsession with Legos right now. So, we took the family to a Lego convention in San Jose. Being Legos and being in Silicon Valley, the convention was filled with a variety of nerd species. There were steam punks, Star Wars and Star Trek (avoiding one another of course) and even a few self-created Sci-fi-ish creatures. The majority were those I affectionately call garden variety geeks.

I love nerds. I wish when I was younger that I had recognized their coolness. I would have made much healthier choices in boyfriends and girlfriends if I had gone to the dork side earlier. Most of the kids in my circle were more concerned with vying for social status than in being kind or understanding of other people. It was not something I enjoyed, so I hopped around from friend to friend every few weeks when the back-biting got to be too mean for me. I have found most geeks to be genuinely interested in understanding one another’s diversity in a more organic way than the garden variety un-geek. There are of course many exceptions on both sides of wherever that arbitrary dork-line is drawn. I tend to be attracted to those who have that quality of acceptance and really, even the un-geeks are still freaks, they’re just better at appearing normal (cliché alert: whatever normal is)

I’m married to a self-named geek. I’m not entirely certain that his high school classmates would agree if his yearbook is any indication. But he does have the hallmarks, such as, being a techie, loving SciFi, and having a few embarrassing photos of his 12 year old self, involving a Blues Brothers hat and shorty-short shorts. Aside from that, he’s self-confident although quiet. He’s very open to his much more emotional wife’s hare-brained ideas about crunchy parenting and green living (except backyard chickens, but I’m working on that.) He’s down with wearing a Star Wars shirt and rocking an Ergo.

We went from display to display of intricate lego builds with Nat extolling his wonderment. Gan had an excellent view from the carrier on his Dad’s back, so was also entranced. Bud was getting squirmy and needed a feed, though. I spotted an empty hotel conference room style chair pushed against the wall and quickly pounced on it so I wouldn’t have to breastfeed sitting on the floor. Sitting on the floor to breastfeed can be nice because fewer people glance at me (unless I position myself accidentally at a hallway junction or something, as I’ve been known to do when distracted by a rooting bub) But I’d prefer not to directly expose myself or my nursling to the unknown level of cleanliness of or the industrial cleaners used on a hotel conference hall carpet.

Lego FestivalMy View of Lego Festival

So, I breastfed on this hotel chair with my back to the wall, sandwiched between some worn out grandparents and I noticed something. I was being looked at. A lot. But, not in the way you’re probably thinking. It certainly wasn’t something I was used to.

There were many moms there trailing behind their gangly teen sons who overtopped them by a foot. And they would each smile fondly as they passed by. I could see in their faces that they remembered their boys as babes at the breast. I felt uplifted by these wordless connections. It’s not often I have such an overwhelmingly supportive experience breastfeeding in a crowd of strangers.

I smiled at my own nursling and imagined him overtopping me by a foot by the time he’s a teenager. I hope I’m lucky enough to trail behind him at a Lego festival and smile wistfully at another mama breastfeeding a future dork.

 

Thank you to Zoie @ TouchstoneZ for her generous contributions to ~A September to Remember~ and don’t forget to check out her 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: 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: Flexibility Mints

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

She looks beyond blissful, doesn’t she?



 

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

Award-winnning author, L.R.Knost, is the founder and director of the children's rights advocacy and family consulting group, Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources, and Editor-in-Chief of Holistic Parenting Magazine. Books by L.R.Knost include Whispers Through Time: Communication Through the Ages and Stages of Childhood ; Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages ; The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline ; and Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting the first four books in the Little Hearts Handbook gentle parenting series, and children’s picture books Petey’s Listening Ears and the soon-to-be-released Grumpykins series.


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

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

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

Why is Listening so Powerful?

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

(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: Memories

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

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

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

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

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

What will he remember?

What will he forget?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This article was previously published on The Hippie Housewife.

Award-winnning author, L.R.Knost, is the founder and director of the children's rights advocacy and family consulting group, Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources, and Editor-in-Chief of Holistic Parenting Magazine. Books by L.R.Knost include Whispers Through Time: Communication Through the Ages and Stages of Childhood ; Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages ; The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline ; and Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting the first four books in the Little Hearts Handbook gentle parenting series, and children’s picture books Petey’s Listening Ears and the soon-to-be-released Grumpykins series.


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

~The Confession~

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

~Here’s a little story to illustrate~

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

 

~The Challenge~

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

Award-winnning author, L.R.Knost, is the founder and director of the children's rights advocacy and family consulting group, Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources, and Editor-in-Chief of Holistic Parenting Magazine. Books by L.R.Knost include Whispers Through Time: Communication Through the Ages and Stages of Childhood ; Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages ; The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline ; and Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting the first four books in the Little Hearts Handbook gentle parenting series, and children’s picture books Petey’s Listening Ears and the soon-to-be-released Grumpykins series.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More resources:

Fights Sleep via Dr. Sears

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

 

 

 Gentle Baby and Toddler Sleep Tips via PhD in Parenting

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

Bed to Crib, Moving Baby via Dr. Sears

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

 

 

Night Terrors via Dr. Sears

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

 

 

Related posts:

Practical, Gentle, Effective Discipline

Love in the Time of Cosleeping

The No Zone

When Children Hit~10 Tips for Parents

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

You’re Not the Boss of Me!

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

Easy Peasy DIY Parenting Tools

Award-winnning author, L.R.Knost, is the founder and director of the children's rights advocacy and family consulting group, Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources, and Editor-in-Chief of Holistic Parenting Magazine. Books by L.R.Knost include Whispers Through Time: Communication Through the Ages and Stages of Childhood ; Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages ; The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline ; and Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting the first four books in the Little Hearts Handbook gentle parenting series, and children’s picture books Petey’s Listening Ears and the soon-to-be-released Grumpykins series.


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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

Related posts:

The Gift of Breastfeeding

Baby Led Weaning

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

Bizarre Anti-Cosleeping Ads in Milwaukee a Red Herring?

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

 

 

 

Award-winnning author, L.R.Knost, is the founder and director of the children's rights advocacy and family consulting group, Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources, and Editor-in-Chief of Holistic Parenting Magazine. Books by L.R.Knost include Whispers Through Time: Communication Through the Ages and Stages of Childhood ; Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages ; The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline ; and Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting the first four books in the Little Hearts Handbook gentle parenting series, and children’s picture books Petey’s Listening Ears and the soon-to-be-released Grumpykins series.


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

  

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

When God says ‘No’ ~ Wishes Week 2011 

~My closing post for Wishes Week~

 

 

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

Award-winnning author, L.R.Knost, is the founder and director of the children's rights advocacy and family consulting group, Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources, and Editor-in-Chief of Holistic Parenting Magazine. Books by L.R.Knost include Whispers Through Time: Communication Through the Ages and Stages of Childhood ; Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages ; The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline ; and Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting the first four books in the Little Hearts Handbook gentle parenting series, and children’s picture books Petey’s Listening Ears and the soon-to-be-released Grumpykins series.


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.


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