An Iron Fist or A Feather?

I know  many mothers who believe that being the Queen of Their Home means essentially micro-managing every single thing in their home.  Answering every single question or word uttered by their child.  It means managing not only homeschooling, the chores around the home, but the people as well – Dad, the children, the dog.

I believe if you are the Queen of Your Home, you will rule more gently than that!  A rhythm is not a micro-managed schedule – it is an order, but it does not preclude stopping for warmth, love, hugs and kisses and fun!  It does not involve hovering over each member of the family, but it does involve Loving Accountability for the children.

How many of us have done this with their older children?

Mother:  Please pick your clothes up off the floor!

Child:  In a minute, I have to go to the bathroom!

Mother:  Okay, when you come out of the bathroom, please pick up your clothes.

(Child running around and jumping on other siblings)

Mother:  Come and pick up your clothes please!

(Child wrestling with dog and building jump for dog out of pillows)

Mother:  Are you sure you flushed?  Can you come and pick up these clothes now as I asked?

Big sigh here.

Loving Accountability for the child under the age of 7 would be to do the activity with the child to help them be on task.  For example, on average, a child begins to dress himself with reminders at age 5- this is the average age!  An average age to dress himself without reminders or help needed is age 10!

So, step number one would be to be familiar with normal developmental expectations!  Is what you asking reasonable?  What age is your child?  Is your child under the age of 7?    Step number two would be to understand you cannot be a verbal-only parent with a child under the age of 7.  Step number three would be to realize that you are doing a disservice for your child over the age of 7 by consistently micro-managing what you ask them to do.  Say it once, help the child if it is a new task and they need to learn, break it down into steps with them, practice it together  over a period of time and when they have it the task down give them ownership of it.  If the clothes are not picked up the floor, oh dear,  I guess I can read you the chapter of this book when the clothes jump into that drawer!  Not a punishment there, just a gentle prod of ownership and Loving Accountability.

You can have a wonderful rhythm to your day where the family helps participate in the loving care of the home!  Put away The Iron Fist and live with the notion of Loving Accountability and a light-as- a-feather touch.  A Queen should never be ruffled in her own castle!

Quiet confidence in parenting is a great strength!  Test yourself this week:  what expectations do I have?  Are they reasonable?  Am I ruling with An Iron Fist or a Feather?  Am I exuding quiet confidence and holding the space with quiet calmness or am I completely exasperated?  If you feel calm and confidence, this will decrease your anger as a parent.

This week in your inner work, see if you can ponder the images of An Iron Fist or A Feather.  See if you can understand that while many times we become angry in parenting, we can also choose to back up the train and respond with calmness and confidence if we keep in mind normal developmental expectations, the developmental needs and responsiveness of children under and over 7, how to assist an older child in learning a task, and giving them ownership and accountability.  Being mindful in the face of stress is an area of practice and focus for many of us!

May your touch be as light as a feather this week in your home,

Carrie

Embracing and Uplifting

If I had to perform two gestures that signified Waldorf parenting and Waldorf education, it would be the gesture of embracing and protecting the child but also one of uplifting the child.

To me, there are two things that a child needs.  One thing is unconditional love and warmth and delight in who they are.  This actually can be a very easy thing to say, an easy thing to give lip service to and a much harder thing to face and confront in practice!   For example, many times if a child is very much like us in temperament, we see the worst of ourselves in that child and we so don’t want the child to grow up and be like us!  We try so hard to mold them into something else, anything else,  but not our worst traits!  Don’t be like us!  Or, conversely, sometimes we have children that are so different in temperament than us that we just are not sure how to handle it or where to go with that.  If only they could be a little more quiet, a little less active or only if they would move around more and enjoy being outside more!

How much better if we could forgive ourselves for our perceived inadequacies; how much better if we could show our children how to live with the fact that humans are not perfect; how much better for the child to feel loved and delighted in because they are just the unique them and they are here, in a sense,  to teach US!

And so here comes the second thing that children need: if these children are indeed on a journey to a particular end as set forth by God or by destiny or whatever you believe, and if we are all here to help each other within this family and teach each other, what a child may need from us is guidance.  They may need our help as they adjust to this foreign life on earth, into these growing bodies, into social and cultural customs so they can function in our world and our society.

And sometimes this involves uplifting our child to the next level even if they are not completely happy about it.  That is the hard and fine line of parenting – respecting that the child is here for us to learn from, but also recognizing that we are here to help them, to help them move to the next level when they are ready (or at least to show them gently that the next level exists!) and how to be respectful in doing that.

Part of Waldorf parenting is respect for the idea that a three-year-old is different than a seven-year-old who is different than a ten-year-old.  That is something that really has helped me along my journey, where so many parenting books seem to think all ages can be dealt with in the same way.

Contrary to popular opinion and Stupid Waldorf Myth, in Waldorf parenting and education, the protective bubble of Kindergarten does not last forever.  The approach to Science through the stories of the natural world in the Early Grades does not last forever.  The world does eventually open up to reading newspapers, seeing television programs, being spoken to directly as opposed to modeling and showing the child something to imitate.  All of these things eventually happen!

But, the point is, that there is a time and a place in parenting and in education for what happens when.  There is nothing within the Waldorf curriculum that is willy-nilly, all of it builds upon each thing taught within each year.  The math of the math of the Second Grade builds upon the math of the First Grade; there is not the hodge-podge of things one finds in most curriculums these days.

I think the difference in Waldorf is that it is not ‘program-based” with a promise of The Latest and Greatest Educational Advancement that wear off over time to be replaced by some other Latest and Greatest Educational Advancement.  It is an educational approach and philosophy rooted firmly in childhood development, holistic education and what will help that child attain optimal health and development not only now but as a future adult.

I find Waldorf parenting to be much the same way.  The things we do for our small children – helping accustom them to rhythm, protecting the senses, understanding where they are in their bodies – lays the foundation for the years of ages 7-14 and 14-21.

Embracing and uplifting; the foundation of good parenting and good education.

Many blessings,

Carrie

Raising Peaceful Children

This is probably the most important thing one can think about in this world – raising a child that will become an adult who is peaceful, who can be peaceful in the midst of whatever circumstances come their way, a child who can be a peacemaker with others.

To me, there are many ways to work toward this in parenting.  For all ages, I believe the most important thing is to be calm oneself and to be able to model being calm.  Children, especially children under the age of the 9-year change   can be seen as having/being prone to “an excess of emotion”.  Therefore, self-control is not the strongest point of a child under the age of 9…and logical reasoning begins around the age of 14….so, it is really up to you, the adult to model how to be calm and how to be a peacemaker while the child takes all these years to develop these skills.

Remember how big and huge and scary you can look to your child in your moments of highest anger.  A giant, to be sure and an image that can be stuck in a child’s mind permanently.   I am not suggesting that as parents we can be perfect and never get angry and always behave calmly.  However, I am suggesting that we do as much as we need to do to keep ourselves as centered as possible. 

For women, I truly think this means not wearing so many hats.  Many women are not only working inside the home, but outside the home as well. They are running businesses, parenting, volunteering, trying to be perfect wives and mothers and neighbors – all whilst they have small children.  Some women handle this beautifully, but many women find it to be a fast-moving train that is difficult to jump off.  Priorities count:  your children will only be little once and that is it.  Wearing so many hats forces things to be hurried, stressed, anxious and can lead to less than calm moments.  Is it worth it?

For women who work within the home, I find so  many of them are trying to do everything perfectly.  Keep in mind that people are more important than keeping things clean, than material things, than having the perfect home.  Many of the mothers I speak with feel so isolated and despite so much information being available through books, radio, TV, the Internet, seem to have a limited grasp on developmental expectations, and positive tools for discipline.  There is a lot of conflicting information out there, and it is confusing!

I offer this as a way to discern this information:  you cannot err on the side of being too gentle (unless you are equating gentle with no limit setting).  You can set limits and still be very gentle indeed.  To me, connection and gentleness are of utmost importance as I travel this path.  Any method or thing that recommends otherwise is not what I hold to be true.

The truth is that the foundation for connection and closeness is laid in the Early Years. You know, the ones we have so backward in the United States.  The years where people ask you how fast you are going to push your child away to “be independent”.  When are they weaning, when are they sleeping by themselves, why do they cling, when are you leaving them to go on vacation for a week alone, when do you need a break from that baby?  All these questions that have things so wrong.  A baby, a toddler, a preschooler, a child in Early Elementary really needs these years for connection, for compassion and empathy and for intimacy within the family.  This leads to a greater ability later on to be independent at the proper time. 

Frustration can be a key cause of feeling and acting not peacefully!  If you can do your best to revise, reframe how you are thinking about something, sometimes that can be the key to heading off frustration and anger before it starts.  Set limits in a peaceful way, and stick to them calmly.  Listen to your child, listen to their point of view, understand their developmental level.

Work on your own anger, your own hostility, your own sarcasm.  Try to model being able to step away, to bite your own tongue, to use less words, to step out of the room and breathe and come back in.   Model finding solutions to problems, framing things positively.    As you model emotional health, so will your children be able to handle things peacefully.

Many blessings,

Carrie

Foundations For A Healthy Childhood

Waldorf education is all about health; the health of the child and where that child is today and where that child will be in the future.  I urge you to go and listen to this FREE audio download regarding Waldorf as a Therapeutic Education if you have not discovered it  already, here is the link:   http://www.christopherushomeschool.org/bookstore-for-waldorf-homeschooling/audio-downloads.html   This talk has a playtime of about 67 minutes so you can plan accordingly.

As you are planning for fall for the big and the small kids, let’s take a moment to remember some of the essentials for  a healthy childhood:

  • Happy parents comes to mind first.  Your work on your marriage or partnership, your own inner work is of utmost importance.  I know I keep saying it over and over, but it is so important.   Your child only starts to separate from you beginning at age 9, and views themselves as part of you.  If you are unhappy, not joyous in the home, unhappy in parenting, then please take the time to meditate, pray, talk to a counselor or whatever you need to do to get yourself centered and peaceful and joyous.   I hear from parents all day long who truly seem to be miserable being home.  This is why many families evaluate their decision to homeschool their children year-by-year, child-by-child.  No, I do not believe sending a child to school gives one more time “to work on oneself” or fixes the problem typically.  I have heard some parents say the worse thing they ever did was send their child to school for a year and then try to come back to homeschooling (and other children and families seem to handle this fine!!).    However, the recognition that there are things going within the family and the family dynamic is of utmost importance.
  • Within your planning of your rhythm for fall, please do plan in some time just for you.  I  am not one of those people who believes that one needs to be away from one’s children to be fulfilled or recharged, but some people do need that and I respect that, and I do think many mothers are very guilty of not scheduling appointments for their own teeth, their own physicals, time with their spouse or partner which does lead to problems later on.  These are things that also have to happen.  Make them happen, and you won’t be sorry!
  • RHYTHM.  Children who are high-needs, children who have sensory processing disorders and other challenges often actually need a bit of a tighter rhythm than others.  A rhythm should not be a stranglehold schedule, but it should provide a flow to the day.  Younger children may have a rhythm that includes different practical work or activities each day, while older children may work within a head-heart-hands approach where some of the same activities are repeated over a block of time more than once a week (otherwise it would be hard for them to complete any projects, wouldn’t it, if the child was only working on said project once a week!). 
  • Sleep and rest.  These are biggies.  All children who are not napping, and this includes the biggest children of them all, the adults, should have quiet time after lunch.  As a homeschooling parent, you will need this break.  And, if you cannot figure out why your four, five or six year old who is no longer napping cannot settle down during quiet time, I have to ask you:  What are YOU doing?  Are you laying down quietly and resting, or are you running around, on the computer, on the phone, doing chores?  If you lay down and rest, your children will imitate you!
  • Healthy diet.  In this day and age, there are so many food allergies, food sensitivities.  If your child is having behavioral issues, many parents have shared with me that the child’s diet needed adjusting in some way.  Perhaps an allergist, a homeopath or other health care provider can steer you in the right direction. 
  • Many folks believe that Waldorf for the Early Years involves children being able to totally entertain themselves, but I personally find in this age of the “restless child” that they need a rhythm and a play area set up to assist in this.  They may even need you to not be involved in play, but to at least give them a bit of an idea. “I am the elderly woman washing dishes, and you are the traveler coming to my village.”  They may need you to set up play scenarios at night after they have gone to bed, or to move the playroom around so the toys seem “brand new”.  Fostering creative play is very important, and there are ways that as adults we can help that process along.
  • Time in nature, nature games that use all senses, and gardening is very important.  Another thing to consider in your planning as this forms such an important basis of childhood. 

 

Cheers!

Carrie

Carrie’s Laws of Childhood

I am sure many of you have read Dr. Helmut von Kugelgen ‘s famous article “The Laws of Childhood”, published in the WECAN publication “The Developing Child:  The First Seven Years:  The Gateways Series Three” .  It is an excellent article and I thoroughly enjoyed it!  It really got me thinking about  my own “laws of childhood” or “Truths in Parenting for the Under 7 child”.  Lots of fun.

1.  You must start with yourself.  If you are not happy, if you are not joyous, if you are finding the transition to mothering difficult, then get some inspiration and some support for you.  Make some time for you as well.  If you need professional help for your own baggage, for depression, for a physical ailment, for your marriage – get it!  Your children are relying on you,  on finding a centered and peaceful you, and you can do this!

2.  Get connected and stay connected with your child.  Breastfeeding, co-sleeping, baby wearing are all  important  tools to do  this, as are consistent and loving, gentle limits as your child grows.  Get clear about gentle discipline:  what it is and what it isn’t.  I do not advise “time-out” for any small child at all (and we won’t even mention other so-called discipline tactics such as hitting, spanking, yelling, verbal abuse, sarcasm, etc.)  Also, watch your words like the pearls they are!  Have positive things to say about your small child and their temperament!  Build up the positive image of them in your head, and all their capabilities and wonderful traits!

3.Development takes a long time, and infants and small children are not miniature adults.  Do not rush developmental phases.  If you do everything before they are 7, what is there to look forward to?  Keep asking yourself, is this activity or  this information for a four-year-old, a six-year-old or a ten-year old?

4.  Protect your child’s childhood!  Keep things light and use lots of creative humor; protect their 12 senses, keep them from being over-stimulated.  The most important thing the under-7 child experiences is NOT field trips, or vacations to exotic places or early learning, but being home and learning how to be a rhythmical being.  Which leads us to……

5.  It is part of your job to set limits and a flow to things, ESPECIALLY if you have a high-needs child who by definition needs help in this area.  It is okay to set a general flow, and it is very important that this flow includes ample time for rest and sleep and plenty of physical activity outdoors.

6.  It is also your job to foster your child’s feeling that the world is beautiful, and that there is something Higher Than Man.  Check your adult religious baggage at the door and do not dump it on your children!  Explore your own path, you are a spiritual being on a spiritual journey just like your child! 

7. If you are in a committed relationship, keep working on that relationship.  You are modeling adult relationships for your child who is soaking all of these impressions in.  Your child is not a replacement for the intimacy of your spouse or partner.  Check out what communication patterns you and your partner are using and modeling for your children to see.

8.  Work with your small child out of your sense of their need for rhythm, less stimulation, imitation, movement, imaginative play, and quit talking to them out of your head and dumping explanation upon explanation on top of them!  This sounds harsh, but please receive it in the spirit of love with which I intend it:  I can tell you your child does not honestly care about all the explanations that you are providing and many times are puzzled, but they just learn this question and explanation game  is a lovely verbal game to play and  a way to get attention from their parents who communicate this way!

9.  Help your child to play, and show them what real work looks like!  Learn something to show them that you can do with your hands!  Bake, knit, sew, paint, fix things, clean!  There are posts on this blog regarding the fostering of creative play, and look for some more coming up!

10.  Spark your child’s soul through music, finger plays, rhymes and verses, festival celebrations, snuggling together, special warming foods, outside time in nature to be free, the telling of  stories and fairy tales.  This can be hard work for many of us who have forgotten these things or never had these things from our own childhood, but it is worth recapturing!

Catch the joy of childhood,

Carrie

The Power of Being A Positive Mother!

Today we had some friends with their children  over to swim and I looked around in amazement at how much the children  had grown – how many of them have already “thinned out”, how many were all legs and such.  It was truly a time to enjoy the marvels of their healthy bodies running and playing and swimming under the sun.

And what I realized in that shining sunlight was that these were what a friend of mine would call “tender and precious” children.  It is not that these children don’t have their own bumps in the path, or their times of disequilibrium as they grow and mature, but that they are truly tender and precious – just like their beautiful, wise and wonderful mothers!

Because all of us are spiritual beings on a spiritual path.  My path is to draw closer to God throughout my lifetime.  How much are we called to be positive beacons for our children,  to lift our children up to the next level, the next place, to support and love unconditionally?  How much are we called to just love one another and these beautiful beings who chose to share their souls with ourselves and within our family?

There are so many myths surrounding motherhood in our society – that motherhood somehow forces a woman not to use all of her skills, that motherhood somehow stunts a woman’s growth in her life, that motherhood is somehow “just being a mother”.

We have the unique opportunity to model for our children the very best qualities of ourselves and our society.  We have an incredible opportunity for self-examination and self-discovery.  Why does this behavior bother me so?  How can I surrender myself and decrease myself and increase my neutral, calm, centered peacefulness more?  How can I be a better listener?  How can I use less words but still gently guide my child as needed?  Motherhood  provides us the opportunity to ask the difficult questions of our own values and priorities and really solidify that.

Being a positive mother is one of the most wonderful gifts you can give your children.  Use your words so wisely, so carefully with your tender and precious children.  We are all adept at finding one another’s faults, those weaknesses.  Back off and also see the good, see the wonderful moments as they are.  See the things that people say to you with the best underlying intention that you can imagine. See the things your children do with the best underlying intention possible.  As a Waldorf parent, I believe that small children are truly neither good nor bad, but again, on this spiritual path and learning.  I have tremendous influence here.  I am a woman of worth for my children and my family. 

Encourage your children, encourage other mothers, encourage your spouse and encourage yourself. 

Be wonderful in living this moment together,

Carrie

Mindful Parenting Practices That Every Parent Should Know

1. Love and warmth for your child – warmth and love not only in your actions, but in your word, in your head and in your heart.  Do you love and adore your child?  Or do you secretly ( or not-so secretly??)  feel negatively toward your child?  Waldorf parenting and education views that there are no difficult children, although children can certainly have difficult behaviors!  You don’t don’t have to love every behavior, but love your child!  Give your child that warmth and energy and unconditional acceptance from your soul! How many positive things do you think and say about your child every day, especially compared to the negative things you think?!   Connect with your child, love your child, enjoy your child.

A child under the age of 7 is often seen within Waldorf parenting and educaiton as more of “neither inherently good nor bad” – rather a child that is learning and  that needs gentle guidance.

2.  Protection of the child’s senses – there are 12 senses to be protected, and the small child has no filter to “screen” things out.  This is why repetition, being home, sameness is so important to the young child.  I am going to write a post on the 12 senses soon based on some things we recently talked about in Donna Simmons’ Waldorf At Home Conference.

3.  Humor, Happiness, Joy!  Your house should have a soul-quality of warmth, humor, joy.  How many times a day do you laugh with your children?  How many times a day do you smile at them?  How often do you hug them or kiss them?  How many times a day does your children feel the joy that comes from being a family together?  You don’t need a lot of words, but to be able to exude that feeling of joy, that the world is a good place!

4.  Cultivation of gratitude is of paramount importance in the first seven years as the basis of love in the next seven year cycle and of the feeling of dedication and loyalty in the cycle after that…How do express gratitude to your children?  To your spouse?  Do you wonder at things together and find thankfulness in the everyday of your lives?  Are you doing any of kind of inner work, spiritual work?

5.  Rhythm is essential.  I am not going to go into everything about rhythm here, as there are many, many posts on this blog about rhythm, but understand this is the place that can carry so much for you without much effort if your rhythm is established.

6.  Don’t create the battlefield in your mind!  Get clear in your heart about how you feel about something, with love set it  forth and go have fun!

7.  Show your child some meaningful work, something than more than pushing a button to turn something on…..Cook together, garden together, be together in mass quantities of time.

8.  Look at play and fostering connection to nature as the essential work of the child during the years when they are small.

There are more things considered “essential” in the early years, but I feel these are the things that truly are of great importance, and also cause parents the most difficulty.

Mindful parenting, gentle parenting, loving parenting, can be a challenging path but so worth it!

Keep striving,

Carrie

Mindful Parenting

As St. John’s Day calls us to be more inward and focused in the midst of outer expansion, perhaps a meditative focus for all of us as mothers could be contemplation of the phrase “mindful parenting”. 

What does mindful parenting mean to you personally?  To me, it means that I am in control of myself and my actions in front of my children, that I consider their feelings along with their needs, that I show my children empathy for their feelings, that I bring joy and laughter and warmth to my parenting.  To be a mindful parent, I must consider the “bigger picture” of parenting – where my children are developmentally, where they have been, where they are going, what their temperaments are and who they are as beautiful individuals and how we all work together in one family.  I must also consider my own “cup” – is it full, how do I get it full within the context of parenting?  I can be a beacon of light and love for my children when I am centered and calm and peaceful.

I feel blessed to be a parent, and I truly enjoy my children.  I think people have different ages of parenting they like and enjoy – my mother-in-law always says how wonderful she finds ages three and four, while other people I know really rather dislike these stages.  Some mothers have commented to me that teenagers are so difficult, and I have other friends who say they just love the teenaged energy in their home and want all of their teenager’s friends to come and hang out within their family!

Even if you are in a parenting stage that perhaps you are not particularly enjoying, perhaps here is a Waldorf parenting view you can take and use:  the notion that there really are no difficult children, but there are difficult behaviors that children show us.  When we break things down into a behavior and NOT the child, it opens a gateway so we can look at that behavior. Why is this behavior triggering me as a parent so?  What do I need in this moment to be more fulfilled and peaceful that is separate from what my child is doing? Is this an issue of safety?  Or is it an issue that just bothers me but I could gently direct it?  Do I have to direct it at all?  What is the need of the child under the behavior?  Is there more than one way to meet that need and am I comfortable meeting that need for my child and in what way?  Can my child meet their own need?  Can we work together so that in our family all of us can be happy and peaceful?

How can I use my words like pearls….instead of spouting off the book of lectures, can I use a few positively-worded phrases?  Can I be warm and loving and caring even if I have to set a limit?  Is the limit necessary at all?  I actually don’t use many limits in my family, our rhythm carries much of it, modeling carries much of it, love carries much of it.  We are respectful to each other.

These are the kinds of inward questions that shape my days of parenting, and the kinds of inward contemplation I do in my own parenting as we draw closer to St. John’s Day(Midsummer’s Day).

Thanks for reading,

Carrie

Tripping Into The Toddler Years

(This post is written more from an attachment parenting perspective).

Toddlerhood IS a time where children have a lot of energy and curiosity, and a time when many parents feel there is a shift in parenting going on – the wants and needs of the toddler are becoming two separate things!

Before you can decide how you want to channel the energy of toddlerhood, it is helpful to know two things: 1. What type of family are you? (this is a determinant in how you perceive and handle typical toddler challenges) and 2. Normal developmental milestones of a toddler ages 12 months to about age 3 and 3.  How do you view guiding your child?  What are your foundational principles?

What Kind of Family Are You??

 

In the  book Kids Are Worth It! Barbara Coloroso defines three types of families:

  1. Brickwall – This type of family has a definitive hierarchy of control with the parents being in charge, has lots of strict rules, a high value on punctuality, cleanliness and order, a rigid enforcement of rules by means of actual or threatened violence, the use of punishment to break the child’s will and spirit, rigid rituals and rote learning, use of humiliation, extensive use of threats and bribes, heavy reliance on competition, learning takes place with no margin for error, love is highly conditional, gender roles are strictly enforced, children are taught what to think but not how to think.
  1. Jellyfish A families – most likely raised in a Brickwall family, this parent is frightened of repeating the abuse he knew, but does not know what to replace it with. So he becomes extremely lax in discipline, sets few or no limits and tends to smother his children. Anything his child wants, his child gets, even if the child’s wants are at the expense of the parent’s own needs. The lack of structure can then lead to a frustrated parent who ends up resorting to threats, bribes, punishments.
  2. Jellyfish B families – May be struggling with personal problems that keep her almost totally centered on herself. No one is around to provide a nurturing, caring, supportive environment.

In both types of Jellyfish families, the following characteristics prevail: Anarchy and chaos in the physical and emotional environment, no recognizable rules or guidelines for the children, arbitrary and inconsistent punishments and rewards are made, mini-lectures and put-downs are the main parenting tools, second chances are arbitrarily given, threats and bribes are frequently used, everything takes place in an environment of chaos, emotions rule the behavior of parents and children, children are taught that love is highly conditional, children are easily led by their peers.

  1. Backbone families – Democracy is a learned experience where children see their feelings and needs are respected and accepted and they also see that it is not always easy to juggle the wants and needs of all members of the family, mistakes are viewed as opportunities to grow, rules are simply and clearly stated, consequences for irresponsible behavior are either natural or reasonable (see attached handout), children are motivated to be all they can be, children receive lots of smiles and hugs, children get second opportunities, children learn to accept their own feelings and to act responsibly on those feelings through a strong sense of self-awareness, competency and cooperation are modeled and encouraged, love is unconditional, children are taught how to think, children are buffered from sexual promiscuity/drug abuse/suicide by three messages: I like myself, I can think for myself, There is no problem so great, it cannot be solved.

Linda Budd, Ph.D., looks at three traits central to all families in her  book “Living With The Active Alert Child”: who’s in charge, what the family values, and how the family handles emotion. She breaks families down into the following categories:

  1. The Closed Family – There is someone clearly in charge, and the others are expected to follow and be obedient. The family values stability. There are many traditions and rituals to create this strong sense of family unity. The family has a hard time with the intensity of emotions. Benefits of this family type include the children growing up with a strong sense of order and feeling secure within the family structure.
  1. The Random Family – Control in this family changes hands frequently- no one person is in charge. This family values freedom, choice, competition, challenge, creative expression. Individuals are valued over the family unit. People in this family express themselves passionately, intensely, authentically. Children in this system have few limits and limited supervision, but their creativity and intensity are confirmed.
  1. The Open Family – The family values equality. Control is cooperative, participatory and persuasive. Consensus is used to make decisions. The family values dialogue, tolerance, adaptability. The family needs are balanced with individual needs. The child is valued as a partner who needs help in discovering her own limits. Parents and child negotiate limits and collaborate in problem solving. Cooperation and responsibility are valued. Children feel as if they have mutual power, and that their feelings are acknowledged.
  1. The Synchronous Family – Control is understood without one person being the source. Control comes from a shared goal or value system, not from an individual. Adults assume children will learn what is correct and what is expected by watching the parents’ example. Emotions are reserved. Children gain a strong sense of security, order and routine.

Food for thought: What kind of family is your family according to either Barbara Coloroso’s or Linda Budd’s structure?

Are you and your significant other different according to Barbara Coloroso or Linda Budd’s structure? What was the family you grew up in like?

NORMAL DEVELOPMENTAL MILESTONES FOR THE ONE AND TWO-YEAR OLD

Age 12 months – Typically…

Nurses very frequently, almost like a newborn at times

Many mothers pick a code word for nursing at this time

Cannot accept delays or explanations regarding nursing

Heads into period of disorganization (waking up at night, separation anxiety) prior to new developmental milestones.

The drive to stand and walk takes precedence over all other activities

Loves an audience, sociable

Control over feeding is (SHOULD BE) the child’s

Molars coming in; chewing on everything

Very few distinguishable words, points and gestures

Separation and stranger anxiety

Age 15 months – Typically

Still nursing very frequently, almost like a newborn at times

The dash and dart and fling stage

Demanding, tends to grab, cry, scream

May be rather asocial, undemonstrative

Temper tantrums emerge (if they have not already)

Cup and spoon mastery may be happening

Attention span is short but will examine objects with real interest (but for less than 5 minutes)

Age 18 months-Typically

Negativism prevails – wants what he wants, when he wants it

Turns to mother when tired, unhappy

Likes to mimic household activities

Not interested in other children – to large extent ignores them or tries to explore them by poking their eyes, pulling hair

Can play alone

Temper tantrums

Nighttime waking appears with new stresses

Walking may still be a bit uncertain, loves to go up and down stairs, squat, climb into chairs or sofas

Will lug, tug, push, pull, pound things

May run away from parents in public places

Protests violently at separation from parents

Parallel play with peers

May see biting, hair pulling, scratching, hitting toward other people

Play is child’s most powerful way to learn

Age 21 months…Typically…

Can be one of the hardest ages – wants are more definite

May be height of wakefulness at night

Height of taking clothes off and running around naked

Still easily frustrated with lots of temper tantrums

Understand which objects belong to individual family members

Cares about “mine”

Knows where household items belong

Can solve some of their own problems themselves when playing

Age 2 years – Typically

Many still need to nurse often in order to calm themselves, but some children may nurse only around bedtimes and naptimes

Some children can begin to adjust their requests for nursing to places and times that are most comfortable for the whole family

May have difficulty going to bed/falling asleep

Warm, social

Can run little errands within the house

Touches and tastes everything

Uses sentences with verbs and is beginning to use adjectives and adverbs

Parallel play with other children

 

 

Age 2 and a half – Typically

Much improved coordination – can walk on tiptoes, jump with both feet, climb, slide, speed up, slow down, turn corners, make sudden stops

Tense, rigid, explosive, bossy, demanding – (but unsure of himself/environment)

Demands sameness, routine

May stutter, have increased tensional outlets

May have frequent night waking, talking in sleep, night terrors, difficulty going to sleep

Self-feeding with lots of messiness prevails, smearing of food, may throw dishes on floor

May be interested in potty training

Masturbation and genital exploration common

Violent mood shifts – will suddenly become angry and out of control

Can most certainly help around the house

Closer to 3 years old, may get tired easily, easily fatigued, wants to be carried

Interacts with other children but may be in aggressive manner, possessive of his things

Hitting, slapping, pushing, screaming

Suggestions:

Accept need for sameness

Bypass head on confrontations

Divert with conversation

Distract, change the scene

Talk in advance about what will happen

Use music – sing, use verses

Age 3 years – Quick look ahead: Typically..

Can usually go along with your nursing preferences most of the time

Is tranquil, cooperative

Can help set table, prepare simple foods, clean up afterward

Usually potty trained by this point, at least for the daytime

Can be fearful and have phobias

Imagination begins to take fire, may develop imaginary friends

Has a newfound sense of humor and is able to show empathy

Friendships become more important

Will focus completely on one parent and ignore the other and then switch

Help Channel the Energy:

15 to 18 months

Gross motor activity

Loves to swing and bounce up and down (no walkers or such, please!)

Pounding toys, xylophones

Lots of time outside

Remove all breakable objects from reach

Loves to fall on purpose, slide down or bounce down a small slide

Loves to rock on a rocking boat

Loves to push furniture or toys

Two Year Olds-

Water play

Likes routine, imitating grown-up tasks

Play with homemade playdough

Stacking toys

Sand play

Blocks

Enjoys music, rhythmical activity

Acts out their own eating or sleeping

Doll play

Daily walks with opportunity to touch everything

FOUNDATION OF LOVING GUIDANCE

Use the least intrusive strategy for a situation – you will never err by being gentle

Distraction

Remaining calm and being patient is VERY important

Model what you want and set the example

Attribute the best possible motive to your child’s behavior

 

See the positive intent behind your toddler’s behavior,

Carrie

Kindness In Your Home

I personally think most people are convinced that kindness is what they want for themselves, for their families and for their homes, but they are not sure what steps to take to ensure kindness prevails even in the most pressured situations of being in the trenches of parenting, mothering, marriage and life.

Let’s delve a little deeper into the how-to’s of kindness. First, we need to know exactly what kindness is:

The Definition of Kindness:

Kindness, as listed in Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, is defined as:

1 Affectionate, loving

2A. Of a sympathetic nature: disposed to be helpful and solicitous

2B. Of a gentle nature

3. Agreeable

As you can see, many times kindness is equated with being helpful or helping someone else. In some religious and spiritual traditions, the notion of doing “charitable acts” is directly correlated with the above definitions of kindness! Kindness, then, is an action that one commits to each and every day!

Mary Ann Kerwin, one of La Leche League’s co-founders had this to say about parenting in The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, “Our children teach us much more than we realize. Being a mother has taught me patience, perseverance, self-discipline, and hard work. “(page 170, The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding). Kindness, as we can see from the definitions above, also involves the development of being helpful, patient and loving. Part of parenting is perhaps working at becoming a kinder person!

Why Start in Our Homes?

We start in our own homes because we set a tone for our household whether we do it consciously or unconsciously. We start in our own homes because the people we love the most are right there in front of us. We start in our own homes as part of the quiet revolution that good parenting is going to make as a mark upon the next generation of our country’s leaders, innovators and creators. We start because we want our home to be a place of warmth and love and joy for our family and friends. And most of all, we start in our own homes because we want to be the change we want to see in the world. Kindness is a wonderful place to start in setting the tone for our homes.

 

How Do I Do It?

1. Start with Yourself

If we all agree that kindness can be a foundation for “charitable action” throughout the day, a commitment that we must get up and make each and every day, then we can all conjure up that phrase, “Charity begins at home.” This is essential: that home and with ourselves are where we begin. We can only control our own actions; we must start there.

Here are some quotes to inspire you:

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding points out on page 256 that, “As the baby-child grows, he will need guidance, instruction, and sometimes correction to learn the ways of our world. If the foundation of secure love was laid when he was a baby, and if he sees his parents as kind, polite, and considerate people, he will try to imitate them, because he wants to act in ways that please them (most of the time).”

In the book Peaceful Parents, Peaceful Kids, author Naomi Drew says, “When we take steps in our daily lives to get along with others, work out conflicts, listen when people speak, communicate respectfully, let go of anger, and respect differences, we affect the world in a positive way. Starting gradually, with ourselves and with the people we are close to, our relationships begin to improve, causing a ripple effect. Before long, we see that by living the skills of peacemaking, we make a positive difference in our own lives and the lives of every person we touch.”

Here are some tips for the road:

· Slow down: As much as you can, slow down. Evaluate how many activities you and your family are participating in. How many times a week do you eat dinner together? Play together?

· Think about a family mission statement: We can slow down by defining our very most important priorities, and realize this may mean giving something up. Naomi Drew asks us to ask ourselves, “What do you believe are the most important things you can do for and with your children in the time you have with them?” “What memories do you want to create for your children?” “What do you want to be able to say about yourself as a parent twenty years from now?” “How do you want your children to view their childhood twenty years from now?”

This is very much akin to writing a personal and family mission statement where you and your partner can really sit down and think, “For us, for our family, what does kindness look like in our home?” This is very much akin to writing a personal and family mission statement where you and your partner can really sit down and think, “For us, for our family, what does kindness look like in our home?” Is it no labeling kinds of words? Is it never raising your voice? Is it being able to be speak kindly even in the face of everyone being a yelling mess? Is is being able to see your spouse or child’s point of view during conflict? Who does your acts of kindness extend to- your animals, the plants on your land, your neighbors? Writing a family mission statement can be a eye-opening experience – it can be surprising to find out what your spouse or partner or children really thinks is incredibly important for the family. Writing a family mission statement can also help you and your family tie your shared values in one place for all to see and refer to

 

· Focus on the positive aspects of your role as a homemaker and a parent. Try to do this at least ten minutes a day after your children go to sleep or before they wake up. Most of us have no trouble finding our negative traits as parents or the negative things we bring to the role in which we are setting the tone in our homes. Think about your positive qualities, write them down if you have to!

· Balance of all the Needs of All Family Members: Attachment Parenting talks a bit about balance as one of their Eight Ideals. This is something important to consider – what do you need to be the best parent possible? Are you having physical problems that are affecting your patience and gentleness? Do you need to talk to someone about your life’s journey up to this point in order to heal and be a better parent?

Author Naomi Drew says in Peaceful Parents, Peaceful Kids: “Think of your own life. What can you subtract to restore greater balance? What can you add to be kinder to yourself? Remember, being kind to yourself is neither selfish nor frivolous, quite the contrary. Being kind to yourself feeds the well from which you give to others. Acts of kindness toward yourself are necessities that will enable you to be more loving, compassionate, and available to the people you care about the most.” Can you calmly sit down and discuss this with your partner about what both of you need to be kinder people and come up with a plan to make it happen?

· Think about re-framing your thoughts. “Self-control is mind control,” says author Becky Bailey of the book Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline. “It is being aware of your own thoughts and feelings. By having this awareness, you become the director of your behavior. Lack of self-control turns your life over to other people, events and things as you careen through life on remote control.” Remember, self-discipline on your part means you can teach this to your child; you cannot teach skills you do not possess. More than anything, kindness in the home is a practice.

· Figure out what your irritation points are so you can be in charge of them and they won’t be in charge of you! Is that you are not a morning person and you cannot stand it when you get up and the children start fighting before you have a cup of coffee? Is it your own mother? Is it running errands? What really gets under your skin and how can you come up with a plan to help alleviate the situation? The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and over and expecting a different result, right? Change your strategy to change your result!

· Most of all, remember that you are in charge of YOU. You can change and be the parent and partner you want to be, because you will gain control of yourself first, and be responsible for your own thoughts and actions, and model this for your children. Your family lives what they see in YOU.

Start with your partner or spouse

· Understand the stages of adulthood and marriage: The first thing to realize is that while children go through developmental stages, so do marriages and so do adults. Growing and maturing does not stop at age 21! We hear much talk about “mid-life” crises, but there are whole bodies of works devoted to talking about the cycles of adulthood. Reading and understanding about these cycles may benefit you and your partner with new understanding and compassion for the other person and the most complex of all relationships, marriage.

· Also understand what type of family you are forming – according to Barbara Coloroso’s book “Kids Are Worth It!” this includes the brickwall, jellyfish A and B and the backbone family. There are also other models of family out there, including Linda Budd’s model in the book “Living With the Active Alert Child.” Knowing what kind of family you came from , what your partner came from, and what kind of family you are forming now can help you as you forge a kinder and more peaceful path.

· Re-evaluate your view of conflict. Having a relationship with no conflict at all is not realistic and avoids an opportunity to see the benefits that conflict provides.

· Practice using kind words in your home and making your home a place where you focus on the positive that you see. Practice saying kind things to others as well as yourself – be a good model by showing that you honor yourself!

· Instead of statements that address someone’s character, use statements that describe what you see and how you feel about it. Naomi Drew writes, “When we start from “I”, we take ownership of our feelings and perceptions. “You” places blame on the other person and makes them the brunt of our feelings. “You” puts the other person on the defensive; “I” opens communication.”

· You may investigate Non Violent Communication as a framework takes this even a step further.

· Eliminate sarcasm from your home; when you use sarcasm with your spouse your children see it and hear it.

· Just as you would assume positive intent behind the behavior of your child, assume positive intent for your spouse or partner.

· Model and be “a light” for your family: One wise mother told me on the subject of spouses, “Model what you want to see, but do not nag. Nagging causes rifts and defensive mechanisms and accomplishes nothing.”

· Learn how to handle anger. Can you walk away and regain control? Can you be calm when things are crazy? Can you speak calmly to your partner or spouse about what is bothering you and work it out? Can you be calm as your partner gets upset?

Start with your children

· A very important part of parenting is knowing and understanding childhood development, and what typically happens at what age.

· Understand your child’s specific temperament. Make a sincere effort to accept your child for who they are at every age.

· Avoid labeling your child, even if it is with a label you think is kind.

· You can set clear standards of behavior for your children, but for them to know, you need to decide what those standards are and you need to know how to guide your child toward those standards in a loving way.

Something to inspire you on this subject: “Bear in mind that to say children are equally deserving of dignity and respect does not have to mean that the relationship itself is of equal power. As a parent, you have a broader view and more life experience to draw from, and these are assets you bring to the child as his adult caretaker. You also bear more responsibility for choices surrounding your child than he does.” (Adventures in Gentle Discipline, page 11).

The question is, can you set the limit with kindness? Without lecturing, over-explaining or defending yourself, being hostile if your child resists? Can you be matter of fact and have peace about the limit you are setting?

There are many times where explanations just don’t work, particularly for a younger child who does not have logical thought yet as part of their developmental maturation .

Nancy Samalin also brings up another reason why sometimes explanations do not work as she writes in her book, “Loving Your Child Is Not Enough: Positive Discipline That Works”, “Why don’t explanations work? Because we often give children explanations in an attempt to change their minds and make them agree with us. We hope they’ll buy the explanation and not be angry with us. But after a thousand explanations, children still want what they want as much as they wanted it before. And we just have to deal with not giving them what they want.”

In other words, if we are not careful a detailed explanation is just a justification for our demand.

· Re-evaluate and re-commit to gentle discipline.

Okay, quick!  When I say the phrase, “Gentle Discipline” what comes into your mind – the first thing? No censoring!  For many of us, gentle discipline equates with permissiveness and the thought of a Kids Gone Wild Video!  For others of us, gentle discipline equates with being the parent, who, for lack of better phrasing, is the “valium parent” –you know, the parent who never raises their voice, the parent who is always calm and composed.  “Okay, you just pierced your little brother’s nose with a screwdriver in the garage?  Okaaaay, maybe next time you should ask before you do that!”

Maybe some of us are sad when we hear this phrase, because we would like to not be yelling at our children, or hitting our children, but we are not sure what other tools we have in our toolbox to use.

What if I told you I see gentle discipline in a completely different light?

Many parents equate discipline to punishment.  My Webster’s Dictionary defines discipline some other ways, including as “instruction”; “training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character”.  I love the idea of discipline being a way to guide or lead a child.  There are consequences to the behaviors we choose as individuals, but many times we punish children for being in a developmentally normal state.

Eda LeShan, in her wonderful article, “Please Don’t Hit Your Kids”, published in Mothering Magazine in Spring of 1996, writes:  “We actually tend to hit children who are behaving normally.  A two year old bites because he doesn’t yet know better ways to deal with problems.  A five year old steals crayons at school because five is too young to control the impulse to take what she wants when she wants it.  A 10 year old lies about having joined some friends in teasing a newcomer at school, since at this age it’s normal to want social approval more than fairness.  It takes many years to learn self-restraint.  This is not a crime.  And making children feel guilty and bad doesn’t solve the problem.  What is called for is help in making retribution, having adults explain why such behavior must be overcome.”

Guiding with loving firmness.  THE WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING, page 257 states: “Discipline is a much maligned word, often associated with punishment and deprivation. Yet discipline actually refers to the guidance which we as parents lovingly give our children to help them do the right things for the right reasons- to help them grow into secure, happy, and loving persons able to step out in to the world with confidence in their own ability to succeed in whatever they set out to do.”

So, there is another oft-maligned word that  I believe needs to be attached to the idea of discipline as a way to guide a child – and that word is AUTHORITY.  Authority is a word that leaves a bad taste in many parents’ mouths.  “Authority?  We don’t need any of that here!  Our home is not a police state!”

Well, when I looked up authority in my Webster’s Dictionary, it said that authority is “a citation from a book or file used in defense or support”, “a decision taken as a precedent”, or finally, “power to influence or command thought, opinion or behavior.”   Influencing my child’s behavior is part of my job as a parent, but I felt it did not get across everything I wanted to say in this situation.  Then I noticed that authority and the word a few entries above, authentic, share the same root.  The dictionary says that authentic is “authoritative” and “worthy of acceptance or belief as conforming to fact of reality: TRUSTWORTHY.”

So, perhaps you could view your path in gentle discipline as a way to authentically guide your child.  You, as a trustworthy, authoritative guide.

Truly AUTHENTIC LEADERSHIP.

· Using gentle discipline methods and thinking of discipline as guiding and teaching can be helpful in setting a tone for your home that is kind.

“Gentle discipline means, quite simply, placing empathy and respect at the very center of your parenting.”  (Adventures in Gentle Discipline, page 3).

Here is a recap of some of the tools you can use in gentle discipline:

1. Humor – Lots of parents take parenting very seriously.  But you can still think about humor, think about not taking it all quite so seriously.  There are many situations where humor can save the day.  Humor helps de-escalate things and also models for your child a positive way to look at the sunny side of things and a way to deal with a stressful or frustrating situation.

Many parents say, Save your big reactions for the big things in life! I agree, but in order to do this, you must know what is BIG in your family and to you.  This goes back to the first things we talked about, starting with yourself and your spouse or partner to think about what is BIG for you and your family. Then you will know where to use humor, where to be serious, and what things really matter!

2.  Distraction – this is a viable tool for all children under 7, and even children that are 7 or 8  can still be fairly distractible.  However, this takes creativity in the heat of the moment to think of an appropriate distraction.  Distraction is not a bribe; it is a way to change to scene to your advantage.

Distraction can also show itself by changing the environment.  Some children just need to be outside when they are upset!

3.  Hugs and kisses and being held – solves lots of things without a lot of words. Sometimes you do not need to say much of anything to your child; just holding them lets them know you are there for them.

4. Use of the word “may”  – as in, “Little Johnny, you may bring your plate to the counter for me.  Thank you!”  Be sincere, and this word works well as you set the tone for your own home. Some parents love this, some parents hate this.

6. Limited choices, less words or no words at all –Try just helping your child get into their coat while you sing a song that you usually sing when you go outside.  Try just handing your child their toothbrush after their bath instead of a whole book about the necessity of dental hygiene.  Children under the age of 7 generally do not do well with verbal words alone; they need your warm and gentle physical presence to follow through on what needs to happen.

7.  Consider the value of time-in. Some families have a place where adults and children can sit together until they all calm down, some mothers just have their child sit near them while they do some sort of rhythmical work.

8.  Ignoring – yup, you heard me right.  The Gesell Institute books routinely recommend turning a blind eye to some of your child’s behaviors if it is not hurting others or themselves (or just driving you plain crazy!).

9.  Physical follow-through – If you say something to a small child, you should expect to have to physically help them follow through.  You should expect to have to physically hold an upset child if they need it.  The physicality of life with a small child is always there – hugs, kisses, a lap to sit on and help to do things as needed.  The child’s respect and dignity always needs to be respected, so you need to be calm and gentle when you are following through, but please remember a young child under 7 is probably not going to function well on verbal directives alone.

10.  FREEZE!  One of the best tools in parenting is learning to take that quick pause in your mind’s eye and ask yourself if what you are about to do is going to help your child be the adult they were meant to be; is it going to escalate or de-escalate the situation, is it going to teach your child something or is it just a moment of anger for you that will pass?

· Understanding anger in parenting and how to deal with it is very important. Vimala McClure, in the book, “The Tao of Motherhood,” has this to say about anger in parenting:

“When you feel angry with your child, know that something rational must be done. State your feelings honestly, then withdraw to process your own emotions and make a plan.

Striking out, either physically or emotionally, may succeed in getting through to the child, but it will also plant the seeds of guilt. Guilt is followed by resentment and bitterness. A victory can therefore end in failure. Too many victories and you will witness the death of your child’s trust.”

You can use “I statements” and talk about how you feel at that moment, you can leave the area for a moment (which is very difficult I think with children under the age of 7), you can make amends when the storm is done. You can “erase” what happened, and start over together.

And besides learning how to deal with our own anger, we must teach our children how to “cool-off.” Some families have a “cool-off” corner where everyone can sit together, some families encourage children to draw their feelings out or do something physical to release the anger. Every family is different and find what works for each individual child through trial and error.

· A rhythm to your day can be your friend, especially when you have small children under the age of 7. If every day has different awake, meal, snack, nap and bedtimes, it can become frustrating when everyone is falling apart, yet you feel like you have not gotten anything done and everyone needed to eat 10 minutes ago. Or conversely, if you have so tight a schedule, then the minute your child doesn’t want to hurry or wants to stop and play, this can be stressful. Try to find the happy medium!

· Learn How to Let Go – Nancy Samalin writes in her book, “Loving Your Child Is Not Enough: Positive Discipline That Works”: “We readily accept the fact of physical separation but often we forget that a child is not a psychological extension of ourselves, not our possession, not merely a reflection of us.”

As children mature and grow, we have to be willing to let them have more choices and to make mistakes. Nancy Samalin writes, “Our reluctance to let go of our children’s emerging identities comes from our need to have children do things our way, not theirs. If we let them make their own choices, we run the risk of being embarrassed or feeling helpless when they make mistakes. It can be frightening to let a child face the consequences of her own decisions. But in the end she will learn more from the experience of living with her choices than from our nagging, intervening or rescuing.”

Some of this also goes back to knowing and understanding developmental stages. Natural consequences should not be a punishment for a small child (ie, my child who is three does not want to wear a coat in Winter, so I will leave the coat at home – is that a natural consequence or a punishment?) but yet a teenager may need opportunities to make mistakes and learn from them. It also goes back to deciding the heart of what is important for you and your family.

Nancy Samalin points out that we can often be hardest on the child who reminds us of ourselves. The less personally you can take the behavior, the more kind you can be. I always say to new mothers of toddlers, It starts off that it is a “good” day if your toddler doesn’t melt down and cry or scream; in later parenting it becomes a good day if you held it together through the melt down or the crying or the screaming. With a child that is older, over seven, you can try to listen more and solve the problem less.

What Happens When Things Are Not Going Well? (Or, The I Really Can’t Do This):

If you are feeling overwhelmed by what you perceive as the negative in your family or in your parenting, the question really becomes what do we do? Here are a few thoughts:

We can try.  We set the tone in our home whether we set it unconsciously or consciously. Each day, each moment, we can try to set the tone in our home toward our ideal.  It is never too late to change, to try, to stop in the middle of a sentence and do something different.  It is never to late to take your child and love them. 

We can forgive ourselves for not being perfect.  We are not perfect, we are human.  We all fall short at times.  We can be kind to ourselves and show our children how to have grace when we make a mistake. 

We can get help. We can ask for help from our family, our friends, our neighbors. We can get counseling, we can go to support groups like La Leche League or Attachment Parenting International and get support for our parenting, we can talk to the spiritual leaders who speak to our hearts.  We can investigate if our physical health is impacting our minds, our patience.  Many medical professionals are available to help. 

We can take it easy.  Maybe this is the day we just need to relax and recharge.

We can focus on bedtime and catch some precious moments to ourselves after the children go to sleep and use that to meditate, pray or engage in spiritual work.

We can do our best to go to sleep; I am convinced many of the challenges mothers are facing could be helped if mothers would go to bed and get some rest.  We so often feel we have to satisfy everyone’s needs but our own; our own sleep is paramount to do this!

It is important you can show your family about how to recover from a mistake, a you that shows them we can still do things wrong and make it right, a you that is resilient in the face of life.

 

Kindness within your home is a process, a journey and a practice. You can form relationships for support from other like-minded parents, you can always also talk to your local La Leche League Leader, Attatchment Parenting International Leader or supportive mental health professionals who can help you brainstorm different ideas regarding kindness and peacemaking in your home. As always, take what works for you and your family from these ideas.

Peaceful Parenting,

Carrie