All posts by The Attached Family

Power Games for a Joyful Bedtime

By Naomi Aldort, author of Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves, www.AuthenticParent.com

Editor’s Note: The author invites us to consider a different perspective on children’s behavior. You may wish to read this in conjunction with API’s Balance Principle and many other articles on children and sleep available at API’s website and TheAttachedFamily.com. As always, we encourage you to trust your own wisdom and find what works best for you and your family.

Photo: David Castillo Domenici
Photo: David Castillo Domenici

Q: Why can’t my children go to bed and go to sleep? It takes us a couple of hours to put them in bed. They run away from putting pajamas on, and again they escape when we try to brush their teeth. It is such a struggle every night; they just don’t cooperate. Is there a better way?

A: Most parents go through the same exhausting and frustrating process you describe so well in your question. This can be both difficult and painfully disconnecting. You wish to tuck your children in bed with love and a calm heart, and instead you end up feeling frustrated and exhausted.

It is human and natural to want to stop the running child and get her to bed, but it actually thwarts her efforts to get ready for a good night’s sleep. Some parents tame their children to obey them, creating disconnection and not attending to the child’s emotional needs. From your question, it is obvious that you don’t want to dominate but to have your children go to sleep of their own free will and in response to your aware and loving leadership.

Any time we fight against the need or nature of a child, even with the best of intentions, we cause hardship and disconnection, especially if the children obey against their own inner voice. Instead of struggling to stop or control the child, we want to find ways to understand the child’s valid need and, when possible and safe, respond to it. The goal is not to control but to flow with the child’s real needs. Such care creates cooperation without coercion or domination.

The Wisdom of Power Games

Before being able to sleep, children may need to unleash the stress and energy of the day. If we consistently suppress that need, the child can develop emotional and behavioral difficulties. A child is eager to be independent, yet she often experiences feeling helpless–told what to do, unable to drive, buckled up in a car, unable to reach places or do things for herself, and overall excruciatingly dependent. At the end of the day, giving her yet another experience of someone else being in charge of her body may result in emotional harm and the kind of struggle you describe in your question. The child wants to unleash this stress before she can relax into dreamland. Though routine and structure are important for some children, they can be adjusted with sensitivity to meet a child’s needs for freedom and choice. Including power games can be part of the routine–a healing and joyful part.

Children running at bedtime are doing exactly that: unleashing energy and stress. I have coined this type of healing play “power games” because it is a way for the child to regain a sense of power and autonomy and undo some of the experience of being small and helpless. This responsive play has nothing to do with winning or having power over anyone. Instead, the parent plays the role of a loving play-therapist, meeting a need and creating a routine of healing games that prepare the child for sleep.

A child’s drive to run away at bedtime is healthy and deserving of care. I suggest you include it in the bedtime routine. Children initiate power games with their parents all the time, and parents tend to thwart most of them (by saying “stop”), not realizing the value of the game. In your example, your children start a power game by running away from the pajamas. I describe other types of power games in my book, Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves.

It is wonderful that they love playing with you; it shows their wisdom and their trust of you. When you demand a smooth ride, on your terms, from the bathroom to bed, you disconnect yourself from reality and lose sight of what is actually needed. Indeed, when you don’t recognize the child’s need, you actually lose the ability to be the parent, the leader. Your choice is between a time of struggle or a time of playful and nurturing connection. Being a leader means knowing how to steer the ship in the direction of the stream.

Other Options

I can hear some parents say, “But I don’t want to. I want a quiet bedtime and a quick one.” What I suggest will give you a more peaceful, respectful and enjoyable bedtime in which you will not feel helpless because you will be in charge as a wise healer. If your child needs to unleash energy or stress through play, your desire for a quick bedtime causes you stress because it opposes the child’s real need that has to be met. Some children go to sleep with a story and a hug, while some children need an energetic game before going to bed. In addition, a child who needs power games one night may not need them the next night. The goal is not consistency in what we do but consistency in being loving, aware and responsive.

There are things you can do to increase the chance for a quicker or calmer bedtime:

1. You can respond playfully to power games earlier in the day. You can find more about how to play a variety of power games in my book.

2. You can minimize screen time and sitting and allow plenty of outdoor rigorous activity in daylight.

3. For health benefits and for better sleep, feed your children healthful and nourishing foods. A wholesome diet helps children sleep better, go to bed calmer, learn better and be more focused and peaceful. In my practice, I have found that eating carbohydrate, including fruit, in the evening may interfere with a child’s ability to fall asleep. You may wish to try offering protein-rich foods instead.

Power games during the day may lessen their need at bedtime, but they do not guarantee an adult-like bedtime scenario. If a child played power games in the afternoon and later experiences helplessness or sitting, he may need more release through power games and running before he is ready to sleep. It is a real need that should not be denied or suppressed. In addition, your anxious desire to put your children to bed ignites their desire to oppose you as a therapy game. Learning to enjoy the children is much easier and more beneficial than taming them to go against their healthy and needed direction. In fact, suppressing their needs often causes bedtime to take longer and leaves the children stressed and with unresolved emotional needs.

How to Play Bedtime Power Games

You may enjoy your bedtime with the children more if you flow with their invitation for play. Learn what your children need by observing them. If you are not a physical person, it may give you the exercise you need, or you can ask your spouse to chase them. Falling in love with reality can bring peace to bedtime with your children.

In a power game, your goal is not to change what the children do but to empower the game by offering pretend dramatic opposition, such as, “Oh no, they ran away again,” while you chase them over and over again. When you catch a child, bring her back to the bedroom while you huff and puff in “exhaustion” and declare, “I am going to hold you better this time. Oh, I hope … (in exasperation), I hope she doesn’t slip away again … ” Then pretend a desperate attempt to hold on as you put the pajamas on while allowing the next escape with a dramatic, “Oh no!” and a chase.

A true leader is a transparent one. Steer without controlling by making sure to let the children decide when to end the game, or else the healing is cancelled by your being in the position of power.

Transforming Ourselves

When we recognize the rightness of what the child is doing, we can provide for it without resistance, and the child then goes to sleep with ease. In contrast, when we resist, we become impatient and frustrated, and we tend to try to control instead of steer with wisdom. The child is not the cause of our frustration; our opposing thoughts and wants are. You may find peace and freedom in working on yourself to learn to enjoy the bedtime play rather than trying to change your children’s wise and healthy preparation for sleep. You may miss this time in their childhood all too soon.

Power Games at Our House

In our home the words “Lets go to bed” often came from the children. They recognized their own tiredness because we never went against their inner voice, and they loved bedtime because it was so much fun. Needless to say, they fell asleep easily and were always sound sleepers. Sharing our family’s bedtime routine is not as an answer for an “only” way but a window into one peaceful possibility that demonstrates the spirit of what I am suggesting.

The invitation to go to bed, regardless whom it came from, became the beginning of a joyful routine.The children often ran to the music corner and started playing the piano, drumming and dancing. Oh, how we loved that part of our routine. My husband and I would sit around to watch and marvel their creativity. When they thought it was a good idea to go to bed, they went to the kitchen for a snack. Food, laughter, clean up … we were all in the kitchen cherishing our daily tradition.

Next came the pajamas and teeth brushing, and yes, you guessed it, just like your children ours ran away, inviting a chase. We accepted the invitation, or I should say, my husband did. He would chase them to the end of the house, pretend to barely manage to catch them, and then bring them back to the bathroom, out of breath and saying repeatedly, “Oh, I hope they don’t run away again.” And of course, soon enough I would hear the playful dramatic declaration, “Oh no! They ran away again.” As the little ones passed by me with their father in tow, I could only wish that this joy would never end. I often joined at this point, wanting my part in the game. We never initiated the end of the game because that would have destroyed the sense of power the children were experiencing. It would have caused struggle and cancelled the healing.

Once the children had enough, they would get ready for bed eagerly and quickly. Of course once in bed, there were 20 minutes or so of heavenly joy: climbing on Daddy, snuggling, singing, laughing, rolling … These were some of the best hours of my life. In fact, if I could replay the best moments, bedtime with the children would be my very first choice.

 

Available Now! Your Attached Family: Loving Uniquely Issue

TAF2013lovinguniquelyThe Attached Family 2013 Loving Uniquely Issue is about loving each of our children as individuals with unique character traits.

Get your free copy here today.

Attachment Parenting is about loving each of our children as individuals with unique character traits. But this can be difficult to do in a culture that increasingly blames behavior on disorders and difficult temperament.

“Difficult” and “different” are not synonymous with “disordered”…

In this issue of Attached Family, we delve into temperament and how it intersects with parenting and the development of attachment style, and we challenge the notion that every hard-to-handle child needs a diagnosis.

Enjoy these features:

  • What is a Spirited Child? with Dr. Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, author of Raising Your Spirited Child
  • The Orchid Child — API’s Sheena Sommers looks at the research behind genetic susceptibility
  • Differences, Not Disorders with Dr. Barbara Probst, author of When the Labels Don’t Fit
  • The New Gender Gap — Drs. Betsy Gunzelman and Diane Connell discuss how boys are falling behind in our society
  • Avoiding a Meltdown — API’s Leyani Redditi reminds parents of the most overlooked causes of tantrums

Plus:

  • API’s Art Yuen reviews the research at the intersection of Attachment Parenting and infant temperament
  • Father of child temperament, Dr. Jerome Kagan, weighs in
  • AP Canada’s Judy Arnall offers a quiz to parents who determining whether your child of any age is spirited
  • API Leaders discuss how to handle a violent tantrum and the toddler who wants to touch everything
  • Quick tips on dealing with public tantrums
  • API’s Lisa Lord shares her personal story on raising a challenging child
  • API’s Rita Brhel offers insight to food texture issues
  • Results of API’s Reader Poll on child spiritedness
  • Additional resources from around the ‘Net on loving our children uniquely

And more from API:

  • How you can make a difference in this world, through API
  • What’s new in the new edition of API cofounders’ book, Attached at the Heart
  • Thanks, API volunteers!
  • API Local Support Group Directory
  • API Professional Associates Directory
  • API Position Paper on Marriage, parenting and child behavior
  • API’s Patricia Mackie on making couple time a priority
  • API’s Stephanie Petters book review on Getting the Love You Want
  • API Giveaway — entries due Dec. 10, 2013

Click here to get your free copy today!

Ask A Leader: Housework Stress and Car Seat Woes

By Leyani Redditi and Cason Zarro, API Leaders of API of Greater Atlanta, Georgia

Q: I am feeling overwhelmed with household chores and parenting. I want to be present for my children, but the pressure of everything I need to get done is so stressful. How can I get everything done and have time for my kids?

1208354_91362232A: I have struggled with this balance myself. It is fine to say to a brand new parent not to worry about the dirty dishes, but eventually they do need to get done. I find that when my home is relatively clean and we have food in the fridge and clean clothes, my family and I are less stressed.

So how does it all get done? Well, first of all, it doesn’t ALL get done. Some things will go by the wayside. Maybe it is the folding or ironing part of laundry. A basket of clean clothes still counts as doing laundry. By all means cut corners where you feel you can while still feeling good in your space. But even then there are repetitive and time-consuming tasks that somehow need to get done.

Here is what I have found to be the most helpful for getting things done while taking care of my children: Figure out a system, do things in short increments and do something each day.

Find your system: Everyone has a different way of organizing themselves (or not), but when you sit down and list the things that need to happen in a day, you see why you are so busy (and tired) and why sometimes it feels so overwhelming. So make the list, give yourself credit for how hard you work and then get strategic.

Figure out what things need to be done each day, each week and each month. How can other family members help with these tasks? You all live in the house and can all help in some way. My 3-year-old helps set the table and picks up toys during our family 10-minute toy pick-ups. My 7-year-old puts away her own clean laundry and feeds our pets. My husband helps with dishes and home maintenance. I have found it very helpful to have a Morning List and an Evening List. And, no, we don’t get everything done each day, but we are all involved, and we know what needs to be done (most days).

Work in short increments: Having a newborn taught me to use the very short amounts of time I had with both hands free to get a lot done. Talk about learning to prioritize! I love the idea of only spending 10 or maximum 15 minutes on a task. I don’t wait until I have an hour to do chores. I do 10 minutes here, 10 there, and slowly things get done. Really it’s finding the rhythm of your day and your family. I think about fitting in little bursts of activity so that I can have the luxury of long chore-free stretches with my children.

Do something each day: Household chores are ongoing and repetitive; the plates get dirty over and over again. For me, learning to think of these activities as “life maintenance” was very helpful. Just like brushing my teeth, there are some things that need to get done every day (or at least most days). I had to give up the idea that at some point I’d find a bunch of free time to get it all done. So I do something each day. Sometimes getting the dirty dishes into the dishwasher is it. Other days, we pick up the house as a family. We put on great music and set the timer for 10 minutes. Then it is a mad dash around the house full of laughter as we pick up and put away what we can.

Most importantly, give yourself credit for whatever you get done. Feel good you are doing something rather than bad that you are not doing everything.

~ Leyani Redditi

*Scroll down to read more suggestions from our readers.

Q: My 6-week-old baby cries and cries every time he is in the car. How can I help him like the car?

A: Although many babies are put to sleep by the sound and vibration of the car, there are quite a few babes who cry and want to get out. Time will certainly make this better, but there are some things you can try in the meantime.

Some babies are simply not comfortable in their infant car seats. If you think that is the case, you may wish to try a different model car seat. Sometimes switching to a convertible seat may result in a happier baby because the seat may be more comfortable. A convertible seat is one that can be placed rear-facing for infants, and then turned around when your little one has reached the rear-facing limits for the seat. You should consult the car seat manual to determine if your infant meets the minimum weight and size requirement for a convertible seat.

Nurse or feed your baby right before you leave. Make sure his diaper is dry and that he has burped. You want him to be as comfortable as possible before strapping him in his seat.

If there are any music or radio shows that you listened to while pregnant, try listening to them in the car. The familiar noises can be very comforting for babies. Try singing some lullabies or upbeat songs, depending on what your baby prefers. Some babies are soothed by white noise. In a pinch, radio static can act as white noise.

You could also try placing a T-shirt you’ve recently worn close to your dear son. The familiar smell of Mama may help him feel less lonely. Some families have found it helpful to tape a picture of mom’s face where the baby can see it. If you are the passenger, reach back and rub his head or sit in the seat next to him.

Sometimes you may need to pull over to a safe place and nurse or otherwise comfort your baby. I have found it helpful to pull over, sit in the seat next to my baby and lean over to nurse her. She will even fall asleep occasionally, and I can sneak around and drive while she sleeps peacefully. If your son will be comforted this way, it can be helpful to keep him buckled so that he doesn’t wake up when you are trying to get him back in his seat. You can also try nursing him like this before even leaving the house.

Allow extra time, especially if you need to be somewhere at a certain time. This can reduce your stress when you do need to stop. Reduce unnecessary trips, and encourage friends to come visit you.

If all else fails, talk to your pediatrician to rule out a medical reason such as acid reflux.

~ Cason Zarro

We asked readers on Facebook to tell us how they find balance with household chores and parenting. Click here to read the full conversation on Facebook.

Sunshine: Lower your expectations. Best piece of advice that was given to me!

Erin: We gave up cable and hired a housekeeper to come once every 2 weeks. Best money ever spent in our home of 2 full-time workers. It allows us to spend time with our kids after work and still get lunches packed, etc.

Ina: Prioritize–listening to your child’s idea is a “now,” folding laundry is a “later,” and cleaning the garage is a “maybe.” Downsize–don’t have too many clothes, toys and knick-knacks around. The more you own, the more you clean. Change the bottlenecks–if there is a time of crazy stress during the day, try to change it (e.g., if bathing in the evening is stressful, bathe them after lunch).

Leah: Sometimes you just have to let go of the phrases “I need to” or “I should.”

Elizabeth: I find a lot of comfort from a weekly chart. I do just two or three main house cleaning things per day, and then I’m not spending an entire day cleaning everything. I also remind myself that my chart is a guide, not a “to do” list. I keep my kitchen tasks for after school time since my son is in there already doing his homework. He sits up to the counter, and I help him with his homework as needed while I do the dishes and get dinner on.

Sandra: The bottom stair and a shelf at the top of the stairs are the gathering area for things that need to be put away. No wasted trips up or down the stairs. Going up anyway–take the packs of tissue to the hall closet. Coming down–bring the glasses to put in the dishwasher.

Jennifer: I take a nightly bath with my two youngest (4 months & 19 months). It’s probably the only way I can even fit in a bath at night for myself. It’s such a sweet moment and my favorite part of the day. I wash each, hand them one by one to dad to dress, then rinse off myself. Simple things make a difference!

Jane: Keep kids involved; it’s their house, too. All three of them love it when I allow them to wash the bathroom (not the toilet). We get $2 spray bottles, fill with water and either vinegar, bicarbonate or lemon, and let them go for it. Let go of your pre-kids standard.

Brittany: Just decide sometimes that it’s actually not the priority; sometimes playing with your kids, reading stories, or taking a relaxing bath while listening to jazz or opera is more important. Sometimes meditating and deciding to be grateful that it’s your life and those are your kids before you crank up the music and start working helps you keep focus.

Cathy: By just implying it should all be balanced and we should be managing it–without staff–is just unfair at times.

Savannah: Having a routine of cleaning during a certain part of the day has unintentionally given my daughter a routine for when to have “alone” play time, which she enjoys quite a bit.

Maria: If you have something you need to do without kids nagging, give them lots of attention first. Play a game, get exercise, feed them, snuggle. Then try to get your task done.

Lauren: Babywearing definitely helps!

Aimee: Honestly, I just let things go. I clean up food and big messes, but our house is not perfectly clean unless we have guests coming over, then I do a quick major overhaul! We work full time, and I’d rather spend the time I do have with my daughter. I’d love to always have healthy home-cooked meals, but we do a lot of ready-made meals from Trader Joes.

Louise: My hubby is superb and cleans the kitchen whilst balancing both kids in the mornings, so I can sleep a bit more (5-month-old feeds 2 hourly), and I do the rest of the house. Online grocery shopping is a godsend!

Elizabeth: A few tactical things we do to help keep me from being overwhelmed: hired a cleaning person, make two meals on Sunday so we have leftovers for the first half of the work week, and use a grocery list app.

Josie: While my husband is doing the bedtime routine, I take 10 minutes to pick up the toys and straighten up a bit. It’s easier to start from zero the next morning!

Melanie: I have baskets in several rooms, so when I see something that doesn’t belong in that room (comb, dog collar, Lego brick, calculator, etc.), I pop it in the basket. Then every week or so, I empty all the baskets into a pile on the lounge floor and shout, “Come and get your stuff; anything not collected goes in the charity bag.” Works every time, and we quite often have stuff there for charity, too.

Kristen: My husband shares in all chores and, in fact, probably does more than me since our daughter was born (9 months old and breastfeeding). I spent half my childhood pretending to keep house or work … just because our society tells us these things aren’t fun doesn’t have to make it true for us. For our family, housekeeping is part of the overall peace of our lives.

Judy: I am thinking about doing a home office share with another work-from-home mom so that we can trade off child care on 2 hour shifts for each other while the other gets stuff done.

Cherry: I remind myself that it isn’t my ever-so-clean carpets and clean kitchen that I will be remembering on my death bed … it will be my time spent with my DD.

 

 

 

Attached Family: Loving Uniquely Issue 2013

TAF2013lovinguniquelyThe Attached Family 2013 Loving Uniquely Issue is about loving each of our children as individuals with unique character traits.

Click here to access your free copy today!

Attachment Parenting is about loving each of our children as individuals with unique character traits. But this can be difficult to do in a culture that increasingly blames behavior on disorders and difficult temperament.

“Difficult” and “different” are not synonymous with “disordered”…

In this issue of Attached Family, we delve into temperament and how it intersects with parenting and the development of attachment style, and we challenge the notion that every hard-to-handle child needs a diagnosis.

Enjoy these features:

  • What is a Spirited Child? with Dr. Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, author of Raising Your Spirited Child
  • The Orchid Child — API’s Sheena Sommers looks at the research behind genetic susceptibility
  • Differences, Not Disorders with Dr. Barbara Probst, author of When the Labels Don’t Fit
  • The New Gender Gap — Drs. Betsy Gunzelman and Diane Connell discuss how boys are falling behind in our society
  • Avoiding a Meltdown — API’s Leyani Redditi reminds parents of the most overlooked causes of tantrums

Plus:

  • API’s Art Yuen reviews the research at the intersection of Attachment Parenting and infant temperament
  • Father of child temperament, Dr. Jerome Kagan, weighs in
  • AP Canada’s Judy Arnall offers a quiz to parents who determining whether your child of any age is spirited
  • API Leaders discuss how to handle a violent tantrum and the toddler who wants to touch everything
  • Quick tips on dealing with public tantrums
  • API’s Lisa Lord shares her personal story on raising a challenging child
  • API’s Rita Brhel offers insight to food texture issues
  • Results of API’s Reader Poll on child spiritedness
  • Additional resources from around the ‘Net on loving our children uniquely

And more from API:

  • How you can make a difference in this world, through API
  • What’s new in the new edition of API cofounders’ book, Attached at the Heart
  • Thanks, API volunteers!
  • API Local Support Group Directory
  • API Professional Associates Directory
  • API Position Paper on Marriage, parenting and child behavior
  • API’s Patricia Mackie on making couple time a priority
  • API’s Stephanie Petters book review on Getting the Love You Want
  • API Giveaway — entries due Dec. 10, 2013

Click here to access your free copy of this issue and past issues of Attached Family magazine

Recipe for Raising Healthy Eaters

By Sarina Behar Natkin, LICSW, parent educator, www.growparenting.com. Originally published on TheAttachedFamily.com on May 4, 2012.

“What’s for dinner?”

“Ugh, I hate green beans!”

“Can I have dessert yet?”

“I’m not hungry (but I will be as soon as you clear the table)”

The list of mealtime complaints can go on and on–not to mention the mayhem that may ensue before your little one can even talk. Not many parents can forget the frustration of thrown food, the mess of the yogurt in the hair, or the game of “watch Mommy pick up my bagel over and over again.”

Food is a huge part of human life, and most parents I meet cannot wait to dive into the world of food with their babies. I am the wife of a food blogger and chef, and we must have spent weeks talking about what our first food would be! Little did we know we were in store for a whole lot more than the idyllic family meals of The Cosby Show.

Clearly, Americans seem to have a love-hate relationship with food. Scan the headlines in just about any newspaper, and it’s filled with what to eat, what not to eat, who should eat less, who should eat more. It’s enough to drive an anxious parent to confiscate Halloween candy, only to wallow in chocolate when no one is looking. Continue reading

Making Time-out Positive

By Kelly Bartlett, author of Encouraging Words For Kids, certified positive discipline educator and Attachment Parenting International Leader (API of Portland, Oregon, USA), www.kellybartlett.net

Photo credit: Penny Matthews
Photo credit: Penny Matthews

In parenting, time-outs have an important and effective role. A time-out is a chance for children and parents to pause, regroup and collect themselves. Though time-outs are an often-used consequence for tantrums, outbursts or fits of anger, they are ineffective when used punitively. When a child is sent away to “go to time-out,” she not only learns that her emotions are unacceptable but that she must also learn how to deal with them by herself. Punitive time-outs tell a child: Your feelings are not OK.

Time-outs are most effective when they are about feeling better as opposed to being used as a “thinking tool” or a punishment. Rather, when they are used in a proactive way—much like those taken in sports games—time-outs teach a child acceptance and self-regulation of strong emotions and are a very effective discipline tool.

When emotions are running high, everyone needs time to calm down and feel better so that we can “improve our game.” Dr. Jane Nelsen, author of Positive Time Out, advocates that children have very immature levels of brain development and need a lot of help in regulating their emotions. “Where in the world did we get this crazy idea that in order for children to do better, first we have to make them feel worse?” says Nelsen. “Children do better when they feel better.” She says that the way many time-outs are implemented only serve to make a child feel worse, ashamed or isolated when they could be opportunities to help children learn how to handle strong emotions.

Here are some steps you can take to ensure that time-outs are positive, helpful experiences for your child.

Talk about feelings. At a time when no one is currently distressed, talk to your child about moments when he’s been really upset. Let him know that everyone gets angry, sad and frustrated sometimes. Make sure your child knows that feelings are always OK. But some emotions sure don’t feel pleasant, and it helps to know what to do then.

Designate a feel-good spot. Ask your child’s input on where the two of you could create a “feel good” place. It might be in her room, on the couch in the living room or in another spot. To some children, going into a bedroom might seem too isolating and they would prefer to be able to see a parent, while other children might choose their room because it can keep out younger siblings. Whether it is a bedroom, bathroom or a spot in the kitchen, allow your child to choose an area that will be designated as her place to regroup and calm down. Have her create a name for this special spot.

Create a comfort basket. Certified positive discipline trainer Glenda Montgomery advocates the addition of a “comfort basket” in feel-good spots. “If a child has any special toy or stuffed animal that he likes to hold when he’s upset, definitely add it to the comfort basket.” Blankets, books and music are all excellent items to put in comfort baskets, as are lumps of clay to pound, exercise bands to stretch and squishy balls to squeeze. Older children may like to keep a journal or sketchbook in their basket or even a bottle of bubble bath to use. If you’re using a large area or a whole room as the feel-good spot, you could also include bigger items such as a punching bag or trampoline. The idea is to fill the area with items to help your child relieve stress and begin to calm down. Some children benefit from a physical outlet, while others prefer emotional outlets.

Ask about preferences. When your child gets emotionally overwhelmed and upset and it’s time to put the feel-good spot to use, ask if she would like to go by herself or if she’d like you to come, too. Children have different preferences for this; some kids may feel “banished” if they are expected to go alone and would feel more secure if you’re there supporting them, while others need to be left alone to decompress. It is important to respect their preferences and understand that these may change over the years.

Deborah Thompson, a mother of three and an administrator of an online parenting forum, finds that she is able to adapt the positive time-out techniques to each of her children in various situations. She says, “I have used the car, a bathroom, even an out-of-the-way spot in the grocery store when I’ve needed to take a cooling-down moment with my child.” She also says that the most important element of positive time-out is the ability to focus on reconnection. “Once my children have had some time to cool off, I always make sure I reconnect with them afterwards.” That may be in the form of a loving, wordless hug, an empathic conversation or a cooperative activity like playing a board game or cooking together. It’s a gesture that tells your child, “You were mad, and that’s OK. I love you no matter how you feel.”

Teaching children to calm down after being in a highly aroused emotional state begins at birth. Arlene Raphael, author of Positive Discipline for Children With Special Needs, says, “Whenever a parent picks up a crying baby with the intent to help calm her, she is experiencing a positive time-out.”  Holding and comforting an upset child stimulates calm-inducing brain chemicals that help regulate emotions.  As a child grows, he can become a more proactive participant in deciding how a time-out will look and feel.  And parents can ensure that time-outs are truly in their child’s best interest if they ask for input, work together to understand everyone’s needs, remain flexible and keep in mind the big picture–that a time-out is just a way of helping a child feel better so he can do better.

 

Attached Family: Parenting Support Issue 2013

The Attached Family 2012 Issue on Parenting Support is full of what every parent needs — support. This issue features articles on why TAFAPM2012it’s important, how to get it, and why API is so dedicated to providing it to families.

Access to the online publication is free of charge!

In addition to highlighting API support groups and AP Month partners local support, the Attached Family goes into:

Refocusing our perspective as a new parent
Breastfeeding on demand
Q&A: Separation anxiety in preschoolers
Benefits of touch
Cosleeping with older children means letting go
Q&A: AP-friendly childcare when giving birth
Q&A: Messy rooms & not wanting to clean up
Children learn from how parents handle emotions
“Ask a Leader” with Leyani Redditi & Cason Zarro
on handling criticism & newborn demands
“Becoming Parents” with Rita Brhel on cosleeping expectations
“Respond with Sensitivity” with Kelly Bartlett on listening skills
“Forget Me Not” with Patricia Mackie on loving your partner
“API Reads” with Stephanie Petters on Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids by Laura Markham
Are Support Groups Relevant in the Internet Age?
Parenting Support Survey
Calendar of Support
“The Support Group Experience” with Kathleen Mitchell-Askar & Bonnie Coffa
AP Month 2012: “Who Needs Group Support?” with Artimesia Yuen
Dear Readers
Contributors
Thank You to Our Donors
Welcome to API
What is Attachment Parenting?
API Support Group Directory
Notable Resources Beyond API

Journal of Attachment Parenting Vol. 1 No. 1

AP JournalAPI debuts the new Journal of Attachment Parenting
The Journal of Attachment Parenting is an annual review of the most eye-opening research in sensitive responsiveness. For this debut issue, the Journal of Attachment Parenting highlights 41 studies selected through a review process that evaluated articles published in high-quality, peer-reviewed journals from around the world. An additional 324 studies have been recognized for their contributions to the Attachment Parenting community.
Access to the online publication is free of charge.

API Reads Nov & Dec 2013: Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child

Do you know what Emotion Coaching is?Raising and Emotionally Intelligent Child book cover

Have you heard of the “scaffolding technique”?

Do you know the role of the father in our children’s lives?

How can you bring more empathy into your relationship with your children and partner?

We’ll be discussing these and other topics in the API Reads book club discussion of Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child by John Gottman, PhD. Come join the discussion at GoodReads during November and December.

Spotlight On: You Are My World

An interview with author Amy Hatkoff about her book You Are My World.

Tell us about your book. What was the inspiration?

Today, more than ever before, there is a burgeoning body of scientific research confirming that babies develop on every level through the give and take of relationships. And the science is telling us that babies with secure attachments have the best outcomes in life. Study after study shows that attuned, sensitive and responsive parenting leads to optimal development.Small_you_are_m-210

I have always felt that parents were the last to receive critical information about babies and often make decisions based on cultural myths and misconceptions. It seems that child development is one of the best kept secrets in America! I wanted to synthesize the research into a language that was easy for parents to understand and apply to everyday interactions with their babies. I wanted to “picture” what attachment parenting looks like and communicate what it feels like from a baby’s point of view.

You Are My World provides an opportunity for parents to visually, emotionally and intellectually experience the impact they have on their babies. I also wanted to give a voice to babies and celebrate all that they do, know and are–right from the start.

How will this book benefit families?

The book is meant to resonate with the wisdom of a parent’s heart. We know how important love is for a baby–it is everything. But so much can stand in the way of our accessing or expressing our love. In my years of working with parents, I realized it takes more than information to help people make a shift or to really integrate a concept. I had been looking for a way to bypass the defenses of our minds and untie the knots created by personal experiences, cultural beliefs and historic ideas. You Are My World uses the voices and beauty of babies themselves to speak directly to our hearts.

I also believe that less is more. I think people can glaze over with too much information. I was trying to distill the information into its simplest and most readily accessible and absorbable form.

I hope the book will help parents feel more confident and empowered. You Are My World celebrates the power of a parent’s love and portrays the extraordinary impact of the ordinary acts of parenting. Every parent can hold, soothe and smile at their baby. The book shows that it is the seemingly insignificant moments with the significant people in a baby’s life that shape who that baby will become. I hope the book will encourage parents to listen to their hearts.

What are your views of Attachment Parenting International and what API is doing? How does your book work within our mission statement?

I think API is essential and doing a fantastic job of encouraging Attachment Parenting, which is known to be so critical for healthy development.

The dedication in the book is: “To parents everywhere, whose love has the power to change the world.” While I believe this intuitively, I thought I might be going a little bit overboard in making this statement. But the more I read, the more research I find that makes a connection between Attachment Parenting and peaceful children–and ultimately, the hope for a peaceful world.  My hope is that we can all continue to find ways to free our hearts from the confines of culture, history and our personal pasts and become free to truly nurture our children.

Where can readers find out more about the book and your work?

People can go to my website: www.amyhatkoff.com. For  nonprofit discounts on bulk orders or to obtain a PowerPoint of the book, please contact me at amyhatkoff@yahoo.com or at 347-949-3919.

Be sure to check out the upcoming “Loving Uniquely” issue of Attached Family for a chance to win a copy of the book.