Category Archives: 4. The Growing Child

From age 4 to age 9.

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.

 

 

 

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.

 

Spotlight On: Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids

An interview with Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids author, Dr. Laura Markham.

Tell us about your book. What was the inspiration?PeacefulParentHappyKids_FINAL.indd

Most parenting books focus on changing the child’s behavior. But when you try to control another person’s behavior, they resist. Kids only accept our guidance to the degree that they feel connected to us. In other words, our influence with our children and our ability to guide them as they grow comes from their connection to us.

So Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids is designed to help parents stay connected as their babies grow into toddlers and then into children, and to give parents best practices to guide and coach kids, rather than control them.

Finally, this book is designed to foster emotional intelligence in both parents and children. When humans–both parents and children–are in the grip of strong emotions like anger and fear, we disconnect from each other. So one of my goals in writing this book was to help parents learn to regulate their own emotions. That enables them to stay connected even in the face of their child’s upsets and to support their child’s healthy emotional development.

What inspired you to write the book?

There are lots of good books about babies written from an attachment perspective. But once babies start to assert themselves as toddlers, parents are often challenged to stay connected and foster healthy emotional development as they set limits. The parents I work with kept asking me for a book that elaborated on what I was saying to them in coaching sessions–a blueprint for raising a happy, connected, emotionally healthy child!

How will this book benefit families?

Parents do the hardest job there is, often without the information and support they need. This book gives parents that information and support, with hands-on tools that are easy to put into practice. Parents learn to regulate their own emotions to stay calm, they learn how to stay connected even while stressed, and they learn how to help kids want to cooperate even as they grow into strong, self-directed people.

Because I’m a mom, this book is completely practical, focusing on how to transform your daily interactions with your child. Instead of tips to control or manipulate behavior with punishment and bribes, there are step-by-step recipes to coach your child’s development into a more confident, resilient, self- disciplined, emotionally intelligent person.

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

My training is an attachment theorist, so I’m a big fan of API. I love that API makes attachment parenting accessible for all families. API’s Eight Principles are brilliant because they succinctly introduce parents to the needs of children for optimal development. And, of course, since parents can only offer children what they have inside themselves, the eighth principle–balance and taking care of yourself–is critical to our ability as parents to respond with sensitivity to our children’s needs.

Lysa Parker and Barbara Nicholson’s book, Attached at the Heart, explains the Eight Principles in depth. Some of these principles, like responding with sensitivity and using positive discipline, can be hard to put into practice as your child gets into the toddler years and beyond because we as parents are only human and we get emotionally triggered. So my book gives parents the tools to put the Eight Principles into practice by regulating their own emotions and by staying connected as their baby grows into a child.

In addition, Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids extends the discussion on discipline. API advocates for loving guidance that strengthens the connection between parent and child, just as I do. Often positive discipline approaches don’t address emotion sufficiently to “work,” especially with more difficult kids. My book goes into detail on how to address the emotions that drive “bad behavior” so kids stop acting out. (“Acting out” just means acting out a feeling or need that can’t be articulated.)  I know that “discipline” comes from the same word as “disciple” and means “to guide,” but any dictionary will tell you that the word has come to mean punishment. The research shows that children do need guidance and limits, but that those limits need to be set with empathy if the child is to develop self-discipline. So Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids gives parents both the theory and the practice of how to set limits with empathy, so the child WANTS to cooperate and has the self-discipline and emotional regulation to do so. With this approach, discipline is never necessary.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

As parents, we raise the next generation. So parents deserve the support of the entire society. As Charles Raison says, “One generation full of deeply loving parents would change the brain of the next generation, and with that, the world.”  I wrote this book to help all parents who read it become the mothers or fathers they aspire to be for their children.

Where can people find more information?

People can visit my website, www.ahaparenting.com.

 A limited number of books can also be purchased from the API Store.

How to Parent with Attunement and Creativity

By Brooke Campbell,  MA, Licensed Creative Arts Therapist, Registered Drama Therapist and Board Certified Trainer, founder and director of Creative Kinections LLC, www.creativekinections.com. Originally published on www.relationshipadvicecafe.com, reprinted with permission.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAThis article was challenging to put into words because parenting is not easily definable. Once we accept that there are no “perfect parents” and we all are in a process of learning and discovery, we will grow alongside our children’s development.

1. Be present with your presence. Parenting is messy and involves a continual process of being present. Parenthood is an act of doing and a state of being. Being present requires us to feel our own presence. This takes courage as we navigate through the inner landscape of our strengths and shortcomings. Those challenging parts of ourselves that are difficult to accept need our full attention like a crying infant or tantrumming toddler. When we neglect or avoid doing the hard “internal” work on ourselves, areas in our home and family life suffer. If we avoid the chaos within ourselves, how can we tolerate our own child’s chaos, struggles and problems?

Our children are astute creatures and experts at reading our non-verbal cues. When we are suffering, our children empathically know and sense it. If we are not able to role model our own set of ways to peacefully problem solve and use emotional intelligence, how will they feel safe enough to show us their pain? When we are not present within our daily lives, it delivers the message to our children that we are not capable of being able to handle their struggles.

State your feelings to your child and the reasons behind the emotion in an age-appropriate way. Empathy is learned. This doesn’t mean you can emotionally burden your child or use your feelings to manipulate or victimize. Your ability to name and express feelings safely is a powerful teaching lesson for your child.

2. Do your internal homework. Children are conditioned to complete and hand in their homework for a teacher to grade. As parents, we must initiate completing our own internal homework, including asking ourselves questions like:

  • Would I want to be parented the way I parent my own child?

  • What messages (spoken or unspoken) were sent to me during childhood from my family of origin? For example, some adults I work with share that they felt neglected, not good enough, ignored, misunderstood, silenced, abused, controlled, manipulated and isolated as children.

  • How are the messages I learned from childhood shaping my role as a parent?

  • Am I parenting my child the way I was parented? If so, was this a conscious or unconscious choice?

Your responses will serve as a guide on your parenting journey.

3. Envision yourself as your child. Parenting can be frustrating. Here is one activity to use for grounding your stress. One powerful and effective drama therapy intervention I use involves “role-reversal.” When we put our agendas aside and shift our perspective by thinking and feeling as our children, we gain a powerful amount of empathy and insight. Imagining yourself as your child can provide you with specific answers about his or her worries, concerns, struggles, frustrations, needs and wants. It is then your job to tune into what makes your child tick to inform your decision-making as parents. Instead of being influenced by outside forces, such as your own parents, in-laws, neighbors, friends and parenting books, when you imagine yourself as your child you will gain confidence in knowing what is needed to shape your child’s development.

4. Practice mirroring in movement and sound to create attunement. No matter what our child’s age or stage of development, he or she will alter negative behaviors, moods and attitudes when we reflect his or her body language and speech. Consider times when we become highly in tune during conversations with people we value. We begin to model their body language, repeat similar themes and words, and we may laugh at the same time. When our gestures, thoughts and feelings are mirrored back to us, we feel validated. Our children have a deep need to be validated and witnessed by us. It’s our responsibility to do so.

5. Develop a practice of action. Our children are always in action, even when they’re still.  When we develop a practice of action, we allow moments to occur which bring our focus onto something outside of our child’s behavior and ourselves. Pass a ball, break out into song, get on the floor and play, turn the radio up, dance at home, read the book your teen is reading, play cards or your favorite board game. Even if your child’s action is slight, such as tapping a fork on the table or looking outside, take their cues so you can follow through with a seamless response.

You can also name what your child is doing and serve as a “double” for him or her. Doubling is a term that is used in the action-oriented form of psychotherapy called psychodrama, in which an individual communicates on a deeper level what the protagonist is experiencing, thus voicing the protagonist’s unspoken words. In this case, the protagonist is your child. Validate your child’s actions by naming them and the motivation behind them. Then follow up your validation by responding to the action in an intuitive way. Responding to your child’s actions could include mirroring, singing a song about the action, doing a dance inspired by the action or creating a character who would engage in your child’s same action. Be creative by taking your child’s cue to enter his or her world in order to develop a deeper sense of attunement. This shows your child you are listening, you understand him or her and you care.

6. Bring creativity and imagination to your parenting practice. Children, no matter the age or stage of development, are wired to think and behave outside of the box because of such intense levels of imagination and ability to express themselves. But they may experience periods of feeling helpless and powerless. They can’t make all decisions on their own or be fully independent. Experiences of powerlessness and helplessness have a vital need to be expressed. The expression needs a safe place to land. This may mean blowing bubbles in your house, ripping paper up to get frustrations out, or you enacting your child’s feelings in an emotionally intelligent way, such as, “I’m so mad my toy broke! Now I can’t play with it.” To foster your child’s ability to express, try enrolling yourself as a clown or a child, or gather leaves to create art. Your children will thank you because you gave them the gift of expression.

7. Break out of your patterns. Children do thrive on routine, but they also need us to break out of ours in order to witness their needs and challenges. In my ten years as a drama therapist, I have encountered parents who kept forcing their children to fit into squares when the children were clearly circles. This analogy is used to inform us that we need to break out of our patterns and ways of operating, behaving and thinking to be attuned to our children. Parenting is not about convenience. It’s about commitment to positively shaping their development. If our pattern also matches our child’s pattern of operating, then what we’re doing is working. If we are imposing our control on our child to meet our needs at the expense of our child, then we need to make some important changes and make them immediately.

8. Imagine fast-forwarding your life: Picture your children as adults. Children grow before our eyes, and I know how challenging it is to accept our child’s fast-paced development. If, for a moment, you imagine your children as adults, what kind of life do you envision them living? Do not imagine how you want them to live. Base your child’s imagined future on his or her strengths, skill set, personality and temperament. How do you picture them as adults? Do they feel competent? Are they independent? Are they happy? The information you have now about your child will guide your ability to envision your child’s potential future as an adult. If you have a strained relationship with your child now, how will that affect his or her future as an adult? You are laying the foundation for the house of your child’s life. Is your child’s foundation built on quicksand or steady ground?

9. Imagine your daughter/son wrote you a letter. If your child were to write you a letter about how he or she experiences you as a parent, what would it say? The thing is, you know the areas in the way you parent that need work–the parts that you may be ashamed of or feel out of control about. If your child wrote about your need for control, your shame, your fear, your anxiety and your rage, how would it feel to have someone know your truth? What changes would you make as a parent now to work through your parenting challenges?

10. Imagine your child becoming a parent. When your child becomes an adult, segueing into parenthood, what kind of parent will he or she become? Our children most likely will take on qualities of how we parented them, since our treatment toward our children is a learned behavior. Yes, we as humans are imperfect beings. Where can we make positive shifts in our own parenting choices to implement a strong framework for our children for when they have a family of their own?

11. Develop adaptability and accept change. One tip for parenting and for coping through life’s struggles is developing an open approach to adapting and accepting change. Parenting, like childhood, is about fluidity, flexibility and change, which also mirrors the ebb and flow of tidal waves.

Practically speaking, this means that we may need to alter our behavior, approach, communication style, actions and life choices. When children enter our lives, they metaphorically hold a mirror up to us and encourage us to change, just like they transform as they grow.

12. Take your child’s lead. Children are born innocent, curious and creative. When you accept that children have equal rights as adults, you will notice positive shifts in your parenting approach. Be curious about life, people, experiences, textures, colors, problems, seasons, etc. Activate your sense of touch, sound, sight, taste, and smell. When we jump into our child’s world of imagination and curiosity, we heal our wounded child within, and we strengthen our relationship with our child. The message here is take your child’s lead. Usually when we take our child’s lead, moments transform and negative behavior and moods shift.

 

Spotlight On: The Power of Parenting

API: Can you tell us about your book? 

The Power of Parenting is a motivational parenting book designed to help parents instill infants and children of all ages with positive beliefs, self-esteem, focus and a successful mind-set so that they can face the challenges life throws at them with confidence and a smile.power-parenting-kindle-96

For years, I have been studying motivational and self-improvement sciences. I’ve transformed my life, and through the life coaching programs I’ve developed, transformed the lives of thousands of other people around the globe, helping them to realize their potential and lead successful lives. We’ve turned our lives around, but I’ve always wondered how some young people manage to succeed so naturally and easily at an age much younger than most. I studied their cases, and after a period of deep research confirmed the idea that the building blocks for their success were instilled in their minds long before they were conscious of them. And that’s where the idea for The Power of Parenting came from. I wanted to give parents that opportunity to build strong, positive, healthy and successful beliefs in their children to give them the best possible chance of reaching their full potential and succeeding in every aspect of their lives.

API: What inspired you to write the book?

A lot of people think that self-esteem, confidence, positivity and success can’t be taught, that some people just have them and others don’t. I completely disagree. By feeding your children positive values and beliefs, you can give them the mental strength to take on any challenge life throws at them. My inspiration for this book is not just to help parents raise strong, happy, confident and successful kids, but to help the parents themselves, giving them the tools they need to turn their lives around so they and their children can grow stronger together.

API: How will this book benefit families?

What parent doesn’t dream of their children growing up to be strong, confident, happy and successful adults? I believe this book will give families the confidence to raise the kind of children who turn around and say, “Thanks, Mom and Dad, I wouldn’t be where I am if it weren’t for you.” That’s the gift I aim to give parents.

The principles taught in The Power of Parenting are very easy to absorb because they’re written in a very fun, light and easy-to-read way. I’ve gone to great pains to explain complex techniques in the simplest possible way because I know that parents are busy, and I want them to be able to absorb and apply the information quickly and easily without having to read and reread difficult passages.

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

I really admire the principles of Attachment Parenting International and believe that many of the core values expressed in my book align with those that API disseminates. I encourage positive parenting, as well as the strengthening of the parent-child relationship through shared growth and self-improvement. The Power of Parenting is primarily focused on the mental and emotional health and well-being of children, training them for success in a positive, nurturing and natural way, and in this vein aligns very closely with API’s mission statement to educate and support parents in raising secure and joyful children.

API: Is there anything else you’d like to share?

A lot of what I teach in my book is quite new. I call it a revolutionary way of raising children, but really the ideas and techniques I describe have been around for centuries. If you read the works of history’s most successful people, such as Olympic athletes, billionaires and world leaders, you’ll hear them echo exactly what I teach in The Power of Parenting. With the right mind-set, positive beliefs, a strong sense of self-esteem and self-confidence, there’s no limit to what a person can achieve, so why shouldn’t we be nurturing our sons and our daughters with empowering thoughts and building them up to be the best they can be?

My aim with this book is to help parents raise confident, happy children who see possibilities where others see problems, who learn and develop talents quickly, and who grow up to face life with a winner’s mind-set.

API: Where can readers get more information about you and the book?

People can visit the website at www.bethebestparent.com.

A limited number of copies of the book are available in the API Store.

 

 

Discipline for Young Children: 12 Alternatives to Time-Outs

Attachment Parenting Month 2013 is here! With this year’s theme of “Parenting Creatively: The Art of Parenting” in mind, we are pleased to share this article by reader Ariadne Brill, who blogs at positiveparentingconnection.net.

980545_20424464If you have read about the benefits of skipping time-out in favor of other ways to guide children but are not sure where to start, here are 12 alternatives to time-out  that give parents and children a chance to address choices and situations with the intention to offer guidance while maintaining a positive, respectful and peaceful connection.

These alternatives are mostly geared towards children aged 1 to 6 years but also work well beyond that, too.

1. Take a break together. The key is to do this together and before things get out of hand. So if your child is having a difficult time or making unsafe choices like hitting a playmate, find a quiet space to take a break together. Just five minutes of connection, listening to what your child is feeling and talking about more appropriate choices really helps. This is similar to a time-in.

2. Second chances. Ever made a mistake and felt so relieved to have a chance at a do-over? Often letting children try again lets them address the problem or change their behavior. “I can’t let you put glue all over the table. Do you want to try this again on paper?”

3. Problem solve together. If there is a problem and your child is acting out of frustration, giving him a chance to talk about the problem and listening to a solution he has can turn things around for the better.

4. Ask questions. Sometimes children do things but we don’t quite get it.  We might assume incorrectly they are doing something “bad” or “naughty” when, in fact, they are trying to understand how something works. Ask what they are up to with the intent to listen and understand first, then correct them by providing the appropriate outlet or information that is missing. So try, “What are you trying to do?” instead of, “Why in the world…ugh!!! Time out!”

5. Read a story. Another great way to help children understand how to make better choices is by reading stories with characters that are making mistakes, having big feelings or needing help to make better choices. Also, reading together can be a really positive way to reconnect and direct our attention to our child.

6. Puppets & play. Young children love to see puppets or dolls come to life to teach positive lessons. “I’m Honey Bear, and oh, it looks like you scribbled crayons on the ground. I’m flying to the kitchen to get a sponge for us to clean it up together. Come along!” After cleaning up together, “Oh, now let’s fetch some paper, and will you color me a picnic on the paper? Paper is for coloring with crayons!”

7. Give two choices. Let’s say your child is doing something completely unacceptable. Provide her with two alternatives that are safe, respectful and acceptable, and let her choose what she will do from there. By receiving two choices, the child can keep some control over her decisions while still learning about boundaries.

8. Listen to a song. Sometimes taking a fun break to release some tension and connect is all that children need to return to making better choices and all that parents need to loosen up a bit and let go of some stress. Listen to a song or take a dance break!

9. Go outside. Changing locations often gives us parents a chance to redirect behavior to something more appropriate. “I cannot let you scale the bookshelf. You CAN climb on the monkey bars. Let’s go outside and practice that instead!” Or, “Cutting the carpet with the scissors is not acceptable. Let’s go outside and cut some grass.”

10. Breathe. A big, deep breath for both parents and children can really help us calm down and look at what is going on with a new perspective. Take a big “lion” breath to get out frustrations or short and quick “bunny” breaths to feel calm and re-energized.

11. Draw a picture. A wonderful way for children to talk about mistakes is to make a picture of what they did or could have done differently. It’s a low-key way to open a window for talking to each other about making better choices.

12. Chill-out space. For a time-out to work, it needs to be something that helps everyone calm down, not something that makes children frightened or scared. A chill-out space is an area where children can go sit and think, tinker with some quiet toys, and have some space alone until they feel ready to talk or return to being with others. Using the chill-out space should be offered as a choice and not a command.

Every child and every situation is unique, so these tools are not one-size-fits-all but rather a list of ideas to lean on to expand your parenting toolbox. I find that striving to use proactive tools like these to respond to and to guide children towards better choices works far more positively than having to react when things have gotten out of hand.

 

Beyond Red Ridinghood: Protecting Children From Our Pain About the World

By Tamara Brennan, Ph.D., executive director of The Sexto Sol Center for Community Action and writer at Mindful Moms Blog. Originally published on www.NationOfChange.org.

If, as the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child, what happens when “bad things” keep showing up to disrupt the calm in that village?  For those of us in the United States, watching the news with so many reports of war, shootings in public places, and information about policies that fly in the face of decency and fair play, well, it’s enough to ruin what inner peace we may have left despite of the hectic pace of our lives. Then it starts to rain too much in Colorado, creating yet another of the natural disasters that seem to happen all too frequently these days. As caring people, we carry an awareness of tragedy in our pockets as we go about our daily lives.    1418479_35492784

Each of these events is a part of an endless stream of bad news and tragedy. When they come out of nowhere too close to home, they shake up our sense of safety that we usually take for granted. But as we react to the news of each new shocking happening, the children in our lives are watching us, feeling our reactions and wondering what it all means about the world that they are just beginning to learn about. How we respond to their questions and fears is a test of the depth of our commitment to peacemaking.

Not everyone agrees about what information should be withheld from young children. Decades ago I was involved in informing people about the realities of the dirty wars in Central America, with their characteristic and systematic violation of human rights. On the way to a speaking engagement, I asked my speaking partner if he would consider not mentioning the details of a particularly horrendous and upsetting recent event if children were present in the audience. To my dismay he argued that the good to be gained by telling people the shocking truth about our country’s foreign policy outweighed the possible impact on a child or two.

Sure enough, there was a young girl sitting right in the front row. My partner did not censure his remarks. All I could do was watch helplessly as the child visibly recoiled with the telling. It was like witnessing desecration of holy ground. Afterwards, he and a close friend argued that children “need to know” what is really going on in the world, as if that experience somehow was ultimately for her benefit.

That is a sentiment that I have heard many times from activists, but I’ve yet to hear a compelling reason for this kind of early education about the ugly side human affairs. In a world of terrible atrocities, infuriating betrayals and devastating disasters, teaching young children about “the way things really are” goes way beyond telling them the story of Red Ridinghood and the lecherous wolf.

In order for children to develop in a healthy way, they must be allowed to have a fundamental sense that they are safe and that this is a benevolent universe. Their relative feeling of trust in the world will be the foundation on which they will build all their future experience – no small thing. The world is complicated, absolutely, but how is it beneficial to allow young children to believe that it is threatening, chaotic and loveless?

A child’s ability to comprehend the nature of life develops over nearly two decades. Being mindful that young children do not have our sophisticated ways of coping with news of tragedy, disaster, violence and danger will help us make decisions about what information we expose them to at home or while they are in school.

But let’s be honest. For politically committed and well-informed parents, there are moments when we get full to the top with feelings about the world situation. For all of us, parents or not, whenever our feelings are aroused, it takes self discipline to not blurt things out just to relieve the tension we feel or to register our outrage. If we do, the impact could hit like a careless stone hurled into the waters of the immature awareness of the children in our lives. Is that really what we want to do? After all, isn’t it for their sakes that we work for a better world?

If we are serious about creating a peaceful and sustainable world, we would not do violence to children’s precious and basic trust in life by exposing them to frightening information they can’t assimilate. It is a matter of respect then, to protect our tender children from the fear and anger we feel about the mess things are in. We would do well to face our own pain and disappointment so that we can heal the angst we have been carrying. Not only is doing so good for our families, but when we take back our power that has been trapped in fear, rage and grief, we become more effective as proactive change-makers.

Our world, more than ever, needs healthy people capable of envisioning and creating a human culture based on love and compassion. We need people who are emotionally responsive and thus able to act decisively while leading the way to higher ground with kindness.

There will be plenty of opportunity ahead for “real life” education for our children as realities become apparent to them in a more natural way without premature exposure. Our job as parents, teachers, friends and relatives is to protect them long enough to allow them to develop a healthy faith in a loving and safe world. It is their birthright to have the opportunity to develop a feeling of being empowered before the daunting challenges facing humanity make them feel overwhelmed. If we succeed in creating the conditions for their empowerment to occur, we will see them become the realization of our deepest hopes as they step into their roles as part of the shift toward a the better world we dream of.

Spotlight On: Dr. Peter Ernest Haiman

API: Tell us about how you began working with children and families.peterhaiman-small

PH: Since the early 1960s, I’ve been helping parents who have come to me with their frustrations about rearing their young children and adolescents. Although my work over the decades has primarily been with parents of infants, toddlers and preschool-age children, I started out teaching English to high school students in an inner-city school.

Most of my classes there were regular students. However, one of my English classes was made up of kids who had severe behavior problems. They were delinquents. No other teacher wanted to teach these adolescents. I wanted to do so.

In my work with them, I found that “how” they were educated made all the difference. Rather than teaching the standard English curriculum, I first found out what topics held their interest as a group. In our first class meetings, it seemed my questions to them brought out a pronounced interest in gangs and cars. I found two related paperback books. I ordered a copy for each student. During the semester, we read and discussed the content of each book in class. Skits provoked by the dilemmas in each book were enacted by groups of students in the class.

My graduate study of how young children learn best revealed that they, too, are motivated when adults first take the time to find out the individual child’s intrinsic interests and then help that child develop and elaborate their experience with that interest.

API: What does your work center around now? What services do you offer?

PH: I try to pass on to others what the research has been teaching about children and how those around them can best nourish their growth and development. For example, in my articles and work with parents I describe how research shows that behavior is usually caused by the status of underlying need states; how often it is better to educate than to teach; and how parents should learn to look through the emotional eyes of their children, not just their own.

Although parents continue to ask me for child-rearing advice, over the past twenty years parents with young children from across the country have asked for my help in divorce, child custody and visitation disputes because of several publications on the topic. Therefore, I have been an expert witness in family courts on issues that address infant and toddler attachment, brain growth and related research. I write court reports that review the empirical and clinical research on the short- and long-term effects of the above dynamics on young children. And I also help mothers become better advocates for themselves and their children during the divorce process.

API: What have parents found most useful about your work and services?

PH: The best people to answer that question are the parents who have sought my help. A few letters from them can be found in “Testimonials from Parents” on my website. In addition, I have two or three folders full of notes and letters in my file drawer that have been collected since I have been in California.

API: What are your views of Attachment Parenting and the work that API is doing?

PH: Although I am pleased that API, like other similar organizations, has an educational and support focus, I wish it would take on more of a political agenda as well. Organizations like API, if they are to have an enduring impact on our society and improve the future well-being of our young children, must join with other similar organizations like the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the American Academy of Pediatrics, La Leche League, and other similar organizations. These organizations then, in unity, can work together to improve the way our nation treats its young children.

API: Where can people get more information about your services?

PH: People can find out more about me by reading my resume and other information on my website at www.peterhaiman.com.

Set Kids Up for Success in School

By Bill Corbett, author of the Love, Limits, & Lessons: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Cooperative Kids book series and the founder and president of Cooperative Kids, www.CooperativeKids.com

Whether you’re reading this before your children start school or after they have started, the following guide can help you implement habits that support your child during the school year.1132275_33114655 blackboard

1. Adjust Summertime Leniencies. As school approaches or starts, set up a family meeting to discuss the rules that will change at home: bedtimes, homework, TV time, removing entertainment electronics from bedrooms, having to turn in social media devices, and friend sleepover rules  Allow your child to voice her concerns over these changes, negotiate until agreements are reached, adopt the policies, and implement them on a specified date. It’s also a good idea to document the changes and post them where all can see them as a reminder of what everyone has agreed to.

2. School Supply Shopping. Sit down with your children and determine together what supplies they are going to need for the coming school year. Take your younger children shopping and let them be in charge as they retrieve all the items on the list. Give them a set amount of money to spend to accommodate all that’s on the list. You’re the guide and the coach, so remain calm if extra items make their way into the basket. Allow your children to pay for the items at the checkout and carry the bags to the car.

3. The Work Space at Home. Collaborate with your children as to where homework will be done.  You can take turns coming up with the ideas, and if the kids suggest unreasonable locations—such as in front of the TV—allow them to be placed on the list at first. Go back through to review the list and remove any locations that are not agreeable to both of you. Collaborating with your children is a way of helping them feel respected and learn problem-solving skills, but you’re still responsible for setting healthy boundaries. Set up the space that was decided on, and help your children organize the supplies that were purchased at the store.

4. The Homework Schedule. Each child is different when it comes to doing homework, so this next exercise will require patience. Help your children individually determine when they feel that they are best able to work on homework. Some children can do it as soon as they get home, and others need a break before starting it. Coach each child into establishing his own schedule, make it clear and defined, and then document it. Your job will be to help reinforce what is decided.

5. Control of Entertainment and Distractions. If you have never previously done what I’m about to suggest, announcing it to your children could be a challenge, so remain calm and be patient. I strongly encourage you to announce a rule that any and all entertainment electronics and handheld social media devices are to remain off or be turned in to the parents during the established homework times. This new rule should be in effect on school days (Monday through Thursday), even when there is no homework, and during weekend homework time. Removing the temptation to check electronic devices during homework time can help children focus attention on the tasks at hand. I have heard many stories from parents who did not implement this rule and had their children come home after school reporting they had no homework, only to suddenly and mysteriously remember a homework assignment later that night at bedtime.

6. The Bedtime Schedule. It is not your responsibility to get your children to fall asleep. That must happen naturally, and your children are more in charge of that than you are. Your job is to create an environment and an atmosphere that is conducive to your children getting sleepy and eventually falling asleep. You can define when bedtime will occur, ensure that it happens, and remove all distractions from their bedrooms, such as video games, televisions, cell phones and computers.

7. Nutrition. Many children (and adults!) find it hard to choose broccoli over candy bars. This is where you come in as a parent. You can ensure that your children have healthy foods to eat and control and minimize the least healthy foods when possible. This means making sure that your children have healthy dinners at night and nutritious foods available to them for breakfast and in packed lunches. I have seen many families where the family dinner experience is gone and everyone fends for themselves. Even if you are not always able to eat together, you can make sure that healthy foods are available for family members to choose from.

8. Being Available. I have heard from many parents who face challenges that make it hard to implement these suggestions: single parents who work long or evening hours, families in which both parents work in another city and don’t get home before 7 p.m., families with multiple after school activities that make it hard to be home and enforce a set schedule for dinner, etc. Do the best you can to be available to ensure that agreements are upheld and, more importantly, to provide help with homework and other assistance whenever necessary. They can’t do it on their own and need you to coach and guide them.