Google+ Authentic Parenting: June 2013

Friday, June 28, 2013

My New Favorite Carrier - The Mei Tai

Welcome to the June 2013 Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival: Babywearing This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival hosted by Authentic Parenting and Living Peacefully with Children. This month our participants have written about babywearing. We hope you enjoy this month's posts and consider joining us next month when we share about anger.

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My huz wearing my daughter on the back with the stretchy wrap
The first carrier I ever had was a stretchy wrap I had custom made for my husband (figuring that he would be the one using it most... I was wrong). As my daughter grew up, using the stretchy wrap for back wearing proved to be very difficult. It is very hard to put the child on the back on your own and the fabric doesn't support the child enough.

After a while, I moved to African style backcarry, where you use a beach towel sized piece of cloth and just wrap that around the child and your body. I really like this type of carrying, because you can use nearly any piece of sturdy cloth, like a towel, a scarf, a pareo... and whip that baby on your back. It's specifically handy in those situations where the child is cranky or tired or doesn't want to walk anymore and you didn't carry a carrier. we still use this type of carying often with my son, and even sling on my daughter (now 5) like this when she's too tired too walk, though I must say she's getting a little big for this.
african style babywearing (with a towel)

My son in the woven wrap
When my son was born, all of our baby stuff was still locked in a container somewhere from our move from Ivory Coast, and we had to get a new carrier. I ordered a custom mei tai, but it took a while to arrive and I wasn't sure if I would feel comfortable wearing him in it when he was tiny, so I also got a woven wrap. I'd wanted a woven wrap from when my daughter was about six months old. As I was used to a wrap, it seemed the easier way - I would still have to get used to the mei tai and how to tie it etc. 

I did use the mei tai when my son was small, and liked it, but switched back to the woven wrap throughout his first six months as I preferred how it sits when you carry your baby in the front compared to the mei tai. 
I only started using the mei tai again a couple months back. My son is now 17 months old and loves to go in the back. We walk a lot, to the pool, to friends... he loves to walk, but always seems to go in the opposite direction. The mei tai is easy to sling on, easy to get him out, it ties up quickly. I love it. It's also such a neat little package compared to the bulky woven wrap. Very easy for when we travel... which we do a  lot ;) I must say I am completely convinced now!

Sadly I don't have any pics using the mei tai yet, otherwise I'd throw one in for your enjoyment! What's your favorite carrier? 



I linked up this post at the Tuesday Baby Linkup at Growing Slower

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APBC - Authentic Parenting Visit Living Peacefully with Children and Authentic Parenting to find out how you can participate in next month's Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival, when we discuss anger!   Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants: (This list will be live and updated by afternoon June 28 with all the carnival links.)


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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Three Exercises You Shouldn't Be Doing

We exercise to lift our spirits and tone our bodies. As parents, exercise is very important, it keeps stress at bay and keeps us fit and active. Something we really need to chase our kids on the playground and be the healthy parents we want for them... But what if some of the exercises recommended are doing more bad than good?


Sit Ups/Crunches


Sit ups have been controversial for quite some time already. They are extremely bad for the back and can even damage the spinal discs, but are still being practiced due to flawed theories about strengthening 'core' muscles. Given that's where most people want to tone their body, trainers will still have their clients do these exercises, ignoring the fact that in the long run, they do more harm then good.
Aside from their toll on the lumbar region, sit ups put unnecessary strain on the pelvic muscles. Whenever you do a sit up, your organs are literally pushed into the pelvic region, effectively stretching out this zone, which is so important for bearing the weight of your baby during pregnancy, but also for maintaining continence later in life. Given that the pelvic rmuscles are hardly ever targeted during exercise, stretching them out is a very bad idea.
Didn't you ever wonder why it is recommended to come up from a lying position by rolling sideways first? Yep, this is exactly why.
As a side note: even devices that target the 'core' and are supposed to be 'supporting the lower back do little to no good to your body. Read this article on the Daily Mail for an in-depth explanation.


What to do instead? Abdominal muscles can be trained in various ways, and the sit up, even the most gentle versions of it, aren't necessarily the magic pill they are prescribed to be. Yoga posture the bridge is equally toning for the abdominal region, and has the benefit of not being exerting on the lumbar muscles.
Another exercise that tones those abdominal muscles without putting a strain on the pelvic region is laying flat on the back with the legs in the air. This exercise also tones the legs and glutes.
A medicine ball is also a good tool to create a strong abdominal and lumbar region.

Half Squats


Half squats have been long used for the toning effect they have on the thighs, however, they put an unnatural strain on the knee joint, causing premature aging. Knowing that knee surgery is one of the most frequent surgeries among elderly people, you might want to save your knees.
What to do instead? Inner thighs can be toned though various exercises: side lying and lifting the top leg, specific fitness equipment targeting the region (where you press the inner thighs together). The entire legs are toned when swimming or doing specific exercises targeting this region in aquagym.

Kegels


Kegels have long been the exercise to tone the pelvic region for future moms and mothers who just had a baby. However, they've turned out not to be all they cracked out to be. Read this article for more information.
If you want to prepare yor body for birth, or restore it after, the best way to do so is deep squats. Deep squats used to be a natural way for the human being to do various activities (among other going to the loo). With a mainly sedentary life in the West, we have lost the habit of doing deep squats, but their effectivenbess to tone glutes, pelvic area and even promote optimal bowel health hasn't diminished.
Find some ways of incorporating deep squats in your life again in this article I wrote a while back.

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Monday, June 24, 2013

How to Support Charities

guest post provided by RSPCA

Times are hard, there is no doubt about that. People are losing jobs or struggling to hold on to the jobs that they have without any prospect of a raise to keep up with the rising cost of living. In such a climate, many people are looking closely at their finances and deciding what they can do without: they might start shopping at less expensive stores; going out less often; doing without their second car; moving to more affordable housing … stopping giving donations to charity.

This last one is causing problems for the UK’s charities, which are totally reliant on public donations. They get no help from the government other than a tax break and as people stop making regular donations it becomes ever harder for charities to make ends meet and to plan for future spending projects. Take the RSPCA, for instance: a drop in the number of regular donors not only means that they have less money to support the animals in their care, they are also less likely to be able to commit to building more shelters or taking in as many animals in the future.

Of course, monetary donations do help considerably. But if you really cannot afford to give money yourself, you could do one of two things.

Firstly, you could try some fundraising. Use social media sites to spread the word, or do it the old fashioned way by going door to door. Asking people for money is not easy, but it is easier if you are passionate about, and fully understand, what the money will be used for. Donating to a charity as a whole can be a bit ‘faceless’ and people may be reluctant to contribute. They may say they already donate monthly to the RSPCA, for example. But if you have a particular, named project that you want to raise funds for then people are more likely to donate anyway.

RSPCA ‘Choices’ allows people to choose a project that is particularly dear to their hearts, organised by local area, or type of animal or by degree of need. All you need to do is choose a project, create a fundraising page (very easy, just add your name and a brief message about why you want to support that project, plus how you plan to raise the money) and spread the word. You’ll get updates about how much money you’ve raised and how that is helping your particular project. You can make sure that the money you raise goes where you want it to.

Secondly, you could volunteer at your local shelter or for the RSPCA through their website, which lists volunteer vacancies. Time is a precious gift and without volunteers the RSPCA and other charities would just not function: all the money raised would go on wages, not on the animals. You don’t need specific experience and you may find that you have skills and talents that you didn’t realise you had, or that you’ve never really appreciated before. All you need to do is be able to offer a little of your time on a regular basis and the charity of your choice can find you something worthwhile to do to support their cause.

Even if you haven’t got a penny left after all your expenses each month you can help the RSPCA charity immeasurably.


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Saturday, June 22, 2013

Forget Three Meals a Day (rerun)

As my daughter ate a small hotel package of butter this morning, I had to repeat to myself in my head what I read in the "The Paleo Diet" (L. Cordain): You can only eat so much pure butter until you had enough... Maybe this rule doesn't apply to my little girl, must be genetic, her daddy has the same condition.


So I said to myself: "Relax, just remember that most of the time, she is asking for fruit, fresh juice, bread or nuts." She even eats the occasional raw carrot between meals. She hardly ever asks for cookies, nor will she overeat on chips. That's the power of radical unschooling for you.

I must admit, there was a time when I was convinced my daughter was only going to eat healthy things and would never get chips, peanuts, cookies, pie, cake, ice cream and what not. That time is long gone. By choice!

When I first started reading up on radical unschooling, I found a blog post about food. Radical unschooling basically means you hand your children the right tool kit and trust them to make the right decisions for themselves in all aspects of life. Food is one of those things.
Basically it comes to this where food is concerned: let them have it, tell them about the nutritional value of each food and then allow them to make their own choices. Now with a 20 month old, you can imagine there's not a great deal of explaining about the nutritional value of food, but we do leave her to decide. She can have whatever is around (with a few exception such as raw meat/fish/seafood and non-edible stuff, of course) and surprise, surprise! She hardly asks for cookies or chips.

When my daughter gets hungry, she'll go to the kitchen and point out what she wants, either from the fridge or the kitchen cabinets. She'll have a bit of chocolate when we're having some. She eats potato chips when we're out and about and they're on the table. But given the choice, 3 times out of 4 she'll pick an apple instead of a cookie.

If you are still worried: You are doing the grocery shopping, not them. Maybe you should reconsider your own diet if you are worried about what your children might or might not be eating. Make sure you have the healthy food options right there for them to consume. Think about it: if you are worried about your child eating something you eat, then why are you having it?

I really believe that, given the choice on a regular basis, even this small, children can make the right decisions for themselves. Same goes for the amount of food they eat.

For Flying Spaghettimonsters' sake, stop pushing your kids into a three full meals a day schedule! Be a hobbit, will you! It's not even right for us! Let them eat when they're hungry and eat until they're full!
If they're happy and healthy, there's no need to be worried if your child doesn't eat a full serving at dinner. Food should be fun, not a cause of stress. They are much more in touch with their body then we are.

Our parents' mania of three meals/ finish your plate etc pushed us completely out of touch with our body's needs and makes us overeat, eat the wrong things and go hungry between meals.
Next to eating the wrong food, not listening to our bodies' needs is one of the main reasons so many people are obese in Western society.

Trust your kids! We trust our pets to eat the right amount of food and let them fast if they so desire, so why would we force feed our children?

Three meals a day is a practical thing, not a health choice. It's so much easier to have scheduled eating for schools/employer. It is also easier on the designated cook. It is not better for your body.

Read on:
Unschooling and food
Radical unschoolers network
Baby led weaning

Until next time!
Leave a comment...


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Friday, June 21, 2013

Introducing New Affiliate Programs

As you might know, I run affiliate programs through this blog. This means that I sign up with brands or people selling certain products and get a commission when you buy through my link.
This is one of the ways we bloggers can earn a little money for all the hard work we put into our sites in order to bring content to you.

I recently added a couple new affiliate programs and wanted to let you know about them.

The Lefkoe Way offers audio kits and eBooklets about the belief shaping power you have as a parent. In these audios, Shelly Lefkoe tackles the recurrent issues parents face and investigates how these events shape our children's beliefs about themselves. Through role play assignments and self directed learning, the audios help you resolve conflict without undermining your child's self esteem. Find out all about their products here.


Freaky Rivet brings you weekly emails with activities to get your kids interact with nature instead of sitting indoors. From learning experiences to digging in the mud, an endless resource of activities that are fun and engaging but don't rely on technology. You can opt in through monthly subscription or an annual fee.

Books


Parenting for Social Change
You may have read my raving review of Parenting for Social Change right about when the book came out (If you haven't maybe now's the time to do so!). I was very pleased to find out that Teresa had set up an affiliate program.
I *met* Teresa through her book, and even did some coaching with her when I was pregnant with my son. Her view on parenting and childhood is refreshingly respectful.
This book is steadily becoming a must read within gentle parenting circles and it sure is on the top of my list!

Cooking with Coconut Oil
I also signed up with Jennifer from Hybrid Rasta Mama's affiliate plan. Jennifer is a very busy bee and has written no less than three eBooks already! Two on coconut oil and one on making your own salves. Buy her books here.

You can find all of the affiliates I am part of in the sidebar of my blog. I only add affiliate programs I really believe in. I submit all products to review and scrutiny before recommending them to you through my site.

Enticed by these offers? Buying any of them generates a small income for me. My family is very grateful for this.




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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Benefits of Pets for Your Kid (rerun)

Written by Mike

Many of the fondest childhood memories entail pets. Children adore and confide in their pets. They love to have them at their sides always and include them in all aspects of their lives. Pets serve as very loyal friends for children and can affect their lives very deeply. Pets are known to be great friends for lonely people; however, they are known to be children's best friends. Often unsociable children are found to share a close-knitted bond with their pets. Children are under great influence of their pets because they are always ready for fun upon slightest interaction. Pet interaction also sheds away anxiety and stress from children. Here are some remarkable benefits of adopting a pet for your child.

1. Pets inculcate responsibility: Pets enable children to learn responsibility. When they take care of
their pets and learn to know their various needs, such as food, water, shelter, etc, they naturally tend to be watchful. Children love to prepare food and feed their pets and indulge in other playful activities with them.

2. Pets serve as their best mates: Children turn up to their pets in times when they need a friend, protector or confidante. Studies have revealed that children take their pets very seriously and often regard as important as human relationships. Dogs are known to be the common best play mates for children.

3. Pets are not judgmental: Children are not fond of delegation at all. Pets serve this purpose well and never act up or try to be judgmental, as they cannot. They do not get angry, howl or scowl at children whatsoever. This increases the self-esteem of children especially if they are going or have been through emotionally disturbing phases in their lives. Children also trust their pets with private thoughts and secrets.

4. Pets are useful for childhood development: Pets help immensely to develop social and nurturing skills. If your child develops positive feelings through his/her pets, it can help them develop non-verbal communication and increased compassion. According to studies, children with pets are empathetic and more popular with classmates.

5. Pets are great fun: Pets offer unconditional affection, comfort and love to children. Children can safely participate in various activities with their pets, such as swimming, walking, outdoor games etc. Kids with pets have an advantage of greater physical activity. Children with disabilities learn to regulate stress and conquer their disorders.

6. Pets teach essential life lessons: Pets help children to learn nurturing and caring for a baby animal. Children are happy to see them grow and feel themselves as responsible individuals. Children also learn managing the health of their pets when they visit veterinarians. This develops a caring, sympathetic and punctilious attitude among them.
Pets teach to respect and show gratitude towards other living beings. Children with pets show better impulse control, self-esteem and social skills. Pets offer children stability and security during stress, anxiety and loneliness. More importantly, they offer a doorway into the animal kingdom with a
belief that the human animal relationship is a mutual support.

About the author:
Mike is a stay at home dad, who takes care of his two kids. When he has spare time, Mike
collects toys and especially action figures.

Image source: amapole


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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Shares, not Chores: Helping your Kids Help You Without Coercion

Welcome to the June edition of the Simply Living Blog CarnivalAround the house cohosted by Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children, Laura at Authentic Parenting, Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy, and Joella at Fine and Fair. This month, we write about what we do to keep our houses liveable without losing our minds. Please check out the links to posts by our other participants at the end of this post. Join us on our blog hop with the same theme tomorrow!


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At our house, we don't do chores for various reasons, the main one being that we don't use coercion as
a parenting tool. Yet even though we don't, it doesn't mean I have to do all of the housework all by myself, or even that we let our kids just treat us as their servant. We don't.

No chores doesn't mean your kids can't or won't help out around the house, it just relieves the idea of coercion, and replaces it with freedom of choice. Freedom of choice works out really well :)

Children are naturally inclined to help and imitate their parents. When they see you doing something, they'll most likely want to do the same. If you want your child to have a active role in helping you around the house, it's really important not to suppress that need.
Very often parents refuse to have their children help or try the adult work because they fear they might not be capable, will hurt themselves or break somethings. Then when the day comes, they are surprised to see their kids aren't willing to help them out around the house.

In order to nurture your child's helping hand, allow them to try out all of the things you do as soon as they show an interest. 

My 17 month old has been helping us sweep and clean up the floor ever since he could walk. Sure, I often have to lend a hand and it takes longer then when I would do it, but in helping him, in showing him the way, he gets the satisfaction of learning and knowing he helped mommy clean the house. 

Whenever I do something housework-y and my daughter is around, I'll ask her to help me. Mostly she's willing, sometimes she's not. I also explain why certain jobs are worth doing. Often, she'll suggest helping herself and I just make it possible for her to do so, safely. 
It happens that she's not able to keep an interest if the task at hand is very tedious, but that's ok. SHe's learning and she doesn't see the housework as a dread.

When given the chance, children are capable and willing to do various jobs around the house. Sometimes they just need some guidance, and someone to make it safe for them, but basically they can help you with just about anything. Taking the time to help them help you while they're young will pay off in the long run. 




image source: clogozm

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  Thank you for visiting the Simply Living Blog Carnival cohosted by Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children, Laura at Authentic Parenting, Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy, and Joella at Fine and Fair. Read about how others are incorporating simple ideas around their homes. We hope you will join us next month!    
 


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Friday, June 14, 2013

How to Teach Your Children Healthy Eating Habits in 10 Simple Steps (re-run)

A lot of people struggle with teaching their kids how to eat healthy and stay away from salty, fatty and sweet snacks. Teaching them a healthy eating pattern shouldn't be very difficult if you respect of the following set of simple rules:  


1. Children learn from what they see
If all they see around them is people eating potato chips, burgers, sweets, pies etc... how can they develop a taste for healthy food? Maybe it's time to change your eating behavior.  


2. They decide how much they eat, you decide what's put on the table (or in the cupboards)
Taking your child grocery shopping might be something to avoid if they have developed a taste for the sweet and the salty. Buy fresh produce, lean meats, fish...  


3. Variety, variety, variety!!! 
If you only ever bring the same five dishes to the table, they will get bored quickly. Try some exotic fruit, buy veggies you haven't tried before. If you don't know how to prepare them, google it, that's what the internet is for. They might even learn something from it!  


4. No forcing! 
If your child isn't hungry, don't make him eat. Finishing his plate is not necessary, trying a little bit is. Don't worry too much if they are 'getting enough', if they are otherwise healthy and happy, they probably are.  


5. Forget three meals a day
Let your child eat when he wants, he'll enjoy eating much more than when he is forced to eat at hours that don't suit his biological rhythm. 


6. Eating out is possible 
And even welcome, a change of foods might give him an appetite. But don't go straight for macDonalds or Burger King, if you give them the right example, children do just as well in a healthier alternative. Maybe you can use the situation to get to know a little more about another culture.  


7. Provide healthy snacks 
Snacking isn't a bad thing. Provided they don't overeat at lunch or dinner time. Just see that you have healthy snacks available at all time. Some juice (no sugar added), fruit, dried fruit, nuts, a small salad in between might just do the trick.


8. Trust your child 
Trust upon your child's ability to know when to eat and how much they should eat. This might take some learning on both sides if you have gotten very used to the three meals a day pattern. Mostly, children are very in touch with their body and can let you know what exactly they need, even from very young.  


9. Start early on 
Learning to eat a variety of healthy foods begins at birth, really, and even before that. If they see their parents enjoy a good meal, enjoy a variety of healthy and wholesome foods, they most likely will enjoy eating themselves. Remember that even in utero the fetus tastes what the mother eats, so it really begins there.  


10. Don't worry too much 
Your child can pick up on your anxiety and start fearing lunchtime. Eating should be something the whole family can enjoy.


This post is part of the 2010 API Principles of Parenting blog carnival, a series of monthly parenting blog carnivals, hosted by API Speaks. Learn more about attachment parenting by visiting the API website.

Image: epsos



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Thursday, June 13, 2013

APBC Call for Submission: Babywearing

APBC - Authentic ParentingWelcome to the Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival cohosted by Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children and Laura at Authentic Parenting. We hope that you will join us on the last Friday of each month as we share posts about simple living in our lives. Submission deadline: Friday June 21st.


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Babywearing

This month, we want to know the nitty gritty about baby wearing: carrier styles, the best carriers, how-to's, positioning, baby wearing in extreme situations... Let's make this a reference list of everything you want to know about baby wearing and then a little more.

How to join in?

To submit an article to the blog carnival, please e-mail your submission to mandy{at}livingpeacefullywithchildren{dot}com and mamapoekie{at}yahoo{dot}com, and fill out the webform by June 21. Please write a new, unpublished piece for the carnival. We will e-mail you with instructions before the carnival date. We ask that you publish your post on June 28.

Please do:
  • Use your creativity
  • Write an original, previously unpublished post on the given topic
  • Be respectful
  • Spell check your post
Do Not Use excessive profanity or promote violence against others As the co-hosts of the carnival are advocates of peaceful living and gentle parenting, we ask that you not post about non-gentle practices or violence toward others. While we will not be editing your articles, we do reserve the right to not add your post to the carnival if it is not on topic, is poorly written, or goes against the guidelines which have been set forth.

Why Participate?

Blog carnivals are a great way to generate blog traffic and build a supportive community. Your blog will receive links from many other blogs and you and your readers will have the opportunity to discover other blogs with similar goals in mind. Please join us as we embrace Authentic Parenting! We hope you will consider joining us every month as we discuss ways to live and parent authentically.


 


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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Sleep Soundly (rerun)

Image: DeeJayTee23 on Flickr
No matter the parenting style adopted, I believe all parents should watch their children sleep, if only for an instance a day.

There is something so peaceful, so cleansing, so perfect about a sleeping child. It instantly a washes away all sorrow and frustration. It makes your anguish subside.

Watching your sleeping child connects you to the Miracle Of Life you have made possible and chases Negative Parental Thoughts Away.

Try it.


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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Doing It On Purpose - Dealing With Defiance

Sometimes it seems like your children do things specifically because you tell them not to. What's going on here?

Explicitly defiant behavior is often a result of one of three things:

  • misunderstanding
  • testing of boundaries
  • seeking of attention

Misunderstanding

This is the first and most important reason why children do the things we distinctly tell them not to. They just don't understand us the way we'd like them to. When we tell them "Don't touch the trashcan, it's full of germs", all they hear is "trashcan" and "germs" and the ardor in our voice. If "trashcan" is something mommy gets her panties in a knot for, it must be something worth investigating, right? And let's try to find out what and where these germs are. All those little words we interlace our language with is lost to them.
That's why it is often repeated to use "no" as little as possible. Not because children should never hear no, but because all those little no's throughout the day lose their effect and children just don't hear them anymore, they become background noise.

Testing boundaries

Any healthy child will do some boundary testing. That doesn't make him or her defiant, just a good scientist. To the child, it isn't naturally so that what was not allowed yesterday will still not be allowed today. Or in the trashcan scenario, the child might just be wondering if the way he touches the trashcan is wrong.
For example, it might be possible we tell our child not to have that ice cream (they just had three, or we're going to eat at grandma's in two minutes and she'll be upset if he doesn't eat), the child doesn't know or understand our motives for saying 'no' to this exact ice cream, whereas he knows he has had ice creams before. From this point of view it's only natural that they will try and try again, as a means to understand the seemingly illogical response.

Attention

Any attention is attention to a small child. Getting mommy's vivid attention by touching the trashcan is quite fun. Mommy seems really excited. Let's do this some more.
That doesn't mean that you're not attentive to your child, it just means that he likes to solicit an emotion from you. If you think the behavior is seated in a search for excitement and attention, try to find other ways to fill that need. A simple game of peekaboo, hide and seek or tickles might be just as fun for your child.

It is important to never take the so-called defiant behavior personal. I prefer to call it investigative behavior, which makes it lose it's negative and aggressive side. Children aren't out to torment you. They just want to learn and interact with the world and everyone in it. They do'nt go about calculating how you will react to what they do.

Children's logic sometimes tarts our adult logic. They might very well continue something that displeases us to make it go away - or specifically to make us feel if they feel we've been emotionally absent.



Image source: Benedict Francis
This post was added to the Tuesday Baby LinkUp


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Sunday, June 9, 2013

3 Ways to Respond to a Toddler Who Won’t Listen

Written by Michelle Carchae


We’ve all been there. The toddler grabs something she shouldn’t. You step in and say, “No, the sharp knife/Aunt Maud’s crystal/the cat’s tail isn’t for playing with. Come play with the blocks over here!” Your toddler half-heartedly plays blocks for three seconds until you look away, then is right back there pulling at the knife/crystal/cat’s tail again. Why won’t she listen? And what do you do next?

Toddlers are a curious bunch. One minute they want to cuddle, nurse or sweetly stroke your cheek. The next they’re blatantly charging ahead with their own agenda, regardless of your rules. Toddlers are naturally growing into a stage of increasing independence, and part of that experience is learning where their new independence can take them, and where it can’t. A toddler’s refusal to listen is normal, not a reflection of her lack of respect for you or a sign of your lack of parenting skill.

What’s the best way to deal with a toddler who won’t listen? Empathize, Distract and Remove.

1. Empathize. First, empathize with your toddler. Tell him that you understand how fascinating the forbidden object is. Tell him you understand how much he wants it. Really try to feel what it would be like to be your toddler, and keep that empathy in mind when you’re setting boundaries. Of course, just because he really wants to pull the cat’s tail and you can fully empathize with how tempting it must be doesn’t mean it’s ok for him to pull the cat’s tail. Empathy usually needs to be paired with either distraction or removal to be effective with toddlers.

2. Distract. Toddlers can be amazingly single-minded, but this can actually work to your advantage if you succeed in shifting their attention elsewhere. After you empathize and reflect their feelings back, shift immediately to something else. Pull out a bag of pom poms and a plastic cup. Bring out the kitchen pots and pans. Play “This Little Piggy” or have a silly face competition. Go for a little walk. Read a story. Toddlers will almost always be attracted to an activity that lets them spend time with their important adult, so be prepared to get down on the floor and play for a bit until they forget about the forbidden object.

3. Remove. If empathy followed by distraction doesn’t work, you’ll need to remove either the forbidden object or your child from the situation. This doesn’t have to be a big production, and it’s better if you can keep it as kind and matter-of-fact as possible. “Time to put the crystal away!” is all you need to say to your child, then ask Aunt Maud if there’s somewhere safe for her breakables to go while you and your toddler are visiting. If your toddler repeatedly hits or takes a toy from another child at a party or playdate, it’s time to either leave the party or take some time to calm down together in another room. Chances are he’s either overtired, hungry or overwhelmed.

When my eldest was a toddler, I found it so hard to deal with her independence and refusal to listen. I felt very frustrated, tried so hard to make her listen and I took it personally when she didn’t. Now I know that most toddlers don’t listen at times, and that’s ok. It’s normal. After I understood this, it became much easier to deal with the inevitable toddler challenges.

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About the author
Michelle Carchrae is often asking those important life questions: “who moved the scissors?”, “how would you do that differently next time?” and “are you finished with the glitter glue?” Homeschooling two girls, ages 6 and 3, is her full time job. The rest of the time Michelle can be found blogging at The Parent Vortex, hiking in the forest or knitting and reading simultaneously.

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The Parenting Primer
I’ve gathered up many of the other things I’ve learned about parenting with gentle discipline in the first six years and published them in an e-book called The Parenting Primer . The Parenting Primer starts out by looking at how love and limits influence our parenting, then explores other topics that affect our relationship with our child, such as information on brain development or personality, communication skills, lifestyle choices, creativity and self-discipline.

I've included references to a lot of the parenting resources and other parenting books that I found helpful, and each section ends with some questions to inspire reflection and something to actually try in your real life. Stories and tidbits from my own personal experience struggling to improve my parenting skills are woven throughout the book.


Find "The Parenting Primer" and similar books on Amazon:



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Image source: Stacey Lynn Photography


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Saturday, June 8, 2013

Mental Health begins in the Womb

Welcome to the Mindful Parenting eBundle Sale. We're heading into the last two days of the sale,
so now is the time to buy, if you haven't already! This is a truly awesome collection of parenting titles, all of them have been carefully selected by the organizers (which are Jennifer Saleem from Hybrid Rasta Mama, Lauren Wayne from Hobo Mama and myself).
For only 24,95USD you get 22 parenting titles by renowned authors, viewable on any reader.

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Written by Marcy Axness

Gone are the days when we could consider pregnancy a 9-month “grace period” before the job of parenting begins. Mounting research tells us that lifelong wellbeing, including mental health, begins in the womb, and everything parents do – beginning even before conception — shapes their children in critical, life-altering ways.

I began 2013 by writing about the power of beginnings. This applies to virtually everything, from baking a pie to building a company to developing a human: the beginning contains within it the seeds of the project's ultimate success...or less-than-success.

Scientists are finding that our health throughout life is greatly determined by the prenatal circumstances in which we developed. This "fetal programming” is different than what happens in conditions such as fetal alcohol syndrome, for instance, where the toxic effects of the womb environment are noticeable at birth or early in life. The new findings refer to conditions programmed during fetal development which may not show up until an individual is in his or her forties or fifties! For example, there are now strong links between low birth weight and heart disease; poor nutrition in early pregnancy and diabetes; and high birth weight and breast cancer in women.

The practical effect of this research shouldn't be for pregnant parents to panic, but rather, be vigilant about following the nutritional guidelines provided by their doctor or midwife, such as getting folic acid beginning before conception, eating enough extra calories -- of the proper foods -- during pregnancy, and gaining the recommended amount of weight. This ensures a healthy baby's body.

The Mind is Also Shaped in the Womb

However, there is far more to an individual than a physical body, and scientists now recognize that lifelong mental health begins in the womb as well. This supports findings from the field of prenatal and perinatal psychology, that have long suggested that circumstances surrounding conception, pregnancy, labor, birth and the postpartum period have profound influences on lifelong emotional health and wellbeing. There are countless fascinating case histories in the literature to support the connection between experiences in utero and certain compulsions, repetitive behaviors, fears and fascinations in later life.

The hot scientific topic these days is brain development. (Indeed, my book Parenting for Peace is designed as a roadmap for fostering the healthiest possible brain development, beginning in the womb.) Data from rigorous studies point to the likelihood that a pregnant mother's chronic stress has long-term negative effects upon the developing fetal brain. This includes an increased risk of depression and lower tolerance for stress later in life. You see, nature in her wisdom has decreed that while we’re in the womb, our brain develops in direct response to our mother’s experience of the world. Scientists now know that a pregnant woman’s moods have a significant impact upon the brain development of her baby in the womb.


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If a mother is consistently filled with anxiety or stress during her pregnancy, the “message” communicated to her baby (via stress hormones) is that they are in an unsafe environment — regardless of whether or not this is actually true. The baby’s brain will actually adapt to prepare for the unsafe environment it perceives it is going to be born into! Chronic stress in pregnancy tends to sculpt a brain suited to survive in dangerous environments: quick to react, reduced impulse control, and a dampened capacity to feel calm and content. This isn't the mental health foundation we want for a generation of peacemakers!

Chronic joy, by contrast, allows for optimal development of each organ, the brain in particular, predisposing the baby to greater health, serenity, and intelligence. Such traits constitute the foundations of lifelong personality.

Here, it seems, we see “science and spirit” intersecting: “hard” research from the field of neuroscience is now giving empirical credence to what many esoteric and spiritual wisdom traditions have been saying through the ages – that during the time when we are being knit together in the womb, we are wired with lifelong lifelong lessons about who we are and how we fit into the world.

The "S" Word

Remember, we're not talking about a random stressful moment here or there, once in awhile. If a pregnant mother’s thoughts and emotions are persistently negative, if she is under unrelenting stress, the internal message — delivered by hormones to the developing baby — is, “It’s a dangerous world out there,” and the fetal brain is then wired to thrive in a dangerous world.

That kind of brain is reactive and impulsive, and short on attention. There are thoughts that regulation disorders such as ADD/ADHD and OCD may have their beginnings in the womb, when the brain’s basic regulatory wiring is laid down. Although the origins of autism remain a mystery, one important clue is certain zones of "malfunctioning circuitry" in brains of autistic people -- such as in the area that normally processes faces. Why is this? One place to look — but few have — is the developmental stages occurring during and after birth, a period of rapid reorganization of brain development, mediated by many hormones, most notably including oxytocin, the so-called "hormone of love." Several studies have found that autistic children show abnormalities in their oxytocin system.

Critical early circuitry-wiring of the orbito-frontal cortex — our social-emotional "success center" -- occurs just after birth. This is when a complex hormonal cocktail orchestrates intricate exchanges between the mother and her newborn child, all organized around their face-to-face engagement with one another! In spite of much scientific data attesting to the neurobiological havoc that ensues for a newborn separated from its mother after birth, hospital protocols typically disturb the first hours of life. Too many newborns end up receiving a "faulty imprint” (I connect with things, not faces), which can prevent healthy synaptic formation in the areas of the brain that processes faces -- as well as human rapport.

What’s a Mother-to-Be to Do??!


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This may sound hopeless. But sometimes getting a different perspective on stress in general...and stress in pregnancy...can be very helpful. And parents who know a few basics of fetal development hold an important key to their child’s lifelong emotional health and well-being! They can be mindful of the unceasing question being asked by the baby in the womb — and continually answered chemically and energetically via the mother’s thoughts, feelings and behaviors: What kind of world am I coming into, Mommy? If they understand that this basic question — and its 9 months’ worth of answers! — is what essentially drives fundamental aspects of their baby’s brain development, they can begin to understand how important it is for the pregnant mother to feel supported, to feel loved, to feel safe... so their baby can arrive ready to love and learn, not struggle and fight!

Author and teacher Laura Huxley, late widow of visionary author Aldous Huxley, offered this practical suggestion in her gorgeous book, The Child of Your Dreams:

...if you can take even five minutes a day, to think good thoughts, listen to your favorite music, or nourish yourself in any way you want, your kindness will be multiplied a thousandfold and become an organic part of a person’s being for years to come. Five minutes of care is worth years of well-being.
U.C. Berkeley biology professor Marian Diamond points out that the Japanese have said this for over 2000 years — “Tykio,” which means, “think pleasant thoughts.”

And A Father-to-Be?


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One of the best ways that a “pregnant father” can contribute to his baby’s optimal development in the womb is to love, support, celebrate and cherish his baby’s mother! And, to dream of the great and noble qualities he dreams of for his coming child. His perception of life strongly influences his baby’s mother, who relishes his strength, creativity and sense of hope at this momentous time.

Prenatal Parenting Assures Good Mental Health Begins in the Womb

There are researchers who suggest that one of the best ways that you can best support your baby’s psychological development in the womb is to embrace pregnancy as an honor, and to greet your baby as an aware being, registering everything you do and say! This conscious approach to prenatal parenting leads to advances in healthy child development, cultivates early loving relationships toward the unborn child, and strengthens parental and family bonding.

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400About the author
 

 I'm the author of Parenting for Peace: Raising the Next Generation of Peacemakers, and also the adoption expert on Mothering's expert panel. I write and speak around the world on prenatal, child and parent development, and I have a private practice coaching parents-in-progress. I raised two humans, earned a doctorate, and lived to report back. She invites you to join her at her website, on Facebook, or in the Twittersphere!


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Marcy's "Unique Parenting Tool: Sleeptalking" kit is part of the Mindful Parenting eBundle, alongside 21 other handselected parenting titles, including audio, workshops and eBooks. I spend a great deal of time curating this list of eResources for you to enjoy. This sale is almost over, so get it now while you still can!! The price for this lovely bundle is only 24,95USD, which makes for just over 1USD per product.

This is your chance to get an amazing collection of parenting titles. This is a one time deal! You can listen to and read all of these titles on any device you favor.

By buying this bundle you are supporting me for the hard work I do at this blog. Selling affiliates and advertisements are the only ways bloggers can make money.


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Friday, June 7, 2013

Layer Cake




Welcome to the Mindful Parenting eBundle Sale!
This bundle of resources for conscious parents is 22 quality e-products from esteemed parenting authors, a $274 USD value for $24.95 USD, available for 12 days only. Get your bundle today!
Visit Mindful Nurturing for more information.

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Written by Lucy Pearce
 
Life for me as a mother is like a layer cake: I just can't jam it all in my mouth in one go. I can't savour its wholeness, the harmony of its completeness, the careful balance of the textures and flavours. I get all of one, and then all of another. I love it, I hate it. I want it forever, I can't bear another second...
Motherhood is like a layer cake (Image Kimberlykv)

I taste the tartness of tantrums, tiredness and despair at my lot. Red and raw as raspberry jam, the pips get stuck in my gums.
The rich oozing chocolate love of adoration hits me another moment. They are edibly good, my little cherubs. I shower them with kisses and thank the heavens for all my blessings.

And then there's lots of boring sponge - laundry, washing up, nagging them to get dressed, and brush their teeth, and lie down and go to sleep and don't hit your sister say sorry andwhatdoyouwantinyoursandwichtoday?

And then there's the smarties on top that you want to pick off and pop in your mouth, all at the same time - baby curls and toddler kisses and flowers picked from the garden just for you And more flipping sponge. Who the hell likes sponge any way? Tidy the toys, sweep the floor, nag over homework, where's your shoes, Idon'tknowanddon'tcareifthereareanymatchingsocksrightnow- we're late- again!!!!!

And some bitter coffee gucky stuff- who makes these sodding cakes anyway? I don't like coffee icing, didn't order coffee icing, you can take these kids and give them to someone who cares because right now I am SO done with being a mother - oh sorry, coffee icing, yes, yuck!

Oh more sponge cake, my favourite!

And light fluffy vanilla icing - whipped like the white clouds that float lazily over the summer beach where we lay on our backs and listen to the timeless chatter of children's voices as they build castles in the sand, and solve the world's travel problems by aiming at Australia, straight through the centre of the earth. Those moments when time goes slow, and you have no timetable but your own, and you pinch yourself because these beautiful golden creatures are actually yours.

That. That is parenthood. In cake form.

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About the author
Lucy H. Pearce is author of several books, including Moon Time: a guide to celebrating your menstrual cycle and the forthcoming The Rainbow Way: Cultivating Creativity in the Midst of Motherhood (November 2013) and a gentle book for introducing girls to the cycles of womanhood entitled: Reaching for the Moon (July 2013). Her work has been lauded as “life-changing” by women around the world. She has contributed to a number of anthologies and blogs, and her work is seen regularly on Rhythm of the Home and Tiny Buddha.
She is contributing editor at a natural parenting magazine (JUNO) and founder of The Happy Womb, for empowering women’s resources. She blogs on creativity, mindfulness & motherhood at Dreaming Aloud, and a baking blog The Queen of Puddings. She is a blogging consultant and teacher. You can connect with Dreaming Aloud, The Queen of Puddings & The Happy Womb on Facebook & Twitter.
She and her husband share the care of their three children, currently aged 7,5 and 3, and live on the south-coast of Ireland.


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Lucy Pearce's "Moods of Motherhood" is part of the Mindful Parenting eBundle: 22 amazing parenting resources for only $24.95 USD.

Contributors include Teresa Graham Brett, Tara Wagner, Genevieve Simperingham, Marcy Axness, Amy Phoenix, Attachment Parenting International, and many more. Get your bundle now!

This is your chance to learn more about playful parenting, peaceful guidance, mindful mothering, children and food, and many other hot parenting topics.
This bundle is a one-time opportunity, available only from May 28 to June 10. Purchase it now, because this deal won't come around again!




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Thursday, June 6, 2013

Book Review: Parenting for Social Change



A while back, I was contacted by Teresa Graham Brett to review her book Parenting for Social Change. Teresa is also the author of the website with the same name, which has long been on my link list (below). Being a big fan of her work, I was exited to receive the book.
As my motto is: "Change the world, one parent at a time", this could only be a good match for me and this blog.

The book's starting point is that we live in a society based on power and control relations, and that control and coercion are integrated in our culture's view of child rearing (the word speaks for itself). As mankind does not like to be controlled, this leads to power struggles and 'rebellion'.
If we were to relieve the parent-child relationship from this structural control, not only would we create a healthier relationship, but we'd also be nourishing a better future for the world at large.


The book read like a train, interlacing research with theory with real examples from Teresa's life with her children. It urges us to question our beliefs about children and our relationship with them and to dig deep in our past to unravel our reactions.
This is the first time I read a book about living with children that I wholeheartedly agree with.

This is truly a must read book. It is revealing, intelligent and it urges you to rethink control.
As a little side note: I love how she talks about 'the children who share my life' instead of her children. At page one, she pushes our nose onto the cultural belief of ownership we have about children.








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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

It Doesn't Exist If It's Hasn't Been Tested

I learned to knit when I was a child. I think I picked it up from my grandmother, who was an avid knitter. I don't really remember how I learned. Throughout my life I have picked up knitting on and off. I like the therapeutic value of it, the productivity.
I can knit pretty well now, I can read knitting charts in three languages. I can make pretty complicated stuff and I like it.

I have never been tested. I have never taken a knitting exam. Yet this knowledge exists.

Image: Teach Eagle

Lately, whenever I mention that my children are unschooled, on of the first questions I get is "But you do test them every so often, don't you". Uh… No I don't. I wouldn't want to, in fact the thought of it makes me cringe. Why should I force my child to sit down and show me what she and I both know she already knows. Moreover, what does it matter?

My reaction is: "well, she speaks three languages, she can swim, she can count… she can probably do as much or more than a schooled child of her age, what's the need?"
"But then how can you know?"

How can I know if the child I spend every day with is learning? Without testing her…
Uhm… By watching her! By spending time with her.

It seems as if to todays grilled and tested people knowledge cannot exist if it hasn't been proven by test. But what does testing do, really? It 'tests' wether you are good at taking tests, not wether you know something or are learning something. Knowledge cannot be tested, it can be experienced.

Why would I have to sit down my child to test if she learns? Testing will not change the fact wether or not she learns. Testing is not what makes people learn. And just to go one step further: how on earth could she not be learning? It is human nature to learn, constantly.

People who push testing either do not understand human nature, the learning process or are worried that kids might not be learning the right things.
Now who on earth is capable of deciding what are the right things? How can you just decide that? What's right for my daughter to learn isn't necessarily what your child needs to learn. Children learn what they need to live in the world they are living in.


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