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My child won’t stop crying!

The next time your little one is losing it over something you think is silly (like maybe they asked you for a banana but not a PEELED banana, and, well, you peeled it! Who knew this could cause such pain and upset, right?!? but they are kids – not mini adults, and believe it or not, it DOES…) and you’re tempted to stay “Stop crying” or “Don’t cry”, take a deep breath and as you offer them the peeled banana anyway, say instead “I see you’re sad/disappointed. It’s okay to cry. I’m here…”

mr rogers quote

Say these words and mean them. Be there for your little one who is just beginning to learn about this thing called “feelings” … including anger, disappointment and yes, even rage.

Sure. It’s not easy to sit there and listen to your child cry when every cell in your body wants to yell “ALRIGHT ALREADY HERES YOUR DANG BANANA. SHEEESH WILL YOU STOP CRYING??!?! IT’S NOT THAT BIG OF A DEAL!” as you reach over to the fruit bowl and grab another banana.

But imagine instead you simply say “This is your banana today. If you want to peel your banana tomorrow you can. This is your banana today. It’s right here if you’d like it.”  Instead of being angry and reactive, these words are responsive, like training wheels, helping your child learn to be with their emotions, to express them and to shift.

As you sit with your child in the middle of their upset, look to yourself. What is happening in your body? Are you holding your breath? Are your shoulders tense and way up by your ears instead of relaxed and sitting on your ribcage? Does your face look all scrunched up, irritated and/or scary? Take a deep breath. Soften the lines on your face and keep breathing (this is the first thing that goes when we’re upset). Imagine a moment with your child where you were at peace and FULL of love. Snuggling. Staring into their big, dark eyes when they were a newborn. Breathe, holding this memory in your mind as you allow for this less than peaceful child that is before you to be seen as well.

As you sit there together, accepting your child and all their many feelings, she will likely still cry and she may never reach over and eat that peeled banana, but in the end, she will feel HEARD. And even though she was dealing with some downright big/scary/ugly feelings, the two of you will leave the experience feeling closer to one another instead of mad/angry/frustrated and further apart. Instead of learning to whine and cry to “get her way” your child learns 1) you can be trusted with their big emotions and 2) you can be loving even as you are setting limits. Limits that are clear, firm and respectful. What a gift.

Let your child know in ways great and small, you are a safe place for them to feel their emotions no matter what. Because you two? You are on the SAME SIDE OF THE COURT. You are connected. You are a team.

(And a damn good one at that.)

PS: If you liked this post, join our community of mindful mamas and receive a free gift, a Hug Each Moment Kit via email today along with weekly positive parenting tips and inspirations direct to your inbox.

Inspiration and support for the journey of motherhood.  The manual is ours to write but we don’t have to write it alone! Let’s connect on twitterfacebook and pinterest too. xoxo

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Helping Kids Make “Good” Decisions

kids making good decisions

 

From the tiny little moments like picking out what to wear, playing on the playground or cutting their own pancake at the breakfast table (yes, even when they cut it  into a complete and utter crumbling mess) to the GREAT BIG moments like deciding who will be their BFF, whether or not to join in the gossiping on the playground and which selfie to post on Instagram…  life delivers many opportunities for our kids to exercise their decision making abilities.

We’d all like our kids to have their own personal moral compass that points due north (all the time!!!) — but as of yet these have not hit the market. What we can do as parents though, is allow for this magical compass (the one that leads the way to safety when our kids find themselves in difficult situations or with a hard to make decision in front of them. The type that works ALL ON IT’S OWN, whether we are in the room or not!!!) to develop innately within our children.

The sooner our tots and young kids build confidence in their decision making abilities, the easier it is for them to tune in and TRUST their intuition to guide as they get older. Practice, encouragement and support joined with clear, firm and consistent boundaries. This is how we support our young kids in building their intuitive abilities and decision making skills.

Where are you holding on to letting go of over-controlling your kiddos this week? Where are you guarding space for your kids to practice living into their own personal power by making decisions for themselves… even if they get it wrong the first time? Where is this hard for you? Tell me your stories below!!!! One of mine is here… the day my daughter shaved her head. (It’s not always easy… :0 but it is rewarding.)

PS: If you liked this post, join our community of mindful mamas and receive a free gift, a Hug Each Moment Kit via email today along with weekly positive parenting tips and inspirations direct to your inbox.


Inspiration and support for the journey of motherhood.  Let’s connect on twitterfacebook and pinterest too. xoxo

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Am I Raising An Entitled Kid?

© Marchibas | Dreamstime.com

As parents, we hear much these days about entitlement. We talk about it, think about it and read articles/books/posts about it because lets face it, NO ONE wants to raise an entitled kid. Quotes like the following leave us quaking in our boots lest we end up the parent of the sniveling brat who will never learn to take out the trash, tie his shoes or appreciate the world around him:

“A lack of discipline is apparent these days in just about every aspect of American society. Why this should be is a much larger question, one to ponder as we take out the garbage and tie our kids’ shoes.” – Elizabeth Kolbert, The New Yorker

The truth is fear sells, and the parenting information and analysis we’re taking in often comes wrapped in misinformation and fear-based messaging like:

“Love your child, but don’t love your child too much.”

“Attachment and connection are important, but be careful or you might spoil your child.”

And one that was just offered to a friend of mine by her pediatrician no less: “It’s time to show your 13 mo old who’s boss before she decides she is!”

Wanting to do the right thing, many parents come away from these mixed messages doubting their parenting instincts:

Wanting to respond to their newborns cries but fearful of spoiling, they instead delay picking baby up.

Wanting to hold their “needy”/clingy toddler but fearful of spoiling, they refuse to “coddle” their seemingly demanding child.

Wanting to teach/redirect their curious child who’s gotten into some sort of trouble or another as they explored the world around them (you know the kind – five thousand cheerios all over a newly cleaned kitchen floor, a chair that is not to be climbed being climbed anyway and tipping over, brushing the family dog with mom’s hairbrush of course, etc) but fearful of spoiling, they sternly respond with a “NO!!!” and gently slap their child’s hand/bottom.

Out of societal pressure to avoid permissive parenting at all costs, parents can easily be left doubting the more respectful, gentle parenting approaches available to us. Redirection. Positive reinforcement. Teaching and guiding by example (with our actions and words, not words alone). Because of a societal fear of spoiling, sadly, some parents, unsure about how to best respond, default to scolding, yelling, shaming, and even hitting. And as negative reinforcement generally breeds more negative behavior (not less), these same parents are left scratching their heads and wondering “Where is this bad behavior coming from?”

Over time these frustrated parents at times conclude that their child is bad and/or that they are bad. They think things like “If I was a better parent my child would not be acting this way!” “Something is severely wrong with my child” and/or “I’m embarrassed to be out in public with my children.”

But the truth is much simpler and far less anxiety provoking. The truth can save us from this downward spiral. The truth invites us into our power— our center. The truth builds up our confidence as parents even as it pulls us ever closer to our children and our families. The truth doesn’t come from fear or guilt or push our buttons like so much of the  sensationalized parenting stuff we’re reading. What is this simple truth that can save us for unjustified societal pressures warning us that being kind and parenting from a place of empathy will warp our kids??? Simply stated it is this:

Children who experience empathy and connection grow up to empathize and connect.

If you feel led to hold your child, hug your child and/or teach your child from a patient, forgiving place, this is ALWAYS okay to do. If you feel led to get down on one knee and make eye contact with your kid as you seek to understand where they and their big emotions and even their misbehavior is coming from, this is always okay to do. If your child displays perplexing behaviors, instead of taking it personally, explore the many different causes that may be driving this behavior before assuming it must be due to some misgiving of theirs or yours. Diet. Sensory integration. Personality types. Fears, worries and past experiences. Inherited tendencies. All of these factors come into play when it comes to understanding our children and meeting them where they are.

Teach and guide your children. Be clear and consistent, respectful and firm even as you chose love over fear. Let go of parenting advice that does not resonate truth for you (this post included!!!). Any day. Every day. Let go of fear. Tune in and trust your heart to guide. Allow yourself to parent from your center instead of from expert advice or societal pressures and worry.

Why?!?!

Because.

Love. Always. Wins.

empathy and connection

  xo

ps: No matter what parenting challenge is before you today, trust yourself. You’ve got this mama. Join with me and other moms here. The manual is ours to write but we don’t have to write it alone. Let’s connect on twitterfacebook and pinterest too. And thank you for passing along anything you (I hope and pray) like. It’s a big-fat-lovely compliment when you comment and share, so again, TIA. xo

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Could Spanking Be the Answer?

© Andrew Taylor | Dreamstime Stock Photos

© Andrew Taylor | Dreamstime Stock Photos

If you spank your kids and/or you believe in spanking as a form of discipline let me say this before you read any further: 1) If we knew each other in real life, I’m guessing we’d have more in common than we wouldn’t. 2) Inspite of our differences on this topic, we can share our thoughts and experiences with love and respect. And most importantly, 3) alone we are a drop, together… an ocean. xo

After this facebook conversation on spanking, I wanted to share more in-depth on the topic with links, resources etc. I hope you find the research articles and resources listed supportive, especially if you’re having this conversation offline with friends and family. And given that per most studies 70 to 90 percent of parents hit or slap their children as a form of discipline at varying frequencies nationwide, many of us are.

If you would like to comment below, please do!!! I ask this one thing: let’s talk about the research presented and refrain from shares that start with “in my personal experience…” or “I was hit/I was never hit and I turned out okay” as these are not up for debate. Let’s do something different than what is being done on parenting boards all over the internet and have a respectful (loving? Yes!!!!) discussion. See how this can be done in the comments following this post also on the topic of spanking.

Thank you!!!

 

xo

Join with me and other moms here. The manual is ours to write but we don’t have to write it alone! Let’s connect on twitterfacebook and pinterest

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REFERENCE ON SPANKING:

Business Insider

Psychology Today 

Plain Talk About Spanking

Stop Hitting

Crystal Lutton

Arms of Love Family Fellowship

Report on Physical Punishment in the United States: What Research Tells Us About Its Effects On Children

MORE RESEARCH:

Berlin, L.J., Ispa, J.M., Fine, M.A., Malone, P.S., Brooks-Gunn, J., Brady-Smith, C., et al. (2009).  Correlates and consequences of spanking and verbal punishment for low-income White, African American, and Mexican American toddlers. Child Development, 80, 1403-1420.

Gershoff, E.T. (2002). Corporal punishment by parents and association behaviors and experiences: A meta-analytic and theoretical review.Psychological Bulletin, 128, 539-579.

Gershoff, E. T. (2013). Spanking and child development: We know enough now to stop hitting our children. Child Development Perspectives, 7 (3), 133-137.

Gershoff, E.T., & Grogan-Kaylor, A. (2013). Spanking and its consequences for children: New meta-analyses and old controversies. Manuscript under review.

Gershoff, E.T., Lansford, J.E., Sexton, H.R., Davis-Kean, P.E., & Sameroff, A.J. (2012). Longitudinal links between spanking and children’s externalizing behaviors in a national sample of White, Black, Hispanic, and Asian American families. Child Development, 83, 838-843.

 

When did “like a girl” become a put down?!

How old were you when these words were first hurdled at you as an insult? Were you 9? 13? I honestly can’t remember a time when I did not know “running like a girl”, “hitting like a girl” and “throwing like a girl” to be put downs.

We can change this. As the commercial above shows, there is a time (generally pre-teens/tweens) where kids know running “like a girl” means running fast  and “throwing like a girl” means throwing far.

Always just kicked off a campaign aimed at making sure “girls everywhere keep their confidence throughout puberty and beyond.” How? Simply put, “by showing them that doing it #LikeAGirl is an awesome thing.”

“In my work as a documentarian, I have witnessed the confidence crisis among girls and the negative impact of stereotypes first-hand,” said Lauren Greenfield, filmmaker and director of the #LikeAGirl video. “When the words ‘like a girl’ are used to mean something bad, it is profoundly disempowering. I am proud to partner with Always to shed light on how this simple phrase can have a significant and long-lasting impact on girls and women. I am excited to be a part of the movement to redefine ‘like a girl’ into a positive affirmation.”

Let’s be a part of this change starting today. Comment below and tell me (with pride) what amazing things can YOU do #likeagirl? How about your daughters, mothers, sisters, wives, neighbors, friends?

xo

Join with me and other moms here. The manual is ours to write but we don’t have to write it alone! Let’s connect on twitterfacebook and pinterest

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Training Wheels

“I can do it MYSELF!!!”

“I’m not cold!!! I don’t WANT to wear a coat.”

“That shirt is itchy and I don’t like it.”

“No…” and hides behind mom’s legs when asked to say thankyou or goodbye to Grandma.

We’ve all been to these places with our kids. Easy moments? No… not usually… but with a small change in our perspective on what might be going on inside our little ones, these challenging moments can become just a little easier to breathe into and support our kids through.

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Where do these words and behaviors come from? Is it stubbornness? Obstinence? A broken part of our kids personalities or a place we’ve failed in our parenting that’s begging to be fixed? Or maybe it’s a sign of more misbehavior to come if we don’t nip it in the bud.

Or maybe it is something else all together.

What if this defiance we are seeing is developmentally appropriate; a place our children go when they want to 1) test a theory, 2)  learn about relationships or 3) feel safe, secure and in charge?

Ahhh. Now that’s feeling a little easier to be with as a parent. Nothing’s wrong. Nothing’s broken. These are merely things I can expect from my little scientist as they learn about communication and relationships.

Knowing one’s mind. Having clear, strong opinions and voicing them in a way that others around us can hear them and be enrolled by them instead of backed up or put-off… these are some high level communication skills we’re talking about here. And skills take practice. Is it any wonder our three, four (even fourteen) year olds struggle with communicating their big feelings, especially when they run directly against the desires of their parents?

The next time your child plays out a challenging behavior that seems to come from a “strong-will”, see if you can step into the experience from their point of view. What might he or she be exploring in that moment? Questions like:

Is it safe to go against the grain?

Is it better to blend in or to be myself?

How can I make myself be seen/known/accepted?

Am I powerful?

Is the world a safe and nurturing place?

If a child has the strength to “take-on” their parents with words that defy (yes, even when it’s 38 degrees out and their inner voice says “no coat!”) how much safer will this child be in years to come? How much more likely is this child to have a voice and know how to use it…

When at age 6 she wants to draw her sky with all the colors of the rainbow though all the papers around her are clearly filled with blue skies only.

When at age 7 a teacher insists all the kids run at gym but she is starting to come down with something and doesn’t feel like running.

When at age 10 she wants to be a vegetarian — even though nobody she knows is a vegetarian.

When at age 13 a boy she likes suggests they run and play on the train tracks behind his house.

When at age 14 someone thinks having a smoke together in the basement of a friend’s house would be a fun idea.

When at age 18 all the kids her age are getting piercings.

When at age 20 the guy she just started dating begins to act jealous and controlling.

When at age 25 she considers leaving a job where she receives little credit or joy to start up her dream business.

Model the behaviors you would like to see in your kids. Teach your child how to voice their big thoughts and opinions with respect. Teach your child that “pleases” and “thank you’s” bring with them smiles and happy feelings from the people they are shared with. Model for them how to breathe when they are upset. Help them learn from experience that it is safe for them to “use their words” when they do not like what is going on. Invite them to pause and hit the reset button before acting on the many impulses that want to move their little bodies when they are filled with big feelings.

Be your child’s relationship “training wheels”. Because when you do, you give your child a great, great gift: peace-filled relationships with themselves and others, a gift they will enjoy for the rest of their lives.

xo

If you live in or about the St. Louis area, join other couples supporting one another in parenting from a place of love and respect here. I hope you join with me and other moms here because mommy-hood is just plain better when we are holding hands. Let’s connect on twitterfacebook and pinterest as well. The manual is ours to write but we don’t have to write it alone!

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Not Perfect Parenting

not perfect parenting

Give your family the gift of YOU. 

Imperfect, wonderful, awesome-sauce YOU.

Because when we do this.

When we let go of perfect…

Everything is possible.

xo

ps: Have you ever felt yourself letting go of “perfect” in one way or another and felt the DEEPER CONNECTION possible with your family/mama friends on the other side of perfect as a result? Tell your story in the comments below.

When we tune in and trust, everything is possible. I hope you walk with me and other moms here because mom-hood is BETTER when we’re holding hands. Let’s connect on twitterfacebook and pinterest as well, because the manual is ours to write but we don’t have to write it alone!

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Taking Love Off The Line

 

UNCONDITIONAL LOVE.jpg

 

You love your child. Period.

I know this the same way YOU know this.

It just is. A nearly universal thing we moms all relate to. A mother’s love for her child is unconditional — the sort of love that suspends all logic.

So why?

Why do we as parents act like our love is negotiable, putting our love on the line when we’re upset?

Why do we say things to make our kids think there is any possible way that we could love them less because of their flaws? Because of their human-ness? Because of the dark, scary places that live inside of them? The places they love and trust us alone enough to show? The places they hide — from their teachers, from their friends, for fear that they’d no longer be worthy of love if someone found them out.

WHY?

We do it for that exact reason it was done to us. Because it is what we know. It is hard-wired into us. It is our knee-jerk reaction when things don’t go the way we’d like them to go. When our kids misbehave. When our kids are different. When they don’t fit into the square hole their school is pushing for them to fit into. When they don’t fit into the round hole our (generally well-meaning) parents, in-laws, friends, neighbors, doctors, etc tell us they “should” fit into.

We get triggered. We snap. We “lose it” on our kids.

It’s what we know.

But don’t we remember how it felt? That look from a parent (or a teacher or any other person of authority in our short little lives) that told us we had just completely let them down. The look that said “You, my friend, are a disappointment.”

Don’t we remember feeling the not-enoughness? Feeling, deep, in the pit of our stomachs, the I’m not good enough. I’m not smart enough. I’m not organized enough. I’m not sporty enough. I’m not social enough. I’m not outgoing enough. I’m not quiet enough. I’m not pretty enough… And on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on.

The beating ourselves up for our challenges, so much so we lost sight of our gifts?

“I can’t remember things like other people can. I don’t pay attention like other people do. I’m broken.”

Not only seeing it in their looks, but hearing it in their words.

What if, instead, we remember? Breathing. Clearing. Coming back to love.

Remembering that day when first, we locked eyes with our little one. The way we loved them then. Unconditionally. With our entire selves and everything we were. Love. More than life itself. Love.

Remembering. Our child’s innate goodness. Innate wholeness. Innate deservingness of love, not for anything they did or DO so much as just because THEY ARE.

Letting go. When old hurts creep up from the past to make their way into our ways of being today. Feeling for these moments. Watching for them. Sensing when we are about to move, are moving or have already moved off our center, triggered by something our child has said or done.

Catching these moments quicker as the weeks go by, quicker because of our growing awareness. Quicker because of grace and our breath and the support of a circle of other loving parents, equally committed the healing, growing journey that is parenthood.

Taking our love off the line.

Holding misbehavior as a sign of an un-met need and not a broken child. Using responsible, respectful, clear, consistent and firm words with our kids when met with a “teaching moment”.

“I love you but I do not love your behavior today.”

Connecting before correcting.

“Can we talk? I’m feeling very far away from you these days.”

“What do you think we could do to make mornings gentler/smoother/etc…?”

“I feel like I’m yelling at you all the time. I’m sorry I get so anxious when we’re running late. Do yo have any ideas that could help us here?”

Because really, you and me? Us — all of us — parents. We are on the same team as our kids. We’re not playing tennis, one on one, on opposite sides of the court as our children. NO. We are playing DOUBLES. TRIPLES. QUADRUPELS even. And there can many, many, many people on our same side of the court: husband’s, partner’s, teachers, doctors, etc.

We are all on the same side of the court.

The balls are flying at us, coming over that net at lightening fast speeds, and there we are, side by side, playing this game of life together… with our kids. Those balls, they’re not our kids. They’re life. Our pasts. Our fears. Other’s fears.

Tell this to your child today: “You and I? We are on the same side of the court.”

In the words you use. In the actions you take. Tell your child. Your love is theirs. Unconditionally.

It just is.

xo

—–

When we tune in and trust, everything is possible. I hope you walk with me and other moms here because mom-hood is BETTER when we’re holding hands. Let’s connect on twitterfacebook and pinterest as well, because the manual is ours to write but we don’t have to write it alone!

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You Know You Are A Parent When…

Ya feelin’ me?

Hope this made you giggle. (The truth is always funnier than anything we could possibly make up.)

Embracing the little moments of this day (the messy, imperfect and oh so sweet little moments…) with you.

xo

 

you know you are a parent when

—–

When we tune in and trust, everything is possible. I hope you walk with me and other moms here because mom-hood is BETTER when we’re holding hands. Let’s connect on twitterfacebook and pinterest as well, because the manual is ours to write but we don’t have to write it alone!

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Embrace The Chaos

 

 

 

Embrace the Chaos

Want to help yourself AND your kids feel less anxious? Stop saying “oh no”. Where do these two words get us anyway? When mom-hood doesn’t go the way we’ve planned for it to go, we have a choice.... (click to read more) #positive #parenting #mindfulness #yoga #acceptance

Want to help yourself AND your kids feel less anxious? Stop saying “oh no”.

Where do these two words get us anyway? When mom-hood doesn’t go the way we’ve planned for it to go,  we have a choice. We can either go on being surprised by the chaos or we can learn to expect it.

My three year old child just cut her own hair. Today. The day before we are set to take our family Christmas photos. An ideal day for her to give herself bangs? No. But the end of the world? No again.

Did I yell at my daughter or want her to feel miserable about cutting her hair in fear she might do it again? No. Thankfully there were no tears (for her or for me :O). Did we talk about it? Sure. Do I hope she’s learned from the experience such that it doesn’t happen again (and have we cut enough paper snowflakes with safety scissors for the week?!?) You bet ‘ja.

We are not perfect. Our kids are not perfect. NO ONE IS PERFECT.

When motherhood offers up the unexpected there is really only one thing left to do.

Embrace it.

xo

—–

When we tune in and trust, everything is possible. I hope you walk with me and other moms here because mom-hood is BETTER when we’re holding hands. Let’s connect on twitterfacebook and pinterest as well, because the manual is ours to write but we don’t have to write it alone!

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