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!

RELATED POSTS:

How To Be Enough

How To Be Vulnerable

Posts on Mindfulness

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!

RELATED POSTS:

How Parenting Helps Me Grow

How to Accept the Un-Acceptable

More Posts on Being a NOT Perfect Parent and Forgiveness

Suffering From the Terrible Two’s? Remember to BIRP

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

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PS: If you liked this post, join our community of mindful mamas and receive weekly notes of inspiration and support for connecting with your kids along with a Hug Each Moment Kit direct to your inbox.

 

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

RELATED POSTS:

Suffering From the Terrible Two’s? Remember to BIRP

How Parenting Helps Me Grow

Parenting and Discipline

 

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

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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!

Related Articles:

Boundaries

How To Accept the Unacceptable

Self Love

Gentle Baby Sleep Support

 

 

Think Food Doesn’t Affect Behavior? WATCH THIS.

food affects behavior

It’s no big secret: sugary junk food can make our kids bounce of the walls. But how does it affect their relationships with other kids? Their ability to work as part of a team? A group of 5-9 year old kids in Britain have the answer for us in this simple experiment that had them attending two very different parties.

Party One offered healthy snacks of apple slices, carrot sticks, sandwiches, hummus and water to drink.

Party Two offered not so healthy (but fairly standard) party food including sweets, potato chips, and soda.

After eating, both groups played the same games, and with researchers and parents on hand to observe, the FUN began.

Admittedly, research and data can be, well, boring… but not so when collected into a nice 5-6 min video!!! Check out the results for yourself; the differences in these two groups of kids as the parties unfold is remarkable. Playing games. Putting together puzzles. Running around, playing with balloons, etc. Look at the incidents of physical aggression and hyperactivity measured by researchers at these two parties. VASTLY different and yes, as expected, far more common in the Party Food Group (dark blue) than the Healthy Food Group (light blue).

Kids Behavior: Healthy Food vs Party Food Graph

In the end, the Healthy Food Group did 48% better in the games overall. That’s huge.

The question in the end comes back to us, the moms and dads and schools and caregivers.

How we are setting our kids up to win, or not?

How are the foods we give our kids preparing them to learn, grow, question, create, participate AND play with friends? How different might a pop-tart-in-the-car sort of morning be than a hot-bowl-of-oatmeal-with-bananas-on-top-at-home sort of morning?

What is your experience with various foods and your kids behavior? How do you keep things in perspective, avoiding the far too easy to fall in and bottomless pit of mama-guilt (that truly serves no-one) when it comes to this issue? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

xo

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When we follow our bliss, tune in and trust, anything and everything is possible. I hope you walk with me and other moms here because everything is BETTER when we are holding hands. Let’s share on twitterfacebook and pinterest too because the manual is ours to write but we don’t have to write it alone!!!

Other Articles:

Infant Massage for Colic 

Gentle Baby Sleep Support

Babywearing

Praise Or Discouragement

It might sound like I’m splitting hairs here… but the way we encourage our kids MATTERS.

My daughter stood on the podium marked 3, smiled and waved at end of her first ever gymnastics meet. Was I happy for her? Sure. Did I praise her as being an amazing gymnast? No.

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What did I tell her when she walked up to her dad and I after the meet, four shiny metals around her neck, trophy in hand, beaming ear to ear? I hugged her and said with an equally large smile, “I LOVED watching you out there. You had this big smile the entire time. It looked like you were having a blast. Honey, we’re so proud of how committed you are to your team. You are learning so much…”

Why didn’t I gush over her getting to stand on the podium? Why not go on and on about the shiny new metals that hung around her neck? It’s because when we praise the child (or the outcome like the “win”) verse praising the child’s effort, their brain holds onto our  praise as conditional and in the end, our praise becomes discouragement.

I think of it this way: praise the child/win/outcome and the brain thinks: I AM GOOD WHEN I DO GOOD. So what happens when our kids face something new and hard? Something they are “bad” at? Their brain is left to conclude: I AM GOOD WHEN I DO GOOD AND  I AM BAD AT THIS… I DON’T WANT TO DO THIS HARD THING. I AM NOT “GOOD” AT IT.

But praise the effort and waaaa-laaaa, you have a child whose brain is being incentivised to face challenges.

The real win, I want my ten year old to know deep in her heart, is the person she is. The love and respect she shows her coaches. The encouragement she gives her teammates and the girls on other teams, clapping for and watching them attentively. The commitment and focus she exercises, day in and day out, in getting her mom and her twin three year old brother and sister motivated to GET IN THE CAR NOW that she might get to practice on time (where early is on time and on time is late!). The patience and care she shows her body when she decides to sit a practice out because she is hurting even though it kills her to sit on the sidelines and watch.

Understanding the full impact our words as parents have on our kids takes time —but given the research, it’s time worth spending. There is power in the way we praise.

  • Praising the child: “Man you are smart.” Praising the effort: “That was a long assignment, but you stuck to it and got it done. That’s great!
  • Praising the child: “You are an amazing artist.” Praising the effort, “Wow. Look at all the different colors/techniques/materials/etc you used to make that picture.” or “What was your favorite part of making that?” or “Can I hang this in the kitchen?”
  • Praising the child: “You are such a great soccer player” Praising the effort, “You worked really hard today at soccer practice.” or “I love to watch you play.”

None of this sort of praising comes easy or naturally to me. After thirteen years of thinking about process over outcome, of working to praise the effort not the child, is it still hard for me?

YES. I do it “wrong” all the time. But that’s okay. I love a challenge.

Food for thought:

  • Are the things we’re saying to our kids inspiring them or discouraging them?
  • Are we helping them take on a growth mindset or a fixed mindset?
  • Are we preparing them for the challenges life will surely hold or are we not?
  • And finally, how do we, their parents, respond to challenges? Both ours and theirs.

Praise the effort, not the child. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

xo

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When we follow our bliss, anything is possible. I hope you walk with me and other moms here because motherhood (and life) is better when we’re holding hands.

Related Posts:

A Curvy Road
Connection and Baby/Kids

Helpful Resources:

Effective Praise

Effort, Praise and Achievement

Children and Praise: Why Certain Types of Praise May Backfire

 

Suffering from the Terrible Two’s? Remember to BIRP

If you find yourself complaining about your tot, wondering aloud, “WHERE DID MY SWEET ANGEL GO?!?!” know this… you are not alone.

Here’s a tool to help you with the many power struggles that go along with raising a two year old. I hope it helps.

First and most importantly, disengage from the power struggle.

I love this visual: if one person drops their end of the rope, it’s awful hard to play tug-o-war.

DROP YOU END OF THE ROPE whenever possible. The next time you and your two year old child lock horns (works for all ages but especially for two year old kids) think BIRP. Not as in belching although that might work to bring levity to the situation, but BIRP as in:

B: Boundaries
I: Independence
R: Ritual
P: Play

The first two letters stand for our BOUNDARIES and their INDEPENDENCE, the cause of many if not most of our power struggles. Both are [Read more…]

On How I Manipulate My Kids and Wonder Woman

ma-nip-u-late [muh-nip-yuh-leyt]

verb (used with object)

1.  to manage or influence skillfully.

2. to adapt or change to suit one’s purpose or advantage.

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I manipulate my kids, especially my youngest two.

Why do I do this evil thing? Most likely it’s because, like the definition says, it suits my purpose.

I get it sounds selfish, but truly, when I consciously attempt to manipulate my kids, it’s out of love. The unconscious manipulations? That’s a different post entirely. When I act from a conscious place though, I do it to suit my needs and theirs. An adaptation or change to suit our mutual purpose and advantage. Too theoretical? Let me give you an example.

Here’s a manipulation I pull on my youngest kiddos every day about 12:15 pm. It’s how I get my two year old twins to walk themselves up our steps to their room at nap time. [Read more…]

How Parenting Helps Me Grow

There is nothing like parenting to hold that mirror up to a grown person’s face (to my face, to your face…) and show us where we get to grow. Apparently I get to grow in patience and acceptance because these two keep showing up in my dang mirror. They were there yesterday, staring out at me. I recognized them right away.

My eight year old walked into the living room and saw it first. Instead of screaming at the horror she alone was witnessing (which, thinking back to being eight, could have been a fun thing to do) she ran to find me in the kitchen and broke it to me gently.

With big eyes and a shocked look on her face she said, “Mom, you are NOT going to like this.” She paused for dramatic effect. I froze and braced myself for impact.

“You are really going to freak out.”
[Read more…]

How to Respect Each Others’ Boundaries

NO is not a bad word! “No” is how we maintain boundaries with each other, both adults and children. It’s a word that we want our kids to be able to say with confidence. Think of all the situations when we want them to “Just say No!”

So how do you react when your child establishes a boundary with you? After all, how are they going to master it without any practice! 🙂 Watch the VIDEO: Zen Mommy and I take on this question from the Yoga Parenting course.

No is powerful. But as a child myself, saying “no” to my parents was… unheard of. I’m sure that my tendency to NOT say “no” has been the root of… um, many many significant life lessons. Remember Jennifer Burden’s article last week, How to Just Say No? This is a biggie, people! This is how are little people learn!

Thank you, Jennifer for sharing how you set your boundaries. My dear readers, how have you set boundaries. Or, how has your child set boundaries with you? How did you respond?

Practical Mommy is Ria Sharon, co-creator of the Yoga Parenting course. Are you ready for parenting to be easier, more fun and less stressful?