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Flora

Author: FLORA

I am a post-career SAHM (Stay-at-home mom), living in Bozeman Montana. I share stories and ideas from parenting with a Montessori and Positive Discipline inspired perspective. Also, I LOVE DIY projects and finding great ways to use thrift store or hand-made toys for my little ones.
Learn more about why I say I'm "Just" a stay-at-home mom.

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Recent Posts

Decide What you Will Do (To Motivate Children to Clean-up)

Today, I want to share how this tool can be very effective in motivating a toddler to clean up.  &#...

Update on Potty Training

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potty Training.failSo…… we tried to start potty training.  I had been convinced by others that 20 months was too early (and the summer schedule was so busy, there wasn’t a convenient time anyway). But now Chunky Monkey is 23 months and I have started to see so many other children around me (around age 2), who were starting to use the potty.  So, I thought, “I must not be too crazy to think about trying”. Right?

Well…..like everything else with our son, it has not been a text book experience.  With tummy time, crawling, walking, eating…and now peeing/pooping – it seems my son doesn’t ever fit the mold of what has worked for so many others.  Countless moms and dads have told me that if you try a 3-day sort of Potty boot camp, the child will figure it out.  Well, I’m here to say that on day 4….my child is nowhere close to figuring it out.

We have had minor successes, so I’m not giving up completely.  But I am frustrated that the well-meaning promises from experienced parents who said, “It will totally work!” have not come to fruition in this household.  And believe me – we tried so many things that Pinterest promised me would work! We used a star chart, prizes, candy (which he never gets), a “potty party” for him and his dog, an Elmo potty video…and the list goes on. We celebrated every fake time his dog took a poop or pee in the potty (using a small snickers as fake poo was fun!), and did countless celebratory dances when he got even a drop of pee in the potty. Really all we could get was for him to stand on the seat of the potty with pee dripping out of his underwear that he insisted he keep on. And yes – we celebrated. I’m exhausted! This has felt like the longest 4 days of my life.  

All I can say is that it seems like this child is really teaching me a lot about how to let go of my expectations and be willing to be patient with his unique process of adjusting or learning new things. Today I found an awesome video on toilet learning from the Montessori perspective.  I’m past their 18 month suggested time frame, but I did appreciate the reminder that children will learn in their own time, and that it is a process.  Even if they are just doing part of the process, it is a step in the right direction.:-)

 

Montessori Monday: Toilet Training

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So….I’m interested in starting toilet training for our 20-month old.

I have been reading “Montessori From the Start” throughout Chunky Monkey’s first 2 years,
and embraced most of the ideas.  Unfortunately, I became a floor bed drop-out though, and I’m nervous that early toilet training could end up being another “floor bed idea” (as my husband says).

I just started getting a gut sense that our little man was ready to use the potty recently.  Well, maybe this influenced me a bit (ha!):

potty video

So I started doing some research.  Montessori theories often recommend toilet training around 15-18 months of age, instead of the typical Western age of 2-3 years old.  What is a mom to do?  I think I am going to follow my instincts and at least give it a try.  I bought him some big boy underwear and plan to go with a method that blends ideas from “Montessori from the Start” and ideas about non-coercive potty training from Godiaperfree.com.

Those of you who have done it before, I would LOVE your input.  Otherwise, I’ll let you know how it goes soon enough.:-)

My Top 3 Favorite Positive Discipline Tools

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Parenting is a lot like learning to drive in Montana winter weather. In the most heart-pounding moments, you are told to go against your natural instincts.

As a Californian, when I moved to Mt, I told my husband I was really scared of driving in the snow. My husband gave me 3 small but challenging tips:

  1. Just drive slow and steady. Ok. I can do that.
  2. IF you have to break, don’t let your reflexes slam down the pedal. Resist your nature and pump the breaks instead.   Getting a little bit harder to picture doing in the heat of a scary moment.
  3. If you happen to have a deer jump out faster than you can break, it’s better to hit the dear than to swerve and likely roll your car. What?! That does not seem right? That would go against every bone in my body.

The same is true in parenting. In the most heart-pounding moments, it’s often more effective to go a bit against your natural insticts. But it is definitely worth it! When I notice my child isn’t listening, my instint is often to repeat myself or speak louder and louder until I’m yelling, and eventually maybe even resort to some threat/intimidation tactics to GET HIM TO DO what I have TOLD him to do!   Not usually as affective as getting down to the child’s eye level and connection before correction,  asking instead of telling, or deciding to stop trying to MAKE them do something, and instead deciding what you will do and following through. I’ll tell you a bit more about all of these parenting tools in a moment.

These are 3 of my favorite parenting tools and they come from Positive Discipline, created by Jane Nelsen and Lynn Lott. Even though they are challenging often in the heat of parenting moments, they are the most effective long-term.

  1. Connect before you correct.

Picture this challenging moment: I’m walking to the car with at 5pm with a 1 year old. I lift him towards the car seat and am met with a bone curdling scream in my ear a hip thrust forward and kicking legs. One of his legs kicks me in the side of my stomache. I am frustrated!

I’m tired from a long day, I just want to get home to eat dinner and enjoy the help of my husband, who should be home from work when we get there. This is NOT what I want to be dealing with.

Everything in me wants to scold him and tell him his behavior is unacceptable! I want to say, “You WILL get your bottom in that chair because there is no other option.”

Instead, I pause to connect before I correct.

I pull him away from the car seat, back onto my hip so I can put a hand on his back as I speak softly. I say something like “whoa, whoa, whoa. Hold on a moment. I can tell you don’t want to go home. You were having so much fun in our music class weren’t you? That was such a fun time!  It’s hard to leave places that are so fun, huh?”  With each word and stroke of his back, I feel his body relax incrementally, appreciating the validation.

Then, I continue with correction.  “But wait. Let’s look. Look at the other kids getting into their cars. The class is done. No one is staying here. We are all headed home to see mommy’s and daddy’s and have dinner. And we get to come back next week for music again.  Let’s go home and see daddy!” He nods and I lift him towards the car seat with no resistance at all. We buckle up and head on our way.   Really only 2 minutes were lost in the time it took to connect before correction of his behavior. And it was well worth it.

Jane Nelsen says, “Children learn best when they feel connection. Extensive research shows that we cannot influence children in a positive way until we create a connection with them. It is a brain (and heart) thing. Sometimes we have to stop dealing with the misbehavior and first heal the relationship.”

  1. Asking instead of telling.

A “Telling” parent says:

“Go brush your teeth. Get your coat. Stop fighting with your brother.”

An “Asking” parent addresses those same situations with curiosity questions:

“What do you need to do so your teeth don’t feel scuzzy? What are you taking so you won’t be cold outside?  How can you and your brother solve this problem?”

It’s a major shift in how we teach our children.  Teaching doesn’t have to involve the adult doing all the thinking.  *In fact, it’s WAY better if the adult isn’t doing the majority of the thinking.  Curiosity questions are a way to use dialogue to get the child’s brain to have to think about the answer.  It’s much less likely to trigger the child tuning you out, or resisting with “No”.

  1. Decide what you will do, & Follow-Through.

Instead of trying to MAKE a child do something. There are times you can Just decide what you will do and follow through.

“If you throw that toy, I will put it away”, “I am going in the other room until you are done screaming”, “When your shoes are on, then I am happy to take you to the park.”

Connect before you Correct, Asking instead of Telling and Deciding what YOU will do & following through.   These are all parenting tools that I believe are challenging to our natural instincts, but will help you get through the storms of parenting with the outcomes you really want.

Have you sold out if your child goes to pre-school?

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musclenerd-selloutLadies and gentleman, the day has come that I am reaching out for some regular help with my little man (now 1 1/2).  I always knew I would consider pre-school at SOME point for Chunky Monkey.  But, I wasn’t sure when.  I guess in my mind I thought it would likely be around age 3 1/2 or 4.  But then, life never goes quite as you had imagined, does it? It SURE hasn’t for me.

I learned through a friend about a Montessori teacher in Bozeman who wants to open a small 5-child pre-school specifically for kids around 2. It’s 3 hours in the morning for 3 days a week.  It just seems too good to pass up.  He will have some great time to learn and socialize, while I will have time to…. Well, I’m not sure exactly what I will do. But I have no doubt I will find a way to fill the time. Hopefully it will mean I can blog post more often! Maybe I can take a yoga class to help my achy back that gets all outta wack from holding this 28 lb kid! Also, I hope to put the word out more in my community to teach some more parenting workshops.

There is a part of me that wonders if I am selling out on being “Just” a SAHM.  But I am also trying to stay flexible in my expectations and not do anything just because I think I “should” (a constant battle as a SAHM).

If you have done something similar, drop a line to share your thoughts.  It’s great to share in this journey with others.

Learning about numbers

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The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) says, “Each day offers us countless opportunities to help children deepen their understanding of math concepts. The more we talk math, the better chance infants and toddlers have to build a positive attitude toward math learning and learning in general.”

So, I am striving to incorporate math concepts into everyday life here with “Chunky Monkey”.  Some people would think it’s too early to work with an 18-month old on math concepts, but that’s not true at all.  Montessori education and the NAEYC recommend that you begin including math concepts in every day life from infancy.  Why waist the incredible time period of 0-3, when children have such absorbent minds?

So, this week I did a DIY flip ring with the numbers 1-10.  number flip book1image1

 

 

 

 

 

I used a permanent marker to write on some lament counter top samples my husband got from a hardware store.  The sample chips and chain came already put together, but you could easily make this with lamenated paper.  In fact, I just found one like it recently at a yard sale (from a crafty mom).:-)image3

My little man was eager to have me tell the “story” of the numbers again and again while he flipped the samples to the next one.

So, I’d call it a success so far – and it only took about 2 minutes to make!

– See more at: http://families.naeyc.org/learning-and-development/music-math-more/math-talk-infants-and-toddlers#sthash.bIKG7DMs.dpuf”

Some ideas for talking about math concepts (from the NAEYC) with young children include:

1. Number and operations

  • “You have two eyes, and so does your bear. Let’s count:–1, 2.”
  • “I have more crackers than you do. See, I have 1, 2, 3,  and you have 1, 2. I’m going to eat one of mine. Now I have the same as you!”
  • “That’s the third time I’ve heard you say mama. You’ve said mama three times!”

2. Shapes and spatial relationships (geometry)

  • “Look, Jason went under the climber and Aliyah is on top!”
  • “You’re sitting next to your brother.”
  • “Some of the crackers we have today are square, and some are round.”

– See more at: http://families.naeyc.org/learning-and-development/music-math-more/math-talk-infants-and-toddlers

– I also strongly recommend this 8-week online course on Early Preparation of the Mathematical Mind.  I took it and learned a lot about how to teach math concepts early.  http://ageofmontessori.org/early-math-course-online/