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The need to move

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13220575_10154206908649345_6153058951171844569_oIn the past month my little wonderful two year-old has been more two than wonderful.  Having a new little sister arrive has undoubtedly been influencing some of his behaviors, but I also think he has just hit a stage of development were he has a deep need for lots of large motor movement.  After I had a couple rough days in a row with him, I spent an evening trying to “get curious, not furious” (as a mentor of mine, John Sommers-Flannagan, once said).

I do this often with my son when I feel like we have come to a “stuck” place in our relationship (or in my parenting).  It’s about reflecting and trying to think through what common factors seems to be related to the troubled situations, and what I haven’t tried yet.  In this case, I started realizing that my son’s challenging behavior was coming on the heels of 1 week sick (& stuck in the house sitting on the couch a lot), and another week of rain (again stuck in the house a lot).

13220699_10154206908579345_1434936265952087414_oSo, we decided to have as much outside and large motor movement activities as possible for the next few days to see if it impacted his behavior.  It did!

We took an afternoon to throw rocks in the river, search for bugs, and chase dogs that were nearby.  It was a blast! AND, he was his best version of himself that afternoon and evening.  So… this was a great reminder for me that kids this age NEED lots of time to move.  We will be continuing to make room for as much outside time as possible!
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A day of slow parenting

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Have you heard of this new movement called “Slow Parenting”.  I was first introduced to the idea a month ago when a mom wrote an article on opting for a “Slow Parenting” summer.  The idea was intriguing.  The main concept is to slow down in this very busy planned world we all live in.  It’s an opposition to overscheduling and overstressing a child with too many “enrichment” classes/activities.

Just 2 weeks ago, the Boston Globe posted an article about slow parenting, and it sums up this counter-cultural approach so well:

“I encourage parents to take some time to just watch their children, whether they are playing, doing homework, or eating a snack,” [John Duffy, a clinical psychologist and author of The Available Parent] says. “Take a moment to drink them in. Remember and remind yourself how remarkable your children are. That pause alone, even if momentary, can drive a shift in the pace”…

“These days when everyone is so busy, we need to be intentional about making space for family time…” Family time, says Contey [cofounder of Slow Family Living] is different for all of us. “You might say, ‘we’re all here on Thursday mornings, so let’s make a leisurely pancake breakfast’; or one night a week take a walk in the dark before bed. Something like that can feel really special and the kids will remember it as they get older”…

So, I focused on this idea yesterday and slow parenting was fantastic!image1 image2

We went to 1 outing in the morning for 1/2 an hour and besides that we just  went at Chunky Monkey’s pace, enjoying things big and small around our house.  He played with some “typical” play things, like play dough and finger paint.  But the best part was probably when he was just exploring our house without any agenda (and I was along for the ride!).

He sat on the stairs for a really long time, practicing turning around and moving up and down.  I was right there for safety, but normally I would have missed all of this because I just want him to go up or down and get where we are going.  He wandered in and out of our closet, bringing out various pairs of mom/dad’s shoes for me to “put on” him (I use that term loosely).  And he went in small areas of the room to “hide” from me and giggled hysterically each time I found him.  I hung on every giggle wishing I could somehow mentally record the sound and never forget it.

It was SO much fun! I found myself really actually present with him.  And I realized there are many moments in a day where I am just trying to have him be busy so I can talk to a friend, on a play date.

I also enjoyed the opportunity to fully take in the little man he is becoming.  I really got to observe how his large motor coordination is developing and marveled at the things his eyes and hands were eager to explore.

If you take a day, or a season, to really focus on slow parenting, I’d love to hear about it.:-)

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How to help a 1-year-old having a tantrum

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validating feelingsI absolutely love Positive Discipline! Click here to visit Positive Discipline If you haven’t checked out any of their books or website – do it now! They have the best advice (in my opinion) for how to help behaviors in a  way that is kind AND firm at the same time.

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Positive Discipline Tool Card about Validating Feelings

Today, I want to share some ideas on how to help a 1-year-old when they are starting to cry or scream about something they don’t like (using Positive Discipline’s “Validate Feelings” tool card.  I don’t know about your child, but mine cries often over very small things.  If he could talk, he would likely be saying things like, “I don’t want to sit there”, “I hate putting my coat on”, “I don’t want to get in the car”, “I’m not sitting in this high chair”!

Since he can’t talk, he screams or cries.  Recently I read something that totally helped me understand this better.  Crying is most of the time a form of communication for children 1-2 years old.  It doesn’t mean you have to stop what you are asking them to do (unless it’s a cry about physical pain), or give in to their plea for a cookie, etc .  Just try to translate what the cry really means into words.  So, if he is crying, I stop myself from responding “don’t cry about this,”, because that would be like saying, “Stop telling me you are frustrated with this.”

Instead, seek to hear their cry as a way to communicate frustration and then respond accordingly with empathy and firmness:

“Oh boy. You are frustrated that we are getting shoes on right now. You do not like putting shoes on. I hear that (while child is crying screaming). It’ ok to be frustrated.  Take a minute to just be frustrated about that. I’m here.  I’ll give you a hug. I don’t like doing things sometimes too.”  Meanwhile, I pause the putting-on-shoes process to just connect with a  hug, cuddle and soft voice, hoping my calmness can wear off on my child. Usually this works to calm his cries screams within 1-2minutes.

In a moment of screaming 1-2 minutes can feel like FOREVER, but it’s really worth the wait.  It’s not that long at all when you think of the lifelong benefit you are giving your child, helping him to feel their feelings are valid and helping them understand and manage their emotions.

Empathy has the power to really take the sting out of most difficult situations.  It doesn’t make it perfect. The child isn’t going to smile and say, “Ok. I am completely happy now about getting my shoes on”.  BUT, they are more likely to be able to move past the emotion to a level of calmness where you can distract them with something else to focus on and move forward.  Once that initial flare-up has died down, I then say something like, “Here. Could you hold my keys and be a helper?” (while then putting the shoes on).

Hope you see great results!  

**Disclaimer: Remember, this is not a 1-time fix.  This is a tool to use over and over again throughout the tantrums years for better results towards helping your child understand and manage their emotions.  Expect to repeat these steps 5-20+ times a day (depending on the day!);-)  Would love to help you trouble-shoot if you aren’t seeing it help your 1-year-old’s tantrums.

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Author: FLORA

I am a new post-career SAHM, 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 one.
Learn more about why I say I'm "Just" a stay-at-home mom.

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