My 6-Year-Old Put Me In Time Out

I had sent Jake to sit on “the step” – essentially our version of a time out.  I’d warned him that his disrespectful behaviour would land him on the step if it continued.  It had continued so he’d spent 5 minutes sitting by himself on the step by our laundry, to “think about his behaviour” and give us all a break.

When Jake got off the step, he asked me tearfully, “How come you don’t have to sit on the step?”

“Well, no one has ever given me a warning”, I replied.

“I’m giving you a warning now,” he said with a scowl (probably the same scowl I use to give him warnings).

“What for?” I asked, thinking through my various parenting misdemeanours of the afternoon – there were a lot of them.

“Shouting”, Jake grumped at me.

“Fair enough.”

 

WHAT’S WRONG?

It was then that I realised I’d lost my way when it came to disciplining my boys.  I guess I’d sensed for a month or two that I was on a downward spiral, my discipline methods slowly slipping further away from my values, but I hadn’t stopped to rethink things. Sending my boys to “the step” was not a strategy I wanted to be using but it had turned into a habit and become my default approach to correcting my boys’ behaviour.

And that’s where the first problem was.  The step didn’t actually correct their behaviour at all.  The evidence lay in the fact that they were sitting on it more and more often.

The second problem with the step was that it didn’t reflect my parenting values, especially the way I was using it.  That we are all spiritual equals requires me to treat everyone with respect, regardless of their age or behaviour.  There are times when we parents have to position ourselves as an authority to guide our children but there is no power struggle in a relationship between equals.  The step had become a weapon in our power play, me using it to threaten, manipulate and, ultimately, control Jake and Thomas.

How had it got to this?!

 

LOSING MY WAY

I think the main factor that saw me resorting to the step was that my boys were, inevitably, throwing new challenges my way.  I was unprepared to deal with the backchat, defiance and attitude that was increasingly featuring in Jake’s interactions with me and I hadn’t taken the time to figure out how best to respond.

Additionally, the personal truth is that I saw red each time Jake used his new attitude with me, my insecurities about being disrespected instantly triggered.  I hadn’t consciously realised that he’d struck a nerve and I had immediately started trying to control Jake rather than taking my time to see what was really going on (for both him and I). I was trying to control him because my I felt out of control.

Being both challenged and triggered, I had slipped away from my own parenting values and my relationship with Jake was suffering.  I felt ashamed and disappointed in myself.  What was I going to do about it?

 

GOING INTO TIME OUT

I put myself in a self-imposed time out of sorts to reflect on what was going on and to find a new way of doing things.

The first thing I had to do was forgive myself.  In my blog post Self Love – Not Just Warm Fuzzies, I wrote –

“Forgiving ourselves is perhaps the truest act of self-compassion.  It allows us to move forward without the burden of our past.” 

Taking the time to consider what was going on within me when met with Jake’s emerging ‘tude helped me to understand and empathise with myself.  I realised that, when I’m tired, triggered and uncertain what to do, it is natural that I’m going to struggle and this made it easier for me to forgive myself.

Then, I put all my to-dos aside for one morning to figure out how I wanted to go forward.  I was prompted to read back over some earlier blog posts I had written about discipline and found that they were actually pretty helpful! I also flicked through some of the parenting books I keep on my desk and thought about what my boys are needing from me at the moment.  I devised respectful strategies for dealing with my current parenting challenges.

 

IN SUMMARY – FLOUNDERING, FORGIVENESS & MOVING FORWARD

As parents, we constantly need to re-evaluate what we are doing, whether it be around discipline or another area of life.  As our children grow older, they will bring new challenges our way which will require us to adjust our way of doing things.  Don’t we all bemoan the fact that, just as we feel we’re getting the hang of this parenting thing, something new comes our way?  It certainly keeps us on our toes -parenthood is about our own evolution as much as it is about our children’s.

We can’t expect ourselves to adjust seamlessly to every change in our children’s development.  The changes can surprise us, we’re not necessarily anticipating them.  It’s understandable that we will flounder around for a bit each time until we find our way.  I’m hoping that, having gone through this, I will recognise more quickly what’s going on when there is another significant change in my boys.  Instead of being overwhelmed and punishing myself for my  imperfect parenting, I will take a time out to forgive myself and to strategise with Love.  Having compassion for ourselves and moving forward deliberately are the only ways to keep up – more or less – with our children.

 

Much love to you and your little souls,

 

PS – Where do you feel you have lost your way in your parenting?  What can you forgive yourself for?  Comment below.

 

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Mixed Berry Jam & Making Decisions For Our Children

As parents, we have to make many decisions on our children’s behalf.  Some decisions come easily – it seems obvious what to do and we make them with confidence.  But there are also a lot of decisions we angst over.  As much as we try, we’re painfully aware that we can’t always anticipate what the ramifications of a decision might be for our children or how they might feel about it.  There are times when we think “I just don’t know what to do!” I find that I start spinning in circles of indecision, getting myself quite wound up & anxious.

Here are just a few of the decisions that I’ve struggled with since having children –

  • whether to accept pain relief in labour.
  • when to start trying for baby number 2.
  • whether my son should go up to Year 2 in school or have longer in Year 1 (having to make this decision is a quirk of the New Zealand school system).
  • whether to get my son minor surgery for appearance, not medical reasons.
  • and, every year, what to get my boys for Christmas (something they’ll love for more than 5 minutes that won’t just become more junk around the house).

 

WHEN WE DON’T KNOW WHICH DECISION TO MAKE

More recently, my husband and I have been talking about possibly moving house.  As you know, there are so many factors to take into consideration when deciding whether to move and where to move to, such as proximity of family and access to schools – it can be quite overwhelming.  For many weeks, I felt paralysed, unable to make a decision because I couldn’t figure out what would be best for my boys.

One evening in bed, I realised I hadn’t prayed over it, I’d been waiting for the answer to become clear without really asking for it.  So I briefly outlined my dilemma for God (He knew all the details anyway) and the answer came straight away – There’s no right or wrong, you just have to commit to whichever decision you make and make the most of it.

It hadn’t really occurred to me that there’s not always a right choice or a best choice.  But, when I heard The Universe’s reply, I was reminded of a time when I was going through a rough patch in my twenties and I had to decide what to do next. I would listen to Susan Jeffers’ Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway whenever I went anywhere in my car to give myself a boost of confidence (it was a cassette tape!).  Susan spoke of tasting all the “goodies” along the path we choose.  Along one path, there might be blueberries and, along the other, there might be strawberries – either way, we can pick and enjoy the berries that line our path.  Back then, I thought that sounded lovely but really there was a right decision in every case.  Fifteen years later, though, I understood what The Universe was telling me.

Still, when I first got my answer about moving house, I rolled my eyes at God and said, “very wise, but I still don’t know what to do!”  But I tried not to be frustrated and instead to trust & be open to all the possibilities before us, focussing on the joys (the berries) each option offered.

Then, shortly afterwards, some new information came to light and my husband & I realised that we need to sit tight for now and review the move in a year’s time.  There was our decision – for now.  And I feel good about it.

As my spiritual connection grows, it’s that feeling of peace that I look for when making a decision.  The pros and cons contribute to the process but, ultimately, I’m looking for what feels right.  And that requires me to put my fear aside so that I can sense Love’s wisdom.

 

THERE’S NOTHING TO BE AFRAID OF

I think it’s often fear that keeps us stuck when making decisions.  When it comes to my boys, I fear that they will miss out on something great or, conversely, suffer in some way if I make a poor decision.  When deciding what to do, I tend to catastrophise, looking for everything that could go wrong.

What if, instead, like Susan, we looked for everything that could go right?  Perhaps that would make our decisions easier to make and help us to trust that all paths have the potential to be great.  Making decisions from a place of joyful possibility seems more empowering than making decisions designed to avoid the worst.

And if we make a decision that, as the consequences reveal themselves, we discover isn’t right for our children, we can view that discovery as a particularly sweet, juicy berry along the path.  We haven’t made a “mistake” or taken the “wrong path”, because it led us to more knowledge. We can use that knowledge going forward and make another decision to take us somewhere else.  Most decisions aren’t as fixed & irreversible as fear would have us believe.  Sometimes we just have to get on, make a decision and feel it on for size, knowing we can course-correct if needed.

 

IN SUMMARY – EAT THE BERRIES

When we are feeling anxious over a decision we have to make for our children, perhaps it’s an indication that we need to let go of our fears. have a little faith and learn to feel our way.  I know now that I can trust that, when the answer isn’t clear, it’s probably a case of “can’t go wrong” and an opportunity to relax, let things unfold and eat some scones with mixed berry jam – yum!

We promised to love our children and do our best by them.  We never promised that their journey through childhood would be seamless, a paved-with-glitter direct route to a happy adulthood.  But we can all enjoy eating as many berries as possible on the way.

I have a treasured memory of a visit with friends in England many years ago.  We went blackberry picking along the meandering lanes of the English countryside.  I had no idea where we were but the company was great and the berries were good.  Now, I can imagine my family on that path, faces and fingers stained with various shades of red, purple and blue, grinning widely.

 

Much love to you and your little souls,

 

 

PS – What decisions do/have you found difficult to make for your children?  Comment below.

 

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Is it Really the Grandparents’ Right to Spoil Our Children?

How many times have I heard grandparents declare that it’s their right to spoil their grandchildren?

They go on to say how great it is to treat and enjoy the kids without the weight of responsibility they had has parents…and to hand them back to us when it’s time.

But they say these things with a mischievous glint in their eye – because they know they’re not entirely right.

When the ways they spoil their grandchildren conflict with the parents’ values for their family, it’s not right.

When the children see that their grandparents don’t respect their parents’ decisions, it’s a poor example to them.

When spoiling their grandchildren sabotages the parents’ parenting efforts, it creates another mountain the parents must climb.

 

I have, at times, allowed my own children’s grandparents to spoil them in ways that bother me because I feel guilty.  All that help they give me as a parent and all that love they shower on my boys – I feel that I’m being ungrateful if I don’t let them enjoy their grandchildren in the ways that they want to.

But, recently, I’ve decided that letting them spoil my boys weakens my own efforts as a parent and I have had polite but firm words with both sets of grandparents about where our boundaries are.

I really value the role of grandparents in my children’s lives for so many reasons.  The delight grandparents take in their grandchildren is a gift to them both.  But I realised that letting my boys’ grandparents spoil them had the potential put a wedge in the relationship – I’d become reluctant for them to have time with Jake and Thomas if I expected I may be undermined or treated as a spoil-sport if I spoke up.

So here are some of my guidelines for my boys’ grandparents.  You may feel differently but I hope that reading them will help you to define your own –

 

3 WAYS I DON’T WANT MY CHILDREN’S GRANDPARENTS TO SPOIL THEM

By feeding them unhealthy food.  It’s hard to teach our children good eating habits and develop their taste for healthy food in a world full of junk food.  I care about my boys’ health and well-being and want help taking care of them.  I don’t want them plied with chocolate biscuits at morning tea, chippies in the afternoon and ice-cream for desert all in the same day.  And especially not an hour before dinner time!  One treat per visit with the grandparents is enough.    (I wrote about the importance of good food in my post Is What I Feed My Kids a Spiritual Issue?)

By buying them things, especially toys. In a materialistic culture, I’m trying to help my boys understand what really matters. I also don’t want them to equate receiving gifts with Love or to expect a gift every time they see their grandparents.  Birthday and Christmas presents are welcome, but gifts for no reason aren’t necessary.  (And so many of our children’s toys are forgotten within a week, anyway, filling our houses with more clutter.)

By letting them have their way.  A few examples – Bedtime is bedtime, no matter whose house my boys are at.  Whoever’s cooking chooses what’s for dinner – they can take into consideration what Jake and Thomas like but, once cooked, there’s no making a second meal to their preference.  Screentime should be monitored just as it is at home.  Our children are equals with everyone, they don’t rule the roost.

 

3 WAYS I WANT MY CHILDREN’S GRANDPARENTS TO SPOIL THEM

The thing is, my parent and parents-in-law are welcome to spoil my boys in other ways.  I understand that grandparents shower their grandchildren with treats as an expression of love.  But I want Jake and Thomas to understand what true expressions of love are and there are plenty of ways their grandparents can “spoil” them without spoiling them – with the kinds of things we can’t have too much of.  Here are 3 –

By showing lots of interest & giving them lots of attention.  I am working on giving my boys my undivided attention more often – it’s hard to do when there’s a house to run etc.  Grandparents more easily put everything else on hold when their grandchildren arrive on their doorsteps and devote themselves almost entirely to the kids for the length of the visit.   That kind of attention is gold to children.  Coming along to school events, swimming lessons and other special occasions are also great ways of affirming grandchildren.

By telling them stories about when you were little.  This is a great way for children to get to know their grandparents.  They also love to hear how “old-fashioned” things used to be and they will remember the interesting details of the stories they hear.  Further, children use their imaginations, ask questions and learn to listen carefully when being told a story so story-telling is a great way for grandparents to contribute to their development.

By creating memories together.  Doing fun things together creates golden memories that will live in the children’s hearts.  My memories of going on roadtrips with my Poppa and of feeding the birds with my Nan are ones I cherish now.  Grandparents can take their grandies on outings (they don’t need to be elaborate or expensive), teach them new games or skills and have fun together at home.

 

IN SUMMARY – PLEASE PARENT WITH US, NOT AGAINST US

I don’t want the added stress of having to manage my children’s grandparents as well as my children. It’s important to me that my boys’ grandparents are involved in their lives for both their sakes but I need to trust that my parenting efforts will be supported, not sabotaged. Grandparents have the ability to genuinely help us parent if they’ll back us up – it takes a village, after all.   I’m fortunate that, on the whole, my children’s grandparents do understand and stick to our rules but I know there are other parents for whom this is a bigger issue.

You’ll likely have different ideas to me about what is and isn’t okay with you when it comes to grandparents spoiling your children.  My main point is that each parent needs to know what kinds of “spoiling” they are & aren’t okay with and each grandparent needs to respect that.

 

Much love to you and your little souls,

 

 

PS – If you’re a grandparent, what’s your response to these suggestions?  Comment below.

 

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5 Things Children can Learn from the “Mean Kids”

My boys and I had driven to visit my parents, music turned up, singing along merrily – or so I thought.  When I parked the car and got out to undo my boys’ seatbelts, I saw that Jake had been crying.

“I miss you when I’m at school”, he sobbed.

I knew something was up.

I carefully probed around with a few questions and it came out that Jake has been having a few troubles with his friends recently.  His description of what’s been going on was sketchy and, not being at school to see for myself, it’s hard to know what exactly has been happening.

For any parent, the thought of our child being disrespected in some way and feeling alone during a long day at school is crushing.  We can probably all remember a time in our own childhood when we were the one in that position.  I certainly can – for a period of time when I was five, my poor parents had to prise me off their bodies when they took me to school each morning.  I’d cling on to them for dear life, not able to face the classmate who was bullying me.  While Jake is still going to school largely happily, I’m anxious that his situation may deteriorate to the point that he starts clinging to me.

On top of not knowing what’s really going on, all this emotion (his and mine) makes it incredibly hard to handle.  I’m a pretty reasonable and diplomatic person but my fear has its sleeves rolled up and is ready to get in there and fight for my son.

Fortunately, I wrote a blog post last week about parenting from Love instead of fear – must’ve been divine preparation for now because I can see that there is actually no fight to be had.  I have realised that the way I handle this situation with Jake and his friends will be an example to him and I have to ask myself, Do I want to model Love or Fear?

As painful as it is to see my son in tears, I also see the potential for him to learn so much through this experience, if I choose.

“In every situation you have two choices: Will you learn through fear or will you learn through love?” ― Gabrielle BernsteinThe Universe Has Your Back: Transform Fear to Faith

 

CHOOSING LOVE: 5 LESSONS

  1. We are all worthy. This is an opportunity to remind Jake of his inherent worth. He is worthy of being treated with respect, as we all are.
  2. How to set boundaries. When sure of his worth, it will be easier for Jake to set boundaries. My husband and I have always encouraged him to respectfully tell children to stop when they’re doing something he doesn’t like. At the moment, his friends are testing his boundaries and it is my hope that Jake will learn to be insistent enough that others respect them.
  3. The nature of truly unconditional love. I will not speak unkindly about his friends, label them as bad or encourage Jake to be unkind to them in return. I want him to see that my respect for others does not change because of their behaviour – I think that this is what unconditional love does.
  4. How to go inward for his answers. In a situation such as this, it’s all too easy for worried parents to take over and try to manage the situation entirely ourselves – I am tempted to bombard Jake with my ideas about what he should do.  I will discuss possible solutions with him but I told him that he needs to do what feels right for him and that I will support him.  I asked if there was anything he wanted me to do and he asked me to talk with his teacher, which I have done.
  5. How to take responsibility for himself. If Jake chooses to keep spending time with children who don’t treat him well, he’s exposing himself to the risk of being hurt. I can see, though, that he is conflicted.  The children he has great fun with are the same ones who often end up being disrespectful and unkind.  I know it’s not easy.  Jake can also take responsibility by making sure he’s not participating in the same kind of behaviour that upsets him.

It would be easy to be too heavy-handed, letting my fearful fight-or-flight instinct kick in.  Naturally, I want to protect Jake and a part of me wants to give the other children a talking-to and demand that the school keep them away from Jake.  But that would not be a good example to Jake and all the bluster & controlling would be avoiding the real issues as well as the chance for Jake to learn.

Focussing on how “bad” the “mean kids” are is a waste of time – I can’t change them and the school staff are not at liberty to talk to me about other students for privacy reasons.  What I can do is help Jake to choose his response to what is going on.

I want him to see that he can handle whatever comes his way.

 

IN SUMMARY – WORKING TOGETHER

I am hoping that, through working together with Jake and his teacher, the difficult dynamic within his group of friends can be amended.  Jake is popular and his school is a friendly place – when I walk into his classroom in the mornings, lots of kids say “hi” to him and want him to join in with their play. Whatever’s going on may turn out to be a small blip in his friendships, it won’t necessarily decline into ongoing bullying.  As a parent, my role is to be proactive while also showing my son both his own worth & capability and what it really means to Love.  All situations we find ourselves in really are opportunities to fear or to love.

 

Much love to you and your little souls,

 

 

PS – How have you supported your children through friendships issues?  Comment below.

 

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Walking the Tightrope of Parenting

I often feel that parenting is like a walk across a tightrope.  For each aspect of parenting, there seems to be a continuum between two opposite ways of doing things.  Since last week’s post was about diet, take spoon-feeding and its opposite, baby-led weaning, for example.  There are pros and cons for both and my approach when introducing my boys to solids was to do a bit of each.

To keep my balance on this parenting tightrope, I need to find the mid-point between the two extremes of each matter, skilfully judging whether to lean a little more this way or that, taking each step with intention.  If I lean one way too much, I’ll fall off.  These are the matters I’ve been struggling to find my balance on of late –

 

Giving My Children Space to Learn for Themselves vs Being a Teacher/Guide

When my boys are facing something new or challenging, I try to allow them the space to discover what they need to know for themselves.  Through asking questions, trying things out and learning from their own mistakes, there is a lot children can work out on their own.  I think it’s easy for us to interfere with their self-teaching processes and to undermine them by taking over.  It pains me to watch parents coach their children on how to play on a playground.  But, on the other hand, there are many other situations when I have wisdom born of experience that could help my boys.  For example, friendships can be difficult for children to navigate on their own and there are times I find myself coaching my son through challenges with friends, brainstorming with him possible solutions to difficult situations.

How do I judge when to step in with a bit of guidance and when to leave my children to learn for themselves?

 

Teaching My Children to be Considerate of Others vs Becoming a People-Pleaser

I think it’s important for people to be able to see beyond themselves and to be aware of how their actions impact others, either positively or negatively.  In our home, we talk with our boys about how their behaviour affects others, calling it the “ripple effect”.  A typical scenario – one of them hits the other, the other cries and I get stressed trying to deal with two emotional boys.  I point out (afterwards) the flow-on effects of the hitting as an example.  Equally, when one of them shares a toy, making the other one smile broadly and they go on to enjoy an hour of playing happily together, I use that as an example too.  But there are times in life when, in order to be true to ourselves, to back ourselves, we need to do things we know others won’t like.  I worry I could over-emphasise consideration & kindness as I raise my boys,  to the point that they may believe, as I did for many years, that other people are more important than they are and that it’s mean & selfish to do what’s best for themselves if it might upset others.   I want my boys to know that they are equals with everyone and there are times when it’s appropriate – good, even – to act in self-interested ways.

How do I teach my children to judge whether to prioritise themselves or others in a situation?

 

Giving My Children Treats vs Creating a Sense of Entitlement

I like to treat my boys sometimes, just because it’s fun and I love them.  It might be a surprise outing after school, a new book for the school holidays or something yummy in their lunchboxes.  The catch, I find, is that, often, when I give a treat, they expect it again next time.  “Are we going anywhere after school today?”  “Can you buy me this book?”  “I don’t like these crackers, can I have a cupcake like yesterday?”  It’s a give-an-inch-they’ll-take-a-mile.  Unfortunately, I always think twice about giving my boys treats because I’ll likely have to face pestering tomorrow.

How do I give my children treats in a way that doesn’t become entitlement or “spoiling”?

 

HOW TO KEEP BALANCE

There is a time to stand back and let our children discover for themselves.  And a time to use what we know to teach and guide them.

There is a time for our children to be considerate of others.  And a time to prioritise their own interests.

There is a time to treat our children.  And a time not to.

 

I’m sure you have your own tightropes to walk as a parent.

 

You may have noticed that, as a tightrope walker eases themself along the rope, their weight is not perfectly centred for the entire walk – it’s not physically possible.  So they do a lot of correcting as they go.

But a tightrope walker doesn’t have the time to do the maths and figure out precisely how far to lean, as they begin to wobble.  They make these decisions in the moment, based on the feel.  With concentration and full presence, when things feel wobbly, they know instinctively how to correct their balance.  As parents, we can feel our way along the rope also.  To notice the wobbles and know how to stabalise, we need to concentrate and be fully present, both with ourselves and our children.

When I have been maintaining my personal spiritual practice and I’m present with my boys, I am tuned-in and I find that I know what to say or do much more easily.  It usually comes to me in the moment that I need it.  If I am teaching one of them something new, I sense what I need to say and I know when I’ve said enough & should leave the rest to them.  If I am talking with them about how their behaviour negatively impacted others, I find a way to validate their needs and wants as well.  If I’m deciding whether or not to give them a specific treat, I can feel whether this treat is a good idea or not.

I also want to add that every family’s centre is in a slightly different place, which is why being tuned in with ourselves and our children is so important.  Centre is not exactly half-way between two opposite ways of doing things, it’s actually the place that feels right.  To give an example, I would say that, for my family, there is more standing back and allowing my boys to learn for themselves than explicit teaching.

 

IN SUMMARY – THE CIRCUS IS COMING TO TOWN!

Actually, parenthood can feel like a full-blown circus at times, with a sense of anything-could-happen.  But that’s not all bad – there’s a lot of fun and spontaneity in life with children, the performers have well-developed skill and creativity.  As parents, our greatest skill and creativity comes from parenting not only with our bodies and minds, but with our spirits too.

 

Much love to you and your little souls,

 

 

PS – What tightrope are you walking at the moment?  Comment below

 

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Is What I Feed My Kids a Spiritual Issue?

Over the past month, I’ve been trying to reduce the amount of sugar in my family’s diet.  I don’t think our sugar consumption has been massive compared with what most people regard as “normal” but, compared with World Health Organisation guidelines, it was.  I’m not overhauling the way we eat entirely, just trying to increase our vegies and find healthy swaps for some of the foods we eat.

With my family’s health at stake, I have been doing a lot of research on healthy eating (listening to “experts” speak on YouTube video while preparing dinner).  Apparently, almost none of the food supplied to us is good to eat, putting some kind of strain on our bodies that they aren’t designed for.  There is someone to warn us of the health risks of almost everything we eat, including the polyunsaturated oils we’ve been told to use instead of saturated fats, inorganic plant & animal products, alternative sweeteners and, even, wholegrains.  Most of the health concerns around these foods boil down to the fact that almost all of our food is interfered with in some way.  I have concluded that just about everything I buy at the supermarket poses a health risk and, without the budget or time to source healthy alternatives, I don’t know what to feed my family anymore.  And then there are the ethical and sustainability issues!

I have been feeling exasperated and, even, angry that I can’t trust our food sources.  The quality of my family’s food feels largely out of my control unless I move the family to a farm and we grow all our food (organically) ourselves.  This is not an option for me as I struggled so much with our small home veggie patch that I pulled it out and turned it into a play garden– I’m better at nurturing children than plants.

To complicate things even further, because our minds, bodies and spirits are so closely connected, the way we eat also feels like a spiritual issue to me.

 

WHAT MY CHILDREN EAT IS A SPIRITUAL ISSUE BECAUSE…

…it affects their spiritual connection. When our bodies are struggling to cope in some way with what we’ve eaten, our minds aren’t clear enough to be able to tune in to Spirit.  To illustrate my point – imagine trying to meditate when your blood-sugars have plummeted and you need something to eat, when you’re feeling jittery from too much coffee or when your stomach feels sore because it’s struggling to digest something your body doesn’t like.  At these times, we’re too preoccupied by our bodies’ needs to be able to tune into our spiritual needs.  Our children’s natural spiritual connection can be compromised when their diets lack nutrition or their bodies are stressed.

…it impacts our environment and animals.  We are closely connected with the environment and all other beings in a spiritual way.  I know that the impacts of getting food to my table are far-reaching and often compromise the environment and animals.  All these issues came up for me again recently when my son, Jake, and I were discussing how  the meat we eat comes from animals.  He was asking me a lot about the process of how an animal becomes his favourite macaroni-and-mince dish, concerned about the animal getting hurt.  His final question was, “Do you think that’s right (to kill animals to eat)?”  I replied that animals in the wild have to hunt and eat other animals in order to survive but that I’m really not sure if it’s ok for us to do the same.  We’re sitting on this question… and many others.

…good health helps them to live full lives.  I want to see my children have the energy and wellness to enjoy their lives, to contribute to others’ and to live their spiritual purpose.  If the way they are eating compromises their health, they can’t do these things.  Simple as that.

 

WHAT MY CHILDREN EAT IS NOT A SPIRITUAL ISSUE BECAUSE…

…there are only so many hours in a day.  I don’t have time to grow, raise, harvest and butcher our food as well as cook it from scratch to make sure it is all perfectly healthy, sustainable and ethical.  I don’t even have time to trapse from shop to shop to source ingredients which have a clear conscience.  My weekly trip to the supermarket is already quite the label-reading mission – if I don’t take my boys with me, it can take 20 minutes just to get down the first aisle.

…healthy food often costs more.   Most healthy foods are not mass-produced like the food I get at the supermarket is and are, therefore, more expensive.  Economically, I understand the reasons for that and I sincerely want independent farmers etc to thrive – but my wallet does not.

…something is better than nothing, surely.  Here, I refer to the general fussiness of children when it comes to their food.  Did you know that young children are biologically wired to be sceptical of new foods and have strong sensory responses to food that often put them off, as well as a natural sweet-tooth? Food fussiness is a whole other post but my approach is to serve up a mixture of healthy foods and foods they will actually eat.  I don’t want them to go to bed hungry, unable to sleep because they wouldn’t eat anything on their plate.  To put some pasta with dinner gives us all a better sleep, despite it being deficient in nutrition and environmentally unsound.

 

A SOLUTION – 3 STEPS

I fret about my boys’ food for so many reasons.  To add the spiritual implications to the mix adds to the load of concerns to wade through. Before I had children, I couldn’t have imagined that feeding them would be so difficult. But, I tout my blog as practical spiritual parenting so let’s be realistic about this.  This is what I’m going to do to make it a little easier –

  1. Decide which concerns are the most important. For some, it might be reducing sugar. For others, it might be eating ethically-sourced food.  For many, it might be keeping the family afloat financially and stretching the grocery dollar as far as it goes.  Trying to tick every box would make feeding our families an enormous stress and a full-time job.
  2. Accept what we decide not to do. With acceptance, we don’t need to feel guilty about the less-than-ideal food choices we make for our children, knowing we have focussed on our priorities.  Remembering that it isn’t possible to tick every box helps too.
  3. Eat mindfully. In our family we begin meals by saying grace.  Enjoying our food is another way of appreciating it and valuing all the labour and sacrifice involved in getting it to our plates.

 

IN SUMMARY – MY LAST SUGGESTION

Feeding our children can become a source of stress for many parents.  There’s fussiness, meal-time battles and emotional eating behaviours to deal with.  Having bigger issues like health, sustainability, ethics and spirituality to also take into consideration can feel like too much at times.  My final piece of advice, based on my own efforts to reduce my family’s sugar intake, is this – once you’ve decided on your priorities, make small, incremental changes to keep things manageable and to keep your children on-board.  For example, the first changes I made to reduce my family’s sugar intake was to switch afternoon tea to savoury foods – raw veggies, cheese, nuts and crackers instead of fruit and baking – and to reduce the amount of sugar in recipes.  All the best!

 

Much love to you and your little souls,

 

PS – What are your priorities when it comes to feeding your kids?  Comment below.

 

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Snatching, Squabbling & Slamming Doors – Siblings!

On my blog, I share my experiences as a parent who is trying to honour and nurture her children’s spirits in the ordinary moments of life.  I write because it makes me a better parent.  I find that I make discoveries as I type, uncovering loving wisdom as I mull things over and try to make enough sense of them to put into words.  I share what works for me in my posts, not because I regard myself as an expert but incase other parents might find it helpful in some way.

Today, though, I don’t think I have any tips to offer.  I’m writing about an area of parenting in which I feel stuck.  I will try not to let it turn into a pointless rant, I’m hoping, at least, that other parents who have the same struggles will feel less alone when they read it.  And, if you have any suggestions to help, please share them in the comments!

 

THE PROBLEM – CAN  YOU RELATE?

I want to say from the start that my boys are lovely.  They are kind, friendly, helpful and charming much of the time.  They adore each other.  3-year-old Thomas will put his arms around his big brother and say, “You’re my best friend Dake (Jake)” and Jake will return the affection.  My heart swells to see them play together, happy in their own world for two.

But, next minute…there’s shouting – no, roaring – and Jake has evicted Thomas from his bedroom.  Thomas is banging on the door, crying that he wants to be let back in.

Or…Thomas has decided he wants the toy car that Jake’s got (even though his fists are already full with 3 others) and the snatching and squealing begins.

Or…Jake begins to slowly wind Thomas up, taking advantage of his 3 years senior.  He argues, manipulates and competes with Thomas, who just can’t keep up and ends up hitting Jake in frustration.  And, of course, Jake comes running to report to me, very indignantly, that Thomas hit him.

Or…(and this one takes the cake)…we’re in the car and Thomas starts wailing “I don’t want Jake to look at me!”

 

Jake knows how to use his power over Thomas and Thomas can be just plain difficult sometimes.

Most of this squabbling occurs either when we’re in the car and I’m unable to resolve things because I’m driving or when I’m just out of ear shot so don’t know exactly how it got started.  And trying to get a straight story from the two of them is pointless.  Sometimes, I don’t even try.

Often, usually when I’ve just sat down for a 5-minute coffee, I hear them both declare “I’m telling on you!” followed by two sets of feet racing to get to me first in order to lodge a complaint against the other.  I already know the situation is going to be impossible to resolve.

The bickering, fussing, shouting and tears challenges my sanity some days.  I’m tired of having to stop in the middle of what I’m doing to try and sort things out. I don’t have energy to expend on what are usually quite petty arguments.  For all my efforts, I rarely feel that I’ve sorted things out properly and it all starts up again 5 minutes later anyway.  It’s like trying to referee a sports game without knowing the rules.  Some days, I end up bickering, fussing, shouting and nearly in tears.

 

WHAT DO I DO?!

As a spiritual parent, I’m trying to teach my boys to show kindness and respect for everyone, regardless of who they are or how they behave.  Siblings are the perfect people to practise on and that is part of their purpose in our lives.  I still believe in my boys’ natural kindness because I see so much of that too but no amount of appealing to the love they have for each other seems to be making a long-term difference with the squabbling.

I’m also mindful of the fact that it is their relationship to have and it’s not my role to micro-manage it.  While I don’t allow them to hurt each other, I don’t often discipline them over the way they treat each other because I don’t see it as a discipline issue, I see it as a relationship issue.

Many days, by the afternoon (or sometimes by breakfast time), I’m fed up, too exasperated to try being wise and reasonable.  Sometimes I do what I always said I wouldn’t – ask Jake to back down since he’s the older one, just so we can all have some peace.   Other times, I confiscate the toy they’re fighting over or send them to play in different areas of the house or distract them with something else.  These things give us all reprieve.  But it’s only temporary.

 

CALL IN THE EXPERTS – SOME PERSPECTIVE ON THE SITUATION

As I’ve been pondering all the squabbling and my own feeling of helplessness in order to write this blog post, I’ve remembered a theory I learned when training as a teacher.  Psychologist Jean Piaget defined four stages of cognitive development and, according to his theory, both my boys would fit into the Preoperational Stage (approx. 2-7 years).  Among other things, at this stage, children tend to be ego-centric and struggle to see things from another person’s point of view.  This is reassuring – kind of.  It’s not that my boys are especially self-centred – they’re typical of their ages – but what am I to do in the meantime?

One of the most important things we do as parents is to accept our children as they are.  So here is another opportunity for me to practise full acceptance.  I need to accept the cognitive stage my boys are at.  I can keep reminding & encouraging them to be kind & respectful and explicitly appreciating it when they are but I may have to accept that it won’t be immediately effective.  Right now, I’m sowing the seed for when their brains are able to think beyond themselves.  If I can’t change the situation, for my own sanity, the best I can do is accept it.  I find praying helps me to find acceptance when I’m feeling overwhelmed.

 

IN SUMMARY – THEY’LL SURVIVE EACH OTHER & I’LL SURVIVE THEM

Thanks for listening to my grumblings.  Two weeks of school holidays are coming to an end I’m feeling a bit worn out by the bickering.  Jake and Thomas are the cause of each other’s highest highs and lowest lows in a day and it’s been a rollercoaster ride for me too.   If I can see their squabbling as one of those necessary stages all children pass through – like newborn nightime feeding and the toddler “whys?” – it might help.  Getting up multiple times a night and answering a barrage of inane questions made me borderline-wretched too…but I’ve lived to tell the tale.

 

Much love to you and your little souls,

 

PS – Do you have any tips on how to reduce sibling arguments?  Comment below.

 

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Children are Naturally Kind…Really

“When you are kind to others, it not only changes you, it changes the world.” – Harold Kushner

One morning, not long after dropping my son, Jake, off at school, I got a text message from my friend.  Jake and her son, Sam, are friends also and go to school together.  That morning, Sam had been feeling upset and was reluctant to be left at school.  When Jake saw how his friend was feeling, he took care of him and tried to cheer him up.  “Jake is such a lovely kid and you should’ve seen it”, the text said.

I really appreciated the text because I needed to be reminded of how kind Jake actually is.  Lately, I feel that I’ve spent a lot of time refereeing arguments between my boys and I had forgotten how caring he can be.  But, when I read my friend’s message, I could just imagine Jake’s manner – the gentle one he uses to comfort his little brother, Thomas, when he’s hurt or when he’s helping Thomas to put his shoes on.

 

NATURAL KINDNESS

Coming from Love, kindness is intrinsic in us all.  We are born spiritually aligned, with a sense of oneness that wants to be expressed through kindness.  In support of this, we are biologically wired to be kind – think of the natural high both the giver & the receiver feel when an act of kindness has been performed.

Although born ready for kindness, we quickly have experiences which can cause us to behave in less-than-kind ways. Contending with other children who want the toy we have or parental pressure to do well at school, for example, can create a threat to us.  At these times, fear kicks in and survival of one sort or another becomes more important than kindness.

As parents, though, we can help our children to exercise their kindness muscle, to build its strength so that it is stronger than fear.  And we’ve got a head start with this job because, really, we all want to be kind.

 

5 WAYS TO NURTURE OUR CHILDREN’S KINDNESS

Be an example of kindness.  I know, I write that we should be an example a lot!  But our example is our most powerful tool as parents.  Firstly, we need to show kindness towards our children.  As obvious as this may seem, it can be hard to do at times, especially when we’re feeling under-the-weather or pressured in some way.  For me, the way I talk to my boys isn’t always kind.  I can slip into a slightly ranty, instruction-giving machine at times and that is something I’m working on.  Our children also need to see us being kind to others – even little kindnesses like stopping to let a car into the flow of traffic or holding the door open for the Mum with the buggy provide a great example to our children.

Acknowledge and appreciate our children’s kindness.  By noticing and thanking our children for their kindness, they see that it makes a difference.  I thank my boys for kindness they show to each other or other people, as well as to me.  I try not to praise kindness as this encourages them to be caring for the wrong reasons – it becomes  approval-seeking instead.  (My post Overusing Good Job elaborates on this.)

Look for natural opportunities for our children to be kind.  These arise all the time.  At a birthday party, we may suggest our child invite the shy one to play with them.  When they come home from a party with a goody bag of sweets, we may suggest they share some of the sweets with their brother or sister.  I try to present these as opportunities to be kind, rather than as expectations so they can feel the joy of kindness, not a sense of obligation.  By practising kindness, we make kindness a habit.

Be kind together as a family.  We have some family Christmas traditions that help our boys to think about what they can give, not only what they might get.  Leaving candy canes for people to find around the local shopping mall is a particularly fun one.  But, kindness is great any time of year.  When Thomas is a little older, I’d like our family to get involved in helping a particular cause on a regular basis and am on the look-out for one that we all feel passionate about.

Talk about kindness.  In our home, we use the word “kindness” daily.  It is one of our family’s highest values.  When talking with my boys about their behaviour, I tend not to say it is “good” or “bad” but to discuss with them whether it was respectful and kind.  We talk about kindness people have shown towards us and acts of kindness we witness that don’t involve us.  We talk about how good it feels to be kind.

 

IN SUMMARY – KINDNESS IS WIN/WIN

Kindness comes easily to children and adults alike.  I know it doesn’t always seem this way but, with a little faith and nurturing, our children will surprise us with their small acts and large gestures of caring.  The form kindness takes is of less importance than the fact they cared enough to offer it.

Last weekend, Jake made me an “I love you” card, decorated with 18 hearts and declaring that, not only am I the best Mum ever, but my chocolate chip cookies are the best ever.  It made my day to get it and I could tell by the way he presented it to me that it made Jake’s day to give it.  Kindness is win-win.

 

Much love to you and your little souls,

 

 

PS – In what ways are your children kind?  Comment below.

 

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Over-Protection – “Protecting” our Children from Opportunities

I sent my son upstairs to get dressed for school.  It was time to put his favourite shorts and t-shirt into the washing machine and I was wondering what he would find to wear instead.  After a while, he turned up in the kitchen all dressed…in his Ninja Turtle onesie (yes, pyjamas).

“Have you seen what Jake’s wearing to school today?” my husband and I asked each other later on.

“Do you think we should let him wear it?”

We were concerned that Jake may get teased by some of the other children and we wanted to protect him from the potential humiliation and hurt.  However, it’s important to us that our boys make authentic decisions, not decisions based on what other people might think.  So we decided not to question Jake about his decision and, with some trepidation, I dropped him off at school in his outfit of choice.

 

With all the best intentions, it’s easy for us to over-protect our children and we do so in many different ways.  We just want them to be happy and, mistakenly, we believe that smoothing the bumps on their road through childhood will make it a happier journey for them.  Protecting them from negative possibilities may, in the short run, be easier but it doesn’t prepare them for adulthood, in which there is no-one smoothing out the road for us.  Adults have to navigate all the potholes, hills and bad drivers themselves.

Ultimately, our children’s long-term happiness is compromised by our over-protection.

 

WE DON’T WANT TO PROTECT OUR CHILDREN FROM THE GOOD STUFF

Taking risks, making mistakes, getting up again – this is the stuff of life.   It adds flavour to our experience and it’s “character-building”.  If we protect our children from these ups-and-downs, we deny them valuable opportunities –

To learn lessons  We learn our lessons best by making mistakes for ourselves, rather than being warned about them by someone else.  How often do we watch our children ignore our advice only to end up thinking, if not saying, “You should have listened, I told you so?” – hundreds!

To strengthen their resilience  Through stumbling, we learn how to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and keep going.  If children don’t get the chance to trip over the stuff of childhood, they’ll struggle to recover from the inevitable challenges of adulthood.  Resilience is a learned skill and, like any other, developed through practice.

To develop their judgement  The only way to develop good judgement is by using it.  Children need the space to practise making decisions for themselves without us coaching them and interrupting their process.   Any decision that doesn’t turn out well teaches them something that will help them to make a better choice next time.

To have a sense of agency  Our children’s lives are their own and it’s not for us to interfere any more than is necessary.  In conjunction with The Universe, they each decided to live a life on Earth and we need to allow them the space to follow their instincts and have the experiences intended.   I want my boys to feel empowered and to understand that their lives are ultimately their own to shape and, to do that, I need to get out of the way!

To deepen their trust in the world  Over-protecting our children doesn’t communicate our faith in them or in The Universe.  As a parent who understands that we are spiritual beings, part of a greater whole, I know that we each have all the wisdom that we need within us and that The Universe is helping us along.  By controlling their lives, we give the messages to our children that they can’t handle it and The Universe won’t support them.  This sets them up for living in fear, rather than faith, which is a stressful way to live.

To have fun  The fun stuff can be risky!   When we teach our children to be over-cautious, they can become risk-averse and miss out on lots of fun.  We’ve probably all stood on the sidelines of a super-fun activity that our children have refused to participate in.  We feel sorry to see them miss out on a good time.  This happens sometimes for all children but, if it happens regularly, it’s worth considering whether we have been over-protective or if it’s just that our child is more tentative by nature (and, if they are, that’s ok).

 

IN SUMMARY – THE AMBULANCE AT THE BOTTOM OF THE CLIFF

Protection is a part of our parenting role but it is a smaller part than I first thought.  I have slowly loosened my grip and am increasingly willing to let my boys take calculated risks.  I would not let my 3-year-old cross the road by himself but I give him free reign at playgrounds.  It’s not easy, my heart is in my throat as he navigates trickier equipment and higher heights each time but, if it’s not life-threatening, I let him do it.  I’m sure, that I’m becoming more resilient as he is.  And I can see that he’s actually really good at judging his own capability.

Our job is not to smooth the road for our children but to enable them to choose their own path and weather the bumps.  We’re not so much the police who cordon-off dangerous areas to keep our children safe as much as we are the paramedics who arrive to help them recover from an accident.  When I find myself wanting to tell my boys to “be careful”, I stop myself to decide if it’s really necessary.  I often end up saying “that looks like fun” instead.

As for Jake – he wore his Ninja Turtle onesie to school three days in a row until it was time for it to go in the washing machine too.  If anyone had been unkind to him, he obviously didn’t care because he didn’t tell me.  I was so proud of him for being himself and so pleased I hadn’t tried to talk him out of doing what he wanted to.

 

Much love to you and your little souls,

 

 

PS – In what ways are you going to try to step back a bit to allow your children more space?  Comment below.

 

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How To Get Your Children To Listen…Without Shouting at Them

“How Can I Make My Children Listen To Me?”
Short answer – I don’t know exactly.
But I do have some strategies from my days as a teacher and my own parenting to share with you which may increase the chances!

When some of my readers told me that they struggle with getting their children to listen to them, I knew it was something that almost every parent can relate to. Because I certainly can! When our children don’t listen to us, situations can quickly escalate. A simple reminder that it’s time for them to do their homework can rapidly become a shouting, stomping affair (and not just by the children!). So, I decided to do some thinking and see if I had anything useful to offer…

 

WHAT’S REALLY HAPPENING WHEN OUR CHILDREN DON’T LISTEN?

I took a moment to think about what’s happening when our children “don’t listen” and I realised that there are two main scenarios –

1. Our children really aren’t listening, they’re zoning us out (how dare they?!)
2. Our children have listened but they’re not doing what we have asked them to do.

In our house, it’s usually the later (although I understand that, as they reach adolescence, children become more certain that what their parents are saying doesn’t actually apply to them and they nonchalantly ignore it much of the time). I don’t take it very well when my boys don’t do as I have asked. I feel frustrated and disrespected. But when I questioned myself, Are my boys really disrespecting me when they don’t listen? I had to conclude that, no, they’re actually not disrespecting me – it’s just that they don’t agree with me.

They don’t agree that they should turn the tv off to leave for school – they just want to see how the program ends.

They don’t agree that they should wear tidier clothes for our special family lunch – they like this t-shirt.

They don’t agree that they should come and set the table now – there’s playing to be done and setting the table is such a draaag.

When I remember that my boys usually aren’t meaning to disrespect me by not listening, it diffuses my emotion because I know it’s not personal and then I handle the situation more calmly. I can aknowledge that my children have their own concerns and opinions that deserve respect. Who’s to say their interests are less important than my own? As inconvenient as it sometimes is, they need to have a say in their own lives. As spiritual parents, we understand that our children are not ours to control and we are bound to at least take their point of view into consideration. After truly considering it, we can then fairly decide whether to insist on what we’ve asked for, compromise or allow them their way.

What I’m getting at here is that our relationship with our children is a relationship between equals. True respect doesn’t see age. Sure, there are times when I am certain that I know best – I’m the one who can read the clock and I know that, if the tv isn’t turned off now, we won’t get to school in time. But I don’t want to be heavy-handed in my authority or use my age over my children. Perhaps it really doesn’t matter what they wear to the family lunch – my family will just be glad to see them, chocolate-stained Star Wars t-shirts and all. We do not lose our power when we decide to allow our children their way – we are more powerful for sharing it.

 

5 STEPS TO HELP YOUR CHILDREN LISTEN TO YOU

How we approach things really depends on the scenario and the age of our children. But here are 5 general steps for increasing the chance of having them listen to us when it really is for the best, beginning with the way we tell them what we want –

1. Get their attention
Often, I can’t be bothered trudging upstairs to my boys’ bedrooms so I holler instructions to them from the kitchen as I chop the onions. Then I wait for the response – none.
The key is to get our children’s eye-contact before telling them what we want them to do so we know they are engaged. Looking into our eyes, they can’t pretend to themselves or to us that they haven’t heard. This may require us to make the effort to go up the stairs and maybe to temporarily remove distractions (such as toys or screens) to get our children’s attention. For young children, physically getting down to eye-level is helpful too.

2. Insist on a verbal response
When our children reply, they’re acknowledging that they have heard us. Sometimes, “ok” is sufficient. Sometimes, they need to tell us more, depending what it is that we have said to them.  Again, they can’t deny hearing or understanding our message if they have responded appropriately.  And it’s just good manners to respond when someone speaks to us.

3. Give them a chance to share their point of view
If they disagree with us, our children need to be able to say so. It is an important life-skill to be able to express a point of view that differs from someone else’s. Also, when we take the time to listen to what they have to say, it shows them that we care about their perspective and feelings. Disagreement doesn’t have to become an argument. If they do start arguing back, I tell my boys, “you can tell me what you have to say but do it respectfully”. When we hear our children’s point of view, we might find that we’re actually happy to accommodate them or are willing to compromise. All these things strengthen our relationship with them and, when we still insist on them doing what we have said, they are more likely to do it, having felt acknowledged.

“Seek first to understand, then to be understood”. – Steven Covey

Note of caution: With some nimble-tongued characters, it can be a slippery slope of persuasion and excuses not to do whatever has been asked of them. Be on the look-out and don’t get sucked in. If, after hearing their persepctive, I still want my son to do as I asked and the attempts to change my mind continue beyond reason, I just say “I have listened to you but I am not changing my mind”.

4. Explain our reasons for what we have asked them to do
When we decide that we are not going to change our mind, it helps for our children to understand our reasoning. “I don’t have to justify myself to my own kids!” I hear more than one of you saying. 😊  Giving them our reasons also shows them that we’re not being arbitrary or simply pleasing ourselves. Our children may even agree with us in the end. My son doesn’t like being late to school so, if I point out that he may be late if he doesn’t turn the tv off now, he’s usually happy to co-operate.

5. Use the sliding scale of insistence
When I have heard my son’s point of view and still want him to do as I asked, I begin lightly, with the assumption that he will now do as asked. For example, I might simply say, “So, come and set the table now please”. If he doesn’t, I gradually up the stakes – “If you don’t come and set the table now, I will have to take that Lego away until it’s done because it’s distracting you from doing your job”. etc. I try to use natural consequences as much as possible and not to manipulate. You might find my post Discipline 101 helpful here.

This 5-step process might sound like a bit of a palaver when you just want your kids to stop jumping on the couch. In some situations, you will zip through these steps in just a minute or two. But it’s helpful to have the structure in place, practised for when there are larger issues to be resolved.

 

IN SUMMARY – GIVING EVERYONE A VOICE WITHOUT GETTING LOUDER

Often, when we complain that our children are not listening to us, we’re really complaining that they’re not doing what we’ve told them to do. This erks us on so many levels! We tend to increase our volume to get our message across – and they do the same! But using a process like the one I’ve suggested respects and empowers both ourselves and our children. The final decision does rest with us, the parent, but we have to (and want to) take our children’s point-of-view seriously. Creating an atmosphere of co-operation instead of control in our homes reduces the amount of struggle and increases everyone’s willingness to help.

My son has actually told me a few times that I’m “always right” which I like to jokingly remind him of from time to time. But, when I take everyone’s perspective into consideration, I am doing the right thing.

 

Much love to you and your little souls,

 

PS – Do you have any of your own tips for getting your children to listen?  Share in the comments.

 

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