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book review

Hold on to your kids : chapter 2

Currently reading Hold on to your kids by Dr Gordon Neufeld & Gabor Mate! If you wish to read this book feel free to collect it from the lending library. The second chapter of this fascinating book is called Skewed Attachments, Subverted Instincts.

This chapter starts with the story of parents reaching out for help after their daughter, became suddenly very difficult to talk to, insolent, secretive. Non of the usual discipline methods were working and her mother felt used and abused. Here the author likens this to us adults having a partner who suddenly avoid us, talks in monosyllables, is irritable with us and generally acts strange. If we were to ask for advice from friends, he says, they will not ask us if we tried a time out or made the boundaries clear. It will be obvious from the start that this is a relationship problem and not a behavioural problem. Not only that, we will probably be told that it is likely our partner has an affair. Now this though does not occur to us when the relationship is between child and parent!

In our culture, peer relationships have come to compete with children’s attachments to adults. Quite innocently but with devastating effects, children are involved in attachment affairs with each other.

We are now asked what is attachment? The simple answer it seems is that without it we can do nothing! AND, because of the culture we are living in right now, we need to become aware – conscious- of attachment as it can’t be taken for granted that it will remain stable as in olden days. While for us adults, attachment can be said that it is the most important thing for us, for children it is an absolute need!

Attachment we are told is closely related to orienteering because like orienteering, if we get lost or something we get anxious and our top priority at this point will simply be to find our way. This happens to us also on a psychological level and children are not able to do it on their own – they need help- attachment is THAT help!

In page 19 we are told how the thing children fear most apart for physical harm is getting lost. Orienting voids is intolerable to the human brain. Parents are the best compass for children – or another adult. Yet, more and more children are now orbiting around each other instead of adults. That is quite a lot to take in! Reading it made me feel really afraid for our children, for society. Looking at it from this perspective, I could really see how this is one of the biggest challenges we will have to go through as parents. It is also very sad that not a lot of this is talked about and many of us will go through this without having an idea of what is wrong and why nothing is working.

Next we learn about the six ways of attaching…. if I look at this through the eyes of a positive discipline educator, I can see how this all adds up nicely to what I preach in my conscious discipline classes.

  1. Senses: because for the first 7 years using the senses is the most important part of development.
  2. Sameness: we can see this clearly in toddlerhood up to 7 years where imitation is at its peak.
  3. Belonging and loyalty: we all need to feel to belong. Unless there is that feeling, we are not happy and we can’t connect to the people we are near to.
  4. Significance: closely related to the above, unless we feel we matter to others, we feel disconnected from the world around us.
  5. Feeling: as humans, being shown love, kindness etc make us feel that we matter and belong.
  6. Being known: lastly, because we are being felt, because we matter and belong, we are open to let those people know us. We need to feel known!

Six ways of attaching but only one underlying drive for connection. If development is healthy, these six strands become interwoven into a strong rope of connection that can preserve closeness even under the most adverse of circumstances.

It continues to say, that those children that became peer oriented, tend to not develop in certain areas and this adds to the reasons why WE the parents need to matter more than peers. It shows us, how of children seduced away by peers will turn against us and look more towards their peers for anything they seek for attachment. This is also why, children tend to act aggressively towards parents when they become peer oriented.

It is simply an intuitive mechanism that we have. Only, the original purpose was to keep children close to parents; but when this attachment fails, it turns against us as they will want to keep close to their peers.

One needs to sit quietly after each chapter to understand what we have read and really come to grasp with it! What are your views? share to care?

family life, parenting

And just like that….he’s gone!

He clung to me in front of the school like a leech.

He held his beloved breast that never left him – even though he doesn’t breastfeed now it still gives him comfort.

He asked SOOOO many questions this morning…. is it only today I go to school? is it only (showing me 10 hands) this long I will stay? what will I do? will we do crafts? and just before he entered if I will wait for him outside the school. He asked them over and over seeing if there will be a different reply. Feeling anxious that now suddenly the day arrived.

I answered him as truthfully as I could….no you go to school every day like your siblings now. You will stay more than 10 mins but once you start enjoying yourself it will seem like 10 mins only there. It will be probably similar to my school…story, circle time, crafts, baking. yes you will do crafts. No I will not wait outside the school but I will always come back for you. Everything seemed to satisfy him except what will I do…so than it occurred to me. It will be a surprise. Everything you do today is a surprise. That he liked – the unknown is a surprise.

Then the door opened.

I put on his bag and gave him a hug and said good bye and he just walked in….no looking back!

discipline, positive discipline, encouragement, family life, parenting, raw reality

Sleeping the night

One of the most common question posted by parents on Breastfeeding Matters is : “When will my child sleep the night? How can I get my child to sleep the night or My child is x weeks/months old and still doesn’t sleep the night why?”

Well children are not meant to sleep the whole night and when they do….they are unwilling to do so alone for a while!

However, all children will eventually sleep the night when they are ready! Or rather, they will be good to go back to sleep alone at some point.

My youngest, B, is on his 3rd week of sleeping the night – yay! He is now 4.5 years old. If I look back on my oldest two, they slept the night a bit earlier than him. He, himself had asked to be moved into his bed and room at 2.5 years but to sleep the whole night there – it took him another 2 years! For over a year though, he’d just come to our bed at some point at night without waking us- just squeezing between us….

So there you go… now you have a perspective of when your child is mostly likely to really sleep the night!

Please don’t forget all children are different and night sleeping will vary per child and per family.

discipline, positive discipline, encouragement, family life, parenting

A Hero’s Heart

This search for something to help boys transition from boyhood into adulthood has been at the back of my mind since my first born made his appearance in the world. However, the urgency and need of it started culminating about 5 years ago when I saw that girls naturally transition this phase through the start of their bleeding and the possibility of organising a menarche ceremony for them if so inclined. However, the more I searched the less I was able to find something specific for boys. Most books tell us that boys need to transition with the help of men, however of course this is not always possible for various reasons .

I admit for a while I felt defeated and than this book came out: The Hero’s Heart by Melia Keeton-Digby and thought why not let’s try it. I was lucky enough to be alone at home when the book arrived and you can imagine I sat straight down and dug into it. I was reading and crying tears of joy as this is what I wanted for so long to teach my sons but felt stuck on how to bring it about. While this journey can be done on a one to one basis, I know that the biggest impact will be when other boys and their mothers are together in a circle and so I decided to do A hero’s heart journey here.

If you have a son aged 10-12 years and feel inclined toward this, please visit here to read more about it and join the circle being cast.

family life, Festivals, parenting, seasons

Autumn Reflections

As Autumn makes its way toward us, our home started reflecting this change with many little gestures.

Our nature table, is now reflecting autumn with its oranges and yellows. We have added a lot of crystals in it and a cave with wee gnomes – a reflection that this is the season to look inward. Soon we will also add pumpkins there and by the end of the month a dragon will appear gracing the sky…

Our autumn books have also come forth. We will also have other stories throughout this season that are not mentioned here because they are stories that we have found online or passed through friends that encompass the festivals we celebrate. As always our books reflect the current season and a story is retold for a whole week before another one is read.

Here is a list of our books.

Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn by Kenard Pak: it is a great book to understand the changing season – a boy greeting the trees, puddles, sticks, leaves etc and them telling him what is happening to them now that autumn is approaching.

Autumn by Gerda Muller: like its sequel Summer, this is a lovely picture book that leaves you open to invent the story you wish in the language you wish.

Brambly Hedge Autumn by Jill Barklem: A lovely story of mice harvesting and by the end of the day a storm started and one young mouse was missing and the adventure till she was found and went safely home.

The Little Yellow leaf by Carin Berger: this is one of my favourites. The story of a leaf afraid to let go but finally she does and finds that it is not so hard and lovely to let go of fears.

Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert: a sweet story about how leaf man got blown away by the wind and the many places he could have passed – which of course are all autumn related.

Wild Child by Lynn Plourde: another favourite in this house! Not only the pictures are alive, but the story is of a mother who is trying to put her child to bed and it goes through all the changes of autumn before that happens and then ‘winter child’ wakes up.

Harvest by Kris Waldherr: this is a wonderful story to teach about how we get our food. The girls tells how hard she worked till she got to today – harvest day- and how after the harvest everyone, including the garden will rest.

The butterfly children, Nuts & Leaves by Angela & Pat Mills: another autumn story, involving butterfly children gathering fruits and nuts and how they helped a squirrel find its missing winter store.

Flower Fairies of Autumn by Cicely Barker: beautiful poetry and pictures by this wonderful author who takes us through the whole 4 seasons describing the flowers that we are likely to see through autumn.

Lastly this month we will start celebrating our beloved festivals: Autumn Equinox, Independence day, our main festival Michaelmas and this year because my second is learning about the Jewish religion and customs Rosh Hashannah.

How are you reflecting autumn to your family?

discipline, positive discipline, encouragement, parenting

Parenting your 4 year old

Our 4 year olds can be very difficult to parent but a joy to be with at the same time.

They can come up with astounding ideas, ask you insightful questions and leave you open mouthed with the love they extend to all. Yet they can be very irritating with their silly words and potty mouth. They can also suddenly seem like the child you knew disappeared and instead another child came that push all your buttons!

Four years though is still very young and they have tons of energy that need to be let off! Most children are attending school by now, so remember to take them out to run and scream and be wild for as long as possible afterwards. It takes a lot of effort from them to be as still as possible, hold themselves together (they still find it very stressful to leave the family home) and keep up with the directions and rules of a school setting.

If your child is acting out more than usual first check your rhythm and next make sure to give them more time outside. Children this age do not need adult led activities; in fact after school activities like sports etc should not be encouraged at this stage but rather let them have lots of free movement. Because they live a lot in their body, the four year old need to jump, crawl, run, climb – all things that we can easily arrange for them through playing together whether at home or outside. Giving them meaningful work that works the senses also helps a lot like kneading, scrubbing, pushing, pulling, weeding and more. Also they enjoy helping out so that is a 2 for 1 offer we should not miss!

Discipline with the four year old is still the same as the younger ones. Work on yourself, the less choices given the better, rhythm, rhythm and did I mention rhythm? and of course when rhythm is mentioned we need to remember outside time. We must not forget that they have so much energy at this stage that they truly need lots of time outside to move and run.

family life, parenting

Are you preparing for Autumn?

Have you felt the slight change in weather? Do you feel the expectancy within your body of changes coming?

It is always an exciting time Autumn for us. The festivals start, the weather changes to the more coolness of autumn and then the cold of winter and so many other things.

As a family, we prepare for autumn by deep cleaning the house together before school starts. We love the process of checking that we have everything or we do not need something any more. Cleaning the house deeply as a way to welcome the new season is very satisfying. Small other changes within the home include bringing back carpets, changing some decorations and of course our nature table changes to reflect the new season.

Other changes that happen at home are me changing our menu to more warming and energy building foods. Our rhythm starts reflecting also the new season, taking into consideration school and other activities that usually occur at this stage and the slowing down from the frenzy of summer fun.

Lastly we start also preparing for the onset of the possibility of sickness by taking supplements that enhance the immune system till autumn is well on its way.

What about you? How do you reflect the new season in your home?