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discipline, positive discipline, encouragement, family life, parenting

Protecting our children during Corona Virus

As the COVID-19 hit our shores and most of the world, the spiralling panic has increased drastically and all you hear whether online or face to face is talk about the current number of people infected, how it is spreading and so on.

In the midst of all this talk, we are forgetting our children are there, listening to our fears and worries – me included!

I forgot to protect my children from the adult world and the stress came to the forefront pretty quickly in the form of meltdowns of varying degrees. Protecting children from the adult world does not means keeping them uniformed about what is happening. It merely means, giving them updates without alarming them. It means not talking continuously and without reserve in front of the children. It means keeping your worries and alarm outside of their ears.

Children need to feel secure in order to grow. Once their sense of security is torn apart, they get stressed and misbehaviour skyrockets. With schools and childcare centres closed, we are given the opportunity to strengthen our attachment with our children, lessen the burden this virus has caused to them through all the talk they were subjected to from us and educational professionals at school and bring them back into a centred calm and security.

Living in conscious parenting means being aware that all our actions and talk effect the rest of the world and most notably our children. So in a grand effort to use these 10 days to our best advantage:

1. let us minimise the amount of time online, looking at the latest articles on the corona virus and simply do so once a day AFTER the children go to sleep.

2. let us play games together, do chores together and watch movies together as ways to strengthen our attachment and share our lives (as so it should be).

3. let us USE these day to teach our children resilience and care for others in the face of adversity instead of fear and closing within ourselves out of said fear.

4. let us learn and teach our children that it is important and necessary to slow down; that it is important and necessary to our dear Earth to do so as well, since staying at home and reducing consumption help our climate.

breastfeeding, encouragement, parenting

Biting and Breastfeeding

Possibly, this is something most mothers are afraid of when they start breastfeeding. It is something that is on their mind from the very beginning – a question I get asked about often in home visits and workshops.

Biting while breastfeeding comes up not because children bite while nursing. In fact, a baby can’t bite at all while nursing because of the tongue position! Biting happens either because of teething, ear infection or cold (blocked noses and nursing are not compatible) and lastly it can also happen out of other reasons.

Teething:

  • Do not show an external reaction to the bite, some children find it funny and start biting just to see you react!
  • Say a firm “No biting, it hurts mama”
  • Unlatch baby straight away for a few seconds or minutes (it is up to you to gauge how long it should be)
  • Alternatively, push baby into your breast for a few seconds cutting off the air supply so they let go.
  • Check baby position; over time, children may become a bit sloppy in their latch making you hurt
  • Be attentive! be aware of your nursing child so as soon as you see baby is becoming restless you switch or unlatch baby
  • Talk to your child to distract them and keep them focused on you while nursing
  • Compress your breast while nursing so milk is flowing quicker and all the time and not giving them the opportunity to bite

Cold/Ear Infection:

  • Always review the position first, while it might be hurting, it can stop being good due to active nursing babies
  • Keep baby upright, especially with a blocked nose to help open the airways
  • If baby is tugging at their ear go to your health care professional for it is possibly an ear infection. Once medication kicks in and baby doesn’t hurt while nursing the biting will stop

Other reasons:

  • Baby is distracted. If your baby is distracted forget nursing them till they show interest. If they are moving about, not settling etc it is better to wait or take them somewhere less distracting to feed.
  • Wanting attention. Sometimes a baby wants attention while they are feeding. Maybe we are reading, talking to some one etc. If that happens remove baby calmly from the breast and firmly say we do not bite. Give your child some attention before going back to what you were doing.
  • Milk isn’t coming quick enough. If your baby is impatient and want milk quickly, compress the breast and or pump a bit to get the let down going. This usually happens when baby is tired or very hungry! Again be aware of your child and if baby is getting nervous unlatch and latch on the other breast.
  • Biting because they are finished feeding. Yes some babies instead of simply unlatching will bite when ready from a feed. Awareness of your child to notice when they start playing and stop feeding to unlatch them straightaway is important. Of course if it happens again calmly and firmly let them know that biting is not an option.

Of course, biting is normally always a phase which goes by like all other phases. However, if need be feel free to speak to me so I can help you out further as needed.

discipline, positive discipline, encouragement, family life, parenting

Parenting your 5 year old

The five year old is on a threshold. They can still be reveling in toddler-hood or forging through into childhood. I think many parents can find this age very stressful for them – I definitely am right now!

Things to keep in mind about our five year olds according to the Gesell Institute:

  • Five is the height of nightmares. They might not be able to wake well or go back to bed well. It is a fact with my own son, who started waking daily and coming in our bed again telling us he is having bad dreams. Sometimes they might scream out and not be able to calm down as they won’t wake well.
  • May revert to toilet accidents
  • Restless
  • VERY ready to go against what is asked or expected of them
  • Lots of tensional outlets- you know those things that tick our boxes like picking noses, head banging, masturbation, fidgety
  • Doesn’t quite want new or different
  • Wants to do everything just right
  • Might prefer to stay home with mama than play with children

Living with a five year old, we need to bring two things into their lives: Rhythm and rules.

Without a rhythm we will be arguing most of the day with our 5 year old. This is something which I got reminded myself recently as B’s behaviour was deteriorating and becoming unbearable. I saw we lost a bit our rhythm in recent months when it comes to B’s needs and that together with other things have led to some difficult moment. Currently working to bring back a rhythm that carries our day, so that he again knows what will happen next, making him feel more secure and more happy to comply with family rules.

On the other hand, rules need to be simple. Trying to change my own perception of how I look at them from controlling behaviour into giving them skills to learn and master. This is not easy but looking at phrasing in a simple, positive manner I know will help in my current cause. So give this a go parents!

Ultimately, we need to keep working on ourselves and our own habits. Review negative habits that you have not yet mastered: do you nag, command, dominate, yell, shame or punish your child instead of finding positive alternatives?  Can you work on finding those positive alternatives? What about keeping calm and help your child physically follow through in a peaceful way with whatever you asked them to do?

family life, parenting, seasons

Spring Reflections

Spring has started early here this year. At the end of February, I could deeply feel within me the awakening of nature on our little island. The sudden perfume of flowers all around, the bees and wasps buzzing abundantly and the butterflies flitting about.

And our home is also taking up the spring experience within it – although slower! Our nature table is not yet Spring, because we are observing Lent and so it will burst full of life, vibrancy and flowers in April with Eater Sunday.

Yet our Spring books have come and are gracing our home. They are geared mainly for the 4-7 year old bracket, however, my older children still enjoy listening to them. Each book is read daily for a week before it is replaced by another. Every week we also hold crafts, reflecting what was read in the book as much as possible.

This enables the younger child to make sense of the changing seasons, the passage of time and the beauty of Earth through books, nature tables and activities. It also keeps the older child aware of this and helps them slow down a fraction, in a world that is always hurried.

Here is our list of books for Spring:

Good bye Winter, Hello Spring by Kenard Pak: It is a very simple story about a boy saying hi to all that represents winter in nature and them saying hi again and what is happening and ending with the arrival of spring. A very simple and easy way to explain children about the seasons.

Spring by Gerda Muller: This board book, like the rest of the set has only pictures depicting Spring. This is a lovely book where you can re invent the story in any way you like and in any language you prefer.

Spring Story by Jill Barklem: This is also one book of a series. The Spring story falls perfectly well as it is about one of the mice boys having his birthday and how they surprised him with a picnic. Since B’s birthday is in March, I like keeping this book for his birthday week.

The very hungry caterpillar by Eric Carle: Probably no need to introduce this book, but it is a great one to add for spring as it goes through the stages from caterpillar to butterfly. Last year we were fortunate enough to grow some caterpillars at home and seen them transform. It was a lovely experience for my children seeing them becoming butterflies.

The very busy spider by Eric Carle: I like to use this book in spring, because every one in nature is busy building nests, foraging for food etc and so it feels this book, giving us the story of spider building a web brings forth the busyness found around.

Up in the garden and down in the dirt by Kate Messner: This is an amazing book! Love the pictures, love the way it is written. It starts with a child ready to start planting their garden and her nanna explaining what is happening beneath the soil and on top going through the cycle of all seasons from spring to winter.

New Beginnings: celebrating the Spring Equinox by Wendy Pfeffer: Now this is a new book for us. I am really happy we bought it. It starts about how spring starts and how Spring Equinox is a day of equal day/night and goes through the ages of how this festival has been celebrated by different people. There is a lot of teaching in it about tolerance, difference and sameness.

Nature’s tiny miracle Bee by Britta Teckentrup: A ‘mistake’ book! I got it because I liked the outside picture but when I opened it and read it, the story is amazing. It shows children the cycle of life how a bee pollinates the flowers and how everything lives because of her. The story is lovely written in rhyme and the pictures are amazing.

What are you doing to welcome Spring? How do you bring it to your children?

family life, Festivals, parenting

Lent as a teaching opportunity to grow

As carnival approaches, I start preparing for Lent at home.

Lent, gives us tons of opportunities to teach our children even when not christian (you might want to use Lent to teach about different religions instead).
Starting with the Resurrection itself, we are teaching waiting for the good things in life, rather than the current way of having everything there and then. The giving alms aspect of Lent, can be used to teach kindness and love to others whether we know them or not. Giving up something we care about during this season teaches  self control.

I love this season and over the years a lot has changed in the way I present it to the children.

For a while we did something for the 40 days of Lent. For the past 3 years I have opted for a simpler approach where we have something happening weekly rather than daily.

This calendar, is something we look forward to. Our count down to Easter (similar to an Advent calendar). Each day, a child moves a tiny caterpillar on the day, till on Easter Sunday they will find a big butterfly instead. You can find this calendar here

6 Simple ways to start celebrating Lent and add it in your parental teachings

  • Do a Lenten Calendar. There are many variations available online if this one is not suitable for you. A calendar I used when they were younger was simply to have the outline of a lamb cut out of cardboard and split in 40 days and every day we glued a piece of cotton wool so by Easter, the whole lamb was full of wool.
  • Make a prayer chain. Together with your children, think of whom or what you wish to pray for and add them into a chain, every day, take one out to pray accordingly. We’ve had prayers for rain, animals, old, sick and also specific people.
  • Make a crown of thorns and every time you do an act of kindness, you take off a thorn. By Easter, you should have all thorns taken off and the children can get surprised with the crown turned full of flowers on Easter morning.
  • Temptation Cookies: While baking cookies, tell your children about the temptation of Jesus in the desert. When the cookies are done, leave them on the table, but they cannot eat them until the next day. Talk about how tempting this might be and what we can do to resist temptation.
  • Do resurrection cookies. It is a great way to teach the Easter story!
  • Make a sacrifice bin. Everyone in the family, decides to let go of something they are really fond of throughout Lent. This can be changed weekly. It can also be anything from toys to screen time to sweets etc.

How do you celebrate Lent? Any other ideas you care to share?

family life, Festivals, parenting

Valentine’s Day

It is the feast of love this Friday!

For the past 3 years I have rekindled my love for this feast ….. in a different way!

There was once (which I would like to do again next year), where we did felted hearts and a small note saying “you are loved” and posted it them randomly in homes around our village.
Last year and this year, it was more specific to my family as a way to remind all not just that they are loved, but that they are special in different ways and loved specifically because they are all different. This I did by cutting card stock paper in heart shapes and listing on them attributes specific to each child (and husband actually). It also helps as a boost in confidence. these hearts I distribute from 1st February with one last big one that I love them no matter what on the actual day.
Last year, I attached them to their wardrobe in the evening so that every morning they saw them when they were going to get dressed. This year I randomly leave them in shoes, lunch boxes etc so it is kind of more fun and exciting not sure where they will end up in.
On Friday than, we will have a love filled breakfast together as a special way to start this day.

What are your thoughts on Valentine’s? How do you celebrate it?

breastfeeding, encouragement, parenting, raw reality

Sexual arousal and breastfeeding

There is this big elephant in the room. No one wants to really see it and talk about it.

Yet, it is an important subject to discuss seeing that our breasts and specifically our nipples are an erogenous zone. It is in fact VERY common for a woman to feel aroused while nursing. Some can experience orgasm. There is nothing wrong with it per se. However, the idea of it, make us cringe, feel ashamed and for sure if it happens we are not going to talk about it! Most likely a mama will promptly decide that breastfeeding is not good for her and switch to formula.

As this study says:

One issue rarely mentioned is that the breastfeeding experience is very sensuous in itself and some mothers may become aroused during breastfeeding (Hotchner, 1979Lawrence, 1989Mueller, 1985Reamy & White, 1987). This is a normal phenomenon. Yet, mothers may feel guilty if they have these feelings. Consequently, some may decide to stop breastfeeding. Should a mother decide to speak about such feelings, both lay people and health care professionals may be shocked, may ridicule her, and may even report her to child protection services (Huggins & Ziedrich, 1994).

It is a sad truth! Women are feeling guilty, thinking something is wrong with them and quitting breastfeeding for the way our bodies are wired. In breastfeeding, oxytocin and prolactin are released to help us bond with the baby. The same hormones are released when having sex to create (a different) bond with our partner.

It is important that such issues are spoken more often, especially to new mothers. It not only starts stopping stigma for having natural feelings but it prepares a mum. Knowing it might occur, would definitely help accept such feelings without fear and guilt.

However, despite accepting such feelings, they will probably still make you uncomfortable, so here are 3 tips to help if such a case occurs:

  • Stop breastfeeding for a few minutes if possible
  • Think of mundane things, like the laundry or cooking
  • Look at your child. It reminds your brain you are nursing

Women be reassured that pelvic arousal while breastfeeding, is not unnatural but normal. It does not happen often but it is still a common occurrence.

discipline, positive discipline, encouragement, parenting

Attachment

One of the reasons I wanted to homeschool my children was attachment. At the time, I didn’t really understand the importance of attachment as much as I do today, but it still felt important to me. While, I didn’t manage to homeschool full time, I learnt that attachment can happen even when the children are not home all the time.

What I would like to talk about really though is how the development of independence is intertwined with attachment. Being attached does not mean children will not develop independence and remain enmeshed in the family. On the contrary, attachment is what helps us to make adults that have meaningful roles in their families and in society.

A healthy attachment starts with connection, a lot of it of course when they are babies. This connection is strengthened through term breastfeeding and co-sleeping. It is further encouraged and increased through kindness and firmness (or in other words boundaries). Now boundaries, I need to add a bit on this; HEALTHY boundaries, help children grow into separate individuals. It is not about being strict, but about GUIDING them, showing them how to create balance and know the limits with love.

Now to go back on attachment, children, start to separate from us from around 3 years of age – when they become self-aware and are most likely to start using the “I”. It continues at 6/7 years – or what in Waldorf Education is called the 6 year change. Children here can be difficult and are likely at some point to say that you are not the boss of them! Children start feeling the need to be valued for what they are at home and at school. This individualization can be quite a difficult transition for them but by keeping the attachment strong, we can help our children find their footing, help them separate, yet keep them close.

The next change comes around 9/10 years. A time where children can feel really alone and misunderstood. It is a feeling of being so aware of yourself as a separate being, that you feel without family, apart from the rest of the human race. As these children start becoming individuals, it helps immensely to have again kindness and firmness. To strengthen further attachment through connection. A strong family connection and/or community can really help make this transition easier!

And as they grow older this individualization keeps growing and changing but the need for attachment is as strong and as needed. Attachment to us adults, keeps the children close to us despite their increased separateness. Letting us help them through boundaries and kindness to make the correct choices OR just showing them love when they do not.

So throughout childhood, whether babies or teens, attachment keeps children close to us, their parents, so they can listen to us and give them a better grounding to make right choices with the help of connection through boundaries and loving authority. It is only than that they can completely become independent.

parenting, raw reality

Understanding emotions with boys

“I don’t think I am doing it right” , I hear.

“All your tips to understand my emotions and let them out are not working”, I am told.

“This is useless! I am not stopping being angry”, I listen.

But, he is not really hearing himself telling me…

“I am feeling disheartened today. It was hard at school and I feel so angry at you”

“I feel so sorry for what I told you earlier, but I truly was angry”

“I am feeling so sad and angry right now….I am not sure why!”

Yes son, boys..men…find it difficult to express and let go of their emotions and you might think you haven’t understood it, but you are doing it. I know you still don’t believe me when I tell you this, I know you expect instant results, but, it took me 35 years to get where you are now!

Be proud of yourself, you got this!

book review, discipline, positive discipline, encouragement, parenting

Holding on to your kids chapter 3

This chapter starts with a question that many of us parents ask in a different way….How is it that in today’s world, children so readily transfer their attachments from nurturing adults to each other? What we ask, but which can be translated to the above is, how is it that parenting is so hard in today’s world?

The answer to both are given to us by Dr Gordon Neufeld: The cause is not individual parenting failure but an unprecedented cultural breakdown for which our instincts cannot adequately compensate. After thinking of this for a long time, after reading the book and going through it again for the second time, I can see how true this is!

Our society does not cater for our children; or to be more precise to the developmental needs of our children. We are shown how the economic forces and cultural trends dominant in the past decades have dismantled what used to be a natural process – the innate attachment drive that bonded the young with their caregivers until maturity.

The effects of society in forcing both parents to work outside the home has had a profound impact on attachment. We are reminded really, how caring for the young is undervalued in society and how that effects not just the parents but also the institutions that are caring for the young instead of the parents.

Children are lacking a set of nurturing adult relationships and they compensate for that by attaching to their peers. Many of us see nothing wrong with children starting day care from babies, go to kindergarten and school and are most of the time for their whole childhood with peers instead of adults. It is actually I feel revered that children spend so much time with peers ‘so they learn socializing’.

We are reminded how owing to geographic dislocations and frequent moves, today’s children are less likely to enjoy the company of elders committed to their welfare. Further examples are given to us like the family doctor, generic businesses etc. He asks us: Where are the surrogate grandparents, uncles and aunts who supplements and substituted the nuclear and extended family? Where is the adult attachment safety net should parents become inaccessible? Where are the adult mentors to help guide our adolescents? Our children are growing up peer rich and adult poor!

We move on to how family ties are under pressure all the time even if the nuclear family is still intact. How society puts a higher value on consumerism than the healthy development of children. How the natural attachments are actually discouraged for economic reasons.

The rapid changes and technology have lost us our cultural customs and traditions – which take hundreds of years to build up. It gives us insights here on how technology is undermining our own parenting and inhibiting attachment with adults by our own doing.

Lastly in this chapter we are introduced to 2 types of how attachments form…one is through us parents by knowing others and showing our children they can trust them and the other is through a need of attachment because of a void he children actually feel.

This is quite an intense chapter. It hurt reading it. It made me sad and angry. It made me see why I have to work so much harder with my children and why as a family we find it so difficult to embrace modern life with our ideals.