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.

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?

book review, discipline, positive discipline, encouragement, parenting

Book Review: Hold on to your kids

Today, I am reviewing with you part 1 of Hold on to your kids by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate. It is called The Phenomenon of Peer Orientation. If you wish to read this book you can lend it from my lending library.

Chapter one starts with a very typical situation at home. A teen hunched on his computer and a father angry and frustrated because his son refuses to do his homework and talking hand-offish and angry to his parents. While the family never relied on punishments to parent, they are finding themselves resorting more to such and yet their child not only is not yielding yet getting angrier. And here the authors tell us:

Should parenting be so difficult? Was it always so? Older generations have often in the past complained about the young being less respectful and less disciplined than they used to be,but today many parents intuitively know that something is amiss….They are less likely to take their cues from adults, less afraid of getting into trouble.

It goes on to say how children seem to bore of everything except the company of their peers. How parents were more confident and had a greater impact on children and how parenting for many does not feel natural any more. It goes on to bare our hearts completely! I could really relate to quite a bit of what was written I will be honest. The frustration I felt for so many years and that at times still rear up I could feel it in the pages. I still need to see if my own experience so far is to do with peer orientation or otherwise but they still hit the heart of the problem nicely.

The next part in this chapter highlights exactly an important reason why parenting can be so difficult no matter if peers are ‘to blame’ or not. Attachment! Now, I look at myself and I know that while I believed that I was an attachment parent, for the first few years of my oldest 2 I wasn’t as much as I originally thought. It therefore makes sense that with my third, with whom I feel completely attached, he is more open to my cues and the easiest to handle.

For a child well attached to us, we are her home base from which to venture into the world, her retreat to fall back to, her fountainhead of inspiration. All parenting skills in the world cannot compensate for lack of an attachment relationship.

It brings us than that the most damaging to our attachment is peers, who seem to have taken over attachment from the parents and other adults and has become the norm within society. Here we are given a brief history of when peer orientation started and how it evolved – spiraling out of control I would say. Attributing the increase in aggression and suicide among other things to peer orientation and lack of adult guidance because they refuse to look at adults as mentors. This chapter, end with the good news however, that while we cannot change society, we can reverse peer orientation.

book review, discipline, positive discipline, encouragement, parenting

Book Review: Hold on to your kids

I have started reading Hold On to Your Kids by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate. Now this book has a long history with me. I put it on my wish list to read when my oldest was merely 3 years old (7.5 years ago!). Finally bought it a year and a half ago, but only this past weekend started reading it.

It is strange, how things happen but I also believe that it is only now that I was ready for its content and I tell you it has blown me away. What I am reading is scary but it is making sense and so I felt this need to share the book with you all.

There are 5 parts to this book with a total of 18 chapters.

If you have this book yourselves and wish to read it with me and share your insights please do so. If you are interested in reading this book, you can loan it from my library (though only after I have finished reading it *wink*)

book review, discipline, positive discipline, encouragement, parenting

Book Review: Simplicity Parenting chapter 6 & epilogue

We are looking at the last chapter of the book Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne.  If you are intrigued to read the whole book, you can take it from our lending library. This chapter is entitled: Filtering Out the Adult World.

This last chapter is actually very beautiful. It shows us in concrete terms the struggles we go through as parents currently and how to troubleshoot them.

Worry is the star word that starts this chapter. A mother whose prime emotion to parenting is worrying. While worrying is part and parcel of parenting it shouldn’t be our experience of parenting as the author rightly says.

Screens – whether televisions, mobile phone, laptops, tablets and so on- are what takes from us a big chunk of our days. Society, pressures us subtlety that we need them. That at this time and age, the technological age, we can not live without them or we will be left behind.

It can be hard to decide to go without, though I would say it is harder limiting! Yet, limiting and simplifying EVEN screen time helps in more ways then one can imagine. First we must remember that especially the television – which the author is discussing mostly here, is a devise to entertain and sell. Selling, works counterfeit to what we are trying to do at home.

From screen time we move into involvement. How too much involvement can bring more anxiety and worry to both parents and children. We can truly let go. We can let our children grow solidly toward independence.

Here we get into ‘base camp’; because if we give them a solid foundation – the security they need to grow, it will help them to navigate the world at large by tapping into base camp whenever they need. And one concrete way to create a base camp is by filtering their world when they are young.

We move on into helicopter parenting. An epidemic that has hit the world. The author asks us, has the world truly become more dangerous? Or is it that we have too much social media unfiltered filling us with worry and anxiety? For our children to relax, we need to relax because no matter how hard we try to not show our worry, our children can sense it. Our worry and anxiety gets transmitted to our kids and it makes them more prone to be anxious children and adults later on. As the author points out it is not the media’s fault alone we are so involved and hyper as parents. Many other factors come into play.

Backing off and talking less is next up. Reminding us that the less we talk, the better. Single word commands normally work better then a deluge of words. A single word if any, means you are listening more. We expect children to listen to us but we tend not to listen enough ourselves!

Adult topics…now this is something big I think. We have seemed to forget children process things differently. They watch what we watch on TV, have games full of violence, listen in to the news, they hear us talking to friends and family on any subject imaginable…… We need to remember the sanctity of the different worlds – the adult world and the children world as the author says. Kim tells us that we need to remember to feel safe and secure children need boundaries. They need to see us restrain ourselves and keep the boundaries.

Do we love the times we are living? That is a difficult question. An important one for us to make as we help our children blossom.

It continues by reminding us to choose our words before speaking are they kind? true? necessary?

Lastly we arrive at the epilogue of this wonderfully insightful book. It gives us the simplicity concept applied to real life situations. It tells us that simplicity is not just a matter of having less clutter. Its the filtering out, the rhythm….which make a big difference to our children.

It is not easy. A lot of time and energy are spent making up the balance needed to nurture our children. Yet the benefits are so great, that it is worth completely the hard work involved.



book review, discipline, positive discipline, encouragement, parenting

Book Review: Simplicity Parenting chapter 5

We are nearing the end of this wonderful book by Kim John Payne. You can reach out for it through our lending library. This fifth chapter is all about schedule and how to simplify it!

It starts with a story of a family who more or less had something going every day between 2 children from football, trumpet playing, tae kwon do and horses competition. The parents felt that since the children enjoyed them and were driven, it was good to have so much stuff going on. Here we are moved into how life from 1980s to now changed with children having less free time – because it was being taken by scheduled activities.  We are told that too many scheduled activities may limit a child’s ability to motivate and direct themselves.

Kim John Payne here makes an analogy between children and crop rotation. Because we need balance and control to help children grow. Like crops, traditionally there was a rotation of crops and a time when the field left fallow. Now, farmers with pressure all around them give it fertilizer to sustain further growth which still though depletes the soil further! Children can be very similar…. they need the ‘fallow’ moments to understand and grow and simply be.  How true is this for you? Sometimes I feel so sad for children (and parents) who tell you they needed to mix and match schedules to make sure everything got covered with little time for down time. There is no time for a breath of air except possibly Sunday! Children need time to stand still, to do something without being directed how to do it. Without this time not only they do not have the possibility to process what is happening to them and around them but they learn from a young age that being idle, self-care is not acceptable!

Boredom he tells us is a gift. I tend to agree…if only I don’t get the grumbling with it !

when a child is constantly busy, bouncing from one thing to another, it is hard for them to know what they “want to do”. First of all, nobody’s asking. …..”nothing to do” state – is like a hush in the crowd. Silence…..instead of always being scheduled or entertained, children get creative. They begin building a world of their own making.

Going back to balance the author tells a story of a how a mother understood that all her child needed was pockets of quiet when there was a lot of activity around her. So, so true! My children thrive in pockets of quiet. They need it right after school and before home work starts. They need it if our weekend schedule is packed. they need it after a sleep over at their grandparents. Sometimes we forget and get angry but ultimately we need to give them that space to get back to their quietness in order to be able to move forward.

We are then confronted with the Sabbath – the day of rest. Who rests on Sunday nowadays? Most shops are open, and we end up doing a lot of shopping and other errands on Sunday. Yet, yet when we think of a day of rest we flinch, we look away. We need it desperately but we can’t find it anywhere it seems. Moments of Sabbaths are distraction-free zones. It might not be a whole day of quietness, but we can for sure carve some time. Here we are given some short stories of how this worked out for some families which is heartening as it need not be a lot of time- even 30 minutes every evening or some evenings will do the trick. It is teaching children not just efficiency but also quietness, relaxation!

We move on through this chapter with the title of anticipation. We grew up anticipating events, outings, meetings etc. It was quite exciting waiting for the weekend to meet your cousins, to be going to that football game, to be going to that park……Many children are on the instant gratification trip and have no idea how to wait or what anticipation is. The world is whirling us so fast it leaves us breathless! Anticipating gratification, rather than expecting or demanding it strenghten’s a child’s will. Impulsivity, wanting everything now, leaves the will weak, flacid. Many times we forget the importance of waiting, when all around us society is always on-demand!

We are also brought up face to face with a new concept maybe; that being all the time on the go makes our children look at outer stimulation and that this can become an addiction. Where people will look for outer stimulation to avoid inaction, boredom, pain…. Also it ends up with the children being all the time on a “high” thus making desire, reflection and imagination impossible to achieve and anticipation will have no room. Now this simple page gives us a lot to reflect about really. Are we really wanting our children to rely on everything but themselves in the future? Are we really wanting our children to grow up unable to stay still and quiet with their own thoughts? To think deeply and grow internally? It can seem like a bucket full of ice thrown at you and making you realise that everything is not really everything. Extra curriculum classes can wait no matter how fun they look. The time for them to grow and absorb life, to think and play, to dream and imagine is a moment in time that passes quickly unless it is nurtured. This then brings us into ordinary days! As the author says: ..if we hold on to the exceptional and if our children adopt that as their measure of success- most will fail, and almost all of them will feel like failures. The ordinary he says brings freedom and possibilities for the exceptional! Whether we truly embrace it or not, our lives are mostly made up of ordinary days. If we try and make them wonderful, exceptional days – every day – for our children, the pressure to deliver these days will simply keep on growing and it is exhausting! Not just for us but also for these children we hold so dear.

The last few pages of this chapter are dedicated to sports. The most impressionable thing I read here was not that children are ending up ‘specialised’ in a sport from very young ages. Neither that sports are being professionalised even for children. The most significant information is that you get 13 year olds in hospital and doctors are seeing wear and tear in the body that you never used to get before. Children truly want to play BUT play for fun!  The problem isn’t really organised sports as the author says but the too much, too young bit of it. Children under 10 should get a wide variety of sports to try and definitely not more than once-twice a week.

He now shows us the difference between free play an structured sports. Which in essence children are learning through playing with others how to negotiate, build on, change rules and start new games. Whilst in sports, you have the equipment, rules etc all determined for you! You do not learn to problem solve or making sure everyone is happy in sports BUT you do in free play because success is determined through it being fun for all. This chapter ends with the story of a family who was so overscheduled by sports but finally found the balance it needed which helped fuel more passion for the sports the children really loved and created more connection in the family.

What are your thoughts on all this?

book review, discipline, positive discipline, encouragement, parenting

Book review: Simplicity Parenting chapter 4

As we move forward with our book reading, I was excited to be writing on rhythm, which is the title of this fourth chapter.  It has been elusive at times for me. Mixing at moments in life, schedule with rhythm. Actually, it was my understanding that sometimes got clouded because most of the time the rhythm was set up and strong.

Kim John Payne starts this chapter with unpredictability. You know, when we are doing tons of things, having a rhythm can seem laughable! However, he insists (rightly so) that the more jam packed you are the more your children need some sort of rhythm.

Increasing the rhythm of your home life is one of the most powerful ways to simplify your children’s lives.

It can start from predictability but as the author says: The aim is to have rhythm and ritual, predictability may be what we can achieve. So what would this look like? Here we get a story of a child whose parents worked flexible hours and he never knew how he’d go to school or come back from there. Where he will do his homework or take his dinner.  The easiest way to give him some predictability is simply to pictorially (for the young ones under 7) give him a break down of what can happen..” tomorrow you’ll go to school with me. When school breaks, there you’ll be under the apple tree and when you look up, you can either see my red car or mum’s blue one.” Knowing what to expect helps a child to feel less anxious and more secure.

Next, we read about establishing a rhythm which has nothing to do with schedule! a rhythm is the breath of life, the ebb and flow of your family. It can gives stability, grounding, calmness to both children AND adults.  The best way to start a rhythm is to look at your days. How do these play out? He asks us to look at which periods are difficult with the children – many times transitions! and to build slowly from there. When your child is less than 7 years, rhythm will be natural to them, they will soak it up. Older children will take a while and is best to start from very small things like hanging your back pack at the same place every day. Again he tells us the importance of including the older children in discussions on the changes beforehand and gives  some examples of how one can go about it.

Busyness, change and improvisation will still have keys to your house, but they won’t entirely rule the day. This is absolutely agreed by myself. We have less conflict at home, less transition problems because of rhythm. The children know and expect Fridays to be cleaning day before school. There is no fighting about doing chores, they are just done (sometimes with grumbling)! They know and look forward to meeting with friends in our local woodland on Wednesday. They know that at 6.30 pm the bed time routine starts to unfold. They are pockets of this is what will happen today. It gives consistency and connection. Something which I prize a lot. At the same time things can change suddenly and when that happens depending on its nature, we will either prize more our rhythm or enjoy more the unexpectedness of surprise.

Most importantly here it is mentioned how relationships grow in the intervals, when nothing much is going on. Children will come up to us to talk when there are moments of quietness. If we are on the go all the time, they will not feel there is time for this talking, expressing themselves. Making this time now that I have older kids, is even more precious! It is pointed out that we do not need to make anything special, just being there and listening is all it requires. So, so true! Having the children come up and talk to me does not require much except me listening and the more I do it, the more they do it and the more I can understand them. Win-win for all!

There is quite a chunk in this chapter about family dinner and simplifying meals. For us this looks something like this. We try have dinner daily together (usually its about 4-5 times a week!). Also everyone knows the menu: Monday is vegetables, Tuesdays is pasta, and so on. The recipe will obviously vary but we know what the food will be about. On the surface, it simplifies for me the main cook at home what to do! It helps the youngest one know where we are during the week, it avoids having children bickering that they do not want to eat xyz. On a more deep level, as per Kim John Payne in page 115: Coming together, committing to a share time and experience, exchanging conversation, food and attention…all of these add up to more than full bellies….The process is more then the meal: It is what comes before and after. It is reverence paid…..

We than start tackling the simplifying of meals as a way to reduce power struggles around meals. Re reading this section was an eye opener actually, as I had forgotten about it. Yet, reading again how even the fast and the most that gives us a hit has reached not just toys but also meals felt sad. However, I could relate to the truth of it. I simplified meals because it felt right at the time; also fear of too much artificial stuff in the food. Reading this bit, reminded me how hyper my children get when they eat something which has a lot of additives. Mostly its a matter of these things are not found at home. If say, they are at a party and they are offered soft drinks or candy, they know we do not take that stuff but they also know they can try it. Some times they do and tell me it was disgusting which always makes me smile.

The last few pages are dedicated to sleep and pressure valves.

Sleep as we know is very important and if children are not seeping well we should look at pressure valves to help them relief their day’s tensions. These again need not be very sophisticated things. Could be a moment of silence together, discussing the day together, doing a project together. We all need to release a bit throughout the day and so do children. The chapter ends with bedtime stories. Stories that when chosen with care can also heal children. Stories that should still be read to children when they become good readers themselves.

So far this chapter had the biggest impact on me. What about you?