discipline, positive discipline, encouragement, family life, parenting

Finding our rhythm

As it has been confirmed that schools will not re open this scholastic year, we are looking at the long term of being home with children, whilst working and keeping house.

It is not easy!

So this week I started by re doing our chore chart…I had slacked with my children’s input on their contribution to our home. Something I had already acknowledged but had decided to postpone till Summer starts. Yet, of course, things have now changed so we are diving in straight away into the new way of keeping house together.

I do not like the word CHORE as it feels something negative. Upon searching for inspiration online I came across: Our Home becomes whole when we work together and hence decided to use it for us.

The chores are split into 5 groups and these are attached with velcro so every week they change and every one gets to do every thing that needs to be done in our house. Mine will rarely change although some of the things like washing clothes will be assigned here and there!

Even young children aged 3 can share in the house work. Of course they need supervision and help and that’s ok, we need to give them training for them to eventually start doing them alone.

Next, I have looked at our rhythm. After much thought I came up with what I feel is a reasonable one and that will work for the whole family. My husband is working from home full time, so this rhythm is mostly for me and the children (although he will partake of it in the evenings and weekends or when I am working during school hours).

The chores listed earlier (unless they are part of the weekly house cleaning) can be done at any time of the day and not at a specified time.

After much pondering I decided to give them an hour of screen time daily and a staggering 3 hours on Sunday (although after today’s try out it will be split in 2 and not 3 hours at a go! ). I came to this decision in a simple way really. I thought of how when I was young I had no screen restrictions but it was balanced with a lot of time outside. So, with 2 hrs of movement a day it is counter balanced beautifully and the children are also happy as it meets their needs/wish of screen time.

The times are just an indication and not set in stone. What interests me is that everyone knows what will happen next. This gives them a sense of security and trust and they can relax further during this time where there is a lot of anxiety around which they can feel.

Tomorrow I will go a bit into more detail about rhythm or you can simply jump in and do the free rhythm e-course available on your own!

discipline, positive discipline, encouragement, family life, parenting

Building up a new Rhythm at home

It has been a week since the world as we know it stopped working.

In this week, the majority of us discovered a lot of new things…..things within our families that might not having been working well but suddenly the solution appeared or things which we thought were working well but upon reflection we are seeing we are better off without them.

In preparation for when our world will start functioning again in a manner we are more familiar with, I invite you to build a new rhythm within your homes. I wrote to you about observing your child earlier this week. This is an ongoing process of course, but with your discoveries so far and what you have also seen in this week as working or not, you can start quietly and slowly build a rhythm that works better and flows better for your family.

When we talk about rhythm, it is not me talking about a routine per se. Rhythm is more flowing not time restricted. It is seeing that everyone’s needs are being met, without putting a strain on the family. It is about bringing together the needs of the family and making a time table that gives comfort and nurturance to the children, yet simplicity and ease of mind to the parents.

It is about taking stock of all our current activities, all our needs, all our have tos, all our commitments and seeing that they can work together well and if not seeing what from them needs to be struck off our rhythm for the greater good of our sanity, our family and our lives.

I invite you to join my FREE rhythm e-course to help you out on this and as always drop me a line if you need further clarifications or help.

discipline, positive discipline, encouragement, family life, parenting

Observing the child

Observing children is an important part of parenting. Without it, any change in character- especially added misbehaviour will go ‘unnoticed’, leading us to think that the child is becoming defiant or more disobedient and so on. Not finding what the real problem might be!

We are currently in a position to practice observing our children. To really get to know them, just as much as we did when they were newly born. It does take practice but once you get into the groove, you will find yourself doing it all the time without even trying!

For example, in 5 days at home, these are some thing I observed in my children.

  • The children are all sleeping better and waking refreshed! Unfortunately with our normal routine (which includes simply school and catechism!), they get exhausted, don’t manage to sleep well and wake up still tired!
  • My youngest problematic behaviour practically vanished overnight. It reminded me how still very young he is and although he showed school readiness, it is still super stressful for him to keep himself together, follow the rules and sit for any amount of time. This was further fueled by his older siblings being too tired to even attempt to play so his frustration was through the roof.
  • They are more cooperative. School at home has been a breeze so far; with them actually being enthusiastic! Apart for schoo,l they all give a hand more willingly to keep the peace and the place clean.

When observing a child, we need to look at their entirety and not just at their behaviour. We should go meditatively inward and remember how they where as babies. Did they cry a lot? Did they need special attention? Where they very relaxed? Did they develop according to standards or where they quicker/slower? Knowing the base line will help us to then understand further what we are seeing. If you then look at your child currently, how different/ the same are they from when they were babies?

If the child is having challenging behaviour, ask: Why is this child behaving in this way? We normally look first at outside stimuli. Maybe they just started school or you just went back to work or someone they loved died. When we see nothing wrong there we look further. Sometimes we might need the help of other professionals like counsellors or doctors.

Observing our children, keeps us in line with their needs- even when we are not sure what they are, we are still aware of something that is missing! So take the chance just given and observe: do you see anything different since you’ve been home all the time?

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.

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?

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.

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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.