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.

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.

discipline, positive discipline, encouragement, parenting

Parenting through unconditional love

Love is the absence of judgement – Dalai Lama

We judge so easily – without even knowing!
Unconditional love, is to love someone no matter what. Parents, feel that for their children; that is, till everything is sparkling and beautiful. When the going gets tough, unconditional love becomes difficult and judgement the go to.

Odd as it may seem, misbehaving children are children who are afraid, their attachment not secure, who need unconditional love most. Yet, we start seeing through judgement: the naughty child, the disrespectful child and so forth.

How do we consistently bring unconditional love to our interactions?

Well, to learn to love unconditionally more consistently, we need to first love ourselves. When parenting is not happening the way we envisaged, it is good to look within us and see what is keeping us from growing into the persons we wish to be.

Parenting means healing ourselves so that our children can truly experience unconditional love, a love without judgement and grow into adults who can also love unconditionally without judgement.

There are different areas we can work on to do this and here I am listing a few easy steps you can take to start the process.

  1. Show compassion to yourself. Working on us is the quickest way to be able and bring change to our families. So when you start putting yourself down….the ‘you’re not good enough’ into the equation, stop and think of what you are good enough in. This of course should be extended to all eventually; but practice on yourself, and as you learn to love yourself more, and be more compassionate of your achievements and the still in progress achievements, doing it with the rest of the family will be easier.
  2. Jazz up your self-care. That’s right we are still working on us! When we are happy, healthy and not over stressed, we are able to give of our well being to the rest of the family. If we are not, we are giving without refilling and eventually the engine will stall. Self-care is much more than nutrition, hydration and movement. It involves sleep, time for ourselves, time for things we enjoy, time with friends and time to think. Learn more and by attending the workshop.
  3. Let go of perfection. We are not perfect period. When we strive for perfection we are not making the bar way too high for us but also for our children. It is much better to strive to love more everyday instead. When we start looking at ways to love more instead of how to be better we are releasing perfection and making way to presence and appreciation. Again start by being aware of how you talk to yourself, look at your goals and adjust these to show love instead of perfection. Remind yourself EVERYDAY when you start falling back into old habits that your aim is love.

Want to learn more? Join Conscious Parenting for weekly prompts starting next week to help you move forward.

discipline, positive discipline, encouragement, family life, parenting

10 habits that strengthens attachment

Attachment is what makes parenting possible.

Without attachment parenting is practically impossible.
Yet, it is difficult sometimes to keep our attachment strong. There are days were we are not as emotionally available!

Research has shown that for every negativity we produce, we need 5 positive ones to cancel them! That can seem like a lot of work especially when there are so many other things to do. So instead, try maintain your attachment by a few easy habits that are easy to incorporate in your daily lives.

  1. Give 5 mins attention to your child(ren) upon waking through hugs and snuggles
  2. Sit with them during breakfast, give them a run through of the day and ask what they are looking most forward to.
  3. Write a note and put it in their lunchbox to find at school
  4. When your child expresses unhappiness over something acknowledge their feelings a simple I hear you goes a long way!
  5. Before they leave for school hug them and tell them to have a good day or have fun
  6. 5-10 minutes before your children get home from school take a few breaths and centre yourself. Make sure you are ready to greet them!
  7. Once you are all together again, make eye contact, smile and hug your children, ask them about their day and have a moment to slow down after a hectic morning.
  8. When your child talks, stop and listen. Give feedback so they know you are listening
  9. 15 mins of special time each day go a long way in feeling loved. Just listen to their stories, play a game or have a short walk
  10. Lie with them in bed for a few minutes -even when they are older.

It might seem like a tall order, but this doesn’t add much to your day and cultivating these habits will simply help smoothen your days with less fighting and more cooperation. What’s more it strengthens the attachment keeping your relationship intact throughout their childhood and beyond.

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.

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.