Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Blogging challenge

So I didn't finish the challenge. But that's ok. My boys have really needed me this past few months. and writing daily just wasn't possible. I'm pleased with as much as I've completed. 
I might finish the rest in time. But more to explore the topics then any real need to finish the challenge. 

R - Respect

Q - Quelling doubts

Often AP's get tons of questions and concerns, even mocking and belittling because they are choosing a much different path then their parents and grandparents did.

Is the EBF (Exclusively Breast Feeding) baby getting enough to eat?
Aren't you gonna suffocate the bedsharing baby?
That baby will never learn to walk of you don't stop wearing him in that sling.
If you don't let me baby sit that child will never learn independence.
If you don't...

It goes on, the constant doubt. The constant challenges.

Honestly how you handle these questions depends on the intent of the questioner, the kind of relationship you have and want to continue to have with that person.

If the intent is to challenge and badger you then simply say "my baby, my way." You can finish with a "I've done my research and talked to her doctor, thank you but I need no other opinions isn't he matter."
If the questioner is truly uneducated, confused, but open to learning then either sit down and educate them, give them a book, send them links.

Most of the time people are just out of the loop, grand parents haven't paid attention in many years about what is going on in baby care currently and simply need to bu updated. Some will never be open to a new way, their kid turned out just fine and you are I silting them by choosing different then they did.

(((Hugs))) it is hard having parents not agree with you, my own parents do not agree with my parenting choices, but we have learned a mutual respect over time. They only comment when they truly want to know. And leave it be when they disagree.


P - Preventative measures.

You've heard me talk about 'setting our kids up for success'.

The way we do this is using preventative measures.

I bring snacks and toys whenever we are out so the boys don't act out from hunger, low blood sugar, or boredom.

I make sure that there is time/place for nap and down time so as to prevent sleepy melt downs.

I make sure to explain what is going on what is expected so there is no fear of the unknown, feeling put on the spot, or confusion melt downs.

The sweets and chocolate cut off is 5 pm or my boys will be up and crazy till late.

I am close by to assist with conflicts before they escalate into brawls.

I do what I can to make sure my boys have every chance to stay in control and can do well. To succeed.

O - Observe

It is surprising how much of parenting is observation.
Watching how our child reacts to strangers, or loud noises, or animals, or new experiences.
Then using those observations to dictate how we expose our child or shield our child in those situations.
We have to observe our child, talk to our child, give our hold undivided attention to know our child well enough to effectively parent and teach that child.

N - Natural Consequence

Gentle parenting focuses on teaching our children through true natural consequence instead is arbitrary consequence.
Ex. Your daughter damages/destroys a friends borrowed book and they are likely to not be willing to let her borrow items again. You don't need to add an extra consequence. However, you might be just as unwilling to allow her to use your own stuff. When she later discovers that reluctance you can then help her understand the reasons and help her brainstorm ways to better take care of others property.

For a younger child this could look like: your toddler keeps standing in the tub. You tell him twice to sit and help him comply. when he persists you wash him an end play time abruptly and remove him.
He is developmentally unable to listen and obey every time because he has almost no impulse control because his brain isn't developed enough for it. So you gain nothing by inflicting arbitrary punitive punishments to gain compliance. Because a young child under 4 is incapable of consistently obeying as the logic center of their brains haven't developed enough to check their emotional center which is so much stronger at this age.

It is better to react kindly and with much patience, teaching so that when they develop self-control they possess the knowledge on where to use that control.

Instead teach them what is safe and what is dangerous through close watching and consistency, teach them what they are feeling and how to safely and respectfully express it. Expect a lot of repeating, a lot of mistakes, and a lot of opportunity to practice patience.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

M - Unspoken Messages

As human beings we are constantly giving and receiving messages in our facial expressions, body language, tone of voice, inflection, choice if words.
We can express pleasure, joy, pride, disappointment, annoyance, anger, disgust, love, hate, etc.

As we parent we need to be just as careful of our unspoken messages as our spoken ones. Both have power.

While it is good to express feelings to our children, don't over do it, limit the severity. Our children feel emotions in a huge overwhelming way, they don't need the added burden of our emotions on top of it.

K - kangaroo mama for the love of baby wearing

Baby wearing is the practice of carrying a baby against your body by tying fabric around you both in many different ways.

The benefits of this ancient practice are wide and beautiful.

It fulfills babies and mommies emotional, physical, and psychological need for physical closeness. A baby's first experience and understanding of love comes from the immediate response to physical needs, that includes physical closeness to their mother.
The first 4-6 months of a babies life are called the 4th trimester. Because baby needs the same continual physical contact they had in the womb.

That need is still there up to 2-5 years and slowly dissipates as baby grows into independence and individual identity. I'm still wearing my 23 mo daily and will as long as I physically can and we both emotionally need it.

For information on safe baby carriers and safe baby wearing read my post from last years blogging challenge. http://leasenchantedcloth.blogspot.com/2012/04/b-babywearing.html?m=0

J - Judge Not

Moms, we are our own worst enemy. When I look anywhere in the parenting sections online I see a lot of judgement. Harsh, bitter, angry judgement. Name calling, finger pointing, and prophesy of children's doom because a mother chose to not breastfeed, or they cosleep, or vaccinate, vaccinate on an alternate schedule, partially vaccinate, or don't vaccinate, or any of a thousand issues.

Moms we have 2 things in common, we are mothers, and we love our children. Lets support each other because no matter what our stand is on Breastfeeding vaccinating etc. we are all loving mothers and that is all that matters.



I - Intuition

Intuition is an important part of parenting. It is intuition that wakes mama up to find her child has a fever.
It puts us on alert when there is danger, even if our conscious mind doesn't fully register what that is.
Intuition has guided mothering from the beginning of time.
It has been the excuse for everything from a trip to the ER to an unexplained exit from a store where something just didn't feel right.
Intuition, when not suppressed by societies mockery or demand for solid proofs and evidence, can do so much to help a mother and baby.
It is the reason my children spent their first months and years sleeping with my, putting a young baby in a room alone felt the deepest folly to me. It felt wrong so according to my intuitive need I kept them with me.
When my son kept having fevers, for some reason I didn't worry, I found out later they were caused by major growing spurts (weird but actually fairly common).

Intuition kept me from getting a house that later was discovered had a major mold problem.

Intuition saved my oldest from circumcision though I had no reason beyond instinct until years later.

Intuition is the alarm system built into mothers to protect their young. Listen to it.

H- Honesty

"To make your children capable if honesty is the beginning of education"
-John Ruskin (1819-1900)

"Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters, cannot be trusted with important ones."
- Albert Einstein


Honesty is one of the most foundational aspects of a strong trusting relationships. Without honesty trust is weak and dying. But where honesty is guaranteed trust can be strong and unwavering.

It can be tempting to lie to our kids about little things, "I'm sorry there are no more cookies in the house." There is actually a whole box but you want your child to wait till after lunch to have some.

But our children often, more often then you'd think, see through our lies or discover they are lies later.

This builds a foundation of lies, and over time as the child grows trust is destroyed. One convenient white lie at a time.

If you are truly wanting a strong trusting relationship with your kids, don't lie. Always do what you say you will, they learn to trust you through the little things.

Monday, April 8, 2013

G - Gentle Discipline

What does gentle discipline have to do with attachment parenting?

In my heart and mind? Everything.

Attachment Parenting is about Relationships. It is about fostering a trust based relationship rather then a fear based hierarchy. It is about coming along side your child as a person worthy of respect like any other human being.

Punishments bring results, but at the cost of a truly trusting relationship. Punishment may cause a child not to do that again (only if they are developmentally able to do what you expect of them) but it won't give them the true reason that particular action isn't acceptable, only an arbitrary one.

Example:
Sharing.
I don't force sharing. DS1(5.5yo) has toys that belong to him, he chooses if some one can play with them and for how long, but if he is a dictator then his brother often doesn't want to play with him.
DS2 (1.11yo) has the same option but often shares, though only for short stretches of time.
We also have Family Toys, that must be shared. But it is a first come first serve thing. And the child can play with it as long a they want but once abandoned it is free game.

Not forcing sharing has allowed the boys to begin an understanding of personal property, though they don't fully understand this yet, it is laying the ground work. Ds1 is also learning that not sharing often make people not want to play with him. When feeling good he is getting much better at sharing.

Yes this method takes longer, means a lot of time running interference. A lot of time teaching and reminding. But they are learning the real life consequences of not sharing, and not respecting personal property, waiting for your turn. Rather then learning to share or not get to play, only to wait till later in child hood that not sharing where mommy can't see means you loose a good friend rather then simply make your brother mad for a few minutes.

Setting arbitrary punishments rather then guiding them through natural consequence means that they will have to learn these lessons the hard way in the real world with more painful and long term effects.

Helping them to see and discover the real world consequence (within age appropriate reason) saves time and hurt later in life.


Friday, April 5, 2013

F-Feeling

Feelings are so important and so confusing. To a child feelings are strong and overpowering as the emotions center if their brain is so much bigger an stronger then their logic center that any logic they possess has no hope of gaining control for years to come.

This is why tantrums over little stuff (to us) come. Their desire, especially for those under five and even up to seven, are so strong. They can't differentiate between need and want. It is all need.

So what can we do? Our children need to know that they aren't alone. They need to know what they are feeling before they can control that feeling. One way is to reflect their feelings. When a child is crying because of a disappointment, say a canceled play date, sympathies with then. Show them a sad face and cuddle. Say something like, "I see your disappointed. It is sad when play dates are canceled." Then after she has calmed offer an alternative activity to do together.

Also set boundaries, "I see your disappointed, it is ok to feel disappointed, and even angry, but we do not hit people. Hitting hurts. If you are angry and want to hit then hit a pillow."

Or "I see your are really sad. If you need to keep screaming do it in your bedroom with the door shut so that you don't wake the baby."

Feelings can be magnified by physical and environmental influences. Such a need for diaper change/potty trip, a sensory over load (change activity from fast to slow, slow to fast, loud to quiet), too much screen time, tired, hungry, thirsty, needs snuggles and attention.

Remember that this world is a big, overwhelming, scary place. And a child doesn't intrinsically know how to rank things, so he will likely throw an equal fit over food and a toy or trip to the park.

Feelings are good, necessary, overwhelming, and scary. Out children need to be able to identify their feelings, and know that they are normal and controllable. Only we can teach them that.

E - Explorers: a new way to see your kids

Yep, he did it again. He opened the large storage container that had all the nicely hung and labeled clothes for the consignment sale, and strewed them around the living room.
So what do I do? I loose control, I yell, I ask why. Then in his sweet little way he helps me pick up and I apologize for loosing my cool. Because he isn't doing this [I]to[/I] me. This has nothing to do with me. It has everything to do with Exploring his world.

It is what almost two year olds do. They have a huge hunger for knowledge. Which is why they will touch and touch and touch. It is hard wired into their brains. They CANNOT stop themselves. They are developmentally unable to.

Because of this it is so important to not punish exploration, instead redirect to safer exploration. And always keep your home baby proof to set your child up for as much success as possible.


Thursday, April 4, 2013

D-Discipline vrs Punishment

As Gentle Discipline is intrinsically melded with Attachment Parenting in my mind it is going to show up in some of my posts like this one.

Since 16 I've been thinking about the difference between punishments and discipline.

Lets start with the dictionary definitions.

dis•ci•pline n. 1. Training expected to produce a specific character or pattern of behavior, esp. training that produces moral or mental improvement. 2. Controlled behavior resulting from disciplinary training; self-control.

pun•ish n. 1a. To subject to a penalty for an offense, sin, or fault. 2. To inflict a penalty for (an offense). 3. To handle roughly; hurt: [I]The heavy surf punished the small boat.[/I] - intr. To exact or mete out punishment.

How I explained it to a friend who insisted that they were interchangeable is this; discipline is to teach through example and continual instruction a concept like manners, communication, and hygiene.

Punishment is little more then retribution for being an inconvenient and frustrating child.

We punish criminals for breaking the law.

We discipline and teach children who don't know better and/or mentally aren't developed enough to keep control over their actions due to overwhelming emotions.

Punishment teaches the child if your bigger and/or have the power you can pretty much do what you want.

Discipline teaches that all actions have consequences, only commit the act if your willing to shoulder the consequence. It teaches the truth behind the rules, laws, and social customs, not just 'because I said so'.

Get Off Your Butt Parenting = Great blog.

C-Control

There is one little fact about humans. The only person you can truly control is yourself.

Unless you want to get into unhealthy metal states that humans can get in and be controlled, like slaves, addicts, or the broken.

No healthy parent wants that for a child.

So if the only person you can control is yourself, then how do we use this information to help with parenting?

We can stop the them (children) against us (parents) battles that so many say define parenting. If we are in control of ourselves and take upon ourselves the responsibility of our own reactions instead of giving that control to our children ("your really making me mad, stop what your doing so I can calm down, if you don't stop I will get more angry and it will all be your fault") then we can become the example out children need.

Children learn through watching the adults around them. If you argue and yell all the time with your spouse that is how your children will learn to relate to others.

If you are always out of control your kids will never learn self-control.

If you always use violence to teach, the only thing you will teach is to solve problems with violence and power over the weak and defenseless.

Gain self-control and you will have the strength to be the puller of security and the model of healthy adult you want for your children.

Scream-free parenting by Hal Edward Runkel
Easy to Love Difficult to Discipline by Becky A. Bailey.

Monday, April 1, 2013

A - Attachment Parenting

First i want to give a shout out to Arlee Bird, founder of the April A-Z Blogging challenge!! Thank you, this is my second challenge and I've loved it!

Now back to the featured presentation:

What are the first thoughts that come to you when you hear the phrase "Attachment Parenting"?

Sleepless, sexless nights
Mindless exhausted days
A baby who won't be put down and won't go to others
Tending to baby's every whim while the house goes to hell and daddy is left alone and bereft of his beloved.

Yeah these were the 'horrors' I heard whispered about, parents who employed this style were mocked. Spoken of like foolish children attempting to teach a frog to dance.

Or worse yet, these children would grow up with the delusion that they would get a free ride, deserved a free ride. They would expect the world to bow at their feet and grant them their boon. They would be like the rich man asking Jesus what he must do, they couldn't give that up and would be doomed to damnation.

I'm here to call Bull Shit (excuse my Swahili)

Attachment and gentle parenting are what I'm going to be basing the posts for this challenge on. This beautiful, natural, and instinctual way to parent is in my opinion how we as humans were meant to raise our children. Deep, abiding, trusting, loving, nurturing, cherishing, relationship. Without that as the foundation of our child hood how can we possibly think that we can function well as individuals let alone as a society.

I hope you will enjoy this look into instinctual, attachment parenting as much as I have living it.