Cooperation or Compliance

Frequently, I hear parents complain about how their child refuses to cooperate. One can almost see the anger and frustration wafting off of these parents in regard to their children, children whom they love, whom they currently view as defiant and disrespectful. I understand. Really, I do. There are times when I am really frustrated with my children, or at least our current situation. I am not a parenting guru. This is the point where I say that if anyone ever refers to themself as a parenting guru, you should walk away…slowly, avoiding eye contact, until you feel you are at a safe enough distance to turn and run. Certainly, there are people dedicated to researching child pysychology, realtionships, communication, and so on, who may very well be experts in their field. That is different than a guru, but I digress.

The fact is that I have never met a child, one who was healthily connected and had all needs met, who wasn’t willing to cooperate with a loved one. Yes, I actually said never. “But Mandy,” you say. “You have never met my child.” That may be true. “But Mandy,” you say. “You have met my child.” That may also be true, depending on who you are and who your child is. I stand by my statement, though. As much as we may like to think of our children as unique little snowflakes, there are some things which are just human nature. Working together is a fundamental survival skill.

So that brings us to two points. If your child is, in fact, not cooperating, I challenge you to ask yourself why. People, children included, don’t do anything without reason. We may not always examine our reasons, or perhaps we don’t recognize the reasons, but they exist none-the-less. Is your child feeling connected with you? If not, maybe they need to spend more, or more mindful, time with you. Are all of their needs being fully met? If not, rectify that. Make certain your child’s needs are met. If there is a want mingling in there, explore a little more and see what underlying need is behind the want. You can’t help fix a problem if you don’t know what the true problem is.

Secondly, and one that frequently casts a shadow to the forefront, is that the parent is confusing a lack of compliance with cooperation. When many parents say their child is not cooperating, what they really mean is that their child is being non-compliant, i.e. the child is not doing what the parent wants.  Again, I challenge you to ask yourself why. Except, this time, I challenge you to look at yourself. Are you feeling connected with your child? Are all of your needs being met? As a parent, if is often easy to overlook our own needs, but that can actually be detrimental to our families. We aren’t functioning at our best when we have needs being left unmet.

Of course, the other scenario is a compilation of the two. Perhaps neither the parent nor the child is feeling connected. Perhaps everyone has needs which aren’t being met. If one person has unmet needs, it isn’t so far-fetched to think that an underlying cause may be preventing other family members from having their needs met, too. Regardless of what is going on, let go of the negative thoughts and instead, take a second to mentally explore options, connect or meet needs, andcommunicate with your child. They may just have some ideas to help everyone out.

photo credit: mcdlee via photopin cc

Supporting Self-Expression in Children

Welcome to the March 2013 Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival: Self-Expression and Conformity

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival hosted by Authentic Parenting and Living Peacefully with Children. This month our participants have written about authenticity through self-expression. We hope you enjoy this month’s posts and consider joining us next month when we share about Peaceful Parenting Applied.

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When I was pregnant with our first child, my husband and I joked that if nail polish were ever to be involved, he would be in charge. He thought I was joking at the time, but painting nails was never something I wanted to do. My grandmother tried to no avail to interest me in the finer aspects of nail painting when I was little. I hated it with a passion and still do. In fact, until a couple of years ago, our home was a nail polish free zone.

We were walking in a store when my then 6 year old daughter asked if we could buy some nail polish some day. Part of me would have loved to give an excuse as to why we couldn’t buy nail polish, but really there was absolutely no reason I could give. Instead, I told her we would research what brands were better and see about getting some. A few searches later and I had found brands which were less toxic and yet still affordable.

Shortly after that, I made my first ever nail polish purchase in a variety of colors. My children, all four, sat around waiting for their turn to have their nails painted. This happened several times with quite a bit of excitement on their part, trying out different colors, having that one on one time, until for the most part it died down, with only occasional nail painting happening now.

We support our children in their self-expression, whether it is nail polish or something else. Childhood is a time to learn about who you are and what you believe. We have purchased and helped paint finger nails and toenails. We have picked up colored hairgel for washable hair expression. And while I do save hand me downs for my children, they always have the choice about whether they like the clothes and want to wear them or not. Our children have gone to restaurants dressed in costumes at times other than Halloween, much to my mother-in-law’s disbelief, and the dress up bin is for everyone to play with – no sexism here. For now we draw the line only at permanent changes. We will support our grown children’s right to piercings, tattoos, or even cuttings if that is their choice, but we believe it is our responsibility to keep that option for them until they are old enough to make those types of decisions.

Self-expression doesn’t end with bodies, though. We encourage our children to explore new things and see what it is they really like. It’s important to us that they have opportunities to do this, and we have made it work on a budget, mainly in part to my mad organizational skills to get businesses and venues to give us group rates (just don’t remind me of the aquarium trip with 150 people. It’s something I would prefer to forget). As an unschooler and parent, it’s my job to facilitate, not dictate, my children’s learning experiences. Since life is learning, this includes allowing them the opportunity to explore and express themselves.

I think it’s working well. When my then 9 year old son was questioned at gymnastics for wearing hot pink nail polish, he merely turned to the kid in question and asked, “Why shouldn’t I wear pink nail polish? I’m secure enough in myself to wear it. Colors aren’t sexist.” Apparently the other child had never heard such things.

For me, it’s not about allowing my children to express themselves but rather not preventing them from being authentic. It’s about my children being themselves.

photo credit: Melchorseg via photopin cc

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APBC - Authentic ParentingVisit Living Peacefully with Children and Authentic Parenting to find out how you can participate in next month’s Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival!

 

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon March 29 with all the carnival links.)

Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival March Call for Submissions: Self-Expression and Conformity

APBC - Authentic Parenting
Welcome to the Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival cohosted by Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children and Laura at Authentic Parenting. We hope that you will join us on the last Friday of each month as we share posts about simple living in our lives. Submission deadline will be the Friday before last.

Self Expression and Conformity

Kids like to test the margins of where they can go, wether with their behavior or their looks, but where do you draws the line. Is there behavior you don’t tolerate or image alteration you would prohibit? How far do we go to conform and do we take our children along with us? Is the image we portray important, or can we just skip the boundaries all together. We would love to hear your input.

Submission date: March 22nd

Carnival date: March 29th

How to join in?

To submit an article to the blog carnival, please e-mail your submission to mandy{at}livingpeacefullywithchildren{dot}com and mamapoekie{at}yahoo{dot}com, and fill out the webform by March 22nd. Please write a new, unpublished piece for the carnival. We will e-mail you with instructions before the carnival date. We ask that you publish your post on March 29th.

Please do:

  • Use your creativity
  • Write an original, previously unpublished post on the given topic
  • Be respectful
  • Spell check your post

Do Not

Use excessive profanity or promote violence against others

As the co-hosts of the carnival are advocates of peaceful living and gentle parenting, we ask that you not post about non-gentle practices or violence toward others. While we will not be editing your articles, we do reserve the right to not add your post to the carnival if it is not on topic, is poorly written, or goes against the guidelines which have been set forth.

Why Participate?

Blog carnivals are a great way to generate blog traffic and build a supportive community. Your blog will receive links from many other blogs and you and your readers will have the opportunity to discover other blogs with similar goals in mind. Please join us as we embrace Authentic Parenting! We hope you will consider joining us every month as we discuss ways to live and parent authentically.

 

Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival February Call for Submissions: Honesty

APBC - Authentic Parenting
Welcome to the Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival cohosted by Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children and Laura at Authentic Parenting. We hope that you will join us on the last Friday of each month as we share posts about simple living in our lives. Submission deadline will be the Friday before last.

Honesty

Little white lies don’t hurt, or lying to spare someone’s feelings are expressions we hear all to often. How does your family handle lies? Do you do make belief? And how far can you let this come. What about when your child lies? How is that handled in your family?
Complete honesty can be difficult to maintain in a family and is it even necessary? your input at this month’s carnival!

Submission date: February 15th

Carnival date: February 22nd

How to join in?

To submit an article to the blog carnival, please e-mail your submission to mandy{at}livingpeacefullywithchildren{dot}com and mamapoekie{at}yahoo{dot}com, and fill out the webform by Februari 15. Please write a new, unpublished piece for the carnival. We will e-mail you with instructions before the carnival date. We ask that you publish your post on Februari 22.

Please do:

  • Use your creativity
  • Write an original, previously unpublished post on the given topic
  • Be respectful
  • Spell check your post

Do Not

Use excessive profanity or promote violence against others

As the co-hosts of the carnival are advocates of peaceful living and gentle parenting, we ask that you not post about non-gentle practices or violence toward others. While we will not be editing your articles, we do reserve the right to not add your post to the carnival if it is not on topic, is poorly written, or goes against the guidelines which have been set forth.

Why Participate?

Blog carnivals are a great way to generate blog traffic and build a supportive community. Your blog will receive links from many other blogs and you and your readers will have the opportunity to discover other blogs with similar goals in mind. Please join us as we embrace Authentic Parenting! We hope you will consider joining us every month as we discuss ways to live and parent authentically.

5 Ways to Kill Your Child’s Love of Reading

Please note that this public service announcement is brought to you by Bibliophilic Satire.

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Who Needs Books?

Photo by Nate Bolt

I’d like to take a moment to discuss an issue that is pertinent to every parent out there. Children and books. There. I said it. I know. We try to avoid such topics, but the fact of the matter is that every child is born with an inherent love of stories and books. Without proper intervention, you may find yourself in the position of a parent who has a child who…..reads. Yes. The big elephant in the room is out there for all to see. However, I’m here to tell you that there are ways to put a stop to this habit before it really takes a hold. Here are a few suggestions to save your child from a life time of reading:

 

 

  1. You may decide to go with the method that “gets  it out of their system.” If this is your preferred strategy, force your child to read in a controlled setting. If they are going to be reading, make certain they are reading on your terms. Take away their choices.
  2. Make them read what you choose. Sure, they are going to hear about books from someone, but if you can make it seem like books aren’t enjoyable, you lessen the likelihood that they will become readers. As part of this method, you may find it beneficial to pick out the most boring books you can find. If your child begs and pleads not to read them because because he “doesn’t like those books,” stick with them. If there happens to be someone nearby (such as…..another mother) who is in the vicinity when you force your child to read the really boring book, it’s okay. Any adult should be willing  to make the sacrifice to listen to a horribly written book read haltingly by a child in tears. After all, we’re here for the kids. This public display will also help re-enforce the lesson to any other children in the area that reading should, under no circumstances, be enjoyed.
  3. Negative re-enforcement. When you catch your child in the act of reading, do something negative. You want them to associate the very act of reading with an unpleasant experience. Tell them they aren’t doing it correctly. Ridicule them. Yell. Make other loud sounds such as monster noises or sound like an alien laser. Whatever you do, do not let them enjoy the experience.
  4. Time limits. Whether you are trying to gently wean your child off of this habit by placing arbitrarily short maximum time limits on enjoyable reading sources or placing large time limit minimums on the boring pieces (see above reference), you should control the amount of time your child is exposed to such potentially harmful substances.
  5. When it comes down to it, you need to do what you have to in order to prevent this habit from escalating. Threaten to take away something your child loves if she doesn’t follow your strict guidelines. Already at gymnastics but she isn’t reading your prescribed reading material? Threaten to take away her gymnastics class. Sure, you’ve paid for the gas to get there. You will be paying for the class whether she participates or not. Gymnastics has nothing to do with reading, but it strikes deep. It shows your child that you are serious about not letting her waste her life away in a book.
Let’s not kid ourselves. Board books lead to picture books, which lead to chapter books. If you don’t do something about your child’s love of books right away, you may be facing a child who is carrying around a 3 inch thick book, laughing and giggling, and enjoying herself to no end. Books are dangerous. They lead to information, independent thinking, creativity, and even worse….knowledge and wisdom.

 

NPN Blog Blitz: A Day in the Life

It’s that time again! You might remember the great post in December 2011 that highlighted the Natural Parents Network Volunteer’s most popular or favorite posts from the year. Or what about March 2012 post which featured Do It Yourself projects, How To’s, Tutorials, Recipes, and anything related to a step by step guide or informational how-to from the NPN Volunteers? Well, we are back and this time we are bringing you a collection of posts that focus on what our lives really look like!

Yep – we are giving you a sneak peak into things like a typical day in our life, special or fun outings, or photos which show all of you what motherhood looks like for us. Basically, we are keeping it real!

There are a lot of really wonderful posts here that show that even though we blog about our parenting ideals, we really are just regular moms, getting by one day at a time! So enjoy our typical day in the trenches!

Laura at WaldenMommy: Life Behind the Red Front Door shares “Just Another Monday.” This post appeared in March of 2012 and is a typical busy day with the Herd. You can also find Laura on Facebook.

Cynthia at The Hippie Housewife shares a typical day in her life, complete with a blood test, a stop at the thrift store, and lots and lots of books. You can also find The Hippie Housewife on Facebook, Google+, and Pinterest.

Melissa at Vibrant Wanderings shares A Day In The Life: Two Years Old, a photo journal commemorating her daughter’s second birthday by attempting to capture a sense of the daily routine at this busy stage. You can also find Vibrant Wanderings on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Networked Blogs.

Laura at Pug in the Kitchen shares A Busy Day in the Life of her family. This post is a whirlwind look at life two children under the age of 3. You can also find Laura on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Momma Jorje: a slightly crunchy mommaMomma Jorje shares Typical Visit to the Pediatric Cardiologist + Results. Read her post to see what it is like to take her infant son for regular visits to a cardiologist. You can also find Momma Jorje on Facebook.

A Little Bit of All of It shares Our Last Days as a Family of Three as she, her husband and 3 year old daughter wait for baby #2. She also wrote A Day in the Life of This Mom when her daughter was 2 and she watched a 5 month old. You can also find A Little Bit of All of It on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Networked Blogs.

Hybrid Rasta Mama: A reggae loving mama’s thoughts on Conscious Parenting, Natural Living, Holistic Health and General MindfulnessJennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares A Hot Day In The Life of Jennifer. This post appeared on a friend’s blog and is a humorous look at a typical summer day for Hybrid Rasta Mama and her sidekick Tiny. You can also find Hybrid Rasta Mama on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Networked Blogs.

Emily at Embrita Blogging shares an Ordinary Day with a pre-crawler from almost two years ago. You can find Emily on Facebook, Pinterest, and on Twitter.

Gretchen at That Mama Gretchen showcases A Day in the Life of her busy summer as she waddles around with a baby in her belly and a toddler in tow! You can also find That Mama Gretchen on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Shannon at Pineapples & Artichokes shares A day at the Solstice Parade, a picture post about her trip to one of the local summer parades in Seattle. You can also find Shannon on Google +, Flickr, Pinterest.

Hobo Mama: A Natural Parenting BlogLauren at Hobo Mama shows what unschooling looks like in her house through Meetups and play dates. Far from staying indoors or isolated, you can find Lauren or Sam and their kids out at one or other fun and educational activity several times a week. You can also find Hobo Mama on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google +.

Kat of Loving {Almost} Every Moment wrote this post after having One Of Those Days. She was pregnant, exhausted and had a lot of errands to do with her two older kiddos in tow. In the end she was reminded of a thing or two…especially to always keep her chocolate stash well stocked!

Fine and FairJoella at Fine and Fair shares A Summer Sunday in Our Life. This day in the life photo project shows a busy Summer Sunday filled with gardening, friends, family, and shared parenting. You can also find Fine and Fair on Facebook and Twitter.

Erica at Childorganics shares And The “Play” Goes On. This post takes a peek of what a whole day of play looks like at their house. You can also find ChildOrganics on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Visit Code Name: MamaA day in the life of Dionna at Code Name: Mama and family in downtown Independence – from 6 month old EC’ing to the farmer’s market to nursing at the Main Street Coffee House. By the way, join us for the August Carnival of Natural Parenting when our topic will be Farmer’s Markets!

AnktangleAmy at Anktangle shows
us (through photographs) a glimpse into a typical week
in her world. You can also find Amy on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google +.

Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children shares The School Bus Comes Early. She speaks of how unschooling allows her family a flexibility in their lives to accommodate learning. You can also find Living Peacefully with Children on Facebook.

ourfeminist{play}schoolLyndsay at OurFeministPlayschool shares “Day in Our Life… This post looks at her family’s day and their trip to a museum. You can also find Lyndsay on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest.

TV: a Tool or “The Devil”

365:32 - Television

Photo by Sarah Reid

As more of our society has become screen driven, the controversy over children watching television has increased. On one side you have companies specifically marketing television, movies, and all sorts of related products to children. There are companies targeting commercials at children in hopes that those children will then bug their parents enough to buy the products, shaping our society from a young age into a consumerist society, while some parents say they just need a break or how the look forward to family movie night. On the flip side, you have organizations saying television is bad, detracting from time which would be otherwise be spent doing other activities, adding to childhood obesity and other health problems. There are parents crying out that TV is the devil (said jokingly in reference to the mother in Adam Sandler’s movie The Waterboy) and banning all reference of television or movies from their child’s existence. Both of these sides tend to take the topic of television to extremes, when there is a middle ground. We are a middle ground family. We have direct tv . In graduate school, my husband really wanted to watch his beloved Red Wings hockey games. It seemed a minor issue to promise him those games out of grad. school. For a long time, hockey games were pretty much the only thing our television was used for, much to the astonishment of my in-laws who have a television (on) in every room, as I’m not one to sit down and surf channels to find something to watch. Later, when we upgraded to a DVR, I found that we could actually plan to record items to watch later, without it interferring with life (hence, I would actually be able to watch something without trying to remember to turn the television on). Since that time, we have found quite a few wonderful documentaries and shows to record and watch. We have seen things that we would never have otherwise seen (deep sea adventures, historical documentaries, erupting volcanoes, and more). There are also the occassional family movie nights. We are able to use this technology as yet another tool for learning rather than something that rules our lives. Just like anything else, it’s not an all or nothing thing. It’s what you make of it. For families worried that television may take over, keep a few things in mind:

  • Given the opportunity, children are quite good at self-regulation. Something which is currently forbidden now may capture their attention at first, but in every family I know who allows self-regulation, the kids do actually regulate themselves in various life areas, often much better than adults (says the woman who turns to sweets in times of stress while my kids have a heathly relationship with food).
  • Kids would rather spend time with you. If you feel that the tube is on too much, offer an alternative. Go cook together, garden, read books, make a craft, go for a walk, or play a game.
  • Turning on the screen doesn’t mean it can’t be turned off. That’s what the power button is for. Don’t be afraid to use technology as a tool for your family where there is benefit. It’s not permanent and you control how much you let it into your life and how it fits. If it doesn’t fit, that’s fine. Just remember that there can be happy mediums in life. If you choose to watch television, continue to be present with your children to help them navigate those messages presented. Child need your presence in life.

Just as with anything, a tool is what you make of it.

Disclaimer: Links to www.dx3.net are not an endorsement for the site or for directtv.

Bodily Autonomy and Personal Hygiene

Welcome to the April 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Kids and Personal Care

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared stories, tips, and struggles relating to their children’s personal care choices.

Innocent Child Protected By Arms

Photo by D. Sharon Pruitt

More than 30% of children in the United States will be sexually abused, few of which will be reported. In most of those cases, the perpetrator will not be a stranger. It will be someone you and your child know: a trusted babysitter or neighbor, a friend, a coach or teacher, your beloved Uncle Charlie, or another person whom you thought would never do that to your child.

Knowing the warning signs of sexual abuse is important. It allows you to quickly assess possible telling behaviors and take action to prevent possible further abuse. However, as parents, our goal is to prevent the abuse before it happens. There are many ways to do this. We can be honest with our kids about sex and bodies, answering questions as they come up in age appropriate ways. We can teach our children the proper terminology of their body parts and cultivate an atmophere in which our children feel comfortable talking with us about anything. We can talk to them about tricky people and how to get help. We can also empower them by honoring their personal bodily autonomy.

Individual should be allowed to have control over what happens to their bodies. In our family, we have made it clear to our children that it is not acceptable for anyone to touch them in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable or without permission. This includes well meaning relatives who expect children to give hugs and kisses on demand (check out the great discussion at Vibrant Wanderings about this). It includes other children (who pass on abuse in a large percentage of cases). It includes doctors and even my husband and myself. We believe that if there is a valid reason for touching a child, in the event that a doctor or parent must aid in personal or medical care, that reason should be able to be explained to the child and permission given.

To that end, our children own their own bodies. We don’t force diaper changes, teeth brushing, baths (although the only problem our children have ever had with baths or showers is getting out), nail cutting, hair brushing, or anything else. This doesn’t mean that we have the dirty children on the block , walking around with uncombed hair, dirty teeth and diapers sagging with excrement. It just means that we talk to our children about why we believe it is implortant to do various aspects of personal hygiene. We give choices to honor their individuality. We are open and direct. We model personal hygiene and let them do as much as they can on their own.

Forcing a child to do something to their body against their will does not only destroy the trust they have in us. It also destroys the trust they have in their own bodily autonomy.

Learn more about the sexual abuse of children and what you can do to prevent it at Stop It Now! and Safely Ever After

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon April 10 with all the carnival links.)

Growing Children

Photo by Rev Stan

When we grow plants, we give them what they need to grow and be successful: sunlight, water, supports, fertilizer, and other nutrients. If they are having trouble growing, we look to see what else they may need or what we need to change. We don’t blame them when they fail. Instead we look at what we need to change. Hurting the plant or putting it away and ignoring would be pointless. We look to what we can change to help the plant thrive. Our success as a gardener is dependent upon whether or not the plant is thriving.

Growing children is not so different. Punishing them doesn’t help them to be better. Hitting only hurts them and our relationship. Putting them away in time out doesn’t address the situation or help them to be better. Growing children have needs that must be met: sunlight, water, nutrients, support, and love. When their needs are met, they thrive and we get to watch them develop and unfurl into the wonderful people they are.
If there is a problem, rather than blaming the child and punishing him, we need to look at what needs are not being met and work with him to help him grow.

Making Healthy Choices

Photo by Denise Cross

With the increase in eating disorders and childhood obesity, healthy eating is a concern for many parents. However, if we truly want our children to make healthy choices in regards to eating, we must first take a step back and allow them to make choices.

Certainly we can, and should, share with our children the reasons behind our food purchases and decisions. Learning about nutrition and experiencing a wide range of foods helps our children make informed decisions regarding what they eat. Controlling everything about our children’s eating not only does not allow them to make choices, it also can set up some of the same eating disorders most of us would like our children to avoid.