To Discipline, To Teach

NPN RTD featureThis post is written as part of the Round Table Discussions with Natural Parent Network volunteers. In an effort to discuss, support, and promote a kinder, more gentle world, we are taking an in depth view of various books. Our current book is No Drama Discipline by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D. and Tina Payne Bryson, Ph. D, authors of the book The Whole Brain Child. We hope you will join us with an open mind and a desire for change and growth.

Discipline. What does it mean? When speaking of one’s self, discipline means having control over one’s self in order to act in a way you feel is appropriate. Maybe that means not saying the first thing that pops into your mind to the rude lady at the supermarket or perhaps it means ignoring the siren song of that chocolately, ooey, gooey brownie down in the kitchen.

Photo by Sean DreilingerWhen it comes to talking about raising our children, discipline literally means to teach. When our kids screw up, and they will just as we have countless times, it is our job to help them learn to do better. When our children were babies and learning to crawl or walk, we didn’t punish them when they weren’t able to do so. We understood that they would get there when they were ready. We encouraged them. We helped pick them up when they fell down. We lent a hand when they were wobbly-kneed and trying to make it across the room. We didn’t yell or hit or threaten or lecture. We loved them and were there for them.

When our children are trying to learn something new, whether it is reading, multiplication, or a foreign language, we understand that it takes time to fully grasp the concepts. We encourage them. We answer questions. When they get something wrong, we help walk them through the problem so that they know how to do it the correct way. We don’t ground them or punish them in some other way because we don’t help people learn to do better by making them feel bad.

Fundamentally, we understand that these are the things we need to do in order to help them learn. This is what disciplining our children is all about. We want to be there for them to help them learn, because that is our ultimate goal. So when they make mistakes, we should ask ourselves what we want them to do differently next time. Then ask yourselves what you can do to help them to learn to do things better.

By helping them walk through the process, we help build those neural connections and help them build the skills needed to respond better next time. As they learn these skills, they will be better prepared to handle future situations, with or without an authority figure present.

Proactive Parenting: Preventing the Melt-Down

NPN RTD feature

This post is written as part of the Round Table Discussions with Natural Parent Network volunteers. In an effort to discuss, support, and promote a kinder, more gentle world, we are taking an in depth view of various books. Our current book is No Drama Discipline by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D. and Tina Payne Bryson, Ph. D, authors of the book The Whole Brain Child. We hope you will join us with an open mind and a desire for change and growth.

 

Photo by John Williams (FLCKR)

Photo by John Williams (FLCKR)

Think of some time when you were stressed out. Work was crazy, with deadlines looming over you. Your boss was on your back. The information or supplies you needed in order to finish your project weren’t available.  Everything was going wrong. You hadn’t been sleeping well, and your lunch was still sitting there because you were called in to a meeting rather than getting five minutes to eat. You were feeling frazzled. Then, when you got home, your safe spot in the sea of craziness, you realized that the house was a mess. After your crazy day, you couldn’t even relax but had to clean up after other people.

It doesn’t matter why or how your stress may have been caused in your personal scenario. When we are stressed out, for whatever reason, we aren’t functioning at our best. The same is true for our children.

In their book, No Drama Discipline, the authors share their key phrase HALT. When your child is feeling out of sorts, are they Hungry? Angry? Lonely? Tired? It is a good way to remember to stop yourself (HALT) and ask what is going on. Even if we don’t readily see it, there is always a reason for the your child is acting. By recognizing that, we can often avoid melt-downs before they begin.

Your Brain on Discipline at Natural Parents Network

NPN RTD featureThis post is written as part of the Round Table Discussions with Natural Parent Network volunteers. In an effort to discuss, support, and promote a kinder, more gentle world, we are taking an in depth view of various books. Our current book is No Drama Discipline by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D. and Tina Payne Bryson, Ph. D, authors of the book The Whole Brain Child. We hope you will join us with an open mind and a desire for change and growth.

This week at Natural Parents Network, our volunteers are discussing Your Brain on Discipline from the book No Drama Discipline by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D. and Tina Payne Bryson, Ph. D, authors of the book The Whole Brain Child. Hop on over and read about what they have to say about how your child’s brain is developing, the three brain C’s, how you can use your knowledge about how the brain works to appeal to your child when helping them through situations, and for some resources to help you tame your own reactions.

Are you tired of the drama going on in your family? Are you looking for more peaceful solutions? Pick up a copy of No Drama Discipline and join us over the next few months as we talk about what is going on in your child’s brain and how you can learn to connect with your child, help them to learn, and leave the drama behind.

Taking the Drama out of Discipline

NPN RTD featureThis post is written as part of the Round Table Discussions with Natural Parent Network volunteers. In an effort to discuss, support, and promote a kinder, more gentle world, we are taking an in depth view of various books. Our current book is No Drama Discipline by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D. and Tina Payne Bryson, Ph. D, authors of the book The Whole Brain Child. We hope you will join us with an open mind and a desire for change and growth.

 

Everything was going fairly well, until the incident. The incident may have been something big, or maybe it was just a tiny little thing. Maybe it wasn’t even the incident itself that was the problem but just merely a trigger. Whatever it was, it was the incident that caused the dam to burst. With an inhale the size of an arctic storm, that dam let loose a shrill cry that would rival any banshee. The screaming. The crying and tears. The flinging of limbs that would cause an earthquake that could register an 8.0 on the Richter scale. Did I mention the screaming? And it didn’t stop.

Flickr (Miss Yasmina)

Flickr (Miss Yasmina)

When that dam released, it just seemed to keep on coming. There was no going back once it broke. All of those pent up emotions and frustrations were making their way out, and there was no way to stop it. Once started, it just needed to rage forth until the energy behind it ran out and everyone around was spent, drenched in the words and actions, with the innocent bystanders standing by, mouths agape.The drama rivaled that of any Oscar winning motion picture.

Is it a scene you recognize? Now let me ask you something else, quietly. Was it your child, or was it you? Don’t answer out loud. I don’t need to know. Either way, it’s a horrible feeling, isn’t it? Someone, or in many cases multiple people, was out of control. The person felt so powerless in a situation and in that moment lacked the skills to cope with the situation, that the most basic of reactions overtook them. If it was you, you know it doesn’t feel good. It doesn’t feel good to your child, either.

And what is worse? It often causes chain reaction. The people around the person also feel helpless with the situation and lack the skills to cope. Maybe you are having a bad day. Maybe your child is, because children have bad days, too. But something happens and now you are faced with a choice. Do you fight back against the flood, causing more energy to build up resulting in more drama? Do you threaten, punish, or throw a tantrum of your own Or do you opt for the drama free approach? The one in which you realize that you can do something besides reptilian reacting?

Kids are learning. They are going to make mistakes. They are also still developing, which means some of those lessons aren’t going to stick for a while. You really don’t have any control over that. Welcome to parenting. It’s a roller coaster of a ride sometimes. But you aren’t just strapped in, helpless for the ride. You aren’t aren’t at the mercy of a miniature dictator. You get to make the choice of reacting and adding fuel to the fire, so to speak, or responding and changing the situation into a better direction.

No-drama discipline has two main goals: (1) working together with your child, and (2) helping your child develop the necessary skills and self-control to make better decisions and handle situations appropriately. You just have to ask yourself which road you are willing to take, and how you are going to get there. Working with our children isn’t always easy, especially in the early years when they are young and many of us are new to the concept. No one ever said parenting was easy. However, it is definitely worth every minute. As your family has more practice working together and living consensually, it will come easier and faster to everyone.

Parenting: What To Do or Not to Do

NPN RTD featureThis post is written as part of the Round Table Discussions with Natural Parent Network volunteers. In an effort to discuss, support, and promote a kinder, more gentle world, we are taking an in depth view of various books. Our current book is No Drama Discipline by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D. and Tina Payne Bryson, Ph. D, authors of the book The Whole Brain Child. We hope you will join us with an open mind and a desire for change and growth.

 

Articles and online threads regarding gentle parenting often find themselves subject to a frantic cry from parents who want to do better but don’t know how. “How?” they ask. “You tell us what not to do, but what is it that we should do?”  This is a valid question. If someone was trying to teach you to use a computer and only told you what not to do, it would be difficult for you to figure out what exactly it was . Imagine going to orientation for a new job and only being told what not to do. It would be frustrating at the very least. You might feel like screaming, or crying, or just flat out giving up.

Now imagine a similar scenario except as a child. In families that use punishments, you often find a similar situation, times one hundred. “Don’t hit your brother.” “Stop leaving you stuff all over the house?” While you may be frustrated at work, at the end of the day you get to go home and take a break. If the situation is really bad, you might request a change or even decide to leave and find a better job. But what if you didn’t have any recourse? A child doesn’t have those possibilities. Home is supposed to be their safe place. If all, or even a significant amount of, what they hear is what not to do, they aren’t learning what they should do.

Parents may say that punishments are set up to help children learn responsibility and to do better, but the truth is that punishment is set up to make child feel bad. Punishment, whether hitting (i.e.spanking), time-outs, or grounding, is the easy road for parents. They can feel like they did something while putting very little effort into the situation. Your child hits her brother? Punishment. He forgets to take the dog out? Punishment. She got home later than the agreed upon time, left his homework at home, didn’t take the trash out, questioned an adult, wanted a different pair of pants than you wanted to buy, chose his words poorly, and on and on. Frankly, when you are a child living in such a world, everything you do is subject to judgment and punishment. And you thought the work scenario was bad.

Kids are going to screw up. We, adults, aren’t perfect, either. We screw up quite a bit. Kids haven’t even had the same opportunities we have in order to learn how they should be handling all of these situations. And yet, many adults, parents included, expect kids to be able to handle everything perfectly. It is bad news for the kids who don’t have everything figured out yet. In this punishment mindset, we can just hope they figure it out for next time.

Right about now, you may be thinking to yourself that I still haven’t told you what to do, You would be right, and there is a reason for that. Every situation is different. Every person is different. While punishment takes a one-size-fits-all attitude, life isn’t like that, though. I can’t tell you what you should do in any given situation, because I am not there. I am not you. I don’t know your child or the background. There isn’t one thing you should do.

So, how do you know what to do then? You have to think about it. Sometimes you have to put yourself in your child’s place. Ask yourself why they did what they did (there is always, always a reason behind why a person does something, even if they, themselves, don’t know it). Talk with your children. Listen to them. Work with them. Connect with them. Help them to figure out a better way to do whatever it is. I won’t lie. It is not always easy, especially when you are first starting out and especially if you grew up with the authoritarian mindset. But you know what? No one ever said parenting was easy. But it is definitely worth it.

Someone’s Hero

Welcome to the March 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Everyday Superheroes

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have talked about the remarkable people and characteristics that have touched their lives. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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My “S” emblazoned T-shirt is covered in spit-up. The tail of my sling, aka cape, has dirty little handprints, and we won’t hazard a guess as to what exactly those crunchy items that resemble boogers are. The Mom-mobile (van) looks more like it belongs to a suburbanite, with ice skates, cloth grocery bags, and extra towels in the back. I could use some super speed to take care of everything on my to-do list which seems to grow as though it was in a vortex.

My super powers are limited to making breastmilk (and humans) and throwing together edibles from whatever is on hand, along with some mad organizational/planning skills and the ability to multi-task like no one’s business. I can nurse a baby, answer the questions of my children, churn out a bit of work, and keep the household from tumbling into a chasm all at the same time.

Overall, I don’t feel much like a hero. Sometimes I become frustrated and flustered. I make mistakes. Really, sometimes I just want to quit pretending I’m a grown up. I want to cry. I want to step back and let someone else deal with the bills, the laundry, the groceries, and dealing with all of the problems that moms (and dads) deal with.

And then someone puts their arms around my neck and gives me a slobbery kiss. I watch one of my children make a breakthrough in something they were struggling with. I see them mimic my behavior, whether good or whether making something right. They tell me they love me.

It challenges me to find myself, not only for me but for them, and to work toward being a better person every day because they deserve that. So I put on my tights and my cape. I look in their eyes, and I step up because I am someone’s hero.

 

photo credit: paurian via photopin cc

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: 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 updated by afternoon March 11 with all the carnival links.)

  • I Am A Super Hero — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares how she learned the hard way exactly what it means to be a real super hero and not a burned out shell of a human simply pretending to be one.
  • Quiet Heroics — Heroism doesn’t have to be big and bold. Read how Jorje of Momma Jorje is a quiet hero…and how you probably are, too.
  • Not a Bang, but a Whisper {Carnival of Natural Parenting} — Meegs at A New Day talks about the different types of “superheroes,” ones that come in with a bang and ones that come in with a whisper.
  • Silent courage of motherhood in rural Cambodia — Nathalie at Kampuchea Crossings marvels at how rural Khmer women defy the odds in childbirth.
  • Super PappyMother Goutte‘s little boy met a superhero in checked slippers and Volkswagen Polo, his grand dad: Super Pappy!
  • An Open Letter to Batman — Kati at The Best Things challenges Batman to hold up his end of the deal, in the name of social justice, civic duty, and a little boy named Babe-O!
  • My Village — Kellie at Our Mindful Life reflects on the people who helped her to become her best self.
  • 5 Lessons My Kids Taught Me — Children are amazing teachers, when we only stop to listen. They remind us to choose happiness, to delight in the small things, to let go and forgive. There is so much we can learn from our children. Justine at The Lone Home Ranger shares a few of the lessons she’s learned.
  • Could you use some superpowers? — Tat at Mum in search shares a fun activity to help you connect with your own superpowers.
  • Like Fire Engines — Tam at tinsenpup tells the story of the day she saw a surprising superhero lurking in the guise of her not entirely mild-mannered four-year-old daughter.
  • Everyday Superheroes — Erica at ChildOrganics shares her list of Walker Warburg Syndrome Superheroes that have touched her life forever.
  • My Superhero of the Week: Nancy GallagherTribal Mama muses about the transcendent things her superhero mom has done.
  • My choice in natural birth does not make me a super hero — Bianca, The Pierogie Mama, discusses her thoughts on her experience with the perception of natural birth and putting those mamas on a different level. Does giving birth naturally give cause for an extra pat on the back? No! All mamas, no matter how they birth, are superheroes.
  • Someone’s Hero — Sometimes being a parent means pretending to be a grown-up, but it always means you are someone’s hero. Read Mandy’s lament at Living Peacefully with Children.
  • Growing into a Super Hero — Casey at Joyful Courage shares how owning our behavior and choosing to be a better parent, a better person, is an act of courage.
  • A Math Superhero — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling writes that her 7-year-old daughter’s superhero is an MIT-trained mathematician.
  • It Starts With Truffula Trees And Tulips — Luschka of Diary of a First Child takes a hard look at the realities of her relationship with her mother, and through this post goes on a journey of discovery that ends in a surprise realisation for her.
  • We Don’t Need an Excuse — Maria Kang (aka “Hot Mom”) asks women #WhatsYourExcuse for not being in shape? Dionna at Code Name: Mama asks Hot Mom what her excuse is for not devoting her life to charity work, or fostering dozens of stray dogs each year, or advocating for the needs of others. Better yet, Code Name: Mama says, how about we realize that every woman has her own priorities. Focus on your own, and stop judging others for theirs.
  • It’s not heroic when you’re living it — Lauren at Hobo Mama knows from the inside that homeschooling does not take a hero, and that much of what we choose as parents is simply what works best for us.
  • Superheroes, princesses and preschoolers — Garry at Postilius discusses why his preschool-age son is not ready for comic book superheroes.
  • The Loving Parents of Children with Special Needs – Everyday Superheroes — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares posts with resources for parents of children with special needs along with posts to help others know how to support parents of children with special needs.
  • Everyday Empathy — Mommy Giraffe of Little Green Giraffe shares why her secret superpower is everyday empathy.
  • The Simplicity of Being a Superhero — Ana at Panda & Ananaso explains what superheroes mean to her wise three-year-old.
  • My Father, The Hero — Fathers are pretty amazing; find out why Christine at The Erudite Mom thinks hers is the bees knees.

Helping Kids Simplify

Welcome to the July edition of the Simply Living Blog Carnival – With Kids cohosted by Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children, Laura at Authentic Parenting, Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy, and Joella at Fine and Fair. This month, we write about keeping things simple with our kids. Please check out the links to posts by our other participants at the end of this post.

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I considered writing about many different aspects for this post, but one of the main questions I hear from parents is about how to get kids to let go of things. This isn’t what they really want to know, but feeling overwhelmed, this is what comes out. What they really want to know is how to raise kids who want to live a more simplified life free from a need to hoard material objects. They want to know how to help their kids from drowning in stuff. To some extent, they want to know how to help their children, and their families, to not turn to items and let stuff rule their lives.

Is it even possible to raise children who are not obsessed with stuff in a society which revolves around the acquisition of the latest and greatest new toy, whether that is a talking doll or a smartphone? Yes. The world may have changed, but children haven’t. Children are born full of love and acceptance, and learning from the most important people in their lives – you! The most important way to help your children keep things simple is to be there along the way.

  • Embrace simplicity. So many parents complain about how their kids keep everything under the sun, but a lot of those same parents are modelling just that. Learn how to hang onto what is important and let go of what isn’t. Model it. Talk about it. And if you are one of those minimalist parents who is feeling overwhelmed by your child’s desire for stuff, remember, he is a child. You have a had a long time to reach the place you are. He is just learning and figuring things out. Look to help and guide rather than force. And then, to some extent, you may just have to let go.
  • Listen. It isn’t bad to want things. It’s okay for your children to look at an item and think it is really cool or mention how they would like to have it. In fact, it is healthy to feel that you are worth something. Talk to a child who thinks she doesn’t deserve anything because her life holds no value, and you will see exactly what I mean. That doesn’t mean you need to buy everything your child wants, but you can acknowledge her feelings. An item may really be cool, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it fits within your budget, your home, or with your goals. You can still wish, and if something is really important to your child, it will probably come up multiple times. You might even suggest that she add it to her wishlist or that she save up for it.
  • Explain. We know the reasons why we don’t purchase items or even bring home a bunch of free items, but does your child? If you don’t  talk about your reasoning, don’ t assume he understands. Listening to others’ thought processes can help us develop our own reasoning skills. The next time you are faced with a potential purchase, getting rid of items, or some other decision about stuff, say your reasons out loud.
  • Be there. To this day, my children do much better at tasks such as cleaning out their special shelves in their closet if I am there. My involvement may only be holding items up while they make decisions, but having me there seems to help. They feel less overwhelmed about going through items, and sometimes they need to not touch the items. A friend, when listening to me explain this, pointed out an article which she read that claimed that it was easier for people to get rid of things if they didn’t touch them. Once the individuals touched the items, there were more likely to become sentimental and keep the items in question. From my experience, that seems to be true.
  • Fit the space. We have a certain amount of space in our home, and if our stuff is overflowing, we know that it is time to declutter. When we rotate toys, we gather up all of the toys together and my children go through them, deciding what they really want out to play with for now, what they want to pack away for the time being, and what they are willing to let go of, whether it is to the garbage bin or to someone else who can use the item.
  • Keep it manageable. While we have always been good about keeping toys manageable, I admit that I didn’t always do as good of a job with the art supplies. I wanted the kids to have access to everything so as not to stunt their creativity. By having to much stuff out, I was stunting their artistic inclinations. I have since recognized what I was doing and now we have a pretty good system set up. We have staple items available at all times, with some items up higher where older kids can access them but younger kids need help. Other items are brought out and rotated so they are new and exciting, inspiring new creativity, and others are up out of reach but visible and can be brought out at any time by request.
  • Don’t bring it in. As much as parents complain about how much stuff their kids have, if your children are young, it didn’t just magically appear. Most likely, some adult made that purchase. If this is the case, there is a simple solution: STOP! Don’t do it. When well-meaning adults ask for gift suggestions, give other ideas. Memberships make great gifts, as do magazine subscriptions, time with the said adults, consumable products such as art supplies, or quality books for your home library (still stuff….but hey, I’m a bibliophile).
  • Give them your presence. You have probably heard the saying that children want your presence and not your presents. It’s true. You are the most important people to your kids. Be there for them to help navigate life. Explain and model. Teach by example, and talk about your values.
  • Let go. At the end of the day, your child is her own person. While minimalism may be your ideal, you can’t force that on someone else. Give your child a space that is hers and let her keep her stuff there. Don’t throw away someone else’s stuff. That is bound to backfire on you with your child trying to keep control by keeping even more items. Recognize that different people do things differently and work together to meet everyone’s needs. Remember, it is not about stuff.

 

photo credit: Shagamaroo via photopin cc

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Thank you for visiting the Simply Living Blog Carnival cohosted by Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children, Laura at Authentic Parenting, Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy, and Joella at Fine and Fair. Read about how others are incorporating simple living and parenthood. We hope you will join us next month when we discuss celebrations!