Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Why I'm Willing to Listen When My Child Cries or Tantrums by Patty Wipfler

BY Rebecca IN , , No comments

Why I’m Willing to Listen When My Child Cries or Tantrums

By Patty Wipfler, Hand in Hand Parenting

Listen: Five Simple Tools to MeetYour Everyday Parenting Challenges.  Copyright © Hand in Hand Parenting, 2016

We humans are social animals.  We all need connection with others.  And sometimes, when we are overwhelmed with feelings, relating “properly” gets hard to do, especially for young children.  But opening your heart and your arms to the feelings that are overwhelming your child allows her to clear her mind, lets her to think and learn unhindered by emotional baggage, and builds an essential level of trust and closeness in the relationship between you.

I know from personal experience, and I bet that you do to, that the gift of caring attention has helped me let out feelings that were interfering with my ability to relate well to someone I cared about. Being thoughtfully listened to leaves me feeling connected and understood, especially after I have acted cranky or unkind. It’s a gift that strengthens relationships.

It saddens me to think about the many, many upset or hurt or frightened children who have been sent off to the solitary confinement of their rooms until they can behave “properly.”  I know parents love their children, and they probably didn’t have any other way modeled for them growing up, but what a lost opportunity to nurture and support a precious child.  That would be like my husband or my best friend telling me, “I have no intention of loving all of you.  I only want to see the parts that work for me. Go away until you can be easy for me to deal with.”

Here’s how this change of perspective worked for a mother in one of my classes,

Now, whenever there is a tantrum, I tell myself that, “I am thankful for the tantrum. Because my son/daughter is trying to communicate with me and I will be there for him/her.” I started really stopping and listening to their tantrums after the first class. However, the tantrums got worse! I wasn’t sure if this method really worked. But later on, I realized that it was because my son feels safer to express his feelings and tension to me. The second week, I did listened when they had a tantrum and we did Special Time. Amazingly, the occurrence of tantrums significantly decreased! Not only that but, both my husband and I enjoy the special time with our kids.

One day my son was upset that I didn’t give him something during breakfast. He started crying and screaming. I thought he was being unreasonable. In the past, I would say, “Eat your breakfast now and don’t be unreasonable.” But I stayed by him and listened to his cry. After about 10 minutes, he said, “I don’t want dad to go to work.” I am amazed that as I listened to his cry, his real issue surfaced – he misses his dad.

This new way of looking at tantrums has completely changed our parenting approach. Being able to connect to our children becomes the first priority in our relationship with them. It transformed us and helps us to be more confident parents.

Patty Wipfler and Tosha Schore are the co-authors of
Listen: Five Simple Tools to Meet YourEveryday Parenting Challenges.

To learn more about this unique approach to relationships in the family and get your own copy of Listen, click here.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Disconnected: The Trap of Conventional Parenting

BY Rebecca IN No comments

He was in the time-out chair again. He was in and out of it all day long as we struggled back and forth for what I assumed was control. After all, that’s what they tell us about kids, isn’t it? They’ll try to run the show. They’ll attempt to overthrow your authority and run you right over if you let them. Oh, and if you let them by with anything, even once, you’re done for. I just figured his “terrible two” stage had hit. I’d been warned about this stage, so I knew it was coming, and I was determined to get control before he got so out of hand, I’d never be able to manage him…

Let’s rewind for a moment to a day just a year prior. A day when we were playing peek-a-boo, and I laughed as he threw the cover off his head again and giggled uncontrollably. A day when we watched the silly tiger video for the third time and danced around the living room to the music. He used to fall asleep every night with his hand up my shirt sleeve. I was his security blanket. And he was mine, because nothing felt more secure than loving and being loved like this.

Let’s rewind a bit farther to the time I cheered him on as he took his first steps. Standing in front of him, arms outstretched, as he wobbled toward me, he was completely trusting that I would catch him if he fell. How about we go back to the moment they placed him in my arms? This little boy wrapped in a blue blanket, with his perfect little lips, was the miracle I’d wanted for so long. He is a gift. My little love.

Fast forward to the time-out scene again, now. He’s sitting there, not looking at me, tears streaming down his cheeks. I’m feeding his baby brother, tears streaming down mine, too. How did we get to this? Is this really going to be how our story goes? It had started out so beautifully, but this – this felt very wrong. This felt heartbreaking. We were disconnected. The trust was falling away.

If that sounds a bit dramatic for a time-out, understand that this is my super sensitive child. The one who cries at commercials about homeless animals. He’s the same one who wanted to open a waffle stand at the age of 8 so he could sponsor a child with Compassion International. The same sensitive soul that asks us to catch bugs that enter the house and put them outside unharmed. He feels deeply. It’s his gift, and it also became my gift because it led me to find a different way to parent him – a way that didn’t break his heart. Conventional discipline was too harsh for my super-feeling boy, and so I turned to positive parenting. I sought a way to teach and guide him that strengthened our bond rather than destroy it. I found a way to honor his tender spirit while also being the positive leader he needed.

We’re so accustomed to parenting being a struggle. We expect it. We deal with it. We fight back and forth for “control.” The warnings never end. “Just wait until she hits the terrible twos.” “Ha! Threes are way worse!” “That’s nothing. Wait until you have a teenager!” We are already poised and ready for battle by the second birthday. But we don’t have to be. We can say, “This is not how my story will go. I choose love.”

The trap of conventional parenting is that the techniques we use to force compliance are often the ones that cause the disconnection that leads to us needing to force compliance. Connection is the key because it’s where our genuine authority lies. When I shifted from authoritarian to light reflector, I was able to rebuild our connection and reclaim my joy in parenting.

Here are my tips for transitioning from conventional parenting to positive parenting:

1.       Reframe parenting goals and roles. When my goal shifted from controlling behavior to leading my child to his fullest potential, the way I approached everything changed. I took on the role of encourager, mentor, and guide, dropping the role of judge and jury of behavior. I also took a look at the messages I believed about children and parenting and challenged them with information on child development.

2.       Reframe discipline. Rather than seeing discipline as something I did to my child, I started viewing it as something I was trying to instill in him. I realized if I wanted him to learn how to manage frustration or to be responsible or to get along with his brother, he wasn’t going to learn it with his nose in a corner. I had to teach him how to do those things rather than just punish him for not knowing.

3.       Learn how to decode behavior. Understanding what is driving a child’s behavior is key in coaching her to improving it. We tend to want to punish immature or childish behavior that we find inconvenient, but is punishment necessary in those instances? While blatant disrespect for people or property should not be tolerated, most “misbehavior” needs worked through, not punished.

4.       Become a problem-solver. When transitioning away from punishments, it’s good to have a goal to stick to. Otherwise, you might lean toward permissiveness or fall back into punitive parenting. Discipline is not the same as punishment, nor is it the absence of punishment. Discipline is teaching a child how to have self-discipline, i.e., teaching him how to manage his own emotions and behaviors. For example, if a 6 year old girl gets angry with her sister and knocks over her block tower, the problem is that she doesn’t know how to appropriately manage her anger. What’s the solution? Six minutes in her room or time spent working on anger management tools and practice using them?

Find a supportive community, like my Facebook community, and stand strong in your decision to reconnect and reclaim joy!

Connection is why we're here; it is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives.” – Brene Brown


In my new book, Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide, I share my hard-won insights on giving up the conventional parenting paradigm to reconnect heart to heart with my children. I believe parenting is about so much more than discipline, so I discuss important topics less spoken about making this a unique book about building lasting family bonds and reclaiming joy in parenting. 

Sunday, July 31, 2016

15 Ways to Turn a Bad Day Around

BY Rebecca IN No comments


Are you having a rough day with the kids? If you feel like you’re in a funk and just can’t seem to shake the negative energy swirling in your home, try these quick positive parenting ideas and tips to turn your day around and your frowns upside down.

1. Listen to Music
Music is known to affect mood, so put on something upbeat and play it loud. Dance party! Or if you’re day is already too loud and chaotic, put in some earbuds (at least one!) and listen to something soothing.

2. Listen for Inspiration
While you have that one earbud in (because you have to have a free ear to listen to/for the kids), listen to a podcast. Try a parenting podcast for inspiration or a guided meditation or positivity podcast.

3. Dress yourself up.
My days home with the kids usually mean comfortable pajamas and no make-up, and that’s great sometimes. On other days, it makes me feel better to put on a real outfit, a bit of make-up, fix my hair, and throw on a few inspirational bracelets. If you don’t want to do a full-on dress-up, just wash your face, lather some delicious-smelling lotion on your body, and swipe just a bit of gloss on your lips.

4. Take a time-out.
Busy the kids with a coloring book, puzzle, or even a cartoon for 10-15 minutes and do something you enjoy. These little breaks can go a long way in keeping your tank from running on empty.

5. Write down 5 things you’re grateful for.
Say them out loud. Gratitude combats negativity and lifts your mood.

6. Get outside.
Being in nature is shown to boost your spirits, and you could use the vitamin D. If you can’t get out into nature, look at photos of nature. Research has shown that even a plant in your room can reduce stress and anxiety.

7. Tackle that thing you’re dreading doing early.
If you have a full inbox or a mountain of laundry, tackle it first thing in the morning so that it doesn’t loom over you all day.

8. Love your exercise.
We’re not all runners. I prefer kickboxing. You might prefer CrossFit or Zumba. When you love your exercise, you’re obviously more likely to do it regularly. Regular exercise boosts your overall mood and well-being. Even 10 minutes of moving your body has benefits.

9. Look for the miracles around you.
See the blessing in your chaos. Seek out the beauty in the ordinary. Consciously shift your perspective. Dr. Wayne Dyer said, “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

10. Change up the routine.
Do something different – something unexpected. Whether it’s a special waffles topped with ice cream for breakfast, a trip to a new park, or building a fort in the back yard, a changeup might be just the thing you need to shift your attitude.

11. Do something silly.
Laughter is the best medicine, right? Look up some kids’ jokes and read them aloud. Put on silly outfits and have a photo shoot. Have a goofy face contest.

12. Accept that you feel crummy today and nurture yourself.
We all have bad moods sometimes, and maybe your body is trying to tell you that you need to take it easy for a bit. Snuggle up under the covers and read books together or watch a movie in bed with the kids.

13. Seek out a friend.
Having someone to talk to and to share your heart can make a big difference. Rather than texting, try calling, or if you can meet up for coffee or a play date, all the better.

14. Be affectionate.
By giving and receiving affection, you get a boost of oxytocin which can make you feel more connected and energetic.

15. Engage your senses.
Take a few mindful moments to see, hear, feel, smell, and taste.

*This post was originally published at CreativeChild.com


The Big Life Journal: A New Kind of Journal for Your Kids

BY Rebecca IN , , No comments

The Big Life Journal: A New Kind of Journal for Your Kids
By Alexandra Eidens

Parents pour their best selves into their children. My husband and I will be no different with our soon to be born son, Michael. We’re due September 2nd!    

There is so much we want for him to be: resilient in the face of failure, have a love of learning, be always grateful and practice mindfulness to name a few. Children learn by example, so we intend, as all parents do, to be good role models. But what about when we aren’t around to lead by example?

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Enter the Big Life Journal. We created a different kind of journal for kids that blends the use of stories, poems, quotes, and engaging questions to instill big life concepts into kids so that they are memorable.

Why a journal?
I’m sure you’ve heard all the buzz about journaling. Scientific studies have proven the benefits for adults as well as kids that journaling provides. Unlike a traditional daily journal, our journal is designed to be done weekly for 26 weeks (half a year). Our own testing has shown that a journal meant to be done daily could be misconstrued as homework to a child (yikes!). So by interacting with the journal weekly, the child won’t feel overwhelmed with the content and there will be plenty of events in the child’s life to reflect on with the Journal Buddy.

Who is a Journal Buddy?
A Journal Buddy is a parent, guardian, or a grandparent whom the child is with at least weekly. This adult will help the child go through the weekly section and ask questions about their responses.  They also help the child understand the concepts by offering examples from their own lives that relate to the week’s concept.

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We think this is key! The sharing between the child and Journal Buddy helps form, or strengthen, the bond between the two. And when the child is faced with a situation away from their parents, these stories and Journal Buddy examples will help the child to make the right decision.

Next steps:
We have the concepts laid out and four weeks of the journal done, we now need to finish the remaining weeks and bring the journal to market. Enter Kickstarter and their global community of backers.
We launch our campaign August 1st and through the support of backers like you, we will be able to finish our work with the illustrators, graphic designers, and story writers to fully bring the journal to life.

Learn more!
If you’d like to learn more, go to our campaign page. You can check us out on Instagram or Twitter to see what we’re up to and to follow along on our journey. 

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Connecting with the Child In Front of You, Even When It’s Hard to Do

BY Rebecca IN , , , No comments

Connecting with the Child In Front of You, Even When It’s Hard to Do

Guest post by Casey O'Roarty of Joyful Courage

All they want is you.
I talk, read, write a lot about this.  Parenting all comes back to relationship. I know what you're thinking, "Yeah but, Casey, this doesn't solve our bedtime challenge, or the sibling conflict, or the back talk, or..." and I am going to say, YES IT DOES.

Human beings are hard wired for connection.  HARD WIRED PEOPLE!!  We are MADE to CONNECT.  And when we feel disconnected, something literally feels off, feels wrong, feels out-of-sorts...  And when humans feel out-of-sorts they find creative and unusual ways (read: annoying and inconvenient) of getting what they need.

I love this quote from Brene Brown about connection:

“I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.”

This connection piece is HUGE!  And sometimes, well meaning, loving parents forget about this and we find ourselves pulling out our hair, wondering why our children are making our lives so difficult.

Well my friends, I would like to invite you to take a deeper, more intentional look at your child(ren)'s sense of connection.

When you consider your current challenges with a child (toddlers to teens), I would like for you to consider taking a "balcony seat" and observe the situation with a bit of perspective. Imagine that you are looking down on the experience.

From this vantage point, ask yourself these questions:
  • Am I taking into consideration the experience/perspective of my child?
It's true, your child sees the world out of a different set of eyes, and they are having a different experience than you are having.  How can you honor/respect/acknowledge that in this moment?
  • Is my response bringing us closer together or farther apart?
As Jane Nelsen says, "Children do better when they feel better" - is the way you are responding/reacting to your child in this moment encouraging them to do better, or are they feeling more discouraged?
  • When was the last time I had one on one time with this child?
Special time is a powerful tool and has a surprisingly big effect on behavior.  When kids feel connected to us, they show up better - and WE SHOW UP BETTER FOR THEM!  Sometimes, a behavior that has been making you crazy for weeks comes to a halt when we focus on spending more individual time with our child.
  • Does this child feel felt/understood?
Whenever we respond with empathy, our children "feel felt" and they are much more likely to move towards cooperation and contribution.  Empathy shows up when we are in relationship with our kids...  It is a powerful tool for connecting and really being in the present moment.
  • How can I release the feeling of urgency so that I can connect with the human in front of me?
You know what I'm talking about right?  The urgency?  The physical sensation of anxiety/fear/overwhelm that so often shows up on the parenting journey?  It's not helpful.  In fact, I would argue that this sensation, and the emotions and thoughts that accompany it, are what railroad us the MOST on the path to being the parent we want to be.  Take a breath. Practice being mindful of the here and now, and be in the present moment.

These questions, and the practice of finding perspective during intense moments, are what help me on my quest for being the best I can be.

The practice is the key, right?

Because when we are worked up in the moment, we don’t remember to “take a balcony seat” or “respond with empathy.”  Instead, it is our emotional selves that show up, often creating disconnection.

This is why I am so excited to share a gift with you…

It’s called #JoyfulCourage10 – a FREE 10 day program that will guide and support you in your practice of choosing connection.

"The joyful courage 10 challenge was thought provoking and helpful. Each message was like receiving a warm hug of wisdom on how to not only be focused, but to really enjoy every part of parenting. " - Carly H, mama of two

#JoyfulCourage10 is 10 days of exploring and practicing the parent you want to be through daily support and inspiration. You will receive text messages to encourage and inspire you around the daily theme, as well as deeper conversations and live support in the Joyful Courage Facebook group. Best of all? YOU decide your level of engagement.

We start August 24th - I would love to have you join us!

Peace, love and parenting - Casey

Casey O'Roarty, Med, is a wife, mama, Positive Discipline Trainer and Coach, doing her best to walk her talk on the daily with her own two kids.  For more information on offers, her blog, or to check out the podcast, head over to www.joyfulcourage.com.