The reason I don’t care about the scribbles on my wall…(Thanks, Janet Lansbury!)

Don’t ever mistake any moment with your child for anything less than a learning experience…for both of you.

What do I mean?

Well, tonight Charlie said, “I draw A” during dinner and I looked up and she had used her fork to ‘draw’ on the walls (My fault, I was answering a text…during dinner). Of course, I was busy lecturing her on the appropriate use of the fork to look at the lovely lines she had scrawled on our white wall. But she insisted, “I draw A!” Exasperated. I took her fork away. I mean, she hasn’t even learned to identify ‘A’ from ‘B’, it’s also all ABC to her, even numbers. After a while, she acknowledged that “Forks are for eating, not drawing.” And but then she repeated again, “I draw A.” And I finally looked carefully at the wall… and lo and behold, there it was an upside down ‘A’! I felt terrible for not listening to her… and of course, I praised the upside down letter immediately upon realising, but then she repeated, “Forks are for eating…”  Sigh.

After the little stinker (Yep, I said it!)  went to bed, I came across the Janet Lansbury article below, and this quote resonated with me:

“…Kids draw to have experiences, tell stories and express ideas. Even when they scribble, they are often expressing energy, sound, or motion rather than just moving their arm along the page or making a primitive attempt at something more representative…”

I realised that Charlie had found a way to express that she had finally identified the letter ‘A’ on her own (and drew it!), but all I could do was focus on the negative—not to mention the fact that I completely underestimated her capacity to recognise the letter ‘A’ from ‘B’—rather than appreciate the learning that had occurred right in front of my eyes.

Next time, I’ll parent better, kid. I promise.

So, parents please read the article. It’s an eye-opener! And I implore you, observe and listen…your little one might just be expressing just how clever they are (even if it is upside down)!

“Be careful what you teach. It might interfere with what they are learning.” – Magda Gerber Parents have often asked me some variation of the question: “How do we strike the right balance between molding our children and trusting them to unfold?” In my view, “molding” should be reserved for ceramics projects and dental work. In…

via The Moments We Miss When We’re Busy Molding Our Kids — Janet Lansbury

Why an elastic band on my wrist is helping my child become more resilient!

 

Be honest.

 

Have you ever gone a single day without complaining?

 

Okay, I’ll own up. I’m constantly complaining. I know…we all complain. But there are days that I just feel myself being sucked into a rabbit hole—sometimes I just complain in support of friend’s complaints. Either way, it’s all negative energy that I do not need in my life. As Charlie’s role model, I would like to set a good example. I certainly would hate for ‘complaining’ to become one of her learned behaviours. Coincidentally, my (totally amazing) Mother-in-Law sent me this quote by Robert Fulghum, and boy was it a truth bomb! “Don’t worry that children don’t listen to you; worry that they are watching you.” This is now firmly in the memory bank to be accessed whenever I feel myself about to say or do something I would hate for Charlie to mimic.

 

Case in point:

 

“Why do I have to read about politics in my studies? It’s so stupid!” I groaned loudly slamming my textbook down. Then like a ninja Charlie appeared and parroted, “Sssstoopid.” (Shame, Shame!) On the one hand, I perfectly demonstrated the point of the quote above; on the other hand, I also displayed a negative attitude toward learning. Not to mention, a rather pessimistic outlook. What was the point? Complaining about the content didn’t change the fact I still had to read (and write) about it. Needless to say, if one complains endlessly, the action is then normalised and the child accepts this behaviour as an example to follow. Consequently, when the child begins to complain the adult will most likely respond negatively. What does this mean for their development? Well, the interactions they have with those around them will shape the way they view themselves. The child’s self-concept is developed through the relationships fostered during the early childhood years—modifying it as they gain approval or disapproval from those around them.

 

As a parent, one of my (million) parenting goals is to ensure that Charlie grows up being resilient. Resilience provides young children with the effective emotional tools to overcome challenges during the course of their life, which enables them to persevere despite any difficulties they may encounter (“Thanks, Captain Obvious!” Bear with me, there is a point.)

 

What is the easiest, most obvious way to help children develop resilience?

 

Let’s turn to Mahatma Gandhi, “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change.” What does that mean? That means you should always model the behaviour you wish your child to repeat. (Cue Epiphanius music.)

 

So, here comes the point…

 

I’m not saying that parents should never let their child see them complain (We’re only human, after all.). What I am saying is that parents should employ that frustration to problem-solve. In doing so, even if you’re feeling pretty crummy, you’re actively demonstrating resilience and modelling a positive disposition. So, in hindsight, I should have said, “I really dislike politics, but I understand that it’s necessary and reading this information will enable me to form an educated opinion.” (Hindsight is a wonderful thing, amirite?)

 

So, what does this have to do with me hurting myself intentionally with an elastic band?

 

My husband came home last week, he had been listening to one of his many podcasts and he suggested we try the 21-Day No-Complaint Challenge. Essentially, you have to wear an elastic band around your wrist and go without a single complaint for 21 days. Consecutively. It’s all about metacognition and conditioning yourself to recognise when you’re being negative. What happens if you forget and complain? Place the elastic band on your other wrist and start over. Sounds simple enough, right? Wrong. I started on Tuesday and failed three times before 10:30 am. Then I thought, No worries, Wednesday will be Day 1. Wrong again. So, here I am it’s 6:30 am on Thursday, 25th of May, 2017 and I pledge to go without complaining for 21 days…(I will not give up, even if it takes me months and months, because RESILIENCE!)

 

How about you, are you up for the challenge?

What do fairies have to do with children’s emotional development?

Every day I marvel at my little one. I watch in awe as she explores her surroundings completely, unapologetically curious yet so innocent. I watch nervously, yet excitedly, as she teeters over the edge of the slide unafraid of any consequences that may occur if she falls. It’s an emotional rollercoaster of fear and the desire to provide as many opportunities for exploration. And then there are days, you know the days… the days that just seem to go on forever because it’s the day she decides to explore tantrums, anger, and ultimately, rebellion. Even though her little mind can’t define exactly what this action is she knows she likes it and she likes the reaction it elicits from her parents. So, what happens now? Don’t pull your hair out just yet.

 

Trigger warning: I’m about to use that annoying “Oh, it’s just a phase…they’ll grow out of it soon” reason.

 

Okay, so while it is a phase (and yes, they will grow out of it…just hang in there!), it’s important to understand that the tantrums, anger, aggression, and all the other less than appealing behaviour is the result of cognitive dissonance. Yep. Your little one’s developments (the ones that make you marvel in awe) are also the cause of their little bouts of insanity. New discoveries are a constant stimulus of emotions and unless children have learned to identify these feelings, they will not be able to control them. And here, ladies and gentlemen is the quote that inspired this whole blog to further explain my point:

 

“Fairies have to be one thing or the other, because being so small they unfortunately have room for one feeling only at a time.”

 

Is this not a perfect description of that little human you’re raising? (Good ol’ Jimmy Barrie knew what he was talking about!). Essentially, it’s our jobs as parents to help children identify the emotions they feel and provide guidance to help them solve problems and overcome the many frustrations they will encounter before your first coffee throughout the day. I firmly believe that playtime is the best time to learn. And what better toy to effectively help children to identify their emotions than a Mood Swing Puppet? (Yeaahhhh, I’m still working on a child-friendly name).

 

Step 1: Take some fabric, an old T-shirt will do! Trace a human (ish?) figure onto your fabric and cut two identical pieces and sew the sides together leaving the bottom open (I’m going to be honest: this one was done by a tailor…Ssshh!). If your little one is old enough, they can also do this part. Meanwhile, you can finish that cold coffee you were meant to drink earlier.

 

Step 2: Create the emotions by cutting a sad mouth and a happy mouth from coloured felt material and stick them on both sides of the puppet. Alternatively, you can just use a sharpie and draw the mouths directly onto the puppet. You can also draw eyes, but I’ve chosen to use googly eyes for that extra wow! Also, it’s fun for the little on to stick them onto the puppet (hooray for independence!) Drawing furrowed brows on your sad person to make them grumpy, just sayin’.

 

Step 3: If you want lovely locks of hair, cut coloured yarn and paste them onto your puppet’s head (So presh!).

 

Next time your child demonstrates less than desirable behaviour just remind yourself: they are yet to develop self-regulation skills that provide them with the emotional tools to manage their emotions. (Fun fact: these are the same emotional tools that keep you from pulling your hair out!) So, go forth…talk, explore, sing songs and play games about feelings using your Mood-Swing Puppet! (Yep, couldn’t think of a better name…suggestions welcome!).