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    National Spank Out Day - Alternatives to Spanking





    Today is National Spank Out Day!

     

    What does that mean? It's a day devoted to NOT using physical punishment with your kids. Now, not spanking doesn't mean not disciplining. But what can you do instead of spanking, especially if you have spanked in the past? Some ideas on how to discipline gently:

     

    1) Breathe, stop a moment, focus on yourself before responding to your child. Think about the message you're about to give. Will it help your child? Will it come out in a way you'll feel good about later? Say what you want to say in a way that YOU would want to hear it.

    2) Give a hug or a gentle touch; or just get down on the floor with your child - being at the same level can be calming & give you perspective.  We adults can look really big - and scary - when we're standing up.

    3) Acknowledge big feelings: "I understand you are VERY frustrated right now". And your own, too: "I'm feeling angry too". Empathize with the feelings, and demonstrate how to move through them gently, without force. You are your child's first and best teacher. How would you WANT your child to act when they are angry? Act that way.

    4) Offer a choice, instead of an ultimatum: "Do you want to put your toys away yourself, or would you like some help?" Choice is empowering and motivating.

    5) Distract & redirect. Get everyone out the door for a walk, take a bath, make cookies. You don't need to be in "behavior correction" mode all the time. Give yourself and your child a break.  When you're back to feeling good, being connected, then you can talk about the behavior that happened earlier in the day.

    6) Fake it. Gentle discipline and mindful parenting in the face of a temper tantrum can be really REALLY hard; but it's very worthwhile. But, sometimes you have to fake it to make it. Pretend the "best parent in the world" is watching; what would you like them to see? Do that. The way you feel afterwards - knowing you were just a superhero in the face of a really difficult situation - will give you the power to do it again next time, without having to pretend.

    7) Forgive. Be gentle with yourself, as you'd like to be with your child. You won't always "get it right"; but you're trying - and your child will see that. Forgive yourself, and move on. Next time, you'll do better.

     

    I hope you'll use today to try an alternative to spanking. Keep in mind that whatever lesson you want to teach can be more effectively communicated when you are BOTH calm & connected. Cool off, calm down - you'll be more creative and your child will be more responsive.  Connection is what good relationships is all about. When you connect with your child, helping correct behaviors will be so much easier.  You can do this!

     

    Peace to you.

     

    WPPW (Week 4): Trust





    There were many inspiring prompts this week, but life got in the way of writing a bit, as life is wont to do. I felt the strongest spark from "Why: What big questions from your children have you been terrified and privileged to answer?" as I find so many of the questions my children ask to be formidable to answer - less in the mechanics of answering and more so in the self-examination they command. And so, this week's Parenting Poetry Workshop entry:

    Weekly Parenting Poetry Workshop

    Teaching

     

    Knowing more than we see

    You sense before you have words to tell us

    Feelings

    Intentions

    I struggle to define death yet you already understand

    In the young speech you have, explaining more than I've described

    I am humbled, struck  by your awareness

    Otherworldly

     

    Makes me wonder how much I am teaching you

    When really - should you be teaching me?

     

    Posted: Apr 27 2013, 12:11 by kelly | Comments (5) RSS comment feed |
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    Sit With Your Anger





    I read a book with my son last night, Anh's Anger (written by Gail Silver; illustrated by Christiane Kromer), that was absolutely wonderful.  It's about a young boy, Anh, who is stacking blocks when his grandfather tells him it's time for dinner. As many young boys who are in the middle of playing, he didn't want to stop playing. He gets very angry, and knocks down his tower, which makes him even more angry (anyone ever experience this with young boys? Yes, I thought so) . His grandfather acknowledges that he's upset, then gently requests that he sit with his anger, then rejoin him when he's calm. While on his own, Anh meets his anger in the form of a big red snaggle-toothed monster. They bang around a bit, vocalize, dance, and then sit and breathe. And as they sit and breathe, anger gets smaller, and Anh gets calmer. They talk about who anger is and why he's there, and how they can help each other. And once Anh is calm, he and his grandfather reconcile, and life continues on.

     

    Sit with your anger.

     

    What amazingly simple, perfect advice. Something that I don't typically do; I'd venture that's true MOST people. I'd say more often than not, we act on our anger right away - which can result in doing or saying things we wouldn't have otherwise done or said, and consequently, feeling badly afterwards. When you can acknowledge your anger, work with it creatively, and try to understand it, it's far less scary. You can become an observer, analyzing, considering, and then releasing.


    (image credit: amazon.com)

     

    So what does sit with your anger mean to a child?

     

    In our post-reading conversation, my nearly 6 year old was able to recognize Anh's monster was not a "real" thing, but rather a representation of the feelings we get when we are angry. He understood the message was that it's okay to FEEL angry, but that you shouldn't act out in anger towards someone or something else - even when you felt like it. He said that it was okay to express your anger in ways that didn't hurt anyone (even yourself) until you were calm enough to think a bit about it; in other words, to have a conversation with your monster. And then, once you've had the conversation, to breathe in, breathe out, calm, and come back to being yourself. He really enjoyed the book as we were going through it, and it inspired some fantastic post-read discussion as well.

    (image credit: gailsilverbooks.com)

     

    The illustrations are bright & simple - charcoal, paint, and collage elements. At ~30 pages (of words & illustrations), I found it just the right length for a bedtime story (and plenty of conversation afterwards).

     

    We all struggle at times with our anger - and our children, who are so new in this world, can often find anger frightening and overwhelming. Heck, so can adults. This book is the perfect springboard for talking with your kids about creative expression of anger - without shame, without punishment - you just might find yourself examining your own ways of dealing with anger. And that can only be a good thing for everyone.

     

    Peace to you.

     

    Earth Day: Outside-In





    I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in. 

    - John Muir, Preservationist (1838-1914)

     

    For indeed, when we walk into the forest, we open our hearts to nature, the rhythm of the earth. No longer outside observers of landscape - sheltered behind our screens, houses, cars, windows - but immersed IN it. Walking delicately on spongy earth, breathing heady aromas of pine needles, leaves, rich humus; we realize we are from the earth, of the earth. We all ARE the earth, the sky, the universe - all of us.

     

    Happy Earth Day, my friends.

     

     

    Posted: Apr 22 2013, 12:26 by kelly | Comments (1) RSS comment feed |
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    WPPW (Week 3): Hope





    This week's poetry theme was Hope. As in: what you hope for as your child grows; what you hope for yourself as a parent. I found this week particularly challenging; though… I'm not certain whether it stemmed more from the theme or from the newness of the poetry medium. It's a struggle to go from, say, the gentle stream of writing dialog, to the push-pull abruptness of poetry. Poems seem to come tearing out; then screech to a sudden stop; whereas writing is more of a tidal flow. An oil painting vs. a charcoal gesture sketch. Facebook vs. Twitter. Oh, I didn't just make that comparison. Strike that. I hope in spite of poor analogies, I hope you still enjoy. ;)


    This poem was written as part of Lauren Wayne's Weekly Parenting Poetry Workshop for the month of April.
    My entry from last week. And the week before.
    Please join in!

    Weekly Parenting Poetry Workshop

     

    Hope


    What I hope for you:

    Freedom

    Space to breathe, create - yourself

    Unbound by guilt, expectations

    Defined Only

    By your own crafted moments and experiences

    Confidence

     

    And for myself also:

    Freedom

    From the rough edges of my own childhood

    Release from regret and

    Fears of mistakes not yet realized

    Fortitude