Monthly Archives: January 2015

Day Two: Share One Thing that Has Helped You Become a More Gentle Parent

My Share:
For me, one of the things that has made the most impact on my ability to be a more gentle parent is this: I made the choice to try and model a different way of dealing with mistakes. What would normally happen when I made a mistake is I would become very frustrated and snappish and singleminded about fixing my mistake. I would get annoyed at my pets, at my kids, anyone who was near me when the mistake was made. This has been my response since I was a child.

Now, when I make a mistake I try to focus on teaching my children about fixing mistakes. I will tell them that I have made a mistake. I have dropped something. I have made a mess. I have done something wrong on the project that I’m working on. I will tell them that I am frustrated. I will talk them through what I did, what I should have done, what the cleanup will be, and then I will follow through by taking care of the mistake that I have made.

By viewing it as a teaching experience for them and consciously and deliberately slowing down and involving them, I am modeling behaviors that will help them a lot as they get older.  As an added bonus, when I make mistakes I’m finding that I am forgiving myself a lot faster. I’m not feeling like snapping at everyone. And I’m slowing down to think about what will actually help the situation instead of getting upset with the situation and myself and sometimes making everything worse instead of better.

Your turn to share!
In celebration of the Nurshable Facebook page hitting 10K likes, we’re doing five days of sharing stories about gentle parenting, and a give-away at the end of each day.

I’ve shared my story above, you can share your story in the comments below and I’ll use to pick a random comment and the commenter will receive one of each of the things that I sell in the Nurshable store. (One copy of Keenie + Zeebie, One copy of Mac & Cheese Please, and two Wait It Out bracelets.) You can visit the Nurshable store by clicking here.


Day One: Share a Time When Gentle Parenting Helped You and Your Child Get Through a Difficult Situation

My share:
He was four and a half and having a rough week. He asked for a specific lunch and I agreed we could go to the grocery store together to get the lunch that we both wanted. When we got there it was cold and raining and I rushed in without listening to something that he was saying. He wanted to ride in the car cart and I had grabbed the regular cart that was closest to the door.

He melted down in frustration.

I wanted to turn around and just go home. Instead I walked with him over to the side of the store. I got down to his level. I listened to what he was trying to tell me. I waited for him to be done talking. I apologized for not listening, and I asked him if he could forgive me. He said he forgave me. I explained that it was super-cold and rainy outside and that the car carts were parked where all the rain was coming down so they were all wet.

He listened. And he understood. We went around the store getting the rest of the things that we had come for instead of immediately leaving the way I thought we might have to. He just needed me to slow down, listen, and explain.

Your turn to share!
In celebration of the Nurshable Facebook page hitting 10K likes, we’re doing five days of sharing stories about gentle parenting, and a give-away at the end of each day.

I’ve shared my story above, you can share your story in the comments below and I’ll use to pick a random comment and the commenter will receive one of each of the things that I sell in the Nurshable store. (One copy of Keenie + Zeebie, One copy of Mac & Cheese Please, and two Wait It Out bracelets.) You can visit the Nurshable store by clicking here.



The Pace of My Life Had Changed

JustAFewShortMomentsWith my first child it was all so rushed together. It felt like infancy would never end. Wakeups and diaper changes and naps and pajamas covered in spitup. Both his pajamas and mine. I was waiting for sleep and wondering if he would still be nursing when he left for college. The days seem strangely long because I was suddenly living at a infant’s life-pace after so many years of living at the speed of an adult. I didn’t have the space to breathe, even though each hour felt like a day and each day felt like a week all on its own. Back to back growth spurts. Back to back diapers. Back to back milestones. Back to back wakeups. Trying to learn why my child was crying, what to do about it, and then as soon as I learned it, it changed. I wanted time to slow down to give me the space to respond, but I wanted time to speed back up, too. Speed back up to naptime. Speed back up to bedtime. Speed back up to sometime when I could breathe for a few minutes before it all started all over again.

The pace of my life had changed.

And then suddenly it changed again.

He was three. Within the span of a week or two he was all done with diapers, all done with nursing, all done with waking up at night, all done with sleeping in my bed.

It feels so endless when they are small. But then you realize, looking back, that it was just two years. Just three years. Just however long it was. It’s flabbergasting because you felt like you were moving through a decade but then you look back and it feels like a few short days. Just a few short days that you want back for a moment more.


Why Are You So Clingy When You’re Sick?

sickchildWhy are you so clingy when you are ill?
Why wouldn’t you be?
It’s a wise thing for a little person.
Your instincts are to cling close to the person that will take care of you.
Your instincts are to cling close to the person that will clean you up and help you take little sips of water.
That will keep you safe when you are too sick to keep yourself safe.
Your instincts know nothing of all the amenities of modern-day life.
Right now those instincts of yours speak louder than all the parts of your mind that do know those things.
They tell you that the safest place is here.
In my arms.
Where I can care for you.
Of course you’re clingy.
Your tiny body contains much wisdom about your needs.
So cling close, little one, you are tiny still, but together we will be big.


Is It Spoiling?

20140630_063009Is it spoiling?

Is it spoiling when a small child whines because his teeth hurt and he hasn’t developed the coping skills or perspective yet to know that it is a small and manageable pain? And you hug him close and show him that you will always be there for him if he is hurting?

Is it the same as running to a child that has bumped his head and trying to smother them with comfort before they’ve even figured out if it hurts or not, just because you’re afraid that they will ever feel pain and you can’t deal with the fear of what it is that they’re feeling?

Is it really the same as giving a child a toy that you don’t want to buy and don’t need to buy because you’ve said no and he’s pitched a fit that you don’t want to deal with?

Is that the same as telling that disappointed child that you understand how upset they are, but that buying everything all the time is not healthy or necessary and that you won’t be buying that toy today? But that you will be there for them while they are disappointed, just like you will be there for them if they don’t get the job that they applied for or they don’t get into the college that they really wanted to go to?

Little kids get upset by little things because they are little. Because their brains haven’t fully developed yet and because their lives haven’t given them the perspective to know the difference between what is little and what is big. They learn that as they grow. They learn that from your responses. You can honor the fact that something is BIG BIG BIG to your child while still showing through your calmness that it’s not the end of the world. And you can show them how to deal with those disappointments by showing them how you deal with disappointments and little ouches in your own life.

You show them tough love by dealing with YOUR life well. Not by diminishing the experiences of theirs. Be tough when you drop something heavy on your toe and breathe while the pain passes instead of cursing. Be calm when you are disappointed. Be as rock solid as you can be, and they will grow to emulate that as long as you show them how. That’s tough love. By being tough while understanding that toughness is something that they grow into, and by showing them along the way what they can do to become like you.

Otherwise “tough love” is just being mean to someone little because they aren’t as tough as you’ve grown to be.

Random Parenting Points and the Irrelevant Judgement of Others

RandomParentingPointsOn Tuesday we went to the library and Target. We were returning books and picking up some new shoes for Keenie whose feet undergo pretty regular growth spurts. The kids were pretty severely off-routine because I had been sick over the weekend. I was off-routine too. The kiddos tend to have a hard time after they spend time with people other than me because they tend to be so distracted by the novelty of all of the different-than-routine activities and foods that they get to have that they build up their stress levels instead of dealing with each little thing as it comes.

When it was time to leave the library Alexander did not want to go. He sat down with his back against the wall and refused to budge. I was tired and rushing so I picked him up and carried him out. A random stranger caught up with me to award me +10 Random Parenting points in the form of an enthusiastic compliment and to tell me “Right on! Teach him not to throw tantrums in public.” I was disconnected from my four year old at that moment. I was not trying to connect. I was just using my bigness to pick up his smallness and to move him against his will. He was not screaming. He was not behaving poorly. He was just expressing strong feelings about being rushed around.

But here we were with a stranger practically high fiving me for my moment of impatience even as I was telling myself “I am going to regret this.” Yeah, it feels nice to be told “good job”. But… I wasn’t doing a good job. I was blundering through the prickly and bee-infested undergrowth on the side of the parenting path that I am trying to follow. I had just been awarded +10 Random Parenting Points for a moment that I was not particularly proud of. And it struck me how irrelevant it was.

At Target Keenie got upset because she dropped her boot. She did not use her words the way she normally would. She immediately launched into distraught and frantic screaming. I pulled over to the side of the aisle, squatted down and responded with empathy. She managed to point to her boot, and I gave her the boot back and I squeaked out some words that she can try to use to alert me to the plight of a fallen boot. “Mommy! Mommy! Oh no! My boot, it fell!” She hiccuped down her sobs and smiled and echoed “It fell!”

As luck would have it, we were being watched again. This time I was very comfortable with my response, very understanding of Keenie’s upset and why it was happening. And I was very on-target with parenting in a way that meets my larger parenting goals. I was penalized -10 Random Parenting Points by a lady whose eyes could not possibly roll in a more obvious fashion.

It struck me exactly how nonsensical these Random Parenting Points are. The judgement simply doesn’t matter. I’m not completing some weird gymnastics routine in the Parenting Olympics where after it’s all done I stand in front of the judges anxiously awaiting the scores that pop up on the board and hoping that I’ll win the Random Parenting Points Olympics.

I have parenting goals. Parenting philosophies. Parenting beliefs. My Parenting Score is based on how I feel I am handling situations, not based on the thousands of random strangers whose paths may cross mine. Not based on how my parents or in-laws feel I should parent. Not based on my best friend’s sister’s cousin. Not based on some random dude that thinks being disconnected is an excellent parenting strategy. (Sorry, random dude. I appreciated the compliment, I truly did. You were super-nice. I just disagreed with the scoring.)  And certainly  not based on some lady whose eyeballs possess the ability to turn in complete circles in her eye sockets.

Parenting doesn’t have a standardized scoring system, just like the world doesn’t have a standardized currency. Random Parenting Points have an exchange rate between parenting philosophies. And the exchange rate across incompatible ideas is zero.

So next time you are judged positively or negatively ask yourself what the judgement really means in terms of your parenting philosophies. If someone is trying to grade you based on ideas that you don’t subscribe to? The exchange rate knocks the value of their judgement down to Zero Random Parenting Points. Carry on as you feel is right.


Do As I Say! Or Else.

DoAsIDoDear Kids,

There are phrases that we hear that stick with us in one way or another.

“Do as I say! Or else”.

It means that there will be consequences, usually. That the child will face punishment unless they follow directions. But then there’s also the saying “Do as I say, not as I do.” Adults often see themselves as people to instruct, not to model. But when an adult does that, they ARE modeling. They are modeling how to be impatient. They are modeling how to bark orders. They are modeling how to /really/ live behind the words that they try to get a child to follow. And when I say “they”.. In all honesty, I mean me, too.

But I am trying to change. Just as I tell you, “learning does not look like doing it perfect the first time you try”. I make mistakes and I keep trying. You will make mistakes, and you will keep trying.

As I grow as a parent I am starting to see things very differently from how I used to see them. As I kid I saw adults telling kids what to do, even if they never did it themselves. So I thought that was the privilege of a grownup. I think differently now. “Do as I say” has come to mean to me that *I*  must do as I say. *I* must model what it is that I am trying to teach you. I cannot tell you “say please!” when I never say it. I cannot tell you “Say good morning” to a person that I never say good morning to. I cannot tell you to use your words when I fail to use mine. I cannot tell you “I cannot read your mind. You need to work with me so that I will understand.” If I do not work with you when your understanding falls short of what I imagine it should be. I cannot ask you to help me clean while refusing to ever help you clean. I am ultimately what you copy as you learn how to be.

So now I ask myself, and I ask others in your lives this:

“Did he invent that behavior or is he copying something that he has seen?”
“Do you behave the way that you are asking him to?”
“Do the adults in this house do those things and use those words that you want to hear her say?”

And I try to do as I want you to do. I try to let them know that they are right. That is how people should behave. And I make the commitment to them and to you to try and model the behavior that they are asking from you. I also ask them to do just that. Model the behavior that they want you to copy. Be more of the person that they hope for you to be.

<3 Mama

What the HECK is up with my 2-3 Year Old? (A Quick Compendium of Toddler/Preschooler Behavior Blogs)

I’ve been getting a LOT of emails recently about the 2-3 year age groups. I’m not surprised. This age range is pretty famous for its “terrible” twos behavior, tantrums, etc. Add in the fact that we’re coming out of the holiday season, kids and caregivers are sick more often during the colder months, and it being cold and yucky outside can throw a monkey wrench in outdoor playtime. In case you haven’t realized yet… Outside playtime is pretty important to children, especially little ones.

Here’s a quick list of articles that talk about the behavior of two and three year olds including boundary testing, tantrums over strange things (“MY TOAST IS BROKEN, PUT IT BACK TOGETHER!”), etc. If you have any other articles you think would fit well in this list, comment below and I’ll add them. :)

Why Your Toddler Isn’t Misbehaving- Understanding Age Appropriate Inappropriate Behavior
Excerpt: “There are a TON of rules for small human beings. Rules have to be tested to be understood fully. “Does mommy mean no hitting the dog” (this ball is red) or does mommy mean no hitting the dog hard? (this ball is a shade of red) Does mommy mean no hitting the dog with my hands or does it also mean I can’t hit the dog with this toy? (this ball has red on it)”

Broken Expectations 
Excerpt: “You’ll have a mental picture in your head of a potato roll. You’ll ask for it using the words you know. “Mommy I want some bread!” and I’ll say “Of COURSE you can have some bread.” and I’ll go to the table and get the oat bread that I know you like, and I’ll give it to you and your little heart and brain will break in the upset and disappointment that I broke the promise to “get you bread” by trying to give you something you did not ask for. In your mind you understand deeply that “bread” is that potato roll that you had pictured in your memory.  Your upset is bigger than it would be if I simply told you “No. No bread.” because I PROMISED YOU BREAD and I BROKE THAT PROMISE.”

Crying for “Stupid” Reasons and the Emotional Fire Drills of Childhood
Excerpt: “I think that as parents we all have these “goals” for what we want for our relationships with our children, and for the most part we don’t have any real idea on how to get there. We want our kids to feel safe talking to us when they are teenagers. We want them to come to us if they have heartbreak, if they make mistakes, if they need medical treatment, if they need advice. We want to be trusted and we want to be kept in the loop.

But at the same time our culture pushes us to miss the opportunities for those things.”

How to Discipline a Tantruming Child. Wait. What? Discipline Feelings?
Excerpt: “I still read a variety of pretty traditional publications, though. And so I see tantrums being talked about in terms of manipulation, “getting their way”, breaking the tantrum, disciplining the tantruming child, isolating them, ignoring them, training them to not tantrum.

It’s odd for me to read because I start asking “Is anger manipulative? Is sadness manipulative? Frustration?”

Truth is, many adults throw tantrums too. They curse. They throw things. Some even punch holes in walls. Some yell. Some storm away.”



Illogical Logic and your Three Year Old Scientist
Excerpt: “When my oldest was three I was cutting up some food for him. “That piece is too big!” So I cut a smaller piece. “That piece is too small!” so I cut a piece in the middle. He pondered. He looked at it. It was not right. He looked for words. “That piece is too… tooo… MEDIUM!”

Ahh.. The illogical logic of a three year old. Everything is wrong. Harry and Mary Contrary were clearly three years old and going through that divine time of frustrated declarations that things are just too darned medium.”


Playing together requires trust.

Consequences and Punishment

Playing together requires trust.
Playing together requires trust.

At the breakfast table. Isaac is back from a weekend away. He is not integrating easily back into the way that we do things.

“Isaac, if you yell at Alexander and Keenie, what are the consequences?”
“I’ll be in trouble?” he asks.
“Isaac, that would be the punishment. That is not the consequence.”
“What’s the difference?”
“Well.. What if I thought that you did something but you really didn’t? I could punish you anyway, right? You have been punished before for something that you said you didn’t do, right?”
“Well the consequence of the choice to punish you was that you missed recess unfairly, right?”

The cogs start turning in his head.

“Why did you get punished when you didn’t do what the teacher thought you did?”
“Because another kid said I did it.”
“So who did the wrong thing?”
“The other kid.”
“The teacher also accidentally did a wrong thing. She punished the wrong person.”

“Isaac, why did the teacher believe the other kid when he said that you did something?”
“Isaac, does that teacher trust you?”
“Isaac, if that teacher trusted you and didn’t believe that you were the type of person to do that thing.. What do you think would have happened?”
“I don’t know.”
“Do you think that the teacher would have punished you if she trusted you?”
“I don’t know.” He’s thinking.
“I don’t know, either.”

“So. Isaac, if you yell at Alexander and Keenie, what are the consequences?”
“You won’t trust me?”
“I will think that you yell before you try to talk.”
“But I do try to talk!”
“Did you just try to talk to them?” I don’t actually know either way, I just know that Alexander ran into the room upset and saying that Isaac had yelled at him.
“…No.” He tells me the truth reflexively. We’re not trying to figure out if he’s going to be punished. I’m trying to help him understand how things work.
“And what will Alexander and Keenie think about their relationship with you?”
“That I yell at them?”
“Right. That’s not good for your relationship with them.”

He doesn’t look like he likes that idea. He looks over at his brother and sister who are building with blocks in the other room. He’s quiet.

“Isaac, I want you to think about something today, okay?”
He waits.
“I’m not punishing you for yelling at Alexander and Keenie this morning.”
He doesn’t look any happier than he did a minute ago. I’ve just told him that he’s not going to be punished for yelling, but he is knee deep in the consequences anyway.
“Can you think about the difference between consequences and punishment?”
“Okay.” he says.

“Can I give you a hug?” I ask.
He agrees.
“You’re a good kid.” I say. “I love you, and I hope you have a good day today.”
He runs back into the other room where his brother and sister are. He says something to them that I can’t hear, gives them a hug and comes back to wait by the door for his bus.

When children are fixated on the idea of punishments… They often forget about consequences.

Activity: Color Hunt with D, P, and B

Activity: Color Hunt with D, P and B.
Materials Needed: Printer, printer paper (8.5×11), Bingo Dauber in 3 colors (substitute: clear bingo chips, markers or crayons)
Printable File: BPDbpdHunt.pdf   (Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)
Activity Goal: This activity helps a child recognize the differences between three frequently confused letters.
Activity Suggestions:

  • Adult can start activity by demonstrating on the Dd, Pp and Bb at the top of the worksheet.
  • The child can use a three bingo daubers to color code each letter. So B and b would one color, P and p would be another color and D and d would be the third color.
  • The child can use a marker or crayon to trace over letters, using a different color for each letter.
  • The child can use two colors to color code which letters are uppercase and which letters are lowercase.
  • The child and adult can talk about what each letter looks like. “a little b is the bottom part of a big b!” “The Big D and the little d like to sit and talk to each other!” “A Big P and a little p look alike but the little p is smaller.”