Category Archives: Interesting reading

Guest Post: 8 important lessons for parenting

I am so excited to bring you a guest post to this little blog. A wonderful mother I met through an antenatal class often talks about the strategies she uses with her children. They are so fantastic I asked if she could share some here. I find Lori is great at blending her professional skills with parenting in a real-world way that anyone can achieve. While Lori has specified toddler in this piece, these skills could be used with any age child. Enjoy! 

As a psychologist and a parent I often find myself questioning the way we parent. It is so easy to fall into a trap of short term wins as a parent as we are often tired, busy, or even embarrassed by our children’s reactions or behaviours and we want them to stop. However, short term wins can impact over time and I believe it’s equally important to think through long term consequences. I research and read A LOT!!! Not just looking for gentle parenting strategies that have worked for other parents or parenting experts, but examining the research into impacts of different techniques and strategies long term. Every child is different which is definitely evident with both my children; and it has been trial and error at times. However, there are a number of techniques and strategies that we have found really work. I believe these work to encourage, work to empower, work to enable, work to impart and work to build emotional intelligence and resilience over time. I hope you find them as useful as I have.

8 important lessons I’ve learned with parenting my toddler.

1. Judge intention not behaviour. So often we react to children’s behaviour and get cranky at them when their intention was something completely different to our judgement. Toddlers don’t always know the best way to show their intention so their actions and intentions can often be incongruent. If we can stop and think about intention before responding we can better understand our children and what they are trying to achieve as well as minimising our negative reactions.

2. Give choices where possible. Toddlers like to have responsibility and independence. While there are some instances where we have to give more direct requests, look for those opportunities where you can give them a choice. For example, “which of these three options would you like for morning tea?” “which out of these three outfits would you like to wear today?” “where would you like to sit to eat your lunch”, “which park would you like to go to?”, etc.

3. Where you do need to give directions, explain the “why” behind requests. Providing toddlers with an understanding of why we want or need them to do something helps them appreciate the importance behind our request. I also ask my toddler why when she asks me something to get her thinking in this way as well. In my opinion she can never ask “why” enough and I will never answer with “just because” or “because I said so!” as it teaches her nothing positive.

4. Ask them what to do, not what NOT to do. If you tell a toddler “don’t run” they don’t know what the alternative is at that split moment. Saying “walk please” is a much clearer instruction. I then follow with the why.

5. Ask questions, not statements, and get them to think about it. Asking questions helps your toddler link behaviours and experiences to outcomes, consequences and emotions as well as think about these linkages. Common questions I ask my toddler “What was the happiest/saddest thing that happened today?” “What does respect look like?” “What do you think you could do differently next time?” “Why do you think they did that? What was their intention?” “What does proud feel like?” “How do you think they would feel if you did that?”

6. Encourage and discuss positive behaviours and actions; why these are positive and the impact they have. There is a wealth of research on this topic showing the long term benefits on wellbeing, resilience and even intellect. Be aware of the positive language we use and the impact of this in their interactions with others.

7. Talk about the not so positive behaviours. Why they were no so positive and the impact they had. Then encourage them to come up with an alternative way they could approach the situation next time.

8. Teach them positive ways to manage their emotions. Deep breathing and cuddling works really well and are simple techniques if they are feeling out of control. Sitting with them when they are feeling this way also helps them feel secure and reinforces we are there to support them through all emotions, not just when they are happy. Also, if they hurt themselves or get upset about something, let them feel that emotion (don’t try to stop it or distract them from it). This reinforces it’s okay to feel all emotions. All emotions are healthy; it’s how they learn to manage these that is important in teaching resilience and stress management techniques.

There have definitely been challenging times but we have stuck to these methods and I really feel like they have really paid off! Don’t get me wrong; my children are not perfect, and we don’t expect that. In fact, we encourage mistakes in this house as it’s an important way to learn. That’s what we do as adults and we model this for our children; letting them know when we have made good and not so good choices in our own reactions. And just like us, they are allowed to express their emotions; it’s just a continuing journey to work out together appropriate ways for them to do so.

Lori Burdon is an experienced psychologist who specialises in organisational psychology. However, since having her first child over 4 years ago she became passionate about researching and reviewing parenting practices within a psychological context and putting these into practice. Lori is focused on gentle and positive parenting techniques to assist her children in becoming resilient, emotionally intelligent and empowering them to choose their own appropriate behaviours and actions.

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Filed under Interesting reading, Life as a Parent

Taking quinoa off the table

We’ve quit quinoa in our house.

Without doubt you’ve adopted a look of horror, and are wondering if that’s a misprint. But no, dear reader, it’s true; quinoa is no longer on the menu.

After picking yourself back up off the floor, you may start to wonder WHY ON EARTH would I do such a thing. Don’t I know that quinoa is a SUPER food. All the celebrities eat it, and it’s an awesome source of protein. What am I thinking?!?!?!

A recent article in The Guardian kick started this change. The author wrote about the impact of global demand on the prices of quinoa in Bolivia and Peru, and the flow on effect this has on affordability of this staple grain in the region. Simply put, the price is so high now that those communities can no longer afford it. Once a cornerstone of nutrition for peasants in the region, quinoa is now sent for export to wealthy western nations leaving a major gap in the food source of the nations poor. To me, this is an unacceptable cost.

Further reading also revealed that the mad scramble to farm this ‘new’ wonder crop, is leading to the abandonment of traditional farming methods and poor environmental practices. Of concern is the reduction of llama farming, a key component in maintaining soil fertility in the highlands. Ironically by abandoning llamas, the soil loses its main fertilizer that gives quinoa its amazing nutritional value: manure.

I am so fortunate to live in a country that gives me access to a wide range of affordable, high quality foodstuffs. I don’t feel that quinoa offers me any nutritional value that I couldn’t easily obtain elsewhere. And when you factor in the cost of further impoverishing a nations poor and contributing to environmental damage, well frankly the cost becomes too high.

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Filed under Green living, Interesting reading, Nutrition

Breast feeding ‘politics’ – a post and a response

I absolutely had to share this recent post and comment doing the rounds on the net.

Well known Australian blogger and social commentator Mia Freedman recently posted on her blog about her thoughts on the over zealous promotion of breast feeding becoming ‘borderline bullying’. Within this post she shared the story of a friend in hospital who needed some formula. Read the original blog here http://www.mamamia.com.au/parenting/lets-chill-out-about-breasts/

Model and author Tara Moss, who is also a UNICEF ambassador, responded to this blog post with an articulate and evidence based response. It is one of the best articles I have read in a long time. This response is not supposed to demonise those who formula feed, for any reason. It is instead a comment on the importance of health workers continuing to promote breast feeding at every opportunity. Read Tara’s response here http://blog.taramoss.com/index.php?itemid=739

I hope you enjoy these blogs if you have not seen them already, and find them as informative as I did.

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Filed under Breast feeding, Interesting reading

Interesting reading

Life has been crazy busy in our household the last 2 weeks, and it felt wrong to be blogging when I had so many other things to do. I’m having a moment of procrastination, so I thought I would cheat a little and put together a list of cool things I have read in the last few weeks. I am going to do this from time to time, as I am lucky to have an amazing and diverse range of friends who read some pretty cool articles.

The first two links are about the words we use when we speak to our kids. This is something I am really conscious of, and I try to actively choose words that are not negative. However it can be a lot harder than you might think. The first link, about speaking to young girls, highlighted to me how ingrained it is to compliment girls on their looks or clothing. It is something I do so unthinkingly, that I am struggling to find new words to fill their place.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lisa-bloom/how-to-talk-to-little-gir_b_882510.html

This second link is about the perils of praising children for being ‘smart’. I was already familiar with this idea, and have always tried to praise baby girl for her efforts (feeling especially ridiculous given that I started when she was 6 weeks old. ‘You worked hard to stare wildly baby girl – well done’!)

http://nymag.com/news/features/27840/

This next bit is copied from an email newsletter by baby guru Pinky McKay. I love her so much, as I find that there are not many baby experts that I can look up to; people who believe in intuitive natural parenting, no crying and strong attachment parenting. When this came through in her email newsletter, I really felt like there was someone out there who got me.

The thing is, parenting is a 24 hour a day commitment. We can’t expect to pop babies away like toys when we have finished playing with them or it’s not convenient for us to be present. Of course it’s great to have strategies to help everyone get enough sleep -I’m not arguing with that!   But we are nurturing small vulnerable people, not managing an inconvenience, and our choices do need to reflect this.  
 I believe a large part of the infant sleep ‘dilemma’ is that we have stone age babies in a space age world. Often our modern lifestyles are at odds with baby needs: although our lifestyles have changed, our babies have not evolved a consciousness that they are in a safety standards approved cot, with a monitor on the wall and attentive parents who will keep them safe from predators.  Babies are biologically programmed to need somebody near THEM to feel safe. Imagine if a cave mama left her baby in the back of the cave while she whipped off to pick berries. Chances are, a lion or a wolf or an eagle would have taken her baby while she was away, especially if the baby dared to cry loudly for mama. This sense of ‘danger’ is what makes your baby anxious when she isn’t close to you.  At night time, your baby’s sense of sight is at rest. He needs to rely on his senses of smell, touch and hearing to know that he is not alone and at various stages, separation anxiety will be more pronounced.  It is far better to consider that all behaviour is a communication and to ask, ‘why is our baby waking?’ than to simply try to change the behaviour, without addressing what is happening for your child. This way you can create an appropriate plan that will support your child’s wellbeing and your own needs for sleep.
This is why I am focussing on sleep in this issue of Gentle Beginnings – to offer some extra support for the pressure you may be feeling about night time nurturing. Some of the opposition to gentle baby and toddler sleep practices includes: you can’t stay in their room forever (as if they would want you to); you mustn’t start things that you can’t continue (any changes can be made ‘gradually with love’ when you and your child are ready); You will create bad habits (since when was a cuddle a bad habit?) and, your baby must learn to ‘self-settle’ -imagine, you are snuggled up to your partner and as you doze off, they poke you and say, “wake up, you must self-settle, this could create bad habits!  
Our expectations of babies who have just come out of a snug, warm womb with immature nervous systems, immature digestive systems and  whose only communication is a cry because they need someone or something, is often far from realistic. And so is the pressure to have a baby who self settles from birth and sleeps and eats according to the clock on the wall. We all need sleep but we don’t have to achieve this at the cost of a little one’s well-being, so please enjoy the information in this issue of Gentle Beginnings and share it if you know somebody who would find it help

The next one is a funny picture shared by another mummy with a young girl. The whine region and the worthwhile food cortex are quite active in my young baby!

I’m missing my blogging, but will be back into it soon. I also have some good new fodder, as I have had to use my natural medicine kit quite a bit lately.

Thanks for reading!

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Filed under Interesting reading, Sleep