Thursday, December 20, 2012

Sleep Training/CIO

I hear a lot of parents discuss sleep training and cry it out as techniques for getting their children to sleep. There are plenty of reasons people do this. Mostly because they think they should, but often also because they want time with a spouse or time alone. The thing is that sleep training can be harmful. There are plenty of articles out there that discuss studies and personal experiences. What I wonder, though, is why is it okay to leave a child unattended while awake? When is another time you would leave an infant alone and unsupervised, no a baby monitor camera in the room doesn't count, while awake?

I never planned to have children, yet I have three and I chose to rise to the occasion and meet their needs. That is my job from before they are born until they are adults. If I was not up for the job I would have let someone adopt them. During a discussion, I told another mom this week that people do not always understand that children are a job from birth to past the age of twenty. If you have them, love and nurture them. If you thought cry it out/sleep training was the thing to do please do some more research. I can tell you not only from personal experience, but also from my years as a teacher, that children need their parents to be available 24 hours a day. If you are not up for the challenge then please do not have kids. If you are up for the challenge make sure you have support for the times when you have had enough and need a moment or two. This way your child is not left alone when he or she needs supervision and love. No one is perfect, certainly I am not perfect, but we can make each day better than the one before.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Note For Parents Regarding Safety In Schools

I want to be sure parents understand, public school teachers work very hard. Most, if not all of them, have your child's best interests at heart. Keep in mind this information is coming from a former kindergarten teacher who now homeschools her children. I do want to make sure parents know something else. In light of budget cuts, your child's classroom and/or school may be at risk. I hate to "go there" but people have been asking me how I would keep my students safe if a tragedy happened where I worked. The truth is that I have participated in many lock down practices and one situation that was "for real". The real situation happened because a man had robbed either a local bank or local store, I cannot remember now which it was, and ran through our campus to hide in the wooded area behind the buildings. Though we were there several hours later than the end bell, we were safe and so were the children. We were fortunate. Here are a few things I want for EVERY parent to insist upon at a child's school. Remember, due to budget cuts a teacher may request these things to be done and they may hear the word "NO". Parents can make a difference by insisting upon safety measures including, but not limited to, the ones I list below.

1. Create a check in process in the front office including a photo ID.
2. Hire a full time officer for EVERY school site even if the PTA or SAC has to fund this.
3. All windows need window shades that are NOT broken or missing on all windows.
4. There should be a key for EVERY teacher's classroom door and perhaps a deadbolt above the children's reach.
5. Doors should be locked after the begin of the school day.
6. A fence/gate that opens and closes needs to be around the campus building. (This is a tough one to get folks.)
7.  You need a way for substitutes to lock their doors without another teacher having to do it. Not having this idea in place will not only put the substitute's class at risk, but also the other teacher's class at risk as she/he runs to lock BOTH doors.
8. Practice for emergencies as a school. Have a plan.
9. Have a safe word that tells if someone is in the room or not. For example, daisies, fish, or shoes.
10.  Always have an accurate list of who is on campus and where he/she is located even when at special area classes.
11. Insist upon small class sizes even in special area classes.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

How to Raise a Healthy Child

How to Raise a Healthy Child

1. Eat healthfully during pregnancy.
2. Choose a birth practitioner, not a surgeon unless you have a high risk situation.
3. Avoid doctors unless you have a health concern, need a referral, or someone is ill.
4. Try a chiropractor or naturopathic doctor before a conventional one unless someone is having an emergency and is in need of a hospital.
5. Nurse your child. If you cannot nurse check into milk banks and HM4HB.
6. Once your child is eating solid foods, hopefully well after 6 months of age, focus on organic and healthy foods rather than processed GMO foods.
7. Teach your child how diseases are passed from person to person. Teach prevention as well.
8. Make sure you have clean water and a healthy environment.
9. Avoid vaccines as they do contain foreign DNA of other humans and non-human animals as well as known carcinogens.
10. Avoid unnecessary surgeries and procedures such as circumcision, ear piercing, fluoride treatments, etc.
11. Teach your child self respect and respect of others.
12. Enjoy life, laugh, love, play, etc.

Sometimes we do everything "right" and still a child is ill. If this happens check into food allergies and leaky gut. It can be those or something else. It is rare, though, that a child will have health issues if we value and protect natural immunity, an intact body, and an intact immune system.

Much love and peace to you!

Why I Am NOT a Supermom

There have been many compliments. I appreciate them. There have been many who asked me for help, advice, or a brainstorming session. Thank you for trusting me to support and help. I have to say though, I am NOT supermom. Not by a long shot!

I notice that some of my friends get upset because their children do not behave the way mine do. They have even gone as far as to say that my children are just different and that children like mine are rare. This is not true. Anyone can behave in a responsible, kind, and helpful manner. It does take time, patience, and support to get to that point. Every person has his or her own timetable when maturing and learning.

My children were born with interest in learning about our world. They want me to be proud and they want to help. Most children, if not all, want these same things. When my children ask to help clean, I make sure they can in their own way even if they are very young. My two year old currently LOVES to use the spray bottle to clean the house. I have to make sure the spray bottle has only water so he doesn't harm the dogs or himself, but he can do it. By allowing this natural curiosity to bloom he will become a responsible adult. If I chose to ignore his interests and do everything without his help, he would quite possibly lose interest and begin to think that I am responsible for his behavior and choices.

My oldest daughter often will clean when I am in the shower or busy with her brother. She likes to help the family especially when it is her own idea. She is very much a self starter. If I ordered her around all day, even in a gentle way, she would not get as much done. Trust me, I have tried that idea before and it was not fruitful. When I stop micro-managing, the children do a lot more around the house. When I have fewer rules, they find it easier to help and their expectations tend to be higher than I think they will be.

Some children prefer to wash dishes or cook and others prefer to mop or garden. Not everyone will like all tasks the same. It can be advantageous to have all family members sit and talk about how they can help each other with little to no frustration. My daughters love to clean any mess that is not their own which makes me giggle. They would love for me to clean their dinner plates and in turn they are happy to clean the toy room and bring laundry downstairs. I clearly have the easier job when they choose to do this!

I want to also mention that two of my three children often have meltdowns due to their sensory issues. During these meltdowns they often do not realize other people are present. There is basically no way of calming them until the meltdown runs its course. So when people say that my children are easier than theirs or my kids are rare, I feel frustrated. No, my kids are not the exception. They are children who have had the opportunity to seize the day and express themselves. They have parents who are willing to rationalize why we keep our home clean and how we can help each other through actions as well as through respect. I have worked myself ragged to be patient, kind, supportive, and model positivity for my children. To say that they were born like this ignores my hard work as well as my children's hard work.

I want for others to know that every child has potential. If a child is not doing what you want, then take some time to evaluate the child's likes, dislikes, and other behaviors. Maybe you are expecting one thing and they prefer something else that is equally helpful. I am not blaming anyone here. Just pointing out that sometimes perspective has helped me to calm down and find solutions. No one out there is a bad parent because his or her child refuses to clean up toys or do any other chore. My point is that working with our children instead of against them can work out. If I can do it, so can you. I promise. :)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Why Should I Parent Without Coercion?

I used to make my children sit and have time outs. I used to raise my voice even when a child was near me. If these techniques worked for a short time, they never worked long term. I was not a bad parent and I did not use these techniques daily. But they were used sometimes. I hear people discuss children testing boundaries. I wish they knew what I know now. You do not have to yell, punish, or take anything from your child unless he or she is being unsafe with said item. (In that case you can keep the item and child safe for a time then give the item back if age appropriate.) There is a way to parent without coercion. You see what I found is that when I tried to intimidate someone into making a kind responsible, or helpful choice he or she often ended up making the choice because I said so. The definition of coercion as found on the site is


[koh-ur-shuh n] 
1. the act of coercing; use of force or intimidation to obtain compliance.
2. force or the power to use force in gaining compliance, as by a government or police force.

My children now make choices because they are kind, responsible, or helpful rather than because I said so. This means that they are learning and beginning to understand empathy, how to take care of their things, and how to make choices independent of my wants and desires. I cannot go to college with them or be in the car every time they drive. I cannot punish a 20 year old because I don't like a choice he or she made. My children need to know how to make choices on their own that are sound in judgement.

There is the added issue of coercion teaching children that bigger is better which often leads children to think that bullying someone who is smaller is acceptable. This was a constant issue in my kindergarten classroom and also when I worked in daycare. The children who took from others were often, though not always, children whose parents went heavy on coercion and punitive parenting techniques. There were occasions when a child was developmentally not ready to share or take turns which is fine, but when a neurotypical six year old child is constantly hitting others and taking their things something is going on in that child's life that to cause such a behavior to repeat.

So how can you deal with a child who is not responsible or a child who refuses to listen without punishments? My answer is to model responsible choices, have patience, use your words, practice what to do in different situations, and use play to teach skills. It is not easy to go this route, but helping children to grow into responsible adults without coercion is worth the time and effort.

Anyone can parent without coercion. If you were raised with coercion, it may be hard to break those binds but you can do it. Seek out support. Take breaks when you need to. Know that no one is perfect and we all have easy days as well as hard days when parenting.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Should We Push Our Children To Do Things?

A few weeks ago our sitter said something that rubbed me the wrong way. However, it did make me stop and reassess how I parent and how I aid in my children's personal growth. Many know that I am more of an instinctual parent than a demanding one. I prefer for my children to grow and learn because they want to, not because I force them to do this. It is a HUGE help to work with children who have sensory issues rather than try and force them to do what I want them to do.

So when our sitter said that I should push my son and that he "needs to be pushed to do things", I really was not pleased. First, I am the employer and I was not harming my son by allowing him to use his words and make a choice for himself. Second, I have been purposefully modeling peaceful parenting techniques in front of her because she is, now, newly married and wants to start a family soon. When my son said he did not want to go with her to the mailbox, I asked again to be sure and allowed him to stick with his choice. Validating his choices, as long as he is not in danger, is my job.

My son has always had issues going with others whether it be our nanny, his dad, or the in laws. Every day when I left for work he screamed and screamed nearly the whole day. He knows all of these people fairly well so not wanting to go with them is a worry for me BUT he is young and has always been this way. I must honor his feelings and worries so he learns that his needs will be met and exceeded.

I will say that when someone makes a comment like that I do tend to become annoyed, then I reassess just in case I am wrong, then I move on in an appropriate manner. No one is perfect. Our children do learn and grow. Sometimes as a parent it can be easy to get used to a certain stage or behavior and expect that daily from a child when the child may actually be ready for a new stage.

That being said, I will not push my child. Instead I will support him just as I support his sisters when they are ready to try new and different things. I will share information, my life experiences, and help in any way I can. I will encourage. I will not, however, force them to do things that are unnecessary or harmful. I will not steamroll their wants, desires, or self esteem. There will be times I have to say no or redirect, but there will be a great many more times when I can gently foster my children's interests and capabilities as they grow. No, he did not need t be pushed to walk to the mailbox with the sitter. He more likely would have screamed, thrown his body on the concrete and banged his head repeatedly. This is far more dangerous than waiting until he is a bit older and ready emotionally to walk to the mailbox with someone other than me.

(Sidenote: I still do not know if it is separation anxiety, fear of the unknown, or perhaps difficulty adjusting to change that spurred his anxiety over being with someone other than me BUT in the past six months he has been able to stay with or go out with my husband a few times so progress is being made on my son's terms as he is able to handle it.)