Tag Archives: Communicating with Babies

Connection – It’s Child’s Play

On Day 3 of RIE Foundations we closely examined play. We looked at its importance and how to create an environment optimal for a child’s play, including examining the significance of the parent-child relationship in the ability for a child to play.

It was a day of many aha moments for me. Would you believe, I didn’t think I would really have any aha moments over here? I thought I knew the ins and outs of respectful parenting and was just looking to deepen my understanding. Turns out, I have a lot to learn.

connection Continue reading

Why Teenagers Don’t Talk to Their Parents

Why teenagers don’t talk to their parents…

I once read that the teenage years can be likened to the toddler years. Both stages of life are a time of significant developmental change. Toddlers and teens alike experience significant body and mind development that can have them behaving in ways you have never seen. Just as they are figuring out who they are, we, as parents, struggle to understand the child we once thought we knew inside out.

But the thing is, that is what they need from us most of all; to understand. The way we interact with our young children, the words we use, the intonation in our voice and even our body language can have a huge impact on whether they will feel comfortable talking to us about the big issues they will inevitably face as teens. If we are not empathetic and understanding to the ‘little things’ they face in their early years (which are actually big things to them) then the chances are they will have a hard time opening up about the big things when they grow.

If Your Daughter Had an Abortion Would You Want to Know? ~ Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids Continue reading

5 Steps to a Peaceful Day Care Drop Off

day care drop off 3

Recently, Miss 3 has begun to demonstrate significant separation anxiety at her day care drop offs. She becomes clingy, and desperately upset when I tell her I am leaving for work.

I know this type of separation anxiety is extremely common and although difficult to experience, I have taken some comfort in the fact that she genuinely feels she needs me and would rather be with me than in the care of others.

I also know, however, that I need to help more with her transition into care. It has been getting increasingly more difficult for me to get away on time and her stress levels must also be through the roof. Continue reading

Learning to be a Respectful Parent

It took 18 months of parenting before I realised I was on a dangerously downward spiralling path with my children, pushing them further away and slowly undermining their sense of confidence in themselves and trust in me. As I read more and more about the RIE philosophy, I made significant changes to my parenting approach to become a more respectful and reflective parent for my children. The changes subsequently seen in our household were instant and considerable. Suddenly parenting made more sense. I began really communicating with the girls and was able to slow down and enjoy so many more moments with them – yep even the hard ones! You can read more about my introduction to RIE here.

I began this blog just over six months ago with the hopes to inspire even just one person to become a more mindful and respectful parent as they take on one of life’s greatest roles. I could never have imagined in my wildest dreams that my little stories would be so well received and that people from all over the world would read them. I have learned so much about myself and my family along the way and feel blessed to be a part of such a supportive community both on the blog and through my Facebook page (Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids) I still continually find such strength and encouragement in talking to people about their own respectful parenting journey through these mediums.

If you are visiting for the first time, thank you for taking the time to pop by. My name is Kate and I am a mother of two beautiful toddlers 13 months apart in age. These two munchkins feature heavily in my posts as they are my inspiration and my guides as I negotiate the twists and turns of the Lucy and Penny roller coaster.

I have put together some of my favourite posts here if you wanted to read a little more about some of our stories.

Caring for Emotions

Intense Emotions - Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids

When Extreme Emotions Take Over a Toddler

I have a Daughter With Intense Emotions

Coping With a Toddler’s Emotional Outbursts

Damage Limitation Following a Parental Meltdown

Discipline

Emotions ~ Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids

Coping With a Limit Tester

Punitive vs Nurturing Discipline

‘That’s Too Loud, Mummy!’

Could NOT Forcing a Toddler to Share Help With Sharing Conflicts?

The Secrets to Successfully Sportscasting my Children’s Struggles

Confidence and Natural Development

Confidence ~ Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids

Rebuilding a Child’s Confidence

Can Young Children be Better Served by Not Teaching Them?

Allowing Children to Play For Their Age and Stage

The Joy of Natural Development

Communication

IMG_2009

Changing The Change Table Relationship

How RIE helped Diagnose a Potentially Serious Condition in Our Baby

Play

Play ~ Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids

What’s in a Toy?

Taming the Toys

Our Weekly Play Series (Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, Week 5, Week 6, Week 7)

Increasing Attention Span in Toddlers Through Purposeful Play

Using Provocations to Extend an Interest

The Secret’s to Successfully Sportscasting my Children’s Squabbles

If someone told you that they had a magic cure that would end all sibling rivalry for good, I’m sure you would pay good money to be let in on that secret. Living with siblings who squabble, bicker, fight, torment and harass each other regularly throughout the day can be incredibly draining.

Unfortunately, this magic cure does not exist but there is a sure fire way to reduce the mental fatigue associated with fighting children. This strategy not only empowers children to learn from their arguments but also provides them with the opportunity to develop the skills that will enable them to negotiate through squabbles, themselves.

sportscasting 4
Continue reading

Repairing the Relationship With a Child After a Parental Meltdown

Repairing the Relationship After a Parental Meltdown

I have parental meltdowns. Not often, but occasionally my emotions just seem get the better of me. It could be that I am tired, stressed, disconnected from the kids or my husband or that I have been pushed to the brink by my spirited children. Either way, I know it shouldn’t happen. I know I have to work harder to keep my emotions in check. I know that each time I lose it with my children, it affects them and it affects our relationship. Continue reading

Labels are Not For Children

“Being Labeled is like being judged for life. It is like your future is laid out for you already”.
~ Author Unknown

We have always tried not to put labels on our children. The personalities are completely different from each other we love that about them. We never want them to think that one is better or more endearing than another or that one is weak vs strong or shy vs outgoing etc.

Labels are Not for Children

I remember as a child I was always called the shy, quiet and sensible one whilst my brother was the adventurous yet naughty one and my sister the fun-loving tom boy. I hated being put into my role and found it so difficult to break out of as an adult.

 Faber and Mazlish, authors of Siblings Without Rivalry  (Affiliate link) state that:

“We need to prepare our children for life outside the family. And life demands that we assume many roles. We need to know how to care for and be cared for; how to be leaders and followers; how to be serious and a little ‘wild’; how to live with disorder and how to create order. Why limit our children? Why not encourage all of them to take chances, explore their potential, discover strengths they never dreamed lay within them.”

We had a little incident here the other day which really brought home how important it is not to confuse the behaviour of a toddler in the highly volatile 1-3 year age bracket with their actual personality and demeanour. Even more important is to ensure we do not label or even perceive them as such things as shy, helpless, dominant, aggressive, victim, bully etc.

It is a short story but one which stopped us in our tracks and has given us a little more insight into the morphing minds of our children. Our oldest child, Lucy (2.5 years) has always been a very active, fun loving little girl who craves attention and approval. She was put into the role of ‘big sister’ when she was only 13 months old and has had some difficulty accepting this role and all it entails.

Her younger sister, Penny (1.5 years) has borne the brunt of some unmet needs in Lucy and has had to deal with some physical and verbal altercations with her older sister from a young age.

Of course, we have always been well aware of the emotions charging through these situations and have used all manner of methods to ensure a) Penny is kept safe and b) Lucy is helped through her feelings of anger and rage with acknowledgements and understanding. We haven’t always got it right but we are slowly refining our methods and we see improvements on a daily basis.

Penny is an independent and goal-oriented child. She shows remarkable perseverance and determination for a child her age and will try many different ways of achieving the outcome she desires before giving up or demanding help. This determination has seen her become quite frustrated when her play is interrupted by her rambunctious older sister who seems to have a desire to control all of Penny’s movements including her play and care giving moments. It has therefore been easy to fall into the trap of seeing Penny as the helpless victim and Lucy as the dominating perpetrator however, as we are slowly realising, not all is as it seems.

This afternoon, Penny had climbed into my husband’s ute in the driveway, soon after he arrived home from work. Penny absolutely loves playing in the cars, standing up in the drivers seat pretending to drive and climbing in and out of the car seats in the back. Today, she chose to sit in Lucy’s car seat and was happily doing so for about 10 minutes when Lucy, noticing Penny playing in there, started heading towards the open door of the ute (the front passenger door). As she climbed in, my husband and I signalled to each other that we had better get over there as Lucy was not going to be happy that Penny was in her seat. We quickly moved over, ready to sportscast the ensuing battle and protect Penny from any potential lashings but were taken aback by the five occurrences which followed.

1. Lucy made her way between the two front seats, passed by Penny sitting in her seat and happily sat down in Penny’s car seat. No battle!

2. Penny immediately began crying hysterically because Lucy was sitting in her seat. In the small breath pauses between each ear piercing cry, I managed to sportscast the situation as it occurred. “Penny, you don’t want Lucy to sit in your seat.” Pause for more crying “You are very upset that Lucy is sitting in your seat.” Pause and wait

3. Lucy climbs out of Penny’s seat and says: “Here you go, Penny”.

4. Penny shuffled out of Lucy’s seat and across to hers whilst Lucy took her position in her own car seat.

5. Both girls played and giggled in there until it was time for us to come and get them to take them to their baths.

This situation showed a side of our two children that reinforces how important it is not to pigeon hole them into roles. Whilst of course they each have their own innate and unique personalities, what they are learning each time they face each other in an altercation or come up against a hardship on a day to day basis is helping to shape the natures that they will ultimately display.

Our roles as parents here are to support them through each crisis calmly and respectfully without treating one as the victim and the other as the perpetrator. At their age, there is always an underlying, untapped reason as to why they are displaying undesirable behaviour so by shaming them or making them feel like the bad guy, we are closing a little opportunity to understand them better and connect with them more deeply.

Furthermore, by treating the other as the victim, removing them from the situation or saying, “Poor you” etc it reinforces to them that they can’t cope with these high stress situations without you and makes them feel even more like a victim.

“Children are born with different personality traits. But as parents we have the power to influence those traits, to give nature a helping hand. Let’s use our power wisely. Let’s not place our children into roles that will defeat them.”

~Faber and Mazlish, Siblings Without Rivalry

We have clearly seen today that Penny is no victim. She is strong in her own right and willing to stand up for herself. Similarly, Lucy is not a selfish aggressor who thinks only of herself. They are both learning from each other and from us as their parents and we are confident they will both grow up to be empathetic, strong and confident young women, completely capable of fulfilling any dream, desire or role they choose.

My parenting is inspired by Magda Gerber’s RIE approach. If you are interested in learning more you can find some good information here or I highly recommend these books (affiliate links)

Dear Parent: Caring for Infants With Respect (2nd Edition)  ~ Magda Gerber

Your Self-Confident Baby: How to Encourage Your Child’s Natural Abilities — From the Very Start
~ Magda Gerber

Elevating Child Care: A Guide to Respectful Parenting  ~ Janet Lansbury

No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame ~ Janet Lansbury

Labels are Not for Children

Increasing Attention Span in Toddlers Through Purposeful Play

As you know, I love to create little activities that invite my girls to discover, investigate and explore in their own way and in their own time. I have learned not to have an ‘agenda‘ with these invitations, knowing that my children’s minds, unlike mine, are blank slates with no preconceived ideas or expectations and consequently they engage in activities far differently than I would even dare to imagine.

My imagination and creativity has been reduced as I have grown up through life but theirs is still blossoming and developing and I love to see where it takes them through these invitations.  The girls have always approached these activities with excitement and I have never had one overlooked or rejected.

Now, this sounds wonderful and amazing etc but the reality is that the average time that it takes my children (especially my two year old, Lucy) to discover an investigation, form a hypothesis, test it and then reach her conclusions, is roughly five minutes. And whilst I appreciate that age is not in her favour when it comes to attention span, I have often wondered whether there is something more to her seemingly limited one.

I have read and reread articles and examples from Janet Lansbury, Lisa Sunbury Gerber and a whole host of mothers who follow Magda Gerber’s RIE approach claiming that their (even younger) children are capable of playing for much longer periods of time on just the one activity. And, as I think about it, I realise that even my youngest, Penny (nearly 18 months) has shown more ability to stay focused on a task for extended periods of time. So what makes my eldest child become disinterested quickly in activities that I take a great deal longer to set up than she does to play them?

Deep down I have known the answer to this for quite sometime. Through my wonderful association with Kate from An Everyday Story, I have learned that in order for some children to become invested in their play, it needs to be something that they are already curious about or have initiated completely on their own. When providing them with opportunities for play and investigation, taking this into consideration can be the difference between them engaging with the task for prolonged periods of time (even days or weeks) and investigating it at a surface level only, skimming over the top and never truly wanting to do more.

Now, it can be very hard to really know what your child is interested in, especially if they are pre-verbal or still a little young to have obvious obsessions or interests. But the clues are there if you look. It could be that they have articulated an interest through asking a question or making a comment or it could be communicated in other ways such as through pretend play, an obsession with a particular book or simply showing delight during an experience they have had organically (ie through the normal course of daily play, outings or activities).

I have realised that whilst I was (and still am) providing my children with many fun and enriching experiences I was failing to involve them in the production of these. It’s like someone continually offering books for me to read on a topic about which I have no interest. I would probably start the book to see what it was like but would most likely turn away from it before it was finished if it did not tap into my own interests. This is precisely what my eldest child seems to be doing with my wonderful activities.

So, having had this revelation, I started really listening to my children; engaging them in conversations, watching them in play, looking for any signs of a deep seated interest or a curiosity that could be tapped into further. It came one day recently when we were walking through a little forest at the end of our street.

We often head down there of an afternoon as the kangaroos are out for their dinner and many birds are flocking, returning to feed and roost. We were sitting on a little vine that had grown into a U shape, perfect for swinging lightly back and forwards, when a bush turkey suddenly ran across the track in front of us and then flapped clumsily on a low branch of a nearby tree. Both girls sat captivated as it flew from branch to branch looking for a high place to safely bunker down for the night. By the time it had settled it was so high up that we could only just spot it.

It sparked a noticeable curiosity in Lucy and certainly seemed to capture Penny’s attention. As we were walking home, Lucy spotted a large, black feather on the ground, we picked it up and surmised about which bird could have lost this feather. We spoke about which birds were black including crows, magpies and pee wees as well as the most likely culprit, the bush turkey.

Increasing Attention Span in Toddlers ~ Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids

The next day, we had a magpie visit our backyard (as we often do) and Lucy was very excited to see it and asked if she could ‘give him her lunch’. Over the next few days and weeks, I thought about how I could keep this interest in birds alive through way of a project. I came across Kate’s lovely and inspiring bird project and was instantly struck by how simple, yet engaging and purposeful her ideas were. They were appealing to her children and allowed them to explore birds on many levels, in a meaningful and deep way. And thus began, our first project.

Firstly, as we had not a single bird book in our house, it was off to our local library to pick up some lovely child friendly ones the girls would enjoy, including a guide to Australian birds. Lucy really enjoys books so this was a perfect medium for her to learn more about these fascinating creatures.

We flicked through the books and looked for birds that were familiar. I was surprised by how many birds Lucy knew already by name such as crows, magpies and kookaburras. On our outings, we began noticing birds all around us, we spoke about colours and sizes and worked out the names of the ones we were not sure of using the guide book and the internet.

Keen to see more birds in our fairly sparse backyard, I spoke to Lucy about what would make them come down and visit us. Living relatively close to a small forest we actually get many birds flying overhead in the afternoons but they never stop to visit. Lucy thought that by calling to them they might come down so we tried but to no avail. It seemed they were not listening. I asked her where she thought they might be flying and she thought maybe ‘the park’. We then worked out that after the park they would head home for a bath and some dinner (as is our regular afternoon routine). So I took the lead for an invitation from this and decided on making a bird feeder so the birds could have dinner with us.

Increasing Attention Span in Toddlers ~ Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids

As luck would have it, amidst all our bird studies, my husband and I had come across a lovely old stump in a big dirt pile in a development across the road. In An Everyday Story’s blog, her children had built a simple bird feeder to encourage more birds into their yard using a similar stump. I set up some tools and materials in an engaging yet simple way to ensure the girls were not only involved in the project but could take some ownership and responsibility for it. It was exciting for them as they thought about all the birds they might see coming for dinner.

Increasing Attention Span in Toddlers ~ Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids

Lucy was responsible for building the feeder and then both the girls worked carefully scooping, pouring, carrying and filling the bird seed using cups and scoops.

Increasing Attention Span in Toddlers ~ Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids

Increasing Attention Span in Toddlers ~ Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids

Increasing Attention Span in Toddlers ~ Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids

Increasing Attention Span in Toddlers ~ Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids

It took about a day before we saw our first bird visit the bird feeder and although it wasn’t a beautiful or exotic one the girls were so excited to see a peewee eating their seed. It must have felt so fulfilling for them to have been through the process and  then seen its purpose come to fruition. To help with our bird identification, I made small laminated cards for the girls (a set each) using only the birds I knew were in the area. These have been wonderful for the girls as they have watched a variety of birds come to feed and then used the cards to identify each one.

Increasing Attention Span in Toddlers ~ Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids

To further our study into the birds we collected more feathers on one of our walks and then did some painting using them as brushes. We also regularly use the little laminated cards in matching games which Lucy is becoming very adept at. She is now able to articulate the names of most of the birds that come into our yard including currawongs, peewees, house sparrows, blue fairy wrens (our favourites) and willy wagtails.

Increasing Attention Span in Toddlers ~ Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids

Increasing Attention Span in Toddlers ~ Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids

The girls continue to feed the birds on a regular basis and have since added a bath for them to wash in. I am hoping that by planting a few more native shrubs this spring we might entice some more colourful birds in through the warmer months. It has been so wonderful to see my children learning in a meaningful way and although I will continue to offer them invitations to explore in a variety of mediums and contexts, I am now more open to using my children to steer the investigations based on the interests that they develop along the way.

Increasing Attention Span in Toddlers ~ Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids