Parenting

The use of positive statements

I do read a lot about parenting strategies and child development, so I can’t remember where I happened to read about avoiding the use negative statements with kids. For example instead of saying: “Don’t open that door!” you simply say “Keep it shut” or “Leave the door closed”

You see, for kids ‘don’t open’ doesn’t mean the same as it does for us. They don’t understand negatived yet, therefore will focus on the word ‘open”.

It does need quite a bit of practice, because we are too used to using ‘don’t’ all the time, but I can now confirm that it’s worth the effort.

 

Scolding a child

Here’s my experience:

As you know, babies start off being quite rough when they learn how to touch people. Whenever my little one got rough with me and started slapping, I held her hand I started saying: “Gently, gently. Gently, like this.” – while I made her stroke my face.

Her father on the other hand, hasn’t been putting much thought into what he is saying and ends up saying: “Don’t hit daddy!” most of the time.

After about a month, I hear daddy complaining to our little one: “Don’t hit me, please! I don’t understand why you are so gentle with your mum and you are always hitting me!”

Just think about it; when you are asked not to think of the color red, you can’t obey because your brain is already projecting a red blob in front of your eyes. It’s exactly the same with kids. You are unintentionally giving them ideas on what to do.

Not so long ago I visited a mother of two, who was making the same mistake… She was telling her toddler: “Play nicely please. Don’t throw your toys at anyone, ok?” Guess what did the little fella do? Went ahead and threw his toy right at my daughter.

A better way of putting it would have been: “Play nicely please and keep your toys on the floor, ok?”

I many times stop mid sentence and rethink the way I want to express myself. That’s perfectly fine. As long as you practice, you’ll become so good at it, as if it was the way you’ve always spoke.

Conclusion: Keep practicing the use of positive statements to avoid planting ideas into your child’s mind and to have more manageable toddlers.

 

On boundaries

I was riding my moped the other day on one of Bali’s busy highways… Hot tropical wind blowing into my face… sun burning my already tanned skin… my lungs filling with pollution… Ideal circumstances for daydreaming and imagining my daughter being a teenager a few years down the road. Of course she’ll be stunning and I think she’ll be a tomboy just like her mum used to be. It’s more practical to be a tomboy, especially on Sumba Island where she’ll grow up…

My heart clenched suddenly, because I was thinking of her hating me for not allowing her to do things and for setting boundaries for her. I once was told “If your teenager doesn’t hate you, you are doing something wrong.”

To be frank, even if it’s considered normal, I don’t want her to hate me. I’d rather she understood why things are the way they are and I would try my best to explain my actions to her. As I was riding along on my little moped, I was passing some great, big trees… I wanted to come up with a simile, that’s easy to grasp:

Children are like trees… Setting them boundaries, is like the pruning of trees. Stops them from growing wild. Pruning probably hurts the tree, but in the long run, makes it healthy and high-yielding. It might hurt a child when held back from doing something, but it’s with the best intent and in the long run it will be apparent.

We develop our characters in the first 3 years of our lives. If you pay attention to how you guide your child over these 3 years, you are less likely to have an uncontrollable teenager.

“…be a partner in helping young ones discover

what God intended for them to be

and help them reach their goals.”

Kids are like trees, Setting them boundaries, is like the pruning of trees; Stops them from growing wild

Kids are like trees, Setting them boundaries, is like the pruning of trees; Stops them from growing wild

It is however very important to understand what healthy boundaries are:

In the first year of their lives, children must learn that they are safe and welcome in the world. A baby develops their inner sense of security by having their mother around all the time. Their mother is a constant emotional object for them and they think, they are one with that object. They think existence is only possible if this emotional object is there for them. And in a sense they are right to think so. :)

When around one year old, a child realizes that the world doesn’t only consist of mummy and them. The world has so much to offer and it’s all extremely exciting – children begin the process of separation in order to explore their surroundings. This is the time when you can start setting your first boundaries in order to help them through this transition.

“Firmly and consistently set

realistic boundaries without

spoiling their enthusiasm.”

Have fun with the kids, but set limits and be consistent about them. The lack of limits is very damaging. A child who lives within clear boundaries is much happier than one with no boundaries at all. There is no point explaining your reasons just as yet. A firm NO and a strict look should be sufficient at this point. Many parents make the mistake of jokingly looking strict or angry when at play. This is confusing for children and they will not be able to tell the difference between play and seriousness later on. These are the kids who will laugh at their parents when they are being told off, because they think it’s also part of the game.

Your child starts tempering with the power socket, you go there, cover the socket with your hand accompanied with a strict No, and offer your child an alternative toy to play with. It’s not a good idea to just keep saying NO to everything and demand the unconditional acceptance of your boundaries. “Don’t do that!” “Don’t touch that!” “Don’t go there!” – Always give them choices; “If you do this, you’ll get this.” and “If you don’t do this, you won’t get this”

Always offer a distraction for them or an alternative thing to play with. “Why don’t you play with this instead?” Use your imagination, change your voice when offering them a toy and create a story, don’t just toss it there for them. “Hello I’m Teddy, I’d like to play the tickle game with you!” – or whatever as long as it’s fun for them.

That said, it is also important that children don’t get over protected. Allow that child to make mistakes and to learn from them. It’s part of healthy development, don’t spoil it in them so early on.

“If you are not prepared to make mistakes,

You’ll never create anything original.”

by Sir Ken Robinson

Between 18 months and 3 years happens the restoration of a harmonious relationship. ‘The terrible twos’ – you’re probably familiar with this even if you haven’t had to deal with one. You hear it from friends and you see it in the shops…

Toddlers use their own tools to explore and create their own boundaries. It’s not impossible to get prepared and make this process more enjoyable for everyone.

First of all it is important to have an understanding of what tools toddlers use to create these boundaries:

1. By expressing anger children realize that their feelings are different from somebody else’s. It means that there is a problem that needs to be confronted.

Children who can appropriately express anger,

later in life will understand

when someone is trying to control them.

2. Claiming ownership over things is not selfishness. Without ‘mine‘ we can’t develop a sense of responsibility. We have complete control over our time, feelings, talents, behavior, values and for that we must learn that me, my and mine are not swearwords.

“Without ‘mine’ we have no self to give.”

3. Saying NO – being able to say NO, stops them feeling completely helpless.

Children should be able to say NO and be listened to. How many adults are incapable of saying NO, because are afraid of upsetting someone or for any other reason? It all goes back to their childhood.

Make sure that a couple of times a day, you listen to your child saying NO and it’s equally important for them to be able to take a NO from you.

By the age of three, a child with healthy boundaries should emotionally attache to others, without giving up a sense of self and one’s freedom to be apart.

They should be able to say appropriate NO’s to others without the fear of losing love. If you tell a child that you feel sad, angry or disappointed, because they said NO to you, their boundaries get injured. Accept your child’s boundary. If you have difficulty doing this, you have boundary issues yourself. If your toddler tells you, “No kisses mum!” then you don’t get upset, you simply say alright and try to find another way of expressing your love; something to replace kisses; hugs, sniffs or whatever takes your fancy.

Children are very sensitive and they’ll pick up on your disappointment even from the tone of your voice or if you keep silent for longer than usually.

 

* All quotes are by Henry Cloud and John Townsend from their book on boundaries, unless otherwise stated.

Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life

 

Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend

Planning ahead

Before I’ve become a mother I was full of plans. I wanted to start my own jewellery business and even while pregnant I decided to start up my own homeschooling blog. It all seemed easily accomplishable, because I had no idea what it was like to have a child to look after twenty-four-seven. I don’t want to use my child as an excuse for not fulfilling my dreams…
I can most efficiently operate with to do lists and weekly schedules.
The first and most important question I must ask myself before creating my schedule is:
What can I do when my baby is awake? / What can I do when my baby is asleep?
In the beginning I thought I couldn’t do anything when she was awake. I waited until she fell asleep and only then I started to rush and do my things like crazy. Of course she never slept for long enough and I ended up being frustrated when I wasn’t able to finish what I had planned.
Now I know that I can do everything when she is awake, apart from WORK. By that I mean making jewelry and creating content for my blog.
My daughter is able to sit now, at 7 months, therefore sometimes I can leave her in her cot to play by herself near me while I do the cleaning or the cooking. She won’t stay there indefinitely playing and letting me do my stuff… I’ll have to pick her up from time to time and do some things while holding her. I do stop and play with her a bit, then get back to my job when the time is fit for it. Be warned, it takes a long time to do anything. When she was smaller I used to carry her around in one of those Kangaroo pouches. It can get quite uncomfortable especially when washing up, but to be able to dedicate her sleeping time for my work I’d put up with it.
So here’s what my weekly plan looks like

(add image)

I don’t like waste, but I do like to put things on paper. I reuse my printed sheet by either laminating it and filling it in with a thin black marker that can be wiped off easily, or I simply use pencil and erase my notes at the end of each week.

Here is a printable version for your use: weekly schedule

I’ve always had a meal planner, and I don’t see why doesn’t everyone use one. It makes ones life so much easier. Preparing your shopping list is a lot easier and it’s enough to spend half an hour per week thinking about what you are going to cook.
I save time by cooking once a week on Monday evening.
For example, if I planned spaghetti bolognese as one of the meals during the week, I’d make the sauce on Monday evening and store it in the fridge until needed. I’d heat it up on the day and cook the spaghetti freshly to go with it. I like making big portions of everything and whatever is left I put in the freezer to serve as a safety net in the near future.
We like having a big bowl of fruit salad for breakfast, which is great, because I can make that in the evening and store it in the fridge for the next day.

If you’d like to plan your meals, click here for the template: meal planner

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