Posts Tagged ‘communication’

 

Sometimes when we talk to our children they don’t listen. It may seem like a lot of the time in fact.

 

As a child therapist I am used to slipping into the language of children to engage them in conversation and pull from them their strength. They are engaged easily through their active imagination with play and story. They learn from watching and doing.

 

However admittedly I sometimes forget as a parent to use this child speak. This often happens when I am trying to do so many things and when I am so task focused and in my adult head. I forget that my children are not in that same head space and are driven by other motivators like play, having fun, enjoying life. The usual kid stuff.

 

What would happen if more adults were focused on having fun?

 

Luckily because my kids are so play driven, I can’t help but be reminded of their need to have this outlet. They are constantly trying to engage me in play so I am reminded of a different way of being in my head, namely through my creative imagination. When I am in this space it’s as if we are doing a wonderfully intricate dance where everyone is in rhythm with each other. Cooperation is not a struggle but a fun game where both players are winners.

 

I cherish those moments knowing that I have access to them any time I choose. It’s these moments that make the hard work of parenting worth it. It’s these moments that give me the clarity to communicate in my child’s mother tongue: play.

 

Sorting through and tidying up my computer files I came across a letter I had written for my youngest son from the voice of a small (bean bag) bear cub which I gave him. To put it in context, I will tell you that my son was having some difficulty doing his daily routines and was needing much encouragement and reminders. Also at the time he would rather stay home than go play at a friend’s place.  I knew that he was feeling like he couldn’t do things as well as his brother.  Anyway, though these were things that we talked with him about, there is something about stories that sparks the interest of a child to “listen” on a deeper level.  With this in mind I share with you the letter below.

 

 

Dear Alexi

I just want to let you know that I am a black bear cub, and I am mostly vegetarian. I am still little but big enough to do things like swim across the lake (like that bear cub your mom told me you guys saw last year while camping). I heard we have a lot in common like your mom said that you like to forage for wild edibles and I love foraging for berries. I have been to Crab lake too just for the blue berries- I heard you like them too. One thing you should know about black bear cubs is that we stick with our moms a lot but we also venture out to explore new things. We are good swimmers, climbers, foragers (and your mom wanted me to mention that we almost always listen to our mamma bears- because they keep us safe). I have come to live with you so that I can learn some things about camping (my mom said I can visit her when you take me wilderness camping). I heard that you are a great portager- that is something I have never done before. Will you teach me? Your mom also told me that you like to help out at camp and you have a great smile. I am so excited that I will be living with you!

Lots of love,

Your bear cub friend

(Bears don’t have names like humans do- but my mom said it was okay if you gave me a human name)

 

 

What does your child speak look like?

On Not Being Sheep …

The other day we dropped our kids off at camp, reluctantly. That is to say they went reluctantly. There was a trip planned for the day that meant they has to go on a school bus for 2 1/2 hrs. Not that long for them considering they have gone on car trips that take 6 plus hours on our way to canoe in Temagami. So why were they reluctant? I have a confession: we are one of those families that don’t have a game boy Nintendo (or whatever mechanical hand held device that is popular) for one to stare madly at while playing games. Have they played? Yes on their friend’s. Do they play any games? Yes just not daily or even weekly.

 

So when the director of the camp gave the ok for kids to bring their electronics for the bus ride since it was such a long ride, guess what my 11yr old wanted to do? Bring the iPod of course since it has games on it. Geeze you’d think the trip was about the school bus ride and not the actual destination. My husband and I felt torn. As we so often do given our different life choices of minimal tv, electronic games, and veganism. Of course it wasn’t as simple as allowing him to take the iPod.

 

  1. His brother wanted to bring something and there wasn’t anything appropriate
  2. like most 11 yr olds our son has a tendency to loose things.

 

We don’t want to buy into the “give them electronic games and they will behave/shut up/ sit still mentality” which is what we felt the camp was doing. Afterall (I told my son ) when your dad and I were kids we didn’t have these kinds of electronics we would just sing on the school bus or play other interactive games with our peers.And come to think of it kid’s aren’t allowed to bring electronics with them on school trips either. Geeze what will they do? Oh no does this mean they have to talk or even interact with their peers?!! ok I know I am sounding somewhat snarky.

 

The point is, well, it’s two fold. Firstly the camp giving the go ahead is a set up for kids who don’t normally carry around these games in their pocket. Whines of “But everyone else will have one” are ineveitable. To me it is sad if that is the case.

 

So while my son’s point should not be the basis for our decision or any of his for that matter (flash to the future: everyone else smokes … everyone else drinks, everyone else ….) it puts a parent in a tough position. Do we compromise our values because every other parent allows their children to “fill in the blank”. We certainly don’t! Are we sheep or do we choose what is right for our family?

 

 

In the end we chose what we felt fit for our family, which was no electronics. We were’nt very popular that morning but you know what? At the end of the day it was forgotten and we felt good about our decision to stay with our values and not flock like sheep to someone elses’ values that are not a match.

 

 

Calm Waters

 

Welcome to another Metaphor Monday for parenting tips and tools. This week I give you some parenting tips for avoiding disappointment from turning into overwhelm for your child.

 

Filmed in the beautiful wilderness of Temagami Ontario! Enjoy!

 

 

 

A few years back, my sons  made up a club between them that I have to remind myself of whenever there are sibling spats.  They call their club “Super Heroes’ Club” and designate their stuffed animals as super heroes who earn powers every time they do something helpful or good amongst themselves.  It seems to give them a sense of control over their lives as well as a feeling of being special and appreciated.  They take the assignment of super hero powers seriously to the point that my youngest gets upset if his toys have not earned as many powers as his brother’s toys.

 

A few months back when my youngest was having difficulty following routines my eldest suggested that it may help him if we said that every time he did his routine one of his “guys” earned another super power. While my youngest didn’t go for it I thought it was a pretty innovative idea on the part of my son. I could tell he had really put some thought into coming up with a solution (this was during one of our family meetings).  Likely my youngest wanted to maintain some sense of control over the the super hero rules not to mention that he probably wanted to keep the pretend and real stuff separate for simplicity sake of course.

 

This got me thinking about how kids aren’t the only ones who need some sort of recognition that they are doing well. Sometimes as parents we need some encouragement or a “prize” to feel appreciated and keep us going. After all aren”t we by the very definition of being a parent super heroes? Don’t we deserve some recognition of our hard work? Everyone needs to hear that they are doing well and that they are appreciated. The trick as parents is to read between the lines to hear the appreciation. But sometimes we need to hear it loud and clear.  And like my sons’ super hero club where they basically toot their own horn about how great they are, there is no reason that as adults we shouldn’t sing our own praises, why wait for outside recognition when we are quite capable of giving it to ourselves.  Yes its true you can praise yourself, you just may need a little practice since in this society we are socialized to wait for praise, even strive for praise outside of ourselves instead of giving ourselves what we need.

 

 

So today I invite you to announce to the world what you deserve recognition for as a parent. No need to be shy.  What have you done well that you are proud of?  I know its hard, perhaps even out of the ordinary for some of you to sing your own praises.   To give you a little encouragement,  I will send a special gift MP3 of The Inspired Parent Affirmation Meditation to your inbox to every parent who joins in and announces at least one thing to the world that makes you a superhero parent  (note this is a one time thing, you will not be signed up for our monthly newsletter or list automatically, but you are welcome to do so by filling out the form in the top right corner if it calls to you!).  Take the chance now and share with others your proud moments.

 

 


When I was a child I had a jewelry box that played a little tune every time the bottom drawer was opened; “raindrops keep falling on my head, ….the blues they send to meet me won’t defeat me…..’Cause I’m never gonna stop the rain by complainin’…”(Lyrics by Burt Bacharach).   I also remember the standard rain song that kids sing “it’s raining its pouring the old man is snoring bumped his head in the middle of the bed and couldn’t get up in the morning!” Two songs about rain with two different perspectives; in one the singer speaks of things getting better with the other things get worse.

The other day we were driving through a rain storm on the highway. I found myself battling thoughts about how horrible the weather was, yet admiring the beauty and the strength of the storm at the same time. I watched in awe as  the transformative beauty of the  lightening as it lit up the sky and horizon, while the power of the storm’s down pour managed to bring the cars on the highway to almost a halt . Then and there I realized something, storms are inevitable, a necessary release from mother nature.  After all it it has been pretty hot here lately and the gardens are pretty thirsty, right? Thats a good thing. The weather is only as bad as we make it. It’s all a matter of perspective.

 


Disappointment is a part of life that everyone needs to know how to deal with at some point. Storms are inevitable. When my kids cry or tantrum because they are unhappy about something I can take the opportunity to help them through those sad or angry feelings and show them it’s ok to cry.  They need to know that  it’s ok to feel disappointed, angry or sad and that you can feel these feelings and still be fine after. Just as the plants are quenched after the downpour, so too are our children. Crying is a normal part of the human response to pain and upset. Crying can help release emotions as well as the hormones that have built up inside in response to intense emotions.When plans are changed or canceled I can focus on the disappointment or on the opportunity for growth, to try something new and perhaps have a surprise adventure. Of course there will still be upset, this is natural, but the way we weather the storm with our children will make all the difference to how they are able to bounce back and look ahead. Sometimes disappointment can be a motivator to move forward and strive for something else as well. 

 

As parents it often hurts to see our children upset. We want to shelter them and protect them from the storm. But maybe going through the storm with our support is what they need to help them grow and flourish. These experiences prepare them for the inevitable storms ahead. Eventually these storms will be accepted as the storm before the calm, the necessary showers for transformation. When this happens with our support the stormy weather becomes showers that are necessary but not feared.

 

 

Navigating Parenting: Do you have a GPS?

Welcome to another Metaphor Monday!

Global positioning systems otherwise known as GPS,  are great for guiding us to where we need to go when driving, canoeing, hiking, or whenever you are on route and need some direction to your destination.   If you are going in the wrong direction the GPS will give an alternative route based on where you are, underlining the fact that there is more than one way to get to where you want to go.  The GPS will guide you by telling you what direction to go.  Even if you veer off path it works with you, readjusts to your new position and tells you an alternative route.

Of course you still have to know what your final destination is in order for the  GPS  to tell you where to go.  Also, like any tool, you have to know how the GPS works or it’s essentially useless. Like any tool, it’s only as good as the confidence or competence of the user.

Your children won’t trust you if you don’t trust yourself.

Same goes for parenting tools, used the right way they can really help in situations with your children, however if you are not confident in what you are doing, then it undermines your approach with your children. Your children won’t trust you if you don’t trust yourself.

 

For parents, GPS then can stand for something else, say a “Guidance Parenting System“.  I truly believe that parents have the tools that they need right inside, their own internal GPS.  All the parenting advice in the world can not replace what you already know deep inside. In that sense parenting tools are not really about showing you how to parent,  but they should guide you to connect with that inner wisdom. Sometimes as parents we may have blocks that get in our way of parenting intuitively.  These blocks mean we need to make detours or  plow through otherwise we will be stuck.  Whether that be stuck in the old parenting styles of our parents or stuck in a newly adopted style that we have been told is the right” way but somehow doesn’t feel right.   Often this means that things from our past may need to be addressed or thrown out of the way in order to get to that inner wisdom of how to parent our children.

 The trick of  course is uncovering our internal tools, many of which may be buried under piles of dust or self doubt.

So like using a GPS, in parenting we need to map out where we want to go with our parenting. Do we want it to lead somewhere pleasant? Do we want to take an easy route, quick convenient?  Do we want it to be scenic and enjoyable?  To find our way to the final destination of intuitive parenting we need to trust ourselves that we are capable of finding and using those inner guidance systems that we were all born with.  The same ones that made us desire to be parents in the first place even if it was only after your child was born and you looked into their eyes.  The trick of  course is uncovering our internal tools, many of which may be buried under piles of dust or self doubt.  Sometimes this is not so easy to do, and just as one needs to learn how to use a GPS one may also need to learn how to navigate their way through the internal roadblocks that keep you from connecting with your inner wisdom.

…..everything you need is right inside of you, parenting doesn’t come with a manual because we all have a built in guidance system right inside of us.

 

A good place to start is to look at the way you currently parent. Here are some questions to get you started:

  • How alike or different is your parenting style from the way your parents parented you?

  • Does your current parenting style feel like it is a “fit” to who you are as a person?

  • Do your current parenting ways make you feel like you are headed in the right direction towards an intuitive parenting that feels right for you and your children?

  • Does parenting feel enjoyable for the most part?

    Take some time and explore these questions and really look at the feeling rather than any judgemental thoughts that may pop up.  If the feeling doesn’t feel right or the way you want it to, then getting some support to navigate towards that feeling you want may be all it takes.  After all, everything you need is right inside of you, parenting doesn’t come with a manual because we  all have a built in guidance system right inside of us.

Parenting from a different perspective.

What can animals teach us about our children? In Today’s 11th Metaphor Monday I explore a different way of looking at children’s feelings of fear and anger. Please post your comments or questions below.

Sunshine, Everyone Loves the Sunshine

Welcome to the fourth Metaphor Monday video. In this series I explore a different metaphor each week, viewing parenting from a different perspective.

Wishing you many sunny days ahead!

Please post any comments below.

Yesterday my eldest son, who was curious about the work that my husband Chris and I were doing on the website, decided he wanted to contirbute by making up his own language and post it on the website. He drew a picture and began to create his own symbolic language. Afterwards I thought to myself, that’s such a juicy metaphor for how kids operate.

They really do have their own language don’t they, and as their parents we are constantly trying to figure it out. Then like any new language one is trying to learn, there is only so much we can understand at any point in our learning before we scratch our head and say, “what does that mean?” (read – why is he doing that?) Or maybe we dont understand it because it is out of context, or there is a word we just are not getting the jist of because we are thinking in our first language. Read the rest of this entry »

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