Posts Tagged ‘parenting tools’


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?

The other week I stumbled upon a writing prompt I had written in my journal with the intention of responding to it later.  It was a series of prompts to write a letter to your self that I had found while blog hopping (sorry to say I could not find the original reference- but when I Googled it there were many renditions of the letter to Self).  One of them was to write to yourself 10 years ago.  I thought I would give it a try.


After just writing a few sentences I was struck  by how powerful this exercise was for me.   My intuitive parent stepped right in and began to respond with such empathy I was brought to tears.  Parenting is tough, we all know that.  But sometimes we can be our own worst critic, ruminating over how we should have done things differently or comparing ourselves to other parents who don’t seem to be having such a hard time.


For me 10 years ago was a very significant point in time as a parent  because it was really so near  the beginning of parenthood for me (my eldest son would have been 1 1/2 years old).   Allowing myself to speak to my “new” parent self now, after 10 years, also brought to light how very important it is to continue to show the same empathy for one’s self even later on in one’s parenting career.


Perhaps this is something each and every  parent can give themselves as a gift for the new year.  We often talk about empathy for our children when they are going through tough times, but how about extending that empathic understanding to ourselves?


Here are some excerpts from my letter to my younger parent self.  The advice I give myself is relevant at any point in my parenting, even to this day when my children are (almost) 8 and 11 1/2 years old.


Dear Petrea,

You are a great mommy who loves your little baby boy deeply.  I know it is hard to be away from him and you feel stressed because you wish that you could give him more of your time.

You worry. Don’t let your worry take over who you are and get in the way . . .   You will have another child.  You will learn more . You will make mistakes that you regret, but you must let go of that regret, you must pay it no mind for it will eat away at you and fuel your worry, your self doubt.

Know that you are a wonderful parent, a fantastic parent.  You are human , yes, you make mistakes, yes, but you can and will learn from  them.

You are the best mom your son has, he needs you, he needs you to believe in yourself.  For when you believe in yourself as a mother, as a parent, your son will learn to believe in himself.

Don’t worry that one year has passed.  There is still time, there is always time.  You are a great parent, know that, feel that, believe that, and you will see how much easier things will be,  your life will be easier, your parenting will  be easier.


Let go of the past.

Walk boldly, with confidence, into the future!

Love your Wise Parent Self.


No matter what stage of parenting you are at, whether it is 2 months in, or 2 years, 12 years or twenty years into parenting, it’s never too late to show your self some gentle understanding and acknowledgment for all of your hard work as a parent.  Sometimes all it takes is a little perspective of time to realize the beauty of what we have done as parents.  I invite you to write a letter to your younger parent self.  For showing compassion to yourself is the first step in letting go of past “mistakes” and moving towards the intuitive parenting that we all have inside.


With the holidays upon us it’s easy to forget to take care of one’s self. I find myself rushing about baking gingerbread cookies  like the ones above I made last night from Naturally Yours’ video. We parents so often put ourselves last as we prepare for welcoming others into their home.


This season make yourself a priority. Be sure to take some time for yourself, to relax and regenerate. If you wait until its all over, you’ll miss out on enjoying what the holidays are all about. Below are some helpful posts to make the most out of this busy time of year. Enjoy!


Jo of the Red Box Company shares 10 tips for staying stress free over the holidays


Carrie Hensley of Free to Be Me has a great video with tips for helping you stay present and centered during the holidays.


Jackie of essence of wild has a wondeful post on taking cues from nature to find peace.

Gina of Veda Sun shares some tips on staying present with Awareness Practices for you and your family’s sake.


Tina of Open Roads Coaching has some great activities you can do with your family the grinch jar and wishing tree.


Pixie Campbell has a wonderful ceremony to let go of emotional baggage which you can do with your children to help them visualize letting go . You don’t have to celebrate the winter solstice to do this,it goes well with the traditional New Years letting go or releasing the year to make room for wishes .


And if you want to give yourself some play time I have just the thing on my sister site with my free Free Your Inner Child e-course


May your holidays be full of  peace, bliss and joy!



6 Ways to Avoid Being Bugged

Welcome to the continuation of last weeks Metaphor Monday about being bugged by your children’s behaviour.  This week I share some ideas on how to protect yourself from being so “bugged”.




Don’t get so bugged . . .


Today’s parenting metaphor takes a closer look at why we sometimes are bothered by our kids.  Filmed in Temagami and  inpsired by nature, while we were canoe camping this past August.

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!



Parenting from a different perspective . . .


Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor. ~Thich Nhat Hanh

















Last week I spoke about the importance of taking time to breathe and slow things down with your children.  When I taped Metaphor Monday #16 I ended up having more to say than I had thought so here is part two of “Metaphor Monday Breathe”. Enjoy!

Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure. ~Oprah Winfrey

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:

Parenting is like riding a bicycle……

In today’s Metaphor Monday I take you on a little adventure into parenthood (filmed with our GoPro camera).  I talk about some general principles of parenting as I see it from my mountain bike.  What am I talking about? I guess you will just have to watch my short video for details…….

Parenting from a Different Perspective

Don’t be taken out! Take yourself out instead. And I don’t mean to lunch, find out more in this weeks metaphor Monday.

Often I’ll ask my kids “What are you going to do different next time?” when their choices have been less than ideal. With this tool there is no need to wait for next time for them to practice a different response. Let us know your thoughts on this below.

Tools of the Trade

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


I hope you enjoyed today’s metaphor! Please post any comments below.


OffbeatFamily Store

You have 0 items in your shopping cart. View Cart

Listen To The Beat Within