food for thought

Right now, sitting here thinking of what to share this week, I note a definite absence of a certain four-legged creature, our dog Tootsie. And as any parent can attest, when it’s too quiet, when a child is out of sight and out of sound, something might be up.

It isn’t any too different with Tootsie than it was with our children or is with any child.

And so I stop what I’m doing and go and check.  I was right.  There she was, caught in the act- a sock in her mouth, another sock and a pair of underwear strewn around her.

I know immediately that I have left the gate to the laundry room open once again.  And the temptation is too great for Tootsie – and she must enter, steal, and chew up.

And so I rant and rave a bit to get her to come and sit and drop – and she sheepishly does.  But in all fairness, I should have closed the gate behind me. Because closing the gate to avoid such temptations for Tootsie, such disruption and annoyance for me – is a pretty simple thing to do.  And I know it.

As parents, how often are we frustrated with our children’s behavior because of something that could have been avoided?

Stopping at the market when we know our child is exhausted and hungry, staying too long to visit with a friend, over-scheduling our days so there is little downtime, skipping naps, whatever is your own personal equivalent to “not closing the laundry room gate”.

As parents we don’t need to “beat ourselves up”over this. Because it happens – it just does. But it is revealing, isn’t it, that so often when our children are the most challenging, we forgot, took our chances, pushed the envelope a bit too far, and our children responded – like children.

Good food for thought – for change – on this glorious 1st day of Spring!

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Toddler behavior – it’s universal.  We all know that.  It’s spontaneous, unaffected, determined, and sometimes very unexpected. And it often happens when you are on an important phone call.

So – that’s exactly what went viral on the news and web this past weekend when a political science professor was being interviewed on Skype in his at- home -study, by a BBC commentator concerning the impeachment of the South Korean president.

This was serious stuff – until it wasn’t.  The interview had begun – but oops – serious or not – toddler #1 enters into the room and  dances right in on Dad.  Dad clumsily attempts to move her out of the way of the camera,  but she’s not going anywhere.

Then toddler #2 speeds on into the room in his walker to enter the fray.  By then the professor is speechless – and helpless – and all the while the camera is rolling.

But enter super mom to the rescue – sliding on in to the room, hitting the floor to try and avoid the camera, and furtively snatching the two young children by their clothing and pulling them out the door, as we then view her arm once again reappear to close the door behind her.

What a hilarious performance!

The interview then continued but not before entertaining every parent who has a toddler or two in their home. – and delivering some comedic relief just when we might need it.

For no matter how prepared, how important the occasion, toddlers have a way, a charming way I believe, of helping all of us not take ourselves too seriously.





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a different lens

I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself on Friday afternoon when I picked up my new eye glasses.  Wow – such a small change in my prescription, yet everything seemed so much clearer and in focus.

It was just the day before in the Protective Factors’ training at The Parenting Place that Parent Educator Barb Hopkins emphasized “utilizing a different lens” – looking at families through a different lens – focusing on what’s strong, not what’s wrong.

At The Parenting Place, that is exactly what we’ve always believed – and practice.

Yet for each of us as parents, what an excellent, helpful suggestion for our own families. Imagine  paying attention to a child’s strengths – to a spouse/partner’s strengths.  Imagine what it’s like when someone pays attention, mentions, notices your own strengths.

We can do this simply by focusing on what’s right, what’s working.

That’s what made me chuckle as I walked out with my new eye glasses on – 20/20 vision, clear and focused – seeing through my new lens. Wow – I had really taken this strength -based theory to a new high – Barb would be so happy.

And my family – and yours – looks pretty darn special.

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One day you’re sure glorious Spring is here -and  the next day it’s cold, windy, muddy, snowy –  definitely messy.

Yikes – what’s going on?

Sometimes as parents we feel this way too – about our children’s emotions.  Just when we’re convinced that our now conversational toddler, independent preschooler, settled grade- school child understands everything, a huge storm occurs.

Yikes – what’s going on?

We try to fix it, to stop it, but it only makes things worse.  Because just like an approaching  severe weather system has to run its course, before the blue sky and sunshine reappear, so it can go with our child’s emotional struggle.

And so we acknowledge that our child is upset, disappointed, furious.  We wait – and “hunker down”nearby –  until the fury is gone.

And then we can connect once again.  The storm can rage, can even seem ferociously fierce at times. But as parents, its helpful to know  – to understand -that our children are still working on building their self-regulation – that they are not giving us a difficult time on purpose, they’re having a difficult time themselves.

As best we can, we need to remember to try and remain always “bigger, stronger, wiser and kind“.

For that’s what our children need from us most – in all kinds of weather.

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a different way to dance

I believe there are some impressions from childhood that will last – that will emerge from the subconscious maybe even at times into adulthood.

That’s what I think might have happened at Sharing Our Hearts fun night right here at The Parenting Place last week.

Derek, a dad who uses a wheelchair – told us his story – showed us his “tricks” – said he loves to dance but can’t because his legs don’t work – except watch this – he can make his wheel chair dance – and dance he did!

And then whoever wanted to independently have a turn at climbing into the wheel chair and turning the big wheels to make it go – could – and did.

This is what I was hoping for during this Sharing Our Hearts night – that we might understand a little bit more, appreciate our differences – and joyfully embrace them.

Thank you, Derek for sharing and showing us how.

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Love is in the air – right?  Valentines Day often gives even the least expressive of us in the bunch the opportunity to say “I care” with a valentine card, a chocolate heart, a rose to those important in our lives.

I’ve always loved it – from the time I was a child – from the time before there was so much commercial hype.

But I haven’t allowed that to interfere with the simplicity of the day.  Because its the perfect time to acknowledge the neighbor who lives alone, your great-aunt who has outlived all her friends, children in your child’s class that may not receive a valentine, the senior lady at the check-out that always has a smile.

For I believe that even the most cynical among us will cave to a crooked cut-out heart given to them by a wide-eyed child – or an unexpected chocolate kiss dropped in the hands of anyone.

Love is in the air – help spread it!

Happy Valentines Day, my friends!



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hang on and hang out

As parents (and grandparents), don’t we just love to notice and share our toddler’s newly-found abilities, expressive language, sense of humor?  There’s pride and a bit of relief, perhaps, also mixed in that our child is developing right on schedule – maybe even ahead?

But then there’s those tantrums – those unpredictable loud refusals, that larger-than-life NO just when you most need your child to cooperate.

Well, take another big sigh of relief – and of satisfaction – for all of that just means your child is developing right on schedule.

For sometimes our toddlers are just looking, just checking to see if “our way” – our family ways are consistent and strong, predictable and safe to count on.  “You need to hold my hand to cross the street” – “In our family, we don’t hit”“I know you’d like to keep on playing, but its time for bed”. 

And when we can, we understand and go along.  The red shirt instead of the blue – fine ; hold on to the grocery cart and walk along rather than sit in the seat ?- why not, if it’s working ; wash hands by her “own self”? – nice work.

It’s a balance. A toddler needs to know what to expect, that she’s loved and significant, that her suggestions and “needs” are heard and that there is always a strong, safe adult who loves him and helps him through the difficult times.

So hang on and hang out and enjoy this delicious display of emotional growth – both your child’s and your own.

If you are having some challenges in appreciating your toddler’s newfound independence and opinions, and would like some extra tips on working with your child,  give me a call at The Parenting Place – 784-8125 and we can set up a time to talk.

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