testing limbo

A parent asked me the other day, “how can I stop my child from pushing my buttons?”  I asked what she meant and she said, “he never listens to me – he’s always testing to see what I will do.

Well, this mom probably figured out the answer to her own question –  “testing to see what I will do.

Janet Lansbury,  Child Development author and Specialist, says children can get stuck in “testing limbo”.  When they are stuck, “they are aware that their behavior annoys, and maybe even infuriates the adult caring for them. Testing is a child’s way of signaling for our help – and requires a clear and immediate response.”

Lansbury encourages parents to give their child what he/she is looking for – a simple, direct, calm limit/direction.  Will the child still have a strong emotional reaction when we do this?  More than likely – so we acknowledge with empathy that we understand how our child is feeling, even as we help our child follow through with the request.

This parent did think she asked her child to do things but on second thought, realized she asked and didn’t direct and often gave up before following through.  And so the testing limbo continued.

It’s food for thought, isn’t it?

The beauty of it is we can be both direct and calm in our request and kind and empathic to our child –  meeting our needs and answering our child’s besides.

 

 

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grace

On Friday I attended the memorial service of my next-door neighbor, Darlene, who passed away one week ago.

Darlene was a very involved grandmother who brought her two granddaughters to The Parenting Place’s parent/child activities through the years, and had just begun attending again with the newest granddaughter addition.

There were many that came to pay their respects to Darlene.  There were beautiful flowers, inspiring music, and one of Darlene’s sons shared heart-warming memories of his mom.

But what really resonated for me the most was to hear the eulogy given by the other grandmother of the two granddaughters, ages eight and four, honoring Darlene and sharing how very special she was in all of their lives.

There was such genuine appreciation, gratefulness, affection, humor, and sincerity in her words and her beautiful reflections on Darlene as a grandmother.

You could feel the respect that had flowed between these two grandmothers.  There seemed to be no tug of war or vying to be the favorite grandma here.  These were two women loving their granddaughters and embracing one another in the cause.

What a heart-warming and beautifully trusting bond apparent between them, what a tribute shared with Darlene’s family and friends, and what a legacy of love delivered to the two young granddaughters about their “Grammy Darlene”.

True grace.

You will be missed, Darlene.

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what a tizzy

I know when a story I am reading to children works – because they sit, wide-eyed, staring at me – with hardly any movement.

And what makes that happen?

Sometimes it’s because the story is a familiar one that they almost all recognize and love – because repetition is so very comforting. But often it’s because the story is about something personal – something they can imagine maybe happening to them- whether it’s funny or surprising, sad, or just a bit frightening and suspenseful.

This is the way it was with the book we read on Friday at circle time at Play Shoppe – Llama, Llama, Red Pajama.  When it’s time for Baby Llama to go to sleep, after Mama Llama has read him a story, kissed him good night, and gone downstairs, Llama Llama Red Pajama starts to worry.

“Where is my mama?  “Boohooing, hollering, stomping and pouting, jumping and shouting. For what if Mama Llama’s gone?”

By now the eyes on the children were huge.  Many of them knew the story , but still, no matter how many times the story’s been read, what if, this time, Mama Llama really was gone?

But, no, of course she wasn’t gone – because there she came back telling Llama, Llama Red Pajama “Baby Llama, what a tizzy!  Sometimes Mama’s very busy.”

This is the moment when Matilda, a little girl in our Play Shoppe circle spoke up to tell us all, “That’s what I told my little brother the other night when he was crying and fussing for his nook.  I told him ‘What a tizzy’.”

I love how the images and words from stories stick in a child’s mind, become their own, a part of them and a part of their family culture, and then are shared at just the right moments.

And I believe all the children felt relieved, secure and cozy and will remember these words that Mama Llama tells Baby Llama –

“Mama Llama’s always near, even if she’s not right there.”

Especially big sister, Matilda.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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soul fever

Kris John Payne, author of Simplicity ParentingUsing the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier and More Secure Kids  talks about soul fever.

Soul fever – I love that expression.

But what is it?

When a child (or even an adult) begins to display outbursts, frequent temper tantrums, frustrations,emotional meltdowns, aggressiveness, anger on a daily basis, he/she may be suffering from soul fever.

So is there a cure for this soul fever?  What’s a parent to do?

Payne says it’s easy to miss the diagnosis of soul fever at first – but soul fever lingers and becomes more acute if left misunderstood.

So to understand soul fever is to first notice it  and accept it for what it is –  and then,  treat it just as you would treat a physical fever.  The answer is to stop – take a break –  provide downtime – quiet attention – rest and restore.

Good advice for all of us at times.

Two parents this past week expressed concerns about new behavior in their children.  Both children were acting out with anger, aggressiveness, meltdowns, resistance. The parents wondered what was going on.

Upon reflection, I realized that both of these young boys could be having a bout of soul fever.

In recent months both families had experienced big changes in their lives, new siblings added, disrupted schedules along with the busy energy drain of caring for newborns, holidays, travel and being out of ones regular routine – yet not quite being ready to be in their ordinary routine either.

With soul fever, it’s all about slowing down, connecting on a quiet level, offering a calmer supportive environment for the child to feel held, to rejuvenate.

Time – to let our souls catch up.

If you’d like to discuss ways for simplifying your family and children’s lives, call The Parenting Place to register for our Parent Discussion Circle on Thursday, January 21st from 9:30 AM to 11:00 AM.  Childcare is available – Registration is required.  Call 76 4-8125 to register.

 

 

 

 

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in your face

2016 – the start of a new year – the days, the weeks, the months lie ahead of us with promise, surprise and new beginnings.

Everywhere we look-  on-the web, newspapers, magazines, television – the topics are the same.  What are your New Year’s Resolutions – stress-free living,  more exercise, weight loss, no more yelling, being a perfect parent, having a cleaner house?

Sometimes the bombardment of suggestions and advice make it all sound so easy –  but we know better.  They sound so perfect yet we know better.

Yesterday walking along the river at Riverside Park, the sun was shining, the snow still pristine –  it was a beautiful day.  But the wind that blew in your face was strong and cold.

It was so right in your face – just like so many things can be in the  complex world of parenting.

We talked about the wind, my husband and I, as we walked along.  I said if we just let ourselves feel the wind, don’t stiffen up and fight the wind, but meet it full on – embrace it, head right on into it, something changes.

Yes – it’s still freezing, it still might sting, but by expecting it and accepting it for what it is, perhaps adjusting your hood or zipping up your collar, it becomes just a part of the beautiful blue sky, sunshine and pristine snow – not the whole thing.

So that’s what my new year’s resolution will be,  and one I believe can match any of the resolutions that strive for perfection.

It’s to embrace the imperfections and in- your- face- obstacles that might happen in our everyday family/parenting/work lives, while recognizing, appreciating and accepting the brightness, clarity and warmth that shines through too.

The Parenting Place invites you to join a Discussion Circle on  Thursday, January 21st, from 9:30 AM to 11:00 AM at The Parenting Place in La Crosse.  We’ll try and discover and share ways we might bring more simplicity and ease into our family lives.  Pre-registration is necessary. Call 784-8125 to register.   Limited child care is available for children who are independent walkers and older; babies are welcome in our circle. 

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gratitude

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.”    Melody Beattie

I believe it really does work – practicing gratitude – writing down four or five things each day that you are grateful for.  Do this for a year – and many self-help experts say your outlook on life will be more positive and emotionally healthy.

I work on this personally because I’ve found it to be true. Sometimes it’s harder than other times, but practicing gratitude for me delivers an eye-opening realization on even those days that nothing seems right.

But today, this week, the last few days of 2015 – I know for sure how very grateful I am for all of you – for the families I get to know and share with every day – and for the awareness that parenting can be challenging, exhilarating, exhausting, lovely.

And it takes gratitude to recognize, accept and appreciate all that we meet on our parenting journey.

Wishing all of you a beautiful  and grateful 2016.

 

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an invitation to play

“We all fall down” after which a chorus of “Let’s do it again” erupts – and that’s when I noticed one particular little guy in the fray – giggling, jumping up and independently reaching out , offering his hand to another child to hold – another go at ring-around-the-rosy.

An invitation to play – the way play begins for a two-and-a-half-year-old – being a part of small group fun that can be shared.  I see it beginning as toddlers scamper up and down the slide after each other – the fun and laughter of following fast behind the child in front of you.  I see it in chase games – trying to catch each other, or bubbles or falling leaves together.  Or just pure running around in an open space with one another.

This kind of play doesn’t usually include a toy – no need for one.  It is just an invitation to play – to experience the beginnings of being part of a group – of enjoying each other.

It was just a week ago that this same two-and-a-half-year-old’s dad had expressed concerns about why his son didn’t play with other children at Play Shoppe.  He just played on his own.

I told him that’s the way two’s play – side by side, parallel play that doesn’t usually include the child next to him, except that they are next to him.  I reassured him to be patient.  It will begin.

As parents we want so much to make sure our children are keeping up, making friends, being social. But development is uneven and takes time.  We can provide the opportunities and exposure and then step back, and wait for our individual child’s readiness to unfold.

For that one significant invitation to play.

“We all fall down. ” Let’s do it again!”

 

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