Monthly Archives: December 2010

Pillow Advice

The other day I was describing to my husband the way my new Tempur-pedic pillow felt.  “It’s firm but giving, I said.

He laughed, saying that sounds like something you’d write in your blog.

Come to think of it, he’s right.  Firm but giving is exactly the formula that helps our children feel loved and secure.

What does firm and giving actually mean though? 

 It doesn’t mean yelling, punishing, spanking, authoritarian or permissive behavior

  It does mean, however, having routines, showing respect, using limits, following through with expectations, giving choices, defining family standards, enjoying humor and sharing love.

It means recognizing the significance of relationship above all and the early groundwork that’s necessary for creating the relationship we will want and need to have with our children when they’re teenagers.

More and more often you see and hear stories abut school children who are aggressive, disrespectful, modeling inappropriate behavior both to peers and adults.  They are complaining, demanding, unhappy, rude.

Our young children are looking to us to be the adults in their life.  They may push us and demand from us to see if we’ll give in, to test our firmness.  But the consistency of our expectations, the strength of our family values and standards is what will offer them the security and caring they are seeking and from which character and maturity evolve.

Think about it.  Offer your family a cozy pillow of your own to lean on – firm but giving.

If you would like some tips to help you develop more routines, structure or family standards, feel free to give me a call to talk or meet together, at 784-8125.

Happy New Year to one and all.

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T’is the season

T’is the season to be jolly – T’is also the season for disappointment.

As parents, we want so badly for all the relatives, the beloved grandparents and the aunts and uncles, to see our child as the smart, charming, out-going, well-behaved person we know her to be. 

 Yet what often happens?

I saw it first at the airport while waiting for our son’s plane to arrive.

  It was a touching scene – mom holding an 18-month old toddler, watching intently for her parents to walk off an arriving plane.  And then there they were, greeting each other and immediately reaching out to take this little guy and squeeze him and hug him – something they’d been dying to do.

But that was not his plan.

 Even though he had been wide-eyed in anticipation, even smiled and waved as they approached, this sudden rush to leave the safety of his mother’s arms was another story.  And he clung on to her neck and hid his face and as they tried to pry him away and convince him to give his grandma a hug, he began to scream.

The next place was at the restaurant we went to for our welcome home celebration. 

 There at the table near us were the parents with their lovely two and a half-year-old little girl and her grandparents.  All was going so well –   the little girl quietly occupying herself, the adults visiting.

But Grandma wanted to go to the rest room and thought perhps so should the little girl. 

 Well… that was not in the plan – and no matter how much cajoling went on to convince this little girl she should go with grandma, it wasn’t going to happen as she slid off her seat and hid under the table until Grandma went on alone.

And finally the last episode was at the mall…

 Santa Claus.

  Even though I was on a mission and should have been moving along, I had to stop and watch.  (yes, I am a nosy, I mean, curious observer)

There was a four-year-old boy with his parents and another couple and their young daughter.  The young boy stood cowering behind his dad while mom, on bended knee, tried to convince him, first to look at her and then to please go sit on Santa’s lap. 

Look at your cousin, she’s talking to Santa.  Santa will be disappointed.”

This was all to no avail, even as Mom tried to pry him off Dad’s legs, he was not going to sit on Santa’s lap. 


So what’s a parent to do? 

Accept the reluctance, proceed slowly, prepare your child for what’s going to happen, don’t plead,  listen to his feelings, stay positive, offer but don’t insist, smile at the relatives and say, “maybe later” and be patient.

If we stay confident, relaxed, accepting, our child will feel secure, ready, and in his own time, take Grandma’s hand, play, laugh and impress all the relatives – in his own time. 

 You can count on it.

Sitting on Santa’s lap for that little four-year-old, however? 

 Maybe never.

Wishing all of you a very happy holiday with your families and your very smart, charming, well-behaved children.

 You know it, your children will feel it, and everyone else will  see it too.

Trust me.

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Cabin Fever

Looking out the window this morning, piles of snow whirling around, drifts three feet high, wind howling, temperatures freezing, a thought crossed my mind – cabin fever.

It’s started early this year, even before the official start of winter. Whenever cabin fever lurks, it can be intense, it can make you cranky, out-of-sorts, moody, de-energized or as one mom put it, “It makes me go bananas!”

So how do we avoid developing cabin fever?

Go with the flow.  On days when going out is not an option, slow down the pace.  After all, you have all day.

Still cuddling reading books together midmorning?  No worry.  After all, you have all day.

Baking cookies, making play dough, heaping blankets over a table to make a special  “house”, cleaning closets, slowly, as the children re-discover old treasures that ignite new interests and ideas while you’re at it, listening to stories on tape, building a huge block city, with people and cars, roads and houses, mixing and matching – coloring, making signs, pretending,  because we have all day.

Time.  Time is the silver lining we can celebrate in order to avoid cabin fever.

Time is what we usually never have enough of.  Yet time is what we need to connect the dots, to not rush, to slow down and enjoy the present moment.

And for children, time is what they require to create, to invent, to explore, to truly play.  When we’re rushing to go somewhere, to be on time, to hurry and get dressed, there’s not enough time for extended play, not enough time to muse and decide and even be bored, just for awhile, until they figure out what to do next.  That all becomes possible because they have all day.

So, here’s to some cozy days of winter ahead, when we must stay inside.  Here’s hoping we’ll appreciate our mandatory sentence, keep the cabin fever at bay, kick back, and slow down.

After all, we have all day!

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Office for Learning Emergencies

 I picked up the book, Whole Child, Whole Parent by Polly Berrien Berends yesterday while looking for something else.    There was a marker sticking out from some time ago, I suppose.  So I opened it and sat down to see what I had saved.

It’s a long passage so I’ll paraphase some of it, as I immediately knew it was something I wanted to share.

Berends says if she were king of the schools, she’d set up an office , next to the nurse’s office, called the Office for Learning Emergencies.  She’d advise teachers to be on the lookout for passion fits or enthusiastic seizures whenever interest rose like a fever in a child and have them sent to this office.

If a child was very interested in dinosaurs, talking about them, drawing them, choosing books on them, she would consider this child a bit flushed and in need of immediate attention.   Or perhaps a child who requested every Shel Silverstein Poetry book over and over again, would be recognized as someone in need of further evaluation.

My favorite part, though,  “ and unlike the nurse whose concern would be to see the temperature go down, the resource person in the Office of Learning Emergency would be concerned to gently huff on the glowing coal of her passion and hope to see it break into a self-sustaining flame.”

Berends says, ” small passions would be recognized as precious and critical opportunities for enhancing the child’s sense of worthiness and possibility”.

So there.  I love it. No wonder I marked it.   And I’d love to suggest that any of us can recognize what it is in our own child that is unique, the “particularness” of this child. 

It may be especially helpful at this holiday time when considerations are being made as to just what gifts to give to a child.  Pay special attention to what it is that draws a child to be unself-consciously involved – to appear in the flow – to be “flushed” with excitement.  What is it that strengthens their growing sense of who they are and how can our gift extend and value this interest.

This is more challenging with multiple children but perhaps even more significant – to have an individual interest recognized.

Did one child in particular love the hiking trip when you collected rocks?  Did another have to be torn away from observing the sharks at the aquarium?  There’s trains, trucks, art, nature, swimming, making up stories, jumping and climbing, stars, knights, castles – all waiting to be evolved.

Try and notice or recall – and you might find the exact gift for that child will appear.  If you need any suggestions as to how to extend your child’s interest with the right gift or experience,  give me a call.  I would be glad to help figure out what that might be.

Now what was I looking for in the first place?

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