Monthly Archives: September 2013

A-mazing we will go

Sometimes as parents we feel ourselves in a maze – turning corners here – backtracking – wondering where to go next – knowing there must be a different way out – thinking is anyone else having this same kind of problem – feeling panicky – what should I do – but arriving, at last, to the exit.

I believe the exit is the clarity that comes when we recognize that we are circling and repeating the same thought pattern – evoking fear and stress but not stepping far enough away to see what it might be that we can do differently.

Once we begin to look at the situation in a more positive and less fear-based way – what one step could be taken to start to change the situation – we discover our exit out.

But sometimes it’s really a challenge to recognize what that change could be.

That’s why I encourage you to check out our Parenting Classes starting up this fall at The Parenting Place; dial up our Warmline,  with your parenting question – 784-8125;  make a one-on-one Family Coaching appointment to talk about your concern;  come to one of our Play Shoppes or Parent Connection  for support and fun with other parents, children and Parent Educators; or find out about The Parenting Places’s  Parents as Teachers home visiting program.

We  don’t want you to have to do this alone.

Now – speaking of mazes –

  Join The Parenting Place  Friday Play Shoppe on October 4th at the Hidden Trails Corn Maze, W47o4 Hwy 16, just a few miles north of the Mall, at 9:30 AM.  We will play, go through the children’s mazes, take a wagon ride, have a treat, enjoy being outdoors. There is a small charge for the wagon ride and if you purchase a pumpkin.

Any questions, please give me a call at 784-8125.

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My brother’s backpack

It was such a sweet story that a mom shared with me at Play Shoppe on Friday morning.  Her 3-year-old daughter began preschool this fall and was feeling very sad and lonely on her first day there.   Fortunately her 1st grade brother, Will, got the chance to come and comfort her, and that made her feel so much better.

Recently, though, tender little Beatrice has figured out her own “security system”. “When my class goes to the bathroom, I get to walk right by and see Will’s backpack hanging on a hook outside of his classroom, and then I don’t feel sad anymore.”

The closeness of siblings.

As parents we often fret about not being able to meet all the needs of our children – especially when children are close in age and still very young.

But love filters down from one child to another when, perhaps, we least expect it.

I watched two young sisters while visiting the Onalaska Play Shoppe this week.  They were very cooperatively sweeping up the rice that was all over the floor from the rice table.  One had the big broom – the other had the dust pan and small brush.

They stuck to their job happily making great progress when someone remarked to them what a good job they were doing.  One sister readily responded – “Team work makes the dream work.”

“Team work makes the dream work” – I wanted to make sure I remembered that saying,  coming so easily out of the mouth of this little hard worker.  For that’s what families are all about – teamwork.

It’s this very sense of belonging and spirit that is felt and cherished from within – that does, indeed, make “the dream work” –  that provides a little girl comfort just by the sight of her own big brother’s backpack hanging on a hook outside his classroom door.

“There may be no relationships that can run quite as deep or survive quite as long as those among siblings.” – Jeffrey Kluger, The Sibling Effect

If you are experiencing some less than positive interactions between the siblings in your house, give me a call at The Parenting Place, 608-784-8125 and together we can find the teamwork.

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in their own time

I noticed it right away at Play Shoppe on Friday – a certain stride in his step, the sturdy confidence in the hold of his head, the more direct eyes.  This little guy had bloomed in the hot summer weather and blossomed into the beginning of a new stage of integration.

I knew it would come.  He is a quiet introspective child who stayed close to Mom and focused on what was in front of him.  And that was always okay with Mom.  She granted him his growing season without pushing, picking, suggesting, comparing.

Another little child also grabbed my attention on Friday.  Whenever I would come face to face with this young sunflower, she would hit the floor immediately and hide her face.  It was all just too much for her to have to be confronted.  Mom never made excuses or tried to force the issue.  That was just what she did and that was okay.

But on Friday, there sat this little girl, bespectacled and happy, during circle time, looking me right in the eyes, doing all the finger plays, singing the song, participating – in her own time.

I guess that’s the real message here – in their own time.  After all, childhood is not a race,  every child is different and their time table set at their own individual pace.  When as parents, we can recognize this and hold our children in confidence and trust versus impatience and conditions, our children will emerge and reveal the unfolding of their special self.

Patrick and Kayleigh Jo – I was expecting you – in your own time.

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let them own it

A few days ago, I passed by a playing field and noticed little boys suited up in their football attire, getting out of cars, running onto the field meeting up with other little guys bulked up in shoulder pads and helmets – the works.  They looked so miniature to me in spite of their extra layers.

I was particularly drawn to observing this sight because I had just recently spoken with a parent who was conflicted, between the admittedly self-imposed pressure she was feeling about signing her young son up for football, and her own strong conviction that children at this age should be spending their afternoons after school in unstructured, imaginative free play. But several of his friends were participating she said, and she worried that her son would be left behind.  Yet, for her,  there was also the dreaded impression she had of organized sports and pushy parents.

Reflecting on this, I recalled an article I had read interviewing two seasoned coaches,  Bruce E. Brown and Rob Miller of Proactive Coaching LLC who have become staunch advocates for the player, the adolescent, the child and  are devoted to helping parents find balance in being a positive sports parent.

One point that I found significantly poignant in this article was the reported response, from hundreds of college athletes over three decades of coaching, when asked ” What is your worst memory from playing youth and high school sports?”, the overwhelming answer from these athletes was “the ride home from games with my parents”.

The article went on to say, in the moments after a game, win or lose, kids need distance.  They want to leave the game behind and return to kid status and, in turn, they want their parents to go from spectator (or even coach in some cases) to being Mom and Dad.

Apparently, going over the game, what worked, what didn’t, who should have done this or that, comments about the coach and his/her decisions, even praise or confidence boosters for next time are not helpful nor is it what the child needs or wants.

This same research says athletes, when asked what their parents did say that positively resonated with them during and after a ball game, the majority responded “I love to watch you play”.  Many of these young athletes also shared that they especially enjoyed having their grandparents watch them perform.  Grandparents were more content than parents to simply enjoy watching the child play and kids recognized and felt that.

So .. I believe this is really good insight for all of us as parents to apply to almost anything our children show interest in – are good at – participate in- be it sports, art, music, academics.

It is their thing – let them own it. We can appreciate their interest but not take charge of it.

Instead, we can sit back and  “love to watch them play”.

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Big Tree

Big Tree sits on the marsh trail at Myrick Park.  If you’ve walked the trail, you have seen her.

Big Tree, as we fondly call her, is huge, stately and impressive.  When my husband and I and Tootsie walk through the marsh, we never pass by without acknowledgment.

There are two benches near Big Tree for one to rest, to reflect, to be restored. There’s a nice clearing off the path around her. Often we stop – to sit for a moment on the bench – or just to circle Big Tree in awe – touching and feeling the warmth of her bark.

For some reason when I sat down to write my blog today, it was Big Tree that I thought of – Big Tree that kept popping into my head. I stopped to wonder why, and realized perhaps it was the sense of grounding one feels when you are in the presence of this grand tree, who just seems to be saying, “I am always here for you, come and sit by me and be peaceful”.

Isn’t that what our children need at times?  Even more so, I’d say, on the days that nothing seems to be going right.  Or perhaps now, at new beginnings for so many children – starting preschools, kindergarten, middle and high school, even college.  Our children go off, use all of their reserves to be brave, to be a part of the social group, to work hard, and when they come home – there you are.

It is a delicate time of transition when children re-enter the family circle after being away.  Too many demands, too many questions all at once can be overload on a child’s depleted emotional tank.  Try instead to just be peaceful, welcoming, nourishing with a healthy snack ready – and then wait – for them to be refueled, by the strength of your presence – their own Big Tree.

Thinking of all of you who are sending your little ones and bigger ones off to new adventures away from you.

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