Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Consciously Parenting Class Giveaway!


We are excited to announce a new set of On Demand Classes coming soon: Hot Topics in the Infant and Toddler Years! 

The first session, Infant and Toddler Sleep, is available now, and it is FREE to listen to right on our site: Click Here

The next 6 classes are in pre-production.  Rebecca Thompson is teaming up with Ray Castellino and midwife Mary Jackson to share cutting-edge information that brings scientific research to you in ways you can actually use in your parenting.   These classes will cover some of the most popular parenting topics, and we need YOUR help to make sure we share the information you need!

These Classes will include the following topics:
  • Infant and Toddler Sleep
  • High-Need Babies and Sleep
  • Breastfeeding and Sleep
  • Sleep Deprivation
  • Finding Support as a Parent and as a Family
  • Attachment
  • Challenging Birth Experiences
  • Different Roles Within the Family.
When you ask a parenting question, you're automatically entered to win one of our new classes.  We'd love for you to send questions about any topic that pertains to your situation. There are no limits on the number of questions you may submit.  Each question is good for one entry into the drawing.  We'll be giving away 6 individual classes so we'd love for you to send questions about all of the topics that pertain to your situation.

Please fill out the entry form here to submit your questions.  Questions must be received no later than 11:59 PM EDT on Monday, June 28.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Respect

Whenever I ask a group of parents what they want for their children, the topic of respect inevitably comes up.  Parents want their children to be respected, but parents also want to feel respected by their children.  Many parents grew up not feeling respected themselves and most parents, it turns out, grew up having at least one experience (most had many experiences) of not being respected by an adult in their life.

We deeply want the respect of others in our lives, especially those we share space with, physically and/or emotionally.  When we aren't feeling that respect, we may find ourselves feeling angry.  Or scared.  We may react in ways we do not like.

So what is respect anyway?  How do children learn respect? And how do we get more of it in our families?

Traditional parenting, the way many of us grew up, alludes that respect is something that is demanded.  We want our children to look like they're doing what we tell them to do, especially in front of others.  And if we're not feeling respected by our child, we need to get angry at them to have them be respectful of us; We yell, we punish, we get angry.

But what is respect?  Treating someone else in a way we'd like to be treated.  Having patience.  Being gentle.  Speaking softly.  Caring about what someone else says or needs.  Maybe you have some ideas of your own.  When have you felt respected?  What words would you use to describe that experience?  What would it look like for you to respect your child?

How do children learn respect?  Young children learn everything primarily through modeling.  Research and everyday parenting experiences have shown us that if we want our child to learn something, we need to do it.  Most people have experienced a very young child using a swear word.  Often times, it is used correctly in context and even with the right inflection.  This is because children learn by watching and listening to what we do.  Just like they're watching when we behave in ways we don't want our children to imitate, they are also watching and absorbing when we do act in ways that are worthy of modeling.  If we want our children to respect us, we need to respect them.

We want our children to authentically respect us, not just act like they respect us by doing what we have told them to do when we're looking.  Parents I talk to want their children to genuinely respect them.  And that level of respect can only be learned by having someone model that behavior and teach them what respect looks like.

Respect with a newborn means responding to her cries.  Respect for a one year old means giving him limits while still respecting his feelings.  Respect for a two year old means lovingly creating a rhythm to her day so that she knows what to expect.  Respect for a six year old means setting appropriate limits and teaching the child appropriate ways to interact with the world.  And sometimes it is recognizing that his missed attempts at respect are due to a misunderstanding of the situation, rather than being willfully disrespectful.  Respect for an eleven year old means listening to what he has to say without judgment and saving your reaction to the way it was said for a conversation at a later time.

When we can remember what respect feels like and felt like when you were growing up (or what the absence of respect felt like), we can start to make different choices in how we speak and interact with our child.  If you're interested in an in-depth discussion about Respect and the concept of modeling, check out Module #2 in our Connection Parenting on-demand series.  Dive in to discover what respect really means to you in your life and what it can look like in your family now. 

Do you have stories of making a different choice in the face of what could be interpreted as disrespectful behavior from your child?  Have you created a positive response that is different than what your own parents did?  What situations do you find the most challenging when it comes to respect or not showing respect, either from your kids or yourself?  I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Drawing Circles

"He drew a circle that shut me out,
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But love and I had wit to win.
We drew a circle that took him in."

I sang a song in church this past Sunday called Circle. I'd never heard it before it was given to me, but I fell in love with it the moment I set my eyes on it. "And this circle goes on and on, it was there before us it will be here when we're gone. And this circle goes on and on and on... connecting our humanity, joining me to you and you to me." It was a great reminder of how connected we all really are- how it does matter when something is going on with one member of our family because it does affect us all.

During the service, my minister shared the poem above and it really struck me. We are constantly drawing circles around ourselves and our children. Are they on the "right" side of the circle? Who is drawing the lines in the sand? Are we on the same team or are we working against one another? What a powerful realization in my own family life it was to realize that I was drawing circles that didn't include my precious children in the name of "teaching" them what they were supposed to learn. I didn't even know I was doing it.

My children's behaviors sometimes feel like personal attacks- like they are drawing a circle around themselves. "See," I reason with myself, "They don't want to be close or connected or they wouldn't act like that. He deserves to be on his own then." I would say to myself. But thankfully- eventually- I was able to see that it was I who was holding the chalk and drawing the circle, and that I had the power to draw a new circle that included him.

Where are you drawing your circles? What would happen if you drew a circle that included someone you're having a challenge with? Not always easy, but it changes lives.
How do we draw a new circle? With our parenting choices! Here are a few suggestions:

-Use time-in instead of time-out when someone is having a hard time

-Go out of your way to show an interest in something your child is interested in

-Spend time with your child "just because" and watch their eyes light up

-Give your child some extra eye-contact and see how they respond (watch your child's response- some children find this too difficult at first)

-Take a deep breath and PAUSE (Pause Before Acting- PBA)

-Go back and apologize when we don't do it the way we know they deserve to be treated!
You're not going to do everything perfectly, so give yourself some grace. It takes time and effort to draw new circles. And remember that there are thousands of families around the world who are on the same path, so you are not alone!

If you'd like some individual family support, our team can support you in making the shift! Let us know how we can help you!

Warmly,
Rebecca