Tuesday, March 06, 2007

going in the buggy

Child tantrums whenever invited to go in the buggy.
Tantrums when told to walk instead.

Why doesn't she want to go in the pushchair or walk herself? can she tell you, out of the moment? Or can you work it out from her actions?

If she wants carrying, how about a rucksack or sling? http://www.thecarryingkind.com/products/shw-detail.asp?pid=168

If she wants a snuggle, why not sit on a bench together for 20 minutes with a drink and a snack and a favourite book or a sticker book?

If she isn't ready to leave the place yet, why not keep playing till she's finished? It might take a while to overcome a past history of expecting mum to make her leave before she's ready - the first time it might take ALL DAY playing around the park entrance, but in time you'll find that if you allow plenty of time and don't pressure child to leave, she'll leave when she's had enough and wants to go and do something else. Make sure you take fun things to do yourself, like a book or magazine, and plenty of snacks, in case the park is an all day activity

If she wants to walk s-l-o-w-l-y, can you walk at her pace and enjoy every snail and pebble and leaf you pass?

Sunday, March 04, 2007

take child out of nursery

child recently went to nursery for "social skills". Unsettled, constant viruses. Parent said 'should I remove her?' Lots of people said 'no no stick it out'

I said

'What are the advantages of staying in nursery? You can get all the social exposure for about £1 a time at toddler groups, crafts, sand tray, painting, singing, cool toys...

She'll learn what she needs to learn at her own pace - have confidence in her and youself. She learned some really tricky things, like sitting and crawling and using a spoon, without any professional expert instruction - she can go on learning everything she needs to following her instincts and interests with your support and help.

I think if you don't have to put your child in a nursery for work reasons, it's a waste of money, honestly, given the fantastic toddler groups there are out there.'

Mother is removing child from nursery. And this reaction makes me want to keep posting at the mainstream board I've been frequenting


can be gleaned from interacting with the mainstream, for short periods.

more advice for the mother who's child throws food

Can you let go of the expectation that child will sit at table for a proper family meal time till they are quite a bit older? If you provide them with enough food and enough choice of food so there'll be something they like (rice is rejected again? ok, well here's some cold pasta from the fridge which you know always works...) which they can choose to eat, or throw on the floor or eat later or eat off the floor (All good for the immune system) then they won't end up malnourished.

I suppose I'm suggesting RELAX!!! Trust your child, and follow their lead and life will be much easier.

You really don't have to impose an expectation of a certain kind of meal time at this point in their lives.

Remember that children have tiny stomachs compared to ours - they often prefer to eat lots of little snacks than great big official MEALS 3 times a day.

1) when you act in a manner which is apparently irrational to the child, they will push and push and push around that area trying to make sense of it. Why is throwing some things ok and some things not? Is it just when I'm in this chair? Or is it when Daddy is here? Or... It's not so much "pushing your buttons", though lots of people interpret it that way, it's a rational creature trying to make sense of arbitrary rules made by people in positions of power over them. When that's happening, it really helps to take the child's "defiance" as a clue that you are doing something they are not ready to understand, I think. (and remember they don't speak English yet. I was with the mum of a 7 month old in a cafe recently, and she solemnly and s-l-o-w-l-y and LOUDLY explained to him that if he dropped his rice cake it would have to stay on the floor because it's dirty down there and I just thought WHAAAAAT????? spread a spare muslin over the danger zone, you idiot! You might as well be speaking mandarin chinese!)

2) If your child wants to do something you are resistant to, find a safe way of giving them as much of that as they want. They are learning learning learning. Yes, you might not manage it the first time it occurs but by the second or third time, you need to find some way of making that situation happy for everyone. Child wants to walk by busy road? Fine, buy toddler reins. Child wants to throw food out of high chair? Fine. Find even cooler stuff to throw. Or cook a whole packet of tesco value pasta - they'll have a job throwing more than £1 worth on the floor and you can scoop it up and let 'em throw again, and in 2 years time, you'll look back nostalgically rather than in sadness at the textures-and-gravity-are-fascinating phase.

THere's a wonderful book by Deborah Jackson called something like "Do not disturb" (or maybe that's the subtitle) which is all about how to support your children in living and learning according to their own goals, facilitating their dance with the universe. A similar but much more dated in style old book, which might still be in libraries is Alison Stallibrass's The Self-Respecting Child.

on bed sharing

parent is trying to get child out of her bed and into his own...

Is there a safety reason why he shouldn't sleep in your bed?

Perhaps you could put his bed across the bottom of yours and sleep head down so you are face to face together.

Or make a nest of mattresses and duvets on the floor and snuggle down in a heap.

2.5 seems very young to me for a child to want to sleep alone.

If sleeping in his own bed/ room is something he chooses when he's ready, there'll be no stress at all.

Also worth thinking: what would your child have to do to persuade you that both would be happier and better rested if you shared a bed or a room? Sometimes our children are wiser than we are :)

Parent still worried about hour long bedtimes

take those extended bed times as relaxation time - to read a book or meditate or listen to music or watch a film (with headphones on).

If child trusts you'll be there when they wake, they are more likely to fall asleep without fear, I think.

Maybe bedtime is too early? Some people give up on bedtime entirely. THey do bath and stories and snuggles and maybe energetic rumpus, and then when child is tired, they'll fall asleep without needing hours of soothing.

I also suggested books on tape with IPOd or walkman

parenting philosophy for newbies

[All done in the first person for approachable tone, but it's hypothetical really :) ]

Thinking about letting go - jumping off a cliff - will there be a soft landing?

Most of our parenting is based on parental authority. What the parent says goes. If it hurts the child, it is for their own good. We just have to be strong. To hang in there. To hurt our children in their own interests because it will be Better In The Long Run.

When child complies, life is great.

And this situation goes on until suddenly the child is too large and old to obey us Because I Said So and they are out till God knows what hour of the night doing God knows what, and all our old techniques of persuasion can only turn into Not Under My Roof and more and more emotional distance and honestly we have no idea what interests our children or motivates them, all we can do is watch from the sidelines and worry. Just look at the older children forums on the big message boards. That's what every parent is struggling with.

We all love our children so much and are desperate for them to be happy and fulfilled, and we want to help them prepare to take their place in wider society as successful, fulfilled people. We all do.

But look at the threads here, girls: Child won't sleep where I want him/her to sleep. Child doesn't want to go to nursery, how can I make him/her? Child won't go where I want him/her to. Child won't eat a meal the way I want him/her to.

All my posts are coming from having read some wonderful books on parenting and education, by authors like Deborah Jackson, Alfie Kohn, John Holt, Jan Hunt. And from having found out a lot about the philosophy of Karl Popper, which he never applied to parenting but which holds as its central concept the principle of fallibility. and then finding a (now defunct) blog called Rational Parenting and then a radical website called Taking Children Seriously.

And this is what comes out of it:

In a conflict situation, instead of asserting your authority or giving in to your child, try to find a solution which everyone genuinely prefers to their original plan (a "common preference"). Suddenly problems are not a disaster but something to get your teeth into, out of which all kinds of fun and learning and closeness can come.

In a conflict situation, remember, you might be wrong and your child might be right. (that's the fallibility bit) It's that old story where 10 month old is trying to grab your fork and you are going "no no that's not safe" and then you turn away for a second and when you turn back child is solemnly and dextrously feeding you pasta. Humbling.

It's a completely different philosophy of parenting from anything most of us have ever encountered before, and I believe it leads to gloriously happier families.

In a reply, someone said she thought compromise is good

I don't advocate compromise. I hate compromise. I want X, you want Y, and we get Z which is a mish mash of both which noone wanted. A common preference is much better than a compromise. The people involved don't meet in the middle. Instead they find ways for everyone to get what they originally wanted, or they find things which everyone genuinely prefers to their original desire. It sometimes involves some serious thinking outside the box.

A simplified version might be:

I want chicken for supper
You want mushrooms
we have chicken and mushroom pie, which noone really likes.

Common preference:
I want chicken for supper
you want mushrooms
One of us suggests beef instead. Wow! I'd like beef even better than chicken! you'd like beef even better than mushrooms! Everyone is happy.

communicating with the mainstream

Parent wrote:
"My daugher is 2 and a half and just lately has become really naughty and cheeky, also very good at completly ignoring me when i speaking to her..."

do you think your daughter means to ber naughty? Is she a bad person? I doubt it :)

Do you think she understands why some things are forbidden and others are allowed? Do you have rational and logical reasons for forbidding certain things? If they are indeed rational, you should be able to communicate it at 2 year old level. (not just THE STOVE WILL BURN YOU, GO TO THE NAUGHTY STEP but experimenting safely with heat, with flames and cookers and hot taps so that when you say HOT the child understands exactly why it's not a good idea to grasp with both hands rather than not touching because they are afraid of your anger)

Parent wrote:
"other times she will throw a massive tantrum over something silly."

forgive me, but who decides it's silly? When you're really angry or frustrated, you don't like it if people say "oh don't be ridiculous, this is a tiny problem" do you? If it was minor to her, she wouldn't throw a tantrum. Try to work out what she's upset about, and find some way of making it possible for the thing she wants to occur, or find something even more fun for her to do.

Parent wrote:
"its the ignoring me that gets on my nevres the most, even when im just trying to speak to her she will completly ignore me..."

maybe that's because what you are saying makes no sense to her - seems illogical or unhelpful or unkind.

We adults are all so verbal, but a 2.5 year old really isn't yet.
Replace a lecture with a sentence.
Replace a sentence with a kind word
Replace a word with a helpful action.

All the best to you - it's a roller coaster journey isn't it? If you can lose the idea of controlling your daughter, it'll free you up to be a guide and free her up to blossom and thrive. You'll be able to wave the kicking-of-granny good bye

Thursday, March 01, 2007


Suggestions for a parent in great pain about giving child time-outs and removing food when it goes on the floor at scheduled mealtimes...

This might sound crazy, but here are some ideas aimed at removing the stress from the situation without hurting your child and yourself... maybe one or two will be useful. They are offered in deep sympathy for your pain and your child's.

Spread a big rug on the floor and have a carpet picnic
Sit on the floor next to a child sized table

Lose the idea that everyone has to eat the same food at the same time.

If being with you and husband while you eat is interesting, child will do it without having to be frightened into sitting at the table with you. If not, then it'll be interesting in a week, 6 months, a year. Relax. Spread more tablecloths on the floor :-)

Give child food as background while they do something else - nothing like having a crayon in one hand and a sausage in the other, and somehow the sausage all disappears.

Find lots of really interesting things to throw off the table. You can get 100 plastic balls from Argos for less than £10. Now THAT'S fun. Parents could attempt to throw the balls in a tricky target on the other side of the room. Child is going to prefer to throw coloured balls than pasta, let's face it.

Remember: child is almost certainly not throwing food because they hate your food, they hate you, they intend to be uncivilised, or they are not hungry. THey are throwing the food because they are exploring the universe around them and they want to find out about different textures, things which go flump and things which go splot. Encourage it in ways which don't annoy you - lots of play dough. Lots of finger food. A tablecloth under the chair so thrown food can just get recirculated. Lots of making "soup" out of flour and eggs and food colouring. Make sure child wears machine washable clothes.

You can turn this round to a joyful thing in 5 minutes flat by working WITH your child to help them learn about the world through experiment and play, and incidentally gradually moving towards formal mealtimes as they grow older. If anyone asks what on EARTH you are doing, tell them your child is going to be a genius scientist. :-)

What do you think? I'm hoping it communicates with someone who has never ocnsidered parenting playfully before.