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Helping Your Child Through Transition

togethermomandgirl

 

Ever since my daughter was small, she has said to me, “We’re NEVER going to move, right, mom?” and I have answered, “I will never make the decision to move without including you in that decision.”

When the time came and I first brought up the idea of moving to my daughter, I was absolutely prepared for a firm “no way!” but she surprised me.

We did make the decision together, and we have had an incredible adventure. There have been ups and downs, for both of us, tears and laughter, loneliness and a sense of loss, growth and the discovery of ourselves as different and stronger and more capable than we were before.

This blog post uses the example of a move to share some keys about how to support a child through transition, but these concepts can apply to any transition – a new sibling, new school, separation or divorce, or something else.

Trust your child to participate in the decision, to whatever extent makes sense in the situation.

Know that unrelated meltdowns are not unrelated. Be on the lookout for connections. For example, your child might one day have a complete meltdown about the brand of ice cream that you just bought. Instead of “It’s just ice cream! You like chocolate!” say things like, “I get it. We’re moving, and half of our stuff is in boxes, and you’re going to have a different house and a different school and different friends, and the last thing you need right now is different ice cream. I get it.” Your child develops resilience when he or she moves through this kind of situation – don’t fix it for them, but be there to listen and understand.

Let your child see you handling the same feelings he or she is experiencing. If you miss your friends, don’t hide your tears. Cry, and teach your child that friendships matter, that it’s hard for you, too, and that you’re okay. If you’re overwhelmed with figuring out where to shop and how to find a dentist and what to do about immigration and importing a car, let your child hear you talk yourself through it. “I have so much to do and I can’t even imagine how I can possibly handle everything! I’m sure I’ll feel better tomorrow, but right now I am thoroughly overwhelmed!” Put your head on the table on top of your papers, in a classic gesture of exhaustion (might as well enjoy the drama of it), rest for a minute, then sit back up in your chair and show your child as you keep on going.

Take stock of all the newness that your child is experiencing, and realize that it may take months – or even years – to adjust to the new situation. Just because it’s been three months, and you’re mostly settled in, doesn’t mean that your child is fully adjusted. Big changes are felt and understood in waves. A child may get the hang of one aspect of the change quickly, but only feel other aspects of the change much later. (Remember that the toughest time for an older sibling is 6-12 months after the new baby’s birth.)

Be aware of your child’s developmental stage and act accordingly. Regardless of the kind of transition that is happening, a child will feel anchored and grounded in a new situation if developmental needs are being met. If your child is between 1 and 5, he or she is especially focused on the PHYSICAL environment, and on ORDER. Keep things organized, make sure everything has a place, and give your child frequent reminders about the pattern of the day and what will happen next. If your child is between 6 and 12, he or she is especially focused on the SOCIAL environment. Be sure to facilitate lots of playdates and create frequent opportunities to connect with other children in free play and develop friendships. If your child is 12 or older, he or she is focused on both the SOCIAL environment and on finding a PLACE in the broader culture. Be sure to help your teen explore interests and strengths and build connections with peers and across generational boundaries based on shared interests.

A big transition is an opportunity to help a child develop skills and ways of being that will serve them for their lifetime. Resilience and confidence come from managing something that you didn’t know you could manage, figuring out how to handle a new situation, and learning that you get to choose how you respond when things are hard (make no mistake – change IS hard!). When transition is happening, your children look to you to show them how to handle it, and to guide them through, so transition times are also an opportunity to deepen your connection, and deepen the trust between you and your child.

Please share any questions, insights or experiences you’ve had with your child and transition. We’d love to hear!

 

 

How Do I Talk to My Daughter About Make-Up?

Dancing Princess

I remember when I was in the classroom with a bunch of 9-year-old girls who were hotly debating the topic of make-up and their parents’ attitudes towards it. When they asked me “Why do women wear make-up?” I answered, from the bottom of my soul, “Because it’s fun!”

Now, I think there’s much more to it than that.

I believe in the awesome power of beauty and how it affects our souls.

True beauty, whether in the form of a woman, a man, an animal, a costume, a flower, a beautiful human-built structure, a natural scene, or something else, affects us at a visceral lever. The feminine recognizes that power, and recognizes the power to affect others, to make them smile, and to bring joy. That power has been warped and twisted by our culture, and beauty in the female form has been overlaid and mixed up with sexuality, but beauty, with or without sexuality, is a very powerful force.

Little girls love to explore the effects of beauty, and they love to adorn themselves with beautiful things, for the sheer joy of being wrapped in beauty, and for the power that comes with carrying beauty.

With my own daughter, I gave her good quality make-up as soon as she showed an interest (age 3). I showed her how to use it, and I often remind her that the goal of make-up is to bring out the eyes, in order to allow and encourage people to connect with you, and to invite them to see into your heart.

We both wear make-up when we’re doing something fancy, “to be fancy” and I wear make-up “to be professional” in the same way that I wear different clothes for coaching or teaching than I do for days at home.

As girls grow up, I think they need to understand that the huge power of their beauty can inspire sexual feelings in men, and they need to understand the difference between sexual beauty and simple beauty, and how to value and honour the power of their sexuality.

In our culture, most women have grown up with very mixed feelings about beauty, because women are so objectified as sexual objects in North America. (Watch MissRepresentation if you haven’t yet.) Beauty is misunderstood and thought to be silly, and as a corollary, women are, too. We are led to believe that we can either be beautiful, OR be intelligent, and that a beautiful woman looks a certain, very specific, way. We are led to believe that the only reason a woman would want to be beautiful is to attract a man, and that if we are NOT that specific kind of beautiful, then we aren’t attractive to men.

In my mind, the only way to undo these wrong ideas, and the only way to empower our daughters (and sons) is to re-educate them, to help them to think about beauty and sexuality as powerful, wonderful, sacred forces, and to act accordingly.

The key is to confront the conversation head on, as soon as you feel the question in the actions and the words of your daughter, and to keep the conversation open. Tell your daughter what you believe and what messages you see being shared in our culture that don’t feel true to you. It’s not to tell her what to think, but to open her up to questioning and asking “why?” and “is it true?” about the messages that our culture offers.

To deepen your child’s relationship with beauty, offer real, good quality, beautiful things, and avoid tacky, plastic, commercial “beautiful” things. Enjoy beauty yourself. Drape yourself in it without shame or disdain. Admire it wherever you see it, and look for it in surprising places.

(At Princess Training Camp, we don’t do make-up, but we revel in beauty and colour and lovely things. I’d love to invite your daughter to join us! It’s July 13-17th, 2015, and it finishes up with a Fancy Dress Ball that you get to attend, too – so start now, planning your most beautiful adornment. We’d love to see you there! www.PrincessTrainingCamp2015.eventbrite.com .)

 

 

The Myth of Nipping it in the Bud

bud

You know that feeling of panic that shows up when your child does certain things? It’s that feeling that shouts at you, “You need to nip that in the bud!!” or “Don’t let him get away with that!” ​

When your little one lies, you envision her in jail, the next Martha Stewart. When your three-year-old hits, you have visions of your child’s eighth-grade principal calling you to let you know she’s just expelled your little bully. When your little one is bossy or whiny or tattle-taling, or cries every time they get the tiniest bump, you worry that your child will grow up, lonely and miserable, with no friends at all.

That paragraph probably made you laugh, and realize how ridiculous these thoughts are, but for most parents, the feelings in the moment are very real, and those thoughts and feelings tend to cause us to overreact and then question our choices about how we responded to the behaviour.

Once you understand where the thoughts come from, it will be easier to figure out how to respond peacefully to your child’s behaviour. Read on.

There are two main causes of this feeling of panic.

First, if you’re like most parents, you are pretty committed to sharing certain key values with your child, especially the ones you have built your life and your identity on. When your child does something that is out of alignment with these key values, it can shake us to the core. “Oh my God!” our mind shouts at us, “If you can’t even teach THIS basic thing to your child, what kind of parent are you?” This hits us right in our self-image, and so we desperately feel like we need to do something drastic, STOP the behaviour, and make sure it never happens again.

We can also be triggered by behaviours that remind us of our own painful experiences, and make us want to protect our children from the same experience. If we were bossy and friendless in junior high school, or if we learned some other lesson the hard way, we don’t want our child to hurt like we did, so we feel a desperate desire to protect them from the pain and to teach them the lesson ourselves – before they get hurt.

I get that certain behaviours are just so serious for us, as adults, that when our children do these behaviours, it feels pretty important to send a clear message and make sure it NEVER happens again. But the key here is that these behaviours are serious FOR ADULTS. Your child is still exploring boundaries, experimenting with what is acceptable, discovering her personality, learning the difference between reality and fantasy, and/or learning how to manage big feelings and act on them in ways that are helpful, not hurtful.

And he or she will learn all of these things more easily if your emotional reaction isn’t clouding your delivery of the message around that certain behaviour.

When we respond to our three-year-old as if he is an ax murderer in the making, with an intense emotional response, with punishment, or by otherwise getting really, really attached to eliminating the behaviour RIGHT NOW, we miss the opportunity to address the actual developmental process that is happening for our child, and we miss out on a lot of joy.

In truth, (good news ahead!) everything that your child does now is NOT a harbinger of impending disaster, failure, and misery, in your child’s future!

Parents ask me all the time, “Is this normal? Am I the only one whose child (hits, whines, lies, etc)? My answer, 98% of the time, is “YES!” 98% of the time it is, really and truly, just a phase. In fact, it is a very important phase that the child needs to experience in order to become the honest, responsible, non-violent adult with friends that you hope they will become!

Remember that children need to do exactly what they are doing right now in order to learn exactly what they need to learn in order to take next steps towards becoming the person they are meant to be. And how you respond to the behaviour makes it easier or harder for them to learn it.

If you can respond peacefully, addressing the child’s emotional issue, underlying problem, or developmental question, instead of focusing on simply eliminating the anti-social behaviour, your child will move through the emotion, problem, or developmental stage that is causing the behaviour much more quickly.

When you come at it with the idea of “nipping it in the bud,” most often what you’re nipping in the bud is not the behaviour, it’s the child’s learning process. In fact, if your child has tried out a new behaviour, he or she is much more likely to repeat that behaviour if YOU give the behaviour power by responding to it with a big emotional charge.

So, the first step is to take a step back, figure out whether it’s a values thing or a protection thing, and compassionately recognize what’s going on for you. For example:

“Honesty is an important value for me. I want to teach that to my child. This behaviour triggers me.”

OR

“Wow. I was really bossy growing up and it didn’t go well for me. I’m scared that if I don’t handle this, my child will lose friends like I did.”

The second step is to reassure yourself.

“Lisa Kathleen said that there’s a good chance that lots of children do this behaviour and outgrow it. My child is going to be okay. I need to develop a strategy to address this behaviour effectively so that I can help my child to learn another way to address his/her emotion/problem/developmental need.”

The third step is to respond thoughtfully and unemotionally to the behaviour.

  • Start by reflecting any apparent need or feeling that your child is demonstrating, or describing the situation.

“You really wanted another cookie, so you told me you didn’t have one yet. You really want it to be true that you didn’t have a cookie already!”

OR

“You really want Suzy to be the little girl in your game! You want to be the mommy in your game!”

  • If you can, state the value or the general truth that your child needs to know.

“Honesty is important so we can all trust each other’s words.”

OR

“People don’t like being told what to do all the time. People like being invited to do something.”

  • If you don’t know what to do or say, if no one’s getting hurt, and especially if it’s the first time you’ve seen the behaviour, you might even consider ignoring it. Chances are your child will give you another opportunity to address the behaviour, after you’ve had some time to figure out how you want to respond.

If you do this, instead of “nipping it in the bud”, you will give your child what he or she needs to blossom and grow. <3

Need some help figuring out what’s going on developmentally for your child, or how to shift your energy around your child’s trigger behaviours? Give me a call to ask about coaching! I’d love to help! 403-607-1463 

Discipline Without Guilt??!! Really? How Does That Work?

momandson

Discipline is the part of parenting that parents hate most. If you read my last blog post, about how much control you “should” have over your child, you’ll see the first reason why parents hate discipline so much – it’s because they don’t have clarity around what they do have control over, and what they don’t.

But the biggest reason that parents hate discipline is that our culture is not good at conflict. We think everything should always be nice-y nice-y. We don’t get passionate about what we believe or how we feel because we don’t want to offend anyone, and we don’t want to be perceived as trying to control anyone else. AND since we think discipline means punishment, we don’t want to be seen as the big meanie, so we feel resentful when our children push us to “have to” punish them.

What a mess.

First, we need to rethink that whole discipline-punishment thing. (Go HERE to find out more or register for my upcoming Discipline Without Guilt class.) What if, for a very young child, discipline just means that the child hasn’t developed the internal discipline to control his or her own impulses? Well, then, if we feel peaceful about being there to clearly show them where those impulses need to develop, and to be those impulses for them, aren’t we HELPING, not hurting? Punishment is when you hurt your child, ON PURPOSE, to teach them a lesson. What if, for an older child, discipline means supporting the child, in a less and less overt way, to determine what matters to them, and where they want to develop inner discipline, and to take the steps to help them develop that? Since we know that punishment doesn’t work to do this, anyway, what if we just dropped that mindset and focused on our actual goal?

Second, we need to develop clarity around what things, FOR US, are important enough to justify stepping in to consistently help our young child see clearly where those impulses need to develop, and readjust this yearly, as our child grows.

And, more and more, especially for an older child, we need to develop skills around understanding, problem-solving, coaching, and ***advocating for our own needs***.

“Oh, shit,” I hear you say, “I’m bad at that.”

Yeah, I know. Me, too.

But, here’s the thing. When you practice, you get better. You stop being afraid that someone else will flip/tantrum/be sad/meltdown, and you start standing in your own power (such an overused phrase, but exactly what I need to say) and declare what matters to you, while still respecting what’s going on for them, AND doing what you need to do to be the parent your child needs, from a place of heart, clarity, purpose, and love.

I’d love to help you bring this all together!

Discipline Without Guilt starts April 11th, 2015. Find out more HERE.

Here’s to you. Here’s to your child. Here’s to peace in your parenting, and solutions that work for both of you.

<3,

Lisa Kathleen

I would love to share Discipline Without Guilt with you, and help you find a new groove. Check it out here. 

How Much Control Should You Have Over Your Child?

childstickingouttongue

 

In the Big Picture Parenting class today, we had a great conversation about control. The question goes something like this: “How do I make sure my child is doing or not doing Certain Important Things while still respecting their autonomy and independence?

 

It’s a darn good question, because at the end of the day, the only thing we really have full control over is ourselves.

 

Our children, when small, are within our control to some extent. But they still cry when THEY choose, pee when THEY choose, sleep when THEY choose, and eat what THEY choose. (Many power struggles develop, in the long term, around sleep, potty training, and food – so if you’re trying too hard to control in these areas, listen up!)

 

The more time we spend in a power struggle in the short run, the less influence we have over our child in the long run. 

 

And in the long run, ALL we have is influence. So the sooner we figure out that working WITH our child, respecting our child’s autonomy, while still providing clear limits around the things we can control (ie ourselves, our actions and reactions), is possible, the better.

 

As a single mom, I had to figure this out early. My daughter would head off to her dad’s house and I had NO control. I no longer got to decide what she ate, or what she was exposed to on TV, among a myriad of other things. After a few years of trying to control HIM (you can guess how that went 🙂 ) I concluded that the key was to build my relationship with her, NOT so that I could control her, but in such a way that she would respect me enough to consider my ideas and opinions, in the short term and in the long term.

 

So, how do we stay out of the power struggle, and stay in the game?

 

First, remember that it’s only a power struggle if YOU make it a power struggle. Your child is just doing what children do, trying to figure out how things work in the world, and doing exactly what she needs to do to learn what she needs to learn to move through her current developmental process.

 

Second, do what you need to do without feeling guilty. If you must stop the behaviour, stop the behaviour, support your child as she moves through the disappointment, and move on. Don’t get all in a knot about your child’s autonomy when you need to do what you need to do. Self-doubt helps no one.

 

Third, accept that some things aren’t in your control, and let those things go. When you are not all charged up about something your child is doing, your child won’t be as interested in doing it anyway. I was visiting a wise mama at dinnertime once, and her daughter wouldn’t come to the dinner table. She eventually chose to let it go, saying with a sigh, but obviously, no attachment and no intention to make her child feel guilty, “Well, I’m disappointed.” When you can’t control it, support yourself through the disappointment, and move on.

 

Fourth, give your child information so that he can make good decisions about the things that he has control over, and then let go of your attachment to which choice your child makes, whether it’s the colour of the sippy cup he chooses or whether to pay attention in class. Over years, your child will practice exercising that decision-making muscle, and will make better and better decisions about bigger and bigger things. (This is a key area of building influence – when you give your child the information she needs to understand her world and feel good about her choices, she will come back to you for more information.)

 

Fifth, decide what you believe is “basic respect”, and start young with creating clarity. Children raised with age-appropriate autonomy and your focus on building influence will figure out basic respect/social etiquette eventually, but you can decide what behaviour you’re comfortable with at what age in a restaurant, for example. This is up to you – an area you have control over. If you are not comfortable with your child’s behaviour in the restaurant, either don’t take them out to the restaurant, or remove them if things get out of hand.

 

So, how much control should you have over your child? Enough to keep them and others safe. After that, it’s all about having control over yourself, building connection, and developing respect-based influence. And here’s what’s amazing. When we lovingly focus on what WE have control over – our child’s behaviour will change, too.

 

Any insights? Questions? Post them below!

 

And consider joining me for the Discipline Without Guilt class coming up in April/May 2015. I’d love to help you find ways to manage your triggers, build influence, set your child up for success, and build connection with your child at the times when it’s hardest to do. <3 Register HERE.

Does Your Child Push Your Buttons?

buddhastatue

Chances are, your child is an expert at pushing your buttons. Here’s how to short circuit the button, so that you can stay in that loving Zen place and stay connected, instead of pushing the disconnection even further along.

If you’ve been reading my blog at all, you know that connection is big for me. Parents tell me ALL the time that what they want most is to know that their child can share things with them, and will come to them when they need support – they want to stay connected, and they want to be trusted. Is this you, too?

When our children get good at pushing buttons, it drives DISconnection and weakens trust. Here’s what to do…

First, remember what I said in my last blog post (read it here): Your child is doing exactly what he needs to be doing to learn what he needs to learn in order to become the person he’s meant to become. Read that again! It’s a BIG concept. Your child MUST push your buttons. He’s learning SOMETHING from the process. So, you may as well use the same process to learn something awesome, too.

And here’s the awesome thing that you can learn from it. (And, happily, a beautiful thing for your child to learn, too.) Your child does not control you. You get to decide how you will react when your child pushes your buttons.

Sorry if that sounds patronizing. You’re a smart person, and of course you know that you have control over your own emotions, but if you’re reading this, chances are you’re having a tough time accessing, or acting on, that knowing in the moment.

First, I’m going to increase your motivation to learn this. Your child needs to know that he or she does not control you. Being in control of a parent’s emotions is a BIG responsibility for a little child. Your child needs to know that YOU are in control, that he or she can trust you to handle stuff. When your little person pushes your buttons and sees you react, that is scary stuff for her. She needs to know that she does not have the power to throw her whole world out of kilter. If your child is older, or a teenager, your peace, your ability to stay calm, gives him or her a safe place to land.

So here’s the magic move. It’s incredibly simple, and it’s much more powerful than you may know.

When the button is being pushed, breathe UNTIL your brain turns off and your heart is speaking clearly. Breathe UNTIL your love for your child bubbles up and overtakes whatever ego-driven, power-focused thing you were about to say or do to your little person. Breathe UNTIL either the moment passes completely, and you can’t remember that the button was pushed, or UNTIL you know exactly what loving thing you can do instead of reacting from fear or anger. Keep breathing.

Breathe into the crunched-up, angry part of yourself that can’t seem to let go of the crunched-up, angry thought that you are holding (see my last blog post to understand where that thought came from ). Breathe into the tips of your toes and the bottom of your belly. Feel and follow your breath into the spaces between your ribs. Breathe with ALL of your attention. Breathe with ALL of your power. Breathe with ALL of your heart. And when your attention shifts back to those crunched-up angry thoughts, breathe louder and deeper.

If your attention is 100% on your breath, your mind will shut off, and the crunched-up angry thoughts will float away.

What will your child do while you are doing all this breathing?

First, he or she may just stop doing whatever he or she was doing that was pushing your buttons, because broken buttons are no fun to push. Second, he or she may try harder to push your buttons, because broken buttons can also be frustrating. That’s okay, chances are you can out-breathe your button pusher. If you can’t, that’s okay, too, because you can always start again. Third, your little button-pusher may get a little worried about you. You are behaving in a way he or she is not used to, and it may be a little disconcerting. Keep breathing. Breathe as if you are eating chocolate, enjoying every single melty bit of it in your mouth, down your throat, in your belly. Breathe joyously. Breathe determinedly. Breathe, breathe, breathe.

Remember that breathing does not mean that you don’t DO anything else. It just means that you don’t do anything IN ANGER. And that is the ultimate key. You may still not know what to do (if this is you, join us for Big Picture Parenting 2015 and learn What to Do Instead of Rewards, Punishment, Praise, and Shame) but there’s a good chance you’ll come up with something much better to do than what you would have done otherwise. And you’ll do it from a place of peace, a place of understanding, and a place of kindness.

Start breathing now. The more you breathe, intentionally, every day, all day, the easier it will be to breathe in the moment. The more your mind is used to existing without thoughts, the easier it will be for your mind to go there when your buttons are being pushed.

Your child will thank you for it.

If you need help short-circuiting your buttons, check out Big Picture Parenting 2015 or call me for a little coaching… 403-607-1463. I’d love to support you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why We Get Mad at Our Kids (& How to Stop)

sad-child

Okay, I’m just going to blurt it out.

The bottom line is, we get mad at our kids because we think they shouldn’t be doing what they’re doing, and because we think that, if they are doing what they are doing, it means that we are bad parents.

Here’s how it works:

The child doesn’t listen to us. We think they should, and we assume that since they didn’t, we have done something wrong – we are bad parents. When the thought arrives that we must be bad parents, we resent our child for making it so clear to us that we are bad parents. Finally, we get mad and lash out at them, because if they did what we want them to do, we wouldn’t feel like bad parents. Then we feel guilty for lashing out, and we backpedal and cater and fix it for them – to convince them that they aren’t bad, and to convince ourselves that we aren’t either. Often, it all happens in a split second, and by the end of it, EVERYONE feels bad.

The problem with this whole vicious cycle is that it is based on faulty logic in the first place. When your child does whatever he does that you don’t like, it does not follow that someone has to be bad.

Most of us grew up in cultures that evaluated, judged, compared, and rated us, all the time. We were told to be “good” and most disagreements between children ended up with a good guy and a bad guy. So, it’s not surprising that EVEN THOUGH we know in our hearts that our kids aren’t bad, it’s hard to get our heads around the idea that we aren’t bad, either. Because the culture we grew up in taught us to choose: “Someone has to be wrong here, and someone has to be right.” When we’re upset, our thoughts run wild, and we waffle back and forth between, “He’s bad,” and “I’m bad.”

Let me hold your hand and tell you something, straight from my heart.

You are not a bad parent when your child doesn’t listen to you. Your child is not a bad kid, either.

Now, let’s reframe this whole situation starting with a different basic premise.

Let’s start from the truth – that your child is doing EXACTLY what he needs to be doing in order to learn what he needs to learn to move successfully through his current developmental process, with his or her personality.

Your two year-old MUST resist and say “no” as she discovers that she is not you. Your 3 year-old MUST experience overwhelming emotions, in order to learn how to manage those big feelings that come in life. Your 4 year-old MUST intentionally not listen, in order to find out where he has power to choose and where he does not. Your 5 year-old MUST experiment with saying Really Mean Things in order to discover his own power to hurt, and to heal, another.

“But,” you say, “My friend’s 2, or 3 or 4 or 5 year-old doesn’t do those things!!”

Not every child is alike. The developmental processes are the same, but every personality experiences those developmental needs differently. A more outgoing personality with a need for intensity and leadership potential will explore with power differently than a more introspective personality with a need for quiet and a love for being part of a team.

Your child, in order to develop his or her potential, strengths and self-knowledge, MUST do EXACTLY what he or she does to test hypotheses and to learn, whether you like it or not.

So, what to do with this information? Does it mean that, since we don’t get mad, we just let the child do whatever and walk all over us?

No. But whatever you do, if you keep in mind that your child is doing exactly what he’s supposed to be doing, and that nobody’s bad, your actions will no longer be laced with anger and designed to punish your child.

You will still sometimes need to pick your child up and leave the birthday party amidst screams and misery. But you won’t blame your child or yourself, you won’t feel the need to stay mad or punish your child, and you won’t deem the situation a failure. Nobody has failed.

Instead, your child has succeeded in discovering one more thing about herself in the world, and you have succeeded in helping her learn, compassionately.

 

I’d love to help you identify how your child’s behaviour is reflecting his or her developmental process, and help you figure out what to do instead of rewards, punishments, praise or shame. Check out Big Picture Parenting 2015, or call me up for some coaching!

We can coach by phone, by Skype, no matter where you live, or in-home (if you live in Calgary, Canada). Call me to find out if coaching with me might be a good fit for you…403-607-1463.

I’d love to connect!

With love,
Lisa Kathleen

 

 

Help Your Child Learn Better (#2) – A Lifetime of Inspiration

childreading

In my last blog post we talked about how to help your child learn better by keeping learning styles in mind. In this blog post we’ll talk about an even more important step – how to inspire your child to design their own learning situation, to ask for what they need, and to set themselves up to learn what, and how they want to.

Here’s what I mean.

A little while ago, my daughter, age 9, was complaining about learning division at school. She’d been shown a new way to do long division, and as she continued in her complaint, she said, “But I didn’t get it, because he didn’t make us do it ourselves!” Then she asked me to help her with it, and told me how to help her. She had identified that she would have learned the division better if she’d been walked through actively doing it herself, but more importantly, she took charge of the situation, and showed me how to teach her.

A few days later, she was trying to show me how to crochet something, and I grinned at her and said, “I don’t get it – you need to make me do it myself!” She laughed, provided me with my own crochet hook, and walked me through it, while I did it myself. (I crocheted a beautiful flower, by the way, all by myself, under her tutelage!) See the picture – Flower I crocheted!but please note that it looks better in real life.

So, backing up a bit – my daughter decided, from her exposure at school, that long division was worth learning, she knew how she would learn it best, she assigned me the task of teaching her, then told me how. How would this have been different if I had heard her complaint, then decided that she should learn long division, on my terms, in my way?

To do this key step of inspiring your child to design their own learning situation, to ask for what they need, and to set themselves up to learn what, and how they want to, it’s important to earn your child’s trust, so that he or she feels safe learning from you along the way. Here’s how I’ve earned my daughter’s trust over the years – and why she has often said to me (though she loves her teachers!), “Mommy, I wish YOU were my teacher.”

1) I notice what fascinates her, and offer her more of that. When I respect her interest, I encourage her to trust and follow her own inner direction, not to stifle all of her questions and curiousities.

2) I ask, before showing or telling her something. I ask, “Would you like a lesson on this?” or “I have some interesting information about that. Would you like me to tell you?” If she says “no” (maybe 25% of the time) I SHUT UP! If it’s really important, I will likely ask again later, or sometimes, I’ll say, “This is really important. Can I please share it with you?” Because she trusts me, usually she says yes. And, when she wants to learn something new, she often comes to me and says, “Mom, can you help me with this?”

3) I do not pretend to know everything. When she asks about something I don’t know, I connect her with other resources, and, for as long as she’s been old enough, I’ve shown her how to find those resources herself.

4) I respect her different way of learning, and don’t expect her to move to the next step or into a different style until she asks or accepts my offer. When she has many experiences learning at her pace, in her style, she comes to know how she learns, and learns how to set up situations that work for her. I love to learn by jumping in right away. She likes to learn by watching for a long time first, then tentatively stepping in. I give her the space to do it her way.

5) Over and over again, I let go of my agenda for her learning, and instead, I do my best to discover and support her agenda.

I hope this blog post helps you to observe and support your child to discover their own passions and pursue them with gusto! Check out my other blog post on this topic HERE.

If you’re also looking for the schooling environment that will best meet your child’s learning needs, I’d also love to invite you to my next Alternative and Traditional Schooling Options in Calgary class, or to purchase the audio and workbook version of the class.

I’d love to see you there!

 

 

 

 

Help Your Child Learn Better (Part 1)

Showingchild

It’s fairly common knowledge these days that people have different learning styles, but the conversation about different teaching styles isn’t as common. I’m going to share about why teaching style matters – whether in a school or a home setting – and how you can adjust your “teaching” interactions with your child to be more effective and connecting. 

Here’s the bottom line: How we teach may matter more than what we teach. 

And here’s why – when we teach effectively, we engage the person who is learning in such a way that they can learn effectively. Since everyone learns differently, this isn’t always easy.

There are lots of ways to categorize broad learning styles. Some of the more commonly described learning styles are visual, auditory, and kinesthetic, but it goes much further. People are more likely to learn concretely, or abstractly. They are more likely to learn socially, or in a solitary way. Some people learn by flatlining for a long time, then leaping into a high-level skill, while others learn by taking many small steps towards the new skill. An individual’s learning style is much like a personality style – it is complex, and can be defined, understood, or categorized in many different ways. Much more important than the categorization is the recognition of the individual who is learning, and the support of that person’s preferred process.

So, how do you support your child’s learning style?

First, observe, observe, observe. Your child has been learning since birth. How did he or she learn to walk? To talk? Did she start speaking by naming everything within sight, or was she silent until she spoke in complete sentences? Did he hold your hand, balancing carefully with each step, or did he propel himself up and off and into everything within reach?

Next, offer different options and see how your child responds. Think about how you learn best, how your spouse learns best, and what you’ve observed about your child’s process, and start with these. If your spouse listens to books on tape and then effortlessly spouts off information that has seemed to magically seep into her brain, try playing auditory games rather than using flash cards with your child who is learning math facts.  If your child learned to talk all at once, after listening for a year, consider that he or she may learn to read this way, too, and read aloud while giving your child the opportunity to see the words. If you learn best in a conversation, asking questions, in order to really understand something difficult, then take your child to Heritage Park and give her the opportunity to grill the young man in suspenders who knows more about Canadian history than anyone you’ve ever met.

Now, here’s the most important step, one that I’ll go into more detail about in my next blog post – inspire your child to design their own learning situation, to ask for what they need, and to set themselves up to learn what, and how they want to. This is key! More important than teaching your child something of your choosing, in a way that is roughly suited to their learning style, is giving them the tools to manage their own learning.

If you successfully manage the first two steps, you will help your child feel comfortable in his or her own learning style. When you get this third step figured out, you set your child up for a lifetime of adventure and inspiration. Keep your eye open for my next blog post!

In the meanwhile, to learn more about the schooling options in Calgary, and the teaching styles of different schools, including Montessori, Waldorf, Reggio Emilia, public, private, charter, and more, check out my class: Traditional & Alternative Schooling Options in Calgary.

And please share below what you’ve learned about your child’s learning style! It may help someone else who’s trying to understand their own child better.

Who are YOU, now that you’re a mom?

womens circles

I love meeting people and hearing their stories – and the cool thing is, people seem to know it, and often tell me the coolest stuff within minutes of meeting me. A couple of weeks ago, I met a mom and she started pouring out her heart in the first five minutes after we met.

And she said the most amazing thing – something I’d written in my “marketing” for the Women’s Wellness Circles that I do (I never think of it as marketing – it’s more like inviting people to a party and looking for the ones the party is perfect for). I felt like she’d read what I wrote.

Here’s what she said:

“It’s like, I’ve done the work thing, I’ve done the wife thing, I’ve done the mom thing – now who the hell am I?

I wrote something pretty close to that 6 years ago, because I could feel that story around me in the moms I was sharing with every day. No one ever said it quite like that, but I could feel it – and over years in our precious Circles, it has been amazing to feel the ripples of that conversation through our group and out into the families and the world beyond the Circle.

In our last Friday night Circle, we asked a key question, and I want to offer this question to you right now.

Here’s the question: “What can I do, right now, to feel fully alive?”

This question was shared with me recently by a wise woman I know, and I’ve checked in with this question, over and over, since. And guess what? Asking this question, then acting on the answer, in the moment, puts me in touch with me. When I feel fully alive, I know who I am, I know what I want, and I have access to that deep place in myself that shows me the path that is really and truly mine. I am happier, and wiser, and more peaceful.

When we asked this question in our group, I noticed that there were some consistent trends in the immediate responses. Very often, feeling fully alive meant moving, stretching, relaxing the body. Often it meant connecting with nature, being outside. Sometimes it meant making a sound, singing along, dancing, expressing something, creating a sensual moment. Often it meant taking a deep, deep breath.

Then someone said, “I’d have to really plan ahead to feel fully alive.” We all laughed, and this has been ringing in my head ever since.

The thing that struck me was that we don’t feel fully alive when we’re in our heads – thinking, planning, organizing, judging what’s right or wrong around us, or within us. We feel fully alive when we’re aware of being in our bodies – right now – and – we are ALWAYS in our bodies, so we ALWAYS have access to feeling fully alive. Even just giving attention to our body for one second, right now, will bring life force to the surface. Moving into the body frees the mind to release and relax and be creative – to feel who you are.

Years ago (back when I had time to really plan ahead to feel fully alive), I attended a 5-day meditation workshop where I experienced a profound moment of connection – in a flash I could hold in my awareness, all at once, the thoughts of my mind, the feelings of my body, and the deep knowing of my heart. It was amazing. I felt expansive and light. And I noticed it and remembered it because so often in life we are in our heads – our minds, so far from our bodies, and without access to our heart or intuition or spirit or whatever that other part of self is – the part that our body awareness connects us to.

So that’s it – my gift to you today is this question. Who you are is right here, right now, in every moment, living to be breathed and felt and known. Enjoy her! Enjoy him! Eventually, if you practice this enough, you may find, like I have, that it happens more and more automatically, that you can hold your whole experience in your awareness – while your children are climbing on your head, melting down, or making you late, while your house is in utter disarray and while you make it through another day without a moment to THINK.

Maybe, just maybe, it’s not the moments to THINK that matter.

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If you wanna practice feeling fully alive, connecting to you, being who you are….read on!

The Y.E.S! Weekend Retreat for Mothers invites mothers in all stages of the journey to return to themselves, to rediscover this internal knowing – the compass that guides them and the strength that carries them.

Join my dear friend and wise woman, Michelle Haywood of Womankind Doula, and I for a soulful and nurturing weekend ofYen, Energy and Spirit to ignite all things powerful and beautiful in your journey as mother and in your heart as a woman.

Together we will uncover a vision for your life filled with passion, purpose and self love.

Meet a diverse circle of mothers like you who want to take this time to reconnect with their heartfelt desires, their intuition and their joy.

I’d love to have YOU there! 

Register before October 6th to receive a Luscious Take-Home Treat Bundle, designed to nurture body, mind and spirit!

Here’s the link again!

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