Simplicity Parenting: Ch 6 and Epilogue

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We end our reading of “Simplicity Parenting” today and begin reading “Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles” by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading “Simplicity Parenting” with you and listening to Kim John Payne’s teleseminar. How did you enjoy reading this book?

We haven’t discussed Chapter 6 “Filtering Out the Adult World” or the Epilogue to end this series of blog posts. In Chapter 6, what I found most refreshing was reading how we need to talk less and listen more to our children. We feel that talking provides our children with emotional intelligence but really the more we talk, the less we are listening. I’ve noticed this with my own daughter. She loves when we walk the neighborhood and I just listen to her talking. I love it too because I learn so much about her life, her mind, and her emotions during this time period. He also talks about the different parenting strategies that fall into the category of helicopter parenting. He discusses each one and the effects on your child and your relationship. Lastly, of the points that resonated with me, he says, “Before you say something, ask yourself these three questions: Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?” I’m going to take that to heart and try to remember these questions as I speak not only to my daughter but to those around me.

The Epilogue was a great way to round up the book. He talks about the importance of simplification in discipline as well. That we offer our children too many choices now and how that overloads their system. He says to start with the simplification step that seems most doable first and then move onto the others. Simplification is a process but a rewarding one for your family. To end with, I love this passage of his on 215: “When you act to limit what you don’t want for your family, you clarify what you really do need, what is important to you. Your values clarify. Simplification is a path of self-definition for the family.”

There was of course more valuable information in these chapters that I encourage you to read. I look forward to reading “Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles” with you. Join us at anytime on GoodReads to start your own discussions of the books.

Simplicity Parenting: Ch 5 – Schedules

Chapter 5 was one of those chapters that has stuck with me from the first time I read it. It reminded me to keep balance with my daughter’s schedule so that she can be a “child” as she grows up through her various changes in development. He isn’t saying that our children need to not have any activities and only be “free” but he is saying to balance it out so that they can grow into whole beings. He talks about having Sabbath’s (distraction free zones/days/times), taking a season off from the sports, choosing one activity per child to focus on, and the rest of the time letting them explore their world, be bored, and reach their potential within. Some favorite passages are below:

  • “… there are costs to controlling their schedules, to “getting more out” of their childhood years. They are leading superphosphated lives, busy with activities from morning to night. Excess “enrichment” is not soaking in; it’s running off, polluting their well-being. Activity without downtime is ultimately — like a plant without roots — unsustainable.”
  • “Moments of Sabbath are “distraction-free zones.” Not many families can set aside a whole day of the week for quiet family time, but we can still carve out some moments. Doing so adds balance to busy days and establishes boundaries. As you refuse to answer the phone during dinner the message your kids get is “Right now, we’re together, sharing this meal.” Some families can go further, setting aside a half day for a hike every week, or establishing a “no-drive Sunday” of staying home, a symbolic gesture for the family and environment.”
  • “I have seen it. I’ve seen how loading up a child’s days with activities and events from morning to night can dig a developmental groove in their beings. It can establish a reliance, a favoring of external stimulation over emotional or inner activity. A child with a room full of toys has been set up to be dissatisfied. They’ve been programmed to imagine that pleasure depends on toys, and that the next one might be better than the rest. Likewise, a child who doesn’t experience leisure — or better yet, boredom — will always be looking for external stimulation activity, or entertainment.”

Come join us on GoodReads to discuss this and other blog posts.

Simplicity Parenting: Environment and Rhythm (Ch 3&4)

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Environment and rhythm are the foundations of simplification I feel after reading these two chapters. Without a simplified environment you cannot feel at peace or that “home sweet home” feeling in your heart and home. Without rhythm you cannot seem to ground yourself for the day. Our children feel this as well. There are numerous selections of toys and books in every store they go to now and with the holidays approaching, the stores and commercials are pushing our children’s desires to an even greater height. But with the holiday season arriving, think of the environment in which toys and books go into. Is the room/living room already full of both? If so, is it time to go through them so that you can keep the treasurers and donate/sell the rest? Every few months in my house when my daughter was younger we would go through her toys/books and donate those that she hadn’t played with during the year very much.  She had a say in this process and I believe that led to her feeling empowered to “let it go.” This allowed for her room/living room to become less cluttered and her imagination to take hold. I started this when she was about 4-years old and at age 9 she started initiating these cleanups herself because she felt “it was out of control”. This is what Kim John Payne is talking about with environment, the power of less opens up the door to more.

In chapter 3, with the environment, there are guidelines to help you go through that toy pile/books and understand what you are supposed to do with it. How your supposed to move it from a huge pile to that of a organized, less cluttered system in which you still get to hold onto the treasured toys. In reference to this, he wrote on page 68: “As you simplify, you allow children to pour their attention, and themselves, into what they are doing. When they’re not overwhelmed with so many toys, kids can more full engage with the ones that they have. And when the toy is simpler, children can bring more of themselves to that engagement. There is freedom with less: freedom to attend, engage, and absorb. Toys that don’t do things can become anything in play. When we don’t try to fill children’s minds and toy chests with prefabricated examples of “imagination,” they have more freedom to forge their own, to bring their own ideas into play.” Very well said! If we set their environment up with simplification that allows them the freedom to explore in their play, their social interactions, and the world around them.

Chapter 4 was on rhythm and I loved this chapter. I am by nature a rhythmic person so I understood the need that he mentions in his book for having a rhythm. What was interesting though, was his definition of rhythm because he’s not talking about schedules for the day. He’s talking about consistency, rituals, meal times, sleep, predictability, etc. As  he states on page 98: “By surrounding a young child with a sense of rhythm and ritual, you can help them order their physical, emotional, and intellectual view of the world. As little ones come to understand, with regularity, that “this is what we do,” they feel solid earth under their feet, a platform for growth. Such a stable foundation can facilitate their mapmaking: the connectedness that they are charting in their brains, in relation to other people, in in their emerging worldview.” For predictability, providing your child a preview of the next day the day before in a calm setting. Rhythms, a set point of rituals to the day such as times that you brush your teeth, have your family dinner, etc. The importance of family dinner being a grounding force even if it is only a couple times a week with your adolescent children.

There was so much more he wrote about that I just couldn’t possibly capture in a blog post for both chapters.If you’re reading along, how did you feel about chapters 3 & 4? Did you miss the teleseminar with Kim John Payne? If so, you can purchase the recording here.

API Reads – Simplicity Parenting: Chapter 2, Soul Fever

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Have you ever wondered why your child is not their normal, bright self even though they are not physically ill? Kim John Payne, author of Simplicity Parenting, has named this illness “soul fever”. He spends chapter 2 identifying what this means, how to spot it, and how you can treat it. I enjoyed his progression of moving through the “soul fever” to help your child back to their normal, bright self. The key is simplification of routines, connection, love, and parental presence. He says it best on page 39:

“This book is my best attempt to answer “What can we do about it?” It’s a question that so many of us ask ourselves. The truth is, what we do, instinctually, to care for our children when they’re sick could be boiled down to this: we simplify. This is exactly what we need to do when they are overwhelmed; stretched thin and stressed out by the effects of having too much stuff, too many choices, and jumping through their days too fast. It is also what we need to do when their fever is emotional rather than physical. Emotional growing pains, our soul fevers, are as natural and inevitable as the common cold, and can be “treated” in remarkably similar ways. Simplification gives children the ease they need to realign with their true selves, their real age, and with their own world rather than the stress and pressures of the adult world.”

Join the discussion on API’s online book club, GoodReads for free. Register today for the API Live teleseminar with Kim John Payne that is happening on October 19th at 9 PM EST / 6 PM PST. Purchase Simplicity Parenting at Amazon helping API earn a 4% commission off of your purchase.

API Reads: Chapter 1 of Simplicity Parenting – Finishing up

In Chapter 1 of Simplicity Parenting, part of what author Kim John Payne does is give short glimpses into the world of a few children that would be labeled with psychiatric disorders. He points out that we all have quirks and this includes children as well. These quirks become more pronounced under stressful circumstances. So what we label as a psychiatric disorder is actually a normal quirk that is under undue stress. His point being that with simplification we can reduce these stresses to where the quirks are more manageable.

I also loved how he spent time talking about neuroplasticity and neural pathways in the brain. With science backing his information, he indicates that we all have the power to change our ways even into adulthood. I learned so much and was riveted with Chapter 1 that I’m looking forward to reading Chapter 2. Below are a few of my favorite passages:

  1. Page 23 — Be reducing mental and physical clutter, simplification increases a family’s ability to flow together, to focus and deepen their attention, to realign their lives with their dreams.
  2. Page 26 — Children need to find ways to cope with difficult situations; they need to learn that they can… Building character and emotional resiliency is a lot like developing a healthy immune system… By overprotecting them we may make their lives safer (that is, fever free) in the short run, but in the long run we would be leaving them vulnerable, less able to cope with the world around them.
  3. Page 33 — What we “see,” what we bring our attention and presence to, is at the heart of who we are. And for our children, it is at the heart of who they are becoming. Why simplify? Because by simplifying our children’s lives we can remove some of the stresses of too-much and too-fast that obstruct their focus and interfere with an emotional baseline of calm and security. A little grace is needed, after all, for them to develop into the people they’re meant to be, especially in a world that is constantly bombarding them (and us) with the distractions of so many things, so much information, speed, and urgency. These stresses distract from the focus or “task” of childhood: an emerging, developing sense of self.

api reads logoTo purchase Simplicity Parenting and help with API’s book club fundraiser, please click here to purchase the book. If you’d like to join our online book club, navigate to GoodReads and become a member for free!

API Reads: Simplicity Parenting – Chapter 1

api reads logoSo far in Chapter 1 of Simplicity Parenting I have read how we as a society are encroaching on taking away the innocence of childhood. We do this by giving them an unfiltered world. We then bring these stresses to our families as we go about our every day lives.

Simplicity Parenting imageTwo passages that stood out to me are below:

  1. Page 5 — When you simplify a child’s “world,” you prepare the way for positive change and growth. This preparatory work is especially important now because our world is characterized by too much stuff. We are building our daily lives, and our families, on the four pillars of too much: too much stuff, too many choices, too much information, and too much speed. With this level of busyness, distractions, time pressure, and clutter (mental and physical), children are robbed of the time and ease they need to explore their worlds and their emerging selves. And since the pressures of “too much” are so universal, we are “adjusting” at a commensurately fast pace. The weirdness of “too much” begins to seem normal. If the water we are swimming in continues to heat up, and we simply adjust as it heats, how will we know to hop out before we boil?
  2. Page 16 — For a lot of the parents I’ve worked with, the misalignment between what they imagined — what they dreamed — and what their family has become is enormous. And the disconnect is not just in the details — the white couch or the toys everywhere — it is fundamental.

If you’d like to comment on this post, you can go to our online book club at Good Reads.

Simplicity Parenting: Who are you as a family?

We have started to read Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne. The introduction immediately had me riveted as he explained the need for simplicity, what it means, and what is being done to our families. I just loved reading this:

“As parents, we’re the architects of our family’s daily lives. We build a structure for those we love by what we choose to do together, and how we do it. We determine the rhythms of our days; set a pace. There are certainly limits to our control…. Ask any parent of a teenager. And it often feels that our lives are controlling us, caught as we are in a mad rush from one responsibility to another. Yet the unique way that we perform this dance of daily activities says a lot about who we are as a family.”

So I ask you. What is the dance in your family life? How is the architecture laid out? Feel free to discuss at Good Reads!

Obeying out of fear

“A child who obeys out of fear will only do so as long as he or she is scared. A child like this never develops an internalized sense of right and wrong without being policed by a more powerful authority figure.” ~ Love and Anger: The Parental Dilemma by Nancy Samlin

stephanie petters 2How do you feel about this statement? Did you find this to be true for you? Do you see this in those children around you?

For me, even though I was raised to obey out of fear, I still developed a sense of right and wrong because of the religious upbringing I had. But I do know that being punished meant that when I was younger I would hide things from my mom and that she and I didn’t develop a close connection because I was afraid of her and her reactions to my behavior and questions.

As parents, my husband and I don’t use punishments while setting boundaries for our daughter. We strive to be respectful in our discipline and to include my daughter in the process of problem-solving and guidance.

My daughter has a close connection with me but still hates to disappoint us. I have learned that you can set behavior limits in a loving way that isn’t the same as demanding obedience out of fear — that instead keeps the parent-child relationship intact — and still have your child learn right from wrong.

350691Editor’s note: Join this and other discussions on Goodreads through the API Reads online book club. You can read along in your own copy of Love and Anger, or even if you don’t have the book, you can follow the discussion and take away bits of parenting ideas to try in your home. Learn more about the API Reads program or join for free directly at Goodreads.

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