Brené Brown is a researcher at the University of Houston whose work centers on shame, empathy and vulnerability. She has written several books and speaks all over the world on these important topics, which have a dramatic effect on the ways we live, work and raise our children.
I just love this segment of one of Brené’s presentation’s about empathy that was turned into an animated clip.
She speaks about a topic that is so important for everyone, of all ages, but I especially love it as it applies to parenting. I know as a mom, I often want to “silver lining” things for my kids. They are struggling and having a hard time, and I want to help them feel better. I want to turn an unhappy situation around. My first instinct is to go for a response that minimizes the negatives and emphasizes the positives. It’s like I want to make my kids forget about what’s upsetting them so we can get back to being happy. To brush it under the rug.
But Brené makes an excellent point in that rarely can a response make something better. What makes something better is connection.
Instead of silver-lining things to help my kids feel better, I need to meet them where they are with those heavy feelings. I need to sit in the dark with them. I need to be present and not try to sweep their feelings under the rug just because they are unpleasant, but reach out and connect so that they know what they are feeling is normal. Only then will the weight of those feelings be lifted.
Here’s the difference between “silver lining” and “sit-in-the-dark” responses:
Child: “My friend was mean to me today. He didn’t want to play with me and just left me to play all by myself!” Silver lining: Well, you still have your other friends to play with. Sit in the dark: Oh, I know you were looking forward to playing with your friend today. You felt hurt when he didn’t want to play.
Child: “I am losing this game AGAIN! I ALWAYS lose at games!” Silver lining: That’s not true; you do great at games! We’ll play another one, and I’m sure you’ll win the next time. Sit in the dark: It’s so hard to lose a game. You feel really angry. I bet you wish you could win all the time!
Child: “I am trying to build a blanket fort, but it keeps falling over! One part won’t stay when I let go, and the other part isn’t tall enough. I can’t get it right!” Silver Lining: What do you mean? This is a great fort! Look, you have a little cave you can hide in! Sit in the dark: Oh that sounds frustrating! It’s not working out as easily as you hoped? I wonder if there’s something you could do to help make it more stable.
Child: “I’m trying to do this magic trick, but it’s not magic at all! It doesn’t even float in the air like the picture shows!” Silver lining: But now you have a cool magic wand to play with. You can use it as a prop with your dress-up set! Sit in the dark: Yeah, the picture makes it look different, doesn’t it? That must be disappointing. You wish the wand would float all by itself, so you could see real magic.
Sitting in the dark with our children means understanding that their feelings are real. It means not minimizing them or trying to wash them away but validating and embracing them. It means teaching kids how to feel. We may not necessarily agree with a child’s feelings, but we must communicate that we accept them. This is the essence of connection.
We must listen not with the intent to respond but with the intent to understand. ~Steven Covey
At all times, there is a work of glue art on the go atop my kitchen table. Since my son’s other first language is French, my husband finds it amusing that glue art is what my son and I have come to call collage. However, since my son has not created a hierarchy for the colorful scraps of paper images and the glue used to hold them down, this name is entirely à propos. While most adults would be satisfied to employ glue only for the purpose of adhering cut paper pieces to a backdrop, my son makes use of his glorious glue to add another dimension to his work.
I was truly startled the first time I watched my son handle the glue in this fashion. It seemed like so much work. For a two-year-old, squeezing with both hands, it takes all the strength his little body can muster to get a good stream of glue going. He also tends to forget that gravity is at play. Sometimes he gets a little frustrated. In spite of this, he never gives up.
Eventually, he manages to spread the glue around like paint, thoughtfully laying down drips, spots and trails. He is young! Of course he makes use of glue in this manner! He still possesses the artistic freedom of a child who has not yet been told that pictures are more important than white, drippy goo.
I was also surprised by how thoughtfully my son considers just where each image and extra pour of glue should go. I am not sure why this surprised me so much. It is a work of art, and he does not imagine that he is just slapping disposed paper on cardboard. Of course he cares about his project!
My young son’s passion extends beyond the white glue and many-colored images. I never imagined that I would allow my son to use scissors all by himself at the tender age of two. After a couple of times observing me cut out his collage pictures, my son worked up a desire to wield the scissors on his own. I didn’t consciously set out to grant him his wish, but on a whim one day, I bought a pair of children’s scissors that beckoned to me from a store shelf of art supplies.
When we arrived home, my son was ecstatic to find out that I had actually bought these scissors. I do not think he expected to be using scissors any more than I did. These scissors did not disappoint. My son is in love with cutting. In fact, cut and couper are the only words my son regularly uses to express a single concept, in both of his languages.
Now my son is able to manage every step of glue art or collage all on his own. He sees his father’s own collage work and notices there is not much of a difference between the work the two of them produce. No wonder collage is my son’s favorite work to make in his kitchen-studio.
Collage is also a great way to reuse and repurpose cast away items in our home. Mostly for the worse, we live in an age of excess print material. I am trying to make the better of this wasteful trend. Collage is a fun, creative place to start. I look at mail-order catalogs, nonprofit materials and museum membership drives with new eyes. The same goes for food boxes and packaging left from new toys. We take apart old crafts that my son has made at library story-time or parent-and-me classes and salvage all the materials we think we would like to use again. We have a bag full of items to be cut up and another sac of images and craft supplies that are ready to glue.
Sifting through and cutting up images gives me something to do so that I am actively involved in my son’s project, while at the same time letting my son create on his own; I am present the way he wants me to be, but at the same time, he has all the autonomy he seeks. This works out very well for both of us. Glue art has worked its way into our hearts.
I’ve swept up the Art Room. This room is my writing room and has also become my son’s chaos room. He paints here, plays here, and learns here. It is a womb of flashcards, water color trays, brushes, paper, stuffed animals, clothes, crayons, play kitchen items, toy trains, race cars, and other toddler toys. There has been plenty of times when I had to use power washing dublin to clean my carpets full of paint and dirt from the backyard. Carpets shouldn’t stay damp for too long. Carpets and rugs are lovely, comfy and comfy . Used and maintained correctly, they’re ready to last several years, and become an origin of wonderful pride and happiness. But when not taken care of, unattractive damage could cause numerous problems. The key to any carpet treatment — vacuum-cleaning — must be consistent and complete. Some research has shown an honest vacuum-cleaning can eliminate up to 80% of soil inside a textured plush carpeting. supported use and placement, carpets must be cleaned by professionals carpet cleaning Ann Arbor annually , and spot cleaned as required within the meantime. Drymaster Carpet Cleaning has been operating in the Newcastle since 1990 and has the experience, equipment and procedures to service your premises.There are many varied methods of steam cleaning your carpets. The most common form of steam cleaning is a 1 stage process, where a cleaner will bring to your home a portable machine, similar to the machine that you can rent from the local supermarket or hardware store. This steam cleaning machine is filled with water and detergent and your carpet is cleaned without any pre spray or agitation. This method cleans your carpet without a rinse process and unfortunately leaves detergent residue in your carpet which will promote rapid re soiling. This steam cleaning method is over 20 years old and is not the preferred method by most carpet cleaners today, but unfortunately is still being used by a lot of budget type cleaning companies. Carpet cleaning experts in Newcastle also offers our customers the carpet Dry Cleaning method. Carpets are indeed one of the most important things that we can find in our homes. These can make or break the look the whole room. This is why most people always make it a point to have carpets in their homes so that their homes will look as elegant and as nice as they should be. This is true only under one condition. carpet cleaning usually look their best especially when they are still clean and new. A newly bought or installed carpet would always pull the look of the simplest room there is. Most carpet owners do make it a point to maintain the cleanliness of their carpets. We all know how carpets attract dirt so much. Even if we try to take care and keep our carpets clean, there will always be a stain that will begin to pop out of it. Once a carpet looks very dirty, this can now destroy the look of the whole room. This can now leave the room very untidy and not well cleaned. This is the primary reason why you should always maintain the cleanliness of your carpets all the time. Whether you do this on your own or you hire carpet removal service to do so, you need to make sure that your carpets look as new as they should. One equipment that has really made carpet cleaning such an easier but effective cleaning job is a vacuum cleaner. These are tools or equipment which are used to suck out dirt which are trapped within the fibers of the carpet. This is very effective when you want to remove the solid particles, allergens and the dust which have stayed in the carpet. Although cleaning the carpet thoroughly, removing the stains do need extensive cleaning procedures in order to remove them in the best way possible.
Ten minutes before I swept, it looked like a bomb of paper based material exploded. Add crayons, spoons, plastic play food, children’s books, stickers, paper, paint, M & M’s, and one toddler. Chaos.
The pile I’m looking at could be swept into a dustpan quickly. And then it would be gone.
But I have to sort out the debris. What is recyclable — at least the paper and plastic.
I’m tempted though to do one clean sweep then I could attempt to floor mop the wood floors. This is my favorite room in the house. It has twelve foot ceilings and pine wood floors with amazing detail that I got thanks to the work of the professional from Epoxy Flooring Bellevue. It has a south facing window which centers the room — one large window nine feet high by three feet. Visit website for more details about DIAMOND COATING EPOXY FLOORING OTTAWA.
This room is never organized completely, only at best, neatened up. My husband has recently installed a shelf system in the closet to organize my on-going writing and art projects. Confession: I am a pack rat and have kept every paper based memory and scrap of paper. I have all my art projects from elementary school (thanks to my mom). I have the first note a boy gave me in sixth grade asking me out. Check yes, no, maybe.
I have kept every letter and card I received as an enthusiastic pen pal writer in the 80’s, including letters from my pen pal from Japan and Costa Rica.
My feet stick to the wood floor. Invisible toddler tape perhaps. As Ben calls it, sticky gooey. Everyone is asleep as I pull it together to do the impossible — clean this room. My goal is to see the floor. I start with baby steps picking up loose paper. I recycle what I can. I take a deep breath and recycle the toddler art I don’t want to keep. Should I keep them all? For Pete’s sake — I have over ninety-nine. Throw them out. He will paint more. Trust.
I pick up the books my son loves to dump from the toddler height bookshelf. The rest is a blur. A complicated system in my head of mathematical and analytic order takes over. I put things where I think they may belong. Piles. Lots of piles. They are off the floor for now.
What remains is still covering the floor: a pool of colored collage.
A blue plastic spoon with three vertical grooves lays angled across a scribbled toddler art paper. A crumbled napkin dyed with faded water color paints rests on top. A fluorescent pink index card with pen and ink scribbles hangs to the far right of the pile. The outfielder of the pile — catching loose grounders — about an inch away is a brown dog bone sticker the length of a penny.
A receipt for a failed fertility treatment from August 8, 2008 sits on top of the crayon stew. $244 reminding me of our desperation to be with child. Forever ago.
How did Ben find this bill? I know — he opened the file cabinet. The poor thing is shoulder height to Ben — completely accessible to his exploratory curiosity. (Yes, file cabinets have feelings; they like order — toddlers must make them nervous).
A black teaspoon lays across another fluorescent pink index card. A cardboard white cake mix box next to an empty ink cartridge. Crayons: thick canary yellow, yellow green, navy blue — all visible. Too much. I’m overwhelmed. I’m just going to sort out the paper, crusted in sticky toddler chaos boogers — subtract from the pile.
A black sock bundled. A page from Ben’s favorite book, Wacky Wednesday torn out. I can’t throw this away; it’s the eleven wild wacky things park scene. Ben loves to point them out. The page with the purple limo with the old lady in purple, pushing the yellow buggy on top of the limo.
A wild eyed yellow giraffe sticks his head out of a pothole.
The pile is lessened: progress.
A copper penny: head’s up, 2002.
A crayon crumb collage, fit for 80’s wax paper iron art projects, on the back of a glossy 8 x 10. I scoop it up and use it as a dustpan, moved enough by the bright colors to take a photo. Too lazy to find my camera, I toss the debris in the garbage.
Flipping the photo over, I see my fourth grade class from 2008. I was so hungry to be a mom in that photo: infertile. I put the photo on top of the printer paper atop my scanner.
The pile still there on the floor.
Next, fetch the plastic Ziploc bag for the crayons: thick purple broken tip still sharp; navy blue — the triangle grip; a plastic crinkle cut French fry (I hate these tiny outliers too tiny for toy bins). I’ve been throwing them away one by one, even though they fit neatly into the red McDonald’s fry holder, which I hate and soon it will get the cut. I’ll recycle it though.
The plastic corn ear goes into the keep pile. Place white play cake mix with it. My son thinks he is Chef Ramsey. All play kitchen items are keepers.
My therapist’s card (currently going to grief therapy) — I need to call her and make an appointment. This goes on top of my desk.
Blue M & M — throw it away. Maybe eat it.
A scribbled passage for a book I am working on — into the closet.
Yellow green, verde Amarillo, verte-jaune goes into the bag. An orange colored pencil soon behind it.
Turquoise thick Sharpie — no cap, dry as the desert.
Red crayon, red colored pencil. Cheap Rose Art red crayon, orange stub, green stub, thick blue, thin black, thick brown, thick blue — the other half. Royal blue plastic spoon — pile with black teaspoon.
More crayons: purple, navy blue, thick orange, thick red — sticky vegetable potato chip crumbs rolled around it like a Yule log.
Joan Miro 97 eraser from the Denver Art Museum — bought single, bought solo — a lifetime ago.
A persuasive journal prompt, a rogue teaching resource unearthed and liberated by my son from it’s tidy box.
Art Blast washable water colors packaging — not a good idea unsupervised. At least I can recycle the packaging: cardboard.
Another persuasive writing prompt card.
I think a piece of dried poop was on the white index card.
A pastel purple index card.
I smell poop. Affirmative on the poop crumb.
Wow, I keep everything (not the poop); I should have just swept all this stuff up.
A brown twig.
My friend’s self-published poetry book makes the cut, only because it is inscribed and has “Congrats on the baby” on the inside cover — a reminder of graduate school and my miracle pregnancy.
I’m tired and sleepy. The rest of the pile is going into the dustpan, which actually is just non-recyclable garbage.
I walk by the window, curtains open and turn off the light sneaking a peek at the beauty of this room — the chaos of this room and marvel at the chaos tidied up (for now).
What are the things you hold onto and what are the things you throw away? How do you keep your child’s playroom tidy?
Our role as Parent is constant…ever-changing and ever-growing. We each have different parenting styles and we each face challenges differently as well.
As an attachment parent, four of my fundamental principles are Love, Patience, Presence and Respect. There are many others but these four will sum up an important message I’d like to share today.
When we operate from Love, I believe our intentions are for Harmony, for Peace, for Happiness. If we Love kindly and gently, we hope that these things will naturally be results of our Love. I have discovered that Love, combined with Patience, Presence and Respect, will not only guide me in the direction in which to handle situations, but will also carry me through the challenging times when I truly don’t have the answers.
Please imagine yourself, as a child or as an adult, experiencing frustration, sadness, anger, or any other emotion or feeling that makes you uncomfortable. When you imagine yourself feeling that discomfort, what do you believe could take that away or at least make it easier in that moment? I ask you to imagine yourself because many times in life, it is important to put the shoes on your own feet to gain the necessary perspective in dealing with others. I find this to be true and probably most importantly, in the way we treat and listen to our children.
So often, parents decide it is their way or no way. It is this way simply because “I say so.” You are the parent, they are the children, and for many, it is thought to be the hierarchy that sets the tone for discipline and commands. I don’t believe in those methods. I believe our children deserve to be heard. I believe they deserve respect. I believe they deserve an answer and an explanation. I believe they deserve our Love. Our Patience. Our Presence. I believe we all deserve this.
No matter what is going on, crying in the middle of the night from your newborn, a screaming tantrum from your two year old, your angry four year old making a demand out of frustration…these need to be met with tenderness, calmness and composure of mind. I’m not saying this is easy. I’m not saying you won’t be challenged and tested beyond belief, because you will. I’m only sharing what works for me. I’m sharing this because the alternatives are not only damaging to your children, but they are damaging to you as well.
When we don’t take the time to truly be present and listen…when we don’t dig deeper than we think is possible for patience in a trying moment…when your love turns to anger and you lash out or lose control with your children, damage will be done. I can assure you of that. The negative feelings and situations will be prolonged, everyone will feel worse than they did initially, and someone, if not everyone, will walk away feeling misunderstood, unheard and alone.
It is my goal to nurture, love, and create harmony in my household. I believe we all want the same. When that isn’t happening, we must have the awareness of these principles at our disposal so we can easily tap into and operate from them at all times.
There was an unconditional Love that was born in me that I never knew prior to giving birth. That in itself, is the source that guides me in everything I do.
The source of Love will give you the Patience you need most of the time but there will be moments when you think you can’t possibly keep it together for one more second. You must remember in these moments that you are capable of endurance. You are capable of self control. You can do it. Just breathe deeply. Close your eyes if you can…just for a few seconds. Stay calm.
The short term and long term effects of losing your patience and lashing out bitterly will hurt your children and you. During conflict or stressful situations, our children simply want to be heard, understood and accepted. They are trying to communicate something. If we are able to remain calm in these moments, not only will it ease their stress sooner, but it will not let the situation turn into something worse because of the anger and negativity added on top of it. You will then be able to communicate and allow for both of you to learn from the conflict. Your patience will comfort them and your empathy will encourage them to resolve the struggles within themselves in just knowing you hear them.
Physical closeness, level headedness and a choice to be present with your children will make a difference. Not only in the quality time spent together, but this will also allow the lines of communication to be clear and open.
Whether it’s reading a book together on the couch, or when your child doesn’t want to leave the park when it’s time to go, your presence is always important. They can accept when they are doing their thing and you are doing yours…most of the time. When you are with them though, choose to be with them. It’s so easy these days with our phones and technology to get distracted. We may physically be next to them but mentally, conjuring up our next facebook status update. When you are present, they feel it. They appreciate it. They cherish it. When they don’t want to leave the park, your presence in that moment will help them understand that it’s ok. Talking on the phone while yelling at them to leave won’t have the same outcome.
We all want to be respected, valued, recognized, adored, appreciated…
Children deserve this as well as we do as parents. When we experience this respect from others, we are empowered to be our best. We are comforted in expressing our voices. We are strengthened with Love and we are emotionally available. We discover that in times when we don’t feel respected, the walls begin to rise and the willingness to communicate and connect shuts down. This usually then shifts the relationship to “Because I said so” again where the parent believes they are the only one who deserves respect and the child’s feelings are dismissed. This will only leave your child feeling unheard, misunderstood and left without an explanation. Please respect them as human beings and by that respect, it becomes possible for you to earn theirs.
We are all doing our best and I believe these tools will help us do it better. Let’s all make more of an effort in dealing with our children and one another lovingly, patiently, respectfully… and let’s all make an effort and the choice to be present as often as possible. It will make a difference.
If you survey mainstream Western baby-care advice from the past two centuries, you’ll see a common theme: the perception that babies are wild beings who need to be tamed in order to be incorporated into family life.
The concept of “otherness” is familiar in the history of humankind – it’s a driving force behind the identification of the great family of people into distinct races, nationalities, religions, etc. While what makes us different is cause for learning and celebration, fear often prevails, and what’s different can be seen as a threat.
What happens when we see the baby as the “other”? Practices like seeking to tame the baby’s needs by delaying physical contact, feedings, and sleep. An effort to distance oneself from the child so as not to identify with him and be manipulated by him. Sadly, these practices, which begin at a time when the need for bonding (not just the baby’s, but equally important – the caretaker’s) is so crucial, can set up a family for a lifetime of “otherness” whether in subtle or more obvious ways.
On the flip side, what happens when we begin to view our babies as our teachers? After all, our babies are most in touch with their individual needs and temperaments, and know how best to meet their physical and emotional needs.
When we view our babies as our teachers, we allow ourselves to experience the world as students, whether having our first baby or our tenth. We can be fully in the moment, not judging our babies but flowing with them. We open our eyes and hearts to subtle cues we might otherwise miss. We lay a solid foundation for our relationship with our children, which allows for deeper levels of connection and intuition.
For me, attachment parenting was the path that allowed me to see my baby as my teacher, and not the other way around. Every day I gain greater insight about my own limitations, and use my reverence for my daughter to stretch myself, so that I can be the mother she deserves.
There are days when I think to myself, “I shouldn’t call what I do attachment parenting – because quite honestly, today was anything but.”
I never thought of attachment parenting with any interest until about a year ago, right after Bella was born. Before that, I just knew I didn’t want to spank or hit, and wanted to treat my child with respect and dignity. I fell in love with babywearing along the way, and extended breastfeeding happened because it became a joy after the horrible months of reflux and colic in her infancy.
I began to find myself drawn into the attachment line of thinking once I knew I was going to be able to be a stay at home mom. I have always had a passion for working with children, from being a nanny to teaching – I would read constantly about how to be a better caregiver and educator. So it was only natural to start to think of motherhood in that way, and to decide what kind of a mother I wanted to be on a daily/hourly basis. Continue reading “The Practice of Attachment Parenting”
My daughters had a hard time using the word “please.” I noticed this several years ago, when I was constantly correcting their demands, making them insert the word before I would honor their request. They always said, “Thank you,” just not the “p” word. I remember the moment when I discovered why this phenomenon was occurring and needless to say, it was a head-slapping revelation. I asked my child (about age 4) to do something and she looked at me while asking, “please?” She was correcting my rudeness.
So, I listened in on all my conversations that day. Do I ever use the word? I frequently use the words “thanks” and, “I’m sorry.” I say “you’re welcome” and I always say “I love you” at least twice a day per family member. Somehow I had gotten into the habit of issuing orders without the basic nicety of “please.” It didn’t matter that I was telling my children to always use this word, they were simply mirroring my own behavior. It was so basic. So many trite sayings have formed out of this one constant of human development. Monkey see, monkey do. Do as I say, not as I do. But there it was staring me in the face without me really seeing it.
There are many times in raising children when you need to stop, examine your world through your child’s eyes and ears, and really think about what they are learning from you. Are you telling them not to hit, but spanking them as a form of punishment? Do you raise your voice when angry, but reprimand your child for yelling? (This is one of my uglier problems that I’m still working on.) Do you wish they would interact more with other children, but spend all your time with them instead of making strong connections with other adults?
It’s not easy realizing that your children are so much like you, yet so different. You assume they will only pick up your strengths and excel at the areas you have mastered. In addition to picking up your bad habits, magnifying them and mirroring them back to you like a carnival fun house; children also pick up on your energy. They know when you are tense, sad, angry with your spouse or worried about life. They know instantly when you don’t like someone. Unfortunately, children assume that they are the cause of your negative emotions, not an outside influence. My oldest daughter has the eerie habit of plucking thoughts right out of my head. It happens so often now that I’ve come to accept her ability as yet another reason to focus my thoughts and energy into positive messages.
MOM DARE: Spend this week listening in on your conversations, really hearing yourself the way your child does. Are they imitating you? Can you see how one of their troublesome behaviors could be related to something you have inadvertently taught them? Are you stressed about something and your child is picking up on your anxiety? Try spending a little more time this week reassuring your children that they are doing a good job, that you love them, and that life is truly beautiful. Please.
Sharron Wright is the work-at-home mother of three girls, ages 2, 5 and 8. Her mission is to help other new parents feel empowered and to instill in them the confidence to care for their babies in a loving, positive way that respects the uniqueness of all children. She blogs at http://momswithgrace.wordpress.com and helps new moms at www.babylovecarebook.com
I spent this morning digging up garlic bulbs with my delighted 5-year-old daughter. She shouted every time she brought one out of the earth and into the scorching July sun thanks who Olathe pest control who saved the crops earlier. We stopped at 50 bulbs; both of us hot, dirty and reeking of garlic. It was fun for both of us, but also profound. She loves garlic bread, but never would have imagined this delicious treat could come from under the dirt!
Growing vegetables is more than a hobby for me. Oh sure, I’m geeky enough to take pictures of my garden and post them on Facebook. But farming is part of my past, present and future. I’m the granddaughter of farmers on both sides of my family and have always known where food comes from – both animal and vegetable. For me, growing food is an essential life skill for my children – and if my dreams come true someday – for all children. Just as I teach my girls the alphabet, I also show them how to plant seeds, water and mulch them, and most importantly, how to harvest and prepare the food. What they get from the process is part science lesson, part cooking lesson and part spiritual awakening. Children begin to see the cycle of life in gardening, but issues of life and death are a lot less scary when dealing with plants. Farming also raises the consciousness of children about their food supply. At the age of four, our daughter refused to eat pork when she found out it came from pigs, her favorite animal. This lasted for an entire year with our full support. Continue reading “If You Can Grow Kids, You Can Grow Anything”