Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Lovely boy shows aggressive behavior to friends

Hi, Just wondering what kind of advice you have relating to children that show aggression. My 4 year old started acting out aggressively around 18 months old and sometimes - very randomly and in the middle of play/ fun by hitting or pushing other kids and throwing other children's toys. We have tried to help him learn different tools but it doesn't seem to stop and has lead to heart breaking expulsions from play dates and preschools that I worry may negatively affect his self esteem and know we need to help him stop the behaviors before going into kindergarten. Any advice on this subject?

It sounds like your son is an only child, so I’ll treat it as such, please let me know if I’m wrong in this. It’s rather an important point as in large families I feel aggression can come from not feeling fairly treated or from not feeling heard by other people, so they force their own will physically. For only children who don’t have to worry about getting a fair helping, or making sure they get the same as their brothers and sisters, it comes from a different place. Now that your son is 4, he’s ready to start dipping into a deeper understanding of human relationships. Since he’s been aggressive for so long, then it may be a hard habit to break, but usually once the concept clicks within him, he’ll see how it all works.
I’ve noticed that often children can’t grasp the concept that people and children around them are actually PEOPLE. It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that how we feel matters, but other people don’t feel at all. They become walking shadows, or walking trees as my mother use to say. We see them, we hear them, but imagining them having a life outside of their interactions with us is difficult. Therefore, your son doesn’t seem to understand that his actions hurt other people, they are simply ways of getting what he needs , when he needs it. It makes sense and it has worked up to this point to a degree, although as you pointed out, its lead to being socially excluded. It’s time for some pragmatic solutions to help your boy find a deeper connection with those around him.
First a little craft to do on a rainy day for you to do together. It will open up the conversation a bit and get him thinking. Its called a Golden Book, and its the start of introducing the golden rule. Make a small book, just stapled pieces of paper, or a notebook, unless you want to give it a cardboard cover and get him to decorate it. Within the book on the left hand pages write on the top “How I like to be treated when I’m playing.” “How I like to be treated when I have a headache.” “How I like to be treated when I have something to say.” “How I like to be treated when I’m playing with my favorite toy.” “How I like to be treated when I’m mad.” “How I like to be treated when I’m sad.” Adding any you feel suit him better. On the opposite page to each one, ask the opposite, i.e. “How I DON’T like to be treated when I’m playing.” Etc. Then, sitting with him and doing it until he gets fed up, get him to draw a picture of each example. As this starts him thinking about how he likes to be treated, then you throw in the next step. You teach him the simple phrase “You Get What You Give.”
How we treat others, the feeling we make them feel, is how we feel later. Other people will treat us the way we’ve treated others. He is a powerful little boy and what he does matters. So often we want our children to behave because of other people, but it creates a different element when we tell them we want them to treat others better because of what it does to them themselves. Once the information is passed on, and you’ve told him about this concept, then it goes into example giving.
If he’s about to hurt someone, or grab something, ask him simply “Do you want people to do that to you?” You can ask further by saying “Should Dad and I act like that? What would happen if we all did it? We’d have an awful house, wouldn’t we? I can’t imagine we’d have much fun.” The Law of Attraction is the universal law which states that like unto itself is drawn, so what we put out there, feeling wise, we get the more of the same. Now 4’s a little young to start teaching about that, but not in principle. If he’s acting aggressively, keep an eye out for things that upset him, or frustrate him afterwards. Notice when he’s not happy, dancing about, playing, after he’s been mad at his friends, and simply draw his attention to it, asking if he thinks it’s possible that he’s feeling that way because he wasn’t being very nice to others.
You can then make it a game. Ask him to try it out. To see if when you both go out, you treat people really, really well. You smile, you talk to them, play at making people feel good, see how many people you can make smile, then make it a lot of fun doing it, and go out for ice cream after and talk about how good it feels. Go over the top at making it a lovely afternoon, so that he can really feel the difference within himself: When he’s nice and fair, when he’s interacting with people on a positive level, he feels good. When he’s aggressive and only self focused, he feels bad.
If he started his aggression at 18 months, he’s been in this feeling space/perspective for a really long time. It might take some time to really get him to FEEL the difference, but once he does it will become harder for him to go back to the way it was.
Saying that, make sure that your house is ringing out the way you want it to feel. Holidays are always stressful, so this year try to keep the stress at bay, and relax and laugh. Try to keep the other members of the house mindful of their expression of frustration and aggravation, asking them to back up how they feel like “Oh I feel so upset, I better go for a run.” Or “I feel so awful inside, I hurt someone’s feelings.” Or on the positive “I feel great, I helped someone.” It’s all about drawing awareness to how your son is feeling within himself, rather than improving his outward behaviour to others.
We all like to feel powerful, and although aggression can make us feel powerful at the moment, becoming aware of being in charge of how we feel, learning how to do things to make ourselves feel better, and claiming our own emotions is far more empowering and then you don’t have to worry about self esteem.
Another thing that may help. Sometimes children are so scared of "tattling" when they are feeling upset that they forget they can go to adults for help. It can be empowering for a child to know that even if they don't know why they feel upset, they can go and sit with adults for a minute "just to calm down". If your son starts to learn the feeling just before doing something rash, then he can stop it before it happens. If he doesn't want to go to adults for a break, offer him the bathroom trick and tell him to say he has to go the bathroom. Then he can go in there, sit for a few minutes, count to ten, maybe think about things he loves and appreciates and then go back to playing.
One last thing, and it’s a hard one, with it having gone on for so long. Try not to expect bad behaviour from him when he’s around other people. Try not to talk about it as the normal thing for him to do, such as warning him not to do it. Start to imagine him not doing it, imagine him playing with friends with consideration, and giggling with you about what fun he had. By doing this it gives him room to shift and grow into the newer version of himself. Try to introduce him to new friends, as older ones will see him as the way he was and he will return to the old feeling space (not unlike all of us when we go to a reunion.) Start him off with one child, for a half an hour, and then praise him after for what a good friend he was if and when he does well. Use baby steps, expecting the best.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Parents having problems getting toddler to bed

Hi Christina, We always had problems with “sleeping”. Since he was little baby and we ended up with co-sleeping. Only recently we got him to sleep in him own bed, (even if still in our room) and I think we succeeded because his brother sleeps in his own bed… In the evening after dinner we sit altogether in front of tv and watch a film for the older one. Actually we practically watch only his films…. At a certain point we prepare him, put pajama on, wash teeth and ask him to go to bed…(this is around 21h00/21h30) And then begins the struggle….You can be sure, that even if he is exhausted he won’t sleep…Till everybody is not in bed he won’t be quiet…he runs around, he gets off the bed, he goes in the bathroom and eats toothpaste…The first 5/6 time my husband and I, we are calm, but after 2 hours of repeating we go crazy… I think he wants us at bed with him. I do understand that he doesn’t want to be alone and he wants to play…but my husband and I need also some time just for the 2 of us…maybe we had to impose it earlier…but what to do now?

Ah yes! It’s a delicate balance really, as we all need the shut off point, when our children are asleep and we can stop, spend time with our partners and ourselves and feel whole again. All my children have resisted bedtime at some point, or woken up after being asleep to find me again. However, I’ve learnt a few things along the way that may be of interest.
First, I’ve noticed that the more important it is to me that they go to sleep early, whether it’s because I feel I have to get something done, or I want some time with my husband, or I’m just tired myself, the more I push the more they resist. Drifting to sleep is a process of energy, it is when we connect with our spiritual selves for the night, and therefore how our children feel before sleep, both within themselves and around themselves, effects the process of getting to sleep. Whenever I’ve been in a place of worry or frustration that they won’t get to sleep, the longer it takes for them to drift.
Therefore, I would allow it to be a process over a few weeks to get your son peacefully to bed, rather than expect instant results.
I couldn’t tell by your message whether you lie down with him to put him to sleep or whether you put him in bed for him to put himself to sleep. I have found that lying down with children, actually calming them down, drawing with my finger a picture on their back, walking them through a visualization (my daughter use to love to go to sleep hearing about a garden that she walked into, we would describe the flowers, pick some fruit, there was a pet donkey, and then she would sit under a tree for a picnic, which was the sign it was time to sleep). I have then sang them to sleep with a lullaby, often tracing my finger across their third eye, just between the eyes, and letting it gently move down their nose. What I’m trying to say I guess is the wind down is about a feeling space, it’s an energy wind down, that will soon have them relaxed and drifting, happily.
Once my daughters became passionate readers I found that I missed putting them to sleep as it was a special time between the two of us. We spoke slower at bedtime, quieter and it was always a time that they could ask questions and express concerns. Even now they are older, I have had all my important conversations with them at bedtime, and on those occasions, I’ve had to let the early nights go, just for the perfect timing of it all.
I know I've suggested watching a movie as good bonding time in the past, but after hearing about his behavior for bedtime, maybe this was the wrong suggestion. For some electronic devices can make them full of energy and highly strung. Perhaps the special time could be taken to the bedroom, with you or your husband reading him a story, slowing things down, singing to him, and putting him to sleep together? You could even make it earlier so that you have more time together after.
We are often told that when we start something with our children there’s no going back and we have to push them to grow up. From co-sleeping, your son is now going to sleep in his own bed, that’s fantastic. but sometimes it’s a 2 step forward, 1 step back motion. He may need the security of feeling you close to him at night sometimes, or simply before going to sleep. I find that although bedtime is usually seen as a routine that should be able to be relied on, in truth it’s an each night, for its own night. Setting the mood, the energy, calming the house down, and letting our children take part in the idea of slowing life down so it makes room for quiet stories, cuddles, looking at stars, relaxing into the magic around them, and then finally drifting off to sleep.
Therefore, create bedtime as a special quality time, so your son enjoys it and you enjoy it too, maybe your husband can get in on the calming space as well, so you can let the three of you relax in each other’s company. By doing so, you won’t be pushing against him being awake, and him sensing you really want him to sleep, and by releasing the pushing, you will allow it, and he will get to sleep all the faster.

Mother is being advised to have authority over 2.5 year old son.

Dear Christina, I read daily your posts on FB and I appreciate them a lot…They correspond to my parenting philosophy. Unfortunately lately I have some problems at home, so I think asking your advice on what I’m living… I have 2 little boys. One 2 ½ years old and the other is just 3 month old. To describe them, one (the older) is a full energy little man and the other one is quiet and calm. They are both open to world, curious and smiley. Our parenting philosophy is much based on love, attention, listening and non punishment. But…In the last months, maybe because of the pregnancy, maybe because of the arrival of the brother, maybe because of the age (the terrible two) or maybe because of our “liberal” education style (the nanny says we don’t have much authority on him…), the older one is definitely more agitated and keeping calm is pretty difficult for us. He provokes us nonstop, moves constantly and never, never listens to us. It gets really difficult for us to enjoy time with him. Unfortunately we are also changing our way of acting. We have started shouting, punishing and I have to admit, even if I’m not proud of it, to spank him…As a result he shouts back and he gets even more difficult… 4 days the week for 5/6h hours the day, he goes to the nanny, where he spends time with other children his age and has lots of activity. Apparently with the nanny he is the same sweet and nice boy. I feel lost because I don’t want to build this kind of conflict relationship with my boy. (I have this kind of relationship with my mother and I know how much pain there is behind) But I don’t know what to do. I have been meeting a psychology and she says I should gain more authority. She agrees that spanking is not a solution, and suggests me to adopt bad looks and stern voice when he is naughty and close him in his room…So I’m applying her suggestions, but I’m not sure that this is the right solution… I feel his loneliness and his sadness when we argue. I perceive his feelings of not being understood…but in the same time it is difficult to handle him in this way. I’m tired and exhausted. I’m afraid of doing mistakes, to hurt him, to be a bad mother…And I love him so much…. What to do to recreate harmony?

I’m so glad you wrote to me. Let’s see if I can help.
First, your little boy sounds wonderful. He sounds energetic, alive, full of emotion and able to feel them to the fullest. I noticed you say he can’t sit still, I have one like that, in many ways I see it as feeling their emotional state so much that it literally physicalizes, which for me is fascinating. Children who feel strongly and so fully are great teachers, and can develop a deep understanding of spiritual things. I also find they can shift direction quickly and go from feeling off to on in a blink of an eye. It just takes getting it to click. It sounds like that what both you and your son are looking for. That connection point where it clicks, where you see your boy in front of you again and he feels safe and secure in himself again.
It’s interesting how everyone is advising you to form a position of more authority. It is the easy, quick fix solution, but I sense in you that if feels off. No matter what, you have to stay true to your instincts, your inner gut feeling and does what feels most yourself. Parenting can be a rough road, but when our children grow up its best to be able to stand high and say we stayed true to ourselves.
Now first, I’m going to go a different route than I normally do. Although it sounds like your son is having a spiritual time of it, I would like to suggest a physical one for you to try on. I suggest it because my daughter, who is full of energy and life much like your son is really effected by it, and it unbalances her. I would look into his diet and make sure he’s not having any food colorings or high sugar, as I notice in our children this challenges their connection. They can be connected while on artificial foods, but its a huge effort and if they are already disconnected it can push them over the edge. Like your son, they won’t be able to sit still, they won’t hear us (not even won’t listen they literally don’t hear us) and they get agitated easily. Provided we feed them plenty of leafy green vegetables, (when they were younger we’d blend them into their food or sprinkle dry ones into sauces) and they drink water not sugary drinks, they can have their on and off moments be true and not effected by outside influences.
Alright, with that said, onto the spiritual side,which is always so much deeper and rings more true.
You are right in the idea that probably your little boy is jealous of your new baby. There he was the centre of your parenting focus and suddenly someone else is there. He cries and he gets attention and seen to, and your little boy is of the age where its ok to wait a few minutes. It upsets me that your psychologist has told you to be stern to him. It makes sense that seeing you with a baby is going to stir up negative emotions in you, in fact he may be mad at you and feel you are unfair (even though you probably aren’t). He is experiencing disconnection because of what he sees and as you said, he feels alone, left out, and not understood.
You should be proud of yourself for feeling his emotions as you do. That is an indicator of being connected to our children, when we can feel how our children feel, and see the world through their eyes.
On top of his jealousy, leaving the home to go to a nanny is probably upsetting him to a point, as he doesn’t know if its just about you spending more time with the baby that has taken his place. I don’t know if he went before the baby was born, but even still, he leaves you alone with the baby when he goes and it probably cements the thought process going off in his lovely head.
My first suggestion is take some one on one time with him. If he doesn’t want to connect with you start a game on your own. Put on some fun music and dance, it will change the feeling of the home, you can be wearing the baby in a sling or carrier, or have him asleep, and then invite your boy to dance with you. Act silly, pull faces, try to make him laugh. Do head shoulders, knees and toes or some other action game. Get active with him. If he can’t sit still and won’t listen, its a form of play that might engage him. If you want calm, set up a time every night where its just you and him (and your partner) all sitting on the couch watching one of your son’s favorite shows, or a new one. Try to make it a calm, nice energy. Type up the old Paddington bears on Youtube, the ones from the 1970s, or Postman Pat, try Mr. Rogers. The great thing about shows like them is that they have elements the parents can enjoy as well, so it doesn’t feel like we’re just watching for our kids, its a group activity for everyone to enjoy. If he’s not listening, don’t bother talking. Create a fun element, at least once a day. Get him helping with baking, sweeping, or just make sure you play with him when he’s in the bath.
A 2.5 year old, in general terms, have a mission. They have explored the world around them to a point, and they understand it to a point. They are looking for the new exploration and they don’t know where to find it. When we keep them in the same routine with the same games etc, they get frustrated, as they crave more, but don’t know where to turn. Your son may be “behaving” at his nanny’s because a nanny’s job is to create a fun environment. They go on outings, they do crafts, they play music. They play and they keep it fresh. Try finding a new exploration when you play with your son. Get some new toys, go to a new park, take him to a zoo. Get crafty and show him how to glue, or make cars go down ramps. Get outside, show him nature, draw his attention to things to notice. Help him push through the blockage. He might resist it for a bit, but soon, if he senses you have fun in his presence, and you are engaging with him, he’ll start to shift to a state of connection.
Lastly, its important to not see him in his new light. As you know, this isn’t him, this is his reaction to the chaos his life has made him feel right now. Do your loving work when he’s not feeling off. Even if it means going into his bedroom at night, sitting beside him and just loving him, just looking at him and letting your heart lift, he’ll sense it and feel better for it. Take moments in the day to praise him, to hug him randomly, to smile at him. Send him love when he’s at his nanny’s, keeping him in your thoughts. Love, love, love him, with all of your might. Stern looks, and putting him in his room, is like shutting the love off, where really he doesn’t need to feel like he has to earn your love back.
If he acts out, then stop, breathe, look at him and ask him why he feels sad. Ask him if he needs a hug. Tell him if he screams, or is mad it makes the house feel bad, so how can you together make it happy. Then distract, distract, distract. Find a new exploration, mention a bird outside, pull a funny face. Find a way to connect to who you know he is, rather than who is presenting to you.
Its hard sometimes, and yes you are allowed to feel off, overwhelmed and like banging your head against a wall. This is a crazy time of transition for you as well, so let it be that. But trust me, when you start the wheel of love going, of laughter, of fun, it builds, each day gets better, its universal law.
Trust in your connection with your boy. He chose you, and when he did I’m sure he knew his brother would come at some point, he chose you so you could both go through this together and figure it out, together.

Mother asks how to stop defiant behaviour peacefully.

How can you get them to go to bed? How do you get them to stop screaming in your face w defiance? How do you NOT be the lion tamer when you have little crazy lions? I know I know - never get mad, never get frustrated, never swat, never yell, always breathe and speak softly. Well.... I'm trying.

I don’t say this a lot on here, but really, where do we get the idea that we can’t get mad or frustrated? Yes, I always say find the feeling better space and no we can’t hit our children, but our negative emotions are JUST as important as our positive ones. Sometimes, more important. Yes, children can make us feel mad or frustrated... so can partners, bankers, strangers and traffic lights. When they do... they don’t mean to. Rather it is within us giving us a sign that we’re reacting or seeing things from a place that isn’t from us. It does no good to block the emotion and pretend its not real. It’s very real and needs taming too. Parenting is a hands on spiritual experience as when we feel these things, even if we bottle them up, our children sense them and react to them... or at least offer more behaviour to back the feeling up. Therefore we have to change the feeling space that we live in, and they do to. Have you ever noticed that when you are feeling great then your children can play loudly, but when you feel off the noise can drive you crazy? Or when you are on they can ask questions that engage you and stay up late talking, but when you have a million things stressing you out or are super tired the same thing will have you climbing the walls?
We have to allow ourselves the off time, and we have to allow our children to know we’re feeling frustrated or mad. The trick is not to blame them for that. “I’m feeling mad inside” vs “You make me so mad!” Then they will see themselves in the same light and learn from you to experience all their emotions. We aren’t lion tamers... just bigger lions. Therefore honesty is in order. Depending on the age, explanations work, but even my three year old understands “you have to go to bed because your body needs more sleep than mine, so you can get big like Dad.” Followed by a “I’ll talk to you about tractors while we settle down, or I’ll tell your favorite story” Usually gets him up there and I get to have fun too if I’m not anxious that he won’t get there fast enough. Sometimes he might have something he has to do first. I like to be respected for my needs so I’ll let him have 5 minutes to do a bit of it. Screaming in your face? I usually reply “Would you like me to do that to you?” They usually say no. And then, when they talk the way I think they want to be talked to then I make sure I listen.
It’s a journey, a journey about ourselves as well as about them. For often when we feel negative emotions, they are just letting us know we don’t like the situation, but we can jazz it up, change the pace, make them laugh, make us laugh. It doesn’t have to be all about calm and peaceful. Little lions are sometimes trying to remind us that there is fun to be had and we sometimes get better response when we give them that one and jump in.

parents who differ in opinion regarding parenting

I have a question, and I will use the example of the other night at bedtime. I was in bed with my son reading books and ready to switch off the lights. He didn't want to go to bed but rather go downstairs and play. My husband (of the thought process that it is our responsibility to 'discipline' children) started shouting that he must listen to his mother and go to bed. Crying ensued. I on the other hand, because I've learned that my husband and I have different techniques, felt awful that I let this happen, then took my son downstairs for 10 minutes, said goodnight to the house, switched off all the lights with him and he peacefully, willingly came to bed... My question is: 1. How confusing must these two styles be to my son? I hate that I can't convince my husband on my parenting style when it so plainly is more effective?! And 2. How can I best manage that with my husband - he tells me I'm too soft and that I don't play any role of a disciplinarian and that my son has me wrapped around my finger and is manipulating me (which I know is not true! I allow him to act out whatever it is that he wants because I know it’s not harmful and just requires me to be patient, eventually we are back on the same page)...Such a great question and one that happens so often.

First, your son will understand that there are two approaches to the issue and will have a clear representation of it. That’s a great tool for the rest of his life. Quite honestly, he will appreciate yours in the long run and rather than it being taken for granted he will know that you respect his wishes, and learn to respect yours, he will feel listened to, and seen as a person. He will come across a lot of people who react as your husband and understand it on a deeper level as he grows. Unfortunately, it may build a wall between him and his father as time comes as he won’t feel like a person... just a child in his father’s eyes. But this is a common hurdle that a lot of parents overcome in time.
You can’t convince another person of anything and discipline has been the parenting model for a very long time. The only thing I can suggest is being honest, saying things like “I hated it when my parents tried to control me, I never did what they wanted me to do, or I just resented it.” Or “Do you like to be controlled?” or “When people don’t respect what I’m asking I feel alone, I don’t want him to feel that way.” If he says your son is manipulating you, then remind him you don’t want to manipulate your son to get to bed. You want a family that respects each other, and when a child is young it is often about showing that respect to our children, to set the bar. Reassure your husband that if your son starts asking too much, that you will ask for the same respect you are showing him and teach him to respect your husband’s and your wishes, so the family can be harmonious.
Your husband is doing what he feels is best and reacting to how he feels. That needs respect too. A family is a co-creation and you will all find compromises and ways of falling into step with each other. Helping his relationship with his son, you can encourage your child to be considerate of his father. “Your dad seems stressed tonight, lets take you up to bed to give him some quiet time.” Etc.
Also, if you ever want to get your husband in on this conversation, he is welcome to write to me too. My husband and I both started off this parenting journey thinking control was the order of the day, the joyful journey was discovered soon after we realized control just wasn’t working.
The mother's husband then wrote me, to express his perspective: Husband- At the current time our son throws tantrums for the smallest things it is basically whenever something doens't goes his way. As soon as his mother or anyone gives or let him do what he wants it stops immediately..... i'm sorry but this is emotional manipulation.... these are toddlers when they will become or are teenagers things will be or are not the same arguing your way out is not an option and issues discussed might not always play the way we wish in the teenagers mind... We live in a world and society which is dictated by authority and respect.. we all have to follow rules whether we like it or not, a child that is given his way whenever he wishes will have serious issues with authority as he grows up... that means issues with school and studies issues with work and social issues as well. I just can not imagine a person having a healthy life if they get angry because something doesn't happen there way and things in life don t always play the way we expect them... Plato once said that everything in life needs balance anything in excess leads to chaos or destruction, i personally think with children it is necessary to love them as much as possible but not over spoil them, communicate with them as much as possible but respect their privacy as well and not in a parental psychotic way, be respected and have your authority respected by the child but not be hitler either and mainly to have has much fun as possible with them. After all we all love are kids here on this forum otherwise we wouldn't be here but let's face it what we want is for our kids to have a happy childhood so yes it is ok to get dirty once in a while , yes it 's ok to have chocolate and candy enjoy for god sake let kids be kids.......

I am so glad you wrote. Thank you for providing your perspective. I actually agree with a lot that you have said. But as this page tries to tap into the deeper version of both ourselves and our children, I would like to shift the perspective slightly to say how I agree. At our spiritual core we are positive beings, when we feel less then ourselves, when we feel “off”, insecure, unsure, frustrated, confused, or upset we act unlike ourselves. As we get older we get use to feeling off. We become in the habit of it and in doing so can go through the motions of the day, dealing with people “socially” acting like nothing is wrong. A 2 year old can’t cover their true emotions up. They can’t pretend they don’t feel off when they do and they are so lucky. When we feel off and are aware of it, we can then use it as a spiritual tool to connect to our higher source again. If we cover it up, sometimes we don’t know how disconnected we really are and we become like shadows. Therefore, our children’s tantrums are great tools. Now, where I agree is that a child can’t always get what they want, none of us can, and that goes especially when we are feeling off. It’s a bit of a vicious circle, but it’s the same for all of us. Universal powers will never let us get our own way when we are disconnected, we think we need something to be happy, but we usually can’t get it unless we get happy anyway.
When a child has a tantrum it’s a delicate balance. I find it feels off just to give in, because it passes on the concept that things make us happy and that the world is waiting to give everything we want to us provided we scream loud enough (where you were coming from, right?), but if we shut the tantrum up we are telling them to get over feeling off and pretend the feeling doesn’t exist. This leads to a different shutting down later in life. We are also passing on to them that if we shout loud enough, or make demands, than we get what we want (children going to bed for instance). Shouting at children either shuts them down, or gets them shouting to get their way later on in life. So, where does that leave us? Viewing our children as people too it depends on the scenario and each individual situation. Sometimes a child is so tired it takes picking them up, crying even in their offness, tucking them in and holding them tight. We know it feels horrible to feel off, many a time we want to scream and shout, but bed can be a great place to get connected again. A firm no, you are going to bed, and then making bed a fun, loving experience can really help them get back to themselves. Sometimes our children are actually feeling connected and are in the middle of a great train of thought, the idea of stopping that to go to bed freaks them out as they felt so great and now we’re taking it away. Tantrum ensues. On something like that, understanding that we all hate to have a train of thought interrupted, can be offered a few more minutes to finish up. When we see our children from their deeper level we don’t fall into the “you have to do what I say all the time.” Rather we can build a firm, understanding and listening relationship.
Like I said, it’s a delicate balance. But worth it, as it doesn’t raise brats, rather people who are aware of other people’s feelings and perspectives , and more importantly, their own. All the best!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

2 year old no longer being "gentle and loving"

I have lost what was a very gentle loving 2 yr old and has been replaced with a screaming strung out little girl , she shouts alot, hits ,bites the sofa ,spits,throws her food across the table and so much more how can I re balance her and calm her ways?

2 years old is a difficult age as they have observed and experienced quite a bit and want to take life up a notch, but its frustrating for them as they just don’t know how to. Although its often known as a “no” stage, it can sometimes come from us saying “no” almost as often as them, as they experiment and explore on a totally different level, resulting in things they just can’t do. Therefore a cycle of frustration can be created, which is like a ball of energy bouncing between us and our children. Since it is coming from a place where for 2 years we’ve been their safety net, their grounding place and security in being, it can be a shock when we start to say no more frequently, so more of the behavior we are saying no to is given.
Her behaviour is a reaction to her new position . She’s feeling disconnected from who she knows she is and then by presenting off behaviour , you in turn see her differently and she feels less like herself. So, like you ask, how to find rebalance and help her connect? You don’t have to calm her ways, that will happen when she’s connected and feeling herself again.
I wish I knew more about her. For instance, is she talking? How is her comprehension? Does she appear like she wants to be treated older? I know by 2, our eldest girl was eager to be seen as a member of the household. She wanted to help around the place, she would talk about what to have for dinner, and make choices about what she wanted to wear and what story she wanted read to her. She begged for feeling empowered and to help make decisions about things that effected her. This way really important on helping with her connection. If she felt powerless, she felt disconnected and less like herself. To this day, 8 years later, she is responsible and likes to help out with decisions. She’s a great leader with friends and family as well. Don’t be afraid to ask your daughter what she wants, needs or likes. She might be trying to get your attention.
As we are positive beings at our core, connection comes when we feel happy and joyful. What I would suggest is to set aside sometime to live in your daughter’s world. Take the phone off the hook, turn off the computer and get down on the floor with her. Play a puzzle together, play dolls together, see what interests her and take her lead. Let her show you how to play her way. Talk about things with her, even if she’s just listening. Put on music and dance, letting her choose her own way of dancing.
Also, its an exciting time as she is looking for new explorations. At 2 she’s probably getting fed up and she might need to have wonders brought to her attention. So point out birds flying past, cows in a field, or even rainbows made by a glass. Get her to help with small jobs, watering plants, sweeping up, pulling the plug out of the bathtub. She’ll feel more part of the action and it offers things to talk to her about, for she might want to understand why you are doing what you are doing. I’m a big one for the art of distraction, if she offers negative behaviour, don’t let her set the tone for how you feel. Simply set the calm feeling space and ask if she would like to help you, if she needs a hug, if she’s hungry, or downright look outside and notice something and ask her if she would like to check it out. She will want to feel better! We always want to feel better. If you can find her something to shift her focus to, then she will jump on board, unless what’s bothering her is really that more important.
This is one of the hardest times of year for our children. Suddenly the feeling of everywhere shifts as Christmas approaches and people act differently. For a 2 year old its really confusing, so they react badly. I always try to avoid talking too much about Christmas, as it makes it too big of deal about something they don’t understand. (I always find children flip out a lot more as of November, merely the sight of santa in stores makes them feel off). Try to keep her focus on things in front of her. By two you can even start making lists of appreciation with her before bed as a part of the bedtime ritual. (This can even be done as “Thank you’s” depending on your belief structure, or “I love” lists if you’d like a more universal approach). Drawing simple attention to the good things in her life reminds her they are there, and will shift the energy.
One last thing. Often it is us who set the tone for the house and when we see something in our children that throws us off we have to find the connection within ourselves first, to provide the example, action rather than reaction and a sense of security in a crazy world. Take sometime to shift focus away from your daughter’s behaviour. See her as the sweet, gentle girl, you know her to be,even if you have to do it away from her. Take some time to appreciate things in your life, to spend sometime in your inner world and create the calm energy you wish for her, within yourself. Even if it means taking a few moments before bed. When we find our own connection,and then offer up an issue we are having, we can shift perspective and see the solution, once we’ve stopped looking directly in the problem.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

a mother asks how to deal with the Santa Myth

Ok. This sounds stupid, but I keep being put on the spot about this and considering the time of year it’s just going to get worse! My DD is 3.5 and everywhere she goes there’s Christmas stuff. Last year she didn’t really know what it was all about, but now she’s at playschool and she keeps hearing stuff. Not only that, but at stores and with my friends she keeps being asked if “she’s been good this year?” And “what do you want Santa to bring you?” I’ve always prided myself on not lying to her, even if it means life being more difficult, but she’s getting all excited about Santa and Christmas and I’m torn. I don’t want to disappoint her and seem like a Scrooge, but I also feel really bad playing the game. Any thoughts?

First thought is, the question doesn’t sound stupid at all and good for you for following how you feel. The holiday season can be so full of joy, wonder and magic and yet, often when we have small children, it can also be stressful and based in the wrong focus. 3.5 is the perfect time to set the right tone for how you want the future holidays to flow and by setting the right perspective now, you line your child up to feel the wonder and magic and not have it backfire by finding out it doesn’t exist in a few years. Many a child has felt betrayal and lost faith in magic because of the Santa myth and it really doesn’t have to be that way.
I feel the concept of giving gifts at the holidays is simply an extension of the mystical elements of the season. Children love to receive presents (ok, don’t we all) and the joy of both giving and receiving is what the focus should be: Joy. Joy and appreciation. One of the things that always settle wrong with me about the Santa myth is that the appreciation for the giver is missing. It’s like the exchange is never finished when you can’t look at someone and thank them for their thought and consideration. Rather it can turn into a greed fest, with “what next?” being the common phrase. This can spread into how we approach life as well, as if we don’t stop to appreciate all of the wonders life has spread infront of us, we get into a rut of waiting for the next and feeling unsatisfied in each moment.
No matter what your spiritual belief is surrounding the season, there is a physical, magical reality going off that our family always takes part in. The fact that everything is dead, lying cold in the ground and yet life still survives. That a magic cord keeps life generating and that soon life will return again is pretty incredible. Seasons can make us aware of the magic and wonder of the world around us and there is so much to appreciate. No matter what your background, there is always a sense of light and hope. The world offers so many gifts and the exchange of gifts is simply another extension of that. Also, the feeling space/energy of the world always changes in the Christmas season. (Hence the phrase “I feel Christmas-y) Sights, smells, tastes all trigger a warmth and invigorating energy. Santa can sometimes get in the way of truly experiencing all sides of the experience.
Therefore, here’s what I suggest. This is what we have done with our own children and although they talk about Christmas gifts it’s been done in fun. I asked them after receiving your question whether they felt cheated by not being led down the Santa train, and they looked surprised at me and both agreed that they hadn’t missed it at all.
Talk to your daughter about Santa and how he derived from St. Nick. Tell her how long ago there was a man who saw poverty and people who lacked things and decided to share joy and lighten their load on Christmas. Tell her that since then, people have taken up his tradition and at Christmas they remember the joy HE felt by giving without looking for thanks or even without other’s knowing it was him. Be honest with her and tell her that a lot of children are told the he still comes into houses, but you don’t want to lie to her. Also encourage her to not talk about it with friends as they would be sad to hear he wasn’t real, but point out that there is so much magic around, you don’t need to lie about it. Rather you can play the game and she can even pretend if she likes and leave the cookies and milk. Hang the stockings, do the fanfare, but as an imaginary game, just for the fun of it.
If adults start asking her questions you don’t have to take part in it, but you don’t have to make it a big deal. For instance swooping in with replies like “She’s always good.” Or “oh her Dad and I are talking about what we’re giving.” Can divert rather than make it awkward.
It is so sad to see children suddenly “grow out of magic” when they find out there is no Santa Claus. They have been cheated as they have to relearn what they were born knowing: that we live in a world full of miracles and magic is everywhere.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Zoned out 7 year old has too much screen time

What are your thoughts about computer games and how much a child should be on them? My son seems to always be on a game of some sort. The minute he comes home from school I barely get a hello before he’s involved in something on the computer. It’s driving me crazy. If I make a big deal about them he just gets mad and upset, and if I ban them he droops about saying how bored he is and drives me even more crazy. I feel like he’s wasting his life away, when he should be playing. He’s seven next month by the way.

Computer games, and with that I mean Nintendos, Wiis, hand held devices and gosh knows what other electronic gadgets are out there for entertainment for our children, are one of a modern family’s greatest challenges. There’s something about them that always feels off to a parent, as we watch our children become emotionally and sometimes physically charged up by them or simply watch them get into what my children and I call “the zone”, where they seem to disappear almost entirely. However, the way I see it, is that computers and gaming doesn’t have to be a situation of do or don’t, they don’t need banning as such, rather like a lot of things they need shifting in perspective.
We live in a world that relies on computers, quite honestly I don’t know where I would be without mine. Computers have sped up our world, and now we seem to multi task, think and communicate faster than ever before. Our children came purposefully at this time. They choose this new age with all its gadgets and gizmos. Therefore, in some ways, if we full out deny our children a chance to take part in this new, than we hold them back from understanding how others work around them and possibly what they partly came here to experience. However, like you’ve said, it can feel like wasting a life away, zoned out in a different reality.
For me, gaming and computers, also TV if you want to add it to the list, provide an amazing opportunity for us as parents. It’s a great lesson of awareness for ourselves and for our children and communication about how things make us feel is paramount. Life is about balance, and if a child occasionally needs to escape reality and enter a different world via the computer, that’s one thing, but if he sees it as that, and decides that’s what he needs, that’s a different story. Choosing the zone, and feeling your way there is an empowering choice, whereas usually children just drift there out of boredom and not knowing what to do. Ironically, it seems that the more they use computer games as amusement so they aren’t bored, the more bored they get when they aren’t infront of the computer. It’s an addiction and like all addiction, understanding it and admitting it is the first step.
Now, to your son.
First, if he thinks that life is boring when the computer is off, then the computer will have a lot more appeal and he will push harder against not having turned off. If you are determined he has some off time, then you will have more resistance to it being on, and that usually will result in you getting what you don’t want: The computer will be on a lot! Therefore, the place to put the attention isn’t on how to get the computer off, it’s how to make life more creative and exciting for your son, so he gets a sense of how wonderful life can be without the addiction of a game. Shift focus on creating fun and he’ll be off fast enough. Bake together, do crafts together, get a sensory table going, get messy, start going for walks, hikes, go explore, remind yourself of what it’s like to be him and see the world through his eyes, what does he love (other than computer) and see if you can physicalize it. If he likes bugs and science take him to a discovery centre or for a nature walk, get him (AND YOU) to a library or to tours, anything that sparks life and fun. If you want him to live creatively, then get creative.
When you have him having fun away from the screen, then mention to him that you love having fun with him. Tell him how you feel the computer takes him away. Talk to him about the zone, or how it changes the feeling of the house and then ask if you can come up with a deal, about what sort of games he plays and for how long. Get him to talk to you about the games he is playing, ask him about what he learns, find out about his world and what makes him love it so and then come up with a compromise so you are treating his wants with respect and vice versa.
Be the balance not the resistance. Also be honest with him and yourself. My daughters were getting into the zone once and then when I opened up the topic they said, “but mom, what about you and Facebook?” I had to look within myself and realized that yes, sometimes I had zoned out on my newsfeed. So, we talked about it and as a family promised we would do our best to not be zoned out and be more aware of the house. It meant there was no pushing against, simply working together.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Mother of 4 struggling with depression

hello, I have just become a parent for the fourth time and I've been struggling with depression. If you have any advice i would be truly grateful.

I would love to try and help. I have to admit I’m not fully educated on the medical condition of Post Natal Depression, so I have to stress that I’m not offering any medical advice. I can only comment on a few ways to shift perspective, possibly finding relief and moments of parenting joy.
I know how overwhelming having multiple children can be, especially when they are all at a very young age. It seems that your attention is always needed and the beautiful image of a new mother cuddling up to her newborn and spending time gazing in their eyes can seem very far off as you rush from child to child and then try to squeeze in dishes and dinner, let alone see a partner alone for 2 minutes! Within that constant juggling act we can lose a sense of self and start to feel like we’re drowning. You don’t mention the age of your other children, but no matter what, parenting a new born is such a different journey than parenting a toddler, and then again, the journey shifts when we hit school age. Each stage brings their own challenges, but also their own joys, provided we can find them in all the muddle.
Usually, my first advice is to find a moment to connect, to appreciate and go within, finding the calm centre of the real YOU so you can sense answers, but considering 4 kids and one a new born, let’s assume that that seems too much to ask. Without that moment how to find your core centre, so you can start to feel yourself again. For that is the key to it all. So often in those depressing moments we cry out that this isn’t the life we dreamed of, that we had ambitions that we feel we can’t follow anymore, or that we never get anytime, but at the root of it all comes the need to feel connected, to feel part of the flood of wellbeing that is ever flowing, and to feel ourselves, fully ourselves, not a robot in motion. It’s when we feel like we’re unfulfilled, and then start to look at others as the cause of that un-fulfilment so we feel helpless, that we truly sink into despair.
So, YOU. Wonderful, spectacular YOU. You need some expression and some wonderment. Let’s swerve from children for a moment, as really that’s probably what’s going on most of the time for you right now. You don’t have to feel your children have to bring you joy. You don’t have to feel like they are the be all, end all. You don’t have any emotional requirement put upon you. We’re here to feel good, that’s how we connect to our pure, positive, spiritual selves. (That doesn’t mean leave the kids in the house and go for a walk for any readers wondering at my concept of feeling good, it never feels good, deeply good to let others suffer, let’s just keep that clear). Focusing our thoughts, even in imagination can trigger feeling good emotions. We can remind ourselves of lying on a beach in the hot sun on a winter day and we will feel warmed. Take a moment to imagine a place that you love, even your partner’s arms in bed. Hold that moment in your thoughts, and don’t let any negative voice tell you that it doesn’t exist any longer since “the kids”. Life works in cycles, and the universe recognizes how we feel. By imagining things, scenarios, and moments that make your heart feel better you are training it to feel better and revel in new moments that feel good. Does that make any sense? Therefore start to compile a tool box of feeling good thoughts, jokes that made you smile, memories of when you first fell in love, a trip to…anywhere. That thought will trigger a feeling better emotion, starting to end the barrage of thoughts that can build up negative steam.
The same things go for appreciation. Now it’s too much to ask a tired mom to lie in bed before sleep and make a list of things you really appreciate (but if you can squeeze it in, great). However, there are moments of things to appreciate daily. Try to make it your mission to appreciate as many things as possible, and when you appreciate them, don’t just tick them off a list, let the appreciation be pushed a little bit to the point of your heart lifting slightly, or until you give a little gasp. If one thing doesn’t work, look for something else. It can be that first cup of coffee, seeing a sunset, lying on your pillow (aren’t pillows wonderful, really?), a comfortable chair, your favourite sweater, a dish your mother gave you, your friend’s wacky laugh. Throughout the day take a split second back over everything and see if you can appreciate it rather than run past in, or get upset about it. It sounds impossible at the start, but soon you will notice all sorts of things that you couldn’t have before… and yes, they will involve your children.
Here’s the funny thing about children. They mirror how we feel, especially when they are younger. They match us, rather than try to help us. When you think of being in an argument, it takes a lot of practice to not match the other person emotionally. If someone is mad at you, it’s easier to fall into getting mad back at them, rather than walk away. Young children react like that too, so if life’s overwhelming to begin with, often our children feel it, get overwhelmed and then it really does go into a spiral. When you start to take a moment to appreciate each moment than there’s a feeling shift. When you start to feel a spiral, change the feeling space, grab everyone and go for a walk, put on some uplifting music that has always made you feel better, eat something that you love, leave the housework and play dress up with your children, even ask your kids to tickle you if you think it would make you laugh. The children will react to the new feeling space you set and they will then mirror it. Life gets easier.
Young children sense your pain and when I say they mirror it doesn’t mean they don’t want to help, they just don’t understand how to. It’s not their job to make you feel better, that’s no one’s job, but it will feel better to involve them. Tell them you’re trying to make yourself feel better, and you are looking for things to feel good about, ask their help. It’s a great car game to look for things to be thankful for, or things that make us feel good. We also learn a lot about our children when we hear what does it for them. Share with them, join in with them. They can also help with the other overwhelming parts of life by putting away toys, or watching the baby, they can set tables, or turn off tv’s. Children thrive in a group effort, and if they've been feeling your pain, they will want to help, if you suggest how they can. Your baby might seem to hold up the ship a bit, but if you take midnight feeds and focus on the fact that it’s the only one on one time to connect to them, then take a soft moment to remind yourself that babies have just come and therefore are spiritually connected almost all of the time. They let us know when they aren’t! Appreciate how simple things are, how clear for them, and let yourself sink into how they feel, in the warmth of your arms. Count his/her toes, kiss their hair, and watch their movements, you were like that at one point to.
It’s a question of little bit, by little bit, moment by moment. It doesn’t need to add up, we never need to fully know where it’s going, but when we appreciate the little things, even the fact that our bodies can grow other bodies inside of ourselves, and that we create new organs to feed and nurture it, and then give birth, and then provide nutrition for it, then our truest parts of ourselves scream out that Yes, we are part of something beautiful and wondrous. We don’t need to figure it out, we just need to feel a bit better and than a bit better to let life flow through and balance/wellbeing to be restored. Your children chose you before they came. Not because they knew you would be super mom and do everything perfect straight off, but because you are YOU. They know you as you and they knew the experiences you could create TOGETHER. They knew that together you would take each other to new places and new growth and that’s what this whole process is all about. You are doing exceptionally well! You are doing great, being YOU! Even just by saying I want to do better you offer the request up and it will be heard, you just have to feel your way there, feeling better little bit by little bit, appreciating and savoring.
I hope this helps a little bit. Please let me know, and if you have any questions, or want to discuss anything at anytime, just write. You aren’t alone in this, we’re all in this together. We raise children for the same generation and together we are working for feeling better options. Be well and thrive.

Friday, November 2, 2012

2 year old stages of "I want" and tantrums

My son just turned 2 and in the last week he's changed so much! He's learned the concepts of "mine" and "I want it" and has strong reactions when he can't have certain things. He has also learned to hit a bit in anger. Any tools you can offer? Any inspiring thoughts for my moments of despair?

The age two has such a bad reputation. With two years of experience behind observing and creating opinions around things, a child suddenly starts to understand how things work in the world and they want to be more involved. It can often seem unfair to them how we’re in charge of what they can have, what they can’t, and when they can or can’t have something. Quite honestly, your son sounds advanced if he’s fed up with observing already. He sounds like he came eager to take part in the world and being part of the things in your day to day living. With his demands must come with a certain amount of understanding and that very well may be your key.
In my book I call 1-2 years old the Interpretation stage as within that time we take what we’ve observed and interpret how and what it means to us as children and as humans. Therefore, when he asks for something, he’s interpreted that he wants it, and he’s observing how he’s going to get it. You can help him explore differently, because when he’s exploring stuff (just like when he was smaller and would explore the cupboards and the floorboards as he crawled around), he’s interpreting more and growing more, which is what he’s probably wanting. Often people sneer at the power of choices, and many a time I’ve had people tell me I give our children too many choices, but they work. When we listen to what our children want, and if they really can’t have it, we can distract them with a simple redirection of “well, no you can’t have that, BUT you can have this or this, which would you like?” Suddenly, our children can feel part of decisions and how the day is going to work. Same goes with the cry of “I want…” When our children say they want something, they are working for the feeling of what it would feel like if they had a certain thing. We can empower the want by finding something else that will give the same exciting satisfaction, but not the thing we don’t want them to have. For instance, when our son was 2 he loved the blow dryer. He’d tried it out once when my husband was drying something and after that, he wanted it passionately. He then kept finding it, and trying to plug it in. DANGEROUS! It wasn’t a question of letting him have it, but he would flip if we said no. So, first we found a toy one, which was a little help as long as the other one was hidden, but then we let him discover vacuuming. I had a little vacuum that didn’t work too well, and when I vacuumed with the larger one, he followed me with the other. It was the same sensation of the blowdryer, and yet he wasn’t plugging it in, and he was helping me, taking part in the house and doing what grown-ups do. I’ve also notice, that when children are involved on this level, their drive to become involved on this level diminishes, it’s no longer the challenge to overcome, so they head back to their toys or play satisfied.
With the hitting in anger, don’t take it personally. It probably relates to the frustration of not being able to take part in decisions within the day. Before an I want, or a flip out, start involving him with simple things. (“Do you want to wear this shirt, or this one?”) or even asking him to help for simple tasks, like shovelling snow (if you’re doing that yet) or raking leaves. You can also try copying play, such as getting him to wash toy dishes while you do the real ones, or a toy broom. Try to grab a few times in the day where you play with him at a game he likes or he can pick, so you enter his world where he has control and then in your stuff you’re in charge. It means you can make life a team effort, rather than one based on control and hierarchy.
Yes, a child changes when they hit two, and it seems impossible for them to want to be part of life so much for what seems like such a young age. But sometimes a spirit comes who wants to grow fast and they absorb things quickly to get ahead. Sometimes we have to make the leap and just see them as a go-getter and it means treating them a little older than the calendar says we should. That means empowering them a bit and then explaining to them why we say no about other things. (Another example was when our son wanted to play with the blender. I told him no, and then explained how it could cut his hand off if it turned on. After he understood my no, he never asked again.) When we explain why we say no, rather than just sounding like we do it randomly, our children respect them more. They know about getting hurt, when we apply the same concept to things that COULD hurt them, they suddenly don’t want it. Saying no to things like going to the park, or having cake for breakfast can need more of a distraction, although tummy ache is a good try.
Talk with him, play with him and respect where he’s coming from. At the same time, don’t feel you have to give in, just explain why you are saying no and distract onto the next best thing.
Hope this helps. Keep me posted on everything and if you want to chat more or give more information than just say. Be well, happy and thrive.

But what about tantrums?

We tend to feel like our children need to be connected all the time for us to be doing a good job, but really, at the root of it all, it’s not our job to get our kids connected. When they are disconnected from their true selves we can offer options and jumping off points that will help them feel better, but if they don’t want to go there yet, we can love them and hold them, and know their pain, but they have to make the leap. It provides them with the early experience to be aware of how they feel. Tantrums are a great way our children express their offness. Therefore, when your son has a tantrum, and you can’t give in because he really can’t have what he wants and distraction won’t work, it’s because he’s hurting so much from the disconnection, he can’t see his way out. Now often it might not actually be from the thing he’s flipping out about. Often that has come from the emotional journey all day and the law of attraction has brought the scenario to the full blown out state, so therefore it’s not just a question of a quick fix to what he’s flipping out about, it reassuring him that everything is alright, safe and secure and getting him back into the feeling of wellbeing.
Tantrums are a hard one as there’s no generalized rule. It depends on the journey and his build up to it and what he needs.
My favourite tool is to quiet yourself when he’s flipping out, close your eyes and try to feel what he’s going through as you hold him in your arms or sit beside him, depending what he lets you do. Suddenly you can get a sense of what it’s about and the solution falls into place. Also, hold an image or feeling in your inner self of who you know your son really is, that way he can sense it and feel his way back. Not only will the energy shift in the room, but you will be connecting yourself, providing him with the example and also opening yourself up to what’s needed in the moment.
I find that being aware of energy is important in a tantrum moment, as it becomes easy for us to fall into the same feeling space as our children are in. We can get panicky and disconnected. In order for them to feel their way back it’s important for us to stand in a different feeling space, if that makes sense. We can be calm and secure, providing love and warmth, or if it feels right, create a feeling of lightness to balance things out. Often a change of scene is key too, as it shifts the energy that the child is in and pushes the reset button on life. Many a time I’ve rushed a child outside, carrying them in my arms as they flipped out, only to have them connect again in fresh air. I’ve also taken them just to another room and it seems to shift perspective in how they feel. The build up disappears. If we sense that distraction is needed but it won’t work, we can put on a favourite movie or music in another room, which will create a different energy, to see if our children can choose to feel better by joining it.
It’s taken me a long time to come to realize that it’s about feeling spaces and not words and when our children sense a different feeling option they often are willing to quit the one they are in and jump on board. They usually can shift pretty quick when it’s in their feeling vicinity as they don’t have some sense of having to ride the course of a mood like we do as adults. They feel the better feeling option and will jump in quickly. Becoming aware of how we feel is such a valuable tool for life, so it’s important to provide them with the opportunity to feel better rather than something to make them feel better, which so often we are tempted to do.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Critical son is upsetting family

I’m so fed up with my son’s back talking! He is constantly criticising his younger sisters and then trying it on me. I’ve tried to tell him, but he just rolls his eyes and it’s really affecting the house. Can you help?

When our children, or ourselves, act with aggression and criticize others it’s often to build themselves up a bit, even if it means on the shoulders of others. At the same time, when we are around people who treat us badly, often their treatment can become our focus and the more we push against the problem, unfortunately, the more the problem grows. This can become a vicious circle and the energy of the group can become unbearable. You don’t mention how old your son is, but with younger daughters it’s important that it doesn’t become a situation of “bad kid” “good kids”. That will just compound the situation. There are four people in this situation: your son, your daughters and YOU. You need to find balance and I always say, that balance starts with you. When its night time and you find some quiet space in time, get yourself feeling good. Appreciate things around you, think on things you love and feel your way to seeing your son as the person you know he is, Who he is at his core, and not what he is presenting to you. Deep down your son is feeling things he isn’t expressing, his behaviour is mirroring those emotions, not representing them. In order to allow him the space to express himself better you need to feel your way to a different image of him. We can’t ask other people to change in order to make us feel better, rather we have to be the change first. Imagine him as a baby or before your daughters were born, he’s the same person he was then, just with a different perspective. Remind yourself of connected moments you’ve had, things he has done that have made you feel that awe-inspiring feeling of pride and joy. Lift yourself up with inspiring thoughts. Also, give focus to thoughts and feelings about your daughters so you can create the feeling within you of a happy, caring family.
In the day if you have a moment with your daughters, rather than discussing your son’s horrible behaviour and using it as a time to talk about him badly, seize the chance to let your daughters into the situation. Tell them that something is wrong, that your son seems angry and upset. Remind them it’s not about them and to try not to take it personally. He appears to be hurting inside himself and that is what he’s criticizing.
Then with your son, when he’s not angry about the house, treat him as you did before the behaviour began. Its easy to fall into the habit of seeing the bad behaviour even when its not present. We can walk on eggshells, expecting the bomb to fall, but in fact in expecting it we are laying the path for it. Help him feel normal in the house, not like he has a role of the bad guy to fulfil. Be kind and considerate. If you have any experiences of other people talking rudely or talking back to you, bring them up and talk about how it makes life so complicated. Follow your instincts and your own connection. When we are connected, words flow. However, if you have the instinct to not say anything, than don’t as it will come off as contrived. Often we speak because we feel we “should” speak, and it never works well. If you want a sincere conversation, than hold the truest version of your son in your heart and mind, and trust that the opportunity will come up. It always will and it will truly amaze you. When we make a request from our heart and leave it up for an opportunity to arise, than something always kicks in and the words flow from our mouths without anger. Sometimes, it can even come from the mouths of others and we can stand lovingly aside.
Most importantly, hold the true image of your son in your heart and mind and try to look past any current behaviour. When we make room for people to grow and change, they often seize the opportunity. When we demand they change, we put the focus on the problem, making no room for the solution, and they usually cut themselves off from ever treating us differently.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Jealous 4 year old

I have an almost four year old son and a 4 month old daughter. My son and I have always had a very close relationship, mostly co-slept, he has been very jealous (which is understandable) since his sister was born. Lately, he has become really really difficult to deal with. Arguing about everything. I try and listen and empathise and be present with him. He lashes out, hits, bites, spits, swears (honestly it is terrible and I think he has picked up some awful language from friends at daycare) his favorite is to tell me he doesn't love me anymore. I am exhausted. At night he wakes and wants to be with me while I'm feeding my daughter and yells at me to face him. It is getting out of hand and I'm exhausted, and I'd hate to say it but am feeling some resentment towards him.Help.

It sounds like your son is really feeling disconnected from his true self and he’s feeling scared, hurt and confused about the whole thing. At his core, and all of our cores, he is a positive spirit, and with that his natural state is to love, laugh and have fun. He knows this deep down, and his anger is simply an indicator that he’s not himself and he needs to reconnect to it again. With his hurt and disconnection, you have become the easiest target to blame. And with his level of anger he is crying out loud and clear to help him find a feeling of security, laughter and fun again.
Children know that’s it’s the natural state to feel good, to jive about, laughing and playing. They haven’t been conditioned to think that some things simply have to be done. Taking care of a 4 month old and being told that has to be done, really doesn’t sound like fun, especially when it probably puts off play for a later date. In some ways, on a deeper level, he sees you stressed, tired and involved with a little someone who he may feel makes you stressed, and he’s upset that you can’t be at the connected state of laughing and playing together like you use to. Motherly love of staring into a 4month old’s eyes for hours, as connecting and awe inspiring as it is for us, doesn’t make a 4 year old burble. So, although your son’s behaviour is a reaction to his feeling off, I find the best process is to take focus away from the problem and what he is presenting to you and focus on helping him get connected again, so he can deal with his new life from a better feeling place.
But how do we get our children connected? It sounds like right now, your son is feeling pretty at sea, so even if you tell him all is well, from his perspective he won’t believe you, in fact he won’t even hear you. He’s going to have to feel it in order to understand it.
We are sensual beings. We sense moods, atmospheres and people’s opinions. Children are so in touch with this. Therefore, often they sense our stress, they feel our looks and opinions and rather than change how they are in order to help, they tap in to the stress and cause more of it. It really can create a vicious circle. So, the first place is to start from is you and how you feel, because that’s where you have control. Take some time, even before bed, and get yourself feeling better. Take your focus off of the situation, avoid talking about your son’s jealousy or behaviour for a bit, because you can’t feel good looking at a problem, so appreciate a hot bath, go through happy memories, count your blessings, and then offer up the problem of conflict. One way to offer it up is to close your eyes and imagine life through the eyes of your son. Try to get into his skin so you can sense what he feels like. If you can’t do it, don’t worry about it. Rather, put some time in on focusing on all the things you appreciate him. Imagine his laugh, his smile, his eyes, think of him when he was a baby, and also, try to recall anything he did that made you smile in the previous day.
The reason I suggest doing this is when we shift perspective on a person, and stop seeing only what they are showing us, but remember them as Who They Are, we allow them space to connect again to that deeper level. Sure, what they are doing is “fact”, but it’s not them, so when we see our children as themselves, they can feel more comfortable getting connected again and start acting the way we see them.
The next day, try to only see the good in him. Thank him for small things, talk to him a little older. Involve him on an emotional level. I know this probably seems like a lot of work, and you’re probably tired and stressed, but I promise you, by feeling better the night before and shifting focus, you’ll start to see a change. A 3 year old can seem highly demanding, but they can also be so much fun. Ask him questions, make funny jokes, play games when the baby’s sleeping. Focus attention on fun with him and you will see connection starting to return. Even if it means setting chores aside for a couple of days to get connection back, it pays big time. If he’s not interested in joining in, go to a little effort to make him smile. Make his lunch into funny faces, put on a favourite movie that you can cuddle up together with, take him to the park and play in the sand with him.
If he starts to yell and get mad again, look at him with love and understanding and ask the important questions. Who is talking to him like this? Does he like being talked to like this? It makes you feel awful and makes the house sound horrible (yucky is a common phrase in our house), you need his help to make a safe and happy home. How can you do it together? Than go get some music and dance together, change the feeling space from where he was at. Sometimes he might not join you there, but keep your heart light and looking at the bright side, he’ll know deep down that it’s the natural state. Distraction is key so he can remember what it’s like to feel good and join you there. Feeling off and angry can become a habit and it’s easy to slip back into it all the time.
As far as while you are feeding your daughter in the middle of the night and him lashing out, as you start to see him clearer you will be able to start making deals and also, understand that he’s been feeling pretty lost. Facing him means actually a lot, as a back turned in bed can feel very isolated. Can you have one arm around him while you feed sitting up? Can the baby be in the middle for a bit? Can he sleep at the foot of the bed and you could hold his foot? Give a little bit on some things, but only when it feels relieving. If he’s learning bad language at day care I would clarify who is doing it and if it’s directed at him at all. If he is being an example of how people are treating him outside home, than he has more reasons to feel “off” than a new baby sister. It might not be so much jealousy after all. Therefore, love, love, love him, hug him, play with him, connect with him. Find that connection within yourself so you can clear away what’s being presented to you and see him as the pure positive, beautiful, growing, and vibrant young man he is.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Overwhelmed new mom with colicky baby

I’m a new mom and I’m totally swamped. I know that all new babies cry a lot, but my little boy seems to be crying all the time. I change him, I feed him, it doesn’t seem to help. The doctor just said it was colic and to wait it out, but it can’t be the right thing to do. Sometimes it feels like my heart is breaking and other times I think I’m going to pull my hair out. What do I do?

Colic is often a term used to generalize uncontrollable crying, and it has no medical cause. Yes, it can be caused by gas in a the stomach, but that can also be caused by the crying. It is said to be caused by stress sometimes, but then nothing is more stressful than a crying baby. Round and round the argument goes, and when a cycle like that begins I like to start looking for a different Source.
First, I suggest looking at our babies anew. Infants have come from a wonderful place. Before acquiring bodies, they were pure, positive spirit, who knew no pain, no contrast, no separation. In the womb they started getting a sense of what the world was about, through hearing and instinctual feelings from what we were radiating to the outside world. They sensed worry, stress and chaos, but still it was as an observer. Their basic needs were still tended to (thank you placenta) and then birth happened. Depending on the sort of birth you had, and whether it was traumatic or not, this can often be the first contrasting experience to what they’ve known. That’s alright, contrast is really what we’ve all come for, so we can define ourselves, what we want, and grow and expand. If birth wasn’t the first contrast, than the first hunger pain or dirty diaper will be. It’s a rough start and for some spirits/babies too much to handle. Therefore, in my mind, there are times in the day, or all day, when crying out for what use to be is the only solution.
So, how do we help our infants connect back to what they knew, and close the gap to Who They Really Are? It’s hard when a crying baby and feeling so tired can have us disconnected from ourselves as well. I find a change of scene, going for a walk outside for instance helps. Avoid talking to other people as a distraction for yourself, or even Facebook on your iphone. Put focus on creating a safe feeling environment for your baby. If there was music you listened to when pregnant, put that on, if you meditated when pregnant or did focus work, even for birth, do that. Create a familiar feeling within yourself so you can radiate back and your child will sense it. Talk to your baby, point out things you love. They are never too young to hear your voice and connect with you, we often talk to them when they are inside of us, and they are used to the sound of our voice. Therefore, sing, laugh, make yourself feel better, and take them for the ride, reminding them of the mere weeks before when they weren’t in the outside world.
The outside world’s feeling space can often be fast paced and frantic, it’s simply too much to handle for a small babe, therefore, shut it out, for yourself as well. Cut out newspapers and TV news for a bit and be aware of how they affect you. Your baby senses it. Breathe and relax and know that this is a process your baby has to go through; it’s the next step in physicalization.
So, make it an easier transition. You too are in transition as you get to know your new family member. LOVE, love, love and breathe. Carry her around with you through the worst of it, and when you can’t muster up better feeling thoughts/feelings, ask for help from the most secure person you know. Remind them it’s not just about carrying the load, it’s about radiating positivity and showing a baby love and understanding when they are feeling a little too far away from home.

Monday, October 15, 2012

9 year old shutting parents out

My daughter is 9 and up until now we’ve been really close. Suddenly though, it feels like she’s hiding stuff from me, like there’s stuff she doesn’t want me to find out about. How can I get her to open up and be honest with me?

Your daughter knows how close you’ve been together and in time she will want that bond again. However as parents we sometimes forget that we have to grow with our children, otherwise, quite honestly, they leave us in the dust. With 9 years of experience, your daughter has been observing life, getting a feel for it, feeling what’s off, what feels good, what she likes and what she doesn’t, now she’s beginning to feel confident in her choices and wanting to create a sacred space for herself. At a certain point, we all have to trust our children with the choices they make, only being the example of what we believe and offering subconscious alternatives if we think they are acting from a place of disconnection. By subconscious alternatives I mean offering up opportunities to experience things from a perspective that feels good to you, although we have to allow them to not feel good to our children all the time. I find that certain movies, chosen on a feeling space place rather than making “a point” is a good energy shift, or even just talking about something you are passionate about, experiences you had that made you feel good, and keeping her part of your life, even if right now, she needs you to be a bit in the dark about hers.
The most important thing I find is to come from a clear perspective ourselves. As a parent heads into dealing with teenage years, it’s easy to jump into fear based thinking “what are they up to” and going into stereotypical parental panic. Often it seems that parents forget their pre-teens and teens are still the same people as they were when they were born. They have the same essence. When we get connected to our truest selves, to our Source, when we feel like our true essence we can see our children at their deepest level as Who They Really Are. Then we can simply offer up the request to help in any way we can, if help is needed at all, and also the request to know how to be the parent our children need at this new age. Requests made on a deeper level like this are acted on quickly, as we open ourselves to seeing solutions rather than stick to focusing on the problems.
Trust your daughter, trust who she really is, and see her in that light. When she feels you seeing her on that level, than she will feel more comfortable opening up to you with her new thoughts and emotions which may have her thinking you wouldn’t approve.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Peaceful Parent has demanding daughter

I want to be a peaceful parent, but lately it feels like I’m more just a weak one. My 2.5 year old daughter has become really demanding, and where I thought I was being understanding now I just seem to give in to everything she asks. If I don’t give in, she just throws a fit, so I try to understand how she feels, and hug her, but she just gets mad at me. What am I doing wrong?

Good for you for sparking the desire to be a peaceful parent, it’s a wonderful journey. There’s one thing that’s important to remember, that is that in order to be a peaceful parent, or person, you have to feel it. If you’re feeling weak, than something is off. That’s fine, its good really, because when something suddenly feels off, it means we can shift perspective and stir things up a bit.
What is your perspective of your daughter? Often when a child is acting off, or in ways that make us want to cry, we form a new view of them and we see that behaviour in everything they do, rather than every once and a while. However, the truth is that our children have come here as pure, positive beings and when they aren’t jiving, when they aren’t feeling themselves, then they act out from the shear pain of it. They haven’t yet been conditioned to simply grin and bear it. They simply can’t hid their frustration and upset from not feeling themselves. So before dealing with how to not give in to her demands, the question becomes where are her demands coming from? She’s feeling off and she’s looking for things that will make her feel on again. When she isn’t getting what she thinks will make her feel better , than she’s mad at you because you won’t help her get on.
At 2.5 to 3 there is so much that goes on. A child is learning about how the world works and interpreting it for how they feel about it, what they like, what they don’t like and how to move forward and grow more. Things like walking and talking are no longer challenges, they’ve lost interest in their toys and their old games, they long for a new adventure. However, they are also old enough to start learning about consideration and taking care of others so I suggest this.
First find a grounded place within, focusing on whatever makes you jive. Appreciate the simple things, focus on things that make you feel better, watch a funny movie, stare at the stars, whatever makes you sink into wellbeing. Then offer up the image of a day with your daughter where you play, you laugh together and all is well. Then watch for opportunities the next day.
Set aside a time to spark your child. Get a cardboard box and make it something, have a tea party, play with figurines in a toy house, play together and show her a new way of playing, something a little older. Challenge her with nursery rhymes and do silly dances, find your inner child and play together. If at any time she has a fit and yells, than ask her simply if she wants you to talk like that? Remind her that if everyone in the house talked like that than it would sound awful. Then shift focus to a different game or topic so she can chose to stay feeling bad or jump on board the fun train.
Feeling off starts to be a habit for our 2-3 year olds. Sometimes it just takes us refocusing them to the little joys of life which can spark new life. Also, sometimes change in circumstance, holidays, fighting being sick, or visitors can chuck them out of feeling themselves and they don’t understand why so they react to the offness. You are right to be understanding, but rather than offer sympathy offer alternatives.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Work in Progress

Hi everyone, This is currently a site under construction as I sort out the details. However it is the new home of a project I'm really excited about. This site will act as an advice column on Spiritually Aware Parenting. Parents and carers are invited to write in and their questions will be answered, keeping them anonymous of course, here online. I often get messaged questions on my Facebook page ( and, although I've been running my own consultation business, I feel it benefits everyone to be able to read the advice here online and we can co-create together. Therefore, hang on a couple of weeks, while I sort it all out. In the meantime, my book about spiritually aware pregnancy and childhood up until age 2 is now available on kindle. For more info, please check out! Be well, happy and thrive everyone.