Friday, January 19

Guilt Revisited

Guilt is a hot topic for parents. So we'll hit it again. Different place, different perspective. A little more Zen. And judging by my last post, I was well on my way to that Zen. Which is good. Good place.

So what have I been doing since? (Stick with me here, it's relevant to the topic.) Moving. And moving again. And probably more moving, but I'll start to digress. So after the last move, and all I had learned over the years, I decided to go completely Zen. I'm now a Reiki Master and ThetaHealer. (Gasp. Yes, it's okay. Get it out.) And how does this relate to guilt? Because I figured out how to reeeeeally let it go! In clearing the mind of "OH my gosh, I am SO rotten to my kids sometimes!" you make room to LEARN from what happened to make you feel that way, and focus on how to change future similar outcomes. There's also the part where my kids have grown up and I now have a house full of teenagers who often come to me with their own guilt or anxiety issues (thank you school, social media, and whatever the hell else) and HA! I can now help!! I mean, actually. Help.

Looking back on parenting toddlers: #1 Was I the best parent? Please. No.   #2 Did I actually cause some of the guilt to spill over on to my kids? As in, did I model and teach them what it looks like to feel guilty all the time, and did I send that energy to them to absorb into their little cells? Oooh, yes I did.


What I LEARNED from that, how I overcame it, I can now also pass on to them. And they don't have to wait until they're nearly 50 (cough, cough) to figure it out. The best we can do is step back, look at life's messages, really hear what we are guided to do and learn, and make it so. Grab it. Run with it. Thank the Universe. Yes, thank the Universe for reminding you what you need to work on!

So...let's consult an example.
What do you feel guilty about, and why? As a ThetaHealer, we can dig on that baby for a looong time and figure out and release some serious belief patterns, but if that's too out-there for you, just roll with the second question a bit: "Why?" Why do you feel guilty?
Well, I feel guilty because I spanked my kid.
Why does that make me feel guilty? Because it's wrong!
Because why? Because my own parents spanked me and I always felt like I was a horrible kid. Because why? Because I was. They told me so. I didn't act the way they wanted me to act.

Stop right there. "Because I was. They told me so."

Soooo...if you spank your own kid, you are sending the same message that you got from your own parents? I gotcha. Yep. That's no good. Don't want that.

But where to go from there? Release that, friend. Release that message you got from your parents. A whole bundle of goodness comes from doing so. When you are ready to release that, your body lets it go (yes, it stays in cells and organs, eventually making us sick), your mind lets it go, you figure out you need to love and forgive yourself, and when you get to THAT place, it releases the impatience, guilt, and anger at whatever it is your toddler did to trigger you in the first place, and since love flows freely in and out of you, you can now tap in to a different energy to address the behavior of your toddler in a loving way.


If you are still reading, I guess we've hit something that resonates. Most likely, the guilt is there in you before you even have the spanking incident with your child. It just triggers an overwhelming sense of "wrong" in you. Does this mean you need to fly past the spanking, give yourself a total pass, toss some pudding at the kiddo to mend the mental boo-boo, and get over it? Of course not. What it DOES mean is that a) there is more going on here than is completely obvious and b) when you learn to forgive yourself (and possibly clear resentment, etc.), you can clear your mind to change, and never do the spanking bit again. What would that be like? What if next time, you could recognize when you're getting triggered, stop and take a breath, utilize some strategies to calm down, and THERE IS NO SPANKING? What if instead, you are able to see the situation for what it is, remember your child for who they are and what THEY are also trying to learn in life, and approach the entire situation differently, with love, grace, and integrity?

Yeah, baby. Now we're on to something. Use each situation that makes you feel guilty to LEARN. The Universe, laws of attraction, God, Jesus, Source, energy - however you wish to see it - will tap you on the shoulder, then shove, then totally push you to the ground if you don't listen to the message, "This is what you need to work on. Here's an opportunity! Yea!"

In my Zen journey, I've come across a couple of life-changers:

If you haven't heard of Complex PTSD, start reading. When I showed up to my first training session to be a Reiki practitioner, my teacher told me I had this. I said, "No I don't." She said, "Yes, you do." Me: "No. I don't!" Her: "Yes. You do." We went back and forth for a solid minute on that until I said, "Fine! I'll get the darn book!" Two weeks later, my life was COMPLETELY changing. And now, with most clients that walk through my door, I recognize this immediately. It's absolutely pervasive. Keep an open mind about it and ... just read. You might start seeing 'guilt' in a whole new way. And it also might lead you to a chisel so you can start carving it out of your life to serve you and your child in the highest and best way.

2) Matt Kahn.
If you are completely, totally, absolutely unfamiliar and averse to any new age-y, froo-froo, Zen-ish, send-and-receive-unconditional-love kind of stuff, this guy might be a bit much for you. But, if you embrace anything about that, this video is amazing. "Everything is Here to Help You." When you get to the point of seeing the world through different glasses, this is an incredible message. Your guilt is here to help you. The situation that created the guilt is here to help you. When you accept that for what it is, accept the "help" and start moving forward...tree-falling-in-the-woods and exploding rainbows kind of crazy goodness and energy changes are coming. Mmmmmhmmmm.

Warm wishes, friend. I'm off to eat my steel-cut oats with red quinoa and slivered almonds. In lotus position. While meditating. ;p

Wednesday, August 26

Mommy, Daddy! Look at Me! (No, really look.)

Sad to say, but if you just sit back and observe how parents interact with their kids, you'll find that most of them totally ignore the kids unless they're fussing or screaming. It's rather enlightening. Sad, but enlightening. And think about it. How many times a day do you actually look your kid in the eye and talk to them? Or at least talk with them if your eyes are trained on dinner or the road in front of you?

Here's a good article on how speaking to your child speeds up the language learning process.

It makes perfect sense. You can't stick a kid in front of a screen and expect them to pick up language as quickly as those who interact with an actual human. There are subtle cues in language - we use our tone, eyes, face, and body to communicate a heck of a lot - that kids miss when watching it on a screen. It's like with preemie babies. Have you ever heard how parents are encouraged to "kangaroo" preemies? Those little angels arrive on Earth a little too early, but tend to grow and thrive better with actual human, skin-to-skin contact. Why? Why isn't it good enough to have them "grow" in an incubator, away from germs and stimulus? Well, because it just isn't! Humans have a light energy about them that cannot be replicated from a machine. It's living. It's love. Communication is meant to happen with two actual, living people. We are just very accustomed to it being electronic and get lured into thinking that the tech we stick in front of our kids is "educational." Get yourself away from that line of thinking!

Babies and toddlers need you to look at them. Talk and interact with them. Guide them. Teach them about the world. Don't let a gadget do that for you. Please.

Cheers and Zen to you! (Do those even go together? Hunh.)

Tuesday, February 24

Oops! The 9 Ways We Screw Up Our Toddlers

You know how sometimes you shoot up in bed in the middle of the night (okay, maybe you don't, but I do; so indulge me a bit here and go along) and think, "OH my gosh! I forgot to brush my kid's teeth AGAIN!" Or, "OH crap! I forgot to give my daughter her antibiotics tonight!"

Oops is my new book, and kind of hits on the ultimate "OH crap" of Am-I-Messing-Up-My-Kid? I normally give a lot of how-to advice, but wanted to veer off the track and write a what-not-to-do book. Do-this, Do-that is good and all, but can get a little boring and dance around the elephant in the room. We've got an entirely new generation of kids growing up, and they are as sweet as can be, but wow - are they spoiled! I don't discount myself as one of the spoilers, so don't think of this book as a lecture. It's more like a bootcamp for bad parenting habits. ALL of us can do it just a little bit better, and it takes being honest about it before we can drop our defenses and say, "Okay, I should cut that out."

Oops goes through the top parenting mistakes and how it will affect our toddlers as they age. Right now it's all about getting through the day. But there is a bigger picture to keep in mind. Our kids will grow up one day (soon!) and instilling habits to promote indepence and problem solving is a day to day process that needs to start NOW. It's one of those things that whops you on the butt if you wait too long.

So download it for free on iTunes/iBooks. It's a quick, fun read, meant to poke fun at our parenting, but not to judge. I'm sailing the same boat as you are, and we all have our sight on raising beautiful, healthy kiddos!

Thursday, June 19

Fat Cat Beginning Reader Books

Fat Cat is a sweet little (well, okay, not little) ten-year-old kitty who finds herself alone and scared at an animal shelter. Will anyone adopt her? Will she ever find someone to love her? Read Fat Cat Finds a Home and journey with this furry friend as she discovers the heartwarming love of three special little girls.

Fat Cat Finds a Home is the first in our new series of kids books and oh my goodness! So darn cute! Very colorful and unique pictures to stimulate your little sweetie, and a great way to teach sympathy and treating animals with kindness.
Fat Cat Finds a Home is available on Kindle. We hope you enjoy! And stayed tuned - there are more Fat Cat adventures on the way!

Monday, March 24

Teach kids to calm themselves

I ran across an interesting article on how to teach kids to calm themselves [Teaching Children to Calm Themselves - "When Luke gets angry, he tries to remember to look at his bracelet..."]. Although I work with children like the ones in this article, I generally don't write about child discipline with cases this severe in mind...meaning, my advice is geared more toward the general population of kids with a loving, supportive family, but the behavior indicates that mom and dad can go about things differently to get better results.

But if you think about it, ALL kids can use the techniques in this article. I think that from a very young age, we don't teach our children how to comfort themselves since we do EVERYTHING for them. We don't want to see them hurt, so we intervene in an effort to help. In the process, we rob them of some very important self-soothing lessons.

So if your child's behavior is to the point of angry outbursts that you really don't know how to address, check out this article and do some more research. It takes some training to deal with children who are hurting to the degree stated in this article, but even for the average kiddo, cooling down strategies are always good!

Monday, March 17

Helicopter Parenting

Ever hear of the term "Helicopter Parenting"? It's what we do ALL the time. Our kids are over-protected, over-indulged, and over-scheduled. I do it. Everyone I know does it. And if any of us sees a parent that doesn't do it, we automatically think neglect and abuse. We don't voice it, of course, but we glance at each other with head shakes, a tsk-tsk, and very defined frowns, wrinkling our very judgmental faces. When I see a 4th grader consistently walking home from school alone, or up to the local gas station for candy, I automatically think, "Where are the parents??!!" And heaven help us all if I see a couple of youngsters walking along a busy street on their way to or from who knows where. "They're too young!" I cry. "They're all alone!" I wail. It takes a heck of a lot for it to cross my mind that they might actually make it home without being hit by a car or kidnapped.

On the reverse side, last week I saw both parents walking all four (count 'em) kids along a very busy intersection, and nearly had a heart attack as two of the kids - neither could have been more than six years old - walk ahead of the parents and stop twelve inches from the cars pulling up to a stoplight. The parents (distracted, nonchalant, loser parents), lagged behind with the stroller and got caught up looking at something on their phone. Never once did they glance up and see where their kids were heading. My husband and I held our breath as we waited for the parents to look up, catch up, and protect those babies.

Again, it never occurred to me that the kids would be okay. And therein lies the problem.

We are SO convinced that our kids will not survive, thrive, or succeed without our help that we hover over them to the point of smothering to death. With love, of course. Misguided, but "love" is indeed what we call it. We love them sooooo much that we get over-involved in their every waking moment. We never let the babies leave our sight. We run ourselves absolutely ragged trying to keep up with our toddlers, chasing them from room to room, saving them from every fall, bump, or tiny little mishap.

Maybe we should stop. (You don't know how hard it was to write those words. Holy cow.)

I'm not saying we should stop being caring parents, and we definitely shouldn't let our kids walk towards moving cars, but maybe we could cut back on showing our toddlers how to play with every single toy we put in front of them. Maybe we don't need to be in their faces every moment of the day, hovering over their every move. Surely it will be okay if they figure out how to stack those blocks without our help. Maybe we don't need to have them in a different class every day of the week, or chase them around trying to shove that last bit of sandwich in their mouth. They might live without it. Maybe we could let them play, let them discover, and let them develop a desire for knowledge and independence.

One of these days our babies will grow up. They will need self-comforting skills, problem solving skills, and a sense of achievement and motivation. If we keep hovering, how will they figure it out? If you want to discuss anxiety about our kids making it without us, just think to that day when you must let them loose into the world. A world that doesn't think they are the greatest things to walk the planet. A world that could care less.

(Gulp.) Yes, maybe we should stop.

Thursday, January 9

Toddlers and Tablets

Get 'em OFF the screen, people!

We are way too reliant on technology and tablets and pads. We work with it, entertain with it, read from it, and expect it to spell check and think for us. It's getting scary. We recently had a fence put up in our backyard and when I answered the door to let the guy in, he very hesitantly asked if he had the right house. Yes, I said, you have the right house! He blew a deep sigh of relief and explained that his GPS couldn't pinpoint the exact location of my address, and boy, he just wasn't sure if it was this house or the one next door. I gave him a pause and stare. Eyebrows lifted. Really, dude? Do you not have my street number on a work order and do you not have eyes to actually look at the numbers on my mailbox and match the two up? Do you have beans rattling around up there? Are we so devoted to our technology and GPS that we can't think through an itty-bitty-baby-wee problem? Technology is squeezing out and killing the part of our brain reserved for this critical thinking. And that is freaking frightening!!

Babies and toddlers are the last little cuties that should be on this stuff. I know phones are a life-saver when it comes to entertainment in the car or to keep the kid quiet so you can have a conversation with your gynecologist, but oh my gosh. If it works this time, it will work again. And again, and again. Pretty soon they are learning to talk by watching Youtube and we have a kid who cannot do without his phone or tablet. Tantrums. Screams. GIVE ME BACK THE SCREEN!!

Not only is this unhealthy for social and cognitive development, there is talk of long-term damage to their poor hand muscles because they are spending way too much time touching and tapping and not actually manipulating actual objects like blocks, toys, and crayons.

Excerpt from the story
"A warning for parents of tech-savvy children. The American Academy of Pediatrics says children under two should avoid all screen time.

Jessica Kartalija reports doctors and therapists fear too much time on touchscreens could cause long-term damage.

Playtime for babies is far different in the 21st century. But parents could be making a big mistake putting touchscreens in the hands of toddlers and young children. Parents think they’re educating and stimulating their kids, but doctors and therapists are raising a red flag — too much screen time can hurt their developing bodies. “If they are always on the iPad and not actually doing those paper pencil activities that they should still be doing, those muscles are going to remain weaker,” said occupational therapist Lindsay Marzoli, Learning and Therapy Corner."

When a child's eyes are glued to a screen, they are not on you. This may sound terrific in terms of getting a break, but those "little breaks" add up to a crap-load of time spent away from learning from the most important person - you. Our daily interactions with kids teach them how to behave, solve problems, and learn how the world works. A screen is not a person, and while it can certainly entertain, and possibly give you false hopes with cute age-appropriate apps, it cannot E-VER replace a child's need for attention and guidance. They need those two things constantly, and if you are relying on some electronic "thing" to do the job for might be time for a little long-term vision and soul searching.

Here's to blocks, bears, puzzles, books, play-doh, and all non-electronic childhood playthings. (If it lights up, squeaks, talks, or does anything but stay silent and invoke the imagination, I prefer to make its' new home the trash can).

Cheers, my friends.