In recent years, there has been an overwhelming amount of information about how our parenting can impact our children. There are times when the information presented can make you feel like a failure as a parent. This feeling then affects your ability to parent.
I have had several families contact me to get clarity on all the different parenting styles. One style that is on the rise in the media and parenting networks is Conscious Parenting.
It is not uncommon for me to hear…”WTF is Conscious Parenting?”.
Conscious Parenting in a Nutshell
Conscious Parenting’s main focus is not the child. Say what??? You read that correctly. The main focus with this parenting style is the parent.
It took me a bit of time to wrap my head around the difference between positive parenting, mindful parenting and conscious parenting. The biggest takeaway I have had from my research and practice of the different methods is that they all focus on a positive approach to parenting.
Both positive parenting and mindful parenting focus on interacting with your child in a way that helps your child produce the positive behaviour because you are focused on molding your child’s behaviour using positive interaction or you are aware of (mindful) of your child’s needs.
Conscious parenting focuses on your feelings and the way you are dealing with certain behaviours. It takes the pressure off trying to fix your child and focuses on fixing your view or the way you handle a certain situation.
Tell Me More….
When you are parenting in a Conscious manner you are analyzing and reviewing how your feelings are gearing your reactions or the way you help your child with undesired behaviour.
You look for triggers. I am constantly asking myself..”is this my issue or his?”.
A great example of this is when he struggled with the beginning of grade 2. He would come home pretty upset and concerned that he was not going to be able to complete his work.
After much reflecting I realized I was not helping. My school based anxieties were preventing me from listening to him. All he needed was a safe place to vent and then he was fine but I dragged it out. I was trying to help him learn to write properly and it was becoming a battle. I backed off and listened. Helped when he asked for it and in time things got much better. He felt confident and flourished at school.
As a Sleep Consultant I have a number of parents that I work with that take it personally if their child is not sleeping well. I help parents reduce the stress they put on themselves to improve their child’s sleep and the work on things in a slow progressive manner. Even infants feed off their parents emotions.
So to parent in a more conscious manner, it is important to work through your issues, identify ways that you can empower your child, set your child up with the tools needed to accomplish the desired behaviours and remove your emotions from the equation.
I actually find this style of parenting to be freeing and less exhausting. I can let way more things go and get the bottom of things way sooner. There is a lot of deep breathing going on.
Please feel free to reach out for support on how you may be able to parent in a more conscious manner.
Not 100% sure I would call it the “Most Wonderful Time of Year”!!
The malls are full of people bustling about. Children are bouncing off the walls with excitement. Parents are trying their best to make this a happy time adding pressure to their already busy times. Some people have located far away from family and friends which can add to feelings of isolation. My chest is pounding just writing this post!
It is possible to take a great deal of stress out of the holidays but it will take time and a change of perspective.
How can we make this a Wonderful Time of Year?
1. Lower your expectations!
A number of people ( me included) put so much pressure on ourselves to make everything perfect! What is perfect? You are the one setting the bar so ….lower it! This year my goal is that we take in the holiday spirit as much as we can handle.
2. Schedule Downtime
I am blocking out time that we have absolutely nothing planned. I will not fill it with an activity. Why? We all need time to decompress and do whatever we want. This reduces your stress level which makes it easier to cope with the high demands this time of year.
3. Have Fun
Play and have fun! Do things that you enjoy.
I will be following my dad’s lead. My father made it very clear that Christmas day was all about the kids. We had time to play and have fun. I have a number of memories of us laughing and playing as a family.
4. Be Prepared
I recommend having lots of extra batteries on hand! Remove a great deal of the packaging on your child’s gifts. Make it easy for your child to play with that toy.
Also, make sure you have all the food on hand that is needed. Hangry people makes for a bunch of cranky people. If your child is prone to be anxious in new or crowded places utilize the techniques that help your little one cope well. Here is a link to a member only article that may be helpful How to Help an Anxious Child
5. Pack your Patience
The most important thing for you to pack is your patience!! The calmer you can be the better. I will be the strange woman taking deep breathes while I am in a lineup. I will do my best to be patient. This will help me as a parent. My little man is already showing signs of being excited. He is pointing out the lights or anything he finds interesting. I now take extra time to get places so he can explore and enjoy our time together.
I hope you have a wonderful holiday experience with reduced stressed and a great deal of fun!
From my family to yours, Happy Holidays/Merry Christmas/Happy Hanukkah/etc….!!
We have all heard of the importance of routines and schedules. Routines and schedules provide children with the understanding of what is coming next and what is to be expected. These are both very important parts of a child’s day. Now let’s add a little fun to your day!! How do I expect to do that?? Add some fun rituals.
What is a Ritual and How is it Different from a Routine?
A ritual is an action we do to help with transitions or as a fun thing which increases the bond between child and adult. A routine is when you do things in a certain order like a bedtime routine or morning routine.
A number of athletes have rituals they perform before a competition. Some hockey players tap the goalie on their way out to the ice. It is common to see some football players pray before going on the field. These acts pump the person up and get them ready for the game.
Rituals can be very beneficial to children that have a hard time with transitions. Rituals do not have to be elaborate and can be quite cute and fun.
What are Some Examples of Rituals?
A saying you repeat to each other.
Kiss on the cheek.
A song you sing.
Rubbing noses or foreheads.
Our youngest son and I have a number of rituals that we use often and I can take them out when he is feeling overwhelmed or worried. Every morning we have snuggles. He always wants to give me a morning kiss before his dad does so they “wrestle” to see who goes first. He goes first! We have a special walk (he walks on my feet). Hugs are a must. He started rubbing his forehead on mine when he was a toddler and it has stuck!
If your little one is struggling with a certain part of your daily life try adding in some rituals and see if that helps. Rituals are perfect before bed!!
Spring forward! This Sunday, March 8, 2015, the clocks will Spring Forward!!! I can hear all the parents of early risers rejoicing now! I can also hear the panic in some people’s voices. Arghh Time Change.
Often the time change can impact your child’s sleep. This time change usually has more of a positive impact than negative impact. The biggest change that we will see is more daylight. Blackout blinds will be your friend.
How do you prepare for the time change?
The best thing you can do is carry on like you usually do and make sure your child’s room is quite dark.
How will this time change impact your child’s sleep?
Your child may sleep in longer! (Yippee!!)
How do you get their sleep back on track?
If you want to keep your child on their current schedule you could wake them up at their usual wake time. I would suggest that you do this as naturally as possible as children waking up are not happy. By naturally, I mean open up the black out blinds or curtains, turn off their white noise, turn on the hall light and open their door.
If you choose not to wake your child up (this is the one I will choose), I suggest that you keep in mind that child may not be ready for sleep at their regular time. They will naturally be ready for sleep an hour later than their regular sleep time. You can start to get them back to their regular schedule by moving their bedtime and naps 15 minutes back.
For example: Our son usually goes to sleep at 7:00 PM this Sunday he may not be ready for sleep until 8:00 PM. We will have his bedtime (lights out) at 7:45 PM. Then every few days we will move the back another 15 minutes until we get to the desired time.
Another thing you can do to reduce the effect this time change has on your child’s sleep is to take advantage of the outside and get your child moving lots. This will increase their ability to go to sleep “early” on Sunday which really will be their regular sleep time.
The topic of Sleep Training gets lots of people pretty riled up. I am a firm believer in you do what works for you. If you want to help your child learn how to sleep better, then find the best method for you and your family. If you are fine with the way things are, then that is okay too.
I believe that lots of people are afraid to talk about the fact their child does not sleep and they are just plain exhausted. Who wants to admit they feel like a failure? Babies are supposed to sleep wonderfully. I can say from personal experience that I did not talk about the struggles we had with getting our young man the sleep he required. I did not want others to think I was incompetent.
I would have stood on my head if that would have worked. I tried many different sleep environments. I always thought I would not want to co-sleep, but I tried. I would have done it if it worked for us.
We had 2 bassinets and a crib. I tried the swing and many other gadgets. Eventually, with practice and our assistance, he was able to sleep. This was a long process for us. We were able to teach him the skills to sleep with very minimal crying. I could not and still do not do well with him crying. That said, I clearly understood that when he cried, it was his way of expressing himself. He was very clear that he was not happy with any change. Once we had a consistent routine in place his sleep improved immensely.
It was my own personal experience that gave me the desire to become a Child Sleep Consultant. I had over 20 years of experience working with children and a Bachelor of Child Studies. My own child had me stumped! There I was pulling out all the tips I had given to others or used in the past and they were not working. What worked for me was finding a method that I was comfortable with and our son did well with. The method we used was to stay in the room with our son. We worked our way out of the room slowly.
After we had worked out our sleep issues, I was introduced to the Sleep Sense Program. This program was very similar to the strategies we used to teach our how to sleep. I decided to become a consultant so I could teach other parents this method.
To this day, there are times that I hear other Mom’s talking about sleep and I want to scream it does not have to be that way! What really gets me fired up is when I hear or read things like this:
You should just enjoy getting up to nurse/feed all night, someday he’ll be all grown up and you’ll miss it.
You were the one who decided to have children.
Well, you’d better learn to live with it!
Being overtired is not fun for anyone involved. When people state things like I previously mentioned, it makes the reality of being a parent that much harder to take. Then throw in the many myths about sleep training and sleep-deprived parents have nowhere to turn. Let’s debunk the myths:
Myth #1: Your baby will not love you in the morning.
Really? Do you think that after just one night of changing your baby’s sleep habits she won’t love you anymore? Is that all it would take?
Would all the cuddles you give her, all the food you provide, all the diapers and clean clothes she wears, all the playtimes and bath times, all the kisses and laughter be for nothing because of a few nights of protest?
The truth is that making changes to anyone’s sleep habits will always be met with some resistance. So yes, it is safe to assume that your baby is not going to happily accept the fact that you are no longer going to rock her on the exercise ball for an hour each and every night, but as long as you are a loving and attentive parent in the first place, the love will endure.
In fact, most people find that once their baby is sleeping well, she’s even happier and healthier than before.
Myth #2: Sleep training means leaving your baby to cry it out.
It does not have to be that way. I am not comfortable with babies crying. I do my best to teach families how to reduce the amount of crying. In fact, I usually recommend staying in the room. Sometimes your presence is enough to reduce your child’s resistance with sleep.
Children adapt SO quickly that she’ll soon figure out how to calmly get herself to sleep and then everyone is happier.
Myth #3: Sleep training is too stressful for babies.
Sleep training does not have to be stressful. There will be crying out of protest. It does get easier with consistency and persistence. The first few nights are usually the most difficult.
As for those who say that a few nights of crying are too stressful? You’ve really got two choices:
Make some changes. This usually involves a few nights of your child crying for 10 to 40 minutes at bedtime. After a few nights, most children start to learn how to fall asleep independently and the crying stops completely shortly thereafter. In this scenario, the total amount of stress felt by your child amounts to a few minutes of crying for a few nights.
Do nothing. In this scenario, the parent continues to nurse/rock/bounce their child to sleep every night. The child wakes up 1 to 10 times per night and needs to be nursed/rocked/bounced back to sleep each time. In this scenario, both parent and child are subjected to months (or even years) of systematic sleep deprivation where neither ever gets enough consolidated sleep to wake up and feel rested or refreshed.
So what sounds more harmful: A few night’s of crying or months/years of depriving your child of a good nights sleep?
If one or more of these three myths have been holding you back from taking the simple steps needed to create long-term, positive change for your child’s sleep, I really hope I’ve been able to change your mind.