little ears

do you know your children hear you?

They hear much more than you realize.

I think mommy and daddy blogs are pretty funny. I think some are needed because parenting is hard.

But what worried me is the little ears.

Kids many not read your social media posts, but they listen to you talk…to your friends, to your parents, to your significant other,…

Be wise.

Would you like someone talking about you in a room, telling them that they are tired of you, while you sit and look busy in the same hearing space…

It happens.

LETTER OF THE LAW parenting

Rules and kids=yep

But kids and principles…?

What is that?

Principles are the cool reasons behind why we made the rules in the first place.

Often that gets forgotten when we teach the rules. Especially to younger children.

Rules can be tricky. We can get so hung up on the rules that we forget about the principles. That is usually called those famous four words:

THE LETTER OF THE LAW

This is when adults don’t budge.

So?

Why do we need to teach about principles?

Principles are the bigger picture and offer more leniency.

Inflexible parenting makes parenting harder for the parent as well as the child.

I’m not saying to not have rules. Oh, no no no no.

I’m saying to endorse rules differently with less rigidity.

Example: Let’s take a family rule like screens. Let’s say in your family you have made the family rule that there are NO screens after dinner. That means no matter what happens in a course of a day, the rule says no. If anyone breaks the rule, then there is a penalty that satisfies the action of breaking the rule. Sounds very strict. But a good rule.

But if there is a principle around this rule there is usually a broader reason around the No-screens after dinner decision. What is the principle behind it? That would be a discussion between parents and children that you decide; what is the bigger reason.  Why do we have this rule and it’s not fair to only say…”because, I’m the boss.” Can it be altered occasionally? Why is it important for us to follow it? Do we all agree with it? Let’s revisit it?

These discussion questions often go along with the thoughts around the principles of the rules and that sometimes there are exceptions to that rule when there is a need to alter it, because…maybe you wish to do a movie night, or a homework assignment, or a fun game using the television after dinner, you are not “breaking the rule,” you are just discussing and noticing the principle behind that rule in the first place. Then altering it to fit the situation.

Some rules you don’t have the liberty to change such as stopping at a stop sign, for reasons that are obvious.

But often rules involving a family have the opportunity to involve flexibility using principles that explain the reasoning why we have certain rules, but also the fluidity of altering and changing leaving the opportunity for more free choice and flexibility.

Some people need to hold to rigid rule-making to hold on to that parental control, and safety. But often when parents gets stuck on “the letter of the law” rules it is a time when children begin to act out or react because they feel stuck in a box  and constricted. When there are principles in place those help guide the rules, then the parent and the child move along that path with less strictness, and more flexibility; and usually less grump. Holding to the rules that need to be in place is a good thing, but checking and re-checking which are to the letter and possibly need some flexibility are even better. Kids change every day. So do their parents.

Parenting is often a whole lot funner when everyone understands the principle behind the rules. Why no screens? Because the principle behind the rule may be that mom and dad just want to see your cute faces looking up once in awhile, or we know it helps people go to sleep better if they don’t look at screens before bed, or we want family time together, or it’s good to put our screens to bed for the night so we can rest from them. or whatever the bigger reason is you have found to be the reason behind the rule.

This is better than just saying NO. And then getting “re-actions to the control…

…try it.

 

A great article on this is by Tad Callister called “Teaching Principles is More Important than Teaching Rules”

You can’t plan stuff like this…

A small slice of shade was the perfect spot for the one damp towel to set ourselves on. The newly discovered black beetle bug, officially named Greyson Rodney I, was getting pampered with freshly pulled grass and wild flower petals carefully arranged and rearranged for perfect comfort. The waterfall sprinkler was watering the dried grass instead of used for a hot afternoon cool down as the summer afternoon temperatures raised and the humidity thickened. Thick white cottony cumulus clouds were lazily floating above and we began that game, “What do you see in the shapes in the sky?”

Big sister was flying high on the swing then skidded to a halt when she remembered the homemade toothpick Popsicles we’d made earlier from Lemonade and ran to the freezer to snatch us all one, then passed them out and caught a corner of the towel to play.

“An alligator, …a bunny with a tail,…a face with a mustache. Greyson Rodney I huddled in the bug-catcher corner receiving continuous pampering when we broke into singing silly songs on cue.

“S’mores, s’mores the tiny camp a-roars, you can’t bake ’em in the kitchen, or buy them at the store…”

Then little sister breaks the moment and says, “I love sitting on a towel with you, Grandma.”

 

“Summer Afternoon. The two most beautiful words in the English language.” 

-Henry James

 

The “WHY” Tree

IMG_3542

I love this tree. I see it on my walk each day. When I see it I always have a  “why” question for it. “Why” isn’t always an easy thing to answer. But just the effort to try to talk about the “why’s” are important, especially for our children.

“Hello, “why” tree…Why do I clam up or get frustrated when my child asks me why?”

My tree says., “Children have so many questions “why.” They want to know why about everything. It is not a nuisance. It is discovery. Think like a child and wonder as they do. Then answer the best way they would understand, not how you would as an adult. But answer!”

I share my “why” tree with you to talk to. The “why” tree is always there to listen and help us find the answers, to hard and not so hard questions.”

 

This is serious business

What is your play personality?

No one has only one play personality, but we do emphasize one more than others. So let’s go on a play discovery to find out which is you. It may be important to know for your partner and also for your kids. This is serious business.

From PLAY by Stuart Brown, M.D.

#1: THE JOKER

“A jokers play always revolves around some type of nonsense. This is the most basic and extreme player in history and we begin it by doing baby talk to make human’s laugh. There is nothing like that feeling of making another person laugh. Class clowns love this type of play personality to get attention or to create a distraction. Many jokers like to use this type of play to dissolve friction or make a moment lighter and happier. Think of your funniest comedian and their sense of play. A clown at a circus is a joker.

#2: THE KINESTHETE

Kinesthetes are people who like to move. “They need to move in order to think.” This category includes athletes or people who need to move their bodies simply for fun. Many children kinesthetes need to move to think and their concentration is better when they are given the opportunity to move around at school. This doesn’t mean organized sports and competition is their play personality, this only means these types of players love and NEED to use their bodies in motion. They usually are the dancers, the swimmers, the walkers, the bike riders, the jump ropers, etc. You know them because moving makes them happy and content. Not to keep score, just to be alive. Most of these people will never chose to be librarians or computer nerds as a career. if they are cooped up they get irritable until they can move. In this book the “rough housing little boys often do,” is part of needing to move their bodies and studies now show children who show psychosis later in life are usually ones who did not get to use their bodies to move around when they needed to as younger children (pg. 94-96).

#3: THE EXPLORER

We all began our lives as explorers but some of us never loose the enthusiasm for it. Exploring can be physical–literally loving to see new places and learn new things. For others exploration may be an emotional search–discovery of the mind, a new feeling, a deepening of the familiar. The explorer may go on a mental exploration of new experiences with new subjects or points of view that they learn about through different forms of information.

#4: THE COMPETITOR

Euphoria and fun for the competitor is playing to win a game. He is the “terminator.” She is the ” dominator.” The competitor loves the fight for number one and often will go through extremes to get that satisfaction of the win. If games and keeping score are your thing, this may be your dominant play personality. You can be a fan or a player to be a competitor. It can be social or solitary. Competitors make themselves known in social groups, where the fun comes from being the top  person in the group, or in business, in which money or perks serve to keep score. Some silently compete like the runner or counter of steps.

#5: THE DIRECTOR

Directors enjoy planning and executing scenes and events. Though many are unconscious of their motives and style of operating, they love the power, even when they’re playing in the B-movie league. They are the born organizers. At their best they are the party givers, the great instigators of the excursions at the beach, they dynamic center of the social world. At worst they are the manipulators. All the worlds a stage, and the rest of us are only players in the director’s play game.

#6: THE COLLECTOR

What good is the world without random objects. The thrill of the play for the collector is to have and to hold the most, the best, the most interesting collection of objects or experiences. One person… travels the world to see solar eclipses–which might seem like the action of an explorer, except that he has to see every single one and methodically collects evidence of each eclipse. Collectors may enjoy this as a solitary activity, or they may find it the focus of an intense social connection with others who have similar obsessions. Do not some people seek “likes” as collections for their social media posts?

#7: THE ARTIST/CREATOR

For the artist/creator joy is found in making things. They may end of sharing their creations with the world or selling them to millions, or may never show anyone what they make. The point is to make something–to make something beautiful, functional, goofy, or rotten. The play is the process of making or creating. They may also enjoy how something works and could take apart something, try to invent something, decorate something, or experiment with different forms of art mediums of all kinds. These are the inventors and the people who use play to put themselves out there.

#8: THE STORYTELLER

For the storyteller, the imagination is the key to the kingdom of play. Storytellers are, of course, novelists, playwrights, cartoonists, and screenwriters. They are poets, journal writers, movie watchers, novel readers who make themselves part of stories someone else writes or they write themselves. Performers of all sorts are storytellers, creating an imaginative world through dance, acting, magic tricks or lectures. Because their realm is imagination they can bring this form of play to almost any activity. In contrast to the competitor the storyteller’s main point of the game is to have an exciting match and not so much about the win. Even cooking macaroni and cheese can be transformed through imagination into a worldwide telecast celebrity cook-off.

“PLAY ISN’T THE ENEMY OF LEARNING, IT’S LEARNING’S PARTNER.”

“…there is no way to really understand play without also remembering the feeling of play. If we leave the emotion of play out of the science, it’s like throwing a dinner party and serving pictures of food. The guests can  understand all they care to about how the food looks and hear descriptions of how the food tastes, but until they put actual food in their mouths they won’t really appreciate what the meal is all about” (Brown, 2010, pg. 21).

Brown, S. (2010) Play. New York, NY: Penguin Group, Inc.

Go Play! It’s summertime…

sea sunset ocean playing

Setting summer free

A six and four year old, a wonder, and a perfect evening helped me remember something vastly important. Neither of them had witnessed the magical phenomenon of the lighting bug (firefly) and they were determined to find out if this actually was true. Unfortunately summer sun sets long after they go to bed, and they made me promise if I saw anything I would wake them; I pinky-swore.

Each night the conditions weren’t right; no magic.

Then a sweltery summer storm began to brew and the air got thick. The little’s had stayed up late, just because. But they were now tucked and kissed and night covered the world in a blanket of dim light and humidity.

Then it happened. From no where came the sparkles of light. Off and on, off and on; hundreds of fireflies. I ran to their bedroom as promised seeing the backs of two babies, in the dark peeking out their window, and as I rushed in we both said together, “They have come!” We ran outside, barefooted, grabbing our jar that had been on stand-by at the back door.

firefly in jar

…Then one sat at the bottom behind the glass–a bug, not a cute bug just a flying bug. It would not perform at will.

So we set it free and it landed quite gently on the arm of the four year old and shined it’s light; off and on, off and on, proudly. What joy! The six year old had a turn and the night was perfect. These bugs seemed to know this was their summer job tonight. To prove to two skeptics magic actually was true. We ran and jumped in the dark, together.

Right then I remembered summer is only one time a year. And even though it comes as a season, we have to take it in and honor it, personally. Or it will simply be missed.

I must not ever let running barefoot on a firefly evening go without notice. This is the time for me to stop, pick berries, run through sprinklers, sit outside in the golden hour and feel the breeze as the sun sets,…

Because why?

It is allowed right this moment.

Only if you let summertime trickle inside.

 

What to do?

Child: “I want to be a policeman when I grow up.”

Parent: “Oh, really?”

Child: “I want to catch the bad guys.”

Parent: “Are police good guys?”

Child: “Yes.”

 

That seems to be the million dollar statement in the present moment.

What will be your next statement as a parent if this were your child?

The Pandemic was a crash course in community. I believe we did a really great job as a world. To survive as human beings we live in communities. We survive contributing to our communities. That is what community means. During the pandemic communities depended upon each other for safety, to cheer each other on, and to hold to each other during challenging times. We work together for the good of not only ourselves, but for each other collectively. Communities depend on the helpers to keep it safe, calm, and helpful.

Children learn this concept the very beginning of their lives.

Why would police be nothing but good, today to a child? Police, firemen/women, postal workers, doctors, nurses, garbage collectors, grocers are part of the community “helpers.”

Should we lump ALL community helpers into the bad-guy pile? Is that going to help the community? What will community be for the children if we didn’t have the helpers; especially the ones who put themselves in harms way to keep us safe?

Perhaps we can look to children for the answers.

Children do not complicate. Life is simple to them.

You are good in the moment or you are not good in the moment; not yesterday, not last week, not hundreds of  years ago. Only today.

This is safe or this is not safe not yesterday, not last week, not hundreds of  years ago. Only today.

This feels pleasant or this feels unpleasant not yesterday, not last week, not ten or hundreds of  years ago. Only today.

If you are naughty you may get a time out not yesterday, not last week, not ten or hundreds of  years ago. Only today.

If you are a good girl or boy you may get a treat not yesterday, not last week, not ten or hundreds of  years ago. Only today.

If you are a child you know and rely on helpers because children can’t live without people who help them. They are helpless alone. Children know humans need each other and can’t do without helpers. We don’t live as islands, we live together, and share the community, the resources, and the earth. All of us as helpers and contributors.

Children live in the moment.

But they do one more thing vastly different than adults.

They see only with love because they don’t know bad memories. Bad has to be put there.

Expectations are only about love in the present moment.

My answer to this little child,

“I think you will be a good police man because the police are helpers and we want to be one of the helpers. Remember, just like we had to wear a mask to help so no one would get sick. We want to help each other.”

That’s a place to start…

 

 

 

The Kind Walk

Hate is learned. That is a scary thought. We don’t come to earth knowing how to hate. In the U.S. there has been a lot of loud shouting and people looking angry and children feel unrest. The energy feels disharmonious and unnatural. Hate seems to be close by.

Kind Walks or Kind Drives can help children be aware of the good and kind that is around them. You and your child take a walk or get in the car and drive around seeking things that feel and look kind. Let your child guide you in this. If they don’t know what to look for at first you can begin, but then wait for them to begin to notice. This is a lesson on awareness.

This may seem like a silly waste of time. But awareness of the good that is around us gives children strategies for resilience and breaking patterns of negativity. It is an action of purpose that leads to a positive outcome.

Remember this quote from Nelson Mandela: “…love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

Resilient children

Play is a big deal.

Play isn’t passing time.

Play is what a child’s brain does to make sense of things.

Play releases pent up energy. (Same with adults)

Play sets you free for a moment.

Play role plays things you wonder.

Play teaches.

Play puts you in the present to curb anxiety which worries about the future.

Play feeds curiosity.

Play lets you splash in your passion or discover new ones.

Play lets you make mistakes and be okay.

Play sometimes gets you hurt and you learn and get a Bandaid and play more.

What do we do to help children get through and past world crises, pandemics, boredom, contention and anger?

Let them play…just like a child.