Positive behaviour

The weekend is here and you have an active toddler

The weekend is here, the weather forecast mostly fine (here in Melbourne) and you have an active toddler.

I remembered about an article I read ages ago which listed lots of practical ways for toddlers to use their developing bodies and abundant energy so decided to write short list of my own.

Toddlers love big work!

Here's a taste to inspire you.

Ways that toddlers can exert maximum effort 

Here are a few easy ones -- 

  1. Carrying round a large bag or backpack

  2. Using large foam blocks (the Melbourne Museum Children's Gallery has fantastic large blocks)

  3. Carrying wood

  4. Walking over pillows

  5. Move a bucket or watering can of water

  6. Pushing or carrying a loaded laundry basket

  7. Lift a large(ish) suitcase with some weight in it

  8. Move a piece of furniture

  9. Taking the largest steps possible (stepping stones)

  10. Carrying a large box

  11. Digging and filling a bucket with sand then moving that to a new location .....

I hope you find several ideas which help to make your weekend even more enjoyable for you and your toddler.

You can send me your ideas and photos to my Facebook page

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How to give your child what they really crave, calm simplicity.

What does your child really need?  

More experiences, more educational toys, more outings, more play dates, more, more...., more?

Perhaps what they really need, what would really make them happier and more satisfied is not more but less. 

Many adults are attracted to the philosophy of de-cluttering, and find that simplifying their life brings a sense of peace, the same applies to the young child.  

Less for most children would very definitely be more.

A simple Montessori-inspired approach to parenting has a lot to offer busy parents.

It offers practical, easy to understand strategies to simplify home life and most importantly it helps parents understand and focus on the needs of young children.

How to start?

Step 1. Press the blue button

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Why telling your child to "have fun" is counterproductive

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Each day as we say goodbye to our children many of us impart our wish for them to have fun.

"Have fun" we say, each and every day. We do this because we want the best for our children and we want them to enjoy the things they do. However if you think about it, it's just not possible to have fun every day. And even if it were, is it really what you want for your children?

Creating the expectation that each day, each activity will be fun-filled sets the child up for failure and disappointment. 

Returning home, their experiences are then examined against the harsh, unrealistic measure of the fun scale. "Did you have fun?"

If children are taught to expect each and every experience to be fun they are going to encounter a great deal of disappointment and distress. 

Is that really how you want to teach your child to measure the worth of an activity? To teach them that fun (every day) is what we aim for, that's our main goal? 

What will happen if your child begins to reject anything or everything that's not fun to learn?

A lot of necessary skills and enjoyable activities take effort and perseverance to learn, they are not and can not be fun every step of the way.

Sending your little one off with the expectation of having fun every day puts everyone under so much pressure, the child cannot help but fail and by failing will often feel as though they are disappointing the parent who so clearly wants them to have fun. 

What can we do instead?

Surely there are many meaningful ways to measure the worth of our experiences? 

Using instead the phrase "have a good day" is very different to "have fun. A good day can be (and very often is) one where you achieve something worthwhile, you master a new skill, you persevere and make progress, you overcome a difficulty - it may not have been fun but it was satisfying and rewarding. 

When our children return home at the end of the day we could say something like, "Hi, it's great to see you, how are you?" and leave it to them to report their day as they wish (often you will find out much more by waiting than you will by grilling them).

"How was your day?" is far more open-ended than "how was your day, did you have fun?" which automatically tells the child what the parent wants to hear.

If you ask, 'how was your day?' please be prepared to accept, OK, all right, boring, horrible or good or any other words the child chooses to describe their day.

 Very often if you accept the child's answer, reflect it back and wait, children will begin to spontaneously talk about their experiences in their own way, in their own time. If no additional information is offered up it's a great idea if you offer some of your own, talking about your day. This then becomes a conversation rather than an interrogation.

Conversations, where we are free to discuss our experiences and our feelings, are the basis of a great relationship.

One more thing, do you know about the Free Taster? 

An introductory session, absolutely free.

No obligation, nothing to lose and potentially much to gain.

Click here for more details and booking link.

 

Holidays - your golden opportunity to evaluate family life

If you dread school holidays, thinking there will be more pain than pleasure, then it's time to have a long hard look at your family life.

If things in your family are not as you'd like them to be, what's going wrong?

If you could transform your family dynamics into what you'd like them to be, what would they look like?

It's likely you know how you'd like your family to function but not why it doesn't, or how to change it.

If you are ready to make some changes I would love to guide and support you through a process of evaluation. Neutral eyes always see more clearly.

Together we can work through the available options and choose the path that's right for your family.  

I can then support you for as long as you choose.

Contact me for a free chat about what you'd like to change and I'll explain the ways I can help you to reach more of your parenting goals. 

Natural consequences are not punishments

My approach to parenting encourages the use of natural consequences rather than punishment however sometimes it can be hard to distinguish between the two so here is an example of each.

"If you don't pack up your toys there will be no swimming tomorrow" is a punishment and not a consequence. 

A natural consequence looks like this: 

It's bath-time, you have been concerned about your child standing up and jumping about in the bath so have decided that when in the bath the child must sit.

How then to implement this using a natural consequences approach?

As you are getting your child ready for the bath state clearly that when in the bath the child must sit. 

Once that direction has been given what happens if they continue to stand?

Using natural consequences, the child if not sitting, gets out. 

So let's look in a little more details as to how a natural consequence might work in this practical example.

Before the child gets into the bath you explain that they must sit. For example, "sweetheart when you get into the bath you must sit down (as it's slippery and therefore dangerous...)" make eye contact and touch the child gently ensuring that you are connecting and engaging with the child.

Put the child into the bath and if they are standing wait a few moments and then say " remember what I said about sitting down?  Would you like me to help you sit down or can you sit down all by yourself?"

Again wait a moment for the child to respond, if nothing happens ask , "have you decided to get out now?" If they continue to stand remove them from the bath. Do it gently and kindly.

Here is where tone is really, really important, do not admonish your child, merely acknowledge their decision. "OK you decided to have a very short bath tonight so let's get you dried and dressed in your pyjamas so we can choose a story (or whatever is your routine)"

You are not punishing the child you are accepting their decision.

If the child screams and wants to get back into the bath you can on night one or two as they are learning the new routine pleasantly say something like ..."Oh you would like to sit down in the bath, let's try that shall we?"  This only applies on night one and two (at most).

On subsequent nights do not give a 'chance' as this will just become the established routine just say pleasantly "oh bath time is finished tonight,  you can decide tomorrow if you want to sit and play in the bath"… then move on quickly to the next part of your evening routine. 

Don't go on about it, don't explain it all over again, move on - all the while keeping a light pleasant tone.

The next evening start anew, simply state "sweetheart remember what we talked about, when you get into the bath you must sit down (as it's slippery and therefore dangerous...)" again make eye contact and touch the child gently. No reference to not sitting or consequences. Again you can say something like 'shall I help you sit down or can you sit all  by yourself?" Wait a moment for the child to comply. If the child continues to stand again take them out and move on, just remarking gently that you see they've chosen to have a very short bath.

No repeated warnings, no threats or admonishment just respect for the choice the child makes within the clear boundaries you have provided.

Once you state clearly that to be in the bath the child must sit, the natural consequence is that the child if not sitting, gets out.

What do Marie Kondo and Maria Montessori have in common?

A beautifully ordered shelf makes toys easy to select

What do Marie Kondo and Maria Montessori have in common?

I started the day by reading this Domain article and was immediately struck by the similarities between the key components of the KonMari method and those enshrined in Montessori principles and practises.

Montessori advocated for children to be surrounded by beauty, the beauty of good, simple design in an attractive, ordered environment. She believed such an environment necessary if the young child is to fully experience (inner) peace and engagement.

We also know through an increasing body of research that children do better with fewer rather than more toys.

So with that knowledge how can we provide the best possible environment for our children in the important foundational years?

A favourite Montessori slogan is "Help me to do it myself" and as adults that's precisely our job, to help the child in their quest for independence.  We do this through the creation of an environment which supports rather than hinders those needs.

It's not always easy, the toddler years can be very testing as your child is driven, by their strong desire for independence, to do things by themselves at their own pace, a pace which is not always practical or convenient! 

What we can do is support the development of independence though an ordered play-area and through organised age-appropriate tools and toys.

If the child is (for example) driven to do some cutting and knows where to find the scissors and the cutting paper, and they have a place to work, they are freed from dependence on the adult and can do this even when adults are busy with other tasks.

When a child is overwhelmed by clutter and frustrated in their quest is it any wonder they can become cranky?

It's so important that the adults surrounding the child are partners, rather than obstacles on on the child's journey to independence.

Physical changes really will make a difference.

 De-cluttering your child's play-area/bedroom and creating a streamlined, practical storage system is a great place to start, as an investment it will pay dividends.

I can only agree with the final paragraph in today's Domain article:

  • "There’s a real sense of calm in an ordered home and it transmits to everyone living there (sounds woo-woo, but it’s true.)
  • Getting a professional in is always worth it!"

I'm a professional, an early childhood specialist, with decades of experience creating beautiful, practical spaces for pre-school children.

If you'd like any help to make the transformation to calm, contact me here, I'd love to help you.

Want to nurture concentration? Here's how.

 Photo by: The Little House (Montessori)

Photo by: The Little House (Montessori)

Concentration and persistence are incredibly important to your child's current and future learning.

With the very best of intentions some parents aim to give their small children a head start by having them tutored in maths or reading and providing them with every educational toy they can afford.

Research shows that time (and money) would be much better spent ensuring little ones can sit and focus on a task, remember things and follow directions.

This topic links back to my earlier posts about creating a beautiful ordered environment where organisation and periods of calm allow concentration to develop.

Importantly, if we want to encourage the development of concentration we also require a range of age and interest appropriate activities. These activities need to be attractive, complete and organised in such a way that the child can independently choose, use and complete each one.

 

 

When all this happens the child's developmental needs are met, their quest for independence is both supported and enhanced and their choices respected.

Through these practical, organised, appropriate activities the child has a real opportunity to develop concentration and persistence (more to follow about persistence along with more simple practical activity ideas).

  • A simple practical example: cutting with scissors 

Requirements:  a tray, scissors which work (many scissors sold as children's scissors don't really cut anything), paper cut to size, as per the photo below, this is to increase the child's likelihood of success.

Some people like to add a small bowl or basket as storage for the cut pieces.

It's good to have a waste paper bin close by and a basket containing more of the prepared papers - as children rarely want to stop at one.

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If you feel overwhelmed at the thought of creating this type of environment, don't despair that's something I can help with.  

One of the services I offer is de-cluttering toys and play areas and the establishment of beautiful, practical order. Contact me