Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Why it is not 'Kids These Days', a millennium of child hate

https://www.flickr.com/photos/vinothchandar/8530944828/in/photolist-dZRjFE-riWRst-pDCGUW-2vVkpu-Curwec-nvp6uv-7bWjuW-riZtid-8vBVVr-8vEXcj-nJXFx8-SPhwaZ-SthJiZ-mSkYCV-ctCM79-pW1Y6z-oAMPPm-oPz1aV-riWQGR-RX46xh-fdCAav-gwmAC2-nxsLKt-gwmN7H-bEBEhc-4HfejV-ntCBay-nvHJJs-6Gb2Z5-F8uHQ-hfyLZB-nvGccn-qn4NS7-ozToQw-g1EDcJ-nvoTXT-hktADh-RTuk8L-VzUhTe-4JTxqe-5BPYRZ-dFRoRT-hiCM52-62taoH-dJu49c-hWX3qc-nPaBLg-aAE6v8-a7BA1a-8qJ6ZMI rue for the days when adults were capable of creating a coherent argument about society today that took into account the reality of society yesterday and predicted something accurate for society of tomorrow. 

I should live so long...

Today, in the facebook parenting group, this piece of tripe


was served up, raw and slimy. I mean, why...?

Go ahead and read it. Take your time.

I completely agree with this teacher’s message that our children are getting worse and worse in many aspects. I hear the same consistent message from every teacher I meet.
Does it look and smell remarkably like any of these gems?

15 Historical Complaints About Young People Ruining Everything

I love this quote:
A pernicious excitement to learn and play chess has spread all over the country, and numerous clubs for practicing this game have been formed in cities and villages...chess is a mere amusement of a very inferior character, which robs the mind of valuable time that might be devoted to nobler acquirements, while it affords no benefit whatever to the body.
Scientific American, July 1859 


Which of course, mirrors this claim:
Kids used to play outside, where, in unstructured natural environments, they learned and practiced their social skills.  Unfortunately, technology replaced the outdoor time. 
You can almost hear them all nodding sagely, in unison ...

... meanwhile, back in reality ...
The study, published Wednesday in The American Journal of Family Therapy, found students in the early elementary school years are getting significantly more homework than is recommended by education leaders, in some cases nearly three times as much homework as is recommended.

Children spend 50% more time on school drive than in their parents' day

Yeah... that's all about the evils of video games interfering with all that free time outside...


... and then, about being free:
Since when do children dictate to us how to parent them? ... What good are we doing them by giving them what they WANT when we know that it is not GOOD for them? Without proper nutrition and a good night’s sleep, our kids come to school irritable, anxious, and inattentive.  In addition, we send them the wrong message.  They learn they can do what they want and not do what they don’t want.
Yes, dear. The problem is children these days are doing what they want, instead of playing ... outside ... doing ... what ... they ... ... ... um ... ?

What is 'wrong with kids these days' is that the adults watching them can't think properly. Back in my day, we learned to think before we put our names on mindless twaddle and claimed it was original thought and intelligent discourse ...

Here's what is really happening:

Children today, the kids of digital natives (those horrific Millennials who are about to destroy civilization with all their inclusion policies and international communications and staying-in-touch with virtually every person they've ever met, who never learned to socialize properly, according to their teachers and parents) have in their hands extremely powerful tools, often for most of the day. This enables them to:
  • socialize when they are not supposed to, without passing notes in class (Hi, Gen-X and Boomers!), and, incidentally, voluntarily honing their written communication skills
  • to look up current, accurate information (remember the card catalogue, that dusty, dated collection of books printed back when all truth was simple and never changed?)
  • to both record and report crimes as they are happening, holding criminals accountable and making it clear that even police won't be excluded from this era of constant, private surveillance
  • to create their own industries and earn while they learn by sharing what they know and monetizing it through their social networks across the globe (lazy beasts, going around earning money while they're studying, playing, sleeping...)
  • criticizing static knowledge, abuse of authority, sexist and senseless policies, arbitrary restrictions and even the place and practices of 'school' as we know it --just as if it weren't some sacred cow developed over a hundred thousand years by Master Thinkers trained for decades in How To Analyze Quality Education Methods... because it isn't.
While these all-seeing and all-knowing teachers (and even the author herself, with her grand centuries-of-personal-experience: 
Clearly, throughout my time as an Occupational Therapist, I have seen and continue to see a decline in kids’ social, emotional, and academic functioning...
... ahem.) are amazingly good at repeating what they heard last and believing whatever they think, they are clearly not good at critical thinking, understanding history, or observing their own world. 

The education world: a mish-mash of cobbled together ideas to free all adults to contribute to the GDP, control the population and stop them thinking they have any right to a voice in public decision-making, to create 'well-rounded' adults (that, at least, is working with their demands for sitting still and drug them if they don't) and copy this iota of that country's system that produces 'better' results (while ignoring the suicide rates, a completely unrelated result no matter how many young adults write 'pressure to get perfect scores' on their notes) ... while ignoring the research that indicates clearly what helps kids thrive (like getting to sleep when their bodies need to, not taking 7am extra-curricular classes so their portfolios will have enough 'roundedness' for Harvard to let them in...) because it's inconvenient to the system that is, really, what our fine lady Victoria calls the first problem:
Using technology as a “Free babysitting service” 
We can't change the hours of school because school is for free babysitting for the normal (like that's real now or ever was) work week. If teens started at 1pm, who would babysit them for the mornings while they sleep according to their circadian needs ... and who would do the 'afterschool' work in their places, if they are in school until 7pm? How can they be taking their younger siblings to school so parents don't have to, if they're sleeping later than the kids' start? 

That can't work... we can't be adaptive to reality, because The School System is ideal ... well, made already ... employs too many people comfortable in their places ... too big to fail... 

Clearly, the problem is parents today being all terrible at parenting ... like always... 

Parents take care to feed their children with wholesome diet; and yet how unconcerned about the provision for the mind, whether they are furnished with salutary food, or with trash, chaff, or poison?
Reverend Enos Hitchcock, 1790 

Monday, 12 June 2017

5 Ways to Mislead Exhausted Parents: Baby Sleep Research

https://www.flickr.com/photos/rocketjim54/170096756/in/photolist-g2MQG-4GBwTq-9qP5Ra-dvD2CZ-28Bcf-b5wN6R-7iTeDF-8ygy8y-askAzY-giwVD-8okk4m-5J7ncY-6w5LCm-2aKS7-byxYUP-zqQMh-42Tdws-SWG7H-aJZ5v4-8tXXkm-7KxKak-6LH4Le-8tXXjq-5rsgjX-8tXXjL-dWgG1s-5Gdt8L-9Z2MAd-CnbgSQ-FXvEe-5wRo8-ujjwS-5dqwBu-8bZMcW-bNhyg-TuRWF-8g6Tnb-dgwmHr-bVxsM6-9jfMdj-3QRz3s-yuuTx-5WySJy-7pY8ri-bsK7rc-bmxWg9-9iLWwQ-5ca1AS-bnn5vh-8zsrHJIt is a bit like hunting rabbits in a hutch ... guaranteed clicks on headlines that read like this:

Mom and baby sleeping in same room associated with less sleep, unsafe sleeping habits

Oh, the allure of 'better' sleep! 

Tired parents all over the world are looking for exactly this, so they're hooked on every instance of this kind of bait.

What's wrong with getting parents to click on news reports of research that will get them more sleep?

It's unethical, for one thing, which annoys me. It's unethical because it uses the desperation and needs of a collection of people for private gain.

Parents aren't going to get any more sleep, and the research results bear no resemblance to the headlines, but it looks good, so they click, share, and prove the cynics right: you can never go wrong by fudging the truth to match people's desires.

What is really going on, here, and how is this misleading to parents?

Here are a few resources that explain what the study actually shows, and what is wrong with the methodology:

Reality Check: When Should Babies Be Allowed to Sleep In Their Own Room? In which the lovely Judy Arnall, a certified child development specialist and owner of Professional Parenting Canada, points out the conflicts between this 'research' and far higher quality research that the Canadian Pediatrics Society and the American Academy of Pediatrics use to make their recommendations.

Should Babies Sleep Alone? Analysis of the INSIGHT Study's Findings on Infant Sleep by Location, in which the conflicts of interest in the whole study (which, as noted within, is a long term project designed to evaluate interventions to prevent childhood obesity --uh... relevance?), by the lovely Evolutionary Parenting blog.

And here is the list...

5 Ways to Mislead Exhausted Parents:

1. Fail to Define Terms

What, precisely, is 'better' sleep? It is presumed, because that's convenient for parents and an easy sell, that 'better' = longer, but is that actually true? Is longer sleep 'better' sleep for babies?

Piece of relevant information, somehow omitted from the discussion:
Babies grow while they sleep, burning calories as if they were up and doing things, so they need calories throughout the night to thrive.
2. Fail to Mention Bias

When parents participating in this study believe that the 'right' way for infants to sleep is 'through the night' and 'on their own in a crib' --because the researchers have supplied them with exactly that information, and with encouragement to accomplish it... how will most parents respond to the face-to-face interviews with the people telling them The Right Way? 

And how will parents be entering the information in the reporting sheets, knowing they will be facing those people-with-strong-opinions? (remember the conflict of interest up there? One of the researchers is a professional 'sleep trainer' who believes-without-proof that babies don't need to eat in the night and infants should sleep alone in a separate space, in the face of decades of sleep lab-based research to the contrary)

3. Promise to Solve Reality

A dear friend points out that you can solve problems, but you can't solve reality. This kind of media coverage abuses parents' unmet need for more sleep by promising to solve reality: that small humans have needs in the night that are real and that they cannot meet alone.

How is that reality promised to be 'solved'? By helping parents feel validated in their desire to put the baby further away. 
How does having a baby further away stop the baby from needing things in the night that s/he can't do anything about alone?
It doesn't.

 4. Fail to Confront the Lies Because Profit

Yes, dear, of course your baby can-and-should sleep through the night so you can 'get a break.' Here's a great method I just happen to be selling a book about. I can help you accomplish that because I sell my services as a sleep trainer. 

It is remarkable that so many people who are so convincing just happen to be selling the 'cure' ... how amazing.

The lie is 'babies can be put on a shelf when you need a break, because reality is hard.'

Alfie Kohn says: if you wanted something convenient, why didn't you buy a poster instead of having a baby?

5. Fail to Acknowledge the Importance to Parents of the Infant-Parent Relationship

All this misleading 'information' for profit inevitably fails to address how important it feels to parents to bond well with their babies, and how these recommendations actively interfere with that bond for profit. Because the fact is
...there is no upper limit to how much people will buy when they're convinced they just don't have the right tool or technique or expert yet to solve reality...
... when the experts are convincing that reality can be solved. 

There is a never-ending parade of 'if that didn't work, try this' based on the lie that it is possible to refuse to meet a baby's needs to stop the baby from having needs. Here's a quote from one:
You don't want parents resenting their child because they don't get a break.

The issue, according to this 'expert', Jodi Mindell, Ph.D ...is that the relationship between baby and parents will be damaged by parents meeting baby's needs. The founder of the 'free resource' for "evidence-based sleep information on children's sleep..."

And here's the money connection for you:


  wow. I am shocked. Look at that: not free books.

Thursday, 29 December 2016

18 Ways to ... fiction in childrearing

A blog has been shared around the past couple of days, from the Australian site Happy Families Family Education blog. The link is here... The title is

18 ways to a more resilient child
It is fiction.

There are not 'ways' to 'a more resilient child' ... because children are not resilient. See Dr. Bruce Perry: Children are not resilient, children are malleable... 

Seek not to make a resilient child, but a loved and cherished child.

There is some not-terrible general parenting advice in the piece... although I would re-write every single point (in grey), thus (in blue):
1. Stop saying “I’m busy
There is an old quote that “To a child, LOVE is spelled T-I-M-E.” If that is the case, I can’t help but wonder what “Hurry up” might mean to a child. Or “I’m too busy right now.”When we are too busy for our children, or when we are rushing them, they suffer. They withdraw. They miss out on opportunities to connect with us. And when they are older, our relationship with them will suffer.
1. Stop being 'too busy' doing what you don't think is important and do what you think is important 
What we do with our time demonstrates our true priorities. Is it the newspaper, other people, the computer game, the tv show -–or the people in your life? Prove it.
2. Turn off your smartphone
There may be no greater sign that you care, and that you will listen, than to power down your phone – or at least go to flight mode – when your children want your attention. Studies show, definitively, that the mere presence of a phone detracts from the quality of our conversations. Put the phone away when you are talking.
2. Use the technology intentionally, not incidentally
Do what is genuinely important to you: is it cruising through fb and instagram 80 times a day, or the people in your life? Prove it.
3. Turn off screens
Make certain parts of the day screen-free. No TV. No tablets. No phones. Just a focus on the people in front of you. That means no texting, reading, swiping, or playing games. It means no beeps, pings, whistles, or reminders. It’s just you and your kids, and conversation. Perhaps it might be at meal time. Maybe it could be while you travel. When you decide to do it is less important than making the decision.
3. Use the technology intentionally, not incidentally
Do what is genuinely important to you with your time and attention: is it the tv show, news, sports or the people in your life? Prove it.
4. Make eye contact
When your children want to connect and communicate with you, pause what you are doing and look them in the eyes. Physically turn towards them and pay attention to them in a way that makes it clear to them you really are right there.
4. Sure. Also: watch their eyes as they are busy doing their own thing
When they look up, they'll see you watching and feel connected without you having to do children's activities to 'be together.'
5. Listen
Sometimes our children come to us with problems. When they do, put down your tools and listen! When they tell you about a friendship drama, a challenge on the netball team, a teacher making them feel rotten, or another difficulty, ask them to tell you all about it. Listen carefully. When they are finished, ask, “What do you think you should do?” and listen again. Usually that’s enough. You don’t have to solve their problems. The answers are inside them.
5. Listen to them to understand them, not to tell them things
Don't ask questions. Say 'tell me more about that...' until they have finished talking. Rephrase what they've shared, with the emotions they're experiencing, as 'you feel _____ because_____.' Don't add interpretation, advice, information, your own reaction, how you felt when stories or justification for others' behaviour.
6. Bed time is best
I have written previously about how to make the last ten minutes of the day a precious bonding time with your children. Try it. Our children need to go to sleep feeling secure, loved, and hopeful about the day to come.
6. Be available as they need you throughout the day (and night) –no time is 'best' except 'when they need you'
Children need what they need when they need it. There is no reason to withhold it (unless there isn't any of what they need available) ever, and certainly not to wait for any specific time.
7. Give hugs, and touch them
In our home, we have a habit of always touching one another as we move past one another. It might be a squeeze on the arm, a stroke of the hair, a caress on the cheek, or an arm across the shoulder. The touch is an acknowledgement that you are passing a real person. It is a recognition that you have seen and noticed your child (or spouse). And it feels nice to be noticed. Plus, research shows it can boost wellbeing.I also find that if a child is struggling, one of the best things we can do is hug them. In fact, the times our children deserve our hugs the least are the times they need them most.
7. Touch them if they are okay with it: their body, their choice; be open to their physical affection
Get your own need for physical touch met elsewhere. Your job with kids is to be available to meet their needs, not yours. 
8. Stay calm
I once heard Steve Biddulph say that a parents’ main job is to stay calmer than their child. When we stay calm, our children learn to regulate their behaviour. They learn we are stable, secure, predictable, and safe. They learn that they can come to us no matter what, and we will respond calmly and kindly.
8. Learn to calm yourself
Panicking people can't calm others. Be the stable person in the room. If you can't, they won't be able to, either.
9. One on one time is crucial
I have six children (and one wife!) who all want time with me. Our children feel important, heard, and worthy when they have our undivided attention. Outings, walks, and other forms of one-on-one time may be the most important way we can show our children we care about them and want to listen to them. These ‘dates’ can be crucial relationship builders, and we will see our relationships strengthen as we make them a priority.
9. One-on-one time is irrelevant and may be deeply distressing to sensitive children (and adults)
Having to set aside (or make invisible) other people to get one's needs met is pathological, and it is often distressing to children to think that someone else needs to cease to exist (or at least cease needing anything from their parents) in order to have their needs met. It really is possible to pay full attention to one person with witnesses.
10. Smile
Let’s face it: most parents are so busy and so stressed that we do not smile as much as we might. But a smile says we can feel safe, and welcome. Our children need to see us smiling, especially at them.
10. Be genuine and own your emotions
If you think you can stop children from knowing and reacting to your genuine emotions by smiling, you're high. Smile when you feel happy. Grimace when you are in pain. Scowl when you are angry. Weep when you are sad. Kids don't learn to handle their big emotions from Stepford Wives.
11. Make time to do nothing
When was the last time you simply sat in your lounge room with no agenda except to be there? Our children are most likely to talk to us when they feel conversation is welcome. If our schedule is packed so tightly we cannot even find time for a conversation with our children, we cannot make them feel cared for or listened to. Sometimes simply sitting and being available can be enough to help our children know we will listen.
11. Prioritize being with the people you claim to love
Not to do planned things, necessarily –but also not to avoid planned activities. Be flexible and available as they need. Be unhurried and be willing to drop activities if they're unwanted (this time, or forever) regardless of the sunk cost or 'lessons in commitment' others might think matter.
12. Respond to challenging behaviour with maturity
It is common to respond to our children’s challenging behaviour with anger. This will invariably leave a child feeling uncared for and unheard. Sometimes we ignore our children. This has similar results. When we remember that challenging behaviour comes from unmet needs, and we see that challenging behaviour as a chance to get close to our children and problem-solve with them, we build our relationships rather than tear them down. Remember that discipline means teach or instruct, not hurt or punish.
12. Be the adult: demonstrate grace and acceptance, listening and understanding
Kids often act out their big feelings, so responding to actions with anger or as if they were driven by malice is inappropriate. When kids are struggling, they don't need more trouble, and they don't need to learn that you are the person who gets them into trouble, not out of it.
13. Leave love notes
You might shoot your child a text or facebook message. Perhaps you could drop a note into his or her lunchbox, or pop a quick letter under his pillow. Children love getting notes from mum or dad. They feel noticed, important, acknowledged, valued.
13. Be affectionate in your own way, with awareness of how your child experiences affection
Whatever your love language is, use it –but also use your kids' love languages for them. Even if you think doing things for them is love, they might feel gifts or time or words of affection or physical touch are the only way they feel loved. Don't stop doing the things that make you feel loving, just add the things that make them feel loved.
14. Offer autonomy
Our children feel unloved when we control them. They chafe and resist our stifling demands. While we do need to have rules and limits, our children will thrive, feeling heard and cared for, when we give them choices and allow them to decide for themselves wherever possible.
14. Acknowledge their autonomy
Their body, their choice. Their possessions, their choice. Their preferences, their choice. Recognize the separateness of this human. This is not 'your' person, they all belong to themselves.
15. Get down on the floor with them and play
Children love it when a parent lets the agenda go and flops down on the floor for some playtime. They flourish downtime with their parents where they can play, laugh and be together. Older children love wrestling too! But they respond just as well to those old-school games like Uno, Phase 10, or Skip-Bo. And they love it when we jump on the trampoline, have Nerf-gun wars, or play handball or skipping.
15. Get down on their level and interact
Play if that winds your watch, but just be alongside their activities without any agenda of your own. Take what they hand to you, give back what they want back, talk about what they're doing, listen to their imaginary stories, don't direct them or add to the stories. Be neutral in your observations, just like a good sportscaster: say what you see, notice their development and skills improvement, recognize their attempts...
16. Save their presents
There is something precious and heart warming about going back through all of the hand-made mothers or fathers day cards, birthday cards, and Christmas cards our children give us. Show them that you treasure their thoughtfulness and kind gifts. My great-grandmother kept a pottery ‘thing’ I made on her shelf for over a decade until she passed away. I saw it every time I visited and marvelled that she kept it on display. I felt like she loved me because she loved the gift.
16. Do not be an example of hoarding
Teach gratitude and generosity by being grateful and generous. Keep the treasures you treasure, and thank them for the treasures you discard when the gift has served its purpose. Teach sharing by donating unneeded things to others. 
17. Tell them you love them
They need to hear those three words often.
17. Express your genuine emotions
When you feel loving, tell them you love them. When you feel tired, tell them you're tired. Be real.
18. Show them you love them
More than the words, they need to feel you love them. Show them as much as you can. They will grow up resilient, because they will grow up feeling cared for and listened to.
18. Demonstrate your life priorities in your choices of how you spend your time and energy
Spend your time on what is genuinely important to you: friends, others, cars, tv shows, globetrotting, work... or the people you love.

Children are not, and cannot become, resilient. They are deeply affected by harsh treatment, chronic stress and trauma. They are healed by loving and nurturing care. 
The goals isn't resiliency anyhow, it's mental health and well-being... 

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Thriving Past Childhood Trauma

How do parents (people) get over childhood trauma?

This exchange happened on a facebook page. Details have been changed to protect the identity of the innocent:

Parent: It's sad from the child's point of view. People forget to feel for the children; it makes the child feel forgotten (I have been a Forgotten Child myself).
Linda: It's not sad for the kids involved, either. It's soul-crushing.

As you know.

Parent: Very true. After a while it's simply sad because anything more than sad would be irreversible.
Linda: I'm not sure I know what you mean...

What is reversible?...

Parent: Well, there's sad, and there's hopeless. If you can keep yourself at an even level of sad, you can live through that. You may not live through hopeless.
Linda: I don't think the dichotomy is that clean. It isn't 'sad' versus 'hopeless.' For a couple of reasons...

If you can touch the fury, you might be able to process the sadness more easily because it won't be trying to stand in for much more powerful emotions. When you meet the rage, the sadness won't feel like 'if I start crying I won't stop for 9 years.'

...and, I think more importantly:
It is hopeless. Not for the future, but to alter the past. No one can go back to have a better childhood than they had, or the parents they needed, or to get the help they needed, or to feel that they were seen or accepted then.

What they do have, in the way of hope for the future is multi-faceted:
It is over and can't keep happening: the children are no longer children and no longer need those people's approval.

The past does not dictate the future. What has happened has happened, but it is over... the last three tosses of a coin coming up heads has no effect at all on the next toss of the same coin. The odds are about strings of events, but the past events do not affect the pure odds of the next event. The coin has exactly 50% chance of being heads again. The threads we draw from one event to another are narratives we construct, not a continuous string of causes-and-effects. We can make new choices, go down new roads, think new thoughts. Now the child knows.
Now the child knows exactly what went wrong and exactly what it feels like and exactly why doing anything like that to anyone, ever, is not okay. This is not possible to avoid until the child knows.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Multiple Penalty

Scenario: Pulled over for doing 15 over the limit in a park zone. Groan... This ticket is going to be big. So embarrassing, kids in the car.

Result: Pay the fine, complain to friends about overzealous cops, move on.

Scenario: Kid get hauled into the principal's office over some playground scuffle. Not sure who started, it, both kids get detention and a note sent home.

Result: Parent reads the note, sends child to room to think about what he's done, goes online and asks if other parents think he should also lose access to all electronics for the evening.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016


...effective ways of getting them into the car, out of the house, to get dressed...

Every couple of hours I read a post of Facebook wherein parents describe the explanations they give their kids for why diapers need to be changed, or we all need to go outside, or it's time to leave the park, or go to school, or get out of bed, or go to bed, or put on shoes, or pack up for dance class... or whatever.

“You want to go to class...”
“If you don't, your bum will get sore...”
“It's good for your body to be out in the sunlight, moving around...”
“Besides, you like the seaside...”

https://www.flickr.com/photos/renegade13/3397050051/Translation: “Blah blah blah blah blah blah bum blah blah blah.”

One of the recommended techniques to improve not only a child's vocabulary but also their ability to think for life is to chatter away at them about what is going on, what things are called, their descriptions, how they function, etc. Pointing out the world and describing it theoretically gives kids the mental framework they need to assemble their thoughts in order to understand what is going on around them...

...which is all well and good, up to a point.

That point is where parents are trying to convince them that a parent's ideas of what should happen next is a super great idea that all sane children will leap to agree with.

Is this where I mention that kids (especially little kids, but let's be honest: people of all ages) are not noted for their sanity?

Even after decades of study in marketing and the science of influencing people, adults struggle to convince other adults to switch to Pepsi or wear their seatbelts... and yet we expect to talk a busy toddler into changing activities while they're doing what they want to do. This is not rational.

And, more importantly, it doesn't work. Pretty much ever.

No child is going to be sold on the 'fun' of cleaning up their room, or putting the dishes in the sink, or going outside when they are happily exploring the texture of the carpet.

What Actually Works, Ever (not 100%, because, see above, re: sanity)

Get the child's attention.
Wait a little while longer.

Get the child's attention

When they're busy experimenting with the light and shadow on the tile by the door, their minds are not open to what else is going on... so to them, dad chattering away in the background is like talk radio in a different language that you can hear from someone's passing car.

Get down on the child's level, in front of the child so you are within sight. Touch the child gently. Wait until they make eye contact.


Just say what is coming up, with the first direction you need them to follow:

'Shoes on, we're going to the grocery store.'
'Time for a diaper change, meet me over there...'
'Get what you need for skating lessons.'


Simple enough. Hard to do. It helps to sit still and not say anything at all. Adding words or movement at this point is distracting from what you've just said is going to happen, and suggests that it isn't, actually... It suggests that something has happened to make that go away (because things do that all the time –I'm talking to you In-5-minutes-we-will-leave-where-mummy-is-talking-to-friends, and we don't go anywhere for 23 minutes!)

Things are moving inside where you can't see them. Gears are shifting, and because they are little and have hardly any practice, it takes a while. Watch their face ponder what you've said, and wait while it's integrated into their world in there.

They want to get along, they want to be part of the big world. They want to be clean and happy and fed and have a variety of experiences. They just don't want to be rushed.

They really don't want to be convinced.

Just wait. Just watch.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Say The Right Thing First

https://www.flickr.com/photos/kurt-b/4679642827/in/photolist-88woM2-9hzxD8-qsyWCw-4ydzj3-cBMaCy-52ou2d-jopru-3TCJ6q-7K6HZ4-8Jvprf-e3k1Fh-p6BLtz-bEKSsy-vzo8kg-agyf9B-7NQgJt-84a4C9-w8mMPz-EJGHWo-ftYha1-dLGZ6P-6y8hru-7S4JMr-g9uLDG-oC13WV-9y7NHu-467tSo-7YMenG-7hLn3G-fNm2ud-66Vufw-7SoMDW-8Ng3tc-pixuTA-pwaozX-dngYZP-eHuK4B-fdMfzZ-5ghFQZ-9UntMm-dj1VwK-6fiRg5-467uro-fxyRs6-amA7UB-nWvWFi-C1ud3-9rHVqu-cZCBrm-qVekdq“How do I find the right words to explain ______ to my ____ -year-old?”

The question comes up frequently, on parenting lists, in groups, at events. Implied in this question is, often, “How do I fit the words and concepts into my child's head so s/he will know everything necessary on the subject at 20 without overwhelming them now or leaving anything out?”

My short answer is 'you don't.'

The slightly longer answer is 'you don't all at once.'

Amongst my friends and family we have what apparently is quite a unique conversational style. As far as I can tell it's uncommon to revisit a conversation that's been had already-- for any reason--at a later date. I find this quite bizarre.

Many a topic-opener in conversations with a very long-time friend is 'remember we were talking about blah blah blah a few years/months/days/hours/minutes ago?' We restart conversations, kind of in the middle, as new information is discovered, new thoughts or ideas are formed or found out there in the world, or just because we're not satisfied with our understanding or expression of our thoughts on the subject.

Since this was a normal kind of conversation for my kids to be around for, whether or not they were listening, there was always a strong underlying reality in our world: the subject is not closed, no one has had the final word on the topic, and there are many reasons to re-visit the issue.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/aturkus/444424399/in/photolist-FgMTD-aF9d6o-bzVQxj-9NHp18-bjrjKD-DaH64V-3QenJ3-DZKir9-4MDcHq-k1VCxV-smhcVQ-o4Fp65-kPexUB-Cxsmus-jCZJfS-3GHvFq-duXQPG-dU7C8V-4EYA2F-54P8PF-nTpWhe-qS7Hja-5rqDao-pXYj8z-8pdfXt-c12KjJ-d8X3Rw-gqwzy3-86arAw-ngBsWL-mTa8Cf-wNw5cg-5ADpyL-cxknrL-egdxSc-B1Lmse-r796XE-pizHT7-6eEFci-eJzpfm-bJPdDK-bn2LuJ-66ba1k-bdkZjx-agCKMM-hMzmnq-Nnrg4-g3xJFv-dCRV69-nRYvaUSo, instead of feeling like I had to explain sex and death and taxes and drugs and etiquette and tact versus lying, or whatever, once and for all... I always knew the conversation was developing. Developing because the thumbnail answer any 3yo can absorb at a time isn't ever going to be the way the same child will comprehend the subject at 8 or 13 or 22 (or 48 or 77...) and that means the discussion continues more or less where it left off the next time there is some reason to talk about it.

Reasons for restarting a conversation:

  • I saw in the news
  • that movie we just watched
  • a story book we are reading
  • someone else was talking about it and mentioned a new way (to me) to think about it
  • I stumbled upon new information online
  • someone else was talking about it and said ______
  • your friend is dealing with the same thing now
  • another death in the social circle or celebrity media
  • I was thinking about what you, I, or they said the last time we talked
  • it seemed like the conversation ended abruptly because of some kind of interruption, and we aren't finished with it... so, as I was saying . . . .