Category Archives: Parenthood

Discipline: Is it a DIRTY word?

Parent Children Education Engagement

Cooperative Discipline enables Adults to apply specific strategies to reach children. One important tip to remember, is that children choose their behaviour, and we have power to influence,  not control, their choices. The change starts with the adult; we need to learn how to interact with children so they will want to choose appropriate behaviour and comply with the rules.

Usually, children misbehave because they want something. The first step in Cooperative Discipline is to pinpoint exactly what the child wants when he misbehaves. This approach to “categorizing behavior” was first proposed by psychologist, Rudolf Dreikurs. Generally, children misbehave to reach one of these 4 goals. Does every misbehaviour really have one of these four goals? Of course not. No theory, no matter how complete, applies to every situation 100 percent of the time; yet these four goals can help you classify the misbehaviours more than 90 percent of the time.

Attention: Some children choose misbehavior to get extra attention.
Power: Some Children want to be the boss. They want everything to be done their way. They will challenge and argue with Adults until they think they’ve had the “last word.”

Revenge: Some children want to lash out to get even for real or imagined hurts. They may sometimes threaten physical harm or get indirect physical revenge by breaking, damaging, or stealing. They also may try to manipulate you into feeling hurt or guilty.

Avoidance of failure: Some Children feel inadequate because they believe they can’t live up to expectations. To compensate, they behave in ways that make them appear inadequate, by procrastinating, not completing their work, or pretending to have a disability. These Children hope that everyone will back off and leave them alone so they won’t have to face the fact that they aren’t performing up to their potential.

Deal with the misbehavior immediately
After you have categorized the misbehavior, choose a specific intervention for dealing with that type of behaviour.

Provide some encouragement
Cooperative Discipline assumes that Children will misbehave again if the strategies are not accompanied by encouragement techniques that build self-esteem and strengthen the child’s motivation to cooperate and learn. Encouragement techniques are neither time-consuming nor difficult to learn. Commit to using them daily and the child will feel like valued. Strategies for encouraging children fall into three categories:

Capable: Children need to feel capable of completing their task.
Create an environment where it’s okay to make mistakes.
Build confidence by focusing on improvement and on past successes.
Make your learning objectives reachable for all children.

Connect: Children need to believe they can develop positive relationships with teachers and classmates. How?
Be accepting
Give attention by listening and show interest
Show appreciation by praise or written notes
Use affirmation statements
Build affectionate relationships with simple acts of kindness.

Contribute: Children need to contribute to the community. How?
Involve them in maintaining the environment.
Ask for suggestions when decisions need to be made.

These are just a few points to help in developing a child. Remember keep this simple and stick to the boundaries that you commit too.


Family Traditions and Legacies to Pass On

Potential of a child

We all want to leave a legacy of some sort when we pass on. Have you ever thought about the Traditions your children will do through their lives with their own families? This all starts now in your own home, when they are little.

  • Lunch Box Surprises
  • A Thank You Board
  • Family Dinners
  • Dress Up The Dinner Table
  • Joining Hands For Saying Grace or a Moment of Silence
  • Reading Poetry at the Table
  • Family Read-Aloud Time
  • Memorizing Verse
  • Take an After Dinner Walk
  • Bedtime Whispers
  • A Bad Dreams Chaser
  • Reading and Playing in Bed
  • A Place for Silence in your Home
  • A Garden Sanctuary
  • Family Work Days
  • Family Time
  • Children Cook
  • Family Meetings
  • Birthday Celebrations
  • Annual Letters
  • Choose a Name for Your House
  • Decorate your Home for Every Season
  • Handmade Gifts
  • Lessons in Charity and Service
  • A Family Scrapbook

Living a life enriched by little touches of kindness and celebration is no easy feat in this world. Family life can be enhanced by all sorts of small thoughtful acts and activities enjoyed together. Don’t try to overdo it or you’ll just add to the burdens of your day. Try to select a few that suit your personal style and schedule.


Good Parenting and Family Celebrations

Parent Children Education Engagement

Family life is often hectic. Parents race from home to school and off to soccer games, ballet lessons, birthday parties, gymnastics, and the library. Parent burnout is increasingly common, exhaustion the norm.

In half of our families, divorce, remarriage, and the creation of blended families add to the stress placed on modern family life. All too soon, the kids will shift their focus from family to friends. Countless tasks fragment any remaining sense of well-being and sap away at the stamina that we need to meet the challenges of our modern lives.

One of the most precious gifts that we can give our children is an education of the heart, nurturing their sense of joy and appreciation of life, a sense of the poetic, and of their connection to all of humanity and the universe.

Family traditions and celebration create comforting patterns to the childhood years. They help to underscore to our children the message that they are loved and cherished. Even if we don’t formally belong to any organized religion, they can help us teach our children the great moral and spiritual lessons of love, kindness, joy, and confidence in the fundamental goodness of life, in simple ways that encourage them to begin the journey toward being fully alive and fully human.

Opening yourself to wonder and delight is the first step toward a celebration of life. Without a sense of wonder, all things are commonplace. But, when we open ourselves to a sense of wonder, our souls begin to stir.

More than likely, our children will lead us to rediscover our sense of curiosity and wonder. There is beauty all around us. It’s so easy to find in the patterns of the waves lapping the sand, the curve of a gull’s wing, in the angry force of a rain storm, or in the changing moods and colors of a mountain lake. Our children help us get back in touch with the beauty of all creation as we gather shells, yell into the wind, fly a kite, or leave a trail of footprints in the sand. Enter into these precious moments with abandon, and you will rediscover your sense of wonder, celebration, and worship.

Being alive to the beauty of our world nurtures a spirit of inner peace and reverence for life. In exploring together “how could this be?,” we help our children begin their journey toward enlightenment.


How to be involved and engaged in your child’s education?

Parent Children Education Engagement

When you are engaged in your children’s education, your children are more likely to attend school and to perform better. Parent engagement is simply the attitudes, values and behaviors that positively influence your children’s education outcomes. While it’s important to stay informed and to be involved in school activities where possible, your engagement is mostly about what you can do at home.

It is very difficult to get a complete answer when you ask your child “How was school today?”. The most common answers are simply “fine” or “good”. This type of answer does not give you much information about your child’s day at school or insight into the education your child is receiving or experiencing. Here are a few questions and ways to get a better insight into how your child thinks and feels about school.

  • Tell me the best thing (worst thing) that happened to you today in school?
  • Did something happen in school today that made you laugh?
  • Is there any individual person in your class that you would like (would not like to) to sit next to in class?
  • What was the most interesting thing you learnt today in school?
  • What new word did you learn today in class?
  • Did you help or assist one of your class mates today?
  • Did one of your class mates help you today in school?
  • What was the most interesting class you had today?
  • If you had the choice, what do you think you should learn more (or less) in school?
  • Who did you play with during recess and what did you do?
  • If you could be the teacher for one day, what would do and teach your class?
  • Are there any naughty children in class that deserve a timeout?
  • Is there anyone in your class that you would like to (would not like) arrange a play date with, and why?
  • Did someone do something in school today that made you laugh?
  • Who is the coolest teacher in the school?
  • If you could switch seats with anyone in your class, who would it be? And why?
  • Tell me the weirdest word you heard today or that someone said today?
  • What is you most favorite place in school?
  • Were you at any time bored in school today?
  • Tell me something good or positive that happened to you today in school?
  • Was there anyone in school that was horrible to you today?
  • Is there anyone in school that you could be nicer to in school?
  • If your teacher was standing here, what he/she tell me about you?

In order to get a full sentence out of your children, it is best to ask a non-threatening questions that would invoke a deeper answer and allow you to uncover potential issues you did not know about. Through different questions you will be able to discover if there are, for example, bullies at school or if your child is being threatened or harassed at school. As time goes by, every parent needs to stay engaged and involved your child’s education in order to discover any problems and be able to deal with them immediately before they develop into major problems and hinder your child’s education.

Conversations are critical to ensuring your child feels safe at school. You can have a positive influence on your child’s social, emotional and academic development by talking with them and being engaged in their education. Parents can play an active role in encouraging and fostering positive behaviors that lead to respectful relationships free from bullying and harassment.


Toilet Training – The Montessori Way

toilet training

Montessori is a wonderful philosophy, its principle is to follow the child. Parents find toilet training to be a challenge, here are some useful guidelines.

Toileting is accomplished most easily with preparation that begins far in advance of the time when the child is ready. Most Montessorians who work with very young children would agree with a child’s directress (teacher) in recommending that parents put their infants in cloth diapers from birth on. In addition to the obvious environmental reasons, natural cotton fiber is kindest to the baby’s tender skin. Also, in preparation for later toileting, children can easily sense that they are wet and discover the cause and effect of their urination and the resulting feeling of wetness. This is the first step in helping infants prepare themselves for toileting when they are developmentally ready.

At around the age of twelve months children often become quite interested in the bathroom. They want to explore, play with the water in the toilet, and may persistently follow their parents when they go into the bathroom. These are early signs of the child’s first interest in toileting.By the age of fifteen months children often show interest in wearing underpants. Many become fascinated with the process of dressing and undressing, and may undress themselves when it would be least expected. It is not uncommon for children of this age to try on their older siblings’ or parents’ underpants. What may seem to be simply cute or attention getting behavior is probably just another indication that they are becoming curious about toileting.

Between thirteen and fifteen months, many children will want to sit on the toilet or potty chair in imitation of their parents and siblings use of the toilet, even though they may not yet have learned to control their bladder or bowel. At this point, parents can easily begin to introduce young children to the entire toileting routine: pulling down their pants, sitting on the toilet correctly, wiping their bottoms, pulling their pants up, flushing, and washing their hands. Most children will easily master this routine, just as they learn so many practical life skills in the Montessori classroom. Their toddlers’ fascination with the toilet leads some parents to put a latch on the bathroom door or secure the toilet lid for fear that their youngsters will play in the toilet, potentially falling in and drowning. This gives the child the message that the bathroom and toilet are forbidden territory. They may simply be attracted to the toilet as a source of water play. It would be better to give them access to water in some other way, such as a preschool water table, a shallow basin, or from a low sink.

Allow children to experiment with flushing the toilet and when you sense that they are curious explain body functions to them it to them. Respond to their questions with clear honest answers appropriate to their level of understanding. “Everybody poops. Its normal. Its our body’s way of getting rid of that part of our food that it doesn’t need.”

Myelinization is a process in infancy through which the nerves become coated with a fatty substance, myelin, which facilitates transmission of nerve impulses from cell to cell. As the nervous system becomes refined, the growing toddler begins to gain better and better coordination of their movements. This process works from the head down. The developing infant gains control of their head, then arms and the trunk of their body, and eventually their legs and feet. From random movements of the head, arms and feet, the baby gradually gains the ability to move with conscious intent and control.This process of Myelinization, or integration of the nervous system, which proceeds on an external level from the head down, is also taking place with the infant’s body. As the nerve cells become Myelinized, just as they gain control of the other voluntary muscles of the body, Myelinization allows control of the sphincter muscles that control the bladder and bowel. Theoretically these muscles have become Myelinated before the muscles of the legs according to this head down progression. This is confirmed by our observation of young children.

Around eighteen months, children enter a sensitive period in which they can most easily gain control of their now much more developed and integrated nervous system. At this stage most children have both the physical ability and the interest to control bladder and bowel. If they are given the opportunity to spend as much time as possible in underpants, rather than diapers, they gain a greater awareness of these bodily functions. The absorbency of disposable diapers prevents toddlers from sensing when they have urinated.

During this sensitive period, if the child is in underpants most, if not all, of the time, he will quickly learn to sense when his bladder is full and he needs to go to the bathroom. And there we have it. The child has developed the neuromuscular ability to control his body, his interest in using the potty chair or toilet is their, and he is well under way in mastering the specific steps involved in using the toilet. Hopefully the parent will be comfortable and prepared for this process. They need to be calm when the child has an accident. They need to be very patient and reassuring when a child has an accident. Perhaps they can have some old towels available which they and the child can use to wipe up an accident. Underpants should be stored on a low shelf, in a cubby, or in an easily accessible drawer so the child can get them for herself as needed. A hamper should be provided for wet underpants and towels used for clean up.

Most children who are put into underpants at this age, can be using the toilet consistently within a few weeks or months. They learn this out of their desire to be independent. It is a self-motivated process.

The parent can be encouraging and can prepare the environment to support the child when he is ready:

  • using the cotton training pants,
  • allowing access to the bathroom,
  • providing an appropriate way for the child to explore both,
  • the use of the toilet to play with water,
  • their patient explanation of body functions,
  • the provision of old towels for cleaning up accidents, and their gentle understanding when accidents do occur.

Toileting is not something facilitated through the parent’s efforts, thus we avoid the term “toilet training.” It is, or rather should be, a natural process which grows out of the child’s interest, desire for independence and self-respect, and gradually evolving neurological development. “I did it myself!” Toileting is the child’s work, not his mom or dad’s. They play a secondary and supportive role. Rewards and punishment are both unnecessary and inappropriate!

This sensitive period, in our observation, ends at about 24 months. As the child gets older, toileting becomes more difficult, and becomes more of an issue between child and parent. It is best to give the child more independence, provide underpants, and ideally eliminate diapers. The child can then gain this skill and independence for himself.