Sunday, July 31, 2011

10 Loving Ways to Handle Toddler Defiance

When I wrote about gentle strategies for gaining toddler compliance, I knew there was more to it. Sometimes, you have to do something your toddler refuses to do (like brush his teeth). Sometimes, a toddler refuses just for the sake of refusing. During those trying times, how do I assert myself and still remain the compassionate, responsive mother I want to be?

Part of the answer lies in what Alicia Lieberman, author of The Emotional Life of the Toddler, calls benevolent authority.  The idea is to confidently protect my son and make wise decisions for him when he cannot. If my concern and competence are genuine, Munchkin will feel safe -- even if he doesn't get what he wants.  He may protest, but when I exercise benevolent authority it can actually avert a full-blown temper tantrum.

However, this is not the same as the "because I'm the mom and I said so" attitude. It's the difference between "authoritative" and "authoritarian" parenting styles.  Consider  "Please get down from there now. I don't want you to get hurt, "(authoritative) versus, "NO! I told you not to climb on that!" (authoritarian). The trick is to be firm, respectful, and loving all at the same time.

I've been experimenting with strategies based on benevolent authority to gain compliance from my toddler in non-negotiable situations. It works. I still encounter typical toddler resistance, but without much toddler drama. We bounce back quickly and remain connected. The beauty of these strategies is that they are based on mutual respect and are intended to build trust between parent and child.

 Here are 10 loving techniques I find helpful in dealing with a defiant toddler:

 1) Try a gentle approach first. There are a number of kind ways to put a request to a toddler. I previously compiled some gentle methods to cultivate cooperation to use as a starting point.

2) Use toddler-appropriate language. Effective communication is an essential component to any conflict resolution. I show respect for my son through language by using correct pronouns, precise phrasing, and age-appropriate speech (read this for some examples).

3) Demonstrate confidence in your request through your tone of voice. If my request is reasonable, necessary, or urgent, this tone comes naturally. On the other hand, it takes some practice to master this skill when I'm feeling low on patience or uncomfortable being assertive.

4) Offer legitimate choices. Try coming up with 2 different ways to fulfill your request, then give your toddler the choice. This approach helps a toddler feel independent and empowered in a situation in which he really isn't. For example: "Do you want to walk to the car yourself or do you want me to carry you?" or "Do you want to put it back yourself or do you want me to do it?" I find choices like these miraculous for getting out the door or leaving a store without a new toy (or tantrum). Avoid proposing "choices" in which one alternative is a punishment, removal of privilege, or a bribe ("Do you want to stop throwing toys or do you want to leave the park?"). Such false choices are manipulative and will undermine your toddler's trust and respect for you (the basis of your benevolent authority), which could lead to even more defiance.

5) Take action. Sometimes the gentlest thing you can do is, literally, step in. A great way to do this is to use a phrase I picked up from Suchada at MamaEve, "I won't let you..." as in I won't let you hit the dog/throw toys/run in the street, etc.  I enforce the words peacefully by holding up a hand to block a strike or by simply standing in the way. Using assertive words and nonaggressive actions to back them up lets your child know you mean what you say. When you stop what you're doing to interact (i.e. connect) with him, he knows it's important! In addition, it builds trust because it lets him know you will protect him from harm.

6) Validate the child's feelings. Acknowledge and accept your toddler's emotions surrounding his defiance. When he feels connected and understood, he is more likely to trust your decision and not have a complete meltdown. I'm practicing phrases like, "I understand that you are angry because I won't let you..." or "It's OK for you to feel angry at me for..." or "Are you sad that...?" to let him know I care about his perspective. I also want him to know that being angry at me won't stop me from loving him (or get me to buy that toy). Avoid judging, criticizing, minimizing, or blaming him for his reaction.

7) Consider the child's unmet needs. Often toddlers "act out" because of an underlying need. Start with physical needs (hunger, thirst, fatigue, overstimulation, pain), then consider emotional needs. Answering emotional needs is tricky and may require some detective work, but the benefits are substantial and often immediate.  I've seen Munchkin do a complete turn-around after I took the time to connect with him for a few moments on one his needy days.

8) Reconsider your request. Is it really that important? What's the worst that would happen if you just let it go? Letting go of a disagreement isn't a sign that your child has "won". It's a sign that you care enough to put your relationship ahead of getting your way (the same holds true for dealing with husbands!). It also shows that you're able to overcome your own control issues (often, that's all it is). Consider, "Fine, I give up! Have it your way and look ridiculous in your PJs!" versus, " I guess it doesn't really matter if you wear PJs to the park. Let's go have some fun!" To gain more compliance over the long haul, try to stay focused on developing a long-term relationship with your child, rather than on winning power struggles.

9) Work on your relationship. If you hear "No" more frequently than what seems normal for a toddler, consider your connection with your toddler. Dr. Laura at Aha!Parenting suggests that chronic defiance is a sign that the relationship needs repair. Until the parent-child relationship is healed, it won't really matter which disciplinary actions are taken. The good news is that relationship repair can happen right now since toddlers are centered on the now (as opposed to say, teenagers!).

10) Avoid bribery, threat of punishment, or withdrawal of privileges. While these tactics may be effective in the short-term, the long-term consequences are negative -- for your relationship, for your child's self esteem, and certainly for your benevolent authority. Love, trust, and respect are better motivators than fear.

These methods won't stop a toddler from being defiant. In fact, once we are better able to deal with it, defiance is something we can learn to love about our toddlers.  As for me, I'm starting to look at Munchkin's "No" as an opportunity to learn more about who this little guy really is. I'm also learning more about myself and how assertive yet compassionate I can be.

What effective and caring ways do you use to handle a defiant toddler?

Looking for more tools for handling life with a toddler? Check out some of my other toddler-friendly posts:
8 Gentle Strategies to Foster Toddler Compliance
Speaking Respectfully to a Toddler: Easy Phrases for Big Effects
Doing Errands With a Toddler
Getting a Toddler to Go Where You Want...Playfully
Learning to Share By Taking Turns
Handy Parenting Resources: The Fridge Lists
and many more! 

Want to hear stories from other moms of toddlers? Check out this video put together by Annie at PhD in Parenting

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Just Who Do I Think I Am?

Some of my favorite projects on MaMammalia are what I call "how-to lists": how to gain toddler compliance, how to deal with stress while parenting, how to practice unconditional parenting, and many others in the works. I enjoy writing these posts even though they are time consuming to put together. Still, I can't help but notice this gnawing feeling, this critical, arrogance-zapping voice that says, "Who the hell are you to give out child rearing advice?" I'm not a childcare expert. My background is in biology, not child development, psychology, or anything related (unless you count animal behavior). I'm just a mom. I only have one kid, and I haven't even been doing that for very long. I am by no means the model mother for peaceful parenting.

My life's companion
So, who do I think I am?

In addition to being a full-time mom, I think I'm a writer, researcher and analyzer by nature. I'm driven to study, critique, record, and create -- not as a hobby but because it's who I am. In essence, the how-to lists are for me. Composing the how-to lists requires me to do extensive reading, to think deeply about the topic, and to question my own parenting practices. I learn a great deal from writing these posts. Through writing, the concepts are driven deep down into my psyche so I can draw on them when I really need them. I post them on my blog because I have a feeling that someone might benefit from them. I have a feeling that someone has something to add that could benefit us all. I also have a feeling that someone will be offended or off-put, and ask the same question I did of myself: Who is she to tell me...? That's a risk I'm willing to take. After all, I can't stop being me.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Expectations, Acceptance, and...Laundry

I dread laundry day. It's not so much because of the hassle of doing the laundry, but because of how I behave. Granted, laundry day is a major event because we don't have a washer or dryer. You'd think that by now I would have adapted, knowing that with a toddler in tow no task goes uninterrupted. When it comes to laundry, I have failed miserably in this regard. The problem is that I get fixated on the idea that I just want to finish the damn laundry and it leads to all kinds of negative fallout. I've been hung up on what I see as the only benefit of using our apartment complex's laundry facility: I can do multiple loads in under 2 hours!

This singular benefit has been severely compromised by my drive to fulfill it. I get flustered. I lose my patience. I raise my voice. I feel resentful because Munchkin's needs repeatedly interrupt me. I become insensitive and set unrealistic expectations for him. I feel angry that laundry is such a pain in the butt. The worst of it is that I keep making the same mistake over and over again, every laundry day. So I need to figure out why. I need to figure out what I can do differently because I really can't take this anymore. And Munchkin certainly doesn't deserve my frustration. Over laundry!

To address this issue, I started by writing about the process of doing laundry. It sounds mundane, but going over the details of this task allowed me to see that 1) it's understandable why I find it frustrating, and 2) I have the power to reduce my frustration. I figured out the specific points in laundry day during which I feel the most aggravated.  It turns out that my desire to complete the task in 2 hours has been causing me to lose connection with Munchkin -- and myself. 

I thought I had planned laundry day in a way that met both of our needs. During the wash and dry cycles we run around outside with the dog, collecting pine cones, rocks, and flowers. In reality, our 2 hour adventure is punctuated by sorting, loading, hanging, and transferring clothes. I've been doing these myself, only allowing Munchkin a few token moments to assist. No wonder he is so demanding while we're in the laundry room. No wonder I get so irritated. No wonder we end up in a pile of tears and apologies larger than the stacks of unfolded laundry!

I've been selfishly unaware of Munchkin's need to work together. I've been hogging all the fun to myself in the name of time and efficiency, and then getting annoyed because he feels left out. It's not like brushing my teeth or pooping where I really need to do it myself. I can find ways to have him more involved so we can stay connected while doing laundry. For instance, I can hold him up to insert the coins or push the start button. He'll love that! Laundry may take more time that way, but if it means less tension and more fun for both of us, then it's worth it.

My new laundry sorter
Next, I figured out that with some better planning, I can avoid some of the almost comical missteps that were getting me bent out of shape. Step 1: I went out and bought a 3 bag laundry sorter on wheels. I've got a few other logistics to work out. I'm also working on a Laundry Day Plan with more flexibility and time to complete the task.

Finally, I realized that my biggest hurdle, and the one that I have the most control over, is my attitude toward laundry day. Yes, it's a less than an ideal domestic situation, but I can't change that right now. What I can do is accept my situation and let go of unrealistic expectations. For now, laundry won't go as smoothly as I'd like, it's going to take longer than I want it to, and clean clothes are going to sit around for awhile. And really, it's OK for wet clothes to sit for an hour or two before they are hung to dry, and a cart piled with clean, wrinkled, unfolded clothes sitting in the middle of our hallway isn't nearly as important as our emotional well-being. I'm going to think about that next laundry day instead of how to be more efficient. I may never grow to actually enjoy laundry day or Zen out over it. I will, however, make a concerted effort not to ruin another potentially wonderful time to connect with my son. This connection could turn out to be the true benefit of doing laundry without a washer-dryer, a benefit I have finally begun to see.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Speaking Respectfully To a Toddler: Easy Phrases For Big Effects

Photo by Alex Bruda
The way we speak to children (or anyone!) can have a dramatic effect on the response we get from them. Toddlers in particular are most responsive when they feel independent yet connected. In order to show respect for my toddler as an individual, I need to talk as if he is a competent listener. In order to connect, I need to be honest in what I say.

I didn't have good role models for healthy communication so it's a big challenge for me to find the balance between assertiveness and responsiveness. However, I've found that with just a few simple adjustments to how I talk, Munchkin is more likely to listen and respond to my requests. These verbal skills are also in line with my desire to be a responsive, attached, and unconditional parent so I feel good about them. Here are some of the speech patterns that have improved my communication with my toddler:

 I use toddler-talk, not baby-talk. A specific type of baby talk called parentese is a natural and healthy way to communicate with infants. However, toddlers are not infants. They don't need really parentese anymore. They need clear, succinct language. The British Council has some great suggestions on how to use parentese with an older child who isn't fluent in the language you're speaking (i.e. a toddler or non-native speaker). This is pretty much how I talk to Munchkin. It feels more natural and I'm able to maintain this speech style throughout the endless hours we spend together. I save the sing-songy cadence, higher pitch, and embellished syllables for play time (or play used to gain cooperation). 

I use appropriate pronouns. The common parental phrase, "We don't..." is vague and poses the risk of inviting the response, either in words or behavior, "Well, maybe you guys don't, but I do!" Instead, I say what I mean: "Please don't..." or "You may not..." or "I won't let you.."

Referring to myself or Munchkin in the third person isn't assertive or demonstrative of the way people really speak to each other. Frankly, it's also a bit condescending (how would it sound if I talked to adults that way?). Instead of "Mommy doesn't like it when..." or "Do you want Mommy to help you?" I say "I don't like it when..." and "Do you want me to help you?"

When I started using correct pronouns awhile back, I noticed an immediate difference: I felt more confident, more respectful, and more natural. I also noticed that Munchkin became more responsive to my requests. For a toddler coming to terms with his own autonomy, the distinction between "you" and "I" is profound. I think he appreciates the respect it grants him when he hears those words from me.

I use precise wording. I try to be as accurate as I can with my words when talking to Munchkin, especially when making a request. I say specific things like "Will you please stop running so I can put your shirt on?" or "It's time for Mary to have a turn with the ball now" or "Please do not throw sand."  I avoid abstract statements such as "I need you to cooperate" or "You need to share" or "Stop misbehaving". Generalizations make the task seem larger than it is to a toddler, and they make it difficult for him to determine what he is actually supposed to do. It shows respect for the listener and for myself when I kindly and plainly ask for what I want rather than insinuating. The best part of being precise is that it requires me to really think about what I'm asking of Munchkin. What behavior or action am I talking about? Is it really something worth pointing out? Am I just annoyed, embarrassed, or feeling out of control? Is it critical that he do it now? Can I let it go or is it a teachable moment?

For me, this way of talking to my toddler has been highly effective. We are better connected for it. I've noticed that Munchkin is less likely to connect with another adult who radically changes the way she speaks when addressing him.  He immediately picks up on the obvious difference between speech directed at him and another adult. He seems to sense when he's being talked down to and isn't very responsive to the speaker. I'm guessing he's grown accustomed to being spoken to with respect for his personhood and developmental abilities. I like that about him. And yes, I'm just a little proud of it, too.

There are certainly many other communication skills I can and will work on. Starting with the basics at least gives me a good foundation and, more importantly, the confidence in my ability to speak to my son with love and respect.

Update October 2013: These strategies still work with Munchkin, who is now almost four years old. I especially appreciate the reminder to be precise with words because of the cascade of self-reflection it requires. What am I really trying to say? Why? Of course, we now have more sophisticated issues around communication, but that's a topic for another post!

What speech patterns to you use that improve communication with your child?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

My Starter Kit for Unconditional Parenting

Welcome to the July Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting Philosophy
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared their parenting practices and how they fit in with their parenting purpose. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

"It's easier to raise a son than it is to change a man." -Author unknown

After reading Kohn's amazing book, Unconditional Parenting, I took the author's advice to heart:  I contemplated my long-term goals for my toddler son. What kind of person do I want to raise? What kind of relationship do I want to have with him when he's an adult? I surprised myself a little when my answer to the first question didn't include success or happiness. What I really care about is that Munchkin grow up to be a good person. I also hope that we will maintain a strong, healthy connection. Good person, good relationship. That's it.

That's it, huh? Upon deeper reflection, I realized it's a tall order. I hope my son will grow up to be empathetic, compassionate, conscientious, honest, considerate, loving, hard-working, self-sufficient, confident, assertive, patient, independent and self-aware.  Plus, I hope he will still love me, respect me, and come around because he wants to, not out of an obligation to see his mother. Whew!

Where to begin with such lofty goals? I started with some of the basic principles of Attachment and Unconditional Parenting and worked from there. I have three overarching ideals: show respect in order to earn respect, model the behavior I want to see, and be responsive rather than controlling.

Many of the parenting practices I have adopted, or hope to adopt, make up the heart of my blog.  Each practice warrants its own post, but for now I'd like to share my toddler-friendly starter kit. These are just a few highlights of the parenting practices I'm using that I hope will further my long-term parenting goals:

Avoid the system of rewards and punishment to change behaviors. Instead, I focus on underlying needs and feelings that may have led to my son's "misbehavior" (including tantrums). I'm building a repertoire of things to say instead of the empty "good job" type of praise.

Set the stage for partnership by looking for opportunities to compromise and loving ways to encourage toddler cooperation.

Respect a child's body, space, and time by asking before touching, not taking objects out of his hands, and not interrupting when he's focused on something (with obvious exceptions to avoid danger).

Encourage personal responsibility and self-care by setting an example (or at least trying to!) and providing age-appropriate tasks. Remember that self-care includes sleep, diet, exercise, hygiene, personal boundaries and mental, social, and emotional needs.

Build two-way communication by teaching and learning baby sign, practicing Elimination Communication, and learning about Nonviolent Communication to express feelings, needs, and requests. But mostly, just learning to listen to him.

Allow room for meaningful choices by permitting him to listen to his body (he chooses when and what to eat), and by acting as a "satellite" during free play

Reinforce a strong attachment bond by co-sleeping and breastfeeding...indefinitely.

Teach empathy before manners by modeling empathy and good manners, not by pressuring him to share or to say please, thank you, or I'm sorry.  Empathy takes time to develop so I'm patient and trusting in this endeavor.

Maintain realistic expectations based on the child's age by learning about child development at each new phase of our journey.

Admit mistakes and apologize to show that I'm human and fallible and willing to admit it.

Be willing to make changes in light of new information or when the status quo doesn't work. One of the most amazing aspects of parenting is that we get to raise ourselves with our children. We get to evolve and change and transform into the person we want to be so that we can raise little people to be who they want to be. This means I am open to revising my practice if conditions warrant it.

Accept the child for who he is instead of who I want him to be. I can provide the nurturing ingredients, but in the end I have to acknowledge that he is his own person. The rest of the world will also have an influence on him that I can't control. Munchkin will grow in his own way, in his own time. I will just keep on loving him, unconditionally.

What are your long-term parenting goals and how do you hope to fulfill them?

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be live and updated by afternoon July 12 with all the carnival links.)
  • Between Love and Fear: On Raising our Children Sensibly — Mamma Earthly at Give an Earthly discusses the fear factor in parenting and how she overcame it, despite societal pressures.
  • really, when do i get my cape? — Sarah at small bird on fire is a working city mama trying to learn how to set aside her expectations of perfection and embrace the reality of modern parenting.
  • Baby, Infant, and Toddler Wearing — Child wearing is part of Sarah at Nourished and Nurtured's parenting philosophy. In this post, Sarah describes benefits of child-wearing and gives tips for wearing babies, infants, and toddlers (even while pregnant).
  • First Year Reflections — As her daughter's first birthday approaches, Holly at First Year Reflections reflects on how she and her husband settled into attachment parenting after initially doing what they thought everyone else did.
  • Making an allowance — Lauren at Hobo Mama welcomes a guest post from Sam about the unexpected lessons giving a four-year-old an allowance teaches the child — and the parent.
  • How to be a Lazy Parent and Still Raise Great Kids — Lisa at Granola Catholic talks about how being a Lazy Parent has helped her to raise Great Kids.
  • Philosophy in Practice — Laura at A Pug in the Kitchen shares how her heart shaped the parenting philosophy in her home.
  • What is Attachment Parenting Anyway? — Gaby at Tmuffin describes the challenges of putting a label on her parenting philosophy.
  • Of Parenting Styles — Jenny at Chronicles of a Nursing Mom talks about how she and her husband tailored various parenting styles to fit their own preferred parenting philosophy.
  • Moment by Moment Parenting — Amy at Peace 4 Parents encourages those who care for children (including herself) to explore and appreciate parenting moment-by-moment with clarity, intention, trust, and action.
  • Maintaining Spirituality in the Midst of Everyday Parenting, Marriage, and Life — Sarah at Nourished and Nurtured shares her perspective on finding opportunities for spiritual growth in every day life.
  • Parenting Philosophy — Lily, aka Witch Mom's parenting philosophy is to raise child(ren) to be compassionate, loving, inquisitive, and questioning adults who can be trusted to make decisions for themselves in a way that avoids harming others.
  • Long Term — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis thinks about who she would like to see her daughter become — and what she can do now to lay a strong foundation for those hopes.
  • Connection, Communication, Compassion — She's come a long way, baby! After dropping her career in favour of motherhood, Patti at Jazzy Mama discovered that building solid relationships was going to be her only parenting priority.
  • My Parenting Inspirations - Part 4 — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama looks at her biggest parenting inspiration and how that translates into her long-term parenting philosophy.
  • A Parenting Philosophy in One Word: Respect — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction summarizes her parenting and relationship philosophy in one word: respect.
  • Knowledge and Instinct — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment believes that knowledge and instinct are super important … as are love, encouragement and respect. It's the ideal combo needed to raise happy and healthy children and in turn create meaningful relationships with them.
  • THRIVE!The Sparkle Mama wants to set a tone of confidence, abundance, and happiness in her home that will be the foundation for the rest of her daughter's life.
  • On Children — "Your children are not your children," say Kahlil Gibran and Hannah at Wild Parenting.
  • This One Life Together — Ariadne aka Mudpiemama shares her philosophy of parenting: living fully in the here and now and building the foundation for a happy and healthy life.
  • Enjoying life and planning for a bright future — Olivia at Write About Birth shares her most important parenting dilemmas and pours out her heart about past trauma and how healing made her a better parent.
  • My Parenting Philosophy: Unconditional and Natural Love — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares what she has learned about her parenting philosophy from a year of following her instincts as a mama.
  • An open letter to my children — Isil at Smiling Like Sunshine writes an open letter to her children.
  • My Starter Kit for Unconditional Parenting — Sylvia at MaMammalia discusses her wish to raise a good person and summarizes some of the nontraditional practices she's using with her toddler son in order to fulfill that wish.
  • Responsiveness — Sheila at A Gift Universe has many philosophies and goals, but what it all boils down to is responsiveness: listening to what her son wants and providing what he needs.
  • Tools for Creating Your Parenting Philosophy — Have you ever really thought about your parenting purpose? Knowing your long-term goals can help you parent with more intent in your daily interactions. Dionna at Code Name: Mama offers exercises and ideas to help you create your own parenting philosophy.
  • Be a Daisy — Becky at Old New Legacy philosophizes about individuality and how she thinks it's important for her daughter's growth.
  • What's a Mama to Do? — Amyables at Toddler in Tow hopes that her dedication to compassionate parenting will keep her children from becoming too self-critical as adults.
  • grown-up anxieties. — Laura at Our Messy Messy Life explains her lone worry concerning her babies growing up.
  • Why I Used Montessori Principles in My Parenting Philosophy — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells why she chose Montessori principles to help her now-adult children develop qualities she wanted to see in them as children and adults.
  • Parenting Philosophies & Planning for the FutureMomma Jorje considers that the future is maybe just a fringe benefit of doing what feels right now.
  • Not Just Getting Through — Rachael at The Variegated Life asks what truths she hopes to express even in the most commonplace interactions with her son.
  • Parenting Philosophy? Eh... — Ana at Pandamoly shares the philosophy (or lack thereof) being employed to (hopefully) raise a respectful, loving, and responsible child.
  • Parenting Philosophy: Being Present — Shannon at The Artful Mama discusses the changes her family has made to accommodate their parenting philosophy and to reflect their ideals as working parents.
  • Who They Will Be — Amanda at Let's Take the Metro shares a short list of some qualities she hopes she is instilling in her children at this very moment.
  • Short Term vs. Long Term — Sheryl at Little Snowflakes recounts how long term parenting goals often get lost in the details of everyday life with two kids.
  • Parenting Philosophy: Practicing and Nurturing Peace — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle sets personal goals for developing greater peace.
  • Yama Niyama & the Red Pajama Mama — Part 1: The Yamas — In part 1 of a set of posts by Zoie at TouchstoneZ, Zoie guest posts at Natural Parents Network about how the Yoga Sutras provide a framework for her parenting philosophy.
  • Yama Niyama & the Red Pajama Mama — Part 2: The Niyamas — In part 2 of a set of posts by Zoie at TouchstoneZ, Zoie explores how the Niyamas (one of the eight limbs in traditional Yoga) help her maintain her parenting and life focus.
  • Our Sample Parenting Plan — Chante at My Natural Motherhood Journey shares hopes of who her children will become and parenting strategies she employs to get them there.
  • Philosophical Parenting: Letting Go — Jona at Life, Intertwined ponders the notion that there's no right answer when it comes to parenting.
  • Unphilosophizing? — jessica at instead of institutions wonders about the usefulness of navel gazing.
  • Parenting Sensitively — Amy at Anktangle uses her sensitivity to mother her child in ways that both nurture and affirm.
  • how to nurture your relationships — Mrs Green at Little Green Blog believes that sometimes all kids need is a jolly good listening to …
  • Philosophy Of An Unnatural Parent — Dr. Sarah at Good Enough Mum sees parenting as a process of guiding her children to develop the skills they'll need.
  • Life with a Challenging Kid: Hidden Blessings — Wendy at High Needs Attachment shares the challenges and joys of raising a high needs child.
  • Flying by the Seat of My Pants — Heather at Very Nearly Hippy has realized that she has no idea what she's doing.