Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Making Sense of Discipline course

I just finished my first "real course" with the Neufeld Institute called "Making Sense of Discipline."  Wow.  I'm going to see if I can post here a few highlights or epiphanies.  I know it's an investment to take courses like these, but the information is so life/home-changing.  There's a perfect marriage of a bit of nerdiness on my part (always wanting to keep learning, always passionate about my life stage etc.) and then the challenges of raising these little mysteries in my care.

I saw this little ad and thought, "welp, I have a few weeks before school starts..."  It's the shortest online course I think they've ever offered which means we sort of crammed.  They offer official resources to prep for class time, and then there are supplemental resources.  There are also things linked into our forum comments and questions as they arise, so the support has been wonderful.  The actual class time was so well orchestrated with time for our questions as they arose and a beautiful fusion of information.

Also, we have access to whatever is generally up on the Neufeld Institute Campus which is a huge resource.  I watched/heard presentations I simply had curiosity about because "I could." :)  We do get three months of access so that's exciting.

I really appreciate that the two course facilitators are mothers with lots of example stories to guide the ideas and discussion.  It was never "just research" or "just theory."  It was very practiced.

Big information for me:

With the developmental understanding of how we grow, we can't "teach" or "sculpt" most desired behaviors.  We have to set up the conditions so the spirit of it can really grow, so that they can authentically mature.  We want to honor the spirit; whereas, today's discipline strategies generally focus on the "form."

85% of pediatricians or other experts are behind, still stuck in behaviorist paradigms.  (It reminds me of when you try to get diet advice from a general practitioner--they are overstretched and simply aren't caught up on the research.  They're usually 50 yrs behind in fact as regards calories etc.)

If we target behavior in a teaching/sculpting way (without the real maturation, the mixed feelings etc.) we're teaching them to be extremely deceitful and engender a kind of neurosis of "needing to be good."  They build walls and then orient towards peers who aren't in any capacity to guide and nurture them.  Lot's of ripple effect.

This in essence means that most of what we do for kids who are stuck (time outs, imposed consequences etc.) actually creates discipline problems.

Real discipline doesn't happen in the incident.  Incidents are to be managed safely; but real discipline is scripting, practicing, talking, bridging, matchmaking in the safety of good connection.

We have to be patient with the maturation process and focus on good intentions and a relationship where attachment is strong and where they want to be good (want to follow us).

There are hugely more specific things in the course, and there are many concepts to go into.  Still, I think it's better to have the background of having read his book (Hold onto Your Kids), seen a few presentations etc.  Otherwise, it gets too complicated and turns into me trying to teach something you can learn from him or other faculty.  They are infinitely more prepared to do this well.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Snippets of Parenting Wisdom

I mention Gordon Neufeld more and more these days because I'm learning so much from him and his faculty at Neufeld Institute.  (I'm thankful for Todd Sarner pointing the way!)  While I've invested loads of time taking classes or watching long presentations on youtube etc., sometimes we just don't have that time.

(Here are favorite long presentations...)

Children and Anxiety

Raising Children in a Digital World

But I found a resource called Kids in the House that features many of his takes on particular topics.  Each topic is about 2 minutes in length so if you're curious about his stance on an array of topics, this site is an easy way.  (His book and courses are still number one.)

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Sparkle Stories

We get so excited when the weekend comes: more Sparkle Stories.  When we have to drive more than a few minutes, do you know what the girls ask for?  Sparkle Stories.
Sparkle Stories
My girls are most interested in the various Martin and Sylvia stories/series given their age so we hear them the most.  It's very affordable to do a subscription for one more more series, and we currently do three.  Each story is somewhere between 15 and 20 minutes, and they are awesome.  The McCanns do a first rate job, and the storytelling appeals even to me as the adult listening.  Sometimes I think I enjoy them more.  I know I pick up insights into kids, inspiration for activities, recipes etc.  They even have a blog with a lot of that extra support.

I want to put this up here because I feel like sharing good things when we come across them.  But also I want to express appreciation to them for enriching our family life.  It's such a sweet part of those days.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

"Quicker" Online Parenting Resources

I love to read, but I know we have time limits!  Being with young ones leaves less time for books, but there's good information out there for less time-investment.

Free Video Series from Transformative Parenting (Todd Sarner)

Newsletters or entries Aha! Parenting (Dr. Laura Markham)

Parent blog Parenting Passageway (Carrie)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Mirroring, Jennifer Kolari's CALM Technique

Have you ever heard of mirroring?  It's this technique (below) that we want to work on with the girls.  (The Affect Mirroring part is what is missing so far I think in what we've been doing.)

A lot of great insights in this talk in general about how parenting has swung in a crazy direction of being "wonky" since we woke up to being too harsh.

I think I'd like to read her book(s).  The one I'll do first is for younger kids called Connected Parenting.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Why do they misbehave?

I'm sure I don't have all the answers to why my sweet ones do what they do, but I've learned that it's important to really try to find out.  We see those memes floating around that say something like "they're not giving you a hard time, they're having a hard time."

The first idea that really went against the 80% of parenting advice that's behaviorist in nature came from the Soul of Discipline Course (and from Simplicity Parenting) is the idea of disorientation.  Kim John Payne says he has never met a disobedient child, only a disoriented one.  He likens children to ships pinging while navigating in the vast sea.  We know whom they bounce off, right?  

So why do our children feel lost?  There is a lot of life pressing in on them, for one thing, and it creates a kind of "soul fever."  That's where simplicity can make such a tremendous difference.  (I took the course to become a group leader/coach for Simplicity Parenting because it has meant so much to our family.)

Dr. Gordon Neufeld talks a great deal (as regards anxiety) about separation.  There are so many ways/levels for a child to feel separated--at least as many as the levels/ways to be attached.  That's intense, and their brains aren't prepared to make sense of it (especially at a young age).

Dr. Gabor Maté mentioned in a talk on stress and parenting that we misunderstand the phrase "acting out"--literally, when we act things out, it's because we don't have language for it.  If our children experience things they don't understand, they do end up "acting" them "out."

All behavior is a sort of communication.  What does it tell us about what's happening in their lives/brains?  (And how is our own inner response to that behavior revealing things to us about our own lives/childhoods/brains?)

Sunday, July 13, 2014

How am I the leader?

How am I in charge if I don't punish them?  How do they know I'm the boss?  Why would they want to follow me?  How am I supposed to be powerful and supportive that way?

Dr. Gordon Neufeld and Todd Sarner talk about being "the Alpha" so much in their presentation of strong parenting leadership.  It's a "Papa Bear" or "Mama Goose" presence, and it flows with/from the source of my unapologetic being.  My presence can be "big" or powerful simply from that confident energy.  

From my own experience, the more certain we are of how this helps (aka what the research shows through Attachment Theory etc.), the stronger our Alpha sensibility.  It's a deep, inner knowing of who we are as parents, and it's a kind of faith really.  We are the best answer to their needs.  We are the core answer to their difficulties.  

Being the strong Mama is directing the energy and attention in a very visual, guided way when they are struggling to follow/behave.  It doesn't mean I seek to control their every action or get into a battle with them to assert that control.  In fact, if I'm even considering such a squaring off, I've already lost.  It's not becoming the constant family entertainer--they need to embrace some boredom for deeper, creative play (and embrace some problems to work out solutions).  That's a balance I'm playing with these days.

As a quieter person, I sometimes wonder how to be "Alpha" enough.  Personally, I'm learning to reduce my thinking out loud as I reason through my decisions.  It's better to think for a moment and then come out with a clear, concise decision.  Here, I take Kim John Payne's advice about over-talking to heart as I consider reducing children's stress and their mental stages.  (Aside from Simplicity Parenting, he has a great course called Soul of Discipline: 0-9 years and will have a book out in 2015 I think.)  The Alpha concept was introduced to me through Todd's Transformative Parenting course and is based on Gordon Neufeld's ideas (as Todd was on his Neufeld Institute faculty back in the day).  It was a superb course.

Some questions arise of a different nature from some thinkers regarding control.  I think it is healthy, as Alfie Kohn does, to wonder why I have a need to control their behavior always (even if I'm sensitive to how I play my part).  It's not a bad idea to reflect and look at where we control for control's sake (and how that relates to our own childhood issues).

When does a parent need to be that guiding star for sure?  Most parents I know see the need to be the greater gravitational pull when it deals with safety, the basics of getting along in society and also in character points.  (While I might not insist on every point in every moment I could, it is important to help children with what seem like little things so they build attention and habits.)  Here it's not control: it's taking care.

In attachment, one person is the Alpha (even if it changes they way we take turns taking care of each other, as in marriage), like it or not.  If it's not me, it's my child.  When our children are in that roll, there are all kinds of troubles.  

Here's an intro for a class I might take from the Neufeld Institute: