Friday, July 29, 2011

Henry the Hacker

I was just writing a post while sitting on my bed with Henry next to me. I left for a second to check on something. When I came back 30 seconds later, Henry had scooched himself to the computer and started touching the key board. He totally saved the post and then navigated away from it. He could have just as easily published it. Egad!

So if you see something totally random pop up as a post, you'll know who the #1 suspect is.

And he looks so innocent!

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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Be Daring Project

I'm excited to submit a video for the Be Daring project that my alma mater, Stetson University, is hosting. The video needs to be concise--around 15 seconds--so I probably better draft out what I want to say.

How about:

There are more than 4,000 private Montessori schools in our country and only 200 hundred public ones. And yet several members of the creative elite attribute their success to their Montessori backgrounds, such as the founders of Google, Amazon, Wikipedia. The quality of our educational experiences should not be determined by our parents' incomes. I'm Sara Cotner, class of 1999. I dare to create public Montessori charter schools nationwide.

What do you think? What revisions do you think I should make?

And what kind of background should I stand in front of? I don't exactly have access to a Montessori classroom right now. Perhaps a playground? But that doesn't really represent Montessori either. Maybe a garden?

Perhaps I should hold up little signs as I speak? Like:
  • 4,000 dots on one paper and 200 dots on another (which would represent private schools versus public in the U.S.)
  • And pictures of the people I mentioned, collaged onto one sheet?
  • A sign of the URL of the non-profit organization I'm going to start?
Hm...the signs seem like a lot of work, especially since this isn't a contest or anything. But then again, what if some rich alum sees the video, gets inspired, and wants to give us a seed grant?

Maybe it's worth it. How could I easily make 4,000 dots on one 8.5 x 11 sheet?

And, oops, it's longer than 15 seconds. Like 24 seconds. I even went back and trimmed out some words. Help!

Just trimmed out a few more words. Down to 22 seconds, but I'm talking really fast. Oh well; they didn't say it had to be 15 seconds or less.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Cloth Diaper Update

Henry (in his bumGenius diaper) and his friend, Ellie Cate (she wears Fuzzi Buns)

I haven't done a Q & A segment on this blog like I've done over at 2000 Dollar Wedding, but I received a question via e-mail that I've been meaning to address:
My husband and I are now expecting our first child (we found out it's a girl yesterday!) and I was hoping to get more of a real-life perspective on the cloth-diapering system. My husband and I don't seem to have any friends in the area that have done cloth diapering--in fact, they actually look at us like we're a little crazy when we mention that it's something we're interested in. (Can you tell we've had a difficult time finding like-minded friends after we moved?) Anyway, everywhere I look online is mainly about selling the product, and I'd just like a more realistic view of the whole ordeal.

Matt and I always knew that we wanted to use cloth diapers because it aligned with our budget-friendly and Earth-friendly values. (I know someone could make the argument that cloth diapers waste water and electricity and are therefore just as bad for the environment as disposables, but I still can't fathom throwing so much waste into the land fills.)

When it came time to make the decision, we didn't have too many friends-with-babies to turn to as mentors. Instead, I turned to my online mentors--John and Sherry--because they are uber-researchers. They recommended the bumGenius Elemental One Size, since it's an all-in-one, organic cloth diaper.

As I wrote in this post before Henry was born, here are the benefits (from my perspective) of these particular diapers:
  1. They are made with organic cotton, which is super-soft.
  2. They are "all-in-ones," which means you don't have to mess with separate covers and inserts.
  3. They are designed with many, many snaps that supposedly allow you to adjust them to fit children from 7 pounds to 35, so you don't have to waste a lot of money investing in different sizes that your child inevitably grows out of way too quickly.

Here's how cloth diapers work with our lifestyle:
  • We started using cloth diapers right after Henry stopped pooping meconium. Since he was a big baby from the get-go (all 9 pounds, 4 ounces of him!), the diapers fit him right away.
  • We pretty much use cloth diapers all the time, even when we go out. We just bring along a plastic bag to stuff the used ones in (which we use over and over; we never received the wet bag from our registry and haven't been motivated to spend the money to buy one ourselves).
  • However, we sometimes use a disposable diaper at night, since it absorbs more and keeps more moisture away from his skin. We need all the help we can get in the sleep department!
  • We also use disposable diapers when we go on a weekend trip or an extended vacation.
  • We basically wash a load of diapers every single day. We have 18 diapers--which I think is plenty--but we do have to wash them frequently.
  • I have not yet gotten my act together to line dry them. It's hard enough for me to spend my days as Henry's babysitter. Whenever I have a free moment, I want to do something intellectual; I don't want to spend more time on laundry. But I'm sorry about that, Earth.
  • We put a towel on our bathroom counter as a changing table. I love it. We have easy access to water. We use old receiving blankets cut into squares (which is essentially just flannel) with water as our wipes. We do have to be very careful never to take our hands off our little Squirrely Bug. He loves to roll!
  • We use this trash can with two of these liners to hold our dirty diapers. When one is in the washer, we use the other one.
  • When Henry gets a rash, we protect our cloth diapers from the cream by using one of our flannel wipes to line the diaper.
  • We installed this sprayer on our toilet to rinse off Henry's poop, but since he still has really mild, yellow breastmilk poop, we haven't started using it yet. However, one of my friends pointed out that we should still use it since waste belongs in the septic system, not the water system. (It's just another thing I'm too lazy to do!)

I'm so glad we're cloth diapering because I do think it's better for the Earth, and it's definitely better for the budget. Also, cloth diapers supposedly help children learn to use the real toilet more quickly because they can feel the wetness against their skin. The one drawback is the bulkiness (especially with the diapers that fit all sizes). I don't mind the bulkiness aesthetically, but I do think it must hinder their movement somewhat.

If I had to do it all over again, I think I would have gone with the cloth diaper my friend uses: Fuzzi Bunz One Size. They seem to have all the benefits of the bumGenius without some of the drawbacks. For example:
  • The Fuzzi Bunz have adjustable elastic. I imagine that being able to adjust the leg elastic would help prevent leaks. Henry definitely has leaks with his cloth diapers (although he has leaks in disposables, too). Adjustable elastic just makes a ton of sense for diapers that are supposed to last until the child can use the toilet independently.
  • The Fuzzi Bunz have replaceable elastic. Rumor has it that the elastic is the first thing to wear down in cloth diapers. Since the budget benefits and Earth benefits are even more significant if you can use them for a second and third child, I think elastic that can be replaced is a great feature.
  • The Fuzzi Bunz also have snaps like the bumGenius. I hate the way velcro snags on stuff, so I definitely prefer snaps.
  • The Fuzzy Bunz have an insert that adjusts the level of absorbency. Yes, it's a slight pain to have separate pieces to put together and take apart, but the benefit is that they dry much, much faster than the bumGenius diapers.

The only thing I don't like about the Fuzzi Bunz is that the internal material is microfleece instead of organic cotton like the bumGenius we have. I try to avoid synthetic fabrics whenever possible. I guess one additional drawback is that the Fuzzi Bunz require you to snap six times instead of four like the bumGenius.

The only other problem we're having with cloth diapers is getting them clean enough because we have an eco-friendly washing machine that doesn't use enough water. Henry's diapers get an ammonia smell, which we've read all about on the bumGenius page. We just haven't prioritized fixing this problem. Oy vey!

So, long story short, I wholeheartedly recommend cloth diapers! Our generation is lucky that they are so easy-peasy!

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Friends in Austin?

Henry (left) and his friends, via Ben Becker

I'm a little freaked out (or maybe a lot?) about moving to Austin and leaving behind all of our friends. I moved to Houston in 2003, and have been building friendships ever since (minus the year I spent traveling during my self-subsidized sabbatical and the year we spent living in Denver so we could attend Montessori training).

And, to top it all off, I'll be leaving behind the group of women I met during prenatal yoga. We meet monthly for brunch, we started a babysitting co-op, and I get together with two of the women for weekly play dates.

Of course my go-to strategy for alleviating anxiety is to make a plan.

So here's my plan for building a support network in Austin:
  1. Join the Austin Mamas list-serv (done!)
  2. Sign up for some sort of Mom + Me classes with Henry
  3. Attend a Unitarian church
  4. E-mail everyone we know to ask for friends-of-friends' contacts
  5. Plan once-a-month parties and just start inviting people we meet
  6. Sign up for craft classes

In my attempt to connect with friends of friends, I'm putting this request out into the universe. Do you live in Austin? Are you interested in meeting up? Or do you have friends in Austin with whom I might be kindred spirits?

Now I feel like I'm online dating again (which, by the way, did not work out too well for me in my early twenties). So in that vein, I might as well share a little about Matt and me:

Hobbies: Playing board games, cooking with friends, going to farmers' markets, hiking, doing random things like going to parades or drive-in movies, crafting, watching movies, cooking S'mores, swimming, talking about how to make the world better

Would Like to Learn More About: Gardening, permaculture, home improvement, how to get a baby to sleep through the night

Let me know if you know anyone! My e-mail address is saracotner {@}

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Monday, July 25, 2011

Our Vacation Recap in Pictures (and a Few Words)

A breast-feeding stop on the way from Taos, NM to Denver, CO. Sadly, we spent a whole weekend at our friend's awesome wedding in Taos and didn't manage to take a picture with our big camera.

Henry visiting with the owners of Sunshine Mountain Lodge outside of Estes Park. This was the reception site for our wedding three years ago. Again, we neglected to take photos of our pit-stop in Denver to see old friends and to check out their "new" house from 1895.

They made us delicious raw breakfast every day. I'm inspired to eat healthier breakfasts! Can you tell that Henry is eager to try solids?

We went back to the lake spot where we tied the knot.

Henry wrestled a blanket.

And won.

He also mastered sucking on his toes, reaching for and pulling water glasses to his mouth, and kind of sitting up for short periods of time.

After an overnight visit with our friend in Broomfield (thanks for the vegan food, Kim!) and another overnight visit with our friend and her daughter in Longmont, we headed to the mountains of Breckenridge to meet up with Matt's dad (featured above), mom, and two brothers (Mike's in Austin and John is in San Francisco).

Henry had a ball--literally and figuratively--with his grandparents and uncles. (It kind of looks like he's storing some of those balls in his cheeks...) And Matt and I got a much-needed break!

And one of the highlights of the trip was meeting one of you! Thank you Meghan and Andrew for hosting us at your lovely, lovely home in Santa Fe for an evening of great food and company!

I'm already scheming up vacation ideas for next year. I'm really stuck on the idea of going to Kauai...

As always, let me know if you have any questions about specific things that you want me to answer. It's hard to know what's interesting to other people!

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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Are You into Graphic Design?

I desperately want to redesign the header on this blog (it doesn't even match up with the actual name of of the blog, which is Feeding the Soil!), but I am seriously lacking the creative inspiration needed to undertake such an endeavor.

I'm wondering if there are any graphic designers (or wannabe graphic designers!) among you who might like to enter a contest to redesign the header? I'm brainstorming prizes like free enrollment in my Purposeful Conception course? Or maybe a box of maternity clothes? Or a box of books about pregnancy? Or a $30 gift card to Williams-Sonoma + a $25 gift card to Starbucks?

If you've got design skills and an interest in entering such a contest (you could pick your own prize from the above list), please leave a comment! Depending on the responses, I'll figure out if a contest makes sense. I could also throw in a permanent link to your blog or business website at the bottom of the page to thank you for your contribution.

Let me know what you think!


UPDATE: Based on the responses so far, the contest is officially on! A commenter pointed out that the design community has disdain for contests such as these, so I wanted to draw your attention to the issue. My intention is not to disrespect any of you. The winner will hopefully feel like the small prize + a permanent advertisement (as long as I'm using the header) is sufficient appreciation for their work.

Here's how to enter:
  • Submit a .jpg of a new header for Feeding the Soil that is exactly the same width and approximately the same height as the current header via e-mail. If the file is too large to send, you can upload it somewhere online and send me the link to download. I will respond to every submission I receive, so if I don't respond within 24 hours, it probably means I didn't receive the file.
  • Submissions will be considered on a rolling basis, starting after August 1. You can submit your entry before then, but I won't start thinking about the winner until after August 1. After August 1, the contest will stay open until a winner is selected. I will update this post once a winner is selected, so if you're reading this post and it doesn't include a winner, then the contest is still open.
  • You may enter as many designs as you want!
  • You may e-mail me with any questions you have. I'd be happy to help in any way I can (answering questions like, "I think font A is more my style than font B.") As long as the questions are easy (I'm thinking multiple choice!).
  • If your design is selected, I may ask you to make a few slight modifications to the design. If you are up for making the requested changes, the prize will be yours. If you feel like the changes would compromise your work too much, then the prize will go to someone else.
  • If your design is chosen, you may pick one prize from the following list: 1) free enrollment in my Purposeful Conception course for you and your partner 2) A box of maternity clothes mailed to your doorstop 3) A box of books about pregnancy mailed to your doorstop 4) A $30 gift card to Williams-Sonoma + a $25 gift card to Starbucks
  • Your work will be acknowledged (and celebrated!) with an advertisement in the sidebar of my site, as long as I use the header you design.

I'm really looking forward to this!

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Dal Recipe

I'm totally into this Dal recipe right now. It has so few ingredients, it's healthy, high in protein, and tasty. Unfortunately, Matt's not so into it because he says it looks like Henry's breastmilk poop, but he'll occasionally eat it with me. I love to serve it with naan bread. Delicious and healthy!

Here's the recipe from my yoga teacher:

  • 1 cup pink lentils (called Masoor dal)
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 ½ teaspoons coarse salt or to taste

Rinse the lentils, drain and put in a deep pot. Add turmeric and 4 cups of water and bring to the boil. Turn down to simmer and cook the lentils partially covered. Stir occasionally to keep lentils from sticking to the bottom, until tender, about 25 minutes. For added creaminess, cook and stir another 5 minutes. When the consistency is like pea soup, stir in the salt. Heat and stir before serving.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Happy Annivesary, My Sweetest One!

Dear Sweetest One,

Look how far we've come in three short years! Time flies when you're living an adventure with a partner in awesomeness. I'll make this one short because it's your year to write a letter. I just want you to know that I meant what I said three years ago today:

  1. Matt, I love you because you make me laugh out loud on a daily basis, like when you come up with alternate names for our dog, Hoss, such as Hoss-tage, Hoss of Pain, or Hoss-car Myer Weiner.
  2. I love you because you challenge me to be a better person, like when you made me promise to tell the Penske truck people that we scraped the moving van.
  3. I love you because we create adventures together, like Halloween scavenger hunts or road trips out West.
  4. I love you because you care so much for other people that you inspire all of us to be more caring. You do things like put toothpaste on my toothbrush and leave it out for me or come home on the worst day of winter with slippers and a Chia pet herb garden.
  5. I love you because I smile every time I wake up to you and when I come home to you. We play together, brainstorm together, create together, read together. Your hand always feels comfortable in mine.
  6. Matt, because I love you, I promise to treat you the way you want to be treated and with the respect you deserve. I promise to build trust with my words and actions. I will be your cheerleader, your nurse, your editor, your therapist, your teacher, your student, and your partner in adventure. I will deeply appreciate all of your positive qualities and not let the passage of time dull that appreciation. When life challenges us, I promise to focus on the resiliency of our love. And if I stumble and fail to live up to my promises, I will look you in the eyes, hold your hands, and apologize with sincerity. I will be my best for you.

And I am so proud of the family we strive to be:

We are a family that...
  • Prioritizes health and wellness.
  • Resolves problems, issues, and conflict respectfully and in a constructive rather than destructive way.
  • Does professional work that is meaningful, enjoyable, fulfilling, and good for the world.
  • Maintains a daily pace of life that allows us time to laugh together, express our love and appreciation for each other, and enjoy each other’s company.
  • Shares responsibilities equitably but covers for each other when needed.
  • Cultivates community and connection among friends, family, and neighbors and continuously seeks to expand our circle.
  • Aligns our lifestyle choices and actions with our concern for the environment.
  • Keeps our living spaces organized, calming, welcoming, relaxing, de-cluttered, and beautiful.
  • Continually explores the world through travel.
  • Maintains traditions and rituals around daily and weekly routines (like eating home-cooked meals together and prioritizing conversation and connection while eating), celebrations, and sicknesses.
  • Builds up trust through our daily interactions with each other.
  • Patiently supports and celebrates each other as we pursue our individual interests and passions.

For our experience this year, I'm taking you on a Segway tour of Buffalo Bayou tomorrow night (using my allowance money). The babysitter is booked, and we'll eat Chuy's take-out as we drive (with Crave cupcakes for dessert, of course).

Looking forward to it!


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Monday, July 18, 2011

Montessori Toys

The expression "follow the child" is at the center of the Montessori approach to education. It comes to mind as I sit down to reflect on the new toys I bought for Henry.

For the first two months of Henry's life, his main "play time" or work revolved around mobiles. Since he was working on developing his eyesight, focus, concentration, and ability to track objects, I would place him on his back on his movement mat next to a mirror beneath one of his mobiles. We started with a black and white whale mobile, then progressed to a color butterfly mobile, and then switched to an abstract mobile. During that period, we would also put him under his wooden arch to give him different experiences. We started by hanging black and white clipart cards.

To "follow the child" means to observe the child's development and prepare the environment in a way that helps challenge the child in just the right way. So, for example, when Henry started raising his arms to bat at his mobiles (even though they were beyond his reach), we then traded the clipart cards for a Gobbi mobile (in a pure Montessori approach, the Gobbi is not for batting; bells and balls are used for that). Then when we noticed Henry starting to grab at the balls, we had to switch out that mobile with a toy for him to grasp.

Once he could easily grab at the toy hanging from his wooden arch, we decided it was time to provide Henry with more toys, so he could continue to work on grasping and pulling to his mouth (which is now his primary way of exploring his world).

First I went to the bins in his closet where I store extra toys. Because I try to keep his Montessori nursery as orderly, beautiful, and simple as possible, we don't put out all of his toys at once. Instead, we rotate them in and out. I pulled out his Sophie toy for the first time, which my dear internet friend Valerie sent to him. It seemed like the perfect toy for him to grasp and chew on. He loves it!

I also went online and ordered the following toys:
  1. Magic Clutching Toy
  2. Triangle Clutching Toy
  3. Kringerling Clutching Toy
  4. Skwish Rattle

When selecting toys, I tried to pick items that Henry could easily grasp. Everything but the Magic Clutching Toy is perfect for him right now. I also sought out toys that were simple, beautiful, and made of natural materials.

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

DIY: Montessori Helper Platform

Image courtesy anawhite

Oh, I wish I were married to a wood-worker!

I would love to be able to say, "Baby, we really need ______. Will you build it for us?"

Like this handy helper platform. This type of furniture is very Montessori, since we try to involve children in the everyday activities of adults as often as possible. And they are super-expensive to purchase. They are especially useful for letting children help in the kitchen.

This DIY version looks awesome!

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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Montessori Infant & Toddler Video

Have I recommended this video before? It's a ten-minute explanation of the infant and toddler Montessori environments. It gave me several good ideas about how to parent in those early years, especially about how to prepare the environment.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Finding Balance as a Parent

A post over at Attachment Mama really got me thinking about how to find balance as a parent. She says:
Absolutely love your child with every ounce of who you are. Honor their little spirits and tend to their needs. Do all that you can to foster secure attachment. But for the sake of your own emotional and physical well-being — don’t put yourself on a shelf in the process. Don’t do it!! If you’re like me, you mistakenly believe that if you give to yourself it means your child will suffer. That you won’t be giving to them. And you can drive yourself to the brink in the name of intended Love and Devotion. You really can. In the long run, no child benefits from a sick or unhappy mother!!

I wholeheartedly agree that we can't sacrifice ourselves for our children to the point where we are sick and stressed out. We clearly aren't very good for anyone in that condition.

But even more than that, I think it is imperative that we model how to live our best lives for our children. We have to show them what it means to find balance, to seek out joy, to pursue our passions, to care for our loved ones and the world.

As trite as it sounds, our actions really do speak more loudly than our words. Our children are constantly looking to us for lessons about how to live, how to make decisions, and how to be good people.

We owe it to ourselves to make time for self-care in all sorts of ways (from exercising to sleeping to following our dreams), but we also owe it to our children. We have to show them that life is full of joy and possibility. We have to show them how to make the most of our precious time.

It's definitely something I'm going to struggle with over the years. On the one hand, I want to absolutely make time for the sacred act of parenting. As a teacher for the past ten years, I can state with confidence that parents really do make a difference. On the other hand, I want to continue to pursue my passions and my dreams. I'll need to constantly balance the two and make adjustments (and readjustments) as necessary.

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Monday, July 11, 2011

Gardening with Children

Oh, how I can't wait to set up a garden! I have really been dragging my feet. I originally started this blog in 2007 to chronicle my journey into organic gardening when we moved from Houston to Denver, but I ended up failing miserably.

When we moved back to Houston, I didn't start a garden because our backyard is way too shady. We're thinking about moving into a three-bedroom house sometime soon-ish, so I'm even more reluctant to start a garden. Plus, we have free-range chickens, and I'm worried about how they would interact with the garden.

But at least my class has a garden plot! It's amazing how it always seems to work out for us, even though I have no idea what we're doing. Last year, we planted and harvested lettuce and had a salad party. Then we planted and harvested sweet potatoes in May and harvested them when we returned to school in the fall (because I teach at a Montessori school, the students stay in the same classroom for three years). We cut them and turned them into sweet potato french fries. We had an awesome discussion about the difference between frying and baking.

Kids love healthy food when they are involved in its preparation. It's amazing! I can't wait to build a family garden, so our son can dig his hands into the dirt and witness the sheer amazingness of growing your own food.

I need to stop dragging my feet and just do it! Maybe I should do some container gardening, while we figure our our house situation...

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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Herbal Recommendations from My Midwife

One of the things I loved most about having a midwife was her holistic and preventative approach to pregnancy and birth. For example, she recommended various supplements throughout my pregnancy to help build a solid foundation for the birth.

Here's a list of what I did:
  • Started drinking red raspberry leaf and nettle tea in the first trimester. I drank one cup a day in the first trimester, two in the second, and three in the third. My midwife says the tea strengthens the uterus and better prepares it for birth.
  • Took alfalfa supplements starting in the third trimester. My midwife explained that in the 20 years since she started recommending alfalfa supplements, she has never had to transfer a woman to the hospital for a hemorrhage (she has had women hemorrhage, but their ability to clot and resolve the issue on their own was sufficient).
  • Took Primal Defense Probiotics from Nature's Defense to try to ward off any Group B Strep infection I might have.
  • Took Arnica after the birth to help relieve general soreness and achiness.
  • Made comfrey tea compresses and froze them to use as soothing compresses in my underwear after the birth.
  • Took Sitz herbal baths after the birth to help my body heal.

So much of my experience with the medical system has been reactive rather than proactive. I loved doing things to strengthen my body in preparation, rather than to just cover up symptoms after my body was weak.

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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Following-Up on Consequences

I'd like to think that being a teacher for nine years will help me be a better parent. Of course there are real differences between teaching children and parenting them, but I hope I have learned some helpful strategies by interacting with more than 320 children.

For example, I learned a lot by reading Lee Canter's Assertive Discipline. In that book, he talks about the importance of:
  1. Teaching children how to see their own behavior as a choice that they are in control of
  2. Helping children clearly understand the consequences of their actions, both positively and negatively
  3. Following through on consequences consistently and without emotion

I see these three fundamental strategies break down over and over again in families. In my own family, for example, I remember my parents screaming at my brother, "If you don't clean up your room right now, we're going to throw everything away!"

For starters, we should try to avoid letting these kinds of situations escalate into shouting, anger, and explosive emotions. I know it's easier said than done! Parents can be under immense amount of stress as they try to juggle everything in their lives, and it can be difficult to maintain equanimity.

Second, we should never blurt out consequences that we won't actually follow-through on. Children can only learn that there are real consequences for their choices, if we set up situations in which we can actually follow-through with those consequences.

I've seen this play out in other ways, too. For example, a colleague of mine has a very needy and whiny daughter. While we were out to lunch together, the daughter was sitting on the mother's lap, whining for some of her drink. The mother did a great job of trying to empower her daughter by saying, "You're welcome to get some of my drink, but you need to get it yourself. You know how to do it."

But the child persisted in wanting the mother to bring the cup to her mouth for her. She continued whining and fidgeting. The mother tried to continue her conversation with the rest of us and would occasionally stop to remind the daughter that she could have some of the drink if she got it herself.

After a few minutes of this, the mother relented and brought the cup to her daughter's lips.

What did the daughter learn in that situation? She learned that when her mother tries to establish boundaries and expectations, she doesn't really mean it. She learned that if she is persistent and annoying enough, she will get her way. She learned that she doesn't have to accept responsibility for herself.

Something similar happened with another friend of ours. The little boy was sitting on a chair in the house and throwing the ball off the chair. He would then whine for his father to get the ball for him. The dad said, "If you want the ball, you need to get it yourself." The son persisted with his whining and pouting. The dad persisted with his message: "If you want the ball, you need to get it for yourself."

Finally, the dad relented and got the ball for his son. Again, the son internalizes these lessons: When my parents give me boundaries and expectations, they don't really mean it. If I am persistent and annoying enough, I will get my way. I don't have to accept responsibility for myself or my actions.

I don't mean to say that we should parent in robotic ways or that we shouldn't do things for our children. However, if we want to raise children who accept responsibility for their actions and who make good choices for themselves, we need to give them lots of practice in the little moments. If we tell them they need to get the ball if they want it, then we need to follow-through with that expectation, even if they break down and engage in a major tantrum. If we tell them they are welcome to help themselves to our drink but we aren't going to hold the cup for them, then we need to follow-through with that expectation--especially if they get more whiny and insistent about it!

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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Recipe Recommendation

I found this quick and simple recipe (thanks to one of your recommendations!). It calls for creamed spinach, which apparently my local Whole Foods doesn't carry. Also, they happened to be out of frozen spinach, so I opted for frozen mixed greens instead (think kale, mustard greens, etc.).

Matt and I decided to make our own creamed spinach (er, creamed mixed greens) using this recipe, and the results were delicious! I highly recommend blending these two recipes.

In the future, I'm still going to opt for mixed greens again, since I get spinach every day through my green smoothie.

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