Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Discussing Spirituality and Religion with Young Children

I was recently asked to join a select group of bloggers who are working as contributors to The Mother Company's wonderful blog. I am very happy to be a part of their team, as their mission is very much in line with my own: "Helping Parents Raise Good People". 
This month I had the good fortune to interview Dharmachari Nagaraja, the author of one of our favorite children's books (“Buddha at Bedtime: Tales of Love and Wisdom for You to Read with Your Child to Enchant, Enlighten and Inspire”). Nagaraja is also a psychotherapist, long-time Buddhist practitioner and popular presenter on England's BBC Radio 2. I was honored to have the chance to speak with him about his thoughts on ways parents can discuss spirituality and religion with their young children.
An Interview with Dharmachari Nagaraja
Although neither of us would be considered “religious,” my husband and I both have spiritual beliefs and figured that our son and daughter would have them too, eventually. We thought we’d simply handle any spiritual questions from our children with basic honesty. I hadn’t factored in how difficult honesty can be when talking about something that you either haven’t given much thought to or have conflicting feelings about. With these questions reaching a peak during the Holiday Season, I asked Dharmachari Nagaraja, author, psychotherapist and long-time Buddhist practitioner, to weigh in on children, spirituality and religion. ~ Gina Osher, The Twin Coach, TMC Contributer
What is the best way to introduce the concept of spirituality to children?
Most people get caught up in the idea of whether God exists or doesn’t exist, or where you go when you die. But spirituality is a way of thinking about things, learning to live with differences, investigating differences. When we allow children to see that their actions have consequences and to think through their experiences, they are allowed to reflect more deeply. Asking children “what do you think” instead of answering questions directly or pointing them to an external God figure for answers invites children to participate and develop an interest in investigating their thoughts and feelings about things. Once they become used to doing this, they begin to see spirituality as more than a discussion about God but about understanding one’s place in the universe. To read the rest of this article, please click here to go to The Mother Company.

Friday, December 14, 2012

When There Are No Words

How do we, as parents, comprehend what happened today in Newtown, Connecticut? How can a parent begin to imagine what it must be like to have lost a child because a heavily armed gunman entered their elementary school after killing his mother and then murdered TWENTY children and 6 adults? Honestly, there are just no words that can begin to explain the pain and sorrow this town must be experiencing.

And yet, I feel compelled to make some shred of sense out of what seems like senseless tragedy. Many people are calling for stricter gun laws, some are focused on the fact that there needs to be more help for the mentally ill and still others are crying out to stop politicizing the event. It is all reaction to the unimaginable. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Empathy, Conflict Resolution And More: A Review Of The Friendship Show


"Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born."
Anaïs Nin

The Mother Company's latest show is
all about friendship.
Around about the same time I began this blog, I came across a site called The Mother Company. Because my focus here is connected parenting, I was immediately intrigued by their aim to encourage social and emotional learning for parents of young children through articles, books, music and more.

Because I am also a parent who closely monitors and limits what my children view, I was so happy to find their show "Ruby's Studio: The Feelings Show". My children loved Ruby and all the beautiful video segments that helped give them words to express and understand their emotions. I was hooked!

I am thrilled to say that The Mother Company has done it again with their new show "Ruby's Studio: The Friendship Show". As one's children grow older, their blossoming struggles with friendships take center stage both for parents and for the children themselves. Ruby beautifully helps children explore topics such as empathy, bullying, conflict resolution and the golden rule.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

40 Years Later Are Our Kids Free To Be?

This morning, while driving our kids to school, I ended up having a very interesting conversation with them about gender stereotypes and sexism in advertising and media. Yeah...my kids are almost 6. But we were listening to Rosey Grier singing "It's Alright To Cry" from the Free To Be...You And Me soundtrack.

Sometimes there are moments in the middle of a lighthearted conversation where, as a parent, you suddenly get the sense that what you are talking about could actually be something that makes a shift in perception for your children. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Finding Help For the "Difficult" Child

Learning to stay connected to our daughter, even
during her biggest upsets, has been my biggest challenge
For those of us parenting a more intense child, a more needy child, a more emotional child, a child who is just....more, there are days that can feel so overwhelming and so unending that perhaps you may want to just crawl into a hole and hide. Or you find yourself yelling, losing your temper, losing the connection with your child. 

I know. I've been to all those places.

Our daughter is one of those kids. Of course she's delicious, kind, innocent and I love her deeply. And she makes me bat shit crazy sometimes. Much of this blog has been dedicated to me being as brutally honest with myself about my own triggers, behaviors and reactions, as well as learning better ways to relate to both of our children in an attempt to create more harmony in our home. And frankly, in order for me to also help our daughter find some peace in her own mind and body.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Change Is Inevitable: How Stories Can Help Children Handle It

Change. Most people don't like it much. 
I have a confession: when things don't go the way I expect them to go, I kind of freak out. I get stressed, I can get angry, I think my brain even malfunctions a bit. It's not a pretty sight. When something really huge unexpectedly happens - like when my first marriage ended - I cope much better than I do with the little, every day kind of changes. I go into battle mode with the big stuff and I get it handled. But the little things, like when plans have to change unexpectedly, really throw me for a loop. 

For children, change can be overwhelming and even incredibly frightening if they don't understand what's going on. Adults often assume that children are too young to notice or comprehend the changes happening around them, but this couldn't be further from the truth. Children pick up on very subtle cues and while they may not be able to articulate what they sense, don't doubt that they are aware and they are affected.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Separating Twins in School: What I Wish I Had Known

My kids on the first day of Kindergarten
Have you ever heard that comment "I was a great parent until I became one"? I feel that way a bit about starting my kids in Kindergarten. I was a huge proponent of separating twins in school until I actually had to do it myself. Now I find myself longing for the simple days of preschool when they were in one, cozy classroom.

Don't get me wrong. I am not changing my stance on separating multiples in school, I know it was the right thing to do for my children. I can tell already that they will be so much better off being in separate classrooms. But Mommy is having a hard time. Actually, mommy might be having a bit of a mental breakdown.

So, now that I have made it clear that I still believe that separating multiples is incredibly important for their personal growth, I want to add that I now also see how hard it can be on the parents! I have worked hard since my children were very young to ensure they had playdates on their own, time alone with mom or dad, separate groups in camp and even separate birthday parties. And I had always intended to separate the kids once they started Kindergarten. The thing is, even though it was the right decision for us, I wasn't completely prepared for all that came with this move.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Great Parenting Show Is Back!

There are so many reasons why parenting can be a daunting job. Most of us have endless questions about how we can feel less stressed and overwhelmed, what we can do to help our children grow up to feel self-confient and secure, or how to communicate successfully with our partners. 

I'm excited to say that there are some answers for you just around the corner! The terrific program, The Great Parenting Show, is about to start its 5th season on Tuesday, September 4th. 

Once again, Jacqueline Green has invited over 25 leading experts in parenting related fields to share their wisdom, humor, and more importantly, their TIPS, on just how to make the changes you want to make and become the parent you want to be.

And the best part of it is that this is absolutely FREE.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Movies, Violence And A Parent's Responsibility

The Dark Knight Rises. Is it just too dark?
Last week, just before I found out about the tragic massacre in Aurora, Colorado, a friend shared an article with me about the increase in violence in today's movies and the fact that people tend to protest vehemently (and violently) when ratings boards give a movie a rating intended to keep children away. This article came out four years ago. Has anything gotten better? No.

In fact, I would hazard a guess that it's actually gotten worse. But Hollywood isn't completely to blame. Yes, of course they keep churning out these action films that seem to need to top the last one in terms of its action scenes, and degree of nauseating violence. But they obviously wouldn't make them if people didn't spend millions and millions of dollars seeing them.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

When Your Kids Push Your Buttons. Guest Post By Katie Hurley

This summer I've asked a few of my fellow bloggers and parenting experts to chime in on some reader questions that I felt were pretty universal in their subject matter. I thought this would not only allow you, my dear readers, to see that we all struggle with similar issues, but it would also introduce you to some really amazing people who in my online circle of friends.

Today's guest blogger is Katie Hurley. Katie is a Child, Adolescent, and Family Psychotherapist, Parenting Expert and the author of not one, but two blogs. In her first blog, Practical Parenting, Katie shares her beautifully written stories and straightforward advice for being the best parent you can be. She recently launched Clomid and Cabernet which is an advice and support blog for anyone dealing with the struggle of infertility. In addition to all of this, Katie is a married mom of two and writes weekly parenting columns for moonfrye.com and Mommy Moment

I've had the pleasure of meeting Katie in person and she's as lovely and real as she comes across in her blogs. She pours all of herself into helping families so they can raise happy, joyous children and I am truly honored to have her guest posting here today. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Motherhood And Parenting Are Shame Minefields

Shame is, perhaps, the most powerful emotion.
Have you ever had the experience where a stranger shares something and it sparks a change in you? They probably have no awareness of their impact, but they have created a ripple effect in that act of opening up and sharing their own pain or questioning. 

I've noticed this happen when I share my own struggles; somehow it gives others a sense of relief to know that there are others who have the same troubles. But it's hard. It's hard to open up, it's hard to let others know your weaknesses, it's hard to confess to not doing things as well as you wish you could.

Shame. 

Guilt. 

Embarrassment. 

Those are really difficult emotions to overcome, and they can keep you locked in a box of loneliness and isolation. But every time you share what you see as your weakness, you find that there are so many others who reach out in relief to say that they so needed to know that they weren't alone in their struggle. And in their reaching out, you find yourself both relived of this burden of shame and uplifted in knowing you have helped someone else.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Seven Steps to Help Children Cooperate Joyfully: Guest Post by Shelly Phillips

Over the last few weeks I have been sharing some guest posts from a few writers whose work I admire. Shelly Phillips of AwakeParent.com is among those people. I "met" Shelly originally through Twitter and I love the passion with which she writes about parenting. Every time I read one of Shelly's posts I feel her happiness radiating through. When she offered to write a guest post about joyful cooperation, I was honored to be able to share her work with my readers. I hope you enjoy her as much as I do.

Seven Steps to Help Children Cooperate Joyfully
Guest Post by Shelly Phillips

I’ve worked with children and parents for the past thirteen years and one of the biggest challenges I hear from most parents is that they’re not sure how to encourage internally driven and consistent cooperation from their young children. 

About two years ago my daughter was born and I got an opportunity to put my education and experience with child development and parenting strategies to the test with my own daughter. I’m not afraid to tell you, some of the strategies I used in my preschool classes or as a nanny just don’t work with my own child. Luckily, it wasn’t all for naught. I do still have some tricks up my sleeve and they’re working wonderfully with my little one. I hope they help you to experience more joy, cooperation, and ease with your young children. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

9 Essential Gifts For New Parents

Receiving gifts when you're about to have a baby (or babies) is exciting. Being able to give gifts to friends and family is sometimes even better. For me, this mostly has to do with sharing items that have helped so much or have been really useful. I love to pass on wisdom and as a mom of twins, often that wisdom has come through a trial by fire. I like to spare others some of the learning-the-hard-way that I had to go through!

By far, the greatest gifts I've gotten over the years turned out not to be material things, but rather wisdom gained and lessons learned. I threw myself into this job of mothering with great passion, but without a lot of planning. I made a number of stumbles along the way, but slowly I am figuring it out. 

I threw myself into writing this blog in much the same way. And my purpose for doing it has always been to share what I've learned in order to help others. I want to pass on some of the gifts I wish I had received and embraced early on. I truly believe had I been so lucky, the first few years would have been a lot easier on my whole family. So, I share these gifts with you in the hopes that they will provide you with greater insight, connection and peace. 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Labels Limit A Child. Guest Post And Giveaway!

Sarah's book is well laid out and easy
to read, which is especially helpful
when you need some quick ideas!
Recently I was asked to check out a new, award-winning parenting book called What Not to Say: Tools for Talking with Young ChildrenThis book is short and very easy to read, with many excellent examples and I love that it includes children's book suggestions as a way to work through some of the thorniest issues. 

After reading it, I was glad to see that the author, Sarah McLaughlin, and I were very much on the same page about many things including helping children express their emotions, alternatives to shaming children as a way to change their behavior and avoiding label children.

Sarah has very kindly offered a guest post on labeling which is excerpted and adapted from What Not To Say, as well as an opportunity to win a great giveaway!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Increasing The Sibling Bond: Creating Lifelong Friends

Having children who are each other's best
friend is often the hope of many parents. 
The other day I took my daughter to buy a replacement for a necklace she lost. She found one of those "Best Friends" necklaces where you give another person an identical necklace with a charm of half a heart and you wear the other half. 

She talked for a while about which of her girlfriends she should give the other half to. We discussed what it means to be a best friend and how she thought she could tell who her closest friend was. She was quiet for a while, thinking, and then she turned to me and said, "I'm going to give it to my brother. He really is my best friend".

I wish I could say that's what I expected from her. I actually was really moved by her gesture and when he agreed to wear it to school the next day I almost cried. From the day my children were born there is almost nothing I have worked harder at than creating an environment in which the two of them could grow up to be friends.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Sibling Conflicts: Guest Post Solutions From Becky Eanes

Becky Eanes' wonderful blog page.
Definitely worth checking out.
Somewhere along my parenting journey I found a wonderful blog called Positive Parenting which was so full of great, straightforward advice that it caught my attention and I stayed and read article after article and followed post after post on her extremely popular Facebook page. I've learned a lot from Becky Eanes, the author of that blog. 

One of the things I love about Becky is that she doesn't hold herself up to be more of an expert than you or I. But she reads and researches a ton and is passionate about positive parenting. She's terrifically smart and writes blog posts that offer great insight into many of our most difficult child raising issues. I was very excited that she agreed to take part in this guest post series and answer another reader question about sibling conflicts. 

Friday, June 1, 2012

Sibling Conflicts: Guest Post Solutions From Lisa Sunbury

After my teleseminar on improving sibling relationships the other week, I got quite a lot of emails from parents who wanted to dig deeper into their children's behaviors. I thought it would be interesting and helpful to ask some of my favorite bloggers and parenting experts to offer their thoughts on a few of the questions that seemed to have some universal themes. My hope is that by answering publicly, that we can not only offer some helpful advice, but also show that those of us working through sibling conflict aren't alone in our struggle.

Lisa Sunbury, a generous and insightful parenting expert.
The first question is being answered by Lisa Sunbury who has more than 20 years of experience teaching and caring for young children. She holds a masters degree in Early Childhood Education, was trained as a RIE associate by the founder of RIE, Magda Gerber, has worked for many years both as a nanny and an infant/toddler teacher and now also teaches RIE parent/infant education classes in Northern California where she lives. Additionally, Lisa writes the thoughtful and inspiring blog, Regarding Baby, through which she and I first got to know each other. I was thrilled when she agreed to answer the first reader question.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Bear With Me

Yes, bloggers do tend to over share.
I've fallen behind on so many things lately. Not the least of which is this blog. I have a number of posts I have promised to write, intended to write, want to write...and my life just keeps getting in my way. Not in a bad way, just that I've been rather overwhelmed.

Uncharacteristically, I'm not quite ready to share every detail of what's made it so hard for me to write lately, but one of the things that's been added to my plate in the last week is that I've learned that my children both have some major food sensitivities which means we need to do an overhaul of the way we eat around here.

This shouldn't necessarily throw me for a loop, but given that I am perhaps one of the worst cooks out there, I am having to start from scratch. My children, understandably, aren't completely happy with the idea so it's been stressful trying to help them understand why we have to try this. Add on to all of that my penchant for obsessively researching information which has meant that for the last 5 days I have been buried in articles about living free of gluten, cow's milk, eggs and soy. I've been a little preoccupied.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Help For Sibling Rivalry: Teleseminar Replay 3 Days Only!

Even though it's "normal" for siblings to fight,
it's so important to get to the root causes of it.
Last night I had the great honor of conducting a teleseminar with Patty Wipfler of Hand in Hand Parenting on ways to help improve sibling relationships. For some reason I was nervous about doing this seminar and kept procrastinating about posting about it here. So I apologize if you didn't know about it and missed listening in. But never fear, you can still hear everything we spoke about!

I wrote recently about Patty's new online course "No More Hitting" and really am a huge fan of the work she and her team do. In many ways, her approach is very unique and really powerful. I'm hoping that through these seminars she's been holding with educators like Janet Lansbury and Laurence Cohen (author of Playful Parenting), the techniques she teaches will reach more and more parents and become less unique and much more commonplace!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Want To Know What It's Really Like Raising Twins? Book Review And Give Away!

Jane Roper's memoir is a great read for any
parent or parent-to-be of twins!
When I first found out I was pregnant with twins, one of the first thing I did was to find books to help me prepare for the road ahead. Since I didn't yet have any friends with twins and didn't yet know about joining a multiples club, books were my first resource. 

While there are a ton of books on being pregnant with twins or taking care of newborn twins, there are few and far between that I know of that tackle life as a mom of twins over the span of years. And even fewer that are real, honest and make you feel as if a friend was letting you in on her personal story. That is, until Jane Roper wrote her book Double Time: How I Survived---and Mostly Thrived---Through the First Three Years of Mothering Twins

I "met" Jane on Twitter about a year ago and soon became a fan of the smart, funny, self-effacing style of her Babble blog, Baby Squared. I was very excited when Jane told me she had just written a memoir and asked if I would read it.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Help For Hitting And Aggressive Behavior.

Patty Wipfler, creator of Hand In Hand Parenting
Among the handful of blogs and websites I turn to over and over to find advice and support, is Hand in Hand Parenting. Patty Wipfler, who founded this organization more than 20 years ago, has been teaching and supporting parents since the early 70's.  

From sibling rivalry to agressive behavior to common childhood issues like whining, transitions or separation anxiety, the advice and insight offered by Patty and her team always leave me feeling as if I better understand what is motivating my children's behavior and what response from me will work best.

I was very excited when Hand in Hand Parenting contacted me a few weeks ago to review their new online course, "No More Hitting!".

Friday, April 20, 2012

5 Ways To Regain Your Calm, Cool, Connection.

There's nothing that eats away at me more than
guilt over not parenting the way I want to.
If there's anything I know about, it's losing it with my kids and feeling awfully guilty about it 2 seconds later. I've written about it a few times on this blog and probably have many more scenarios I could share, but I will spare you. 

What makes it worse for me is that I really do know better! I have many great tools and yet I still fall back on this old, useless tool of yelling, throwing a grown-up tantrum and making pointless threats.

Why? Because I'm not taking care of myself. Because I'm not always practicing being mindful. Because I have set it up in my mind that a particular moment is going to be hard...and then that moment lives up to those expectations. Because I have expectations that the day will be wonderful and when it's not, I am disappointed. Because I have unresolved triggers from childhood, my first marriage, or just life in general. Oh, yes, in any given moment there are myriad reasons why I (or you) may not be parenting the way we want to be in any given moment. 

But even if we behave awfully, or just lose it for a moment, we can't wallow in those feelings. We need to make repairs and reset the course of the day. We need to get back to the real us and the real connection with our children. But how?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Your Children Will Follow Your Example More Than Your Words

If you feel its OK to berate your child in public, I wonder
how much worse it must be for that child in private.

We spent the day yesterday with our kids at an all day event at one of the local Science Centers. There were bubbles, there were giant bouncy slides, there were robotic experiments...and there was a dad in line behind us who berated, bullied and shamed his son for a solid 45 minutes.

Every time the boy, who was perhaps 8, moved more than a foot away from where the father felt he should be, orders were barked. Don't touch that! Don't go there! Stand here! Stop doing that! You never listen! 

Father's face inches away from son's, father's teeth bared and clenched, angry words spit out. The boy finally couldn't hold it together anymore and weeping, went to hide behind a box nearby. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Love Me When I Least Deserve It.

I saw this proverb recently and have been thinking about it a lot. I have been trying to keep it in mind when my children are at their worst. It makes sense, doesn't it? I mean, if you apply it to yourself and think about when you are miserable, grouchy, short tempered...aren't you really in need of someone to understand you?

Isn't what you want most that someone will just take you in their arms and hold you? And don't you think that the simple gesture of showing love toward someone when they, themselves, must feel unloveable is all it might take to make things right?

It's hard though, isn't it? My kids were bananas after bath time last night: screaming, running through the house, hitting each other, not listening to a word I was saying. I was beyond frustrated. When they finally fell asleep I sat down to work and saw this proverb again. I sat, staring at it, and remembered something I read earlier in the day. I had begun a new book a few days ago by Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn called Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting and underlined a passage yesterday afternoon:
"The more we are able to keep in mind the intrinsic wholeness and beauty of our children, especially when it is difficult for us to see, the more our ability to be mindful deepens. In seeing more clearly, we can respond to them more effectively and with greater generosity of heart, and parent with greater wisdom."
Once again, I am reminded that mindfulness and attunement is what I need most in parenting. And as I sit here thinking about the evening that didn't go even close to the way I would have liked it to go, and feeling guilty about my short temper, I think that I need to give my unloveable self some understanding. We are all trying our best. And that goes for our kids as well. As the Kabat-Zinns say:
"[Children] see us up close as no one else does, and constantly hold mirrors up for us to look into. In doing so, they give us over and over again the chance to see ourselves in new ways, and to work at consciously asking what we can learn from any and every situation that comes up with them." 
Today is another chance to do it better. 

Thanks for reading!
-Gina
The Twin Coach

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Guest Posts And Some Good News

I know I'm posting a little more often than usual this week. This is just a quick note to tell you a few bits of news!

Allow me a moment of feeling proud...
I'm honored to share the news that Red Tricycle has named The Twin Coach as one of the Best Los Angeles Blogs. Here's what they had to say: 
"This a woman you want by your side. Having experienced divorce, infertility, career change, anxiety and more, Gina Osher is a woman who can relate. Her optimism, knowledge and hard-won joy bring inspiration with every article."
If you live on the Western coast of the US do check out Red Tricycle as they always have great postings for everything family related. And this particular post of the best Los Angeles blogs has some other great blogs that you might like...no matter where you live!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Creating A Tidal Wave Of Change. Are You With Me?

"There is no single effort more radical in its potential for saving the world than a transformation of the way we raise our children."
~ Marianne Williamson
"One generation full of deeply loving parents would change the brain of the next generation, and with that, the world." ~ Dr. Charles Raison
To write, or not to write? That is
sometimes the question.  
There are times when I ask myself why I put so much time and effort into this blog and all that goes along with writing it. This happens occasionally on days when I feel particularly overwhelmed with juggling everything in my life. It definitely happens on days when people who come across what I write send me comments that are so full of vitriol and judgment that I question, just for a moment, my purpose and beliefs. 

I am generally a rather private person and am not inclined to enjoy being the center of attention. Nor do I tend to be confrontational about things. And I don't have the thick skin required for being judged harshly. And yet I continue, day after day, to expose myself and push myself to share what is generally a very intimate thing: my struggle to change bad habits, my missteps, my fears, insecurities and self doubts and ultimately, my attempts to overcome it all.

And for what purpose?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Weekend Reading: March 16, 2012

Thank you for being a part of my village.
It's been some time since I rounded up a collection of my favorite posts of the week from around the internet and blogosphere. I had intended to do it weekly, but...sometimes life just gets in the way of my plans!

Lately I've been considering the concept of "it takes a village to raise a child". Of course I understand the original intention of that phrase and even the more modern interpretation of extended family and community helping us bring up our children. I hadn't, until recently, considered the idea that my "village" had become, in large part, the positive parenting community I have become a part of. This virtual village of bloggers, educators, caregivers and parents give so much support and guidance, have so much parenting wisdom and share so much knowledge that I am incredibly grateful to have found them. I know my relationship with my children has benefitted so greatly because of the people around me.

I hope you have a few moments this weekend to slow down and savor some of this really good stuff from members of my village. Some of it is straightforward "how to" stuff, some of it is to just make you think. Either way, I hope you enjoy it (click on the titles to read the the full post).

Monday, March 12, 2012

We're Learning The 3 R's. But Not The Ones You Might Expect.

There are an infinite number of things this child can
be learning by playing this simple game.
Our children have had the good fortune to have been enrolled at The Sunshine Shack, a Reggio inspired preschool, for the past 2 1/2 years. The philosophy of the school's director, and the talents of the teachers, have allowed the natural curiosity of all of the children to be constantly encouraged. Each child's interests and inquisitiveness has been expanded upon, used to form lesson plans and resulted in learning experiences for the entire classroom. One of the greatest gifts our children have received so far from school is a genuine love of learning.

I've been leading tours at our school over the last few months and there are always parents who visit who say something along the lines of "I love the idea of a play-based program, but exactly how do the children learn what they need for Kindergarten?". I think, for many, the idea that children would actually learn things like reading or writing in a way other than with the use of flash cards, memorization or structured study seems impossible. But it's not.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Parenting Experts Share Their Secrets (Don't Miss This)!

Have you ever wondered:
  • How to discipline your children without ruining their self-esteem?
  • How to deal with your picky eaters?
  • How to protect your child from being bullied at school or online?
  • How to overcome your own parenting issues so as not to raise children with hang-ups?
  • How to raise your children financially aware?
I know how hard parenting can be at times, so I'm very excited to tell you about the return of a great series called the Great Parenting Show, the #1 Online Resource for Parents. It promises to answer all of these questions and some you haven't even thought of! When this series ran last year it was AMAZING. I heard from so many of my readers that the information they learned from the featured experts changed their lives. I think this will be another don't miss series. 

This breakthrough 3- month series begins on Tuesday, March 13th at 10am PT, 11am MT, 12pm CT and 1pm ET so register right now to get more information: 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

No One Told Me Parenting Was Going To Be Like Therapy

Who knew trying to be a better mom would
require me to work so much on myself?
Sometimes I'm a great mom. Other times I feel like a lousy one, Having twins has been the most amazing blessing and at the same time it is the hardest, most exhausting thing I have ever done. But not in the way you might think.

Sure, there's the lack of sleep. Any parent will mention that. And yes, with twins, sleep disturbances take on new proportions. But that's a post for another time. Yes, with more than one child there's the never ending battle over sharing and everyone trying to get mom's attention. But that too, is another post.

What I have found to be the absolute most exhausting thing about having children is all of the self-examination that is required. I have done a lot of therapy over the years. I have studied various methods, I have had my own therapy sessions, I have counseled others, but I have never learned as much about myself as I have just trying to be a good mother. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Positive Parents And A Giveaway!

We all want a happier, more connected
relationship with our kids. 
When I first became a mother I began reading a number of blogs and parenting pages that have guided and inspired me so much both as a parent and as a blogger myself. One of these blogs is Rebecca Eanes' Positive Parents. I always learn something from her perspective on parenting and share many of her posts on my Twin Coach Facebook page

Rebecca writes wonderfully about how to create connected, positive relationships with our children. She never comes across as being "better than" her readers and is always wise and thoughtful in her approach to some of our most challenging parenting moments. The manner in which she delivers this information is so relatable that even someone who isn't familiar with a positive, empathetic approach can easily see how the methods she talks about can work for their family.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Triggers, Tantrums And Time Outs (Or, When Mom Is Losing It)

I'm beginning to realize that it is Mom who has the behavior problem and not my children. My children are just children. They have brains that are still developing, they are seeing and experiencing things for the first time, they have little to no practice handling frustration and disappointment. My children are guileless, curious and love unconditionally. Mom on the other hand? Mom has some issues.

Mom (and by mom, I am talking about me...not the collective "Mom", although feel free to commiserate) has a tendency towards rigid behavior, a short fuse and a need for order. Mom gets overwhelmed easily by too many things requiring her attention at once. Mom has layers of insecurities about doing things "right" and being a "good mother". Mom has lots of habits she has developed over the years that are really hard to break. But in an effort to be the type of mother I want to be and to not pass on these behavior patterns, I am working really hard to break the cycle.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

You Mean Everyone Isn't Parenting This Way?

Me and my family in our happy little bubble.
Sometimes I wonder if I parent in a bubble. My children attend a very progressive, Reggio-inspired preschool where the director and teachers show an amazing amount of respect for the children. My friends all parent their children with some version of empathetic, connected, RIE, reflective, positive parenting. Because I write this blog, I am in contact daily with amazing educators, bloggers and parents who talk about things like why television is bad for young children, or that it's possible to discipline children without shame, how there are no such thing as bad kids, and how taking care of ourselves is the key to not getting triggered by our kids.

And all of you wonderful people who read and comment on this blog or on my Facebook and Twitter pages are so inspiring. It is you who make me feel that there are so many of us who are changing the parenting paradigm, that we are raising a generation of children who will grow up with compassion, a sense of gratitude, and fully knowing they are loved for who they are, no matter what. 

And then I get a kick in the gut when something makes me realize that there is a huge percentage of the population that don't agree with these ideas that seem so irrefutable to me.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Of Love, Gratitude And Cancer

Sometimes being a parent brings challenges you would never wish to tackle, but which end up teaching you more than any book ever could. We all hope we are raising our children to be resilient and brave in the face of adversity, yet none of us hope those qualities will ever be put to the test.  

The 13-year old son of my friend and mentor, Sara Perets, was diagnosed with Stage 4 Hodgkin's Lymphoma last Summer. With her permission, I am sharing her words here. Anyone who has been through a battle with cancer, in whatever form, can relate. But even for those of us lucky enough not to have been touched so closely, Sara's message about love and gratitude is one I think we all can benefit from. 

Dearest Community,
Hold them close, life can change in an instant.
Many of you have asked, and I wanted to take this opportunity to share this letter regarding Freddie's treatment. 

Last week Freddie finished his radiation therapy. It was the last day of his 7 months of treatment. We are now in the phase of remission. It’s a funny place to be. Freddie is still a “cancer patient” but treatment has ended. We now wait and have tests in 3 months. In a strange sort of way I feel like I need a “you are cancer free” letter to put closure on this. I feel like there is so much to be processed now that this has started to come to an end and we find ourselves on a different journey, as after this experience we have forever changed as individuals, parents, and human beings and will never look at life the same way again.

What this all has taught me is about love. Love and gratitude.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Reminder For Those Who Need It

"If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. 
If you want to be happy, practice compassion".
~ Dalai Lama

Dear mama (or papa) who feels so much,

It is wonderful that you connect so deeply to your children. It is beautiful how in tune you can be and how you always strive to make sure your children feel "felt". It is amazing how you allow them to express their needs and feelings so fully and that you really, really listen. I admire you for always wanting to do better. 

And I hurt for you when you cry so bitterly and feel you have failed them. I wish I could take away the guilt and sadness you feel. You examine every word you said and worry that although you love your children completely, perhaps they don't experience it that way. You fear the future. You fear the culmination of all your wrong moves will result in your children bemoaning their childhood in the therapist's chair. You fear your children will never learn to love each other, to be kind, to be compassionate. I wish you could truly see how much you have done that is wonderful. But what you have done "wrong" clouds your vision. What you remember is your anger, your impatience, your resentment. But what you forget are all the beautiful moments that add up to happiness. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Will Our Children Succeed In Spite Of Our Education System?

Alfie Kohn. He doesn't look like he'd
be so subversive, does he?
"Few parents have the courage and independence to care more for their children's happiness than for their success." ~ Erich Fromm

“Here’s a bumper sticker I’d like to see: “We are the proud parents of a child who’s self-esteem is sufficient that he doesn’t need us promoting his minor scholastic achievements on the back of our car.” 
~ George Carlin

In the 5 or so years that I have been a parent there have been a few people I have come in contact with whose philosophy about children spoke to me so completely that I instantly felt a bond. I have been so fortunate in my time as a blogger to have found an amazing group of like-minded people whose writings and teachings continuously open my eyes to better ways of being with children. Last week I went to a lecture given by Alfie Kohn titled "Pushed Too Hard: Parenting in an Achievement Crazy Culture" which not only opened my eyes, it blew my mind.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Feeling The Pressure To Be A Good Parent?

Even though we know the perfect family is a myth,
why do we try so hard to have one?
There are so many times, as a parent, when you just feel as though you are doing everything wrong. On those days when your find yourself slamming doors in frustration or muttering under your breath while your children are yelling at each other and you feel as though you've botched yet another attempt at remaining cool, calm and connected, it's pretty easy to feel like a lousy parent. 

And there are so many ways in which we compound this feeling by comparing ourselves to other parents and feeling as though someone else is doing all the things we're not doing. The more we know about parenting and how our children develop, the more we can become painfully aware of our own shortcomings.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Discovering The Joy Of Reading (Plus A Giveaway)!

“The habit of reading is the only enjoyment in which there is no alloy; it lasts when all other pleasures fade.” 
 ~ Anthony Trollope

“The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.” 
 ~ Dr. Seuss

My fondest childhood memories revolve around the love of reading, writing and story-telling my parents shared with me. This passion for words and expression meant there were books everywhere in our house, librettos were read before going to an opera, deeply personal diaries were kept and long, detailed stories were told before bed. Now that I am a mother myself, I am doing my best to create this love of reading and story telling with my own kids.

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