Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Power That Words Have: Strengthening Your Child's Inner Voice

"There is no greater pain than feeling you are not enough. 
Your child is enough, right now, just the way he is. And so are you." 
~ Vimala McClure, The Tao of Motherhood

What if we were truly mindful of the words we say
to ourselves and others?
Years ago, in a class I was taking, the subject of weakness came up. We were asked to stand in front of another person and hold our dominant arm out to the side of our body, parallel with the floor. 

Holding it firm, the other person would push down on it and see if they could make the arm drop. We were all able to hold our arms strong against the physical pressure. 

Then we were asked to think about what makes us feel weak. 

In recent years we have become familiar with the new view on the childhood rhyme "sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me". We know that words can hurt. Words sting. Words have power. Words even kill. But what many don't acknowledge or realize is that it's the words we say to ourselves, that hold the most power. 

Eleanor Roosevelt famously said, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent". Words themselves do not hold power. But when we believe those words, when we repeat them over and over, when we pass them on to others, words can have a devastating effect.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Birth Trauma May Be Subtle, But Addressing It Can Be Powerful

Our girl - two days old.
So much I didn't know back then.   
Without having given it all that much thought, when I heard the term "birth trauma" I had always assumed it always meant something such as when birth had to be induced prematurely because of an umbilical cord wrapped around the baby's neck, or  where the baby struggled to get through the birth canal but then had to be pulled back up for a c-section. To me, I pictured birth trauma as...well...really traumatic. What I hadn't fully considered, until recently, is how traumatic birth can be for some babies, even without additional complications.  

Given that I was carrying twins, I would say that their birth was essentially uneventful except that our daughter was born an hour and 10 minutes after our son. Most people react to this with the realization that 1) I didn't have a c-section with twins and 2) that I had to wait an hour and 10 minutes to push out the second baby. There was nothing wrong, the doctor had said to us, the second baby just wasn't ready to move down yet. So we waited. I think I passed out because I don't really remember that hour. I have always told this story with the punchline being that once our son came out, our daughter realized how much room there was and didn't want to leave. "She was doing things in her own way, on her own schedule...just like always" I would say, laughing. 

But, maybe I had that wrong.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Control Your Child! Mindful Parenting and Respectful Language

"From the moment I could talk I was ordered to listen."
~ Cat Stevens

Is your child giving you a hard time, or is he having a hard time?
The difference can be a crucial one. 
Those of us who practice respectful parenting will, on occasion, get told that our children are misbehaving or being rude because we're not strict enough. We may even get scolded and told to control our children. This sort of thing happens most often when your child is behaving in a way some other adult deems inappropriate. 

A child who is labeled by others as being "out of control" can cause a range of emotions for his parents including embarrassment, anger, shame, defensiveness, aggressiveness, even self righteousness. In our efforts to handle our confused emotions we aren't always our best selves.

Perhaps you would never tell another parent to control their children. But I wonder - if we were all to be very honest - how many of us have moments when we are actually trying to control our own children. 

Don't do that. 
Don't touch that. 
Stop singing so loudly. 
Sit still until we've all finished our meal! 
If you don't stop bothering your sister you won't get to go to the park later!
Give Henry that toy, he's been waiting a long time. 

And even though we may use different words, what we're conveying is, "Control yourself! Or, if you can't, I will do it for you!" There's a difference, of course, between controlling a child and setting firm boundaries for him or her - but many adults who practice a more old-school way of parenting don't always see this. Instead of offering their understanding when a child is having a hard time, they can opt, instead, for loudly admonishing the offending parent to make sure their children behave more appropriately. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Can You Accept Your Children For Who They Are?

Andrew Solomon's fascinating book
My summer turned out to be more intense than I expected and what was supposed to be a short break from writing turned into a 3 month hiatus. My apologies to those of you who have been wondering where I have been. And for those who didn't miss me, well, here I am anyway! 

One bit of writing I managed to do was to interview the multi award-winning author, Andrew Solomon, who wrote an amazing book called "Far From The Tree: Parents, Children and The Search for Identity" for an article on The Mother Company's website about accepting your children for who they are. His answers were extremely insightful and compassionate. I'm very excited to share the beginning of the article here (click over to The Mother Company to read the full piece and if you like it, please share it)! 


An interview with Andrew Solomon

Accepting your children for who they are can be difficult. In some cases, parents live vicariously through their children’s successes. Others have a vision for the life their child will lead and struggle when s/he can’t or won’t fulfill that fantasy. My own parents weren’t thrilled with my initial desire to become a fashion designer. Instead, their dream was for me to use my talents to be a “real” artist. This difficulty in understanding and accepting me was a painful one and ultimately caused a rift, taking some time to repair. Understanding and accepting who your children are, as opposed to who you want them to be is fundamental to being a connected parent. I asked Andrew Solomon, award-winning author of Far From The Tree: Parents, Children and The Search for Identity to share his thoughts on this subject.  

How can parents come to terms with the fact that the vision they have for their children does not match how the children are turning out?
"We must love them for themselves, not for
the best of ourselves in them."
- Andrew Solomon

All parenting involves striking a balance between changing your child and accepting your child. Those are two disparate objectives. We change our children in a thousand ways: we educate them; we teach them manners and character; we vaccinate them; we toilet train them and show them how to brush their teeth. We also need to recognize the qualities in them that are immutable: their basic personality and character, their sexuality, their intelligence. Parents are constantly in what I’ve called the Serenity Prayer bind, trying to figure out what aspects of their child to change and what aspects to accept, because it is often impossible to tell the difference. Parents should understand, however, that they need to achieve love and recognition, and that while love comes, ideally, at birth, recognition takes time. Parents whose children are different from them must consider the child’s interests ahead of their own, and do what they can to ensure that their child has a worthy, joyful, impassioned life, even if that life veers away from the parents’ ideals.

Some parents seem to experience their child’s difference as a narcissistic injury—they see it as changing who they, the parents, are. They don’t see it as the child’s experience separate from them. Of course, our identity is dramatically shifted by our children, so there is a level at which it’s true that children are altering our selves, but we need to avoid seeing the change as primarily a change in us, and to see it, instead, as an essential matter for our children.

What are the best ways for parents to connect with their children when their temperament is markedly different from their own?

The first step for such parents is self-education. Parents should learn about the issue involved. If the child has a dramatic difference or a disability, there is much to be learned from both online resources and print ones. It’s often useful to find parent groups dealing with the same challenge; the company of others helps to clarify the situation, and the stories people tell about bridging the gap can be transformative. The most important thing, however, is to assure this different child that he or she is deeply beloved, to describe and acknowledge the variation in temperament, and to make the child a partner in finding a language in which to understand such difference.

What questions should parents ask themselves to know whether they are truly accepting of their child just as he or she is?

I think of the father of a transgender daughter who was in a counseling session. The therapist asked, “Does it make your child happy for you to persist in calling her he?” The father said it did not. The therapist asked, “Would it make your child happy if you called her she?” The father said it would. The therapist said, “What is it that’s more important to you than your child’s happiness?” I think parents have to ask themselves all the time what their child’s interests are and how they as parents can serve those interests. They have to think constantly of how their ego needs differ from their child’s, and to look at whether their behavior will result in their child’s optimal outcome.

- To read the full interview please click here to go to The Mother Company and feel free to leave a comment!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

When Sibling Rivalry Turns To Sibling Bullying

"Historically [sibling bullying] has been accepted as something that's 
normal, as something that's benign. Oftentimes it's just dismissed. 
Some people actually view it as a good thing, thinking it teaches 
kids how to fight and develop conflict resolution skills."
~ Corrina Jenkins Tucker
Sibling bullying can be as detrimental as peer bullying,
a new research study claims. (photo credit)
This Huffington Post article about sibling aggression started making the rounds Monday on the web. Over the years, much has been written about the ways siblings relate to each other. Usually it has to do with the type of squabbles that people refer to as "common" among siblings: jealousy, difficulty sharing, taking each other's possessions and the like. But this article references a recent study that took a look at how sibling aggression affected children's mental health.
"'This study is the first to unequivocally show that sibling aggression is connected to mental health problems among youth,'Swearer said. 'In order to effectively treat mental health problems in youth, parents and mental health providers must recognize and understand the role that sibling aggression plays.'"
The study, at times, references this behavior as "sibling bullying". Although bullying, as a whole, has been looked at in great detail, this aspect of it is an entirely new one for researchers to focus on. For those of us with more than one child, it may also feel like an entirely new thing to be concerned about. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Twin Source - An Interview With The Twin Coach

Family portrait...well, me and the kids at least.
There are very few twin-specific websites I actually like (which is part of the reason I initially started this blog). But one exception to that sentiment is the website The Twin Source:
"We are five mothers who are all very different, with one thing (well, technically two things) in common: We are mothers of twins. 
We have come together to share our personal and unique stories about twin parenthood. Each of our stories is very different. Some of us could have breast-fed forever (Lauren), while others struggled desperately for a few short weeks (Carrie). Some of us went back to our careers straight away (Ashley), while others stayed at home for a little while (Maritza). Some of us hired a nanny (Carrie), while others hosted an au pair (Mari).
We acknowledge and embrace our differences, but we also find commonality and support in the fact that we are each one-of-a-kind twin moms doing the best we can every day."
I have always found my local multiples club to be one of the best sources of advice and support - especially when my kids were really young. The parents there, for the most part, only have the fact that we're all parenting multiples in common. Yet there is an instant bond and sense of shared experience that makes them somehow feel like trusted friends. The Twin Source is a lot like that.

So, when one of the founders, Carrie Carroll, asked to interview me, how could I say no? 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

5 Ways Sportscasting Helps When Parenting Gets Tough

This is not a state we want to get to when
we're with our children.
One of the hardest aspects of parenting for me is remaining in a calm and patient frame of mind so that I can model that way of behavior for my children. I know that being mindful in my parenting is key, as is learning how to take a mommy time out. But a third component is helping our children understand that parents have emotions, parents aren't perfect and that everything is going to be alright even if mom or dad is upset.

Beware of him that is slow to anger; for when it is long coming, it is the stronger when it comes, and the longer kept. 
Abused patience turns to fury.
Francis Quarles

My father is, perhaps, one of the most patient men I have ever met. And he's also one of the most sensitive. When I was younger he would experience things I did as hurtful or insulting, but would keep it to himself. Then, after a seemingly insignificant last straw would occur, he would explode. As a child, there was nothing quite so confusing as this. I was unable to connect his anger to a cause that made sense and the intensity of his anger seemed so disproportionate to the offense. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Self-Image: Teaching Our Children To Question The Stereotypes

Is it possible to steer your child clear of self-image
issues when you are still working through your own?
I believe I may remember every unkind word ever directed at me. Funny, isn't it, how easy it is to believe the mean or thoughtless things people say about you? 

I remember a well-intentioned great aunt telling me I could "stop traffic" if I would just lose some weight. I remember that moment so well that I can still picture the corner we were standing on, the feeling in my stomach, even the brown, Frye boots I was wearing. 

As a child, women all around me struggled with their own body image issues and no one ever talked about it except to talk about dieting. I grew up internalizing that how I looked was not okay. Now I look at my 6-year old daughter, whose body is like mine in many ways, and wonder how self-image will unfold for her. 

Society is different in many ways than it was when I was her age, but does that mean things for girls are easier these days? Or has raising a daughter who feels comfortable in her own skin gotten even harder than it was just a generation ago? And how can we teach our boys to treat girls with respect if all they are shown is that a girl's main value is her looks? And what about our boys? Can they show emotions, be sweet and sincere or do they risk being dropped from the inner circle of cool?

Our culture generally accepts a particular standard of beauty and a narrow definition of masculinity without question, and it is passed on from generation to generation. Media perpetuates it, and these stereotypes are subtly (or not so subtly) shown to our children in every way from the movies they watch to the magazines that lie on our coffee tables. 

How can we raise our boys and girls to feel connected to their inner worth when all around them they are told that it is what is on the outside that matters? How can we teach them to be sincere and be themselves when they are bombarded with  messages that being who they are isn't necessarily enough?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Ultimate Parenting Resource: Kids In The House

I am very excited to announce the launch of a new parenting website that I think is going to make a huge change in the parenting landscape. Kids In The House calls themselves "The Ultimate Parenting Resource" and you know what? I actually think they may be right. 

For the past three years the site's creator, Leana Greene, and her team (which I was honored to be a part of) has worked tirelessly to put together over 8000  1-minute videos of just about every expert you can think of, discussing just about every parenting topic you can imagine.

So many of my favorites have been interviewed for this site. Imagine having the chance (for FREE) to hear answers to questions from people such as:

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Feeling Your Feelings:
Bringing Mindfulness To Everyday Parenting

"The only feelings you really need to fear are those you ignore." 
~ Marianne Williamson

For many years, my New Year's resolution was simply "to have more patience". In my journey toward learning to be the mother I wanted to be, I felt that this was an area in which I was sorely lacking. I lost my temper too often. I yelled. I rushed through things. I got annoyed when my kids (or my husband) just didn't "get it". I was, I was certain, very impatient.

And I suppose I can be impatient. And I suppose I've improved in that area. But along the way, I realized that in my attempt to have more patience when things were frustrating or triggering me, I was, in fact, also creating more stress for myself. Could it be that I was actually being too patient?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Two Thousand Kisses a Day: A Review

Before I became a parent I will admit I knew less than nothing about parenting. I had no "philosophy" about how I would parent other than some vague notion that I would, of course, love my children and teach them "everything I knew". 

Under the best circumstances, this really could be enough. But for most people, myself included, when parenting starts to get a little harder we either fall back on how our parents parented (which sometimes left something to be desired) or fumble our way through trying various inconsistent methods in the futile hope that one of them will be a magic bullet and suddenly being a mom will be what we thought it was going to be like!

I do wish that in the early days I had some sort of guide book that focused on what I now have come to call connected parenting. It would have given me comfort to know that certain things I did, instinctively, were creating a better relationship with my kids. And it would have provided suggestions which resonated with me when I had difficulties. 

L.R. Knost of Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources has written such a guide. Her new book Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages (A Little Hearts Handbook) reads like gentle suggestions from a good friend. The author is an independent child development researcher and mom of six (6!) children ranging in age from toddlerhood to young adult. Because of this, Two Thousand Kisses a Day doesn't just stop after the first 5 years, as so many other parenting books do, but continues on to give advice for raising great kids all the way middle school, teen years and adulthood. 

In the introduction, the author makes the point that connecting with our children is "...about maintaining and enriching a strong parent/child relationship through all of the ages and stages of childhood so that, through a foundation of trust and mutual respect, parenting takes the form of guiding instead of punishing, encouraging natural growth instead of forcing premature independence, and creating a strong, intimate, interwoven family fabric that will stand the test of time."

Although Two Thousand Kisses a Day covers a broad ranges of ages and stages, the chapters are short and easy to read. The author provides understandable scenarios to illustrate her points and often gives easy to follow suggestions for every-day difficulties, such as doing chores in the house or feeding a picky eater, from a gentle parenting point of view. 

For those of us who give a lot of thought to how we are parenting, it is very easy to blame ourselves every time our children have difficulties. I love that the author devotes a chapter to parenting guilt and reminds her readers that "...when our efforts don't produce an endlessly-happy, always-confident, perfectly-reasonable child, we can make the mistake of feeling like a failure as a parent instead of simply acknowledging that we are the parent of a human being with all of the normal quirks and foibles inherent in human nature."

What L. R. Knost leaves us with in Two Thousand Kisses a Day is encouragement and simple ways to make an enormous difference in our children's lives. She reminds us that it is never too late to start having a connected relationship with our children and, from my favorite chapter in the book, that "it's important to be in our children's lives but also to be intentional about making our time together count in the small ways that really matter to children."

Ultimately, that's what Two Thousand Kisses a Day is really about: finding as many ways to continue to be as connected to our growing children, as you did when they were infants and you kissed, cuddled and told them you loved them every chance you got.


This post is part of the Virtual Book Tour for the launch of L.R.Knost’s Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages. Click here if you’d like to check out all of the other stops on the tour! 

Readers of The Twin Coach are invited to take advantage of a special offer from L.R. Knost: 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

A Brother's Love

Brothers Arm in Arm — Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis
To the big brother who made me cry this afternoon,

I watched your mama come to the restaurant with you and your little brother. He, not more than 3. You, only a couple of years older. Both of you in matching navy blue with closely cropped hair and big, soulful brown eyes. 

I watched as she jerked your brother up two stairs when he wouldn't walk. He began to cry. She walked ahead of him and still he cried. Frustrated, she raised her voice,

"I won't carry you! You want a time out?" 
More cries. Not any louder, just more pitiful.
"You don't need to be carried! You're too old for that. You gonna get a time out!"

She pulled him by the arm, still crying, and plopped him down in the corner on the steps just outside the restaurant and went back inside. All alone, clutching a little stuffed toy, tears staining his smooth, brown cheeks... 

He looked so small. 

So many thoughts raced through my head as I tried to catch his eyes to send him the love he needed. But just then, you came out and sat by his side. You, big brother, you couldn't have been more than 6 yourself. You sat next to him, reached your hand out to touch his shoulder, gently. 

He looked up at you as you dried his tears with your sweet hand and spoke softly to him. 

His crying stopped. Hand in hand you walked back in to the restaurant together. You were exactly what he needed. 6 years old and somehow you knew just what to do.   

I put my face in my hands and cried.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Twins And Birthday Parties. To Share Or Not To Share?

Contrary to what you may think, time apart
actually builds the sibling bond.

“To be loved equally is somehow to be loved less. To be loved uniquely – for one’s own special self – is to be loved as much as we need to be loved” ~ Siblings Without Rivalry

I think one of the lessons that has made the greatest impact on my parenting is one I learned from Dr. Joan Friedman who taught me the importance of seeing my children as individuals. Perhaps that seems like a no brainer to those of you with children of different ages, but for many with twins there is often a societal expectation that twins love being together all the time and prefer to do things together. Then, because it's simpler for parents, twins end up sharing just about everything from rooms to after school activities. 

Over the years I have done a lot to help my children feel that they are known for their own individual selves, not just as part of a set. Although we place a good deal of importance on time spent together as a family, we also make it a priority to make it possible for them to have time without each other. 

I know this isn't a simple task for everyone and we have chosen to make sacrifies in certain areas so that we are able to make this a priority in our family. But nurturing your children's individuality doesn't have to be complicated or involve a slew of extra help. Of all of the things we do to focus on their uniqueness and encourage their sense of self, what has seemed to make the greatest impact on them was having separate birthday parties.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Parenting Children With Explosive Temperaments: An Interview With Dr. Ross Greene

As you all know I have reached a new level of understanding about our daughter's challenging behavior, in part due to discovering Dr. Ross Greene's book, The Explosive Child. I was thrilled to have the chance to interview him for my latest contribution to The Mother Company.

An Interview with Ross W. Greene, Ph. D.

Perhaps one of the most difficult parts of raising twins so far has been learning how to parent children of the same age with two drastically different temperaments. Our daughter is one of those kids who has been described as willful, bossy, rigid, oppositional, and more. For parents with children like this, the sense of overwhelm can be incapacitating and the comments from outsiders that you must not be disciplining your child enough can be disheartening. I was honored to recently have a chance to interview Ross Greene, Ph. D., Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and author of The Explosive Child. I asked him to shed some light on how to understand and parent a child with such challenging behavior. 

What are the differences between explosive anger and a more common kind of anger in young children?

On a technical level, the differences involve frequency, severity, intensity and duration. These are typically the hallmarks that make something diagnosable as opposed to something more typical. However, this is not the most important question for people who are concerned about their children’s behavior. The truth is, what is concerning to one parent may not be as concerning to another. Some people have a higher tolerance to certain behaviors and may respond less reactively, thus adding less fuel to the fire. What needs to be asked is, “is my child’s behavior negatively impacting him or her and our family?”

To read the full interview, please click here to visit The Mother Company. And if you like the post, I would greatly appreciate shares on Facebook, Twitter and wherever else you may frequent!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Connection, Empathy And Respect. Parenting The "Challenging" Child

Sometimes you need to adjust your methods
when dealing with two very different temperaments.
There are many strategies recommended by "experts", pediatricians, family and friends for shaping children's behaviors. We have all been told to try reasoning, redirecting, reassuring, maybe even ignoring, rewarding or punishing. Some of these methods work some of the time. Others work as long as the threat (or promised reward) is present. 

Along the way I fortunately found mentors and friends who taught me that empathy, respect and connection were the keys to peace and happiness in my home. But as my children neared the end of preschool, I realized it wasn't working as well with our daughter as it was with our son. 

My husband, frustrated by our daughter's hour-long tantrums over seemingly insignificant disappointments, her increasingly aggressive behavior toward me when she was raging, her extreme anxiety over separating from me, and what he saw as rude and obstinate behavior, began to worry that "this empathy thing" wasn't working.

In my heart, I knew his sense that what she might need was for us to be more firm, to put our foot down, just wasn't right. He didn't insist on it, but her challenging behavior was getting worse and was taking all of our time and energy. 

I knew what she needed was compassion, but I also knew things couldn't go on like this. So much of what worked with our son, or with my clients' children, wasn't working with her. I started doubting myself and doubting the way I had been parenting.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Why We Shout In Anger: How Connection Leads To Cooperation

" The level of cooperation parents get from their kids is usually equal to 
the level of connection children feel with their parents." ~ Pam Leo

For a number of years now I have been parenting with this quote from Pam Leo in mind. Not always consciously, but always in my heart I knew this sentiment to be true. Children "act out" when they sense disconnection. They "misbehave" in a misguided effort to get needs met and return to connection. The angrier parents get and the more punitive we become, the more we can expect children to continue to give us more of the same misbehavior and acting out.

I have been thinking about this a lot lately (generally because keeping connection despite my daughter's challenging behavior can be difficult) and have been trying to write a post about it when my friend, Julie, sent me this beautiful story that clarified everything I have been trying to say:
Why We Shout In Anger 
A Hindu saint who was visiting the river Ganges to take bath, found a group of family members on the banks, shouting in anger at each other. He turned to his disciples, smiled, and asked: 
"Why do people shout in anger shout at each other?" 
The disciples thought for a while. One of them said, "Because we lose our calm, we shout." 
"But, why should you shout when the other person is just next to you? You can just as well tell him what you have to say in a soft manner" answered the saint. 
The disciple gave some other answers but none satisfied the other disciples. 
Finally the saint explained. 
"When two people are angry at each other, their hearts distance a lot. To cover that distance they must shout to be able to hear each other. The angrier they are, the stronger they will have to shout to hear each other to cover that great distance. 
But what happens when two people fall in love? They don't shout at each other but talk softly, Because their hearts are very close. The distance between them is either nonexistent or very small." 
The saint continued, "When they love each other even more, what happens? They do not speak, only whisper and they get even closer to each other in their love. Finally they even need not whisper, they only look at each other and that is all. That is how close two people are when they love each other." 
He looked at his disciples and said, "So when you argue do not let your hearts get distant. Do not say words that distance each other more, or else there will come a day when the distance is so great that you will not find the path to return."
I sat with this story for a little while, remembering a lesson I had learned somewhere along the way: all behavior is an attempt to get a need met. Thus, children do not misbehave, but they may not have the skills to get what they need in a way that makes things easy for adults. 
Mischievous? Yes, sometimes.
But not manipulative.
"Don’t interpret that children are trying to do something to you — they are only trying to do something for themselves. And this does not make them bad children or misbehaving children. But it may cause a problem" ~ Thomas Gordon
I notice that when I let go of the idea that my children are being manipulative, willful or obstinate and instead remember that they would cooperate if they could, our connection to each other returns. Once the connection is there, their challenging behavior diminishes and often I am aware that I had been trying to defend my position of authority instead of relating to them during a particularly challenging moment.

Once I am treating my kids as if they are trying to get needs met and may not know how to do it appropriately, I am less likely to be triggered by their behavior (thus, less likely to blow my top) and am more likely to have the presence of mind to be empathetic and offer help. 

I think, as parents, we often feel helpless and frustrated when our children don't do what we want them to do. Perhaps we forget, in those moments, that our children are fully formed human beings who don't yet have the skills to explain their behaviors. Instead, they do things like whine, cry, bite, pout, hit and any other number of behaviors to express themselves. 

In those moments it's so easy to let our hearts get distant. But, as Maya Angelou said, "When you know better, you do better". I don't beat myself up for what I didn't know to do before, but now that I know better, it keeps me honest and on the right track as I continue growing as a mother. 

No more distant hearts in our family. No more shouting in anger. 
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