Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Unconditional Parenting

I just finished reading Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn and would like to share a bit about it with you!  

This book challenges the traditional methods of punishment and strives to show that there is a better way to relate with children and babies.  

The premise is that children NEED unconditional love.  
Coercion and punitive punishments chip away at the love a child feels.  

Spanking, time-out, and positive reinforcement are all considered to be on the same end of the spectrum while love, support, and respect are on the other end.  

Spanking is violent, painful, and aggressive.  It does nothing but teach a child to fear consequences.  A child no longer cares about WHY he acted the way he did, but now only cares that he is about to be punished.  

Time-out has a similar effect.  Time-out just doesn't seem to work, from what I have seen.  Children under  about age 7 just do not have the ability to put all of the pieces together from behavior, how it effects others, to punishment.  There is a serious disconnect between the action and the punishment.  

Positive reinforcement has been shown in several studies to take the joy out of playing.  One example in the book was when a child is putting a puzzle together and receives positive reinforcement, they tend to stop playing with the puzzle when 'time is up' where as, children who were not told 'good job', etc. would continue to play when the 'experiment' was over.  The same reaction was found in older children when they were being graded on an assignment vs. doing the assignment without mention of grades.  

What kind of child do you want to raise?  
A free-thinking, moral, respectful, creative, empathetic individual?  
How do your actions RIGHT NOW foster these values?

The whole idea is that rather than focusing on 'doing to' the child, we would be better off 'working with' the child.  

Rather than spanking or time-out for pinching their friend or stealing a toy, perhaps it would be more beneficial to explain how their actions effected their friend and ask them what they could do differently in the future.  

Creating a sense of morality and empathy is so important and can easily be frozen out by raising a child who is to focused on 'what will happen to me if I...(break a rule, hurt my friend, talk back, etc.)'.  

On the subject of positive reinforcement, it does seem silly to never praise a child.  However, is it really that difficult of a shift to go from saying "good job!" to saying "you got the spoon into your mouth all by your self!"? The subtle switch is in showing the child that you are aware of their accomplishments without framing them as being 'good' or 'bad'.  This saves the child from developing a need for approval.  

I think that we all want children who act morally, are empathetic, and care about other people.  In explaining the consequences of their actions, you can begin to show them HOW to think about other people.  Eventually, the hurt they cause others will be punishment enough and they will become internally motivated to do good for others.   

A big part of the theory of Unconditional Parenting is setting children up for success.  Having unrealistic expectations for a young child, followed by increasingly more aggressive punishments doesn't teach the toddler how to express himself.  It only breeds fear and frustration.  A good example of this is requiring a toddler to sit through a family dinner.  When they begin to fidget, threaten them with time-out.  When they fuss in time-out, give them a spanking.  Wouldn't an easier approach be to understand that a 2 year old can only sit still for so long?  Perhaps when he begins to fidget, you can set him up with toys to play with and avoid the whole punishment in the first place.  

In this same thread, Waldorf teachers create their daily rhythms to follow the 'inhale' and 'exhale' activities of a child.  Inhale activities are fine motor activities that require much thought and stillness.  Exhale activities are more physical and could include free-play or running outside.  Perhaps when a young child is 'misbehaving', they are actually trying to tell you that they are in an 'exhale' period of the day but the activity they are performing is an 'inhale' activity.  

What this all boils down to, for my family, is that we need to treat our child with respect, have realistic expectations, and treat her in ways that grow a child into a wonderful adult.  

Friday, November 25, 2011

Father's Day pictures!

I was so excited to celebrate John's first Father's day! 

We had ice cream cake for breakfast!

 We went to Sunfire Ceramics and made footprint pottery!!!  

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Something to remember forever

Paisley and I had one of those moments today that I want to remember forever.  

For the past few weeks, while she nurses she will occasionally play with my hand.  She grabs my pinkie finger and presses my hand over her face.  She will lift my hand up and down, covering her face and uncovering it.  She usually does this when she is sleepy and it is a very sweet, gentle action.  It always melts my heart.  

This afternoon, she was doing this and suddenly, she lifted my hand up higher than usual and pressed it against MY face!  Then back down to her face, then back to my face!  She would smile as she pressed my hand to my cheek.  It was SO unbelievably sweet!  

It makes me tear up with joy to think that all of the tender love I have shown her has made an impact and she is beginning to understand sharing that love!  

It also makes me so thankful that I have chosen to nurse for this long (and longer, hopefully) as she and I would have never had such a tender moment of love and sharing without our nursing bond.  The quiet time we share while nursing, especially before naps, is an amazing bond that can't be replicated or replaced.  I am thankful for that.  

Monday, November 21, 2011

That annoying thing moms do...

You know what I am talking about.  When a mom will show you like 6 pictures of her baby in the same pose.  You can't tell a difference between them, but the mom just thinks each one is adorable in its own right?  If you have no idea what I am talking about, you are about to find out!  
These pictures are from when Paisley was about 6-8 weeks old.  

Friday, November 18, 2011

Pregnancy pictures!

Here I am through the months of growth:

My favorite:

I had always intended to take some beautiful pregnancy photos, but kept putting it off.  I had John take these on the Sunday after I turned 38 weeks.  We had no idea what good timing it was as Paisley was born just 4 days later!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Hiking pictures!

These pictures are from April when we took Paisley for her first hike at 6 weeks old.  
This is at Perry Lake, just north of Lawrence.  

 Paisley slept the whole time.  We hiked 2.5 miles.  She made soft mouse squeaks as she breathed.  She did this in the first few weeks of life when she was super content, like when napping on John's chest or nursing.  I was so excited she was 'squeaking' on our hike.  Sadly, that was the last time she did it and I didn't ever think to take a video.