MY QUICK TIP FOR RESPECTFUL PARENTING

A QUICK TRICK TO RESPECTFUL PARENTING - This Wild Home

After spending the better part of a year learning about and practicing respectful parenting, I’ve started to realize there are many ways to approach it, but it’s easy to forget that it’s okay to have your own way.

Something that’s been difficult for me to wrap my head around is all the language and the idea that every word you say will either impact your kids negatively or positively and if you choose the wrong word or tone, your kids will be effected forever.

Of course, I understand that we are going to effect our kids. We are going to effect them more than anyone else in the world and sometimes it’s going to be negative. No matter how hard we try, how much we study, we are going to mess up. Even if we never messed up (which is not a realistic expectation) our kids will still be negatively effected by something. They are humans with feelings and we are humans with flaws. There is no way out of that no matter how hard you try.

So moving on from that defeatist reality, I still believe that trying and learning is the best thing we can do for our kids. Attempting to effect them as little as possible is something I stand behind.

Acknowledging the whole child, treating them as human beings, being respectful, I agree with all of it. But I also agree with showing our children that we are whole humans. That we also need to accept our flaws and our humanity.

Acknowledging the whole child, treating them as human beings, being respectful, I agree with all of it. But I also agree with showing our children that we are whole humans. That we also need to accept our flaws and our humanity. - This Wild Home

Each of us is a unique person with unique way of communicating. Personally, I’m very direct. I don’t like to beat around the bush or sugar coat things and I don’t like hiding how I feel. I don’t think respectful parenting is ever about hiding yourself, but I do think that it’s so easy to get wrapped up in language and tone that it can become unclear what the true point of all this effort really is.

MY QUICK TIP

When you dive into respectful parenting, it’s easy to feel like you have to be more than human. Like you somehow have to control your emotions and put all of your needs and wants aside in order to be who you need to be for your kids.

This isn’t truly what respectful parenting is demanding of you. But the specific wording and tones that are suggested can feel a little overwhelming and a little fake if you treat it as a script to follow. So I wanted to simplify this. I wanted to find a way to make it less about the script and more about the intention.

A QUICK TRICK TO RESPECTFUL PARENTING - This Wild Home

ACKNOWLEDGE THE GOOD STUFF…

I think this is something every parenting style can get behind. We all want to see our kids be good as much as possible. It give us a boost, makes us feel like we’re doing everything right and you know, I think it should be celebrated when your child puts a dish away all on his own or decides to be sweet his brother “just because.”

A genuine acknowledgement of the good things your child is doing is always appreciated. The more detailed and specific you can be on your feelings towards the situation, the more meaningful it will be. (i.e. rather than just saying, “great job!” saying, “You kicked the ball to hard! You must have felt so strong!” Something that shows your genuine acknowledgement.)

I believe that any child appreciates being seen. They don’t necessarily want to be acknowledged for negative actions, but they will turn to that if they are finding that their negative actions are the only ones that bring genuine feelings out of you. By making sure you’re acknowledging the good stuff, big AND small, in a genuine way, you’re making sure that your child knows they are seen. Always.

The only thing I will caution against is using this as a TOOL to try and get your kids to always do good things. Children of all ages can see right through manipulation and it can backfire in the long run. Simply work on looking out for those tiny acts that bring genuine appreciation to you and use that to fuel your compliments. Manipulation is a one way ticket to a lackluster relationship full of resentment. And besides, should the love and appreciation you have for your child really be used as a tool for getting what you want?

…AND SUPPORT THROUGH THE BAD

This one is a bit more tricky. It’s one that I struggle with constantly. When I see my son doing something less than great, my defenses go up. I feel like I need to be the consequence by yellow or lecturing which never truly gets me the results I’m looking for.

I think this is the part that gets tough for anyone hoping to be more respectful in their parenting. Most of us were raised to believe that a child who is “misbehaving” MUST receive a consequence or else they won’t learn their lesson. I know I feel this instinctual need to pounce on any negative behavior I see from my kids. It’s SO HARD to move past those instincts. Especially when you read posts and books that give you such specific language and timing and tone to use. When you’re in the moment, it’s impossible to remember all of that.

So I want to simplify it.

When you see that little spout of misbehavior arising in your child, just be there. No, I don’t mean help them to act out this misbehavior. Just, stop what you’re doing and be there. Be authentic. Don’t follow a script. Just actively work on resisting your learned instincts to correct and just be there with them.

Be ready to grab a hitting hand. Ready to receive a much needed hug. Ready to fully listen and attend to the desperate screams your child is using to try to communicate however they can.

You may say the wrong thing, you may not do everything perfect, but you are doing the most important thing a kid could ask for: you are fully present.

You may say the wrong thing, you may not do everything perfect, but you are doing the most important thing a kid could ask for: you are fully present. - This Wild Home

Will this prevent future bad behavior? no. Will this encourage future bad behavior? I don’t think so. Will you walk away feeling closer and more confident in your parenting skills? absolutely.

You don’t need to walk away analyzing everything you said that wasn’t “in the book.” You just need to walk away asking yourself, “Were they seen? Was I there?”

ALWAYS BE YOURSELF

Respecting your child isn’t going to look the same in every family. Our personalities need to show. Our genuine thoughts need to be expressed. Our kids need to know they are getting their specific parent, not a carefully curated mom-bot.

It can be so easy to dive into the rabbit hole of Respectful Parenting and feel like you just can’t get it right in the moment. I’ve fallen into this trap far too often. I’ve walked away from confrontations feeling like I did everything wrong just because I didn’t say every single word exactly right. Because I said it my way instead of THE way, I really believed I did it wrong.

But I think our kids need us to be ourselves. If you’re like me and you prefer a light hearted “uh.. no” over “not right now, sweetheart” or “daaaaang, check that out! Look at all the colors!” over “oh! I see you used red in this drawing!” your kids need to see that. Otherwise, they may feel like they are treated differently than others or like they don’t get to know the real you.

I think the practices in Respectful Parenting are so valuable and I could not be more thankful that I’ve found this approach to parenting. But I also think it’s helpful to simplify it. Make it less about the words and more about the actions.

The basic principals are amazing to follow, but the most important thing to remember is to make it your own. Make it authentic. Make it uniquely you.

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A QUICK TIPS FOR RESPECTFUL PARENTING -This Wild Home
A QUICK TIPS FOR RESPECTFUL PARENTING: Becoming A More Authentic Parent -This Wild Home
A QUICK TIPS FOR RESPECTFUL PARENTING: Becoming A More Authentic Parent -This Wild Home

INDEPENDENT PLAY FOR BABIES

INDEPENDENT PLAY FOR BABIES - This Wild Home

Independent play has been a popular topic in the parenting world. I think the concept is popular for so many reasons. The first, and probably most prominent, is that it gives parents the OKAY to let their kids entertain themselves. For so long there has been this pressure to have every moment of everyday planned out for your children. While we’re finding how exhausting that truly is for our children, I think we’re starting to realizing it’s pretty exhausting for us parents as well.

So officially, it has become not only okay, but preferred to give your children opportunities to entertain themselves. To engage in this independent play that has become so popular. It gives us time to recharge so we can parent better, but for our kids it promotes so many positive developments. Children who are given adequate time for independent play are able to learn valuable skills that can help them in every stage of life.

Children who are given adequate time for independent play are able to learn valuable skills that can help them in every stage of life. - This Wild Home

WHAT INDEPENDENT PLAY TEACHES OUR KIDS

  • INDEPENDENCE + SELF RELIANCE | Well, obviously, it’s in the name! But this is truly a valuable lesson for people everywhere. It’s important to have a support system and people you can trust fully, but no one is any good to anyone if they can’t take care of themselves.

    The ability to be independent - to rely on yourself, trust yourself, and spend time by yourself - is something so few of us learn, but those of us that do are able to dive into ourselves fully. They will be able to trust themselves as they navigate through life without having to second guess themselves along the way.

  • CONFIDENCE | Within this independence, they will find a confidence in themselves. The confidence to explore new things, to be whole heartedly themselves. People who are comfortable with being alone don’t have to worry so much about petty people who will judge them. They can simply do what they love and if people join, great. If they don’t, oh well.

    Instilling that sense of confidence can help them to take charge in life and go for opportunities that may seem scary or too hard and make decisions based on what they truly need.

  • IMAGINATION + LEARNING | When you’re by yourself, you don’t have distractions to take you in and out of the moment. You don’t have others guiding you along. Everything that happens in your play has to come 100% from your own mind. You have the time to dive in fully to your own thoughts and ideas. You can explore concepts as far as you desire. You get to practice focusing on one thing for an extended period of time.

    This skill helps to cultivate a skill of creative problem solving and longer attention spans. Two things that are extremely valuable in a learning environment. It may not always seem like imagination, play, and learning go together, but giving your kids the time to dive into their passions can carry through to other areas of life.

  • SELF-REGULATION | Time alone is always a nice time to reflect. When you only experience rigorous and guided activities, you have no time to check in and work through emotions. Whether they realize it or not, having time alone can give kids time to act out difficult situations and process how they feel and how to handle those feelings.

The ability to be independent - to rely on yourself, trust yourself, and spend time by yourself - is something so few of us learn, but those of us that do are able to dive into ourselves fully. - This Wild Home

So you see? There is proof that it is okay to let your kids have alone time! There is evidence that our children will not only be fine, but will actually benefit from us walking away and giving them some time alone. Personally, it’s a relief to know that parenting does not mean being a constant source of entertainment for our kids.

INDEPENDENT PLAY FOR BABIES

While independent play is most talked about for toddlers and kids, I think it’s extremely valuable to start some independent play as early as possible. From play mobiles to activity mats to a basket of toys, playing independently is possible for babies in every stage.

Starting early with independent play will help them to learn early on how to be entertained all one their own. It can be tough at first to get them interested in playing alone, but giving them that time each day to learn how to engage in activities will benefit them and you in the future.

I like to start each activity by being close, letting them know I’m still there. You can engage in your own thing while they lay or sit and engage with whatever is in front of them. It’s good to have some toys on hand that you can bring to them before they’re mobile, but for the most part, I like to step back and see how they decide their toys should be played with rather than showing them how I think they should be played with.

INDEPENDENT PLAY FOR BABIES - This Wild Home

ACTIVITIES TO PROMOTE INDEPENDENT PLAY

Babies are different than kids when it come to independent play. Even after just one year kids can have their section of toys where they can choose for themselves what and where they want to play. But for babies, they can’t go places themselves. They don’t have the ability to walk over and choose what they want to play with. They need a little more guidance.

Here are some ideas for ages 0-9 months:

0-3M

At this stage, the amount of toys is really not important. Really, simply just looking around the room is excitement enough while everything is so new. Having something that they can look at close up is going to be exciting for them every time.

Reversible Play Mat - $64.99

3-9M

I’ve found that the actual toys don’t need to vary too much from 3-9 months, but how you present them can evolve along with your child’s development.

TUMMY TIME PHASE

This is when you can just lay a few toys around them to encourage some movement as they strengthen their tummy and back muscles.

WHEN THEY START SITTING

This is when you can really begin the true independence in independent play.

This is where we are with our youngest and I figured out how to present his toys in a way that seems to be really fun for him. Basically, we keep all of his toys in a basket and when it’s time to play, we set the basket in front of him so he can sit and practice picking out his own toys.

Honestly, this keeps him entertained for a long while. I think half the fun for him is looking into the basket and pulling out the toys one at a time. His independence and choosing abilities are definitely at play here and it’s really fun to watch as he lights up with every toy he pulls.

WHEN THEY START SCOOTING

This is a sign that they are ready to start crawling soon. They are realizing that they can move their own bodies (sort of) where they want to go.

When this stage starts, I like to start them by sitting on a soft surface with a few toys JUST out of reach to varying degrees. This will encourage them to practice going from sitting to tummy and then to scooting forward which will eventually lead to crawling!

Soft Activity Cube - $14.99

9-12M

Here is when those muscles start to get the most use. They’re going to want to move around as often as possible so something that they can play with that will encourage that movement while keeping them in one space is the way to go. Of course, these toys are usually geared towards older kids, but I see them as great developmental tools for helping your kids to learn how to use their bodies (with supervision, of course).

Pikler Triangle - $274

When it comes to toys, I’m always an advocate of less is more. Especially when considering independent play. The more they can engage with the same toys in an independent setting, the more they will find creative ways to explore what’s right in front of them.

DISCLAIMER: This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own.

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Independent Play For Babies - This Wild Home
The benefits of independent play for babies + some activities to get your started - This Wild Home
The benefits of independent play for babies + some activities to get your started - This Wild Home

WHY I CHOOSE RESPECTFUL PARENTING

WHY I CHOOSE RESPECTFUL PARENTING - This Wild Home

Before my first son became a full-blown toddler, I hadn’t done any research at all on child-care, children, or how they develop. I had my own experiences, a basic understanding of some human psychology, and a fairly decent instinct. But when my angelic baby turned into a strong-willed toddler, I was convinced that everything I was doing was wrong and that I was making him unhappy and ill-mannered. I couldn’t shake the fear that somehow I had ruined him already and that I was doing everything all wrong.

I quickly took to the internet in a desperate attempt to save my toddler and the relationship between us. I found some resources that really opened my eyes and I read and read until I felt like I had a decent understanding of different methods and mindsets on parenting. Then, I found Janet Lansbury and the world of Respectful Parenting.

I went into motherhood with a basic idea of what I wanted it to look like. It didn’t feel right to punish my kids for things that didn’t seem morally wrong. We knew for sure there would be no spanking or physical punishments of any kind. Mostly, I knew I wanted my kids to grow up unafraid and uninhibited by me and my expectations. I knew I wanted my role to be provider and caretaker. My only real job, in my mind, is to be there when they fall and help them get back up again. (I mean, obviously be a model for manners and stuff too.)

Despite all that, I had no idea how to execute these goals the way I wanted. Before I discovered Respectful Parenting I really had no idea how to implement my ideas effectively in a way where I was still in control. Now that I have these tools and the knowhow to really make this peaceful and respectful bond between me and my boys grow while still effectively parenting them, I’ve seen the benefits of this style of parenting. It truly changed my mood, my mindset, and my relationship with my kids for the better.

WHY I CHOOSE RESPECTFUL PARENTING

  • IT TAKES THE PRESSURE OFF | This may not be the best way to phrase it, given that Respectful Parenting does have a lazy vibe on the outside. With all the lack of punishment and safe places and everything. I can honestly say that when I first discovered it, I was a little unsure of how parents were still in charge of the whole operation. But as I learned more and as I introduce more of the practice into my own home, I am finding that my toddler listens better and I don’t feel as much pressure when things aren’t perfect.

    The part of peaceful parenting that takes the pressure off is that the first step is to accept that toddlers don’t listen. It’s not their job to listen. Children have lots of feelings, the same as you and I do. We feel like screaming when things get overwhelming. I’ve hit a pillow or two out of extreme frustration over things that, in hindsight, were really quite ridiculous to be so upset over. And I’ve done all of this as a full grown adult with that one little thing we should have that kids don’t: self-control.

    When I finally realized that my toddler’s outbursts weren’t the beginnings of a bad seed, but simply the perfectly normal and natural expression of emotion, I was less afraid. I felt so much less pressure to prevent negative feelings and extreme reactions. I finally realized it’s not my job to tell them how to feel or to make sure they’re feeling happy 100% of the time. It’s simply my job to allow my kids to feel what they need and help them find the self-control to expel their feelings appropriately over time.

  • IT’S FOR RAISING ADULTS, NOT KIDS | I knew before my sons were born that I was raising future adults. I knew I wanted to go into parenting this way. I had a good idea of how I wanted to parent, but it is really nice knowing that there’s a group of people out there who are parenting this way too. And it’s nice being able to find that community of people who have their own tips and tricks on how to foster our children’s childhoods to help them grow into happy and productive adults.

    It’s always been tricky for me to think of children as children. Mostly because I’m always thinking 1,000 steps ahead. I look at my toddler and newborn son and see them as very tiny men. Tiny men who need me to help them be the best men that they can be. But in order to do that, I have to respect them as whole human beings with rights and developmental stages that can’t be rushed.

    We’re only with our kids for a short amount of time. They will likely have their own families longer than they were ever a full part of ours. They will be responsible for themselves, and others, before we know it. We’re raising men who will need to learn to be good to women and women who need to learn to be good to men and people who need to learn to be good to people. Most importantly, we’re raising people who need to learn how to be good to themselves no matter what others bring their way.

    With Respectful Parenting, it’s not about fixing the toddler problem to make a better toddler. It’s about allowing the toddler to get as much as he can out now in order to help him to walk into adulthood feeling light. Not weighed down by all the emotions he had to bury because we didn’t want a screaming toddler.

  • IT’S JUST AS MUCH CARING FOR YOURSELF AS IT IS CARING FOR YOUR KIDS | The older I get, the more I realize I’m a pretty sensitive person. Marriage and motherhood are two things that definitely motivate you to knock down your walls so you can share who you really are with the people closest to you. In that, you learn about yourself. So I’ve learned I’m a big sensitive baby. I’m not the type to let things roll by unaffected. I’m the type to feel everything, deeply, until I’ve finished feeling it. In return, how I’m feeling can affect everything around me. My productivity, the clothes I choose to wear, the activities I engage in, and ultimately, how effectively I can parent.

    When I decided to approach parenting in a way that encourages feelings and expression within my children, I learned that patience (my worst quality) needed to be at the forefront of my mind at all times. In order to do that, I needed to take care of myself. My emotions, my problems, my stress, my insecurities; everything. It all needed to be addressed and maintained. Because, if I’m not happy, how can I help my children find happiness?

    One thing that’s strongly encouraged in peaceful parenting is addressing your own issues and I love that. So many parents will feel wrong with tradition punishments and attitudes towards kids but still believe it’s the only way because thats what they were raised with. It usually stems from their own childhood. It’s something they have to work to overcome within themselves before they can implement the practice effectively in their own home. People who were raised with their own feelings being punishable offenses, shamed, or ignored have a hard time feeling like it’s okay when their kids express the same extreme feelings they need to express.

    When you take a look at how you respond to your kid’s feelings, it can give you some perspective on how your own feelings were handled as a kid and how you learned to deal with them growing up. It gives you an opportunity to fix yourself in order to give your kids a better chance of learning and coping and feeling productive. And better yet, it’s very encouraging to make sure you never forget to take care of yourself through the process of parenting.