Hug Your Way to an Independent Child

“Mama! Mama! Mama! Mama!” is about the way a few hours of every day goes for me with my 17 month old. She insistently calls for me and wants to be held, hugged and paid attention to. So, we read books, sing together, cuddle, and sometimes often times I find myself completing tasks with one hand while she’s happily perched on my hip.

But, like many moms, I put up with it and try to enjoy it as much as I can. She’ll only be this little so long. I know that it’s only a matter of time before she becomes more independent.

My nearly four-year-old on the other hand is quite independent. He likes the occasional snuggle and asks to be played with from time to time. But, most of the time he can be found happily digging with his  trucks in the dirt, coloring pictures beside me while I work or making up an intricate story line with a few model dinosaurs. He also likes to help wash dishes and hang up laundry or page through a book.

As a baby and toddler, my son was similar to my daughter. He was attached to me or his father at most times. While he enjoyed wandering off on his own to play for a while, he was more often than not like velcro.

That’s my real life experience that shows me that being close and connected leads to independence. But, there’s more to it than one mom’s journey.

Hug Your Way to an Independent Child (1)

Pin it!

Continue reading

What are Sensitive Periods and How Can You Use Them? Montessori Applied to Parenting

What are Sensitive Periods and How Can You Use Them? Montessori Applied to Parenting

It must be some sort of rule. All toddlers seem to LOVE water play. And have you ever noticed how at a certain stage, babies become determined to move on their own, struggling until they achieve the ability to walk?

These are examples of sensitive periods.

Throughout childhood, children experience a number of sensitive periods. Some last for years at a time, and others may only last several months. Montessori coined the phrase “sensitive periods” to refer to times when children have an especially strong motivation and interest to learn about a particular subject or master a certain skill. In her observations, she discovered that many children share a lot of the same interests around the same time in their development.

What are Sensitive Periods and How Can You Use Them? Montessori Applied to Parenting

Pin it!

How Can You Use Them?

As parents and teachers, we can take advantage of these sensitive periods to help guide our children’s learning. A perfect example is language. Montessori noticed that children experience a sensitive period in language from birth through about age 6.

Continue reading

5 Unconventional Parenting Hacks That Keep Me Sane

unconventional parenting hacks

There are so many parenting hacks out there, but not all of them are mainstream. Each parent finds their own unique ways (or parenting hacks) of dealing with the joys and challenges of parenting. Some of mine are on the wacky side – I’d definitely say some of them are unconventional…but they also keep me sane (well, most of the time, anyway). These are the parenting hacks I notice others occasionally give me a raised eyebrow about…but hey, to each their own and I’m glad to say that I’ve found what works for me. Here they are:

parenting hacks

Pin it!

  Continue reading

How to Make Positive Reinforcement Helpful: A Montessori Perspective

How to Make Positive Reinforcement Helpful A Montessori Perspective

Positive reinforcement is a popular parenting technique. Basically it means parents and caregivers praise good behavior. This way, children are motivated to continue their good behavior due to the positive attention they’ve received. Positive reinforcement can also include sticker charts and other similar incentives. All sounds good, right?

Yes and no.

Positive reinforcement can be very helpful for children. It can help them learn that good behavior is appreciated and that their efforts pay off. But, it can also turn into a big happy praise fest that teaches your child that they are the BEST, in the worst cases resulting in narcissism.

How to Make Positive Reinforcement Helpful- A Montessori Perspective

Pin it!

Continue reading

An Advent Calendar for Kids PLUS Activities

advent calendar for kids

One of my parenting goals this year is to teach my oldest about advent. What better way than through an advent calendar for kids plus daily activities? The combination of reading a bible verse and doing some fun holiday activities such as making decorations, baking cookies and setting up the nativity scene not only teaches about the meaning of Christmas, but will also bring us closer together as a family.

Make Your Own Advent Calendar for Kids

We had lots of fun making the advent calendar together. The basic idea of this calendar is that each day we’ll break open one of the numbers. This is very appealing to Peanut…he can’t wait to punch through the paper to see what’s inside! I also find it quite tempting, I must admit. Inside are 2 slips of paper, one is a Bible verse and one is an advent activity, and a small piece of candy for each of my kids.

advent calendar for kids

Pin it!

Continue reading

How to Stop Hitting, Biting, Kicking and Throwing: Practical Techniques for Teaching Little Ones How to Handle BIG Feelings

how to stop hitting biting-kicking-and-throwing

First of all, relax. If you want to know how to stop hitting, biting, kicking, etc. you’re on the right track.

Second of all, it’s highly likely your precious little one WILL stop hitting, biting, kicking and throwing soon. As a very wise school counselor once pointed out to me, “How many adults do you know that hit and bite?” So, yes, there will be an end to this.

Third, know you’re not alone. All experts seem to agree that hitting and biting are common in young children. Although it can be tiring and frustrating to deal with, it is relatively normal.

But…there’s always a but…

What will also happen is that your child will learn other coping mechanisms for dealing with big feelings. One big factor that will help your child leave these behaviors behind is improvement in their ability to communicate. Language is often a point of frustration for little ones who can’t say what they feel or what they want. As language skills improve, so does behavior.

It’s also likely that your child will adopt a coping mechanism learned from you or other influential adults in their life. Some common coping mechanisms for big feelings such as anger, fear and frustration include:

  • Bottling it up (which can often result in a tummy-ache, stress, headaches, etc.)
  • Aggressive behaviors such as yelling
  • Positive outlets for feelings such as taking deep breathes, exercising, etc.

I think most people would opt for teaching their child positive outlets for anger, fear and frustration, but maybe you’re not sure how to do this. Luckily, teaching these techniques goes hand in hand with eliminating hitting, biting, kicking and throwing things.

Now, let’s discuss those techniques for teaching your little one how to stop hitting and handle strong feelings:

how-to-stop-hitting-biting-kicking-and-throwing

Continue reading

I’m an Ebook Author! Montessori At Home Guide: Self-Care For 0-2 Year Olds

Montessori self-care

The book’s been out for awhile, but I’ve finally gotten around to sharing it here! Sterling Productions approached me to write this ebook on self-care for 0-2 year olds and I was thrilled to accept the opportunity.

This is a short, basic guide to help parents show their children the way in learning self-care. Through self-care, independence is encouraged and children learn to take care of many basic tasks on their own. The lessons cover everything from hygiene and dressing to eating, safety and manners. The book is structured in a user-friendly way so that you can pinpoint exactly what you’re looking to teach and find some creative, helpful, Montessori inspired ideas for working with your little one.

montessori-self-care-guide

Continue reading

How to Follow Your Child, Even When It’s Tough: Montessori Parenting Techniques

How to Follow Your Child, Even When It's Tough- Montessori Parenting Techniques

Children always show adults what they need. Their natural curiosity and interests lead them to engage in activities that help them learn and grow. Even in misbehavior and acting out, children communicate what they need. It is our job as parents to observe, analyze and follow our children to meet their needs and help them grow.

Montessori on Following the Child

Many parents would love to better understand their children. Following the child is a great way to do this. However, this pillar of Montessori education is often misinterpreted. People think the child is in charge and allowed to do whatever they want. It’s a bit more complex. Let’s take a look.

Montessori said:

Respect all the reasonable forms of activity in which the child engages and try to understand them.

Take baby girl for example. She’s 14 months old and likes to go to the bathroom with me. I allow her to, for a number of reasons, and she always tries to put her hands in the toilet. Rather than scolding her, I try to understand her. This is a way to follow her. I search for meaning in her actions. She’s clearly interested in learning about water and the sensory experience it gives her. So, without allowing her to play in the toilet, I offer her an opportunity to play with water outside the bathroom. I set a limit and offer an alternative to fulfill her needs.

Simple enough…but what about those more difficult behaviors?

Follow your child, even when it gets tough Montessori Parenting Techniques

Continue reading

If I Shouldn’t Say “Good Job”, What Should I Say?

Tips for using descriptive praise

Our children want to show us everything they can do, from doing a crazy jump off the curb to tracing their letters, getting an “A” at school, completing a beautiful drawing and more. They want to be seen. And we want them to feel great! So, parents and educators looking to use descriptive praise can feel at a loss. We’re so used to saying “good job!” or a similar form of extra positive “woohoo!” that you start to wonder…what should I say? Don’t worry, helpful answers are on the way.

If you’re reading this and wondering “What on earth is descriptive praise and why SHOULDN’T I say ‘good job!’?”, get caught up in my post “Why ‘Good Job’ Doesn’t Cut It: A Montessori Perspective On Praise.

Ok, for everyone else who is on board with descriptive praise, yes, it’s hard to get in the habit of using it. After all, most of us grew up with parents, teachers and other family members who enjoyed praising our every move. For others, it’s the opposite. Maybe there was a lot of negativity growing up and now you’re making the effort to be extra positive with your kids, but don’t want to go overboard. The thing is, old habits are hard to break. So, I’ve come up with some guidelines for using descriptive praise and  a list of alternatives to “good job” so that you’re no longer fumbling for what to say.

Continue reading

Why “Good Job!” Doesn’t Cut It: A Montessori Perspective On Praise

Woman Showing Praise

First of all, who doesn’t say “good job!” to their kids? It’s a catch-all sort of praise that you can easily blurt out while you’re also skimming the news, chopping vegetables or peeking out of the bathroom to watch your child do some sort of jumpy twirly move that he’s obviously very proud of. Yet, praise can do so much more than prove that you’re watching what your child does. How?

why-good-job-doesnt-cut-it-a-montessori-perspective-on-praise-1

Use Descriptive Praise

Rather than evaluating our children and defining their whole worth around one task or action, why not describe the positive behavior and encourage them? This is called descriptive praise.

A comparison of evaluative and descriptive praise helps clarify:

Evaluative Praise Descriptive Praise
“Good boy!” “Thank you for helping me. We finished cleaning quickly between the two of us.”
“What a fantastic drawing!” “You worked very hard on that drawing. I like the colors you picked.”
“Good job!” “Wow, I didn’t know you could hop on one foot. That takes a lot of balance!”

In the left hand column, evaluative praise is used. Here, you can see how the words determine whether the child has done something “good” or “bad.” There is judgement in these phrases. Especially with “good girl!” and “good boy!”, the child as a whole is evaluated for one single action.

Continue reading