"The Whole-Brain Child" is an Our Neighborhood favorite. We appreciate the authors deep and insightful break down of the current brain research. "The Whole-Brain Child" shares practical tools without straying from the heart of the research being shared. This book is geared for children who are a bit older. The early chapters are helpful for the toddler age but by age three children can likely manage most of the "Whole-Brain Strategies".
As you have work to diligently reflect and accept your children’s emotions, it can become common for your conversations to be filled with the roller coaster of big emotions children have. In these moments we sometimes forget to reflect on the moments of celebration when our needs our met and our values are clearly present. Those moments when you explain something to your toddler and they are able to regulate their big emotions, respond to your reason, and delay gratification are times for celebration. Reflecting back your values is as simple as saying, “Wow, we figured this out by working together.” or “You used strong words to tell me what you needed and I listened to you.” or “We negotiated and came up with a plan to meet both of our needs.” It is in those times of celebration that we are able to point out things that are going well. Non-judgmental celebration simply acknowledges an observation and connects that to our under-lying needs and values. We can share our positive feelings in this way, too. We might say, “We were both smiling a lot playing together this afternoon. I’m feeling relieved. I really needed to have some joy time together.” Sometimes as we move away from judgmental praise, we hold back on reflecting the positive. Reflecting your values is not praising. If you notice your children working together and you say, “Wow you guys carried that heavy box, you couldn’t have done that on your own. That’s what I call team-work!”, your child will adopt this language and say, “Mom, it’s teamwork.” When children are able to see themselves reflecting a value, they learn about good choices. This is very different than if you say, “Good job.” because the child who hears good job will likely ask ask, “Is this good?” Reflecting values without judgment gives children information through observations and values. In this way, children can take ownership for these values and learn to see them in their experiences.
Often as parents and even teachers begin their path toward “working with” rather than “doing to” children, their needs get lost. Adults know that there are safety boundaries and basic health boundaries they must work to find a way to respectfully set. However, in an effort to be respectful we sometimes push our own needs aside. The goal of respectful parenting is to ‘work with’ children, acknowledging that they are separate individuals with needs and that we can guide children while meeting both of our needs. When the adult continually sets aside her needs for the child’s, the child learns that his needs are more important, not equally important. By not drawing personal boundaries for our needs, we miss the opportunity to teach our child about how to respectfully draw personal boundaries. By drawing those boundaries we teach our child that they too can say "no" respectfully. Perhaps your child doesn’t respond when you ask him a question and it bothers you. You might simply model for them, “I heard you mom, right after this game.” In the classroom teachers support one another by helping the child remember this response through modeling. You can do that with your spouse at home. If you call to your spouse and child, “Dinner is going to be in five minutes, I need some table setters.” Your spouse can help your child respond with, “On our way.” This simple modeling can help you to meet your needs and it works for other situations. If your young toddler is whining or grunting for something you might say, “You’re trying to tell me you want water. Use your big voice so I can understand. Say ‘water’.” Being honest about your needs for space, time, or respectful communication meets your needs so you can be present, attuned, and patient with your child. Further, you are modeling for your child how to draw personal boundaries--a skill they will need as they negotiate their relationships now and in the future.
A few recent interactions drew my attention back to a simple skill that teachers and parents can use. Tactfully pausing in our interactions with young children can make a world of difference. This comes naturally in some situations, but in other situations we need to mindfully remember to pause. This pause provides the time for two things to happen. Caregivers are able to make observations and really assess the situation during this time. Children are given the space and time to process. We can use the tactful pause when we are helping our child learn to talk, learn to sleep, and learn to problem solve. Consider how in early infancy pausing for five to fifteen seconds to curiously look at the situation might be helpful. You might see your child is able to self soothe in that moment, or you might notice more clearly what is causing your child’s upset. This pause becomes especially helpful as children are approaching the toddler years and learning to talk. Communication is a back and forth passing of ideas. We have been talking to our babies for nearly a year and we are so eager for language growth. Tactfully pausing, for sometimes as much as fifteen seconds, creates space for children to respond and that language growth to occur. Children need time to process their ideas. If a young child is using pointing or grunting to communicate we can acknowledge their desired communication and give them the words and the time to try to communicate their ideas more clearly. Sometimes we don’t realize how much time it takes for children to process. Most of us have had the experience where we say goodbye to our infant and they wave to us after we have already closed the door. It is taking time for them to process. They need a moment of silent thought to respond. The tactful pause can be useful as children become older. After asking an open ended question like, “What can we do?” you might need to pause to give space for your child to think of ideas. Pausing before offering our own suggestions gives children the space to be problem solvers.
"No-Drama Discipline" is a great read. Some of the wording is different than what we use at Our Neighborhood but the ideas are very respectful and the brain research backing up this more peaceful approach is clearly explained. The book is funny and quick with lots of practical advice for parents. You won't come away from this book feeling like you are wrong but rather with ideas of how to connect and support cooperation from day one. "No-Drama Discipline" is one of our favorites and we certainly recommend it as one of the first few parenting books to get you started. The authors have also developed a refrigerator sheet that's a great resource for grandparents and babysitters!
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Recommended - "How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk" by Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish
This is a valuable book for all parents, especially as children approach 3 years of age and continue to grow. "How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk" provides specific skills to parents that support respectful and cooperative family relationships. If you have established peaceful parenting practices and are continuing your study of reflective parenting, "How to Talk So Kids Will Listen" is a must-read. We particularly like the Audio Version which gives you the tone of each scenario. This book will certainly help parents with their long-term goals of raising a child who is a strong decision maker. We also recommend "How to Talk" to teachers of children over three up to middle school age. Everyone can learn from exploring this resource.
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"Baby Knows Best" is our first recommendation for expecting families, an Our Neighborhood favorite. "Baby Knows Best" clearly explains the principles of RIE, Resources for Infant Educarers, through the eyes of the modern world. Deborah Carlisle Solomon outlines the tenets of RIE with specific details and stories to help parents begin to reflect on the parent they want to be. For families who embrace the RIE principles, "Baby Knows Best" includes guidance on care, sleep, play, growth, learning limits, and child care. Our Neighborhood draws on RIE for inspiration and this is a must read for infant teachers and new parents. "Baby Knows Best" is a clear and useful resource that we highly recommend to expecting and new parents.
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"Nonviolent Communication" by Marshall Rosenberg provides an outline for respectful and productive communication. Though "Nonviolent Communication" (NVC) is not a parenting resource specifically, it is so valuable for reflective and respectful parenting practices. Especially as your children get older, the skills of "Non-Violent Communication" continue to support a 'working with' model of parenting for reflective parents. The "Nonviolent Communication" book, audio book, and DVD all outline a clear model for respectful dialogue with children and adults.
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"Dear Parent" was the first resource that inspired Our Neighborhood's exploration and adoption of the RIE, Resources for Infant Educarers, principles. Written by Magda Gerber, the founder of RIE, "Dear Parent" is an inspiring introduction to infant care and education based on respect. Magda explores in the book how young infants build healthy attachment, learn to move, play, and how parents introduce limits respectfully. Baby Knows Best, with a bit more of a modern feel, is our favorite RIE book, but "Dear Parent", now in its second edition, provides an introduction to RIE through the words of its founder and is well worth exploring.
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