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Fitness with Kids this Father’s Day

Posted By Communications Manager, Tuesday, March 22, 2016

I feel fortunate to have a child who is very interested in fitness and athleticism. He always has been. We have many opportunities to train together, and we love to connect in this way. So this Father’s Day, we’re going to the gym to workout! Really, we are. 

When I’m working out by myself, I’m able to stay focused and be efficient. As a dad, I’ve got many other things to do, so efficiency is important. When I’m working out with my kid, however, we take extra time to talk through the nuances of stretching correctly, proper form and general fitness topics. So, the workouts become more of a time to connect. They take longer. They look different.

Here’s my advice to dads starting to workout with their kids, whether it’s in the gym, on the hiking trail, on a bike ride around the block or even at home:

Don’t push. Don’t struggle. Make it fun. Focus on fitness fundamentals as building blocks for a long-lasting fondness of exercise. Keep the workout intensity at the child’s level — not yours. Find out what they want to accomplish and help them to meet their goals. And keep checking in with them.

See their love of fitness — and hanging out with dad — explode into greatness.

Credit:

Rubber Ducky Daddy

PAMP gladly accepts member blog submissions, including anecdotes, advice, confessions, recipes, outing suggestions and more! Want to join in the fun? Submit your own musings. 

Tags:  activities 

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Dad’s Rules for Talking with Kids about Money

Posted By Communications Manager, Tuesday, March 22, 2016

This Father’s Day, you may want to spend some time with your kids having a family conversation about money and values. If this makes you feel a little uncomfortable, don’t worry — you’re not alone. Many parents feel uneasy talking with their kids about the family’s finances.

“But once we talk to the kids about money, it will be like opening Pandora’s box. Who knows where the conversation will go?”

Well, first of all, the box is probably open already. Second, it will be soon, no matter what you do. And third, it might be better for you to go ahead and open the box now. When we turn money into a taboo subject, we’re teaching our kids that there is something scary about it, and that we don’t even talk about it. If that’s the lesson we teach our kids, we’re not starting them off on the road to forming a healthy relationship with money.

Here are three suggestions for talking with kids about money and, perhaps, just as importantly, ideas for acting consistently with what we say.

Rule 1: Money is like sex
Just as with sex, when it comes to money, kids know more than we think they know. But they’re probably confused about what they think they know. Most of them will figure out money eventually by watching adults. Or they’ll figure it out from their friends who have either sorted things out themselves or observed their own parents.

But while kids may know more than we think they do, they’re often confused about what they think they know. That’s because, irrespective of their age, kids often don’t have the right context to make sense of what they know.

Rule 1 should help us get over any delusion that we can keep our kids in the dark about everything. And it also helps us to define one of the tasks ahead of us. We want to help our kids begin to create a context for their knowledge so that their knowledge is helpful and empowering, not dangerous or frightening.

Rule 2: Think before you talk
Determine your own values about wealth before you discuss money with your kids. Many parents have a fairly clear sense of the values that they’d like their kids to develop with respect to money, but they may be less clear about knowing what their own values are. Therefore we need to be honest with ourselves and examine our own values about wealth.

It’s one thing to say we want our kids to understand that material possessions are not the source of happiness and fulfillment. But if our own lives are driven by conspicuous consumption, our kids will quickly come to see that the values we say that they should develop are not aligned with the values that shape our own behavior.

Kids are the most sensitive lie detectors on Earth. If there is a discrepancy between what we say and what we do, they’ll be quick to see it. The more clear we are about our own values before we talk with our kids about money, the more successful we’ll be in managing the conversation and delivering a message that is consistent with the way we live our lives.

Rule 3: Talk with them, not to them
“Mom? Dad? Are we rich or poor?” Are you worried about being asked this question by your kids? Well, now you can look forward to it because it gives you a chance to engage your kids in a conversation about the meaning of money and happiness.

You can ask your kids, “What makes you the happiest? What makes you the saddest? Does any of that have to do with being rich or poor?”

You may want to say something like this to your kids, “Rich means different things to different people. It means some things that we measure with money and other things like having a happy and healthy family that can’t be measured with money and that no amount of money can buy.”

“As far as money goes, we are fortunate to have enough to buy all the things we need and many of the things we want. And we have enough money to take care of you, so that you don’t have to worry about money. So many people would say that we are rich.”

It’s best to be honest. We make so many sacrifices for our children, and we devote so much attention to giving our kids the best opportunities we can. If we neglect having ongoing conversations about money and values, we are denying our children an opportunity to think about how their values drive their actions.

This Father’s Day, see what your kids have to say about the subject of money. What they say may surprise you.

David Enemark, CFP® is a Family Wealth Advisor at Morgan Stanley who specializes in helping families achieve financial security both for themselves and future generations. Now that his newborn son is finally sleeping through the night, David is once again riding his mountain bike whenever he can.

Tags:  finances 

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Learning to Code at Age 5?

Posted By Communications Manager, Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Technology is changing our world, and today kids as young as five years of age are learning to program computers. Learning to code is not only helpful in promoting qualities that are important to nurture in kids — perseverance, creativity and confidence — but it is also helpful in gaining invaluable critical thinking and STEM skills that support learning across all academic areas.

Creativity, for example, is a skill that can be developed and learned at home and in school through the cultivation of an experimenter’s mindset, whole brain thinking and an innate desire to be a creator (and not just a consumer). Kids embrace imaginative play, ask questions, paint colorful pictures and build elaborate things with blocks, but somewhere along the way the capacity for creative thinking diminishes. It’s not due to the lack of a “creative gene”, but rather that we haven’t reinforced creativity — and as researcher George Land concludes from his longitudinal study on creativity and divergent thinking, we have unlearned it.

Programming Teaches Kids to Experiment and Persevere
Creative thinking begins with a questioning mindset. It can be taught by encouraging kids to experiment, explore their ideas, question their assumptions, make mistakes and learn from them. Thomas Edison was a master of this type of thinking. He tested thousands of materials and processes before creating the first working light bulb. “I have successfully discovered 1,000 ways to NOT make a light bulb,” he famously said. With programming, kids are exposed to this process of experimentation. They start by learning a handful of commands to do simple tasks, and with each successful result, they slowly gain the confidence try new and more ambitious things, things that force them to question each decision and ask “What if I tried X?” Testing their assumptions in a live environment frequently results in errors and bugs, giving kids the opportunity to find a workable solution. With practice, kids gain a proficiency in their technical and hypothesizing skills, allowing them to move onto solving increasingly complex problems, and, eventually, to building programs completely on their own.

Programming Strengthens Whole Brain Thinking
Each side of the brain is said to control different parts of thinking and information processing. The left hemisphere is typically associated with logical, technical, and analytical thinking, whereas the right hemisphere is associated with imagination, artistic, intuitive thinking. We tend to think of creativity as a right-brain function, but the most creative thinkers and problem solvers can effectively engage both hemispheres. This idea of marrying “art with science” is what Steve Jobs built Apple on, and it’s this kind of “whole brain” thinking that teachers have been embracing in the classroom by promoting active, project based learning, using everything from 3D printers to sewing machines to encourage kids to create, design and build things.

Programming Gives Kids the Confidence to Create
Like learning a sport or a musical instrument, the cultivation of creativity requires hard work and practice. For kids, if the work is confusing, monotonous or the end goal unappealing, the desire to practice weakens. Kids must be motivated. They need to be in an environment that builds confidence and instills in them a genuine desire to create. Kids pick up on technology with shocking ease, so giving them a basic knowledge of programming on a coding platform that is fun and easy to use is one of the best ways they can spend time in practice and actually enjoy the process. Learning programming on the right platform, one that is structured, engaging and well paced, puts kids on the path to fluency in the language and logic of programming, and ultimately gives them a springboard to create – to not just play the games that they love, but to create the games they love to play. What an amazing gift.

Learning to code is very much like learning a new language – it gives kids a fluency not just in technology, but also in the language of creativity. Maria Klawe, mathematician, computer scientist and president of Harvey Mudd College believes that “coding is today’s language of creativity. All our children deserve a chance to become creators instead of consumers of computer science.” It doesn’t mean they’ll all grow up to be computer programmers. Programming is part of the development of a valuable technical and creative skill set that will grow with them into adulthood, enabling them to thrive in our ever growing digital world. It’s creativity that lays the foundation for innovation, ingenuity and leadership because it represents the ability to connect existing ideas with new solutions, approaches and concepts. And we owe it to our curious and imaginative kids to give them the tools to be the creative thinkers and problem solvers of the next generation.

Jennifer Apy is an involved parent, a public education supporter and champion for innovative educational products for children. She is currently VP of Marketing for Tynker.

Tags:  activities  technology 

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Finding Out You’re Having Multiples

Posted By Communications Manager, Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Hearing your baby’s heartbeat for the first time is as amazing as every parent says. A fetal heartbeat is quick – our baby’s was 160 beats per minute. When I heard it, I felt my own heart race to keep up. On the ultrasound screen, we saw a tiny, Teddy-bear-shaped body wiggling around in what looked like a dance of happiness.

While my husband and I were saying, “Oh wow” and “I can’t believe it” and “We’re going to have a baby!” the ultrasound technician was still at work. Finally she said, “And here is the second one.”

And we looked, quieter now. I think I said, “There’s another one?” My husband said, “Twins?” She showed us a little gray blur. This embryo was harder to see than the first one, but its heartbeat was strong and clear, 156 beats per minute. I was pregnant with two.

Hearing the second heartbeat is harder to describe. Part of me wanted to laugh: I was only trying for one and I got two – classic overachiever! On the other hand, the hope and joy I felt was… complicated. A multiples pregnancy increases the odds of gestational diabetes, anemia, premature birth and virtually every other pregnancy complication there is, including some unique to twin pregnancies, like twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome (TTS), a possibility with some identical twins in which one baby imperils the other by absorbing its sibling’s life-supporting oxygen and food. 

These complications didn’t just mean trouble for me: my babies would be more likely to be small and to have difficulties early in life, perhaps needing some time in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). I was only 8 weeks pregnant, and I was already thinking about the NICU!

And when the ultrasound technician showed me the second heartbeat, I felt immediately anxious, wondering whether I could give two babies the attention they need and deserve.

Then she said, “Let’s see if I find a third one.” Triplets take all the complications of twins and increase them. And day-to-day life with three or more babies stretches human ingenuity to its limits.

In my case, there was no third heartbeat. But I was still looking at a challenging pregnancy and birth, and a future as a mom of twins. In that little room lighted only by a screen showing outlines of embryos that would someday be my kids, my life changed in ways I could never have imagined.

The ultrasound technician asked us if we were all right – how does it feel, knowing you’re having twins? I said, “It feels like we’ve won the lottery – a very expensive lottery!” I was joking, sort of, but what I said was true: chance brought me something unimaginably wonderful, two babies! But this great fortune would “cost” me: not just money, but time and trouble, a toll on my body, sacrifices in my lifestyle, challenges to my peace of mind. The work and wear reminds me, daily, how precious my babies are. Isn’t that true of every pregnancy, and every child?

Moms of multiples spend more time with doctors, for which I am grateful, because I never felt alone. It seemed I always had an appointment with someone: my obstetrician, the perinatologist, the hospital dietitians who helped me through my gestational diabetes and the invaluable nurses and doctors of Labor and Delivery, whom I had to visit more than once before my babies were finally born.

When the birth finally came, one of my babies had some trouble and was put under observation for possible admittance to the NICU. But she thrived in the hours following the birth and they were able to bring her to me instead. Our babies came home less than a week after they were born, without any need for intensive care. But even with healthy twins, or triplets, or more, the adjustment to a new life together is the next big step – one we were excited to begin.

Amy Letter is the mom of twin girls Sagan and Tesla, and a writer, artist and professor of English at Drake University. She is a frequent blogger for Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford.

Tags:  expecting  multiples 

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Does Physical Exercise Make Kids Smarter?

Posted By Communications Manager, Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The stereotypical smart kid prefers reading to playing sports. The stereotypical below average kid prefers sports to learning in the classroom. The fact is these perceptions are flawed.

Focus on academic achievement and lower budget levels has led many schools in the U.S. to diminish— or for 47% of high schools, eliminate — P.E. altogether. Yet neuroscience tells us that daily physical activity opens minds to learn more. In a study conducted with 3 million children in Texas and California, a strong correlation was found between higher fitness scores and higher academic scores.

Dr. Gage’s work of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies has shown that exercise helps generate new brain cells: “Through increased blood flow to the brain, physical exercise triggers biochemical changes that spur neuroplasticity – the production of new connections between neurons and even of neurons themselves. Brain exercise then protects these fledgling neurons by bathing them in a nerve growth factor and forming functional connections with neighboring neurons.” (Fernandez & Goldberg, The Sharp Brains Guide to Brain Fitness: 18 Interviews with Scientists, Practical Advice, and Product Reviews, to Keep Your Brain Sharp)

Here are 3 ways to keep children physically active. Training our children today will largely influence their future lifestyles.

1) Start daily physical exercises at an early age and build this as a habit for future years. We often remind our children to brush their teeth twice a day. Add one more reminder: “Did you do your aerobic exercises today?” You will find numerous choices of exercise videos on YouTube. It’s like watching TV (not sitting down like coach potatoes), but with physical actions.

2) Playdates should include physical play. I remember when I was a kid, my mom punished restless me by making me stay in my room. Today, with all the digital toys, it’s the opposite. Playing outside is a punishment! Tell kids that play dates start with running and jumping around the yard or inside the house. If they want to play video games, start with aerobics apps or Wii workouts. iPad apps and video games keep children inside rooms during play dates.

3) Remind kids how physical activity keeps one healthier and smarter. If you have access to pedometers, have each member of the family wear one. Make it a family goal to physically move throughout the day and monitor progress. You can create rewards such as whoever has the highest score will determine the minimum goal for the next day. You can also create a family monitoring system by having a graph on the wall or having each member remind the others about their physical activity goals.

Reprinted with permission from Young Outliers.

Gigi Carunungan is the co-Founder and Chief Learning Architect of Young Outliers, a design entrepreneur summer camp for children in Palo Alto.

Tags:  activities 

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Five Questions for the Programs Administrator

Posted By Communications Manager, Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Kristin Mulderig is the Programs Administrator for PAMP. This is a new position with the organization, and one that helps to put all of the pieces together.

“My role is to help with communications outreach (including the newsletter and social media), small events administrative tasks,” Kristin says, “and to keep the website up to date with the most current sponsorship information.”

On a daily basis, Kristin helps manage the small events that PAMP offers with its partners — things like Mom’s Night Out, Blanket Babies and new member socials. Her duties include updating the calendar in BigTent and keeping track of RSVPs. She also creates the weekly newsletter that arrives in your email box. Kristin also works with sponsors and keeps the PAMP website up to date with ads, logos and articles.

“I like being able to work and yet still focus most of my time on my two-year-old daughter and newborn,” Kristin says. “Working from home is challenging at times, but my position is flexible and I am able to get my work done (usually) when it is most convenient for me.”

Kristin is the mother of a rambunctious two-year-old and a newborn (just welcomed in March!). She and her husband moved from Michigan to the Bay Area in September and joined PAMP almost immediately. 

  1. What is the last non-kid movie you saw? The Hunger Games: Mockingjay.
  2. Are you a Bay Area native or transplant? Transplant. I’m originally from Pennsylvania, but I’ve lived all over the country.
  3. What’s at the top of your to-do list? Help my daughter break the pacifier habit!
  4. Who is your favorite Sesame Street character? Grover.
  5. Why are you a PAMP staff? I love working for nonprofits that I believe in and that can make a difference in the community. I enjoyed being a part of PAMP as a member before I joined the staff. Because of that, I knew that working with PAMP would be a perfect fit for me.

Each month we train the spotlight on someone who works behind the scenes for PAMP. Interested in joining the ranks? Browse our open volunteer positions and apply today!  


Tags:  spotlight 

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Member Tips — Club Membership Updates

Posted By Communications Manager, Tuesday, March 22, 2016

You’ve had a great year as a PAMP member! You attended fun events, got excellent advice, maybe a new nanny from contacts on our online forums and made new friends for yourself and your children. But — oh no — your membership is about to come to an end! How do you renew your membership so thatyou can continue to enjoy all of the wonderful benefits of the PAMP community? In this Membership Tips article, we will go over how the renewal process works, as well as update you on new membership options.

30 days prior to your membership expiration date, you will receive a renewal email notice fromPAMP Parents Club (no_reply@lists.bigtent.com) with the subject line “Renew your membership to PAMP Parents Club.

To renew your membership, simply click the link provided in the email and submit your payment via PayPal or credit card. This link is valid for 60 days after your membership expiration date.

That’s all there is to it. You will receive an additional notice three days prior to your membership expiration date — so if you miss the first email, don’t worry.  Be sure to check your spam folder as well if you don’t receive it. If you lose your email invitation, contact membership@pampclub.organd we’ll send you a new one.

We also have some exciting new membership options that you may want to consider. In addition to our standard one-year membership, we now offer the following:

A general two-year membership – $108: A new membership rate that offers a 20% discount off of your second year when you sign up for two years at once.

A service membership – $30: For those members who love to volunteer with PAMP and are interested in taking on a larger role, this membership offers a reduced rate in exchange for a commitment of 5-10 hours a month of volunteer time for specific volunteer roles.

An out-of-area membership – $25: For those members who may be moving away, but want to continue to take advantage of the online PAMP community.

A scholarship membership: We want to ensure that PAMP membership is accessible to all families in the area. In this spirit, we developed our new scholarship membership. If the cost of membership is a hardship for you due to current circumstances, you may apply for a reduced or free membership rate. Your application will be kept confidential.

You can view full information on all of our membership types on the PAMP website.

We are so grateful to have so many wonderful members in the PAMP community. We hope this information will make continuing your membership an easy process for years to come!

Tags:  member tips 

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Celebrating 30 Years as a Mom

Posted By Communications Manager, Tuesday, March 22, 2016

If you asked me what I received as a Mother’s Day gift last year, I admit, I don’t remember. If you asked me to list all my favorite gifts over the last few years or even longer, I don’t remember those either. Don’t get me wrong — I like getting gifts! Who doesn’t? But gifts, as wonderful as they can be, don’t have much of a lasting emotional impact on me. What then comes to mind when I reflect on being “mommy” (now “mom”) for just over 30 years?

Looking back, If I were given the chance to give my younger self advice about how to be the best mom I could be, I would say, “Invest time and build memories.” Reflecting on moments and fun times we’ve had together over the years bring great joy. From small simple pleasures to big events, they put a smile on my face. I can celebrate Mother’s Day any time I think about these memories. Here are a few that are near and dear to my heart.

Our Family Vacations
Taking regular family vacations was of the highest priority. This was a value passed on to me by my parents. Even though of modest means and with only a station wagon as transport, my parents made sure we had fun every summer going on a road trip.

Our Adventures
My children are die-hard Disney fans. They know every ride, the quickest route and are experts on how to beat the lines. Disney pretty much encapsulates our family’s definition of fun. Other memorial adventures include the renting of a RV for a road trip, swimming and snorkeling with turtles and mantas, trips to Mexico where they enjoyed using their Spanish and cruising-where I hardly saw them all day!

Our Team
As a family we supported and followed our children’s passion. As a young girl, I had little interest in sports, but for my boys, it was a major part of their life. They lived and breathed baseball and today are loyal Giant fans. From Tee-Ball through high school, I was there attending more games than I can count. Now, when I walk through a local park and hear the ping of a metal bat hitting a baseball, it brings back a flood of memories. Providing snacks for the team, extra innings, cold benches, experiencing exuberance and despair-all for the love of the game. My step-daughter’s sport was ballroom dancing. It was thrilling to see her grace and skill at competitions. I can’t watch “Dancing with the Stars” without reliving those exciting moments.

Our Shared Faith
My faith is an essential part of who I am. It was and is of the highest importance for me to share my values and beliefs with my children. Our faith as a family provided boundaries and guidelines for how to treat others as well as how to express loving forgiveness. This foundation proved to be central and key to getting us through the bumpy teen years as well as the sad times of losing loved ones.

Our Furry Friends
My children were raised with both dogs and cats. Experts believe that raising children with animals helps to develop compassion and empathy. That may be so, but for us, family pets brought a level of fulfilment and fun that greatly enriched our lives. As a member of the family their antics often dominated the conversation and were a constant source of lightness and entertainment. Their unconditional love provided another source of nurturing and tenderness different and separate from mine.

Our Creativity
We expressed our creative side with lots of music and art experiences. Some of their creations are packed away, saved as treasures made for “mommy” with love throughout the years. Today one of my greatest joys is doing art projects with my 3 year old granddaughter.  Monday is “Grandma Day” where we play and make something new every week.

My children are “launched” and every-day mothering is no longer needed. While I don’t take credit for their decisions, I am proud of them for their chosen professions and service to others. I did the best I could with the tools I had. I supported, guided, corrected and loved with boundless energy. I made mistakes and I made good decisions. I forgave and they did, too. I am grateful and blessed to have so many fun times and memories that make celebrating Mother’s Day an ongoing event in my life.

Janada Clark is grandma to Lily and a mom of 2 sons — David, a special education teacher and Stephen a Lt. in the Navy — and a stepdaughter Kelly who lives in France and teaches English to school children. Janada is also a parent educator teaching parenting classes within our community and often writes parenting articles for PAMP.

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Mommy, Can We Send Baby Back Now?

Posted By Administration, Friday, March 18, 2016

I thought I had dodged a bullet when my second son was born and my first seemed to fall in love with him right ‘out of the box’, so to speak. The baby was doted on, squeezed, admired, snuggled and generally adored by my older son. I was relieved…I had done something right, clearly! Maybe following all the advice to pay lots of attention to my oldest child, to include him in caring for the baby, to try to be extra empathetic and loving had paid off?

Well, it did to a certain extent. He was prepared to be indulgently kind to this interloper for at least…oh…6 months or so. And then it was time for this fun toy to be returned. Time’s up, guarantee is about to expire — mom, can we return him now and get some Legos instead?

I don’t know if the little one went from ‘baby’ (another species) to ‘actual child’ (direct competition) at around the time the tide turned. My older child would run past where the little one was sitting and attempt a swift kick as he passed by. He got angry a lot, was defiant and generally out of sorts. He was certainly not happy about the baby anymore, and he didn’t seem too happy about anything else, either. I could see that something had changed, and that something different had to be done now.

Here are six steps I took that were the most effective: 

REALLY recognize what your older child is experiencing when you bring a new baby into their lives.
I know this is talked about a lot, but it’s not until we slow down and really let ourselves imagine it from our own adult perspective that we can help our children through this. Could we easily reconcile ourselves to the idea of our partners loving another partner as much they love us, with nothing being taken away from us? Would we welcome a new husband or wife for our partner, invite them to share our home and be impressed by their cuteness? Would we feel overjoyed by every new moment of delight they bring to our partner, relishing their joy and not feeling secretly abandoned and vengeful? When we truly recognize what we’re asking our children to handle, it is pretty sobering. Being able to get through the day with a smile on their faces starts to seem impressive. 

Understand that the hardest part for your child is that they think you don’t KNOW how they feel about the interloper.
They know you want them to love the baby, but their feelings are mixed. They have some that aren’t so rosy towards the baby, quite frankly, but because you seem to really love this strange new being they think you can’t possibly KNOW about those feelings. The sensation of keeping the darkness all hidden inside is agony for them. Allowing them to release those feelings, to show you and tell you, is a HUGE relief for them.

The best way I found to do that was to take some time while the baby was sleeping and play a game with my oldest son that encouraged him to express it. I used an old teddy bear, but you could use any doll or creature that has ‘human’ qualities. The game was ‘If I had a little brother, I would like to do THIS to him’. My son was not comfortable with ‘If this was YOUR ACTUAL little brother’ (although some kids would be) so I shifted it to be more neutral. Sometimes I would pretend the bear was my real little brother — Uncle Charlie — which also worked. And then you steel yourself for WHATEVER gets done to the bear, and go for it. That bear got drop kicked around the room, pummeled, jumped on, strangled, thrown, yelled at, squashed — and that was just by me. Uncle Charlie was clearly still a thorn in my side. But the idea is that you make it OK that these difficult feelings exist. You laugh, encourage them to show more and more things they might want to do to the bear, enjoy the game…and your child starts to feel the release of the pressure of keeping it all hidden. They will understand instinctively that you are not saying that it’s fine to do this to the baby, but rather that you’re saying ‘I see how upset you feel inside, and I love you and accept you completely’.

I found at first that my child wanted to play this game several times a day, then fewer and fewer times as the feelings all got released. He became happier and calmer pretty quickly, and his need to express his anguish on the actual baby diminished rapidly. The key was not so much the DOING of the violent actions, but the SHOWING them to me and having me love him anyway. His heart was relieved, and so was mine. A relieved heart is a much happier one, and a happier heart is a lot nicer to a baby interloper than a burdened and guilty one.

To that end, if at other times your older child expresses negative feelings towards the baby, try your hardest not to contradict them, or persuade them against it. Saying ‘oh, but you LOVE the baby don’t you?’ is just another moment where they might feel like you can’t possibly know how they really feel. Try to remain neutral and mild in your response…’yeah, it can be hard to share your stuff’, or ‘yeah, I didn’t much like it when my younger brother cried either’, or ‘yeah, it’s funny how we can really like someone sometimes, and then other times not so much’.

Minimize opportunities for problems.
Of course, if your older child still wants to express their feelings physically on the baby once in a while, you keep the baby safe before anything else. Don’t leave them alone together, don’t give your older child any opportunity to experience themselves in that painful way. Watch their interactions carefully, and be ready to step in at a moment’s notice to diffuse a situation. If you miss the moment and something happens, step in unequivocally and remove the baby from harm — but yelling at your older child, lecturing them or admonishing them is counter-productive. It is YOUR job to keep the baby safe, not theirs. Make it clear the action was unacceptable, but be calm and clear, not emotional and angry. Give them many, many opportunities to experience themselves as successful around the baby and cherished by you.

Let them know the things you enjoy about them at the age they are right now.
My son really loved to hear about the ways in which being a big kid was cool. I made a point of saying ‘I’m so glad that you’re old enough to come and do (whatever it was) with me now,’ or ‘I’m really happy you’re not a baby anymore and we can chat about things and understand each other!’ All little reminders that he had value to me just as he was, and in ways the baby couldn’t even begin to compete with.

Do not require your older child to share their stuff or their space.
Obviously everybody has a different living environment, but even in a tiny one-bedroom house I was able to make sure my older son had an area that was just HIS. He didn’t ask to have this other person in his life, so I never required him to act like he did. If he had toys he didn’t want the baby to touch, we put them in his special zone. In fact, we had one of those baby containment gate things, and we used it to make a play area for my older son. He would sit inside with his things, and the baby was free to roam around outside! Because we were kind with him about this, he became much kinder to the baby, and much more willing to share because he didn’t feel powerless over his things. 

My younger son turned out to be very respectful and thoughtful of other people’s possessions as a result, and wouldn’t dream of using something that belonged to someone else without their permission. He wasn’t intimidated into it, he just saw every day that we cared to make sure that everyone got to be in charge of what was theirs, including him. He’s happy to share most of the time because sharing was modeled to him as something that you get to choose when you feel good about it, not because you’re forced to.

Express UNCONDITIONAL love.
Showing and telling your child how much you love them WHEN THEY’RE NOT DOING ANYTHING IN PARTICULAR goes an amazingly far way with them. Letting them know that they’re lovable to you just because they exist is a healing balm. They understand from that that they don’t have to do or be anything other than they are in order to be loved by you, and that, conversely, your love is there no matter what they do. So, take a moment when you’re just hanging out and nothing much is happening to say ‘I am SO glad that I have you in my life!’ or something that feels authentic and true to you. They’ll feel the resonance and it will make both of your hearts sing.

So there we have it. I discovered that by allowing all of my son’s negative feelings towards the baby (in a safe way), he was freed up to have more positive ones. And not forcing him to share made him more willing to. And being unconditionally loving did more than any praise of how ‘nice’ he could be to the baby. 

I am happy to report that my sons are now some of the closest siblings I know. People comment on their connection and the fun they have together, and although they occasionally drive each other crazy, they are bonded and happy.

Like any human being, children do best when their hearts are happy – their natural instincts are GOOD, and they desperately want to succeed at this thing called life. Given trust, love and support, we all do a whole lot better.

 

Terri Landey is co-founder of Bun and Bundle, offering prenatal and postpartum support for the whole family, including baby planning and postpartum doula services.

Tags:  expecting  parenting 

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Member Musings: Turn Off Your Inner Critic

Posted By Administration, Friday, March 18, 2016

My butt was plastered in the newspaper recently. Talk about a moment to take a deep breath and exercise turning off my inner-critic and practicing self-love. In all honesty, who DOES love having their butt plastered in the newspaper, for school parents to show you and say “Look, it’s you!” They are looking at me — and I am looking at my rear end!

Self-doubt, self-loathe, self-critique — it’s within all of us. It’s like that little devil sitting on one of your shoulders ready to get in your ear the first chance it gets. Well, I’m going to share with you some tricks I use, some pointers, to help you turn it around and shut down that self-doubt. Believe me when I say it’s a constant work in practice and I think it always will be. I was recently told by a fellow body image advocate that  “It’s a daily commitment to being better every day. Confidence is something you have to put on and wear. Sometimes we have to touch it up throughout the day like lipstick.”

5 Tips to Shut Off Your Worst Critic (YOU)!

  1. Shut it down. When you hear that critical self even open it’s mouth, shut it QUICKLY. Don’t even let it get its first breath out. Immediately switch it. E.g. “How cool, I’m in the local newspaper!”
  2. Tune out. Change of scene, change of topic, whatever. Getting out and about in nature brings you back to a quieter state of mind. Notice the trees, the sky, the birds or whatever you might be surrounded by so you can provide your mind with the necessary space to unwind and get back to the present.
  3. Good sleep. I have always said that good sleep is absolutely paramount . It’s like a domino effect. You sleep well, you make better choices, you are nicer to your kids (in my case), you eat better (and drink better) and your state of mind is at it’s best.
  4. Focus on the positives, not the negatives. Ok, time for an actual exercise. Stand in front of the mirror and say three positive things right off the bat. E.g. “I like this color on me” or “I’m proud I got my 8 glasses of water into myself today” or “It felt good to give some food to the homeless man in the park.” Then walk away and get on with your day.
  5. Learn to take a compliment. Why not practice this in that mirror at the same time as step 4! If someone says something positive about you, they might actually mean it, don’t you think?

What do you do to turn off your critical self?


Melissa Menzies is a Australian Mum to three young ones and lives in Palo Alto. Check out her fashion blog YummoMummo

PAMP gladly accepts member blog submissions, including anecdotes, advice, confessions, recipes, outing suggestions and more! Want to join in the fun? Submit your own musings.  

Tags:  health  musings 

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