Archive for the ‘Parenting’ Category

What Closeness Looks Like

What Closeness Looks Like

This is what closeness looks like. Father and son, reading side-by-side, sharing silent, yet companionable time each week. I chatted with the dad as I was leaving. He said Friday morning Starbucks is his son’s favorite time of the week. We chuckled about how books have become tablets. His son got animated at that point. They were darling!

Not all communication needs to be verbal or facing each other. A mix of shared space in comfortable quiet + eye contact and conversation makes for a healthy, free relationship.

I was with my dad recently and thought about our relationship when I was young. I remember his sharing the newspaper with me over breakfast. I remember side by side TV viewing (sports!). I remember the thrill of shopping alone with him (our own outing). We had conversations too. But what made life easy around my dad was that I felt no pressure to perform or prove anything or to fill the space with words. Talk? Or not talk? All the same to him.

Those minutes add up to a felt memory of who your parent is. If you find conversation challenging or wonder what to say, start side-by-side. Build a little cache of shared, peaceful, no pressure space. You may be surprised at how close you feel to your child.

One interesting sidenote: I notice that my person (Jim) is that kind of person for me now. I’m such a talker, and it feels so nice to have one quiet, peace-filled relationship where I get to show up without words or pressure to entertain. A gift.

This post is originally from Instagram and @juliebravewriter is my account there so come follow along for more conversations like this one!

Brave Writer Lifestyle

Dealing with Explosiveness

Dealing with Explosiveness

How do you handle a child’s explosive outburst?

Here are some ideas:

1. Rather than asking what’s going on with the child, first ask yourself: what’s going on in the house? What’s the tone? What happened preceding the outburst?

2. Ask: When did I last connect to this child? (As in, loving attention, kind interaction, mutual regard) Have I listened to him tell a story? Have I made eye contact with her or given a hug or shoulder squeeze (if the child responds positively to those gestures)?

3. Challenge yourself to reframe the behavior through the positive. Rather than calling it an angry, disrespectful outburst, can you describe the explosion in terms that are less judgmental:

  • he feels out of control,
  • she feels bereft,
  • he is looking for an ally,
  • he is frightened,
  • she is discovering her personal power to say NO to what she really really really does not like or want (all women need this power, by the way).

4. In the moment, can you respond in the opposite spirit? Go gentle when he goes harsh, go kind when she goes rude, go firm and clear when he is scattered and coming apart. To be kind and firm is supportive—”I’m right here. I feel your anger. I’ve got a bottle of bubbles. Want to show me how angry you are by blowing these bubbles?”

5. Or join with him: “That’s some powerful anger!” Then scream along side at full volume.

See if you can get the 360º aerial view, rather than taking it personally.

Q-TIP: Quit taking it personally.

Read More:

You Want Them to Disagree with You

The Homeschool Alliance

Partnering with Your Child in Writing

How to be your child's partner in writing

In school, a teacher usually has somewhere between 20-30 children whose writing she has to evaluate. She’s not partnering with the child. She is expecting that child to show his or her level of competence so she can evaluate the child and only the child. She worries that if the parent gets involved in that writing process, somehow she won’t be evaluating a child; she’ll be evaluating an adult showing up in the child’s writing.

Now, I get that. She doesn’t have conversations, one-on-one, all day long with 20 or 30 kids. She isn’t sitting next to the child while he’s struggling with his pen to write at home. All she sees is the final result of effort.

I want to share with you a story from my own childhood, because I think it’s illustrative of the failure of this system of requiring children to write without help.

My mother is a freelance author, she has written 85 books, she has been in professional publishing her entire adult life, and she has taught writing to professionals for her whole adult life.

So, when I was coming up through the ranks as a child, my mom was very interested in my writing. She provided me with all kinds of tools. I have an All About Me book and I wrote my very first story, in cursive, in that book. She bought me little journals; she jotted down things I said. My mom loved literature. We went to the library every single week. She read aloud to us and I read to myself.

This was the early rich language life.

She took us to plays, to movies; she was very interested in us having a great literature and language experience.

Partnering with Your Child in Writing

As I got into school over the years, I was assigned writing projects. I remember distinctly, in 4th grade, being told that I needed to produce this report with no help. Now, I had this massive resource in my mother, but I took what the teacher said seriously and I told my mother, “You can’t help me with this report.”

I wrote a report on Queen Elizabeth. I had a red file folder. I decided to make it beautiful, so I used a blank sheet of white paper, no lines. I wrote it in very light pencil first, I went through and corrected all my mistakes, and then I traced over it in better pen so that it would be perfect. I used our World Book Encyclopedias for my research. And I finished it without any help from my mother.

I can’t tell you how proud I was of this paper. I turned in my report with all the other 4th graders. Do you know what’s coming?

I got a C on my independently produced report. Do you know what I saw in the stack of reports? Reports written by students who had help from their parents. There were typewritten reports. There were reports that were clearly handwritten perfectly and that had lots of detail.

I just sat down with all the information I knew and I just wrote it out. I didn’t know how to structure it. I didn’t even really know how to paragraph yet. I was in 4th grade! And that C crushed me, and my mom was not pleased. I put in all this heart and effort. She saw me do the research, she saw me be painstaking in my handwriting, but I got a C because other kids had help and the teacher couldn’t tell the difference.

Here’s what you have at home that my 4th grade teacher didn’t have:

A front row seat to your children’s development. You can tell what they’re doing. You can see when you add a sentence or help them think of a vocabulary word. You know what was their effort and what was your combined efforts.

Not only that, when you combine efforts your are mentoring your children into the writing experience.

Want to learn more about partnering with your kids?
Watch the full video on YouTube!

Partnership Writing

Reframe Their Resistance

Reframe their resistance

by Stephanie Hoffman Elms

The age old dilemma. Should we or should we not “give in” when we get a lot of resistance from our kids, especially in regards to school work? After all, if we don’t “make” them continue when they start complaining, then won’t we be rewarding them for that behavior? And if we “reward” the behavior, then won’t it just encourage it? Plus, don’t they have to learn that sometimes you just need to do things even if they don’t want to?

I will admit that when my kids were that age, I definitely erred on the side of “giving in” and now that they are 17 and 20, I am happy to say that the leap of faith paid off.

Here is what I found. Giving in did not mean throwing up my hands and giving up and letting them decide everything. What it did mean was that I recognized that resistance was their way of communicating that something was not working for them and that it was up to me, as the adult in the relationship, to try to better understand what that was. Yes, whining and complaining is a very immature form of communicating, but then again, kids are by definition immature!

Sometimes “giving in” took the form of just recognizing that an 8-year-old’s priorities and my priorities were naturally going to be different. Is it really that strange that an 8-year-old might not want to do all the school work that I deem is important? 😉

Reframing their resistance from them being stubborn or difficult or lazy to them being a typical 8-year-old little boy can open up lots of options that I might not have seen before…

  • can I shift around when we do things,
  • can I let something that is causing a lot of head butting go for right now (for both our sakes),
  • can I “add brownies” and find a way to make it more acceptable,
  • can I troubleshoot with him and see if he has any suggestions for making it work better?

The tricky thing with this approach is that it is one that takes a long-term view and does not always produce quick results. By focusing on our relationship, it turns things into an ongoing conversation and a series of experiments which might take awhile to hit on a workable solution. But it also makes life with my kids easier on the whole and more enjoyable (I just don’t have it in me to be the enforcer all the time!)

Contrary to worries that I had about reinforcing the resistance, the more that I demonstrated that I was willing to work with them, the more they became willing to work with me. I often shared that I really was not sure of what was the best thing to do…that I could understand where they were coming from, but still had my own concerns (which I shared with them) and we would go from there…sometimes giving what they wanted to do a try, sometimes me realizing that nope, I felt strongly enough about this to not want to give in this time.

Where this paid off was in the teen years. I joke that Jason listened to me way more as a teen than he ever did at 8 years old and that is the truth! Because I did my best to “give in” when I could when was younger, he did not get into the habit of pushing back against me. So as he got older and more mature, he started wanting and valuing my advice…he had learned to trust that I truly wanted to let him do what he wanted to do, so when I had concerns, he was more willing to listen.

It can feel like a huge leap of faith, though! Hoping my experience helps. I really worried about “creating a monster” (especially with Jason, my more intense, head strong kid) and there seems to be little support in much of the parenting advice out there in our society at large, so this is a topic I like talking about. I also wrote about this more on my blog: On Giving in to Our Children.

Stephanie Elms has homeschooled her two boys for ten+ years and is a coach for Brave Writer’s The Homeschool Alliance. She blogs at Throwing Marshmallows.

Your Voice is Precious to Your Children

Your Voice is Precious to Your Children

Today’s digital opportunities for education are unparalleled and we are all so grateful for the gazillion ways we can ease the load of education by including technology into our homeschools.

We use DVDs, apps on phones and iPads/tablets, YouTube, Netflix, teaching videos from a variety of curriculum companies, Spotify, music CDs, Audible for read alouds, online classes that are video and live broadcast style, and more. These have enormous value which is why they are catching on so rapidly.

In our hunger to be up to date with technology and because of the promise of a little relief (freedom from the pressure to be ALL things to ALL kids ALL the days of their young lives), we dive right into their use with joy! And we should.

Here comes my own tiny caveat that I hope you’ll remember, though.

There is something about your voice (particularly the mother’s voice) in the educational life of your children that is unparalleled in giving them the soothing calming effect that lays the groundwork for learning. Your actual, literal, voice.

For instance, you could play a lullaby CD at bedtime. And that would be gorgeous. But your slightly tone deaf rendition, sung in the presence of your children, filled with heart, emphasizing the words that feel like love to you, will stay with your children forever. You don’t even have to sing every night. Singing to them a few nights a month creates a melody of love in their hearts that they will never forget. Your voice does all of that.

Actors who read classic works of fiction for Audible and books on CD are entertaining and wonderful, of course. Yet their voices will not catch and break the way yours will over the same passages. They will not gasp and respond in choked tenderness the way you will. They will not interpret the story through the lens of your family’s experience the way you can. They will not sound like you to your children.

And that is a loss in reading aloud. Reading aloud is more than getting through the chapters to the end. It’s more than entertainment or a show. It’s a chance for your children to experience you—your values, your priorities, your heartfelt connection to life itself. When you read, your children hear the lift in tone, the pain, the tenderness, and your mother’s love familiarity that warms and soothes them.

Teaching math may appear more effective coming through Kahn Academy or some other text book DVD program at first blush. It may well be that you ought to use that tool so that you, too, understand the methods being taught.

Still, it’s also important for your voice, your kindness, your natural vocabulary to expand and enhance what is given on the screen. Your children are wired to listen to you (even though I’m sure it doesn’t always seem that way!). They retain your words better than anyone else’s. When you share, and are giving and supportive, the tone of your voice (the timbre, the inflection, the accent, the melody of it) literally imprints in a way no other voice can or does! Paired with gentle contact (a hug, a smile, a stroke on the arm), your children have the greatest chance to be soothed and returned to calm (the right physiological space for learning).

My primary point is this: Mothers can create a much more profound learning and loving environment when they USE the beautiful voices their children already adore IN their educations. We are wired to listen to our mothers.

Give them what they need: your loving voice.

This study describes the research to back up this assertion.

Need ongoing coaching and support?
Check out The Homeschool Alliance!