Holidays are a pretty special time of year. They're special for so many reasons, and young children don't always understand those reasons. What they do understand is that things are quite out of the ordinary, and that can cause feelings of anxiousness, excitement, apprehension, and curiosity.
Setting our little ones up for a great holiday experience means that we need to prepare them for what to expect. Here are a few strategies to help prepare little ones for the holidays.
- Let them know the plan and what the day will look like. "Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day! We're going to wake up and eat a special breakfast, then we're going to go to Gigi and Pop's house. You'll get to play and I bet Pop is going to want to swing you. After lunch, we'll come home for quiet time, and then after supper, we'll go look at Christmas lights!
- Empathize ahead of time. "You're going to see some family members we don't see very often. It's okay if you don't know what to say or if you don't feel like talking to them right away."
- Remember to use visual clues, not time-bound clues throughout the day. "We're going to eat cheesecake and then we're going to pick up toys, say goodbye, and go home."
- Have a plan for common issues. "There might be food you're not used to eating. It will be on your plate, and you can eat what you want. Your body will tell you what you need."
- Invite them to help plan and collaborate. "We're going to have a family Zoom call after lunch! Where do you think we should sit for our call? What toys or books do you want to share with Auntie?"
- Make all plans equal. Have multiple plans for a peaceful, successful day, keep your expectations age-appropriate, be flexible, and know that if your little one winds up not getting a nap, it will still work out.
- Keep perspective. Holidays are wonderful but stressful! Cultivate compassion, empathy, and understanding for your little one, yourself, and your family.
What would you add to the list? How are you prepping your kiddos for the holidays this year?
You've probably heard the parenting advice of "Pick your battles", right? I totally get what it means - don't sweat the small stuff, be choosy in what's really important. The intent behind this oft-cited advice is good: Be mindful of what boundaries and limits are nonnegotiable and when it's wise to model flexibility.
But can we talk about what the underlying message reveals: that your child is the enemy.
And that's just not true. Your child is a human with free will, a unique personality, their own outlook on life, and their own opinions about....well, lots of things! And they aren't your enemy, and you certainly aren't their enemy. In fact - you should be their greatest ally!
This mindset shift doesn't mean you automatically agree with whatever your child wants. But it does mean that you work on teaching your child critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration, and what healthy conflict looks like.
WHAT THIS LOOKS LIKE:
👉🏼 Nurturing a young child through a transition rather than expecting them to suck it up because you said so.
👉🏼 Giving children choices within your boundary, which allows them to feel autonomy and age-appropriate control.
👉🏼 Using "Yes, and" instead of "no" to empathize while holding a limit with gentle firmness.
👉🏼 Problem-solving with your child to find a plan that works for both of you, which we teach in our Collaboration + Cooperation workshop.
👉🏼 Welcoming your child's questions and evaluation of your values and goals, and with older children, inviting them to identify and adopt family values with you.
Our words matter. They hold the power of life and death! And as parents, we hold the pen that writes the story of our relationship with our children. Let's shift our mindset to a collaborative, partnering, life-giving paradigm rather than holding onto an old paradigm that not only fails to serve us well, but positions us against our children.
QUICK TIP: IT'S OKAY TO EXPLAIN WHY
Raise your hand if you enforce a boundary and your child asks "why?". It's so easy to just say "Because I said so!" But that doesn't really lend itself to guiding and teaching our kids, does it?
It's okay to explain why. It's better than okay, even! Explaining the why behind a boundary or limit gives children the opportunity to evaluate a different perspective than their own, it gives them a chance to learn about reasoning and risk taking. And sometimes, it gives US the opportunity to reevaluate our answer because we can reflect on if we actually *have* a reason. (And yes, it's also okay to change your mind!)
Here are a few phrases for replacing "because I said so."
It's good to be curious and ask questions, here's why ________.
As soon as you are safe I will explain why.
My answer is no, here's why:
I hear you, but we're going to do it this way because...
And what about those times they keep asking why? Gently remind them that you've already answered their question and hold the limit.
What phrases would you add to our list?
Navigating and understanding emotions can be difficult. And while many adults struggle to identify, process, and express their feelings in healthy ways, it's even more of a challenge for children. Learning emotional intelligence in childhood will set our kids up for healthy interpersonal relationships, personal achievement and self awareness, and job success. One of the easiest ways to guide our children now, is to use children books about feelings and emotions.Read more...
“Is Gentle Parenting even Biblical?” “If you aren’t spanking your children you are not obeying the Bible.” “Are you reading the same Bible I’m reading?” “I think you’re trusting modern psychology more than the Word of God.” “You’re just picking and choosing which verses to obey.”
Have you heard these questions before? Maybe you’ve asked theses questions yourself. I asked some of these questions when I first learned about Gentle Parenting.
There are details and nuances In the Greek language there are often missed in English. One of these is what is known as the imperative mood. Imperatives are used frequently in order to express a command, or prohibition. If we want to know how to live in obedience to the Word of God, we must take the time to learn what verses are commands.
In the New Testament Paul, Peter, and James collectively give more than 25 commands to be gentle, compassionate, kind, and respectful. These imperatives are not suggestions and they come with no signifiers. When Paul writes “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” there is no clause that excludes children. When Peter says “Show proper respect to everyone.” he doesn’t add a disclaimer that excludes children.
In fact, Paul consistently turns the cultural view of children upside down when he instructs fathers to be mindful of their children’s emotional needs!
While there are more than 25 commands to be kind, gentle, compassionate, understanding, forgiving, and empathetic, there are exactly zero commands to be harsh, to hit (spank), to yell at, to coerce, manipulate, or shame children.
Gentle parenting IS Christian Parenting.