10 Phrases to use instead of “Don’t be Silly”.

** 5 minute read **

I’m tired of hearing people say “Don’t be silly” to their kids. 
I believe children aren’t trying to be silly nor are they trying to embarrass or annoy us. They are simply being children and more often than not are trying to have fun! Or, equally as often, have simply not been shown or modeled the expected behavior or required boundary. I often also hear this phrase used when children are presenting ideas, thoughts, and feelings. Can you imagine how you’d feel if you were told “Don’t be Silly!!!” in a firm and unpleasant or even condescending tone when you were presenting a keynote to a group? Or when you’d been injured and mentioned the pain? Or were crying because of grief or sadness?

Here I give you some alternative phrases to help guide your child and maybe recognize your own need in a situation as well.

1. Wow! – How easy is this one? Put a smile on your face and secure yourself a few seconds to judge your next parenting step, whether it’s a safety, health, or behavior issue.

2. Please use an “inside voice”. (Followed by a reason, if possible) – No explanation needed.

3. That really hurt, didn’t it? It’s ok to cry to let out the pain. (Folllwed by breathing with the tummy or whichever calm-down method you use). – Sometimes I even tell a story of when I got hurt a similar way as a child & kabam! Crying stops and play continues.

4. Looks like you’ve put so much effort in to that! – Another simple one which really only requires you pay attention to what they’re doing to supply an appropriate reaction. No need to judge their creation, just show them you know they’ve put in an effort and be encouraging and supportive by using this phrase.

5. Are you excited? Or, You look so excited! – I allow my children feelings of excitement, and naming the emotion allows them to identify it. As they grew older, their squealing reduced and bright, bold statements of “I’m so excited!!!!” Came out instead. A lot easier when you’re in crowded places as well!

6. Let’s stay calm. – Saying this out loud will also help you stay calm and remember to be the adult and be the parent. I’m saying this from experience!

7. In the ____place name____ is where we sit on our bottoms/in the chair/stand in line/etc. – Attaching a behavior to a location can be very helpful. Consistency also helps with this particular phrase.

8. What makes you think/feel that? – You’ll be surprised at what you discover using this phrase. Especially if your child is 4/5+ years old, then simply “work it out together” as I like to say.

9. You’re upset! (Followed by ‘Come here and let’s talk about it’) – In the same way as point 5 works, giving a name to the feeling is the first step in being able to identify and manage their emotions. 

10. Try telling me in a clear speaking voice (or if your child has a connection to a favorite adult or character who always speaks clearly, try using them as an example). Forget baby talk or either of you competing in a bout of demands and yelling. Encouraging clear articulation and making a point of its importance simply sets your child up for the future and it makes things SO much easier for you!

I’ve found these phrases work like magic and in addition to that, the children don’t feel shamed, confused, guilty, overwhelmed or overloaded, and they learn (slowly) what is expected. Win win win.

Xx C

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The day I thought I’d failed my daughter, and how I made my way back to her.

It’s not until you reach the lowest point possible, or, the highest point of stress that you may find your way to light. That’s how it’s been for me for the last 2 months – feeling like I’ve totally failed raising my second child. For varied and numerous reasons – lets call it “mashed up circumstances” – I hadn’t been as focused on my second as I was on my first – goodness knows I wouldn’t be able to handle any more children as other mothers so graciously do. But more than the usual “We played classical music for our first but the second just gets whatever is on the radio”, or, “We went totally organic for our first but the second ate bread and processed food WAY too early”… It was more along the lines of simply dragging the second along to everything the first was doing over this particular two month period, “hurrying” her along to keep up with whatever I was doing, and never really paying attention to more than her physical needs. I am a second born myself and I do realise how this feels. What a fool I was to repeat it for my own child!

So one day recently, all of a sudden everything felt like it came crashing down. My sweet, sparkly 3 yo was screaming and crying, constantly doing “bad” or the wrong things – that which she knows will push me or upset me, even physically hurting myself and others, and it felt like EVERYTHING I tried failed. Patience, calm non-violent communication, yelling, stupid consequences like removing cherished toys, changing the environment, making sure all physical needs were met that instant… I felt like I used all the tools in my toolbox and everything failed. I felt like she, and I, we’re breaking down. 

I cried for a while… Well, it was 2 days actually. And then it hit me like the proverbial tonne of bricks. 

Connection.

SO simple. Children lash out when they are in need. When they are hurting.


Because of the various differences between my two, I was so focused on catering to my older child’s new phase and needs, as well as the other stressors which were going on at the time, my little one was totally left behind. My heart broke when I realised this. And then, her collarbone got broken after she fell from the dining room chair. This child who can literally jump off the clothes line, hang upside down on an aerial bar, do yoga, and climb 10 feet into the air on a circus rope, fell half a metre when messing around and broke her clavicle. At the time I felt it was my fault and wanted to make it all better, then we had quite a roller coaster ride with not getting help at the hospital (long story), that even more of our relationship felt like it was breaking. I felt like a really bad mother.

From that day onwards, even though she had been in pain and frustrated at not being able to do the amount of physical activity she was used to and had a lot of pent up energy, I tried to connect with her. It’s crazy how simple it is but in the busyness of every day life we can overlook that which is most simple.

I gave her 100% of my attention and focus. We played games led by her. We read her favourite books. I shared my feelings with her. And I made a conscious effort to have my older child allow her to speak without interruption. Every day I am working on it but every day is getting better. I think at one point in the process of feeling I was losing her I thought that because my first was constantly in the carrier and very attached to me (when she was tiny) that we had a stronger connection, and that my second born was simply a more adventurous, free spirit (which she is) but that she wasn’t as connected to me and that I had no say in the matter. That was another mistake.

You CAN make a difference in your relationship with your child. Never give up no matter how old they are! All it takes, is connection. You can never fail them as long as you are trying your hardest.

Let your love rule πŸ™‚ You got this!
Xx

First Steps to Being An Awesome Parent

I couldn’t believe when I read this article on becoming a better parent.

  I had come to this myself maybe 6 months ago, after a year of to-and-fro (which I haven’t posted about just yet) and I just want to let you know that if you don’t do these things already – they really do change your life, and your children’s.

Read it and take the steps. It’s only 5 steps, and take the baby steps to begin with, but it’s worth it. Being a Mother or Father can rock – you just need to – Rock It!!

If you feel like you’ve chosen the wrong life (let’s face it, not all pregnancies are planned!) and parenting is just not you, sometimes a little shift in perspective or approach is all you need ❀️❀️

Cooking and Toddlers: Yes, it CAN work!

  

I’ll make this quick because, who has spare time when you need to prepare a meal or 10?

As of a few months ago, I have extra chefs in the kitchen when I need them, and boy does this take the frustration out of the “witching hour”! It means they get focussed time developing fine motor skills, they learn to respect the cooking and food handling (and potentially food growing) processes, AND they spend quality one-on-one time with me – it’s a win-win-win as I like to call it!

Usually, my eldest is finished first with her cooking task simply because she is more experienced and skilled. My 2yo however will spend 20 solid minutes or more cooking if necessary as she loves to be a part of what I’m doing (don’t all toddlers?). So today I’m sharing how I got it to work, and a few recipe outlines to get you and your toddler started – hooray!

  1. Ask them, with joy, whether they’d like to help.
  2. Explain the importance of, and how much love goes into home cooked meals.
  3. Teach knife and stove skills early.
  4. Have trust (and patience!) with their rustic artistry.
  5. Thank them for their part in creating the family meal.

Setting up a workstation in the kitchen.

I set up a stable footstool by the bench or dining table. Arrange a small chopping board, paring knife (or spoon if spooning or other utensils), and the food items, with as much space surrounding this area as possible. Place a hand cloth and the dish/bowl/cup next to them for transferring the food into. Have the child stand up on the stool in front of the workstation and explain the items and what they’ll need to do.

Try these simple, toddler friendly recipes;

Salad (fruit or green). Select, or have them select foods that can be easily cut, set up their work station, and until you’re confident they won’t cut themselves, stay nearby to guide them.

Yoghurt with berries. This one is great for practicing pouring and scooping. Again, guide them lightly until you see they can manage scooping the weight of the items, then relax and let them handle it!

Pancakes. This one is slightly more complex and you will need to supervise for a longer period but when they’re confident, pancakes for Mum or Dad in bed with yoghurt and berries on top is excellent!

Scrambled eggs. I have a small frying pan the children can lift and place on the stove. Have them place the butter/oils in and turn the stove dial to the appropriate setting, and have them crack the eggs into a separate bowl before pouring into the pan. Once they’re confident enough they can crack them straight into the pan. With this, I handle the transfer of eggs to plate.

Sandwiches. You can get creative with your workstation here and line everything up like a train!

Pouring liquids. Juice, milk, water, gelatin drinks. This is a great one to start small then work upwards with the quantity.

Rice cakes with toppings. My little one loves preparing the bedtime snack for herself and her sister. Coconut oil (solid of course), butter, tahini, jam, honey … whatever works πŸ™‚

So – one more reminder before you get started – allow an extra 10-20 minutes for meal preparation πŸ™‚ 

It may be slow to begin with but such skills can only improve and serve your children in the future. Good luck and have fun!!!!

Xx

Teaching Your Children About Consent – in pictures

I could not have done this better myself. If it makes it easier for parents to give them tools to feel a little less awkward (especially those who haven’t experienced any form of sexual abuse), or a great choice of words to use, I’m all for it. I will be searching for more from Morgan in the weeks to come. Check it out;


 Originally found here.
Thank you, Morgan and Liz! I will be sharing this everywhere! Useful for fathers as well.
Xx

Why My Child Mimics Your Sentences

For most parents the answer to this may seem obvious, however I’ve been in the situation a few times now where I’ve needed to defend my youngster’s behavior from an upset or annoyed adult. These aren’t just singles or ‘dinks’ mind you, they’re young/new parents, and even experienced grand-folk, too.

To put it simply, she is expanding her vocabulary, learning how to pronounce these new words, and learning new mannerisms through mimicking. That’s it!

In a way she looks up to you and is then learning about you through copying. That’s how growing works! That’s how they learn to crawl, walk, eat, run… I know that this shouldn’t really need to be explained, but in my experience, some people truly don’t realize this very simple fact.

Happy mimicking my little friends! Grow on!

Xx

A Glimpse into our Homeschooling Life

The reaction is often one of surprise when I tell people I homeschool my children. Usually it’s an old friend, distant relative, or random stranger asking where they go to school or whether they’re off school sick today. It can be one of two responses and in most cases because people are caught by surprise they give off honest reactions!

Either they’re silently wondering what sort of hippie I am and doubt the whole home schooling concept. Or – and this one is more common – they are enthusiastic and respond with a “Wow! Good on you! I couldn’t do it though! How DO you cope?”. The very next thing, 99% of the time, is a question about whether they get to spend time with any other children! I have to hold back the laughter when I hear that. No, I dont have them locked up in a cage, clearly. 

I think a common misconception about home educated children is that they don’t interact socially. False. And if they don’t there is a reason and in many cases they’ve actually been pulled out of a school system which is failing them due to their condition or learning type. I have two children who have many friends of differing ages, and are learning how to navigate the world like any other children. I think what many people don’t understand is that those parents whom have chosen to home school believe in a social life with people of all ages, skill levels, and backgrounds. Thus providing the opportunity for varied and passionate tutors and mentors, life perspectives, and joyous occasions to learn and to grow.

I get asked sometimes what our day looks like and since no day is alike for many “homeschoolers”, “unschoolers”, “natural learners”, or distance education families, this is just sample from many, many, many different types of days. The truth is that there is no “typical” day for those who have chosen to do this.

So here it is – I’ve bullet-pointed it simply so I can review it before posting!

  • Wake and prepare for the day, breakfast and tidy up
  • “Morning Circle” – sing songs, sit together, plan our day, gather materials, discussions and choices made by both myself and the children.
  • Craft or similar activities for the children while I exercise in our home gym.
  • Snack time (they usually prepare their own ‘picnic’)
  • If no social outing is arranged we generally have a more structured activity where I facilitate or organise what is set out, catered to each child’s age and developmental stage. I am using a Montessori approach/plan and marrying that with Natural Learning, and I find it fits quite well with our family.
  • Free play, then lunch and tidy up.
  • Story time, discussion about the story (and many questions from the toddler!), drawing or construction/building.
  • Sometimes a movie or documentary depending on current interests, iPad math games, or another interest-focused activity.
  • Research or discussion about an upcoming holiday destination, or part of the world a friend or relative lives.
  • Either circus training, swimming, outside play, or play with friends. Outside play usually includes water play/experiments, chalk drawing, hanging from the clothes line, and discovering bugs, flowers, birds and nature. Pretend play and games with me.
  • Dinner and tidy up, bedtime routine.
  • Story time and sleep.

I think that’s it! Today we managed to fit in ‘tinker tray’ craft, origami, sweeping/tidying/chores, dinosaur documentary, dinosaur names and their place on some of the continents, siphoning water, trampoline and clothes line circus practise, chalk drawing, cooking/mixing/measuring/pouring, creating art as gifts, reading, reading and more reading, climbing & balancing, letter recognition, animal recognition, and more! Life is interwoven into our day and since the children work with me to complete the everyday simple tasks of creating shopping lists, or deciding where to have an adventure, or what to draw, or which proteins and carbohydrates they’d like on the plate to balance their meal (before preparing it themselves), I feel confident they’ll develop a healthy and functional independence.

To be honest it is challenging catering to two children with different learning styles of different ages and developmental stages, while trying to parent also. It’s a tough gig sometimes, but I get immediate feedback, joy, cuddles, and see their learning every day. I am there to assist with the difficult emotional processes, and I get to be with them while they grow! I am lucky as well, that I have the opportunity to have this lifestyle with them, so I am thankful for that. Some wouldn’t wish it but I believe in our choice.

So that wraps it up nicely I think. Like I said there’s no typical day, but if you were curious to see how it all works for us as a family, I hope you enjoyed the snapshot!

Xx

Nurturing Your Little Artist: Tips to help your child develop their drawing skills

The information below can really help those of any age, not just little ones. In my experience, everyone I meet who isn’t already a professional creative in some capacity and whom feels comfortable enough to share, make comments like “I could never draw”, “My parents/friends/teachers always made fun of my art so I stopped”, “I was never shown how”, “After about 7 or 8 years old we were told it wasn’t important so I stopped”, and most commonly; “I wish I could do that!”. But the important thing to remember is that it is a skill, and like most skills, needs time. More than anything we just need to allow our children the time they need, encourage them, and above all, if they are not interested, don’t push them. 

So, here we go!

1. Give them paper and pencils.
This is the easiest one. Every child loves to make a mark on paper!

2. Draw with them. By watching you draw they begin to learn how to hold a pencil, how to make shapes, and how to control what they’re drawing.

3. Show them the basics. Lines, shapes, dots, gentle strokes/pressure, a snowman… See what unfolds.

4. Encourage them. Help them see that with practice they can do anything! I’ve also found that spending time doing activities to develop their fine motor skills will help tremendously when drawing. For one of my children, that was simply practicing tying hair ties in her dolls hair !

5. Learn along side them. If you feel you’re not “good enough” to show them how to draw, head to the library or book shop and grab a simple “how to draw” book and learn with them! Kids love the animal drawing books.

6. Show them they can draw anything they see, or imagine, or both! 

7. Don’t pressure them (Give it time). 

8. Avoid negative or harsh remarks. To you, it may not look like anything but if you take the time to watch them draw it you may just see the horse as they draw it! By using positive encouragement you will lift instead of squashing their learning & expressive experience.

9. Provide a creativity corner or desk. I did this by taking a standard, two drawer desk and filling it with paper, Coloured paper, pencils, pens, markers, scissors, glue, stickers, glitter, craft sticks, a watercolor set, and more. Supervise where necessary πŸ˜‰

  
10. Relax and let go. 

11. Take them to see and experience art and artists. 

12. Join a drawing group or club.
Good luck and comment on your child’s progress πŸ™‚

Not lost, just in an Other World !

So you may be wondering what I’ve been up to the last few months with my lack of drawings and posting. We’ll wonder no more!

  

I’ve been illustrating an Adult Colouring book! My first ever, in fact. And it’s SO insanely exciting I’m overflowing πŸ™‚

Here’s the link to check it out;

http://celeseheward.bigcartel.com

I’ll be adding more products soon and have two more books in the pipeline which I’m doing with other artists. And for those of you on the book;

https://facebook.com/otherworldscolouringbook

I really hope you like it, I absolutely LOVED creating it!!

A quick little poem

My house is a sea of mismatched socks
And toy trains with broken wheels
I’m constantly in the kitchen
Cooking endless supplies of meals

The washing’s never done and there’s always some sort of mess
I am a play tower, a horse or donkey And I never get a rest

I sing about the potty and I sing about their fears
My children scream and laugh and cry And I’m going deaf in both ears

We fight, we talk, we hug, we laugh
And sometimes we all squeal
But the most confusing part of life is
Not knowing how they feel

I try to teach them letters
And respect, and mathematics 
I try to maintain patience
And wonder if that’s all that matters 

A smile will melt you, a giggle can crush you
And you’ll do anything in your power
To make sure they have the best of life
Despite the tantrum for 2 hours

They never want a nap 
And this in turn makes my life hell 
But after a kip and a piece of fruit
Everything always turns out well 

I need some space and I need a coffee
I need sleep for just one night
I also need a cleaner,
And a massage at first light

They only do the opposite
Of everything I say
But they grow up fast
And soon they’ll want to fly and go away

I get upset and cry and shake
It’s tiring being mother
But the love my children create in me
Make it my choice over any other.

C. Heward 2015

My children – one strong spirit and one free spirit – give me the deepest experience of nature and love possible.