Category Archives: Parenting 2 – 10

We hope your enjoy reading our articles on parenting for children between the ages of two and ten… We encourage your feedback, please let us know of any topics you would be interested in reading more about!

HOW TO GET YOUR CHILD TO BEG TO GO TO BED by Margaret Saunders

As you know, it is not always easy getting your child to go to bed, let alone staying there and then falling asleep. Your child may be the “stay-up late, no matter what” type. You know, its ten o’clock and you’re bleary eyed but he is wide awake and bushy tailed. Or its 3 a.m. and it’s the fifth time your angel has woken up and called for you from her bed. Perhaps it seven-thirty, bedtime and your “adored one” won’t budge from the television set and lounge room. Or, all of these scenarios apply to your household or its something else and you too are drop dead tired. Sound familiar?

 

It was like this too in our house, and on top of all this one of my daughters liked to wake up at 4.30 a.m. and that was the time she expected us to start our day, and for a while we did. However, the time came when all this stopped and I invented a fool-proof never-fail-go-to-bed-routine which also included both my daughters falling asleep fast! Yes, a dream come true – for us all!

 

It did take a while, but not forever, and it did happen and now daughter number 2 who is 7 goes to bed happily at 6.00 p.m. and is asleep by 7.00 p.m. without a fuss and her older sister who is nearly 11 goes to bed at 7.30 pm. and is asleep by 8.30 p.m. Night after night after night!! I have the philosophy that there is no guarantee that I will have my daughters tomorrow. Things can happen. Just as life is given to us it can be taken away. I use the attitude that this day may be the last I have with them, and that this night may be the last one that I put them to bed. And that if this is the last night I have with them, well I want them to have bedtime bliss and fun at bedtime.

 

When I wake up I want to remember that the last moment I had with them was a happy one. So with this in mind, I make going to bed fun. Sometimes there is a treat for my child by her bed. Sometimes I may do something amusing, like dress her favorite teddy in her pajamas and have her tucked into my daughter’s bed. I use a lot of humor. We all laugh a lot at bedtime, and my routines and activities are strictly adhered to over and over again and they are now embedded into my children’s subconscious minds. So if your child won’t leave the television set at 7.30 p.m. why not try horse backing him all through the house with outrageous horse noises and jokes until you eventually get him to the bedroom.

 

If it’s the fifth time your angel has woken up calling out for you why not sing in your sleepiest voice a go-to-sleep song that you have made up just for her as you tuck her in one more time. And if it is ten o’clock and your child is still wide awake and bushy tailed this is the time to get serious about considering a bedtime routine to get him into bed at say 9.00 p.m. for a week, 8.30 p.m. for the next week, 8.00 p.m. for the next week and then 7.30 p.m. for the rest of the year.

 

This takes planning and tenacity and courage, which is definitely worth while which eventually leads to the “in bed by 7.30 p.m. and asleep by 8.00 p.m.” stage and you all become wide awake and bushy tailed at 7.30 a.m. and ready for your day. When I did this for my eldest daughter the routine fell into place so well that there is one memorable night that she actually asked to go to bed early and it was a Saturday night. It was 6.30 p.m. Who were we to refuse such a request. It sounded too good to be true. And to top it all off she was fast asleep before 7.00 p.m. We had the rest of the night all to ourselves. Heaven and bliss! Until … we remembered that this was the night daylight savings was changing over and the clocks were to go back an hour. She had sort of gone to bed at 5.30 p.m! Oops! By now it was too late to change things, and we braced ourselves, and yes, she woke at 5.30 a.m. bright eyed and wanting to start her day. So we did! There were other times when she wanted to go to bed early, and that was OK with us, but, when it came to daylight savings change over we always took note of what time she went to bed. Both my daughters really adore a “go to sleep song”. I made one up and with individual words just for them. I am not musical, I do not sing well, but when I sing their song, especially at night I sing it very, very sleepily and the words are very, very sleep orientated. I cannot recommend this enough especially if your child is a baby or very young. After you have sung your own song a few times, your child will recognise that this is a go-to-sleep time and it is especially handy, if your child has woken in the middle of the night, had a bad dream, is restless or is sick. It can also be used to relax your children as you are driving in stress inducing traffic. These are just a few ideas and suggestions for getting your child to beg to go to bed. Here’s a summary Step by Step 1/ Use the attitude as if this is the last night you may have with your child. 2/ Make going to bed fun, use humor, jokes, horse-back rides or something unusual or funny on or in their bed. 3/ If your child stays up really late, start a go to bed routine, and put him to bed half an hour earlier each time on a weekly basis until he is in bed at a designated time of say 7.30 p.m. (More details of how to do this are in my manuals – see below.) 4/ Make up your own tune and add your own words and sing it to your child or children in a really, really sleepy voice when they are in bed. Please do not under value the simplicity of these suggestions and ideas which work best by implementing them over and over again. This article was written by Margaret Saunders at Bedtime And Toilet Training Solutions. visit www.BedtimeAndToiletTrainingSolutions.com.au

Babies – Temperature and Clothing

Until a child is at least 14, they should not be left unaided to make choices in how warmly they dress according to Lisa Romero, Anthroposophical Healer and Teacher. Romero recommends Children need to be thought of as ONIONS! They need LOTS of LAYERS.

A baby is born without physical protection; they begin their life dependent on the care of their parent. It is vital that a hat and shoes (beanie and booties) are placed on a baby upon arrival into the world and daily until the toddler years. Their body is learning from this very young age to balance heat and cold. As your child grows, s/he has to re-establish warmth if they are to grow as a full and healthy person. This sense of balance is one of the foundation senses that are acquired gradually during the first seven years of life. Often when the child says they don't want to wear a cardigan/singlet/long pants/long- sleeved top they are saying it from their sense of life. That is, they may not like the "feel" on their skin or the sensation of something around their neck.

Adults need to take responsibility to help a child dress appropriately for the weather. For the child under 7 it is vital they are kept warm, this is when they are working with the development of their organs.
 

Two points to consider when dressing your child for these winter days are:

1 Layers of clothing - Undergarments: singlet and tights. We often see children running around with bare backs and tummies. The region of the liver and kidneys so these organs need warmth.

2 – Fabrics - Are they wearing natural fibres or synthetic fabrics? The skin is an organ, the outer boundary of the body. It continuously has a relationship with the body and the surroundings. It needs to be able to breath and it is the organ that constantly experiences the sense of touch. Touch is also a foundation sense that is important to the first seven years.

This may support you in considering why it would be beneficial to choose natural organic fibres rather than synthetics where possible. Clothing has become about fashion more than health. The power is in your hands as the parent for as many years as possible to be practical more than fashionable. Take charge in this area for as long as possible to give your child a healthy start more than a fashionable one.

Redirection the best way… Creative Discipline

'Creative Discipline' is a bag of useful tools for those trying moments that naturally occur with all young children. Redirection is one of eight 'Creative Discipline' techniques that can positively transform challenging moments; whilst parent and child remain connected together.

Isolate the 'action' a child is displaying and redirect the 'action' into a safe and positive play idea.
 

Scenario: a young child is running inside at a social gathering.

  •  "Can you run to that tree and back three times in the garden? I will watch from the window. Outside is where you can run".
     

Scenario: a young child is banging on the window with a hard object (makes a lovely sound!).

  • "We bang on a drum, let's tap on a saucepan with a wooden spoon. This is how we tap, well done, not on the window". 

Redirect to a whole new activity, when trying moments occur. Redirection can also quickly change a child's mood.

 

Scenario: a child is tired but do not want to rest ('niggles' will follow!).

  • Throw a big bed sheet or bedspread over the kitchen table to make a cosy den underneath with cushions and books.
  • Start reading a story to big teddy on your bed, your child will soon follow. 
     

Scenario: a child is upset, waiting for tea.

  •  "Look at that bird in the tree; it sounds like it is calling your name. Listen, Roger, Roger…!"

Redirect to something new (children live in the moment!). Redirect by saying the 'positive' way to behave, rather than "Stop…" "No…" Children are more open to being guided in this way (even teenagers!). Each time your child displays a challenging behaviour is an opportunity to guide (redirect) your child on how to live in this world.
 

Scenario: Children are walking in mud on the way to the classroom (teaching)

  • "Stay on the path!", rather than "Keep off the mud!"

It is subtle but children respond to the positive way to behave (with less defensiveness), and learn what to do next time.
 

Scenario: a young child is hitting a playmate to get a toy.

  • Say 'hands down' in a firm manner, redirecting the child to keep his hands to himself.
  • Redirect the child to use words to ask for a turn, and for the hurt child to say, "Stop! I do not like that".
  • Redirect the child to help you get a timer to play a turn taking game when the bell pings! Practice 'sharing' with teddy at home.
  • Explain gentleness throughout the week with toys and other people.

Remember that no child or parent is perfect, and neither should we be as it is our mistakes that help us to learn and grow. Try to be conscious of how things worked out during and after each incident with your child. Understand where you could have parented more positively (redirecting) to change inappropriate behaviours, and make plans to act differently tomorrow (and then try again!)… Lou Harvey-Zahra's book 'Turning Tears into Laughter: Creative Discipline for the Toddler and Preschool Years' (Five Mile Press) includes all eight Creative Discipline tools. Along with free and inspiring parenting tips (newsletter), her book can be found at www.skiptomylouparenting.com

Frightful Witches and Kissable Toads…Why Folktales? by Jenni Cargill

As a professional storyteller, I have to confess my prejudices. I am totally and passionately in love with the genre of folktales. Yes, there are folktales that are boring or overly violent or model terrible values. These are the toad stories and yes, sometimes one has to kiss a few toads in the process of finding the princes and princesses of story. If your main exposure to the classic fairytales has been Walt Disney films or books, you may be unaware of the earlier, earthier and more satisfying versions.

 

As my friend and master storyteller Brian Hungerford often wryly asides, “There is a special place in hell for Walt Disney.” In the West, many of us seem also to have lost the ability to decode the metaphors in folktales, which leads us to confuse princes and princesses with toads. So many adults miss the potential in folktales to heal, soothe and model ways of being for children and themselves, in an entertaining and gripping way. Thus I want to write in defense and in praise of my good friends and lovers. One day Baba Yaga’s two trusted toads said, “You are truly terrifying!” “Good!” said Baba Yaga, “because that’s what I’m here for.” from The Wise Doll by Hiawyn Oram. Folktales are often rejected for their violence, their ‘sappy idealism’ and happy-ever-after endings. For me, those things didn’t worry me, but the gender stereotypes did. So I avoided telling the classic Grimm’s tales and found more unusual folktales to tell with active heroines. But two experiences reversed that rejection.

 

The first was my son’s obvious delight in Little Red Cap (Red Riding Hood), Rapunzel, Goldilocks, Rumplestiltskin and Jack and the Bean Stalk. He was then two years old. The second was reading a book called The Uses of Enchantment by Bruno Bettelheim. Firstly lets deal with violence in folktales. There are two things I’d like to consider. The first is age appropriateness and the second is sorting out positive stories from destructive stories. I tell a traditional Scottish folktale called Molly Whuppie. The heroine outwits and outruns a giant who wants to eat her and her sisters.

 

My son’s friend, a very masculine boy who is four and a half, is afraid of the tale Molly Whuppie, while his younger sister and my son have loved it since they were two. So it’s not just age you need to consider, and certainly not gender, but individual temperament. My three year old ADORES scary stories and begs for them constantly. I ask “Are you sure this isn’t too scary for you?” He shakes his head emphatically “No” and begs for a story about a witch who eats children. In fact for my son, his nightmares eased, then ceased, when we began telling stories like Red Cap (the older version of Little Red Riding Hood), Jack and The Beanstalk and Baba Yaga. I recognise that the opposite could be true for some children if given the wrong story too young. They are good medicine, but you have to get the dosage right.

 

Children instinctively respond emotionally and unconsciously to the metaphors embedded in stories, if they are allowed to. Unconsciously and emotionally they recognise the witch, the giant and the wolf as the scary aspect of adults and/or themselves. When I am frazzled and exhausted and the baby is crying and my 3 yr old playfully hits me one too many times after being asked not to, I can turn into something akin to a wolf, a witch and/or a giant. This is utterly bewildering to a child. Where did that nice Mummy go who is playful, loving and on my side? It can be easier to imagine that Mummy or Daddy or grandma or teacher or whoever, has been temporarily taken over by an evil monster, than to contemplate that they are capable of being so frightening. Hence, grandma is engulfed by the wolf in Little Red Riding Hood. (Bettelheim, p 179)

 

Giants usually symbolise that side of our nature that is grumpy, selfish, insensitive, foolish and mean. But to children, the looming height and ultimate power over them that adults possess, means unconsciously adults are their giants. This is amplified when we are grumpy, but even when we are reasonable, we can still seem frustratingly powerful. No matter if you are the most fair and calm parent in the world, your child will still enjoy fantasising that s/he can be the boss and even defeat you. In reality they need your protection, guidance and boundaries to feel safe, and of course they don’t really want to see you come to harm. You are their beloved and the centre of their world. But in a story, they can unconsciously have those darker desires fulfilled without any real harm coming to you. Furthermore “…whatever the content of a fairy tale- which may run parallel to a child’s private fantasies whether they be oedipal, vengefully sadistic, or belittling of a parent- it can be openly talked about, because the child does not need to keep secret his feelings about what goes on in the fairy tale, or feel guilty about enjoying such thoughts.” Bettelheim, p57.

 

Folktales can give children access to ways of dealing with their natural fears, furies and frustrations. Even those with violent images, can give children important ways to deal with these confusing feelings. Some tales might model a kind of behaviour that is inappropriate. In the story Molly Whuppie, I changed a significant part of the story, because the giant’s wife- who had actually been helpful to Molly- got beaten and this was set up as funny. This probably came from a time in history when wife-beating was seen as acceptable and the norm. But the trick is in differentiating a tale that is in itself sick, from a healthy one with a sick bit. We don’t need to throw the baby out with the bath water. A little bit of surgery made the tale acceptable to me.

 

Recently, I had a very vivid personal experience of the healing and empowering qualities of folk tales. I was due to go on tour to Sydney for two weeks work storytelling, but I was feeling really scared. My work when I’m on tour, is fairly intense. It involves delivering twelve to fifteen solo shows a week to audiences of 120 to 250 schoolchildren of mixed ages as well as driving and navigating through peak hour city traffic to one or two different locations a day. Now I have ten years experience and all that I can happily cope with normally. But this time, I was taking my 3 yr old son and my breast-fed baby, who was then 4 months. She was crying intensely in short car trips and waking 5 times a night. I felt I was facing an impossible task, but I was also determined to do it, so I had to find the courage. At the same time I was learning The Wise Doll, a version of a tale about the witch of Slavic and Russian tradition Baba Yaga, by Haiwyn Oram. Now Baba Yaga’s house is surrounded by a fence made of bones: small bones, because she likes to eat children for dinner. It’s a pretty graphic and violent image. Her house stands on chicken legs and when she wants to travel she simply commands: “Rise chicken legs, rise and RUN!” and the chicken legs rise up, and the house rises up, and the chicken legs carry the whole house forward with the fence of bones surrounding it.

 

The “Too Nice Girl” is sent to Baba Yaga’s house in the middle of the forest, in the middle of the night to visit Baba Yaga and bring back a gift. With the help of her Wise Doll, given to her by her mother before she died, the terrified girl passes three tests, gains the gift and her courage as well. Indeed the gift represents her courage. The more I rehearsed it, the more I felt courage rising up in me- for if a young terrified girl could go to the house of a child-eating witch, alone in the middle of the night, what was two weeks performing in Sydney with two small children? This is one of the reasons why the scary characters in folk stories need to be so vivid. If, by identifying with a hero or heroine in a folktale, you can vicariously experience facing and triumphing over an overwhelmingly scary foe, then facing your own real life challenges seems a lot easier and do-able. It is a psychologically empowering experience. This has a particular poignancy for children whose fears can loom large.

 

But there are other reasons. “The fairy tale hero has a body which can perform miraculous deeds. By identifying with him, any child can compensate in fantasy and through identification for all the inadequacies, real or imagined, of his own body. He can fantasise that he too, like the hero, can climb into the sky, defeat giants, change his appearance, become the most powerful or the most beautiful person- in short have his body be and do all the child could possibly wish for. After his most grandiose fantasies have been satisfied he can be more at peace with his body as it is in reality. ” (Bettelheim, p57) What about that sappy idealism and those happy-ever-after-endings? Well I believe what the world needs now is not only love, but hope. Folktales give hope by the bucket load.

 

Once a child has been exposed to enough folktales, they begin to understand the form. Folktales usually end happily and hopefully. Far from misleading children, the optimism or happy-ever-after endings of folktales, are a loving salve for their fragile hearts in their struggles toward maturity. Folktales are tailor-made for the young child. “In childhood, more than in any other age, all is becoming. As long as we have not achieved considerable security within ourselves, we cannot engage in difficult psychological struggles unless a positive outcome seems certain to us, whatever the chances for this may be in reality. The fairy tale offers fantasy materials which suggest to the child in symbolic form what the battle to achieve self-realisation is all about, and it guarantees a happy ending.” (Bettelheim, p39)

 

As you re-enter the world of folktales with an eye to the metaphor, you may start having those little “Ah-hah” experiences of recognition and tapping into the natural ability you probably possessed as a child, to decode those symbols- but as an adult you can do it more consciously. You may notice that the cow that Jack has to sell in Jack and the Beanstalk is called Milky White. You may remember that tragic moment when you had to give up that delightful flow of milk and approval from mother to venture forth into the world, take risks and find your own initiative. Men, as they read of those those beans sprouting in the night, may remember the days when their budding sexuality caused extravagant dreams akin to the powerful phallic beanstalk.

 

In Sleeping Beauty you may remember that phase in your adolescence, or recognise it in your teenager, when there can be a need to withdraw from the world as if asleep, in order to deal with the huge transformations going on within. Alternatively, you may simply enjoy the tales without a care for metaphor at all- but regardless, they will do their work on you. And perhaps you’ll kiss a few toads, as you roam through the world of traditional story, but be prepared- for once children find those princes and princesses, they want will to kiss them again and again and again- and so may you!

 

References Bettelheim, Bruno, The Uses of Enchantment (Vintage, New York, 1975). Oram, Hiawyn, The Wise Doll (Anderson, London, 1997). The Complete Grimm’s Fairy Tales (Pantheon Books, New York, 1944). Commentary by Joseph Campbell.

 

Here at Nature’s Child, Jenni’s CD of Kids Stories continue to be our best sellers and strong favourites. We love it when Jenni Cargill drops by to tell a story LIVE at Nature’s Child. The looks on the kids faces when they see the real live Jenni Cargill is such a delight! Through storytelling performances, recordings and workshops, Jenni Cargill- Strong helps people experience the ancient, healing wisdom held in told stories, both for children and adults. You can learn more about Jenni at http://www.storytree.com.au/