Mama improvement project

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This parenting business is crazy hard! At least for me right now. The parent I am and the parent I want to be are so far apart. Yes, I'm good at encouraging art and creativity. But there's so much more to parenting than that! And when I find myself saying the same thing over and over again to Maia (generally some variation of "calm down" or "be gentle with Daphne") with no discernible result, I know that I need to improve my parenting skills.

I've been reading a few of the books that you recommended after I posted about my challenges with Maia earlier, including:

Raising Your Spirited Child: A Guide for Parents Whose Child is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, Energetic by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka

How to Talk so Kids Will Listen & Listen so Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

and

Taming the Spirited Child: Strategies for Parenting Challenging Children Without Breaking Their Spirits by Michael H. Popkin

I think the best thing I got out of Raising Your Spirited Child was a greater understanding of the needs of introverts vs extroverts and how much this affects Maia and me. As an extrovert, Maia recharges by interacting with people (usually me, by default). As an introvert, I recharge when I am alone.

Taming the Spirited Child really clicked for me. It both perfectly describes what we are going through, yet is full of concrete parenting skills to apply. I think these skills would work for any parent, not just parents with CAPPS kids (Curious, Adventurous, Powerful, Persistent, and Sensitive). The book is full of acronyms! I'm on my second time through this book now and Harry is reading it as well.

And (a big AND), I just read How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk. Wow! Why have I not read this before?! It's been around forever. Why didn't everyone tell me to read this the second I conceived? Why was this not handed out at the birth center (first kid) or the hospital (second kid). SUCH. A. GOOD. BOOK! So have you all read this already? Several of you recommended it to me when I was asking for parenting book ideas. I'm going out and buying my own copy of this one. I need it on my bookshelf!

Okay, here's my dilemma now. I'm in information overload. I feel like I just read three amazing books, filled with excellent, concrete ideas that I could use everyday and I'm already applying some of them, but there's SO MUCH that I don't remember and so much that I will probably have to practice over and over before it comes naturally.

So how do I do this? Reread the books and take notes and post them all over the house? Any ideas?


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  1. says

    What has worked for me has been to concentrate on ONE idea or technique at a time – the simpler the better so that I can remember it in those moments of emotion – and then, yes, post notes all over the house!
    As an example, a perennial issue for us was getting into pjs. I would get so frustrated and P (who tends to have a burst of creative energy after dinner, sigh) would just ignore me and get more and more wound up.
    So a couple of months ago I reread How to Talk… and used their list of alternative means of communication (singing, writing notes, giving information, etc) for the post-bath pj struggle. I kept the book open to that page on the counter and just focused on methodically trying their suggestions.
    It would be nice to report that the problem was immediately and completely solved, but it wasn’t. It did however improve pretty quickly, and that gave me the positive reinforcement *I* needed to change *my* behavior in the situation (interesting how what I thought I needed was to change her behavior but in fact it was more about parenting myself…).
    When I focus in on one particular issue or struggle at a time, it helps get rid of that hopeless feeling, “oh, I’m useless as a parent, EVERYTHING is a mess, she’ll NEVER listen to me, blah blah blah.” And I think the fact of focusing on one thing and making a simple plan to change how I deal with it makes as much or more difference than whatever the plan or technique actually is. P feels the change in my energy from overwhelmed and frantic to calm(er) and purposeful, and that’s what helps most of all. I’ve experienced this a bunch of times, from when she Would. Not. Sleep. Ever. at 3 years old to more recent (and current) problems like running away and refusing to come with me when it’s time to leave places.
    Now that I’ve written all this out I can see that I need to apply this philosophy to our current big struggle, which is getting out of the house on time!
    Hang in there, you’re doing great!

  2. Allison says

    Jean-This is my first time posting on your blog, or anywhere for that matter, but I felt compelled to write this time and first tell you that I absolutely LOVE your blog and cannot wait to read each new post. I have a three year old and a 4 month old and feel much like you do as far as the parent I want to be. After following your blog, I have also read the books that you suggested and we are slowly working on helping the areas where we struggle the most. I don’t know the right answers either, but I think you should know that you are not alone. I am so much of a perfectionist that I wanted quick fixes and all the right answers. After reading and soul searching, I have come to realize that what I truly need to do is slow down and enjoy each positive moment. The more deep breaths I take and the the more happy minutes I share with my daughter…the better things get. She craves positive attention and is more willing to cooperate when I am able to give her 10 uninterupted minutes of my time. I love Maria’s suggestion above that you focus on one area at a time…this slows things down even more and for our family, slowing down and enjoying life has really helped. I told my husband that I want to live and not just be and I think living requires that you take time to stop and savor the small stuff.

  3. says

    Faber & Mawlish also wrote “Siblings Without Rivalry”, which is great.
    I have a 3.5 year old and a 1.5 year old. It is HARD right now. Some days I feel like nothing more than a referee. We are gentle parents, or try to be. And the kids can be anything but gentle.
    I took some clues from Scott Noelle (though I have never paid for his memberships online, just gleaned the gist of his parenting recs from the net)… but my unsolicited parenting siblings advice is this:
    with a fine tooth comb, go over what you chose to “discipline” about.
    I mean, really, REALLY pick your battles. And as soon as you think you see a battle, change your energy to a positive one, or you’ll likely hit a wall of resistance. I found this very hard, because much of our problem right now is that my son smashes me daughter and that is of course, upsetting. But I have to remember HE is also my lovely little child and I have to protect HIM too.
    We don’t do time outs, I remove myself (and little sis) from the situation if things are getting hairy. Unless there has been a truly atrocious event, I just let them be.
    I am trying to get over seeing “obedience” as a virtue. My kids don’t need to obey me. They need to be themselves and develop their own moral fibre which will guide them. As soon as I approach a situation looking for them to “obey” it goes belly up. Finding another way out, any way out, has been working beautifully frankly. We are all SO MUCH HAPPIER. I am determined not to let them “take” my happiness and also determined to allow them their OWN happiness….
    And of course the more you tune into them with your energy, the better they seem to be. I found it hard to balance the needs of my toddler when the needs of my infant were so… shriekingly clear! But it’s gotta be done.
    ….Anyway, just my rambling 2cents. or 10 cents as the case may be.
    QUESTION for you: the little star paint cups you use, where on earth did you get them, they are ADORABLE.

  4. says

    Hi Jean, I love love love your blog but have only commented once or twice. I recently started my own blog and it’s a lot of work. Anyway, just wanted to share that I have 2 boys, a 3 year old and a 5 month old. I have been struggling with my 3 year old’s behavior also and feel like I’m in the same boat as you.
    I recently started reading “Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood: Practical Parenting from Bith to Six Years” The authors recommend to learn only a few very simple frases and techniques and repeat them over and over. Practice them when your on your own and yes even write post it notes and have them all over the house where you can see them. I haven’t tried that yet myself but I know I need to because even though the techniques they give you are pretty easy and simple I still don’t always remember. But so far the ones I have used have really worked well. I hope this is helpful in some way.
    http://www.littlefingersbigdreams.blogspot.com

  5. says

    Jean, as a mother of a spirited child myself, I would encourage you to seek out another mother (in the flesh – who lives near you is best) who has a spirited child. Together you can collaborate and commiserate what works and doesn’t.
    Secondly, at least for us, life was SO MUCH EASIER once he turned 4.5, definitely 5 was the magical age. All that to say, there’s light at the end of the tunnel! :)

  6. says

    I am so glad there are other people with spirited children, I have 2 fairly chilled out children and one spirited one and boy can they be hard to get through to. Thanks for the book tips, I really must try and get time to read one as they sound great. I would personally put bullet points of the main ideas up in the kitchen so you can refer back to them quickly and easily.

  7. says

    Hi Jean!I would love to say a lot of things to you, but the language makes it very difficult to express what i feel, so basically, i think you should do some meditation, like za zen, yoga, tai chi, to let your soul asimilate so much information, and always trust your intuition, i relly think you are in the good way!
    I sent you all my love, Lucia

  8. Jenn says

    Hi,
    My first time responding, I went through the exact same thing when my boys were about the same age as your girls. What worked for me was at the beginning of the day (I tried the end of the day, but ZERO energy) was to write down a few of the interactions I had with the boys that were less than positive or influential. Then I would come up with the language from the books for these interactions, knowing that they were likely to occur again. It really helped my exhausted mind and spirit to have already practiced and thought it out, than always feeling one step behind. It will come together!
    Jenn

  9. Lynelle says

    My husband and I said the same thing… I’ve been meaning to post notes around the house– but of course other things take precedence when there are two kiddos running around… but I do find that sitting down with one or four of my go-to parenting books helps me to regroup and have a game plan for the next day. I usually sit near their door when they go to bed and read. I find peace in reflecting on the day, what I could have done better and feel like I have something to take me to a better place with my kids.

  10. says

    you’re doing such a great job! and i know you said you’re on info overload, and i can so relate to that and how to remember to use these tips IN THE MOMENT when you need them. whew, i can relate! i do want to add an amazing book to your list though… just incase you feel like reading another or another parent out there reading this does:
    “raising our children, raising ourselves” by naomi aldort
    http://www.naomialdort.com/
    suuuch a good book on how to communicate mindfully and respectfully and to be present with your child, even in the midst of a tantrum, etc…
    thank you for your blog. it’s awesome.

  11. says

    Thanks, Twwly! The star paint cups are from Goodwill, but originally from Target. Some easter collection. And they’re actually flowers, but I think of them as stars, too.

  12. says

    Hi Jean, I’ve just recently linked to your blog (I found you through Progressive Pioneer), and I just wanted to say that I enjoy both your wonderful project ideas and your honest, thoughtful writing. I have one daughter, 19 months, who may very well fit the CAPPS description…I may have to look at those books you’ve been soaking up! Thank you for sharing your experiences and ideas! Kellie

  13. Jennifer says

    I too feel the daily challenge of being an Introvert Mother with two young, energetic boys (5 1/2 and 2). I love them dearly, but Boy do they suck the energy out of me — and I don’t even think the 5 year old is an extrovert. They just want lots of Mommy Time. I think this is why I stay up too late at night reading. I desperately need to re-charge my batteries with some quiet Just Me time. The Catch-22 though is that then I wake up tired and cranky ’cause I’ve stayed up too late and that can then lead to snapping at the boys. *sigh* It can be hard to find balance.

  14. says

    I am not a parent but I see parallels with teaching – which is something I do know a (little) about. I’ve been to teaching workshops and I feel overwhelmed with the number of wonderful ideas that I want to implement but I’m learning to implement them one (or two) at a time. Once they become more natural I can focus my cognitive energies on implementing another idea. If I had a book full of great ideas I would, likely, underline/highlight things I wanted to implement – or put post-it notes in it – and go through them slowly.
    Side note – the girls look so grown up in that picture

  15. says

    Great post!
    I can so relate to what you wrote about being “the parent I am and the parent I want to be”. That is exactly how I feel.
    I also recently read “Raising Your Spirited Child” by Kurcinka and I think I learned more about myself than about my daughter. I learned that I am the spirited one and not her.
    I actually have “How To Talk..” on my bookshelf but have not read it. I started it and rifled through it but never got around to reading it although it looks like a fantastic book. Perhaps I will read it now after hearing such praise for it.
    I know you just read a lot of books but one other book that I recently read was “Honey I Wrecked The Kids” by Alyson Schafer. This is one of the best parenting books that I have read for my family. I found it immensely helpful. Like you, though, I was also a bit overloaded with all of the ideas that I wanted to try. I think I will have to go back through that book and put in some sticky notes and write down some of the things I want to try. I am not sure how else to approach it… One thing that the books mentions is having a family meeting each week. This is something that both my husband and I are excited to try. We are going to have our fist meeting this Sunday.
    Thanks again for your post. It is nice to not always feel like I am alone with these dilemmas and it is great to read the input from other people as well.
    Enjoy your day!
    Tricia

  16. Monique says

    I know you are overloaded with ideas now, but I have to recommend another book: Discipline for Life: Getting it Right with Children by Madelyn Swift. Someone recommended this on mothering.com a while back and it has been the most helpful of all the books I have read (including 2 of the 3 you mention here). It’s not that well-known (I can’t understand why), but gets 5* at Amazon and 4.75* at goodreads.com, you won’t be disappointed!

  17. says

    I agree – it is easy to get overwhelmed by advice, but as a teacher and a parent it works best to try one strategy at a time -as others have mentioned as well. Parenting is an adventure and can be draining and frustrating at times – but it is wonderful all the same – and KNOW that your efforts will pay off in the end…one way or another

  18. says

    I am going to buy some of these books here now that I have read this post. I know it sounds a bit nuts, and I don’t know if its mentioned in your books, but I have to explain to/show my son what ‘being gentle’ is and what ‘being calm’ is for example! I know he has different issues, but its amazing how much we assume that a child knows what we mean by an instruction, and sometimes they just don’t!
    Yes, parenting is hard and bewildering at times.
    Good luck, you obviously have an amazing child there!
    Amelia.x

  19. says

    Thanks, everyone, for all the encouragement and ideas! Even for the additional book recommendations! Darn you. I might give it a little while before I seek out those other books though. There’s only so much info I can handle at a time!

  20. Jesse says

    Hi Jean,
    One thing that I would recommend is to create a parenting journal; one where you can write your ideas from the books you read, focus on one idea at a time, and write your experiences and challenge in implementing those ideas. It also helps me to be reflective immediately after the incident…some questions I always ask is; Okay, what happend? How did I react to it? What could I have done different? I try to remember those answers when the same situation occurs again! (And it ALWAYS does). Good luck! The fact that you are being so reflective allready shows you are strongly motivated to meet your parenting goals. You will reach them in no time, and I cant wait to read about how you got there!

  21. Amy says

    Clearly you’ve struck a chord with so many of us! I too have a 5 yo and almost 2 yo and OH is it hard. I’ll try not to recommend any more books :) I do love How to Talk and Siblings w/o Rivalry… as to your question, I would say — trust that all this new info and tools are now in you, and working on you. Post it notes are great; highlight passages, re-read, etc. I used to keep those two books in the bathroom and when my daughter was younger (and we were still at the tail-end of potty training), she would insist I’d read her the comics in them, so I got a lot of re-reading done that way!
    But mostly, if it’s important, it’s already stuck in you. Now you need to remember to forgive YOURSELF after a bad moment/bad day. No one is a perfect parent; you and your family are on this journey together.
    I just read an article in the current Attached Family that reminds us to Put on Your Own Oxygen Mask First. You have to take care of yourself before you are able to effectively take care of others. Parenting is full of the strongest emotions we’ll ever feel, so naturally our reactions to their behavior are very strong. We need to work on holding our own emotional responses in check, and not put our emotional buttons in our children’s hands. (This from a book called Scream Free Parenting that I now want to check out… I haven’t read it yet, so this doesn’t actually count as another book recommendation! ;) …)

  22. says

    I’ve got a spirited boy (29 months), and it has been a real eye opening experience as a parent. I found Raising Your Spirited Child to be a super-helpful book (and did you know there is a workbook too?). I’m DEFINITELY going to check out Taming Your Spirited Child!
    Not that you need any more books to read, but there’s another good one called Living With the Active Alert Child that’s got some great tips too.
    I honestly don’t have too much advice since I’m experiencing the same weariness and repeating myself over and over and over. One thing I DID do was to try to address the behavior (either his or mine) that was bothering me the MOST. And to let all the other things go for now. It can be overwhelming when there are so many things you feel like you need to say “NO” or “STOP” to!
    One last tip…for my little boy at least, he’s much better behaved when he gets to spend 30 mins to an hour outside each day, getting out all that “extra” energy he seems to have.

  23. says

    That’s so good to read that, I feel totally the same, the mom I want to be and am are so different especially because the lack of time, it is sometimes really challenging to be a good listener and do great things with them (6 and 2 y o) :/
    I went to see your links and this sentence echoed in me
    “I was a wonderful parent before I had children”
    I also love Brazelton and Montessori’s writings, there is so much common sense in them… but now I relly have to find the way to redefine everything to be the mom I used to be before my sweet little boy was born. Yes having 2 definitely began the challenge ^^’

  24. Hilde says

    Another usually-silent-blog fan here (I also often forward your posts to my son’s preschool teacher :))
    I think it’s in How To Talk…. using these methods takes practice! Lots of it! Many of us were not raised to communicate in this way or to think of parenting an discipline as true teaching, rather than a power struggle. So often the first words or actions that we think of are not what we had hoped to say. I know you said you had information overload, but Naomi Aldort’s book, mentioned in an earlier comment, really helped me put together how to set aside my initial responses and actually practice those great ideas in Adele Faber’s books. And, as Adele Faber says (I think) communicating this way is like learning a second language for the parents. Hopefully, for our children, truly respectful communication will be their *first* language. That gets me through the hard times. When you’re up to it, read Faber’s other books, too, like Siblings Without Rivalry and Liberated Parents, Liberated Children. More of the same helps the ideas take hold.
    And the other thing I have found really helpful is to find other parents who parent this way, preferably those with multiple & older children, from whom you can pick up by osmosis (aha! she is handling this situation THAT way. Interesting).
    Try not to be too hard on yourself. Your awareness is already such a huge part of being an already great mother. Also try to be zen about it — to be a parent is to make mistakes, evaluate painful truths, have your limits tested constantly. To everything there is a season — perhaps it is hard to do so many of the wonderful creative projects that nourish you and your kids. Fit in what you can. Don’t let the blog pressure you too terribly. And know that there will be a time when you can and will do more.

  25. says

    “Put on Your Own Oxygen Mask First” — haha, this is why I always start my coffee before doing getting into making breakfast/cleaning the kitchen every morning!
    And big yeah to outside time. In the 3 decent seasons, we are hardly ever in the house. Winter is SO cold here, it’s a bit more difficult, but we do it anyway. Snowsuits on we go to the park and play on the structures. (When my DD was a baby I did this with her in her snow suit in a mei tei on my front or back). I always take the kids with me to feed goats or get mail, walks, play, digging in the snow. Food colouring on the snow. Snow men, feeding birds, rides through the bush, fireworks outside, bonfires, skating….ANYTHING, just being outside as much as possible makes for such better behaved kids I have found!

  26. Ingrid says

    Great books you listed! I have a 3.5 year old and a 22 month old and resorted to post-it notes on my bathroom mirror with some take-away points and things I wanted to practice from the books I’ve liked. Parenting is truly an art. Experiment with tools and methods, practice, then master and create.
    Wanted to suggest a couple others that I loved:
    1) Mommy Mantras (Casarjian and Dillon): Humorous and helpful;
    2) I Love You Rituals (Bailey): Great for older siblings, forces connection and a smile into the routine on those very tough days. Great use of music and movement.
    3) Sibling Rivalry book by, I think, the same women who wrote How to Talk
    The Setting Limits for the Strong Willed Child book that you mentioned earlier was helpful, too. It was helpful to characterize my strong willed kids as “aggressive researchers,” and reframed my perspective on limits and how to respond to particular situations and behaviors.
    It’s nice to know so many mothers go through this same thing! Good luck!

  27. Lauren says

    Wow! These comments are great! I’ll add what I think may be the best parenting advice ever, from Dr. B. Spock: “Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.”
    Also, for me, doing my own art really recharges me, even when it seems like too much of a hassle.

  28. Olwyn says

    Hi Jean,
    Kids improve with age…but…
    Highlight your books next reading, then the reading after that underline the bits that are still important, then dog ear them with the next reading (I use the term reading lightly). The you will have the couple of most important points for you! Write them onto a list. Start with one. One at a time. BY then you will know your books so well that I found just keeping them visible reminded me of the points in the books. One thing at a time ok!
    And I found keeping a list on the fridge, each month, of the wonderful things my kids did, their achiecements, cute quotes etc, really helped me keep my focus on their positive qualities which can easily be overshadowed by all the whinging!!
    Good luck!

  29. says

    I just want to second the suggestion to keep one of your books in the bathroom. You’re sure to be there daily, and a few times a week you may even be alone! I find that it often takes reading and re-reading for me to really absorb new ideas into my consciousness, but I also can’t really stand just reading parenting books yo the exclusion of all others.

  30. Heather says

    Jean,
    You are the guide to your children. You and your husband are the parents and are in charge. While these books you have been reading suggest certain ways of dealing with situations, they entail way too much negotiating and reasoning and explaining. Your child is still somewhat pre-rational. She is developing empathy now. Trying to tell her how you feel might not motivate her to act differently. When she acts up, she is asking you… who is in charge? who will make me stop? The answer must be you. Firm parenting lets children know that they are loved and that you love them too much to let them be out of control. I do have another book to recommend called Beyond Time Out but Beth Grosshans. Even if you do not read this book, I can recommend keeping phrases short. Tell her what you expect, tell her what will happen if she does not act as you wish her to act and if she disobeys, then you take action. For example, you may tell her, “I expect you to walk when we are inside. We run outside. If you run, I will take your hand and hold it to remind you that we must walk/move carefully/etc.’ Now, when she runs/is rough with the baby, then you remind her ONCE. If she acts appropriately, you have acheived your goal. If she does not, stand up, walk to her and tell her that she has forgotten the rule of walking/being gentle, etc. and that you will help her by holding her hand or taking her to her room. When she knows that you are the boss, she will test you less often and unwanted behaviors will diminish. She will not grow out of spiritedness. She must be taught manners and appropriate behavior. Children learn how to make art and they learn how to behave. You model beautiful art projects for her to emulate. Now, you must be an unwavering and strong guide. Peace, Heather

  31. emma says

    kirk martin’s calm parenting – basically says that you can create structure, routine & model calm behavior & you’re responsible for you, but you can’t control another person. I’m desperate for a re-listen on his CDs!! :)
    hang in there – I also have a busy kid (a 4 y.o.) & this time of the year is the worst for it.

  32. says

    Hi Jean. I happily discovered your blog today from a link on
    Sharon Lovejoy’s blog. I am so inspired by all the wonderful art projects you do with your girls (Of course mostly Maia at this point). I want so much to do more art with my girls, but it is challenging as we have such a tiny house. I have been redoing our “office” into a office/schoolroom (we homeschool our oldest)/craft/sewing room/photography studio. This has also been challenging as it is a small room, but I am encouraged.
    I have two girls who are also about four years apart. My youngest (just turned two) is a dream to parent. She is sweet, loving and full of joy. My oldest dd is almost six. She has been my constant challenge from the time she was born. I have read so many parenting books (including The Spirited Child). While I have gleaned so much helpful advice on interacting and dealing with her I I still felt like there must be something more I could do to help her. I knew she wasn’t being so intense and persistent and overly sensitive to be difficult (even though it often seems that way). I eventually took her to a pediatric chiropractor and she suspected she has what she reffered to as neuro-sensory disorder. She did some balance and coordination tests on her and determined that she did have this condition. She sent me home with some balance and coordination exercises along with some others and I immediately noticed a difference in her. She was much calmer and she played so nicely with her sister. This lasted for about a week and the second week we were very busy and missed the exercises several times. She regressed right away. Upon further research I came across some information about Sensory Processing Disorder. I truly believe this is what my daughter has, and no amount of good parenting is going to help with the issues she is dealing with every day. Because she is not processing information correctly life is overwhelming to her. Noises seem too loud, many fabrics are itchy or uncomfortable, or other sensory input can be unbearable. Many kids with SPD are extremely picky eaters because the cannot handle certain textures of foods.
    The SPD foundation describes it as follows. ”
    Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD, formerly known as “sensory integration dysfunction”) is a condition that exists when sensory signals don’t get organized into appropriate responses. Pioneering occupational therapist and neuroscientist A. Jean Ayres, PhD, likened SPD to a neurological “traffic jam” that prevents certain parts of the brain from receiving the information needed to interpret sensory information correctly. A person with SPD finds it difficult to process and act upon information received through the senses, which creates challenges in performing countless everyday tasks. Motor clumsiness, behavioral problems, anxiety, depression, school failure, and other impacts may result if the disorder is not treated effectively.
    Research by the SPD Foundation indicates that 1 in every 20 children experiences symptoms of Sensory Processing Disorder that are significant enough to affect their ability to participate fully in everyday life. Symptoms of SPD, like those of most disorders, occur within a broad spectrum of severity. While most of us have occasional difficulties processing sensory information, for children and adults with SPD, these difficulties are chronic, and they disrupt everyday life.” http://www.spdfoundation.net/aboutspd.html
    Another website for SPD is http://www.sensory-processing-disorder.com/
    The good news is there is help for these kids. I am currently holding off on treating my dd anymore until I can get her evaluated by an OT. I feel it is important to get a diagnosis for her. I also believe she is suffering from dyspraxia http://www.dyspraxiausa.org/. I am so encouraged to know there is help for her and so many other kids who are dealing with this. I shudder to think of all the kids with this disorder that have bee punished so harshly for being “difficult” or “defiant”.
    I apologize for writing such a long post but I wanted to let you and others who read your wonderful blog know about this condition in case they have a “spirited” child that is silently (or not so silently in the case of my daughter :) suffering.
    Blessings to you and your family.

  33. michelle says

    i agree with mickey s. the best advice, really, is to do less. not more. it is not about reading the right book, finding the right answer, following through in the right way. it is far more complicated yet much more simple than that. Yes, read and listen to advice. But do not act on it right away! absorb it and process it. listen and watch maia. she will show you what she needs. when in doubt, simplify!

  34. says

    Hi Jean, I forgot to mention that I totally agree with Julie. Things got much better around 4.5 and especially after 5. I can reason with her so much more and the tantrums are few and far between these days.
    I hope it didn’t sound like I was insinuating that all “spirited” kids have sensory processing disorder. I do believe that many of them do, especially those that are sensitive to light, sound, textures, etc., or those that are extremely active. I know for myself it has been so wonderful to discover that there are ways to help my dd.
    I also wanted to mention thay my all time favorite parenting book is “Discipline Without Distress: 135 tools for raising caring, responsible children without time-out, spanking, punishment or bribery” by Judy Amall. She is a mother of five and some are “spirited” She helps parents to try to see what is behind their child’s behavior (get behind their eyes) and has great ideas for dealing with children in a kind and compassionate, yet effective way.
    I know you want to focus on the great books you already have, but in case you have more time in the future it is a wonderful resource. Another wonderful one is “Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles, also by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka.
    I have not heard of “Taming the Spirited Child..” before. I will have to read it.
    Peace and blessings!
    Linda

  35. says

    It’s encouraging to hear a mother be honest about how hard parenting can be! Our son is only 13 months, and he’s been throwing some new challenges at us lately. With our second expected in a few weeks, I’m just praying that I will have the patience to love them both and do what is best for them!
    You have two beautiful daughters, and it’s obvious from your blog how much you love them! Good luck.

  36. Sue says

    Jean, Sometimes as adults we try to solve “kid” issues with an adult solution. Look at your beautiful daughter and put yourself in her place, look at the world through her eyes. What might she be saying or feeling? Know there are just some things we can’t control. One thing we can control is our perspective. So my suggestion to you is put down those books for a while and get outside of your head and how frustrated you are … leave those thoughts on the shelf.. then begin to look at your kids without all the “mind noise” you have been living with. It is also okay to feel upset with yourself if you don’t handle things the way you think you “should”. (Us women are good at that) But don’t get stuck there.
    Your girls are clearly loved, which I beleives places them in the best position for their lives ahead. It’s hard work and it keeps on coming but give yourself a chance. Also, time away for a few hours is a huge way to clear your mind. Peace

  37. lj says

    hi jean– I have the exact same spread between children – a 3 year old and a 6 month old. All I can say is – forget the kids. Really. Read a good book that has NOTHING to do with children. Listen to music you loved before having kids. Start art projects for yourself that will not translate into something for the toddler art group. That will have nothing to do with being an artful parent and everything to do with being an artful person. The rest will follow. And you are doing an amazing, amazing, amazing job- you know that right? (have a list of blogs and interviews that maybe have nothing to do with parenting/crafting/homemaking/cooking etc). Tap into your non-parent self (non-caretaker, teacher etc) and let that see the light of day for just a wee bit. I have all the same thoughts you posted and this is what I’m trying to tell myself at least!

  38. lj says

    also- I loved the book “your three year old” (there is one for each age- just realized your daughter is 4) and “Blessing of the Skinned Knee”

  39. jill says

    I retain information when I can listen to it – so maybe you could tape yourself reading some passages you want to remember. Do those books come on CD? You could listen to them in the car, repeatedly! Or have your husband read the same books, and the two of you discuss it – the interaction with him might reinforce and reignite some of the concepts.

  40. says

    Hello there, I found your blog and have followed for a few weeks because I am inspired by your passion for purposeful parenting with a highlight on art.
    I want to second the book “I Love your Rituals” by Becky Bailey. It has really focused beginning chapters that root parenting in the relationship we have with our kids, with the outcome being thoughtful children that aren’t motivated to behave for rewards and attention. Plus, the majority of the book is about engaging and stimulating children, in the most trying of circumstances, through creative interactions instead of demands, time outs, and threats. I believe bailey also wrote “easy to love, hard to discipline.”
    Anyway I love you Rituals is always within my reach whether at home or at work (where I work with families).
    The time you take to blog and share is energizing to me. :)

  41. says

    yes, it can be hard for us all when we are overloaded with information. i have a little more than a spirited child so there are all these terms being thrown at me lately. i had to read up on to understand what the doctors are talking about and have a huge list of books to read and recommended books. too many, in fact. i have to go back to one of my favorite books first, Simplicity Parenting to get some grounding.