Parenting Styles: Conscious Parenting

Parenting Styles: Conscious Parenting

 

In recent years, there has been an overwhelming amount of information about how our parenting can impact our children. There are times when the information presented can make you feel like a failure as a parent. This feeling then affects your ability to parent.

I have had several families contact me to get clarity on all the different parenting styles. One style that is on the rise in the media and parenting networks is Conscious Parenting.

It is not uncommon for me to hear…”WTF is Conscious Parenting?”.

 

Conscious Parenting in a Nutshell

Conscious Parenting’s main focus is not the child. Say what??? You read that correctly. The main focus with this parenting style is the parent.

It took me a bit of time to wrap my head around the difference between positive parenting, mindful parenting and conscious parenting. The biggest takeaway I have had from my research and practice of the different methods is that they all focus on a positive approach to parenting.

Both positive parenting and mindful parenting focus on interacting with your child in a way that helps your child produce the positive behaviour because you are focused on molding your child’s behaviour using positive interaction or you are aware of (mindful) of your child’s needs.

Conscious parenting focuses on your feelings and the way you are dealing with certain behaviours. It takes the pressure off trying to fix your child and focuses on fixing your view or the way you handle a certain situation.

Tell Me More….

When you are parenting in a Conscious manner you are analyzing and reviewing how your feelings are gearing your reactions or the way you help your child with undesired behaviour.

You look for triggers. I am constantly asking myself..”is this my issue or his?”.

A great example of this is when he struggled with the beginning of grade 2. He would come home pretty upset and concerned that he was not going to be able to complete his work.

After much reflecting I realized I was not helping. My school based anxieties were preventing me from listening to him. All he needed was a safe place to vent and then he was fine but I dragged it out. I was trying to help him learn to write properly and it was becoming a battle. I backed off and listened. Helped when he asked for it and in time things got much better. He felt confident and flourished at school.

As a Sleep Consultant I have a number of parents that I work with that take it personally if their child is not sleeping well. I help parents reduce the stress they put on themselves to improve their child’s sleep and the work on things in a slow progressive manner. Even infants feed off their parents emotions. 

So to parent in a more conscious manner, it is important to work through your issues, identify ways that you can empower your child, set your child up with the tools needed to accomplish the desired behaviours and remove your emotions from the equation.

I actually find this style of parenting to be freeing and less exhausting. I can let way more things go and get the bottom of things way sooner. There is a lot of deep breathing going on.

Please feel free to reach out for support on how you may be able to parent in a more conscious manner. 

 

Communication: It’s all in the actions..

Are you thinking “she is off track”? “What the heck does action have to do with communication??”

Well hear me out..

If you pay attention to what your child is doing you will quickly see that they can communicate with you through their actions or behaviour.

When a toddler is throwing an epic tantrum what are they saying? “Help me”, “I’m done”, “I don’t like not getting my way”, “It is frustrating not being able to do what you can do”, and the best one “Why don’t your understand what I am trying to tell you?”

When you lay an infant down on the floor and he begins to cry what is he telling you? At first, you may think “He doe not like tummy time” or “he only wants to be held”. When in fact he may be hungry, tired, or not sure what is going on. If you get down on the floor close to him and give him eye contact or talk in a soothing manner the crying could stop before you even pick him up. Does this mean you have to stay on the floor with him all the time? Nope, it is just something to try to help him like it. You can sing or talk to him from a distance as well.

An older child may have a number of words but they often cannot use them to effectively express how they are really feeling. Their behaviour can be a very clear sign of how they are feeling or what is going on in their world. A great example of this is when our little (not so little guy – 7) is bouncing off of the walls or not able to follow simple requests. It can mean that he is super excited about something, he is worried about something, he has the energy to burn, or he is just having fun.

So I do believe that I have made my point very clear that children communicate with their actions or behaviour. You may be thinking that is great but what can I do?

Ways to Help Your Child Improve their Communication through actions?

1. Pair their action with words:

Give them the words. For example: when your infant is crying and you know they are hungry crying say ” I think you are hungry”. It sounds ridiculous but honestly, it is very helpful. This is especially helpful with a toddler and preschool-aged children.

2. Respond to the Action

Give them the chance to communicate their needs. Children as young as 8 months can gesture but usually it is closer to 10 months before a child can gesture for what they need. If you acknowledge that you know what they are asking for they will continue to use gestures.

3. Teach Sign

When children are responding with gestures you can teach simple baby language signs. The key is to pair the sign with words so they learn to communicate with words as well.

4. Use Visuals

You can have a series of pictures available for your child to use to express their needs. A child around 16 months can start to use this technique. Ask your child to “show me” what they want and they can start that at just over 12 months but it gets better closer to 16 months.

 

What do some actions mean:

Rooting:

This is when a child shows an action towards a breast. This can mean that the child is hungry (most common reason); however, it can also indicate that a child is tired.

Crying:

When your child is crying you will be able to figure out what the various ones mean. Obviously the high pitch very loud wail means “I want you now”. you will also know what tone of cry your child uses to let you know that are tired or hungry, trust your instincts on this.

Hitting:

This can often mean that child is frustrated or angry; however it can also mean that a child is really excited. So depending on the reason, you can act accordingly.

Biting:

The main reason for this is pain or discomfort while teething. In infants this can be a sign of hunger. With Toddlers and Preschool-aged children it can be a way for a child to indicate that they are frustrated, angry or excited. Here is a link to a previous blog post that can help with biting,

Twirling hair:

This can mean that a child is trying to seek comfort from anxious moments.This is another behaviour that can indicate that a child is frustrated.

 

Do you witness other behaviours from your child that you have figured out what they mean? Please post any behaviours that you commonly see in the comments section under this post.

 

Dream Feed: To Recommend or Not?

Dream Feed: To Recommend or Not?

As with all things related to babies, there are many opinions about a dream feed. This post is based on my experience; however, I realize it may not be the same experience for you.

Lets first start with the basics…

 

What exactly is a dream feed?

A dream feed is when your baby is asleep and you pick the baby up while they are sleeping and feed the baby. You can do this both by bottle and breast.

How can a baby eat while sleeping?

The best way to explain this is that it just happens! When the nipple is placed in babies mouth they will suck.

When should I offer a dream feed?

If you choose to do dream feed, I would recommend that you do it about an hour before your child’s typical wake up for a feed or as close that as possible. Hopefully, this is close to when you would typically go to bed. If not, I would do it just before going to bed.

What is the goal of a dream feed?

The goal of a dream feed is to extend your child’s ability to stay asleep for a longer period of time. Children that are waking due to hunger at an earlier time can benefit from a dream feed.

What is your opinion of a dream feed?

I find that dream feeds are an absolute crap shoot! They can work for some babies and be a fail for others.

Personally, I recommend that dream feeds are used with caution. I find babies that are offered the dream feed for a long time, come to depend on that feed and have a difficult time extending their ability to stay asleep without the feed.

For us, our little man would wake up during the feed so it did not work.

I have had many clients that were doing a dream feed. Most of the time their child started waking up slightly before the feed was offered.

The clients that did have success with the feed used it for a short period of time to help their little ones extend their sleep and then I encouraged more calories during the day to reduce the need for a night feed.

Should you try offering a dream feed?

If your little one is not able to sleep for more than 3 to 4 hours after 4 months of age you could try a dream feed to see if it will help. If your child is sleeping for 5 to 6 hours I would not recommend a dream feed.

I do find that it is best if you wait until your child naturally wakes up. When you wait until your child naturally wakes up you are going by your child’s needs versus what you believe your child needs. Do not underestimate these wonderful little humans!

Night Waking: How do I respond??

Night Waking: How do I respond??

Your little one has been sleeping for an hour or more and now appears to be waking up… Now What???

Before you feel like running out the door there is a way to respond that may assist your little one with getting back to sleep in a timely fashion (in some cases 🙂 ).

Time

When our little ones wake up we often run to them which does not give our little ones a chance to try to go back to sleep. Sometimes we actually end up waking our little ones up because they were making noise or moving around in the REM stage of sleep. When we run in we end up waking our littles.

Now, Am I saying you have to wait 10 to 15 minutes? Nope, 2 minutes will do. If you can wait 5 to 10 minutes there is no harm. I was never able to wait so I do not expect others to wait.

If time does not help them I would move on to the next step.

Presence
There were a number of times that as soon as I walked in the room our son would roll over and go back to sleep. This was after I jumped up and rushed to prepare a bottle. I learned to go in first before preparing a bottle.

If you go close to your child and they are still in distress then I would move on to the next step.

Voice
This is when you state your nighttime phrase, shush, talk lightly, sing or hum to your child. If they calm then you slowly reduce how much you are saying to give them a chance to get drowsy. If they just get upset then talk, sing, hum or shush until they go to sleep.

If this does not work after a minute or 2 then move on to the next stage.

Touch
This is when you reach into the bassinet or crib and provide the soothing touch your child responds to. Sometimes all you need to do is to put your hand by or on your child.

If this does not begin to calm your child after a minute or 2 your move on to the next step.

Pick up
Some children get very agitated when waking up and try as you may, they will not go back to sleep after trying all the previous steps. I would then pick your little one up. I would give them comfort. When your little one is calm I would lay him/her back in the crib. You may have to start back to step one if your child starts to scream.

What if you have tried all the above steps and there is no change. Every time you put your child down the crying starts. Well, you have a few choices. You can hold your little one a little longer until he/she is in a very drowsy state or asleep. If you choose this path, know that it may take longer for your child to go back to sleep without assistance.

I was perfectly fine with the sleep teaching process taking a longer period of time. If you believe that you or your child would be better off if your child fell back to sleep faster I would recommend that you do not respond to your child right away. You may have more intense crying for a shorter period. I would then move to a timed check-in approach to sleep teaching.

If you have any additional questions please ask in a private message, on the website or in the private Facebook group.

Sleep Sack: Is it really necessary?

There are so many different gadgets and things available for infants and toddlers now that is can be overwhelming as a parent. You may find yourself asking…Is this really necessary?

Is a sleep sack something that is needed or not??

If you are reading this as a new parent I want you to fast forward in your thoughts to when your child is climbing out of the crib way before you want them to! Now stop and think about how a sleep sack can prevent a child from lifting their leg over the rail. Run do not walk to the store and get your child a sleep sack!

It is much easier to get your child into a sleep sack as a baby then it is as a toddler to prevent the crib climbing. This is the main reason I recommend a sleep sack. It is not the only reason though.

Another reason for a sleep sack is for warmth. Both the American and Canadian Pediatric Societies do not recommend blankets in the crib until at least one year of age. The sleep sack is wearable and moves with the child; therefore, it is acceptable.

How do I know which one is best?

There are so many different types of sleep sacks out there these days that he can be overwhelming. The main things I look for is temperature regulation and how easy is it for a toddler to get out of it.

You can get a sleep sack for different temperatures. Each sleep sack has a TOG label. This label will help you decide which one will keep your child warm without causing him to overheat. I had one that was made from bamboo which would flex with the temperature. You can spend a fortune on finding one that works so I would ask your local mom’s group for their favourite one and TOG level. The TOG level best for my son may be different for your child is you live in a warmer or colder climate.

To keep our little man warmer in the winter he would wear a fleece sleeper under the sleep sack. In the summer he could often be found in a light sleeper or just a diaper shirt in his sleep sack.

In my personal opinion, the most important thing to look for is how a child can get out of the sleep sack with ease. The ones with the button on the shoulder were easy for our little man to get out of. We had one with a zipper down the middle. The zipper started at the top of the sack and zipped down. The good thing with the zipper in the middle was when he started experimenting with unzipping it, I was able to turn it around so the zipper was in the back. I did this a few times and then he stopped trying to undo it.

 

As with all decisions we make as a parent the best decision is the one you make for your child. This post is my opinion of why I like a sleep sack. As always be the parent you want to be!