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Natural Parents Network http://naturalparentsnetwork.com Fri, 11 Aug 2017 21:35:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Family Breakfast http://naturalparentsnetwork.com/family-breakfast/ http://naturalparentsnetwork.com/family-breakfast/#comments Mon, 06 Jun 2016 11:10:30 +0000 http://naturalparentsnetwork.com/?p=36744  MORE]]> DSC_7901_web It’s no secret that our household loves to cook and eat. We love food, we love communing around food, and I (particularly) love reading about food. Food memoirs are high on my list of favorite things to read. So here’s a little confession: We don’t do family dinner.

This season of our life makes family dinner unrealistic most nights. Instead, the boys get a “kid meal” (sometimes it’s boxed mac-n-cheese, sometimes it’s leftovers from what their dad and I ate the night before) and are in bed before Steve and I even start our own dinner. Then he and I eat our food while it’s still hot, and mostly without interruption.

DSC_7912_webWhere we come together over food is breakfast. Most days, the four of us are at the table. We talk about the news, what we expect our days to be like, all of the things families talk about. We introduce new foods into familiar dishes, and we make sure we’re fueling up for the busy days ahead.

We save waffles for the special mornings – when we can linger a little longer. Lately we’ve reserved them for the Monument Races – a series of the 5 oldest and hardest pro-cycling races spread out over the season. Monument Waffles is a morning we all look forward to.

DSC_7926_webSome of our favorite breakfasts include overnight oats: steel cut oats left to simmer on the stove overnight and then flavored with milk, almond milk, nuts, dried cranberries, raisins, molasses, honey, cinnamon, brown sugar…we just set out all of the jars on the counter and everyone picks their add-ins. We also enjoy pancakes (Alton Brown’s Almost-Instant Pancake mix is almost always in the cupboard – it works for waffles as well as pancakes). We enjoy turning overnight oats into leftover oatmeal muffins – both SouleMama andDSC_7938_web Molly Wizenberg have good recipes.

Of course eggs, sausage, cereal, bacon, grits (my mom’s grits casserole is always a hit), hash of some kind or another (lately it’s been a mix of potatos, eggs, and sausage)…and because they’re my children we never say no to donuts or pastries.

I would have coffee and a chocolate croissant every morning if I wasn’t trying to convince the kids I’m a Responsible Adult.

What are some of your favorite breakfast or brunch dishes? What food do you and your loved ones come together over these days?

Happy Breakfasting!


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Raising a Family of Team Players http://naturalparentsnetwork.com/raising-a-family-of-team-players/ http://naturalparentsnetwork.com/raising-a-family-of-team-players/#comments Fri, 30 Oct 2015 12:15:42 +0000 http://naturalparentsnetwork.com/?p=37389  MORE]]> NPN RTD featureThis post is written as part of the Round Table Discussions with Natural Parent Network volunteers. In an effort to discuss, support, and promote a kinder, more gentle world, we are taking an in depth view of various books. Our current book is Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings: How to Stop the Fighting and Raise Friends for Life by Dr. Laura Markham, author of  Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting. We hope you will join us with an open mind and a desire for change and growth.

When it comes to our children, we always want to view them as the individual people they are. They have their unique strengths and weaknesses, talents and interests. We want to, and they want us to, value and appreciate them for their individuality and selves. However, we aren’t just raising individuals. We are raising a family, too, and that changes how we approach things a bit.

Photo by Mark Turnauckas (Flickr)

Photo by Mark Turnauckas (Flickr)

Certainly, we want to acknowledge and celebrate everyone for who they are, but as a family, we realize that we are also a team. What does that mean?

  • Teams, and families, play on the strengths of individuals. No one is great at everything. They recognize where individual members excel and use that to strengthen the group. These complementary skills allow families to work more cohesively. However, teams also realize that you are only as strong as your weakest link, so teams encourage all members to grow and challenge themselves. Those individuals who need some help in areas learn from the modelling of those better in specific areas. As parents, this is where we can excel, modelling the behaviors we want our children to exhibit. We can also remind everyone that we can learn from even the youngest members of our family.
  • Families, just as teams, work together for a common goal. We are in this life together, here to help one another. Pitting family members against each other doesn’t further the continuation of our goals: survival, peace, growth, and love. Families help each other out. When we see someone struggling, we offer help.
  • Teams share authority and responsibility for self-management. This can be difficult for many parents, who were likely raised in an authoritarian environment where whatever the parents said was law. That isn’t how peaceful families work, though. If parents are always controlling their children, the children will never learn how to self control. Parents have to give up the idea that their word is law and embrace the team mentality of working together. Sometimes your kids will even surprise you with better solutions than you have.
  • Teams are accountable for the overall collective performance of the group, i.e. families are in it together. In a team, it isn’t just one person who fails. The entire group does. Or conversely, the entire group wins. Teams have to help each other out. It takes commitment to each other and caring for your family members to make peaceful family life happen.

A family is more than just a group of people who live in the same house. When a family is loving and supportive, working together to help one another out, there is a synergy that raises what family means to another level, one we can aspire to and celebrate, just as we celebrate the individual members in our family.


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Calming Toddlers with Yoga Games http://naturalparentsnetwork.com/calming-toddlers-with-yoga-games/ http://naturalparentsnetwork.com/calming-toddlers-with-yoga-games/#comments Wed, 23 Sep 2015 12:00:00 +0000 http://naturalparentsnetwork.com/?p=37329  MORE]]> Toddlers have this beautiful and natural ability to fully live in the present moment. From embracing play wholeheartedly, feeling so much love for you and all the way to those big, teary, tantrums, toddlers feel everything just so intensely.  And this is actually a good thing as far as developing in a healthy way.

Sometimes though, toddlers need some guidance finding their way back to calm. I don’t reccomend distracting children away from their feelings, but instead, taking time to teach calming skills that toddlers then feel safe and secure engaging in when they are begining to feel overwhelmed.

Here are two yoga based games that can help children feel more centered and calm. These games also help toddlers feel  connected to you – a central component to feeling and doing well.

You don’t need any sepcial yoga experience or training to play these games.

toddler yoga

Bumble Bee Breathing

The Vibration sensation in this humming game has a fantastic calming effect. It’s a great game you can teach your toddler when she is calm. And later play while waiting in lines, sitting in the car or waiting for an appointment to help pass the time and help your toddler stay calm and connected to you.

How to Play:  Invite your toddler to be a buzzing bumblebee.  You can model the humming sounds first and then invite your toddler to follow along. Beyond the humming noise, if you have space you can add in body movements such as flying, bouncing, landing, and smelling roses.

When I play this game with my children, I like to invite them to feel their face as they hum  and to observe how their face is soft.  Together, we buzz loudly, buzz softly, buzz very quietly, breathing deeply in between and invite the busy bee’s to think about how they are feeling.  Sometimes we fly and buzz into a hive for hugs and kisses too.

Sitting on the Seesaw

The seesaw is a work-together style game. And toddlers love team based games with parents as it helps them feel cared for and gives them a sense of capability too.

How to play: Sit facing each other, legs placed straight and feet touching. Let your child explore your feet with hers. Lean forward and take each other’s hands. If you can’t reach, that’s okay, place your legs into a V formation and bring the child closer. Arms stretched, hand in hand, slowly seesaw back and forth, taking nice breaths as you move together. Next, take turns pulling each other forward, as far forward as you can go, pausing as you try to touch your nose to your knees as far as you can, gently so as to not stretch too quickly.

When I play with my children we like to sing or say See. Saw. See. Saw. as we move. This can bring on giggles to release pent up emotions. Or when said softly can be very soothing and calming.

I remember playing the see-saw game one time while waiting for a doctors appointment that was taking unusually long to start.  My son was 2.5 year old at the time and wasn’t really interested in the books in the waiting area any longer. Instead of looking at the books or asking me to read them, he had started to knock them down.  It was clear he was running low on “calm.”  So,  I sat him across from me, and after setting a gentle limit (I will not let you knock down the books) I offered an alternative.

We played a quiet and mini version of the see-saw game. The time passed quickly, we were both very engaged with each other and as a bonus, his check up was a breeze.  Taking some time to play, giggle and connect before the check up was an important step in helping my toddler get back to feeling calm.

So do you have any yoga based games you like to play with your toddler?

Peace & Be Well,


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Fair but Not the Same: Helping Ease Competition Between Kids http://naturalparentsnetwork.com/fair-but-not-the-same-helping-ease-competition-between-kids/ Fri, 18 Sep 2015 12:00:07 +0000 http://naturalparentsnetwork.com/?p=37369  MORE]]> NPN RTD featureThis post is written as part of the Round Table Discussions with Natural Parent Network volunteers. In an effort to discuss, support, and promote a kinder, more gentle world, we are taking an in depth view of various books. Our current book is Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings: How to Stop the Fighting and Raise Friends for Life by Dr. Laura Markham, author of  Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting. We hope you will join us with an open mind and a desire for change and growth.

Our children need us. They need our help. They need our time. They need our love. We, my friends, are a hot commodity in the world of our families. Our children’s needs for us don’t change when we have another child, or two, or three, or more. What can change is our child’s perception of what they are receiving. Suddenly, there is another person clamoring for this same commodity – us. How can we be fair to everyone when conflicts arise?

Photo by LoJoLu Photography (Flickr)

Empathize Children may be small but their feelings….oh my, those feelings can be very, very big. Empathize with your children. Let them know you hear what they are saying or showing and that you understand. This doesn’t mean that how they are acting is acceptable. It doesn’t mean that you agree with them. It just means that you are there for them and understand that they are having some mighty big feelings.

Focus on Each Child If life is erupting into a competition, or even resembles a World Wrestling Federation reenactment, it can be easy to become distracted and focus on the competition. Don’t do it. Focus on each child, separately, and what it is they are wanting/needing. Work together to try and come up with mutually agreeable solutions. At the very least, make certain they feel your love.

Give What They Need It may seem easier to just give each child exactly the same things in order to avoid a fight. That isn’t what they need, though. Each child is different. Each child has different needs. You can’t meet those needs by handing out one-size-fits-all items. So give out what they need – the material items that meet their physical needs and all the limitless, unconditional love you can. Because that, my fellow parents, is what they really need and want from you: to know that you love them, with all your heart, no matter what, for themselves.

It’s Okay to Treat Kids Differently There. I said it. It really is okay to treat different kids differently. Now, that doesn’t mean you need to turn your family into a Cinderella scenario with some kids doing all of the work while the others sit back eating popsicles and watching movies all day long. But different people are treated differently, and it is okay as long as everyone is being treated fairly and with respect. If your children are different ages or at different levels, they will understand that they have different responsibilities. Your 13 year old can probably mow the lawn. Your two year old, depending on the child, may not even be able to use scissors safely yet. You can’t expect your two year old to do the same things. At the same time, your 13 year old can probably be trusted to head out on his bike while the toddler needs adult supervision still. Perhaps one of your children enjoys watching independent French films with you while another wants to spend time kicking around the soccer ball. You are raising individuals, and they should be treated as such.

Teaching Skills: Brainstorming, Negotiation, and Compromise In our dream world, our kids would always know and recognize that we love them no matter what. They would get along all of the time. And fluffy pink unicorns would poop rainbows that tasted like grapes. Wake up. Life isn’t perfect. If you want your kids to have the skills to work things out together, you are going to have to do some prep work. It takes time in those early years, but it pays off. Trust me on this. So help them develop those skills of brainstorming possible solutions, negotiating compromises when needed, and empathizing with other human beings. Model it. And when you screw up? Model how to apologize and make things right. These are great skills which will last a lifetime.

Love Your Kids This seems like a no-brainer. Of course you love your kids. You know that. I know that. But, do your kids always know that? Life is coming at them full force, their little love cups are getting sloshed around and being emptied, and they need you to help fill them back up. So seek them out for hugs and smiles and kisses. Call them to share things which you find. Let them know you are honored to share your life with them. Make geeky jokes together to share. Have impromptu dance moves in the van, in a full parking lot, with people staring at you, and only caring that your kids are having a good time with you. Show up when they need you. Keep your promises. Do stuff with them. Listen to their dreams, thoughts, and interests. Don’t waste this time. Enjoy them and love on them today.

Interested in reading more about the concepts in the seventh chapter of Peaceful Parents, Happy Siblings? Check out these posts by Natural Parent Network volunteers:

My Thoughts On Competition Resilience This Chapter of “Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings” is all about easing the competition between siblings. Kat @ MomeeZen has experienced competition happening between her kids. But here, she shares her thoughts on positive competition and what she’s doing to build resilience and help buffer her kids from {negative} competition.

Family Game Night and the Green Monster: Helping Children Deal with Competition Some simple strategies helped Mandy’s family turn game night around. Now they look forward to geeking out with awesome games and even greater times together. Check out the tips and some suggestions for great gateway games at Living Peacefully with Children.

Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings Chapter 7 Using your words with your kids can work to help everyone make rational decisions. Emily, at Embrita Bloggings, discusses how using her own words has helped her family to better work together.


Ten Everyday Ways To Show Your Children You Love Them http://naturalparentsnetwork.com/ten-everyday-ways-to-show-your-children-you-love-them/ Tue, 15 Sep 2015 12:00:04 +0000 http://naturalparentsnetwork.com/?p=31231  MORE]]> 10 everyday ways

We all know we love our children, and most of us probably tell them repeatedly too. But, how often do we go the extra mile, and really show them love. As adults we know that we show love by going to work every day, or making sure they have a roof over their heads, or food on the table, but children tend to expect those things, so don’t necessarily see them as expressions of our devotion to them.

Rather than giving my children candy treats or buying them toys – although we sometimes do that too – here are 10 ways I like to use to show my children I love them:

1. Get down on my knees to listen to them.

Not all the time, not with everything they say – heaven knows I’d spend my life on my knees, my three year old is so chatty – but when she’s trying to tell me something important to her, I like to go down on my knees, look in her eyes, sometimes holding her hands, and asking her to repeat what she wanted to tell me. I specifically do that when she has clearly been trying to tell me something and has become frustrated because I wasn’t listening attentively enough.

2. Touch and kiss them often.

I never shy away from an opportunity to touch my children. If it means crossing a room a little to the left of the door I’m heading towards or popping in to the room they are sitting in on the way past it to tussle their hair, squeeze a shoulder or give a cuddle, I always make an effort to touch and cuddle my children.

3. Always celebrate firsts.

We take lots of photos of baby’s firsts: first steps, first haircut, first meal. My daughter went to her first ever lunch club last week, and I had to make her her first ever ‘packed lunch’ for what she thinks of as school. She was so excited about it, she wanted me to take a photo of her first ever lunch box. A few days later she very excitedly told me that she had put her own hair clip in her hair on her own for the first time ever. I realised that even though she’s happy to be the big girl now, she’s still a baby in so many ways, and her firsts still need to be celebrated. I’ve never been excited about a skewed, upside down hair clip in all my life, but boy, was she delighted.

4. Spend private time with each child.

Easier said than done with multiple kids, right? But actually, it can be done! My baby sleeps later than my toddler in the mornings, so after she’s nursed for a while, we ‘hide out’ under the blankets in bed, cuddling together, whispering to each other so as not to wake our little sister up. She also naps in the afternoons, so that’s often an ideal time for my toddler and I to do crafts together, or something ‘big girl’, that’s not suited to babies. My daughter relishes these times.

5. Focus on saying ‘yes.’

Can we play outside? No. Can I blow bubbles? No. Can I… No, Can I… Maybe later, Can I… Not today. If that resembles your conversations, it’s time to start saying YES! Often we say no more out of habit than reason, and sometimes our reasons are pretty lame! I’ve been trying to say yes more often, and saving my no’s for when I really mean them. My daughter loves asking me to get up and dance with her to advertising jingles in between TV programs. It’s such a pain, but when I do jump up and wiggle around with her, she delights in it and it wasn’t really that hard for me to do!

6. Talk about your children in front of them.

How often don’t we say to friends, ‘we’ve had such a tough week. She just wont listen. She’s so disobedient! I could just kill her today!’ Almost everyone is guilty of thinking our children don’t understand, aren’t listening, or are too young to break our codes. Sadly, they absorb so much more than we think they do, so let them overhear you saying positive things about them, rather than negative. Don’t talk about them in the third person in front of them, unless it’s to tell someone else how proud you are of your little people, how much you love them, and grateful you are to be their mama.

7. Write letters to your children.

The first letter I wrote to my daughter was the day I found out I was pregnant with her. I wrote to her during my pregnancy and whilst in labour. I also wrote a letter every month. My baby was about the same, and I still try to write to them each month. It may not matter right now, and they wouldn’t ‘get’ what I was saying even if I did read it to them, but I imagine a beautiful bound book filled with the message of my love, my adoration of them, from the moment I knew about them given to them on their 18th birthdays.

8. Do something they really want, as a surprise.

I had bought a gingerbread man cake mould weeks before, and my daughter kept asking me if we could make some. I really don’t like gingerbread, so I kept saying no. One afternoon as she was playing in her playroom it dawned on me that they didn’t have to be gingerbread, so I whipped up some ultra good for you brown flour and rapadura carrot cakes. After dinner when I brought out her ‘gingerbread man’ she was so excited! She ran around to me to thank me, and again after dinner, and again before bed. If I’d known how much she really wanted a gingerbread (carrot) man, I’d have made it weeks before.

9. Fight for your children, defend them.

Being derogatory towards children is normal in our society, and treating them in a way you wouldn’t be likely to treat another adult is pretty common place. View your children as having the same rights as your friends, colleagues and contemporaries, and you’ll be ready to stand up for them when they need it. Like a mama tiger, protecting her cubs.

10. Have a special place for art work masterpieces.

No matter how small, how frequent or if it’s just a squiggle on a paper, when your child presents their art to you, love it. Love what they’ve done. I’m not talking about fake praise here, and you can use your encouraging words, but when their art is finished, have a special place. A fridge magnet to hold the art on the fridge is a good idea, but we took a shallow box, a vegetable delivery box, painted it black for a frame, and put it in our living area. Every picture is named and dated and goes in the box,, on display, till the next one takes its place. They took the time to make it for you, with love, to present it to you, with pride, and they deserve to have it displayed with your love and your pride.

What do you do to show your child you love them? What haven’t you done but think you should implement?

Eco-Friendly Fashion: Make it a Reality http://naturalparentsnetwork.com/eco-friendly-fashion-make-it-a-reality/ Thu, 10 Sep 2015 12:30:01 +0000 http://naturalparentsnetwork.com/?p=31290  MORE]]> My little guy in organic cotton head-to-toe

My little guy in organic cotton head-to-toe

Clothing and fashion choices tend to be an area with which many green parents struggle. You’ve got recycling, upcycling, buying organic food, trusting natural medicine, removing toxins from your home, and teaching your children about conservation covered. But chances are, your clothing and your children’s clothing may come from unsustainable crops, fabrics treated with chemicals, or factories with unfair labor practices.

You might be thinking you just simply can’t add one more cause to your life and that you already work very hard to be as green as possible. I’m not telling you to completely stop shopping for clothes at Target, Gap, or wherever you already shop, but as we green mamas all know, every little bit of change can make a big impact. So here are three easy ways to start incorporating more ‘green’ into your family’s closets.

1) Organic cotton: There are many benefits to selecting organic cotton. Conventional cotton tends to be one of the most highly chemically treated crops, which depletes the soil’s natural resources and ultimately delivers chemicals straight to your baby’s skin. Organic cotton is non-GMO and typically fair trade certified, further ensuring an overall minimized impact to the Earth. Further, many companies that use organic cotton for their garments are environmentally conscious and practice responsible business across the spectrum. I’d certainly rather give my money to a company that is doing good for the Earth, than to one notorious for mistreating laborers.

There are dozens of options for buying organic cotton clothing. They do tend to be slightly more expensive than other name brands, but overall the durability and stability of the final product will be much more reliable with organic cotton than conventional cotton. A few of my favorites for baby and kid clothing include Kate Quinn Organics, Winter Water Factory, Under The Nile and La Queue du Chat. Hanna Andersson, Redfish Kids and Kiwi Industries are a few more that are high quality and fair prices.

2) Alternative fabrics: Hemp, bamboo, silk, wool, linen, and organic soy are all being used to make sustainable textiles. These materials are natural and/or don’t require pesticides to grow in high volume. Bamboo is naturally anti-bacterial and is one of the most sustainable crops, because it grows and replenishes very quickly. Considering the many options for sustainable fabrics, you don’t have to sacrifice style or comfort to dress green.

Sustainable Kids and Kickee Pants are great options offering children’s clothing made from bamboo and hemp blends. Just keep these alternative fabrics in mind the next time you go shopping and know that you are making a more responsible choice. More and more designers are popping up featuring eco-friendly practices and fabrics for babies, kids, women and men. It’s becoming easier than ever to dress your entire family without the guilt or worry about the social and environmental cost of your clothing.

3) Pre-loved: Nothing is greener than upcycling and reusing. I often joke about how my youngest son is so neglected in the clothing department. Much of what he wears is handed down from his older brother, who received most of his clothes as hand-me-downs from friends or the consignment store. But my rough and tumble boys have proven that a good pair of jeans, or pajamas are usually tough enough to withstand the wear and tear of multiple children.

Gently used clothing is surely the most affordable option for outfitting your family. It should definitely be your go-to if the organic cotton clothing lines are out of your price range. I always welcome hand-me-downs from friends and family members; even if I can’t use everything they give, it’s still worth the few gems that have been loved just a little.

In addition to the money you save from not buying brand new, pre-loved clothing has serious environmental benefits. For one, you are minimizing your overall footprint by consuming less and keeping stuff out of landfills. Secondly, many of the chemicals that were on the fabric have largely been washed off over time, making it a safe choice, especially for young babies.

Just remember, you don’t need to start feeling guilty for snatching up that awesome deal at the department store, and you certainly don’t need to make a complete overhaul to your wardrobe. Simply increasing your awareness about how our clothing is manufactured, and buying even just one organic garment for the upcoming season will make a difference.

AshleyAshley Allman, Author of Ash & Alys Babes

Ashley Allman is a Seattle-based writer and co-founder of online natural products boutique, Ash & Alys Babes. She spends most of her time playing house with her two spirited sons, husband and two dogs, all of whom she uses for inspiration in every aspect of life. Ashley is committed to raising her children green and focuses a great deal of energy on feeding her children a healthy diet and raising them to be responsible and thankful stewards of this beautiful Creation. Ashley has a B.A. in Journalism, has written for newspapers and magazines and has worked in public relations for 10 years.

It’s Okay Not to Share http://naturalparentsnetwork.com/what-to-do-instead-of-forced-sharing/ http://naturalparentsnetwork.com/what-to-do-instead-of-forced-sharing/#comments Fri, 04 Sep 2015 12:00:55 +0000 http://naturalparentsnetwork.com/?p=37355  MORE]]> NPN RTD featureThis post is written as part of the Round Table Discussions with Natural Parent Network volunteers. In an effort to discuss, support, and promote a kinder, more gentle world, we are taking an in depth view of various books. Our current book is Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings: How to Stop the Fighting and Raise Friends for Life by Dr. Laura Markham, author of  Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting. We hope you will join us with an open mind and a desire for change and growth.

Photo by speedye (Flckr)We have all heard the parent who suddenly tells their child to “share.” You may have even been that parent, either in a group setting where there was pressure from other parents or relatives or perhaps at home when you just wanted a little peace. “Why can’t the kids just share? Is it really too much to ask?”

This need to make children share comes two-fold. We want our children to think of others and be empathetic. When they grow up, we hope that they will be generous and responsive to others. It is a noble effort, this parenting gig, and one we are trying to get right. On the flip side, the need for children to share often comes from fear: fear that our children may become selfish, fear that someone else will judge us for not forcing our children to share, fear that the other child will melt-down, having not received a turn in a timely fashion. Fear can rule us.

It doesn’t have to be that way. We can bravely step away from the fear behind forced sharing and take a closer look from our child’s point of view. After all, how would you feel if someone suddenly demanded that you hand over your book, cell phone, car, or house to someone else who decided they wanted it? It wouldn’t go over well.

While we want our children to be generous and giving, that doesn’t happen by forcing sharing. Forced sharing actually has a lot going against it:

  • Forced sharing teaches a false generosity. When we force children to hand over an item, they are not doing it because they are being generous. Giving and empathy do not come in to play. We are not helping them to develop empathy.
  • Instead, by forcing sharing we are reinforcing selfishness and possessiveness. Whenever someone wants something, they can demand to have it. We may even be encouraging a child to whine or yell in order to be given an item on our demand. This focus on who holds an item breeds a possessiveness regarding objects.
  • This takes away from the overall play. A child worried about how long they will have a toy isn’t lost in the joys of play and imagination.They are figuring out how the will get the toy back.
  • At the same time, the child isn’t learning how to self-advocate, which can later lead to self-worth issues and future bullying.
  • If times with an item are controlled by an outside source, namely a parent or other caregiver, than our children don’t have the opportunity to practice self-regulation.

Not every child is ready to share on their own. The fact is young children aren’t developmentally ready to do so. We can help them develop the traits we desire for them: generosity, empathy, caring, and even impulse control, delayed gratification, and conflict resolution. Remember, peace isn’t a lack of conflict but a peaceful resolution to conflict.

You can help children learn more about sharing by helping them converse about the situation:

  • Use active listening to give everyone a chance to be heard. “John is playing with the toy right now. Sally would really like a chance to play when you are finished.”
  • Point out other points of view and develop empathy. “You would really like to play with the truck. It does look like fun. It looks like Suzy is having fun a lot of fun with the truck right now.” Or, on the other side, “You are having so much fun with that truck! Jack would like to have a turn with the truck, too. Can you let him know when you are finished so he can have fun, too?
  • Help children advocate for themselves. “Sam is playing with the doll right now.”
  • Talk about waiting and help with alternatives, if needed. “You really wanted to play with the doll but Sam is playing with it right now. Would you like to play with the trains while you wait?”
  • If there is conflict, help mediate without inserting yourself into the equation. “I see two children who would like to play with the trains. Is there some way we can work this out?”
  • Be there through the feelings. Sometimes little people have big feelings and they just need to come out. Be there for them during that time. Expressing emotion is a good thing. Help them learn appropriate ways to express emotion. You can empathize when a child is disappointed, helping them to learn empathy, delayed gratification, and self-control.

Sometimes an item is not a community item, just like your car or cell phone. It is okay not to share. In those instances, help your child express herself. “This is Jill’s special toy. She doesn’t want to share it.”

Interested in reading more about the concepts in the sixth chapter of Peaceful Parents, Happy Siblings? Check out these posts by Natural Parent Network volunteers:

The Deeper Lessons We Learn From Sharing When Kat @ MomeeeZen had her first baby, she had a lot of rethinking to do when it came to sharing. Read her thoughts on sharing and the lessons she hopes her kids will learn, that have little to actually do with sharing.

Ways to Help Your Child Develop Empathy and Generosity At Living Peacefully with Children, Mandy focuses on authentic ways to help you child develop empathy and generosity.


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Calling for Submissions for the September 2015 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Kids Blogging http://naturalparentsnetwork.com/calling-for-submissions-for-sept-carnatpar-kids-blogging/ Wed, 26 Aug 2015 12:00:30 +0000 http://naturalparentsnetwork.com/?p=37345  MORE]]> We continue to be delighted with the inspiration and wisdom our Carnival of Natural Parenting participants share, and we hope you’ll join us for the next carnival in September 2015! (Check out August, July, June, April, March, February, January, and a summary of all our 2014 posts, 2013 posts, 2012 posts, and 2011 posts if you missed any.)

Your co-hosts are Lauren at Hobo Mama and Dionna at Code Name: Mama.

Here are the submission details for September 2015:

Theme: Kids Blogging: It’s time for the kids to take over our blogs — what does your little one have to say? Would he like to share what he’s been doing this summer? Does she want to dish about what life is really like with you? If your little ones are preverbal (or they don’t want to write something), feel free to share pictures (photos or hand-made), imagine a post or letter you imagine your little one would write, or get creative in whatever way feels right to you and your child.

Deadline: Tuesday, September 1. Fill out the webform (at the link or at the bottom) and email your submission to us by 11:59 p.m. Pacific time: CarNatPar {at} NaturalParentsNetwork.com

Carnival date: Tuesday, September 8. Before you post, we will send you an email with a little blurb in html to paste into your submission that will introduce the carnival. You will publish your post on September 8 and email us the link if you haven’t done so already. Once everyone’s posts are published by noon Eastern time, we will send out a finalized list of all the participants’ links to generate lots of link love for your site! We’ll include full instructions in the email we send before the posting date.

Please submit your details into our web form: This will help us as we compile the links list. Please enter your information on the form embedded at the end of this post, or click here to enter it on a separate page: September 2015 Carnival of Natural Parenting participant form

Please do: Write well. Write on topic. Write a brand new post for the carnival. As always, our carnival themes aren’t meant to be exclusionary. If your experience doesn’t perfectly mesh with the carnival theme, please lend your own perspective. Please also feel free to be creative within the gentle confines of the carnival structure. If you’re feeling so inspired, you could write a poem, a photo essay, a scholarly article, or a book review instead of a regular blog post (though those are welcomed, too!), as long as what you write is respectful of the carnival’s intent. If you want help determining that ahead of time, please talk with us.

Please don’t: Please don’t use profanity of the sort that might be offensive to more sensitive readers or their children. Please don’t submit irrelevant or argumentative pieces contrary to the principles of natural parenting. You don’t have to agree with all our ideals — and certainly you don’t have to live up to them all perfectly! — but your submission does have to fit the theme and values of the carnival.

Editors’ rights: We reserve the right to edit your piece or suggest edits to you. We reserve the right to courteously reject any submissions that are inappropriate for the carnival. Please also note that since there are two co-hosts on different schedules and conferring over email, our personal response to your submission might seem delayed. Don’t be alarmed. We also reserve the right to impose consequences if the responsibilities of the carnival are not fulfilled by the participants.

If you don’t have a blog: Contact us (CarNatPar {at} NaturalParentsNetwork.com) about potentially finding you a host blog to guest post. Please write your piece well in advance of the deadline in that case, so we can match you up with someone suitable. But if you really have something amazing to write — why not start your own blog? If you want advice, we find Scribbit’s free Blogging in Pink ebook to be a very helpful and down-to-earth guide, for beginners on up.

If you have questions: Please leave a comment or contact us: CarNatPar {at} NaturalParentsNetwork.com

Links to tutorials: Lauren, Dionna, and Dionna’s husband, Tom, have written several tutorials for our participants about how to schedule posts in advance, how to determine post URLs in advance, how to edit HTML — all for both WordPress and Blogger users. For these tutorials and more, please see this handy summary post at LaurenWayne.com.

Stay in touch:

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaShow off: If you are a (former or current) participant or supporter and want our delightful button to put in your sidebar, grab this code and proclaim to the blogosphere that you are a natural parent!

5 Reasons Children Fight and How to Help http://naturalparentsnetwork.com/5-reasons-children-fight-and-how-to-help/ Fri, 21 Aug 2015 12:00:04 +0000 http://naturalparentsnetwork.com/?p=37335  MORE]]> NPN RTD featureThis post is written as part of the Round Table Discussions with Natural Parent Network volunteers. In an effort to discuss, support, and promote a kinder, more gentle world, we are taking an in depth view of various books. Our current book is Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings: How to Stop the Fighting and Raise Friends for Life by Dr. Laura Markham, author of  Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting. We hope you will join us with an open mind and a desire for change and growth.

If you have more than one child, chances are that you have dealt with some sibling squabbles. Children don’t want to fight. However, just as with any other behavior, there is always a reason for the fighting. As a parent, sibling bickering is a big, red, flashing sign that they need your help. So why do kids, who are supposed to love one another, fight?

Unmet Needs. It is difficult to always see another’s point of view when your own needs are not met. Sometimes kids (and parents) are tired, grumpy, hungry, sad, hurt, cold, hot, lacking attention, or something else. When you have two or more people, the needs of each can seem to conflict with one another. As a parent trying to meet the needs of multiple children , conflicting needs can seem to pop up as soon as the second child comes along and suddenly someone has to wait. Sometimes the needs of one child conflict seem to conflict with the needs of the other child.

What can you do? Work to make certain all needs are met. Sometimes this can be done preemptively. For instance, have snacks handy to keep hunger at bay or help everyone calm down before bed and get enough rest before everyone reaches over-tired, cranky status. Other times, you will be working in a triage setting, dealing with needs that have turned into issues. Whatever you do, remember to connect first and then try to address the needs behind the behaviors.

Photo by tamckile (Flickr)Unresolved Conflicts and Power Status.  There may be times when you think everyone is getting along on the surface but underneath their is a storm brewing. If there is an unresolved conflict or resentment on the part of one child, their relationship is probably teetering on the edge. Once precariously balanced, it doesn’t take much to push it over into a downward turn. If a child’s need for attention and connection from a parent are not being met, that child may view their sibling as competition for your love and attention.

What can you do? When families are in discord, it is a warning sign that everyone needs your help. Make certain that everyone is being treated respectfully and that they feel that way. Use active listening to help everyone be heard and understood as you work through conflicts together.

Different Personalities. Sometimes two children will have such drastically different personalities that they butt heads a lot. Sometimes two children will have such drastically similar personalities they will butt heads a lot. Sometimes your own personality will play a role in this disconnect, and sometimes how you model relating with your children will make those differing personalities feel in greater conflict.

What can you do? You can’t change someone’s personality, but you can help them develop the skills they need to see someone else’s point of view, empathize with others, and work together through conflicts.

Working Through Bad Situations. Sometimes the fighting between two children has nothing to do with the relationship between the two children. When bad things happen to kids, whether on a seemingly minor scale or on a grander scale, it is a natural tendency to try and work through that situation, often by acting it out with others.  A parent’s love and attention is a hot commodity. If a child’s needs for connection and attention aren’t being met, the child may be jealous of any attention the other child receives, even if it is only perceived.

What can you do? When someone is dealing with a bad situation, listen. The first step to understanding a problem is to actively listen. When someone is feeling helpless, they need to know someone cares. They need to be heard. Once you understand what is going on, you can help with the situation.

Disconnection. Just as we need to connect with our children in order to foster a good relationship with them, our children need to connect with one another in order to build that happy sibling relationship. When children don’t feel connected to siblings, they often find it difficult to view the other person’s point of view or empathize.

What can you do? With each person added to a family, you multiply the number of relationships in that family. No longer are you just concerned about connecting with your child, other family members also need to feel connected with one another. Make certain your family has time to connect together with family time and activities. No matter how busy everyone gets, remember that family comes first.


Interested in reading more about the concepts in the fifth chapter of Peaceful Parents, Happy Siblings? Check out these posts by Natural Parent Network volunteers:

Conflict Resolution for Kids Julia talks about some of the different ways to achieve peace at A Little Bit of All of It.

Time Is My Kryptonite For Peaceful Parenting Here are a few things Kat at MomeeZen has found helpful to manage peaceful parenting even when there seems to not be enough time.

Why Conflict is Good for Kids At Living Peacefully with Children, Mandy talks about why conflict can be a good thing for kids.

Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings, Chapter 5: Teaching Conflict Resolution Emily talks about focusing on helping your children communicate rather than forcing them to just “get along,” even when it is hard work.




The Financial Advice That Saved My Marriage http://naturalparentsnetwork.com/financial-advice-saved-my-marriage/ http://naturalparentsnetwork.com/financial-advice-saved-my-marriage/#comments Tue, 11 Aug 2015 12:00:07 +0000 http://naturalparentsnetwork.com/?p=37289  MORE]]>

Welcome to the August 2015 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Life Learners

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have talked about how they continue learning throughout life and inspire their children to do the same.


financial advice

Many years ago, shortly after we got married, Steve and I visited a financial planner. She helped us set some goals and navigate self employment. Now many of those goals and priorities have become irrelevant to our current lives, but one has stuck with us through all of the employment changes, out-of-state-moves, and child bearing:


Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 11.43.05 AM

A sliver of our budget – the numbers you see are estimated costs for items we know we’ll need in the next few years.

You read that right. My husband and I are Grown Ups with Allowances. At the point we set them up, we were each earning a decent living and had enough disposable income to not really worry about how or who pays for pedicures and steak nights. Now that we’re no longer self-employed, other aspects of our finances have shifted but the allowances have stayed put. When I tell people this, there are two basic responses:

1) That is the best idea ever. Tell me more.

2) But he’s the only one working, so why does he need an allowance? Isn’t it his money and he’s just letting you use it?

I’m pretty sure I’m preaching to the choir when I say that being a Stay at Home Parent is work. Hard work. Yes, there are perks – like when the boys had back-to-back stomach bugs that kept us quarantined in our apartment for two and a half weeks and I didn’t have to worry about juggling childcare and taking time off and getting work done. I had the not-at-all luxurious luxury of just focusing on pushing liquids, cleaning up barf, and sanitizing everything. No one was paying me to do it, but it was still work.

I digress.  We have some wonderful budgeting software, and written under “savings goals” is a line for Steve’s allowance and a line for mine. Here are the perks of having an allowance as a grownup:


Shopping is my cardio. (Not all of these are mine.)

  • Steak Nights. Steve has been doing regular steak nights with the guys for as long as I’ve known him. I enjoy steak, but I don’t enjoy it that much, and instead of pointing out how expensive that can get, I point to his allowance. (Were I to go, the meal would come out of our “Date Night” budget.)
  • Pedicures and Shopping sprees. We just got back from visiting our families in Dallas. My mom, sister, and I spent a day at Northpark and  instead of asking Steve how much I’m “allowed” to spend on things like palazzo pants and ballet flats, I checked my allowance.

One of the most common questions I get is how do we decide what “We” pay for versus what “I” pay for. This is obviously best left up to you and your partner, but for us it boils down to necessity versus splurge. So “We” pay for regular hair cuts. “I” pay for peek-a-boo purple streaks. “We” pay for socks and underwear. . . Steve pays for fancy wool cycling socks. No more arguing over shopping sprees or being annoyed that he went out for steak and I had leftovers after I put the boys to bed. No one gets reprimanded when the budget for family clothing allows for $12 socks but the socks cost $40 (because they’re fancy wool cycling socks) – that extra $28 comes out of his allowance, and not the budget lines of things for which we are saving. Our house fund remains untouched, our new bed fund is just sitting, waiting to be filled and used . . . but those dollars don’t come from our allowance any more than our allowance comes from those dollars. Our allowances allow for us to play a little without worry.


Peek-a-Boo Purple Streaks were coming out of my allowance until I decided the maintenance was a hassle.

A very detailed itemized budget is a lifesaver on its own (we have lines for pieces of furniture and appliances that we know will need replacing), and I personally like the accountability that comes from manually tracking every penny that comes in and goes out. But we have avoided an untold amount of arguments, reprimands, and guilt trips by having these allowances. So I just bought frivolous beach pants – so what?! I saved my allowance. Just like we teach our children to do.

So look at your finances, see what you’re spending that could be considered “personal splurges,” and give yourself an allowance that feels reasonable. This part is important: regardless of who’s bringing home the paychecks and how much they are – if you both earn, don’t look at whose is bigger, just look at your household income — both of you get the same amount. Whether it’s $5/month or $500/week – keep it equitable and keep it peaceful.

Happy Budgeting!


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama

Visit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • The Financial Advice That Saved My Marriage — Shortly after they got married, Emily at Natural Parents Network and her husband visited a financial planner. Many of the goals and priorities they set back then are now irrelevant, but one has stuck with them through all of the employment changes, out-of-state-moves, and child bearing: allowances.
  • Lifelong Learning — Survivor at Surviving Mexico–Adventures and Disasters writes about how her family’s philosophy of life-long learning has aided them.
  • Inspiring Children to be Lifelong Learners — Donna from Eco-Mothering discusses the reasons behind her family’s educational choices for their daughter, including a wish list for a lifetime of learning.
  • Always Learning — Kellie at Our Mindful Life loves learning, and lately she’s undertaken a special project that her family has been enjoying sharing with her.
  • We’re all unschoolers — Lauren at Hobo Mama embraces the joy in learning for its own sake, and wants to pass that along to her sons as she homeschools.
  • My children, my teachers Stoneageparent shares how becoming a parent has opened doors into learning for her and her family, through home education and forest school.
  • Never Stop Learning — Holly at Leaves of Lavender discusses her belief that some of the most important things she knows now are things she’s learned since finishing “formal” schooling.
  • Learning is a Lifelong Adventure — Learning has changed over time for Life Breath Present, and she is more excited and interested now than ever before.
  • Facebook: The Modern Forum — Dionna at Code Name: Mama explains why Facebook is today’s forum – a place where people from all walks of life can meet to discuss philosophies, debate ideas, and share information.
  • 10 Ways to Learn from Everyday Life (Inspired by my Life in Japan) — Erin at And Now, for Something Completely Different offers tips she learned while living in Japan to help you learn from everyday life.

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