Archive for the ‘Empathetic Parenting’ Category

Will You Play With Me? Lawrence Cohen Says “Yes” in Playful Parenting

Yea! Another Attachment Mama AP Book Snapshot courtesy of Sonya Fehér, the wise and endearing voice behind Mama True: parenting as practice.  Sonya is also a contributing writer and editor for API Speaks, a columnist for and co-leader of the South Austin Chapter of Attachment Parenting International.

My vision behind AP Book Snapshots is to create an AP book summary community in which multiple mothers or fathers contribute “what you need to know” quick-read support for parents like me who would like to learn new tips for gentle, empathetic parenting and struggle to find time to get through all the great books out there. This way you can get the immediate tips you’re seeking and read the rest of the book when time allows. If you are interested in being a contributing AP Book Snapshot writer, please drop me a line.

Thank you Sonya for your fantastic contribution!

“Playful Parenting is based on an attitude of respect toward children and an attitude of wonder toward their world” (232).


If you’re a parent who has ever asked yourself, “How in the world do I deal with this?” Playful Parenting has an answer:  play.  Play out strong emotions and power struggles. Play to establish connection and build confidence. Children explore the world through play. Whether explaining how to roughhouse or “follow the giggles,” Lawrence Cohen, a psychologist specializing in children’s play, play therapy, and parenting, offers ways to connect with kids in their world in order to help them be confident, cooperative, and connected.

Though the title might imply otherwise, Playful Parenting deals with the not-so-fun parts of parenting too:  tantrums, sibling rivalry, and household chores. Through examples from Cohen’s practice and extensive research, Playful Parenting is an approach that will impact how you talk and play with, discipline and interact with your children.

“Playful parenting is a delicate balance between following a child’s lead and stepping in as guide. On one side, we let children be completely in charge of the play, in order to nurture their creativity and sense of confidence. On the other side, we actively intervene to help children get unstuck from situations that are repetitive, boring or potentially harmful” (151). (more…)

Posted in AP Book Snapshots, Empathetic Parenting, Playful Parenting | 1 Comment

For the Benefit of Your Children

What would you do?

I would guess most of us say we’d do anything for the benefit of our children short of robbing a bank so they could go to private school.  If it would save their lives – we’d give our own.  On a less dramatic note, we sacrifice sleep and the sanity that comes with sleep to ensure our babies are cared for around the clock. We go without something for ourselves because money is tight and we’d prefer they have it — new clothes, music lessons, etc.  These are simple sacrifices in the name of love that don’t require much effort.

I’ve been moved lately to get in touch with the more subtle, yet deeply impactful, things I can do or not do for the benefit of my children. This is less about giving them something specific, or sacrificing something specific for myself.  This is about a way of being.  It’s finding the courage to dig into the limiting beliefs I have about myself and resulting patterns of behavior and train myself to try on something different.  To take this familiar, comfortable old “I can’t” shoe and chuck it over a bridge.

Playing PianoEncouraging and supporting my angels to pursue their heart’s desire is easy.  Modeling this — which means a hell of a lot more to them than my words — not so easy!  I am faced with the daily struggle to fully embrace self-love and courage and the view that work is play and play is work so practicing my interests becomes effortless. And instead of finding 100 things wrong with what I’m doing or not doing either as a Mom or a writer or a singer, I stop and celebrate everything that is absolutely wonderful about each day.

What an incredible gift for a child to hear and witness that absolutely anything is possible for him or her and that allowing the mystery of life to unfold is fun!  First, because they are lovingly left to discover and pursue their own interests and not overwhelmed with praise or criticism which can be paralyzing on either front.  And second, because they see and experience their mommy and daddy’s joyful pursuit of their passions.

vivre sa vie

vivre son art


Posted in AP & Self Care, Empathetic Parenting | No Comments

5 Tips for Managing Holiday Season Stress

1)  CHANGE THE QUESTION. I love this little tool.  When the questions swimming around my mind on any given day send me down the Anxious Mama path, I attempt — and not always successfully — to redirect myself with a new line of questioning that can only produce positive answers.  Instead of, “How the hell am I going to get everything done?” or “Why does everything feel hard right now?” which tend to be spiraling-into-no-where-good type questions, try, “How can I make this fun?” or “What’s perfect about this moment?”

holiday_peace_postage_stamp_navy_blue-p172633630232926505anrsa_4002) RECONSIDER YOUR “HAVE TO” LIST. I’ve had huge resistance to letting go of my “have to’s” in the past.  “But I have to send Holiday cards to everyone!”  “We have to have a tree!”  “We have to send gifts for all of our extended family!”   “We have to go to the tree lighting and the charity event and the cookie exhange and the company party and the school gathering and the concert……”  What if you didn’t have to do anything?  Because truly you don’t!

What could you take off your list this year and feel OK, and possibly even good about?  This year, out of necessity, I’m cutting my Christmas card list down to 40 and using extra cards I’ve saved or been gifted from years past;  we’re buying a cute little $25 Charlie Brown tree that I’m sure our tots will love decorating as much or more than the standard; and we’re limiting gifts to one per child — nieces, nephew and our own.

3) GET SUPPORT.  If you’re currently on an “ain’t got no disposable income” budget like us, finding support can be a little tricky. But not impossible!!  Trades and barters work wonders.  You can trade babysitting with one of your girlfriends with children.  Or…..another strategy for mostly free babysitting, you can offer to make dinner and rent a movie for friend(s) without children. After dinner they can enjoy a movie at your place and man the baby monitor while you get out of the house.

And last but not least, if you do have a bit of money on hand to create some support systems for yourself,  I suggest two things in addition to babysitting.  ONE: an errand-running service.  A magic little elf to manage shopping, wrapping, trips to the post office, help with decorating, deliveries to friends… name it, they do it.  Local Austin favorite:  Punchlist.  TWO:  A Slow Family Living class.  This Monday, Carrie and Bernadette are offering a teleclass from 7:15-9:15 Central Time called, “Creating Your Slow Holiday” for $35. Check it out.

4) REMEMBER TO PLAY.  A fairly standard scene in our house is me cooking or 1/2-ass cleaning while holding baby and feeding toddler and checking messages intermittently on the iPhone and attempting a conversation with my husband with 18 interruptions from the toddler.  All we need is a barking dog and some loud traffic noise and we are the 80’s Calgon commercial daily — sans the luxurious bubble bath.

I’m considering the idea of scheduling”100% FUN” time every day where I completely drop the ongoing to-do list and give 100% of my attention to simply playing with my girls. For a toddler, to receive intense, hyper-focused attention for even 10 minutes can do wonders for filling their emotional cup.  And her happiness is truly my happiness too.  Today, we spent 10 minutes dancing outside together, marveling at the tiny snow flakes and trying to catch them on our tongues. Pure, mutual bliss. And so simple! This time of year is meant to be magical and fun so I choose to find ways to make it so every day.

5) MOVE YOUR BODY.  It’s amazing how easy it is to shift a state of mind this way.  I know I stated a goal in an earlier self care post about getting outside and moving my body with walking or running at least 3 times/week.  Um. Yeah.  Haven’t really come close to that.  YET!  I have at least ten solid excuses for why this hasn’t happened.  But truth be told, I need to come to terms with the fact that everything comes down to priorities and choices.  I’ve chosen sleep or work or caring for sick kids.  But I know in my heart of hearts that even the littlest bit of exercise does wonders.  Absolute wonders.  Bring on the endorphin release high!  And remember, a little movement goes a long way. No one can stay stressed out for more than two seconds when they simply stop everything and shake their ass.

Other tricks of your own to share?  Please send them my way!

Posted in AP & Self Care, Empathetic Parenting, Holiday Stress | No Comments

Read This: Time Magazine Article, “The Growing Backlash Against Overparenting”

time magAfter an exhausting week of modeling “do, do, do and when you think you’ve totally hit a wall — do some more!” for my girls, I am really appreciating Nancy’s Gibbs’ message to parents to slow down in her article published Friday in Time. I fit the bill for much of the over-parenting she describes and have spent the last few months getting conscious of this and exploring ways to let go of the pressure I put on myself to protect and provide.

I’m not going to beat myself up for fretting a bit about schools and activities and safety and emotional well-being and…. Every parent wants the best for their children. It’s innate. Yea for all of us and our Big Love!

I think as a culture we’ve spent the last several generations barreling forward, improving the definition of what’s best for our kids with every knew piece of knowledge or economic privilege gained. And so much of what we’ve learned and put into place has been to the great benefit of of children.  This article puts forth the idea that it’s time to pull back on all our best intentions to protect and provide and take a closer look at our definition of what truly is best for our children our families. And guess what?  The answer will be different for every family. (more…)

Posted in AP & Self Care, Empathetic Parenting, Over Parenting | 2 Comments

Toddler Emotions & Empathetic Parenting: An Interview with Carrie Contey, PhD

Anyone with a toddler knows how perplexing it can be to witness the rapid onset of emotional explosions.  One minute you’re happily making lunch together, the next minute your 2 year-old has thrown herself onto the floor in tears because you started to spread jam on the slice of bread and she wanted to do it. On the flip side, in the middle of a full-blown tantrum, you can ask a completely random question that might stop the outburst mid-scream and suddenly get an answer to your question in a fully composed voice.

Just two years, or slightly more or less on the planet — our little tots simply haven’t learned how to regulate their emotions yet. I learned this and a whole lot more from my favorite parenting coach, Carrie Contey, co-founder of Slow Family Living. In a recent interview with Carrie, I asked her to help me define healthy parental empathy as I would so much like to provide that for my children.

What does it look like?  How best can I be present for my children’s emotions?

She said, “Their feelings are like weather, they roll in, they roll out, the sun shines, the wind blows, etc. Emotional expression is how a child’s system rebalances itself. Emotions aren’t good or bad. They just are.”  (more…)

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