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My-never-ending journey-becoming-a-parent-who-smiles

Becoming a parent who smiles when you keep falling into the same old patterns

"Kids kids kids! It's time to get up my lovely children!

What starts as a whisper, gradually becomes a perky scream, as I notice that my two "bundles of love" are hardly hearing my voice under their still strong sleep.

At some point, I finally manage to actually wake them up and take them to the breakfast table.

We worked on our morning routine, and used so many of the positive parenting strategies here and there.. Yet, here we are : both kids in their pajamas, running again under their duvets when we only have 20 minutes to leave and be on time to school.

My daughter's staring at her drawer, lost in her own thoughts.

"Honey, you'll have to go to school in your pajamas if you don't get dressed, I'm leaving in 15 minutes.

"But I'm too cold mom! I want you to dress me! I want to be with you."

All this, while her younger brother is crying that he doesn't want to go to school, he doesn't want to brush his teeth, and I don't recall what else he didn't want to do by the way.

What does it take?

The purpose of this article is NOT to give you yet another very useful list of techniques or sentences you can use to survive to morning prep.

It is to show you that even when you do know plenty of these, you still have to adapt them to you, your kid and the specific situation you're in.. a never ending journey.

...continue reading "Becoming a Parent who smiles and grows – a never ending journey"

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Never frowned in front of a child making noise in the train? Or sighed at a mom who couldn't keep her children still in the waiting room? Or worse, those parents who dare taking their kids out to dinner on Saturday night! What is your attitude with regards to disturbing children? And why is it important to talk about it? Well, let's see!

No kids allowed they disturb
No disturbing kids allowed - Photo by Gary Bendig on Unsplash

Italy (and Germany, US, UK..) : no kids allowed in certain restaurants

A few months ago, thanks to the magical powers of serendipity, I came across an article in an Italian newspaper.

A restaurant in northern Italy had banned children from entering. And since then, a ton of comments were published (because, as we know well, the internet frees us from any inhibition) which, for a good part, supported this decision. I even believe that the restaurant in question has seen its customers double.

In fact, I remained speechless in front of people's harsh words : "I can't stand children"; "I didn't want to have kids myself, so I don't see why I should put up with other people's children"; "today's parents are incapable of raising their children well"; and so on.

Some declared that, abroad, "You can immediately recognize Italian children!"; that other cultures are different and parents know better how to raise children in a proper way.

Others responded by accusing them of lack of empathy and support for parents (a minority nevertheless).

Who is right ?

no kids allowed to interrupt our quiet meal
You said quiet meal out? - Photo by Sonja Punz on Unsplash

...continue reading "No Kids Allowed : Should we ban disobedient kids from public places?"

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You come back home, tired from work, and all you can think of is sinking into your bed with a good book. You ask your 3 year-old-son to wash his hands before sitting at the table. What an outrageous request! "If you do not wash them, I'll wash them!" He's screaming, you're screaming. How can you handle such crises? How can you calm down and help your children control the storm of emotions? Let's see 10 ways to calm down - for the whole family!

ways to calm down breathing and meditating
Photo of Jared Rice on Unsplash

What could have triggered the crisis?

One morning like many others. "Mom, are we going to school today?" My little one asks me first thing once his eyes are opened. The angry look leaves no doubt: I want to stay at home!

Fortunately, we can take the luxury of having breakfast together before realizing it's late and we're all in our pajamas.

One way or another, we manage to get to the front door with the right clothes and enough time to go to school and office on schedule.

Mom, I want to take my bike !

My whole body gets ready for a fight or flight reaction.

Honey, you have to practice a little bit before, it's better if you come with me on the child seat for the moment. Tomorrow, if we can get out a little earlier, we can take your bike ok ?

Obviously, the stubborn and definitive answer is NO.

After a few attempts, I had to take him and put him on his seat...
C-A-T-A-S-T-R-O-P-H-E

Screams and desperate cries, scratches, kicks .. The ultimate crisis.

The one where you must be able to calm down before you can calm your kid .. not easy when your child's pulling your hair as if he wanted to shave you bold.

...continue reading "#10 easy ways to calm down in face of a major meltdown"

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Do you or your partner come from a different country? Or maybe, you've always had a hard time learning a new language in school; you love traveling, and you wish your kid could do better? Are you wondering whether to raise a bilingual child, but you don't know if it's a good idea, and where to start from? When our kids were born, we were living in France. We would only speak Italian at home. And I started worrying: is my child going to have problems because of this? Will she still integrate easily? I discovered, many parents ask the same questions.. Let's look at myths, truths and tips about why you should raise a bilingual child.

#1.Should you raise a bilingual child? It will allow your kid to speak to more people

Most of our closest relatives only speak Italian. In the city we currently live in, most people only speak French. So there was no other option : other children had to learn both.

Of course, if your spouse's family comes from a different country, and you really want to avoid any relationship, than you shouldn't raise a bilingual child. Forget everything about their language, their origins, their culinary tastes. They'll probably hate you forever, and you'll be sure never to see them again.

Or else: if you want your child to stay glued at your side for years to come, forever afraid of leaving the country for fear of not understanding all those weird people making those nasty sounds, than please don't ever let your child hear anything else other than your language. No traveling, no music, no foreign movies. What's outside your country, anyway?

...continue reading "#5 Reasons why you shouldn’t raise a bilingual child"

Jealousy is a complex feeling, have you ever thought about it? Try to think about the last time you were jealous. Were you able to recognize the symptoms and rationalize them? Could you express those feelings in a balanced way? It's not that obvious, is it? Well, now you can imagine how hard it can be for your jealous toddler to welcome a new little brother or sister, and learn how to become "the big one". Jealousy : Instructions for use ! (And I recommend: Handle with care!)
Jealous toddler seeing baby brother

What's jealousy?

Thesaurus defines jealousy as a "mental uneasiness from suspicion or fear of rivalry, unfaithfulness, etc., as in love or aims."

I think it's important to keep that in mind if we want to understand our child better! (Remember, empathy is the key to everything in a relationships).

Let's dive in!

...continue reading "How can you help your jealous toddler welcome the new baby?"

Just as handwriting gives a first psychological insight about a person, and is used by many companies in the recruitment phase, even our children's drawings and scribbles can tell many things about them.. Do you know what to look at when your children show you their works? Here are some key points to consider when you interpret children's drawings!

Why interpreting children's drawings

When we announced to the children that we would come back to France, and explained the consequences this would have for them, my daughter started drawing houses.

They were beautiful, cheerful drawings; but it struck me that the subject's choice had suddenly become "monotonous and repetitive" - while before she would mostly draw people, whether it was us or the princesses she liked so much.

How to interpret children's designs houses
Houses, houses, houses

Have you ever noticed any weird detail in your children's drawings, and wondered what they meant?

For example, take the drawing below : isn't it .. Say peculiar ?

How to interpret the children's drawings body

I wanted to investigate.. And I asked an elementary school teacher to give me some clarification.

...continue reading "Keys to understand what your kids’ drawings really tell about them"

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Mothers light up when they have to talk about their offspring and related joys and sorrows.. But what do men think about becoming a dad? Behind their silence, do they really hide a true hassle for such feminine occupation, or maybe ... ? Is it really that hard for them? If you are a dad, from the "not yet but maybe a day" level to the"Yes several times" one, then this interview is for you. If you're a mom, here's a point of view that could explain many things..

Becoming a dad is an adventure
Yes, becoming a parent is an adventure for all

Becoming a dad - the first time

Becoming a dad the first time was.. Well, there was the novelty effect, it was all very exciting. I really enjoyed attending the prenatal classes, and paying attention to the reactions and questions of the other couples; feeling that atmosphere of preoccupied excitement.

Then childbirth.. Watching as your child comes to the world is an indescribable thrill, and at the same time it feels like a normal thing in life. An extraordinarily natural phenomenon.

I am glad to have witnessed and seen everything; that's something you don't want to miss.

Those first days you're as suspended in a time that has stopped; with such a tiny baby, that's yours, you can't just stay indifferent, regardless of how much you're a rational, thick-skinned guy.

...continue reading "Becoming a dad. A chat about fatherhood"

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Talk so that your children will listen? A dialogue with no emergency exit

Make your children listen - how can you establish a connection
How can you establish a connection?

Jason Rosewell

Stressed and worried, I've been sleeping poorly lately. I'm struggling to get my energies back, especially at night. I just would like to be left alone. But I have children who are also stressed and preoccupied. Their magic wand? Well.. Mom!

We have to get out. We're late.. My brain is lost on these circular thoughts.

Stop it! Are you getting dressed? Go brush your teeth! But what makes you think that you can jump on the bed?! Stop it, I said! 1, 2, 3 you stop now!

I look at my watch. We're late, one more time. Can you believe it! I've been waking you up earlier every day, and we're late anyways !

I feel all my helplessness and my frustration mount. Except, of course, that it doesn't make my kids move any faster.

When we finally get to the elevator, I take a deep breath. I look at my half-asleep children, their eyes full of a mix of sadness and fatigue.

My motherly tenderness replaces the Panic of infinite delay, and behold, I feel guilt rise. Why do I end up screaming like that? I know it doesn't work. And yet I have tried everything!

How can you make your children listen? What's wrong with the way I communicate?

...continue reading "Make your children listen : a mother’s adventure"

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Parent of strong-willed children anyone ?

Do you know when every silly and simple request during the day transforms into a screaming struggle? That's how life with strong-willed children can be. I hadn't even known there was a definition for it. "Parenting the strong-willed child. What do I do now? Is it a condition? Is it curable? Isn't it just normal that my child wishes to impose her will and can't yet control her emotional reactions? Or are we having misleading expectations? From strategy to understanding, your problem may become a life-changing gift.

strong-willed children and their bright future
strong-willed children and their bright future

Persistence vs Strong will

Having a strong will was something I've always believed and being told to have. To me, it meant that if I had an objective, something I really cared for, I was ready to fight, wait, and fight again despite the obstacles. Like, nothing can stop me, right?

Then one day, I have this creature in my arms. I smile, she smiles. And then little things, like me holding the spoon instead of letting her do it, or choosing which dress to wear, would ignite a fire.

She was, what, 14 months? She couldn't even talk yet. But she wanted to decide what clothes she should wear. What books we should look at. What and how much food to eat.

I was amazed at the fierce response whenever I tried to impose my own decision. I mean, I'm you mother ! I'll show you who's in control...

Mine was called persistence (or stubbornness!). One where despite my capability of never letting go, I still needed to be liked and loved by everybody.

Where I struggled with the food I ate, the looks I got, and I was so worried about other people's opinions that for such a long time I forgot to check on what I wanted and needed. How can I win with a toddler who already knows all this?! And mostly - should I try to change her?

...continue reading "Strong-willed children: a life-changing journey from a problem you should solve to a gift"

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The value of discipline today

Are you kidding me? Are we still talking about rules and the value of discipline?!" If the topic makes you snort and you're about to click elsewhere, wait a second! Think about the last time someone blocked your car in the parking lot to avoid walking 10 meters more. Or when your child didn't want to do his homework, and you justified him in front of the teacher. Then, however, when he once again refused to put his dirty socks in the laundry bin instead of leaving them around the house, you couldn't take it anymore and you yelled at him.. The problem today is that there are no more rules! Kids don't have any boundaries! Ever heard those sentences? No panic. But if you dream of a bright and satisfying future for your children, then it is worth looking at the value of discipline a little more closely.

value of discipline and rules for children
Are we sure there's no longer need for rules?

Photos of: Neonbrand

When does the need for discipline arise?

Let's start from the beginning. Do you know when, about around 8-10 months and up, your baby starts crawling around, proudly exploring his world? At some point, he turns to you, and he looks at you with an inquisitor eye.

Not by chance. It's called social referencing. Your child is implicitly asking you: What should I do now ?

Will he find a terrified face, a semi-threatening look, or a great, encouraging smile?

Come on, we do it automatically! Remember what we saw about the baby's brain? Since such a young age, if their brains depict a smile on us, some chemical reactions take place, releasing neurotransmitters such as dopamine, which makes us feel so good. The repetition of this connection between action and positive reaction reinforces it - that is: if I try to put on my feet, my mom looks ecstatic and I feel like a hero, so let's do it again! The brain will try to reproduce the same situation to have the same positive answer.

Hey! If you want to receive more inspiring content, it's over here!

This process applies to any learning. Children have no idea how they should behave in the various situations and places they encounter, and they look at us to figure out how to do it.

Because in the world there are different social and geographic situations, which require very diverse adaptations, we are born with a brain that still largely needs to develop : it grows on the basis of the social and relational experiences that it faces.

A yes or a no it's no more than very important guidelines to know where and how to move, and they offer an extreme sense of safety.

...continue reading "A speech on the value of discipline. Yes, your child still needs rules !"