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Have you ever noticed that when you have a baby in your arms, she starts to flicker as soon as you are a little tense? And that generally, smiling at him tenderly has a soothing effect? Have you ever been so tired, and ended with thinking unconsciously that your baby was crying on purpose to annoy you? Would that be possible? Let's see what's going on in the baby's brain, and how we can help it grow!

baby's brain and emotional transfer
baby's brain and emotional transfer

Baby's brain is a sponge

When I became a mother, I was at first puzzled to realize that my tiny baby was so permeable to my emotional states. When I was cool and relaxed and happy, she was the easiest company; whenever I felt tired, distressed, tensed or nervous, well, things weren't that simple then.

She would cry or want me more, making sometimes my tension longer to dissolve. At that time, I was still miles away from all the readings and discoveries I've done ever since. I was just exploring a new dimension of the world, and of myself.

Because of my doing 3 things at once, I used to move fast, to run; therefore clumsily dropping things, hurting things on my way, making noises...

Well, rough and noisy wasn't that good for a new born, I'd found out. She would freak out at sudden loud noises; her body would "jump up", from a state of calmness to one of alert.

I started to pay attention to subtleties, to the tone of my voice, to how I moved. Songs were great, as they kept me quiet, and cuddled her at the same time.

I had her on me most of the times, in my arms or in a baby carrier, so we were in constant physical contact. She could so easily sense the variations of my breathing speed, and I had to better manage myself.

It was a very happy period for me, so it wasn't that difficult per se; but I was amazed at how I could keep her calm just by being calm and happy myself.

...continue reading "Baby’s brain, and us. How our emotions have a role on baby’s brain development"

You may be pregnant and have many questions about breastfeeding. Or maybe you have a colleague on maternity leave; and you wonder if breastfeeding will affect her return to work ... you too have an important role. How? Read here! A reflection on breastfeeding, its benefits; its importance to society, and our role to play..

Breastfeeding, simple as it sounds..
Breastfeeding, simple as it sounds..

I'm pregnant.. should I think about breastfeeding now?

My children are born in France. It was then when I truly felt the strongest cultural differences with Italy. My boss, while I was pregnant, asked me if I thought I would breastfeed. The question puzzled me a bit: why was it not obvious that I would at least try breastfeeding? Did he just want to know if I would have stayed home on parental leave longer than expected?

Many other people asked me the same question and I understood that it was without malevolence. In France, women claim their independence, acquired when baby's bottle was freed from its intrinsic concept of guilt, inadequate mother; and they were able to choose whether to breastfeed or not.

The switch to artificial milk makes it easier to distribute the tasks related to feeding the baby with the partner; to come back work earlier, and not to depend on baby's needs for a long time (I'm obviously simplifying a bit).

In Italy, I think we don't ask ourselves the question as much. If it's possible, then breastfeeding is considered normal. The choice is perhaps less free from cultural conditioning ...

But I found it absolutely natural to wanting to take care of my creature with breastfeeding. In addition, I have always heard that breast milk is healthier, transmits antibodies, contains all the nutrients the child needs.

Too bad no one warned me that .. it's not that simple!

Moms-to-be (but why not, partners and bosses ): five things to know about breastfeeding

  1. It's painful. Only the first days, but know it. Better to arm yourself with patience - it's just for a short time. And with a nice protective cream for nipples (On the advice of my midwife, I used Medela's Purelan; I haven't tried any other, so I can't compare, but it certainly works well. )

  2. Better to drink like camels before a trip to the desert. Like a lot of water, really liters and liters. It will seem obvious ... well ... it wasn't for me at the time, as I will tell you below.

  3. The double electric breast pump will save you. It will make you feel like a dairy cow, but it'll become a valuable ally. Ask for advice, rent it in the pharmacy, prepare yourself psychologically, but don't ever neglect it!

  4. Unless you want to lock yourself home, be ready to breastfeed in public. Find the most appropriate solutions for the situation, but don't worry about any eventual disapproving look.

  5. If you are planning to go back to work and continue breastfeeding, get ready for fatigue and guilt, because you will suddenly live on two fronts .. well, in fact, this will long exceed breastfeeding!

  6. Ok I'll add a sixth one.. It is, truly, a wonderful bonding experience. I'm not regretting any single bit of it..

Come on, let's go into more detail. I'll start by telling you how it went for me, and why I find breastfeeding so important to us all.

...continue reading "Breastfeeding. Joys, pains, and society"

What is kindness? Why is it be important to teach it to our children ? Here a reflection on the benefits of kindness when we live it on a daily basis.

children and kindness
children and kindness

What is kindness?

Let's talk about kindness today, as it sometimes seems disappearing in our world, and yet I believe it is a very important virtue.

I'll start with its definition : kindness defines a person

    •  being friendly, generous, and considerate;
    • with a pleasant disposition, and concern and consideration for others.

(as taken from google and wikipedia )

To be clear in my remarks: I'm not talking about a fake kindness here. I do not refer to these codes of conduct that make us say yes while we think the opposite, this mask of which Thomas d'Ansembourg speaks in his deep and revolutionary "Being Genuine : Stop being nice, start being real

(If you don't know him, I really suggest you to watch his conference ) :

No. I insist with my children and want them to be "nice" in their gestures and words because it is, in my opinion, an exercise of empathy.

I consider a value the affection that we carry towards each other and towards ourselves, and which must be manifested through our daily actions and words.

When I think about kindness here, I think about respect. Respect for others as for ourselves. If I respect myself, I want to be treated with fair words and deeds; and if I respect others, I want to treat them with fair words and deeds.

When I think about kindness, I think about the love  we feel when we are connected, able to make demands and express needs without accusing or judging.

Kindness .. What for?!

You're maybe thinking, "It's a bunch of really nice words, but that's not our real life! When I do get angry, I don't necessarily want to be nice, it wouldn't work!"

...continue reading "Kindness. Do we want it today?"

Potty training, an adventure? If you find it overwhelming, if you're wondering whether it's the right moment to potty training your child.. this post will interest you! Potty training and similar adventures are fundamental steps in a child's development. It's when he/she starts to really grow independent.. Better to live the moment, stress-free!

potty training
On potty training

Potty training and similar adventures: too much theory?

Okay, let's face it : there are way too many theories and strategies about potty training. The best age to do it; the things to avoid; when it's too early when it's too late.. I don't want to add anything to that.

I'm just going to share my experience with my own kids, because I've just been through this right now. However easy it may seem, it does present a few frustrations and inconveniences.

Actually, the memory I had about my daughter's potty training was making me postpone the training with my son. I was thinking .. well, let's leave the diapers some more!

It ends up being practical : you don't have to worry about having a toilet around you wherever you go; nor bringing clean underwear with you all the time, neither bicarbonate to wash the mattress several days in a row. (thank you Kristin for sharing this wonderful recipe to clean it from pee stains! Ok I know, it's not glamorous.. But hey, it's totally part of parenting joys..)

THE question : potty training, When?!

The physical rule I followed for both children, was to wait at least until they were able to go up and down the stairs by alternate foot by themselves. (It should indicate a sufficiently developed musculature so that they can control their bladder. you can take a better look here, and there, among the many websites out there.) .

...continue reading "On potty training and similar adventures"

How can I help my children sleep? You may have wondered, like me, from time to time.. It's one of the most recurring topics among parents right? Do your children struggle to find their sleep, and you struggle with the urge of running miles away? Let's take a closer look!

How can I help my children sleep
Children's sleep

Children's sleep is heaven. When they sleep! How can I help my children sleep then?

If you have children, or have spent time with them, you have probably experienced the relief that floods you when you close the door of their room in the evening, imagining a few hours of adult life just for you, or for your couple.

And you probably all know the thrill that runs through your back when you hear a "Moooom, Daaaad, I can't sleep! I'mm thirsty! Please come!"

At first you pretend not to have heard, but after 2 minutes the little voice has become a loud cry and at some point you need to avoid waking up the whole neighborhood  ..

So you get up, and you hope to fix it in a few minutes. But your child's eyes are wide open and, based on his energy level, he could go hiking up a  mountain .. not quite willing to stay alone in the dark. Children's sleep becomes a nightmare.

You stay a little longer, then try to leave the room again, and there it is. This loud cry, the weeping cry. In your head, the fight : on one hand, I want to finish my film ! (or tidy up the kitchen / talk with your friends who came for a drink / go to sleep / anything else) but on the other, Poor honey, look at his big tears .. I can't just leave him like that ..

And depending on your fatigue level and empathy, one of these thoughts will move you in one direction or the other .. with its consequences.

When children's sleep moves deep, personal issues

...continue reading "How can I help my children sleep? How to handle it, smooth!"

When we lose our temper with our children, our first automatic reaction is raising our voice, maybe a light spank... What if the solution was give them cuddles and snuggling them?! If it seems counter-intuitive to use cuddles in order to stop undesirable behavior, read along! You could change your mind.. and cuddles science could really help you. 

cuddles
Cuddles help

Small frustrations get bigger

Let's picture a typical evening at home.
I just went grocery shopping with the children, before heading home, exhausted after a long day. I had agree I would call my sister and my parents, who live far away, on a Whatsapp video to tell them about our latest week.

The children were happy at first, then got easily annoyed for my lack of availability for them. As soon as I started to talk about "more serious" topics, they followed me everywhere interrupting me every two and a half words.

First time, I stayed calm and gently asked to wait and don't intervene. I got mad at about the tenth time, but as I now know this behavior very well, I got the clue and quickly ended the call.

My quizzical look said "How do I get to prepare dinner now that the children just emptied their "reservoir" and need me again?"

So, I tried with the "aperitif technique". I called the children by the kitchen table, and offered them to have a pre-dinner snack while I was getting the dinner ready, so that we could be in proximity; yes, I was really hoping that some food could replace my mental presence.

Cuddles' need - underestimated symptoms

...continue reading "Cuddles, that’s it! Snuggling as a crisis solution"

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If you often feel tensed and stressed; you are running all the time, and don't even know why. If you sometimes snap at your children for no reason.. or simply, you often find yourself holding your breath.. This article may interest you! We'll see how, when you breathe correctly, you may improve your life in unsuspected ways. 

Children know how to breathe and enjoy life more
Children know how to breathe and enjoy life more

Why should I pay attention to how I breathe?

Let's be honest. How many times a day do we think about our breath?

To the importance of breathing, and to the existence of different techniques to breathe, I payed attention only when I started taking singing lessons. I was 20.

I was taught what the diaphragm is, and how difficult it is to reproduce certain sounds in a melodic and melodious way without the right support with proper musculature, posture and breathing. Before, breathing was something I just did not ever think about.

In order to sing, I had to focus on my breath. I then realized how many times anxiety and nervousness, made me breathe up high to the chest; and how ventral "low" breathing  conciliated instead a state of calm. This is quite physiological since the increase of the respiratory rate is a response to stress (fight or flight response).

It still surprises me. Why in the world do we encounter so many difficulties as adults to just breathe? I mean, it's such a natural mechanism! Children and animals do it right effortlessly. But as we grow, we disconnect so much from ourselves, we forget. And then we need to pay attention and to exercise to relearn..

...continue reading "Breathe… Why it helps you stay calm and present"

Whims and tantrums, is it a recurrent thing for you? Do you ever feel like spending most of the time with your children yelling that you can't go along with their whims? Only, it ends up with the worst tantrums? Let's find some tricks that could really help you out! 

whims and tantrums
Is my daughter throwing a tantrum on a whim?

What are whims ? What are tantrums?

I realize I use these worde when my children show their anger, often in an exaggerated fashion, due to some frustration for the refusal of something they wanted.

After several readings and learning, especially Isabelle Filliozat's books, I understood and internalized the fact that until 5 years old, the part of the brain able to control one's emotions is not mature enough to react as we adults would like.

And besides, even as an adult, I have troubles sometimes in controlling my own frustration (for example when my children don't listen to me!).

You can actually do a little test by yourself. Just to check on your child's cognitive developmental stage. Ask him / her to insert different geometrical shapes in the corresponding hole, as in a toy cube (like this one, to be clear).

If he (she)'s capable of inserting all the right shapes the first time, then his prefrontal cortex is mature enough to understand our Nos without too much fuss.

Otherwise, stay on guard! And remember : he just cannot control himself, he doesn't have the brain capability yet.

...continue reading "Tantrums and whims – the 5 lessons I’ve learnt"

Have you ever felt like being nice to other people made you do things you didn't actually want? Have you ever felt scared when you had to say no to somebody? Afraid of being rejected?
If that's the case, you may want to read this ! I'm going through the same path too, and it could be great to share some advice!

Say no is like climbing
Say no is like climbing

Say no. What?!

It took me years to realize that, well, I have a problem. I can't say no. Friends or colleagues ask me a favor? Of course I'll help ! People ask me to do things I absolutely don't want to do for the sake of me? Here I am anyways!

But hey, either I'd force myself into it, or I'd find an incredible excuse to justify my no. And then I'd feel guilty for hours, or sometimes days.

I became so good at this, I hadn't even realized I would actually convince myself into changing my mind and believing that the other person's option was a better one. I would just forget whatever reason it was for which I didn't want to comply in the first place.

...continue reading "Say no! Why you may want to learn that right now"

Here we are for the first post on this series, devoted to the books and sources I've been finding useful. SO, "Emotional Intelligence 2.0" is for you if you've ever thought..

  • that you have a hard time in understanding how you feel;
  • you only recognize an emotion after some time and reflection;
  • your friends' reactions sometimes astonish you;
  • and / or that you want to teach your children how to grow in touch with their emotional part, but don't know where to start;

Then read along! If you're interested, buy it or borrow it and let us know what you think!

Book on emotional intelligence
Book on emotional intelligence

Disclaimer : This post contains affiliate links, but it is not a sponsored post and all the opinions are my own.

Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves - co-founders of TalentSmart®

You may wonder why I've chosen to start my series with a book that does not talk about children. In fact, I think children are not even mentioned.

Well, truth is, I've come to think that in order to improve the way we are with our children; in order to better understand our little wonders; in order to enjoy more the time we have together; we need to work on us FIRST.

(Ok, maybe at the same time, but... you get the point)!

This book, in my opinion, doesn't present you anything magical, no miracles here... And maybe that's what I like about it.

It does mix data, theory and practical advice and exercises to get a clear hold on what emotional intelligence is and why you should consider working on it.

What can you expect from this book

The style of this book is practical and entertaining. If you are the kind of person who needs A LOT of theory, then maybe this is not the best reading.

However, if you're looking for down-to-earth strategies that you can easily implement in your daily life, you should give it a go. Its main purpose is getting us to switch our way of thinking and build a real strategy to increase our emotional intelligence.

The structure of this book is easy to go through, so I think what could work best is :

  • reading the book from start to finish to grasp the main concepts;
  • sneak at which areas you should work on first;
  • take a note of which pieces of advice you are already putting into practice, and which one you want to start implementing;
  • use then the book as a guide or referral to check regularly how you're doing in your path towards being an emotionally intelligent person!

...continue reading "Resource series – “Emotional Intelligence 2.0” Review"

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