the benefits of music

Monique Bathis is a registered music therapist, and she provided the information for this article. This post describes music therapy and how you can use music on your own to benefit your overall mental and emotional health.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF MUSIC THERAPY?

“Music therapy is a research based allied health profession in which music is intentionally used to actively support people as they aim to improve their health, functioning and wellbeing” (Australian Music Therapy Association, 2012).

Music therapy programs are tailored to meet each individual’s needs and goals across various domains such as cognitive functioning, speech and communication skills, social skills, physical functioning, emotional development, mental health, pain management, or to enhance quality of life.

To be a music therapist, an individual has to complete a certified university course in music therapy. They also must be registered through the professions association in each country (for example, the Australian Music Therapy Association in Australia). To maintain registration as a professional, music therapists must engage in ongoing professional development each year to keep up to date with current evidence in the field.

THE BENEFITS OF MUSIC THERAPY for the mental health of CHILDREN AND ADULTS OF ALL AGES

music therapy can help heal children of all ages

Music therapy can help support people of all ages and abilities. You do not need to have a musical background to engage in music therapy. The use of music can stimulate and activate all areas of the brain simultaneously. It has huge potential to support anyone who engages in the therapy.

Music therapy can be practices across a variety of settings such as hospitals, educational facilities, mental health facilities, nursing homes, health programs within communities, correctional facilities, and private practice.

Some specific benefits of music therapy as outlined in the research include (refer to the Australian Music Therapy Association website www.austmta.org.au for more details):

  1.        Help manage anxiety and stress 
  2.        Improves emotional regulation
  3.        Improve communication both verbally and non-verbally
  4.        Improves physical speech function 
  5.        Foster self-sufficiency
  6.        Improves relationships
  7.        Improves gross and fine motor function and control
  8.        Helps regulate heart rate, breathing rate and blood pressure
  9.        Increases coordination
  10.        Improves core executive functions
  11.        Helps with memory and focusing
  12.        Increases the body’s production of endorphins 
  13.        Improves recovery speed from injuries

Music therapists use a range of music therapy interventions and techniques to support the individual to reach their goals. Interventions may include:

Singing or instrumental play

This can help work on various speech/communication, cognitive, and/ or motor goals.

Songwriting

Songwriting can help support emotional development, mental health, and/or communication goals.

Listening to music either recorded or played by the music therapists

This can help support an individual’s emotional regulation and facilitate relaxation, or alternatively to boost mood and motivation.

Movement to music

Movement helps support sensory integration or physical functioning, e.g. balance or coordination.

the benefits of music

examples of music therapy interventions for children and adults

One particular strategy music therapists use with children with developmental and speech delays is called Development Speech and Language Training through Music (DSLM). The goal is to enhance and facilitate speech development for these children. For example, if the goal was to improve the child’s articulation of specific sounds, you should use or write a song that has the target sound/s within the song. The child would sing along and practice this song to learn those sounds. This could be recorded for the parent to use outside of sessions and the long term goal would be for the child to be able to say these sounds with greater clarity. Assessments take place at the commencement of music therapy programs so that progress can be tracked.

When working with children with autism, the benefits of the strategic use of music and rhythm can improve motor functioning, such as those associated with oral-motor skills or gait. Rhythm is key when working with people who have neurodevelopmental disorders. It helps because rhythm it is not only predictable (which the brains loves), but also helps to reorganize the brain and synchronize movements.

There are some interventions that are specific to people with neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s/Dementia, brain injuries and neurodevelopment disorders such as autism. To use these specific interventions (there are 22), a music therapist has had to complete their Neurological Music Therapy training.

TIPS AND STRATEGIES TO USE MUSIC ON YOUR OWN TO AID IN YOUR MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL WELLNESS 

Music can be hugely beneficial when supporting infants and families. For example, singing can connect parents with their medically fragile baby. Parents can also use music to support their baby or child who may be irritable or unsettled (for example, through the use of carefully selected recorded music or using voice/singing).

Music can be adapted and tailored to be age appropriate and suit the needs of the individual. Here are some ways that you can use music in your home to support yourself and/or your family:

(1) Create relaxation playlists to use when you or your child needs to wind down or calm 

Try practicing taking slow deep breaths along with your child to some calming music. This provides opportunities to learn self-regulation skills and helps your child to maintain regulation. For younger children, you can use visual props like placing their favorite toy on their tummy and watching it rise and fall as they practice slow belly breaths. 

(2) Create mood booster playlists and have a dance party to release any pent up energy 

Moving to music through different movements and actions like spinning, jumping, clapping, and tapping different body parts can help with motor functioning, provide sensory input that helps to regulate their nervous system, and also teaches younger kids their different body parts.

(3) Sing with or without recorded music

Singing helps to calm the nervous system and releases oxytocin (our love hormone). This helps to boost feelings of connectedness and other feel-good hormones.

(4) Play instruments or drums together while you sing along to music that has a strong beat 

This can support your children’s motor development as well as sensory development. Drumming, in particular, can be incredibly beneficial to support emotional regulation. Since it is a rhythm based instrument, it provides that much needed predictability to which the brain thrives. If you don’t have any instruments, you can make your own. Rice and plastic water bottles create great shakers, and plastic tubs and wooden spoons are a fantastic drum alternative.

(5) Use music to support routines and transitions 

Power struggles can occur during daily tasks (for example, brushing teeth or getting dressed), as well as during transitions (such as packing away toys, leaving the house, or bedtime). Singing songs that relate to the task or transition is a great strategy. It adds playfulness and connection in those moments and helps your child prepare for the upcoming task. This increases the chances of cooperation and aids in transitions.

(6) Play or sing songs to support learning opportunities 

Music activates memory centers of the brain.  Therefore, songs can help children learn various concepts such as the alphabet, numbers, colors, days of the week, seasons, timetables, etc. Songs support speech and language. It also helps it to retain and recall information with greater ease. How else would young children be able to remember 26 individual names of letters if it weren’t for the Alphabet Song?

(7) Play music to create a more positive auditory home environment 

Turning off the TV/device and other unnecessary noise and replace it with music. This can help to reduce overstimulation. It can also help to reduce meltdowns and create a more calm, relaxed household for all.

(8) write your own song to aid in anxiety

Songwriting is beneficial as a way for an adult or child to express themselves in a creative way. It also is helpful to put thoughts and feelings into song format.

 

 

Music is a great tool to use at home in various ways; however, only a board-certified music therapist provides music therapy. When seeking out a music therapist, it is crucial to find one with whom you feel a connection. 

To get more information about music therapy, or to get in touch with Monique, you can contact her via social media as well as email:

Instagram – moniquebathis.rmt

Facebook – www.facebook.com/moniquebathis.rmt

Email – evolvewithmusictherapy@gmail.com

There are many benefits of music. I hope this article inspires each of you to incorporate music into your lives in different ways!

 

lessons learned in life

Life is filled with obstacles, but my aspiration is that my child navigates it with courage, determination, and grace. Some life lessons she will have to learn herself, but my hope is that my words can guide her along her journey:

15 powerful LESSONS LEARNED IN LIFE everyone should know

(1) Don’t be afraid to use your voice

There will always be people who won’t agree with what you are saying, and that is okay. If you believe in something strongly, keep standing by your convictions. Don’t allow anyone to diminish your feelings or beliefs. Stay true to yourself and let you head and you heart be your north star. If you are willing to follow them, they will always lead you in the right direction.

(2) This world can be a cruel place, and people may judge or comment about how you look

It is okay to take pride in your appearance, but remember that your looks should not define you. Strive for kindness. Unlike beauty, kindness does not fade with age. There will be times that it is tempting to combat cruelty with cruelty. There is enough anger and hate in this world. Allow the light within you to lead you out of the darkness.

(3) Weight is simply a number on a scale

It is easy to fall down the rabbit’s hole if you focus on those numbers. Instead, strive to be healthy. Eat fruits and vegetables and exercise. It is okay to enjoy a snack or eat a bowl of pasta. Remember to do things in moderation. Take care of your body as opposed to trying to change your body. This is a very important life lesson.

(4) You can be anything you want to be

Really. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you otherwise. Reach for the stars, and do something that you feel passionate about. It is okay to have high ambitions. Don’t allow yourself to settle for anything less than what will make you happy. Always believe in yourself.

(5) It is okay to be emotional

That may make some people uncomfortable, and that’s on them. Some may tell you to “stay strong”. Expressing your emotions is what truly makes you strong. Trust your emotions. Don’t bury your feelings or let others tell you how to feel. It is normal and healthy to express your feelings. Care. Care deeply and feel deeply. If more people were like that, the world would be a much better place.

(6) There is no weakness in forgiveness

Like everything else, this needs to be applied in moderation. Forgive those who genuinely care and respect you. There will be people who will mistake your kindness for weakness. Those people will try to take advantage of you. Don’t have those types of people in your life. People will make mistakes, and you will make mistakes. That is par for the course. Forgive yourself and forgive others. Don’t allow the weight of mistakes to crush you.

(7) Have respect and compassion for others and for yourself

Accept and love all parts of yourself. Remember to always treat others the way you want to be treated. Set boundaries and hold yourself and others accountable for respecting those boundaries.

(8) It is okay to be different

Stay true to who and what you are. It is difficult to be different in this world because there is a lot of judgment and ignorance. That doesn’t mean you should allow those types of people to dictate how you live your life. There are enough sheep in this world. Be a leader, not a follower, and always march to the beat of your own drum.

respect yourself as well as others

(9) Your body, your choice. Period.

Don’t let anyone tell you what to do with your body. Hug those you want to hug (if they want to be hugged). Kiss those you want to kiss (if they want to be kissed too). If you don’t feel comfortable doing something, then don’t do it. Just as it is better in life to say “no” rather than go along with what others say or do, the same applies to your body. You get to decide when, where and how you use your body.

(10) There are others in this world who may be afraid or unable to stand up for themselves

Just as you should use your own voice to stand up for yourself, remember to speak up if someone else is getting mistreated. Remember that saying nothing speaks volumes.

(11) Love is a gift and a privilege

So is trust. Both should only be given to those who earn it and treasure it. Love wisely, but don’t be afraid of loving. Love is the only answer in a world of endless questions.

(12) Try your best at everything you do

If you are only willing to put in partial effort, it isn’t worth any effort at all. Don’t confuse effort with perfection. Nobody is capable of perfection. Your best will sometimes be better than others, and sometimes others will be better than yours. Do the best you can and accept that your best is all you can strive for. Whatever the outcome might be, be proud of yourself for trying. I will always be proud of you too.

learn from lessons life teaches you

(13) Life is comprised of a series of choices

Often the right choice is the harder choice. Choose right over easy every time. It is worth the extra effort to be able to look at yourself in the mirror and be proud of who you are.

(14) Inevitably life will knock you down

The truth is that life is a series of curveballs. No matter the circumstance, always get back up and keep on going. Learn from the lessons life teaches you. Perseverance and believing in yourself are essential ingredients to navigate through the murky waters of life. It may feel like the world is turning its back on you, but determination and hope will always help you find your way.

(15) Remember to not just live life, but to experience it

Remember to see the forest through the trees. Have fun. Spend time doing things that make you smile. Enjoy your own company, but also enjoy the company of others. Life is an adventure, and it is up to you how you live it.

 

 

There are many lessons I have learned in life. My hope is that these lessons will remind my child (and yours) that life has so much wisdom in it, if we are open to learning from our experiences.

how it feels to have adhd

My 8 year-old daughter watches me write often. She requested to write a post about how it feels to have ADHD. The following is written in her own words (with some spelling and grammatical assistance) on behalf of parents and children who live with ADHD. She also provided some strategies she uses to help her.

HOW ADHD MAKES ME FEEL

Hi. My name is Brielle. l am eight years old, and l am about to tell you how it feels to have ADHD.

I started to realize I had some difficulty in school when I was in Kindergarten.  l had a really hard time understanding number bonds and how they worked. I was confused and couldn’t do schoolwork on my own. The other kids during learning center would sit at the desks and do their work, but I couldn’t do it.  I had a hard time understanding new things because of trouble paying attention. I would think about other things. The teachers thought I didn’t know anything. I would go home, and my mommy would explain things to me a few times before I understood it. I was able to learn number bonds because my mommy taught it to me. She was able to teach it to me in a way that made sense to me. 

My mommy now homeschools me. When my mom is teaching me l still have trouble focusing. l am still thinking about many things all at once. A lot of times I rush through my school work and I don’t want to double check to make sure I did it correctly.  I just want to finish everything quickly.

Having ADHD makes me feel like there is constant noise going on in my head.

The next day l don’t remember the things l just learned the day before.  My mommy has to review what I already learned.  ln kindergarten everyone else would do their work when the teachers told us to do our workbooks. l had no idea what to do. l felt confused all the time. l like my mom as a teacher because she explains things to me well and helps me to understand.

I AM HYPER ALL THE TIME AND MY MIND IS ALWAYS ACTIVE

When l am hyper I’m often rough with my cats and my dog. l will sometimes jump on the couch and on people. I run around and get hurt. I have a hard time stopping myself. My body is always full of energy.

l never get tired.  l could get three hours of sleep, and l would not be tired. I get sick often because I don’t get enough sleep. 

At night I think about a lot of things, so I have trouble falling asleep. I leave my room many times to go into the hallway. Sometimes I have to go to the bathroom, but other times I feel like I have to go but I really don’t. It’s hard for me to get comfortable.

It can take 1-2 hours for me to fall asleep once my mommy leaves my room. When I wake up in the middle of the night l stay up and go to the bathroom every few minutes or l go play with my cats. No matter what time I fall asleep I will wake up the same time each morning. l think l do that because it is so hard for me to sleep and I’m bored.

Sometimes my brain tells me to lie and to do the wrong thing like climb on countertops and sneak downstairs during the night.

my mommy tries to help me to stop and think before doing something, but I always act first.

I understand that doing some of those things can get me into trouble. I’ve gotten hurt a lot because I always run around, and I fall many times.  I still do it anyway because my body acts before I am able to think and stop myself.

 

TECHNIQUES THAT I USE TO HELP MANAGE MY ADHD

techniques i use to help manage my adhd

I try to tell myself, “l am going to fall asleep.” Many times that doesn’t work for me because I’m not tired. That is what having ADHD feels like. It can make sleeping very hard sometimes. l wear an eye mask, and l try to imagine things that make me happy when I’m lying down. That is helpful sometimes. Maybe it can help you.

You will have ADHD forever and you cannot change that, but what you can change is what you are doing now.

Putting my feet on the wall and listening to yoga music relaxes me. You can do that along with your kids if they are hyper. My mom does that with me and it helps. If you have a child with ADHD, this is helpful to calm down and focus. My mommy calls it a legs up the wall pose.

Sometimes when I am hyper, I go into my playroom and push on the wall for 20 seconds. I also run laps pretending that there is a wolf chasing me.

During school when I am having trouble focusing, my mommy gets my attention and says, “1-2-3, eyes on me.” She also tells me to put on my listening ears and my looking eyes. That gets me to pay attention, and then I am able to listen to her explaining things to me. She will give me breaks when I need them, and she sings songs about what I’m learning to help me remember things.

My mommy also gives me reminders to always double check my work before handing it in. When my body tries to tell me to do something I shouldn’t do or I try to rush through my work, I tell myself and my mommy tells me that ADHD isn’t the boss, I am! 

I have two favorite breathing exercises to help me calm down. One is where I start by squeezing my feet and let it go, then my legs, then my tummy, chest, arms, and face. At the end I squeeze my entire body at the same time. The second exercise is what my mommy calls 4-7-8 breathing. You take a deep breath in and count in your head for four seconds, then hold your breath for seven seconds, then let out the air for eight seconds. You can do this as many times as it takes before you feel relaxed.

There is an area of my room that my mommy calls my calming corner. I go into my room and squeeze some of my toys to help me calm down. Sometimes I jump up and down, which gets some of my energy out. I also have a bean bag chair that I throw myself onto. My parents put or roll heavy things on me (my weighted blanket or an exercise ball) to help calm my body down. That helps me to relax because I like the pressure on my body. They also sometimes give me big squeezes to help me calm down.

Since I have a lot of energy, I like to go outside a lot. When my parents take me outside, I run around and I go on my scooter and swing. This helps me because I like fast rides, and it relaxes me a little bit. 

NO MATTER HOW ADHD MAKES YOU FEEL, KNOW THAT YOU ARE NOT ALONE

For other kids that have ADHD, you are not the only one. There are many other children who have it and have to deal with it like I do. I understand what goes on and how it makes you feel, but it’s just something you have. It’s not who you are. 

So read this post and tell your kids to read this. I want them to know that they are not the only ones who have ADHD. I have ADHD and I understand. They are not alone. This is what it feels like to have ADHD. I hope this will help parents understand what their children have to go through every day.

Thank you for reading my post!  My mom writes to try to help people. Please share my post so that I can help many people.  If you or your kids have any comments or questions then leave a comment or send an email. Don’t forget to subscribe to my mommy’s blog!

lessons i have learned from my daughter

As a parent, it is my responsibility to teach my daughter. However, I have a confession. My daughter has taught me more than I could ever teach her. Even as I homeschool her, the lessons I learn from her far surpass the ones I instill in her. I never expected to learn so much about myself from my child, but I have. There are too many to list, but here are some of the lessons I have learned from my daughter:

(1) Laughter is the best medicine

Being a grown up is filled with responsibility. With all of life’s obligations, it is easy to forget about the magic of laughing. My daughter taught me that there is no more beautiful sound than the sound of your child’s laughter. The lesson I learned from my daughter is the importance of taking the time to laugh daily. In truth, I have never laughed more than when I am around Brielle, and it has done wonders for my well-being.

(2) It is okay to make mistakes

I grew up feeling that making mistakes was a sign of failure. Once I became a parent, all dreams of perfection went out the window. I make mistakes as a parent all the time. My daughter has taught me that it is okay to make mistakes. When she makes mistakes, she doesn’t judge herself. She has never felt that her mistakes make her any less lovable or less worthy. I learned the important lesson that mistakes are part of life, and that all we can do is learn and grow from them.

Learning that it was okay to make mistakes as a mom was a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders. I realize that being a perfect mom is impossible, and that is okay. My daughter shows me daily that she doesn’t want or need a perfect mom. She wants a mom that loves her, supports her, and will be there for her.

(3) I learned the true meaning of unconditional love

My daughter taught me that the love between a parent and a child is unconditional. There is nothing Brielle could ever say or do that would change the love I have for her, and she accepts and loves me just as I am. Of all the lessons I have learned from my daughter, I think this one is the most important.

unconditional love

I struggle with anxiety, and there are many times when I wish I said or did things differently. I lose my temper, and I don’t always model the things I expect of her. She has seen me at my best and at my worst, but she still tells me I am the best mommy in the world. She loves with all of her heart and without any expectations in return. Having that kind of love in my life is the greatest gift I have ever received.

(4) You can’t prepare for everything

This is a lesson that my daughter teaches me time and time again. As someone who feels anxious, I try to prepare myself as much as possible for upcoming events. However, my daughter taught me that nothing I imagined could prepare me for being a mother. I can read every book (which I have) and still something will come up that is unexpected. Children are unpredictable and you cannot prepare for what they will throw your way. My daughter has taught me that life cannot be planned, and sometimes all you can do is go with the flow.

(5) Enjoying the present time

I was always on the go, juggling responsibilities and trying to be everything to everyone. That went out the window when I had my daughter. Children live in the moment. They embrace the here and now, and they give their full attention to the things they love. My daughter taught me the importance of slowing down and taking time to just be. When I play with her, all of my concerns about my to-do list go out the window. Playing with her, snuggling, and making forts with her are some of my happiest times because I am embracing the moment.

(6) You can learn to love yourself by loving someone else first

Although I feel it is great if you love yourself before you enter a relationship, my daughter taught me that that isn’t necessary. I was very much lacking in the self-love department when I became a mom. However, becoming a mom made me want to be better for my daughter and for myself. I wanted to be a good role model for my daughter, and her love helped me to learn to love myself.

(7) The best moments and things in life are the simple ones

Forget about fancy trips or materialistic things. My daughter finds happiness in the little things. She will squeal with excitement about a candy bar, a beautiful bird, and flowers. The lesson I learned from my daughter is that the small things are what matter. Brielle’s homemade cards and her hugging me with all of her might are priceless. I try to enjoy the simple moments because those are the ones I will look back and remember most. The little moments with my daughter like lying in the grass and telling each other jokes are the ones that ultimately add up to be the biggest.

(8) Accept yourself as you are

accept yourself for who you are

My daughter is who she is without apology. She has ADHD and struggles with impulse control and focusing academically. Brielle has never complained about why she has these struggles. She has never felt badly about herself for having ADHD.

I vividly remember her telling me, “I have ADHD. So what? I’m still me.” MIND BLOWN. I spent most of my life feeling badly about myself because of my anxiety that can be debilitating. I allowed labels to define me and make me feel shame and unworthy. I learned from my daughter that labels mean nothing. They do not define you. Who you are as a person is what matters. My daughter is a wonderful example of accepting yourself.

(9) In a world where you can be anyone, be yourself

Brielle is herself unapologetically. She will wear clothes that clash, are too small, or are loud. She will wear a dress when we are at home because she feels like it. She will dance awkwardly, sing terribly, and laugh loudly at her own jokes. She is shy at time when she initially meets people, but once she feels comfortable, she holds nothing back. My daughter doesn’t feel embarrassed or feel the need to act differently to fit in with others. She is not self-conscious and doesn’t worry about how she looks or what others think. Her authenticity is a daily life lesson to me to be true to myself.  

(10) It is okay to not always be okay

I discuss this a lot, and I credit my daughter for teaching me this lesson. Brielle will let me know if she is upset, sad, mad, frustrated, etc. As a toddler, her temper tantrums were her way of expressing her big feelings. She helped me realize that feelings aren’t something to run away from, rather, they deserve our attention. I learned to inquire about her emotions and teach her the importance of learning healthy coping mechanisms. Through this process, I learned to give myself more grace about my emotions.

(11) Being brave is having fear and doing it anyway

My daughter has fears. She hates thunder and used to be afraid of the dark. She doesn’t feel shame or guilt for having fears. She has taught me that feeling afraid is okay. However, I have seen her take a deep breath and do things that scare her. I learned that being brave isn’t being fearless. It is facing your fears despite having them. My daughter has taught me the true meaning of bravery, and it has helped me to accept my fears while trying to face them.

lessons i learned from my daughter

(12) The power of forgiveness and not holding grudges

My daughter will get angry at a person. Really angry. However, she never holds onto that anger. She will address her feelings and speak her mind, but then it is over. She won’t bring up things that happened in the past because she is too busy focusing on the present. She teaches me to leave what happened in the past in the past. Assuming you are not in a toxic relationship and you set healthy boundaries, forgiveness is a powerful thing. Holding onto anger only hurts ourselves.

(13) There is always happiness, if you are willing to look for it

It is easy to get caught up in your own problems and forget that there is so much beauty. Our perspective shapes the way we view the world, and my daughter sees the world with a lens of happiness and excitement. Toys on the floor, paint on the table, and a dirty bike are indications of different things that brought my daughter joy. She finds happiness in everything she does– petting our cat, eating her favorite foods, and writing to her pen pal. It is easy to feel overwhelmed by all the things that need to be done or all the struggles we face. Brielle has taught me that even in our darkest moments of life there is still light.

(14) Motherhood is messy, hectic, unpredictable, chaotic, and absolutely beautiful, all rolled into one

I have learned that there is never a dull moment once you become a parent. It will challenge you in ways you didn’t know were possible, but it will also change you in the best ways possible. My daughter has caused me sleepless nights while also causing me all-consuming joy.

 

 

The truth is, I have grown and healed immensely because of Brielle. I am a better version of myself because of her. She inspires and motivates me daily. Although I teach my daughter, I am so grateful to have my daughter as my teacher as well. I will always carry the lessons I learned from my daughter near and dear to my heart.

 

lose identity in motherhood

I was asked by @mindfulsauce to write about my identity as a woman separate from that of a mom.  Many moms lose their identity in motherhood. I am no exception; however, my story is a little different.

I STRUGGLED WITH HAVING NO SENSE OF SELF-IDENTITY

Motherhood is something that changes you. Many of us simultaneously embrace our new role as mothers while grieving our old way of life. Staying out late, hanging out with friends, and having free time are things of the past. Our new norm is taking care of children, having little free time, and getting limited amounts of sleep. 

I lost my identity when I became a mom, but that isn’t the full story. Yes, I became enraptured in motherhood, and my life revolved around being a parent.

However, prior to motherhood my identity was also not linked to who I was as a person.

Growing up in a dysfunctional home, my identity throughout my life was linked to others. My childhood identity was enmeshed with my mom. I didn’t know who I was because my well-being and sense of wholeness stemmed from her approval. Granted, I had hobbies, and I always had a deep sense of right and wrong.  However, it didn’t change my need for my mother’s acceptance.  I still couldn’t untie that knot that bound me to her. My identity was being my mother’s daughter and wanting to feel needed and loved by her.

I STRUGGLED WITH HAVING NO SENSE OF SELF IDENTITY

As I mentioned in my article about life through my eyes, my identity was always contingent on others. I needed a friend, a boyfriend, etc. to make me feel better about myself and feel safe. I saw myself based on those roles, but I was never was able to peel back the layers and see who I was separate from others. Instead, I saw who I was based on my relationships. Granted, we all have relationships, and we are meant to have connections with others. However, those connections are supposed to enrich our lives, not solely define it. I saw myself as a daughter, sister, and a friend. I never stopped to think of who I was as a person.

When I got married, my new identity was a wife. I took on that role wholeheartedly, as I did all my other identities. I cooked, I cleaned, I took care of my husband, and I felt it was my job to give entirely of myself.

LOSING AND REPLACING MY IDENTITY IN MOTHERHOOD

When I had my daughter, my identity shifted. I completely defined myself as being a mom. However, this time was unlike the others. Society expects moms to envelop their identity in motherhood. Therefore, as I lost my identity in motherhood (or in my case, replaced my identity), it was something that was considered “normal”. Whereas walking around solely defining myself as a daughter or a friend may have raised eyebrows, nobody blinked twice when I spoke about my role as a mom. I blended right in with the other moms who only spoke about diaper bags, rash cream, and sleep training. I no longer had free time or could concern myself with my hobbies, but neither were any of these moms.  Not only was I being given permission to lose my identity in motherhood, it seemed like it would somehow be wrong if I didn’t.

The demands placed on mothers sets us up for failure. We are expected to do it all. Sweep floors, clean up messes, wipe runny noses, change diapers, schedule playdates for our children, pay the bills, prepare meals, wipe away tears, take our kids to school, help with homework, and take them to extracurricular activities. Mothers are supposed to be their children’s cheerleader, supporter, nurse, nutritionist, advocate, playmate, confidante, teacher, counselor, driver, event planner, cook, housekeeper, and go-to person. Whether you work or stay at home, the to-do list is never ending.

losing identity in motherhood

We are pulled in so many directions that it is impossible not to fall down the rabbit hole of losing oneself.

There is no time for ourselves when we are programmed to believe it is our job to take care of everyone else.

As a result, for a long time it never even occurred to me that it was a problem to not have an identity separate from being a mom. As a stay-at-home-mom, it was my responsibility and job from the moment my daughter was born to take care of her, nurture her, support her, and guide her. The twist was that my daughter has special needs that require additional support. From the age of four I was also taking her to Occupational Therapy, getting her tested, supplementing what she wasn’t getting at school at home, and fighting to get her an IEP. My daughter struggles with playing independently and lacks impulse control, so I was her permanent playmate and bodyguard as well. If I turned my back, she would do reckless things and get very badly hurt.

Her need for constant supervision only reinforced the belief I had that I was supposed to lose my identity in motherhood.

I know my husband had mixed emotions about me losing my identity in motherhood. On the one hand, he was happy to let me run the show when it came to taking care of our daughter. I did it all. From feeding her to playing with her, from teaching her to bathing her, and from reading to her to putting her to sleep, I was a one-woman show.

However, now that my identity was tied to being a mom, that left little or no room for my identity as a wife.  I was too tired after taking care of my high-needs daughter to show him much affection. Before my daughter was born, I was consumed with taking care of him because my main priority and identity was to be a wife.

Now, I couldn’t give to him as much as before because I had my daughter who needed me.

When my daughter started school, I was inconsolable. I cried when she started part-time three days a week. When she started part-time five days a week I cried for a month. When she started full-time five days a week I cried for months. I did not know who I was without taking care of my daughter all the time. Although I did long for time for myself, I wanted it in spurts. I didn’t want her away for hours every single day. As a result, I felt lost. I was still her mom, but I wasn’t needed as much. The truth is, I didn’t know who I was without that constant need. Just as my identity was once wrapped up in my mom, my identity was now wrapped up in my daughter.

HOW I RE-DISCOVERED AND ESTABLISHED MY IDENTITY

I am able to find myself

I think having the courage to go no contact with my mom helped me open my eyes to my need to find myself, separate from anyone else. I love my husband and daughter immensely, but I am my own person separate from them. As a child, I was conditioned to feel that my job was to take care of others. As a result, I thought it was selfish to focus on myself. I am finally able to see how wrong that way of thinking was, and I understand the importance of discovering myself.

I started homeschooling my daughter two years ago. It would have been immensely easy to fall back into old habits. I could allow being a mom to be all I am and all I need to be. However, that would be a disservice to myself, and just as important, to my daughter. I want her to feel encouraged to spread her wings and fly, however it may break my heart. She can only become a self-sufficient grownup if she is encouraged to be her own person. Otherwise, I would only be continuing the codependent cycle of her defining herself based on being my daughter.

One of the reasons I started my blog is to do something that comes from me. It is about me writing from my heart. I write about my husband and daughter often because they are huge parts of my life, but I write about my experiences. Accepting I need them while understanding I am so much more than just a wife and a mom has been a huge life lesson.

PRIORITIZE TIME each DAY FOR YOURSELF

I also learned that whereas I must keep an eye on my daughter for her own safety, that does not mean I cannot incorporate time for myself. I can have her near me while I read a book. In fact, we sometimes sit next to each other and each read our own books.

Just as the cycle of abuse stopped with me, I now know the cycle of codependency must stop with me. I want my daughter to know who she is as a person, and I want her to always prioritize maintaining that identity separate from others. She grew accustomed to my sole focus being on her, and she will complain when my focus is elsewhere. Therefore, I often remind her of the importance of taking care of myself. I explain to her that being a mother does not mean that I am not my own person. I also remind her that I always love her, but it is my job to take care of her AND also take care of myself. She knows that it is a priority for her to always take care of herself too.

FIND OR REDISCOVER HOBBIES THAT ARE JUST FOR YOU

My daughter likes constant attention, and I am encouraging her to be her own friend. She is learning to find comfort and enjoyment in independent play. I will set her toys up in a safe room and let her play in it while I write, exercise, or spend time with my husband. She sees me finding joy in my hobbies and things that are just for me. This encourages her to do the same.

INCORPORATE A SELF-CARE ROUTINE IN YOUR DAILY LIFE

I have instituted a self-care routine. There have been times I’ve neglected my well-being, but each time I start my routine again. Change isn’t easy, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worthwhile. I hope I am showing my daughter that with determination and a desire to do better, growth is always possible.

 

 

Who am I? That is something I am still discovering.  With more life experience I think that answer will grow and change.  I think like everything else in life, balance is essential. I feel that labeling yourself as a wife, mother, friend, daughter, sister is natural and part of the human experience. However, I learned that the key is to embrace those identities while not losing who you are distinct from those connections.

The beauty of life and of experiences is that I get to unravel more about myself and my identity every single day. I can embrace my identity as a mom with all of my heart and still discover who I am in the process. I am proud to put “mom” on the list of who I am, and I will add to that list as I grow along the way.

 

how to shift your mindset

Our mindset determines how we view the world. It is through this lens that our thoughts, behaviors, careers, ambitions, and relationships with others are shaped. Our mindset will ultimately determine our life choices. Our mindsets are either known as fixed or growth. Fixed mindsets and growth mindsets will be explained in this article, as well as strategies to shift to a growth mindset in both adults and children.

UNDERSTANDING THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A Fixed Mindset and Growth Mindset

The concept of fixed mindset and growth mindset was first researched by psychologist Carol Dweck in 2006. She determined that these mindsets are formed very early in life.

Those with fixed mindset believe that intelligence and abilities are static. They feel that effort will not improve their mental skills or any other types of skills. They therefore don’t exert extra effort. The focus of those with this mindset is result oriented as opposed to progress oriented. If there is a skill that is lacking, they will avoid that skill and often feel ashamed about it. They try to always appear intelligent because they see failure as a lack of intelligence. They are not receptive to constructive criticism because of a belief that no good can come from it. They are also threatened by others’ success.

When you have a fixed mindset, you believe that your traits cannot be modified. Therefore, it is pointless to take any risks or try new things. People with this mindset often find themselves “stuck” because they do not believe they are able to improve their life circumstances. As a result, they do not reach their full potential. They are unwilling to put in the work to improve their quality of life and their relationship with others because they don’t see the purpose in doing so.

Those with a growth mindset view the world in a completely different way.

They believe that intelligence is something that can grow with effort, learning, and perseverance. Those with this mindset believe that your traits and behaviors can change. They embrace learning a new skill, trying a new thing, or taking a chance because they believe in personal and professional growth. They focus more on effort as opposed to results because results aren’t permanent. They are also more receptive to constructive criticism because it is an opportunity to learn more about themselves and gain additional insight.

People with growth mindset believe their potential is endless because they continue to work on themselves. They will find inspiration and encouragement from the success of others. They will continue to work towards goals, while valuing hard work and progress. People with this mindset are more likely to challenge themselves in every aspect of their lives because they feel that growth is possible.

fixed mindset and growth mindset

It is important to note that children with fixed mindsets prefer to do the things they already know how to do. They don’t want to put in the effort to learn new things because they feel their challenges indicate a lack of intelligence.  They are also more likely to lie about their performance because they measure intelligence in the form of results.

Children with growth mindsets are open to challenges because they see them as opportunities to learn new things and increase their intelligence. They will continue to put in the effort and learn things that are difficult for them. Children with growth mindsets believe success is possible with continued effort. They may be disappointed if they get a bad grade, but they will bounce back and keep working at it.

STRATEGIES TO SHIFT YOUR MINDSET IN ADULTS AND CHILDREN

strategies for nurturing a growth mindset

The above information has demonstrated the advantages of a growth mindset. The good news is that someone with a fixed mindset can change their mindset to a growth mindset.  If you or your child have a fixed mindset, use the following strategies:

(1) Be aware of your strengths and weaknesses

It is important to recognize that none of us are great at everything. We are not perfect, and each of us have areas of weakness (developgoodhabits.com, 2020).

(A) Discuss or list your weaknesses and strengths. Then pick one weakness that you or your child would like to work on. Look at those weaknesses with curiosity as opposed to judgment. For example, if you are always late, figure out what is the cause. Are you not giving yourself enough time to get ready or are you getting distracted and doing something else that prevents you from staying on course?  Brainstorm on ways to grow in this area. 

(B) Remember that weaknesses are opportunities for improvement. Setting goals should be about embracing growth rather than results. There are times that as hard as we try, we are just not going to be great at something. It is okay and inevitable. Remember that the effort is what matters. Try to learn from your weaknesses as opposed to seeing it as a waste of time. For example, I am not a great drawer. With practice I have gone from awful to mediocre.  Despite my best efforts, I am never going to be Thomas Kinkaid. However, I will still draw with my daughter, and I enjoy it tremendously. I have learned that doing things from the heart is what makes my drawing beautiful. 

(C) Flaws should be seen as part of what makes us human – just as freckles or a mole are not indications of failure, neither are our flaws. Flaws are not to be seen as ugly or feared.

(2) Remember that our brains have the capacity to learn new things

(A)Tell yourself or your child repeatedly that our brains can get stronger, just like a muscle. Whenever you or your child feels discouraged about something that is difficult, remember that our brains have the capacity to learn, and we can form and strengthen neural connections which make us smarter (mindsethealth.com, 2020). Learning throughout life allows your brain to form new connections throughout life.

(B) For a child, give the analogy of how our brain is full of lightbulbs and every time we try something new, a new lightbulb gets turned on. The more we work at a particular skill, regardless of outcome, the brighter the lightbulb will shine. This makes your brain stronger. If you don’t try new things, the lightbulb for that skill will never turn on (mother.ly, 2020).

(3) Lean into challenges and risks instead of avoiding them

(A)When you or your child continue to work on a difficult task, acknowledge it. Give yourself a pat on the back for trying something challenging, and tell your child that you notice that they are working hard.

(B) When something challenging presents itself, view it as an opportunity to learn and grow.

(C) It is okay to feel fear about a new situation or challenge, but remember that trying new things and taking risks allows us to learn new things about ourselves.  

(D) Teach your child what “grit” means and remember the importance of grit when facing challenges. Growth requires perseverance, resilience, and determination (positive psychology.com, 2021).

(4) Be mindful of praise

(A) Praise should be given for a specific action, not given as a generalization. For example, praise your child for how clever it was to try different ways to solve a puzzle rather than saying your child is clever.

(B) Whatever the outcome might be, make sure to focus on the effort rather than the outcome. If your child studies really hard for a test, whatever the grade may be, make sure to give praise for the amount of hard work as opposed to the result. Perfection is not the goal. For example, if your child studies really hard, but never does well in chemistry, praise him for how hard he tried. Likewise, if you try a new skill and it doesn’t work out the way you wanted it to, focus on how hard you worked at this new skill (psychologytoday.com, 2020)

(C) Praise yourself and your child for using this new mindset. Remember to cheer yourself and others on when they grow.

(5) When you or your child catch yourself thinking in a fixed mindset, reframe it into a growth mindset

(A) Remember that learning new things and facing challenges won’t result in immediate outcomes. It takes time to learn and improve ourselves.

(B) When you feel discouraged or find yourself falling back into your old way of thinking, take the time to acknowledge that this is your fixed mindset. Then challenge that way of thinking using a growth perspective (For example, This is hard, but I am going to give it a try, trying new things helps me grow, practicing helps me get better at something). (positive psychology.com, 2021).

(C) Replace judgment with compassion and acceptance– instead of seeing your lack of success as a failure, remember that you are learning.

(D) “Yet” is a powerful word, and helps us shift our mindset. If you or your child have not accomplished something, remember to include the word “yet”. This allows room for growth.  For example, “You haven’t figured out how to build the tower yet.”

reframe your thoughts into a growth mindset

(6) Learning should always be the priority

(A) Figure out what you/your child’s learning style is (visual, auditory, kinesthetic, combination) and use that style to learn new things. However, be open to learning in new and different ways, as there isn’t a one-size-fits-all method to learning (developgoodhabits.com, 2020).

(B) View constructive criticism as an opportunity to learn, and be receptive to what others are saying.

(C) Remember that areas that need improvement simply means you are still learning them.

(D) Take time everyday to think over the things you have learned and the opportunities you took or can take in the future. 

(E) When others succeed, see their success as an indication of the ability to learn. When others make mistakes, see it as a reminder that we are all imperfect and forever learning. In both instances, reflect on what they did or could have done differently, and use it as motivation for your own learning journey.

(F) View learning as a continuous way of training your brain. When we have nothing to learn, our minds cannot grow.

(G) Each time you or your child accomplishes a goal, seek out a new one. This allows continuous learning.

(H) It takes time to learn, and you and your child must be mindful of that to prevent falling back into a fixed mindset. As a result, give kids space to figure things out for themselves. Part of the learning process is to make mistakes and be unsuccessful. Those with a growth mindset understand that trial and error allows us to learn.

(7) Speed is not important

Remember that it is the journey that matters as opposed to the destination. It is okay if it takes longer to develop a new skill, but the important thing is to try our best as opposed to accomplishing something as quickly as possible (positive psychology.com, 2021).

(8) Model your own growth mindset in order to help your child work on theirs

It is important that you develop a growth mindset if you don’t already have one. This is necessary to set the right example for your children. It is okay if you have setbacks. Use them as opportunities to catch yourself and point out to your child how you reframe your thinking. Using and modeling these strategies helps your child to do the same (mother.ly, 2020).

growth

 

 

A growth mindset isn’t born overnight, and it won’t happen overnight. However, with time and practice you can change your mindset into one of growth. Learning and growing as a person and in all aspects of your life allows endless opportunities. The sky is the limit for you and for your child when you view life through a growth mindset.

positive parenting strategies and tips

As I discussed in my last post, positive parenting stresses the importance of children understanding parents’ expectations and rules. This is done so kids develop good morals and values. When children misbehave, parents are encouraged to have empathy and find the cause of the misbehavior. The focus of this post is how to implement positive parenting strategies and tips.

Positive Parenting Overview

Positive parenting focuses on children learning the importance of appropriate behavior. Parents and children show one another respect, and there is open communication. When speaking with children, it is important to use positive language and positive reinforcement.

Expectations should be age and developmentally appropriate. They should also be given in advance to prepare children for upcoming situations and set them up for success. When possible, children are given the opportunity to learn from their mistakes through natural consequences. Discipline in the form of logical consequences needs to be reasonable, related to the action, and respectful.  Consequences also need to be consistent. As opposed to yelling, parents should speak firmly and clearly. To get more detailed information about positive parenting click here

10 POSITIVE PARENTING STRATEGIES AND TIPS

 

(1) Model appropriate behavior

Our kids look to us to see right from wrong and appropriate versus inappropriate behavior. We cannot expect our children to follow the rules and emotionally regulate if we aren’t displaying healthy behavior. Therefore, it is important to model:

Understand that kids deserve empathy too- Just as we will have bad days and bad moods, so will kids. If your child is struggling, allow them to express their feelings. Give them an opportunity to explain why they are acting out, or if they are young, try to help them through their outburst. Young kids don’t have the ability to communicate and so they get overwhelmed and frustrated. It is important to help our children to deal with their emotions rather than rush to consequences. Encourage them to come to you and to identify their emotions using “I feel_________.”

There are times when your kid will have to ride out their feelings (just like adults), but other times there are strategies (example- breathing exercises, drawing a picture) that can be used to deal with their emotions in a healthy way. There also should be designated areas that your child can go to if he just wants to scream or cry or process feelings alone (parentingforbrain.com, 2020)

(2) Stay calm

I know this positive parenting tip is a very difficult one for many of us, myself included. However, I know from personal experience that if I begin a conversation with my husband or my child when my emotions are already elevated, it will inevitably turn into a very heated discussion/argument.

If your child has acted out and everyone is feeling upset, it is best for everyone to get some space and decompress individually. Your child should be told to go to a space that is designated to process feelings and help to calm down. Instead of a time-out being seen as a punishment, it should be used as an opportunity to take a break and come back together with a calmer headspace. Your child will be more receptive to having a conversation when given this time.

My daughter has a beanbag chair in her room with other toys that help her to emotionally regulate (a squeeze ball, a toy that you blow air into, a weighted blanket). She is asked to go to her “calming corner” as opposed to me calling it a time-out.

There are times when a time-in is necessary. If I see my daughter is upset and needs help to process her feelings, I may ask to take a break first so I’m in a better position to listen to her calmly. Once I’m calmer, I’m more equipped to help her through her feelings and process what is bothering her (parents.com, 2018).

It is important to understand that being calmer doesn’t mean that people don’t still feel emotions. I can be calmer but still feel angry or hurt. However, giving ourselves an opportunity to process our own emotions first before speaking with another is always a good rule of thumb.

Depending on the expectations set in advance and the cause of the behavior, consequences may be given. However, it is important to give your child the opportunity to calm down first and process his/her feelings.

(3) Prioritize connection with your child

prioritize connection with your child

Children do not need materialistic things to feel loved. They need time with YOU. We all have busy lives and are juggling endless responsibilities, and I know it feels like we are being pulled in a million directions all the time. However, even 15 minutes of quality time with your child a day does wonders for their well-being. When your children feel that they are getting attention and that your time with them matters, it strengthens your bond with your child. This in turn helps them to feel loved and safe, and to feel that they can come to you with their feelings.

I have mentioned in prior articles that I implement what I call “fun-time” with my daughter. For a minimum of 15 minutes a day, I play with daughter without my phone or any other distractions. She has my undivided attention. Furthermore, she gets to choose the activity to ensure that it is something that she will truly enjoy. She looks forward to this time together and knows that no matter what is going on, it is something she can count on daily. Quality time should never be taken away as a form of discipline.

Positive parenting is about teaching and helping our children to learn and grow, but part of parenting is having fun with our kids. Attention should be given emotionally as well as physically and verbally. Tell your child often that you love them. Give hugs and kisses, but be respectful if they are not as affectionate and follow their lead. Laughing and playing with our children is important for their development and it is a beautiful part of parenting.

(4) Allow kids to make decisions

Children from a very young age try asserting their independence. It is important to give them opportunities to have input or make a choice. Would they like an apple or an orange for a snack? Would they like to wear the boots or sneakers? What book would they like to read? The more opportunities kids have to voice their opinion, the more empowered they feel. This lessens the likelihood of power struggles. Additionally, it helps foster independence, self-sufficiency, and self-confidence.

(5) Pick your battles

A positive parenting strategy is focusing on all the ways your child behaves instead of their negative behaviors. When it is possible to ignore a negative behavior, do so. That doesn’t mean to turn a blind eye to behavior that is unacceptable. Rather, ask yourself if it is a big problem or a small one. Sometimes ignoring unwanted behavior will get a child to stop doing it rather than giving them attention for it. If it is necessary to point something out, try to keep the feedback to a minimum. Save the more lengthy acknowledgments for positive behavior. Kids want attention and will act out to get a reaction, as a negative reaction is better to them than no reaction at all. If you react more to the positives and less/as little as possible to the negatives, they are more likely to behave in a positive way (ptaourchildren.org, 2019).

(6) Encourage kids to be self-sufficient and figure things out for themselves

encourage your child to be self-sufficient

As much as it hurts us to see our children struggle, there are times when we have to take a step back and let them work through their own problems. Teaching self-sufficiency is a crucial component of positive parenting.

For example, my daughter lost her shoes a week ago. I often help her find her stuff because she tends to misplace her things regularly due to her difficulty with focusing. However, I realized I am doing her a disservice by not allowing her to look for her own stuff. I told her that she is capable of finding her shoes. When she started to get frustrated, I suggested she retrace her steps and kept encouraging her to look for them. She eventually found her shoes, and the look of accomplishment on her face when she found them was priceless.

If your child is struggling to do a math problem or to tie his own shoe, give them an opportunity to do it themselves. Don’t rush to step in and help. Even if your child doesn’t figure it out, they will learn the importance of trying to do things themselves. It also teaches a valuable lesson that we aren’t perfect and that trying is what matters.

(7) Find opportunities to say yes

There are times when there needs to be a hard “no,” and I am by no means encouraging indulging our children’s every wants and requests. However, when possible, try to say “yes” instead of “no.” This encourages children to respect and honor our boundaries when we save our “no” for the important matters. If your child asks for something that can’t be done at the present time, offer an alternative or redirection. For example, “I would love to go to the park! Would you like to go tomorrow or on Thursday?” or, “That looks like a really cool toy. Let’s add it to your wish list!” If we say no to everything, it loses its meaning and importance.

(8) Give warnings

We want to set our kids up for success and increase appropriate behavior. Therefore, try to give warnings to allow kids to be prepared and to help with transitions. Before my daughter has to leave somewhere, I try to give her a fifteen, five, and then two-minute warning. My daughter has difficult with directions and time management, so giving numerous warnings is helpful for her. The amount of warnings you give will vary based on the age and/or development of the child.

(9) Have patience

positive parenting strategies and tips

Positive parenting strategies and tips don’t result in changes overnight. When we aren’t using a more forceful means of parenting our child, our child may not cooperate at first. We need to understand that behavioral changes will not take place overnight. It is an adjustment for both parent and child, and parents need to give themselves compassion and understand we might feel more emotionally charged at first using this type of method. Having patience for ourselves and our children will help to make this type of parenting change.

(10) Be open to what your child is saying

Rules are meant to help our children and keep them safe, but with positive parenting, it is important to allow our child to have input. There are times when things are non-negotiable, but children should be allowed to offer their perspective. This gives them a voice and makes them feel like their opinions matter. There are times when my daughter has made a valid point and I’ve changed my mind. Other times I listen to her, but kindly and firmly tell her that my decision stands. Encouraging our children to state their opinion and speak up for themselves does not mean parents should allow children to dictate or be argumentative. However, the goal of positive parenting is for kids to understand why parents are setting rules and expectations so they can learn for themselves how to make proper choices.

 

 

Implementing positive parenting strategies and tips is not easy.  Quite the opposite. Positive parenting takes a lot of patience, understanding, and open communication. However, the benefits of positive parenting are instrumental. Our biggest responsibility as parents is to raise our children to be well-adjusted, kind, self-sufficient individuals. Positive parenting encourages parents to model healthy coping mechanisms and prioritize their own well-being, allowing both parents and children to thrive.

positive parenting solutions and tips

Not all children are the same, and what works for one child may not work for another. Even if all aspects of positive parenting aren’t best for your child, you can select which positive parenting strategies and tips work best with your parenting style. Tailor your parenting to your child, and remember that parenting is fluid. Learning different parenting styles and strategies help you make informed choices, and that is essential for parenting.

what is positive parenting

I vividly remember how I felt when I first saw my daughter. The love I felt for her was all-consuming. I knew I wanted to be a good mom, but I wasn’t sure how I was going to go about doing that. Every child is different, and therefore each child needs to be parented differently. This post will explain the different parenting styles and provide a guide to positive parenting.

The Four Types of Parenting Styles

4 types of parenting styles

In 1966 the developmental psychologist Diana Baumrind came up with four types of parenting styles. These styles explain how a parent interacts and disciplines their child. It is important to keep in mind that parenting is never clear cut. Elements form multiple styles of parenting may be used, or different styles might be used as different times throughout a child’s life (verywellmind.com, 2020).

1- Authoritarian parenting

There are high expectations and low amounts of nurturing with this parenting type. Parents use their authority to set rules and expectations, and do not allow questions or input from their children about these rules. As a result, the communication is usually from parent to child. They expect obedience and typically use yelling, spanking, and shaming to discipline their children. Punishments are used to deal with negative or unwanted behavior.

2-Permissive Parenting

This parenting style is the opposite of authoritarian parenting. There are low expectations and high amounts of nurturing. The relationship between parent and child more resembles a friendship than a parent and child relationship. Children are given complete freedom to make their own choices as there are no limits or boundaries. Parents give love and affection and communicate with their children, but there is a lack of guidance or rules.

3- Uninvolved/Neglectful Parenting

Low expectations and low nurturing characterize this type of parenting style. There is limited communication and parents are uninvolved in the child’s development and choices. Parents primarily ignore the child’s behavior and use no means of discipline.

4- Authoritative Parenting

There are high expectations and high levels of nurturing. Parents have open communication with their children and encourage verbal discourse. There are clear rules and expectations, and children’s feelings and well-being are prioritized.  Parents provide a warm, loving environment. Discipline is provided, while explaining the importance of rules and their consequences.

GUIDE TO Positive Parenting

Positive parenting falls under the umbrella of authoritative parenting.  The goal of positive parenting is to teach appropriate behavior rather than focus on negative behavior. The priority is placed on open communication so that children develop a good internal moral compass. As opposed to blindly following rules, kids are encouraged to understand the reasons behind these rules.

Advantages of Positive Parenting

(Parentingforbrain.com, 2021)

  1. Kids are more confident
  2. Children have more mental health and wellness
  3. Kids are more self-sufficient
  4. Children have better problem solving skills
  5. Kids develop healthy coping mechanisms
  6. Kids are more well-adjusted
  7. Children have more morals and values
  8. Kids have less behavioral issues
  9. Kids are more resilient
  10. Children have more academic success
  11. Kids have better social skills
  12. Kids are able to emotionally regulate and have self-awareness

ways to be a positive parent

guidelines FOR POSITIVE PARENTING

Look at the cause of the behavior

(positiveparentingsolutions.com, 2019)

When a child is acting out, there is often a reason behind it. Positive parenting stresses getting to the root of the behavior and having empathy in the process. For example, the next time your child is misbehaving, ask yourself what the cause could be. Did your child miss her nap? Is he hungry? Did something happen at school, with a friend, etc.?

There are other possible causes for misbehavior. A child needs to feel that he/she is getting attention/quality time with their parents and that he/she is encouraged to make choices. Power struggles often ensue when a child is not given the opportunity to assert independence.

Speak respectfully and firmly to your children

Positive parenting stresses that respect should be given to both the parent and the child. Using words such as “please” and “thank you” set a good example for how your child should speak to you and to others, while also giving them respect. Although parents who use this type of parenting speak in a kind way, that does not mean that they are not setting rules or boundaries. 

speak firmly without yelling.

Yelling is something many of us do as we were yelled at as kids. There are going to be times we lose our cool and yell. However, the situation will usually then escalate or the child will reacts out of fear rather than learning a lesson from the situation. When possible, try speaking in a calm, but firm voice.

There are two things to keep in mind when speaking with your children:

  1. Positive language– Instead of telling your kids what NOT to do, try stating what they should do. For example, instead of saying, “Don’t run,” try saying, “Please walk.” Instead of saying, “Don’t throw your shoes,” say, “Please put your shoes in the shoe rack.” Explain what to do as a positive statement instead of a negative one.
  2. Positive Reinforcement– Just as positive language should be used, it is important to acknowledge positive behavior and reinforce it. Often we see our kids behaving in ways that we like, but we tend to mention the unwanted behaviors instead of all the ways that they behaved appropriately. Some examples of positive reinforcement are: “You’re working so hard on solving that math problem!”, “You were so helpful when you loaded the dishwasher!” “I saw that you were about to jump from that step, but you stopped. You should be really proud of yourself!” Try being as specific as possible by avoiding generic statements such as “Great job!” or “That’s wonderful!” Commenting on a child’s specific positive behavior shows that you noticed what they did and illustrates the exact behaviors that should continue.

There are two Types of consequences in positive parenting

(mother.ly.com, 2020)

  1. Natural Consequences– If a child is rough with a fragile toy, it will break. If a child does not put on warm shoes when it is cold outside, their feet will get cold. When homework is handed in that is incomplete or done incorrectly, the child will get a bad grade. Through natural consequences a child can learn how to make better choices. We can explain to our children why we think there is a better option, but there are times when we should allow our children to learn from their mistakes. This avoids you having to battle with your child, and your child is given the opportunity to figure things out for themselves.
  2. Logical Consequences-. When a consequence is given, it needs to be logical. Consequences should be given in advance as much as possible so that a child understands the outcome of their choice. It is okay to give a warning first, but there should also be a reminder of what will happen if it happens again. Some examples are: If your child leaves his toys on the floor when he is told to pick them up, those toys get taken away. If your child does not ask permission to turn on the TV, your child isn’t allowed to watch TV. There is no dessert if your child refuses to eat his food. If your child is not listening when having a playdate at a friend’s house, your child has to end the playdate.           
Logical consequences should be respectful, reasonable, and related.

Speak respectfully when giving a consequence. There is no need to say, “I told you so,” or to make the child feel shame. Additionally, consequences need to make sense and be directly related to the action. Lastly, consequences should not be extreme, such as telling your child they have to go to bed early for a month for going to bed a few minutes passed their bedtime.  If consequences are done in an unreasonable, disrespectful, or unrelated way, the child will not learn from their actions.

Expectations and rules need to be age and developmentally appropriate and clear

It is important to make sure that your child understand the rules of the house. Rules should be simple, with consequences stated ahead of time. For example, before going to the store, your child should know to stay next to you and that they are to keep their hands to themselves. Make sure that your expectations are clear and ask your child to repeat them back to you to ensure they understand.

It is important to keep the child’s age and development in mind when setting expectations. If you have a child with poor impulse control and hyperactivity, asking your child to stay next to you while you do a full grocery shopping is unrealistic. If your child will stand next to you while you pick up a few items, then state that as your expectation.  

Explaining the expectations in advance allows kids to feel prepared and ensures that everyone is on the same page. This lessens the likelihood of outburst or negative behaviors.

Additionally, the amount of language you use should vary based on the child’s age and development. Try to keep your instructions to a couple of words with a young child. It is also helpful to get down to your child’s eye level when speaking with them.  

It is a good idea to explain why you have these rules. For example, “I want you to keep your hands to yourself so nothing gets knocked off the shelves,” or, “Washing our hands before dinner helps us to stay healthy.” If your child understands the importance of these rules, they are more likely to comply.

Be consistent

Do not give a consequence unless you are willing to follow through with it. If there is a lack of follow through, it minimizes the importance of your rules and sends the message that you will continue to set consequences and not implement them. This will only increase the likelihood of unwanted behavior. You deserve to be respected and taken seriously, and therefore consistency is crucial.

positive parenting is timeless

 

 

Positive parenting is about helping children to figure out the appropriate way to behave. This type of parenting does not take place overnight, as both parents and children need to adjust. However, when working with our children, instead of combatting with them, we can build a stronger parent-child relationship. Positive parenting gives parents and kids the tools they need to flourish. 

 

 

living life like a child

 

Being a parent has been an eye opener for me in so many ways. I have had the privilege of watching my daughter grow. It is amazing to see how my child views the world. Whether you are a parent or not, I believe we should all try to use a child’s lens more when living our lives.  This article illustrates the power and freedom of living life like a child.

WHAT IT MEANS TO LIVE LIFE LIKE A CHILD

 

(1) Kids don’t judge

They look at everything with an open mind and heart. They do not have any preconceived notions or opinions. As adults, life has jaded us in many ways. It is understandable that our prior experiences have shaped our views. However, if we try to not judge a book from its cover, perhaps we can embrace new experiences and people rather than judge them.

(2) Kids are curious

Kids want to learn and understand everything around them. They ask questions because of a genuine interest in everything. Although trying at times, it is wonderous to see how much they want to learn. As adults, we often assume we have all the answers or don’t have the time or energy to seek out information. What if we took the time to discover why the sky is blue? There is so much each of us don’t know and imagine how much there is to discover.

(3) Kids have endless enthusiasm

I laugh as I write this one, because this is something that every teacher has said about Brielle. My daughter is excited about the simplest of things. A balloon! A box! Having a playdate (since COVID I think anyone would be excited about socializing, but I am referring to once upon a time when we could socialize without fear of a deadly virus)! Living life like a child means being excited about all that life has to offer. The little and simple stuff in life is not so little and simple to a child. I think we all could learn a thing or two about that.

(4) They are innocent and without prejudice

Innocence is a difficult subject for me. Some children have no choice but to lose their innocence at a young age for reasons beyond their control. I grew up in a toxic environment, and therefore didn’t get to stay innocent for very long. I am referring to children that grow up in loving, stable, healthy environments. Living life like a child means hatred and prejudice simply don’t exist to them.

I remember the first time my daughter saw a man in a wheelchair. She asked me what it was and why he was using it. The man saw her looking at him and asking. My first thought was that her questions were making him uncomfortable. It took me a few seconds to realize that wasn’t true. I was the one who was uncomfortable.

I realized that if I shied away from her questions or told her not to ask them, it was sending her a message that others that are different than us are to be avoided. Worse, it could portray that differences are something to be disliked or feared.

I learned that people are happy to answer your questions if they are coming from a place of innocence. Brielle learned that some people aren’t able to use their legs the way that we do. She has since asked and learned about hearing aids, skin tags, Tourette’s Syndrome, muscular sclerosis, and autism.

I recall the first time my daughter met a person of color. She was very young and a man came to our house to do some construction. She said hello and immediately asked him why he was dark. He got down to her level, smiled at her, and told her that not everyone has the same skin color. He then told her that all those differences are what makes the world special. My daughter, wide eyed, nodded and took in every word. She then gave him a hug. I have never forgotten that moment.

My initial embarrassment that she asked that question turned into gratefulness. I was grateful that her innocence allowed her to learn something that I wish everyone knew and understood. I once again realized that my discomfort could have prevented her from such a profound experience.  The prevention of asking and understanding differences is what brews ignorance, and ignorance is what breeds hate. Living life like a child means embracing differences and not avoiding them.

(5) Kids find humor and joy everywhere

Living life like a child means laughing all the time. My daughter finds humor in pretty much everything. Her laugh is contagious, and I find myself laughing. There isn’t a day that goes by where she doesn’t burst into giggles or hysterical laughter. She finds joy and humor in the simplest of things.

My silly faces make her laugh, a chapter from a book makes her laugh, pumping her legs on the swings makes her laugh, and rolling down a hill makes her laugh. She sometimes laughs at her laughs. It isn’t a teasing laughter; rather, it is a laughter that comes from the heart. What a wonderful world this would be if adults laughed more at ourselves and found more humor and joy in life.

(6) Kids don’t care what others think

I am often self-conscious. On the contrary, Brielle laughs, shouts, giggles, dances, sings, and is herself without constraints. She lives her life like nobody is watching, and more importantly, she wouldn’t care if they were. Some kids are shyer than others. However, living life like a child means that when they are doing something, they aren’t worrying about what other people think. Imagine how much more enjoyable life would be if we all lived like that.

(7) Kids love to play

Adults are consumed with responsibilities. Kids, however, play. They focus on having fun and enjoying themselves. Living life like a child means connecting with others and learning through contentment.

Understandably, kids are able to enjoy themselves more because of their lack of obligations. However, kids don’t feel guilty for doing things that make them happy. They don’t feel selfish because they take the time to do things that bring them joy. Adults (myself included) should take a page from the kid handbook and incorporate hobbies and other forms of self-care into our lives without guilt.

(8) Kids feel their feelings without reservations

When a kid is happy, it is obvious. Likewise, when a child is feeling frustrated, mad, or sad, their emotions come pouring out of them. Meltdowns and temper tantrums are common among young children because of their frustrations at being unable to properly communicate or express their emotions. Children want to share how they are feeling.

Adults, however, feel the need to often hold back our feelings. Many of us were taught at a young age that it is important to “be strong” or “not cry like a baby.” Those words shaped our perceptions and in turn, many of us grew up burying our feelings. Living life like a kid means that it is okay to not be okay. Kids will freely express their emotions without reservation. It is only when adults try to constrict those emotions that kids do otherwise.

I am certainly not saying that parents shouldn’t try to calm a child down when they are having a temper tantrum. However, if we take the time to understand why a kid is behaving a certain way or struggling, it will help them to be better equipped to deal with those emotions. Most importantly, teaching them healthy coping mechanisms to handle their feelings rather than sweep them under a rug encourages kids to continue to embrace their feelings.

Kids are authentic with their feelings and emotions. We should try to live life like a child and allow ourselves to feel more and restrict ourselves less. Life would be more authentic, genuine, and real if we all freely expressed ourselves.

 

 

Kids are an example of all the things we once embodied. Their innocence, curiosity, excitement, and pleasure in the simplest of things are a reminder of how much beauty there is in this world. If each of us made a vow to try to live life like a child, we would be opening ourselves up to a world of possibilities.

There is a lot of pain and cruelty in this world, and I am not suggesting that all bells can be unrung. However, there are things right in front of us that can bring us joy, if we allow ourselves to see it. We are no longer children, but we can try to view life through a different perspective.

Lay in the grass or jump in a puddle (it really is fun!). Sing your favorite song on top of your lungs. Learn something new. Take a moment to appreciate something simple, but that brings you joy. Try to be open to something without judging it first. Living life like a child will make us better adults and better people.

bridgeway academy homeschool cost
Last year, my husband and I decided at the last minute that I was going to homeschool Brielle. After discussing several options, we decided to enroll Brielle in an online school called Bridgeway Academy. This article is a review of the online school and the cost of the Bridgeway Academy Homeschool programs.

BRIDGEWAY ACADEMY HOMESCHOOL COST AND PROGRAM OPTIONS

Bridgeway serves grades PreK-12, and they have multiple schooling options.

The first option is individual learning.

You can customize your child’s education with different publishers for different subjects. You are also able to customize to your child’s learning style: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. There is the ability to choose different learning styles per subject as well.

The price varies depending on the specific customization you choose, but generally the Bridgeway Academy Homeschool costs are between $750-$1200. You can check out their different options here:https://www.homeschoolacademy.com/home-school-programs/elementary/grade-level-kits/enroll/ (elementary);https://www.homeschoolacademy.com/home-school-programs/middle-school/grade-level-kits/enroll/ (middle school); andhttps://www.homeschoolacademy.com/home-school-programs/high-school/grade-level-kits/enroll/ (high school).

The major con for this program is that it is NOT accredited, which means they do not keep track of grades or give you a report card. As a result, your child would need a placement test to determine their grade if you chose to re-enroll your child in public or private school.

The second option you can choose is the actual Bridgeway Academy, which is the part of the school that is accredited.

There are four options you can choose: Total Care Textbook, Blended program, HOPE program (which helps children with learning disabilities), and Records and Support.

bridgeway academy homeschooling

(1) The Total Care Textbook program

is primarily textbook learning. It is the program I chose for my daughter. There are some Elephango resources (addendum lessons that are online) for certain subjects, but that is the only online learning children do. You are responsible for grading all tests and papers for your child and inputting them onto their system. You also are responsible for submitting a physical education log with a minimum of 3 times per week and 30 minutes per day of physical education. The cost for this program starts at $2,045 and increases as you go through middle school and high school. You can view more information here:https://www.homeschoolacademy.com/private-homeschool-academy/elementary/total-care-textbook/ (elementary);https://www.homeschoolacademy.com/private-homeschool-academy/middle-school/total-care-textbook/ (middle school); andhttps://www.homeschoolacademy.com/private-homeschool-academy/high-school/total-care-textbook/ (high school).

(2) The Blended/Total Care Online program

is a combination of online and textbook-based learning. With this program, your child will work online for lessons across all subjects, while also continuing text-based learning. With this program, your child advisor will grade all tests and papers, but you will still have to upload their physical education time. The cost for this program starts at $2,595 and increases as you go through middle school and high school. You can view more information here:https://www.homeschoolacademy.com/private-homeschool-academy/elementary/total-care-blended/ (elementary);https://www.homeschoolacademy.com/private-homeschool-academy/middle-school/total-care-online/ (middle school); andhttps://www.homeschoolacademy.com/private-homeschool-academy/high-school/total-care-online/ (high school).

(3) The HOPE program

is the same as the blended program, with the addition of Healing Sensory Therapy. They assess your child to determine their learning disability. Then your child gets 9 months of individualized learning disability therapy 4 times a week from Essential Learning Institute along with the blended/total care curriculum. Each session is 45-60 minutes long. The cost for this program starts at $4,490 and increases as you go through middle school and high school. You can view more information here:https://www.homeschoolacademy.com/private-homeschool-academy/elementary/hope-learning-disabilities/ (elementary);https://www.homeschoolacademy.com/private-homeschool-academy/middle-school/hope-learning-disabilities/ (middle school); andhttps://www.homeschoolacademy.com/private-homeschool-academy/high-school/(high school).

(4) Records and Support- 

This option allows you to use a homeschool program of your choice (from any program), and Bridgeway will keep your records, provide support if there is a technical issue, and give full accreditation. The cost for this program starts at $950 and increases as you go through middle school and high school. You can view more information here:https://www.homeschoolacademy.com/private-homeschool-academy/elementary/records-support/ (elementary);https://www.homeschoolacademy.com/private-homeschool-academy/middle-school/record-support/ (middle school); andhttps://www.homeschoolacademy.com/private-homeschool-academy/high-school/record-support/ (high school).

ONLINE HOMESCHOOL REVIEW

As I previously mentioned, with any of these options you can customize your child’s program to fit his or her learning style. Bridgeway Academy also allow you to have several different payment plan options, which you can view on their website in the links above. Each curriculum also comes with a list of electives, and you pick up to two of them. You have the option of whether you want the electives to be graded, but they still provide your child with additional educational opportunities.
After much discussion and research, we decided on the Total Care Textbook package for Brielle. With the blended program there was too much screen time, which Brielle did not respond to well. Before you get to discuss your child’s curriculum with your advisor, your child first needs to complete a placement exam. This exam is online and is done in two parts: math and language arts. It is a progressive test. For every question your child gets right, it gets harder and harder. If you get most of them correct the test will take approximately 2-3 hours to complete, but your child can take as many breaks as he or she needs.
After the test is completed, you see the results and set up a time to speak with the advisor. During that conversation, your advisor will go over the different options you have for math, language arts, science, and social studies (as well as electives). Since Brielle had extremely high scores in math, we decided to have her take the second-grade math and the other subjects were for first grade. Additionally, there are two publisher options to choose from for all major subjects.

After choosing your curriculum, it takes approximately a week for your materials to arrive at your house.

The package contains all books, manipulatives, and a selection of novels your child will read throughout the year. As I mentioned earlier, the main difference between the Total Care Textbook program and the Blended program is that in the textbook program, you are responsible for keeping track of your child’s progress and submitting grades. For the blended course, their online system keeps track of your progress and grades.
For both programs, the instructor guide and lesson plans come with daily work for each subject. It also includes additional support/alternative lessons you can do with your child. Every week or two your child will have tests in math, science, and social studies, as well as writing assignments and tests that need to be graded in language arts.
I personally felt that the Total Care Textbook program worked very well for the most part. There were some initial struggles at the beginning with figuring out how to navigate the Bridgeway system on the computer, but once Brielle and I got into a groove, it went smoothly. Homeschool lasted about 2-3 hours every day, and the rest of the time was devoted to play time. I made up a daily schedule (that I give for FREE when you subscribe!) to provide Brielle with structure, which kids need desperately during such unstable times. Brielle is a kinesthetic learner, so having manipulatives was extremely helpful along with the textbook.

The major pros to Bridgeway Academy are that you have the flexibility to teach your child on your own schedule.

You can decide how much time to devote to each subject, and you can decide the pace for your child. We were able to finish the curriculum by the end of April, and we took off for several weeks to accompany my husband on work trips. That convenience is a big plus. Another pro is that the cost of Bridgeway Academy is more affordable than many of the other online accredited homeschool programs.

In my opinion, the one major con with Bridgeway Academy is that there is no instructor led option.

You can purchase elective classes that meet one time per week for approximately two months, but those are offered at an additional cost. You are responsible for being the full-time teacher. It is your responsibility to teach your child all the subjects. There are NO teachers that support your child’s needs or give you a break.

This year we had more time to plan which homeschool program we would use for Brielle. We enrolled her in Georgia’s online public school, Georgia Cyber Academy. It is free, which is a huge plus. They also have teacher-led online instruction, but the amount of computer-led instruction is an issue. We are trying to work something out with the teachers where the screen time will be more limited. If Georgia Cyber Academy is not a good fit, it is comforting to know that I have the option of enrolling her in Bridgeway Academy again.

I hope you found this information helpful! Remember that each homeschool journey is unique and there is no right or wrong way. Give yourself compassion and grace while homeschooling. Also remember that it takes time to adjust to a new way of teaching and learning.
UPDATE: We pulled our daughter out of Georgia Cyber Academy.  They were unwilling to make any accommodations regardless of her IEP. Brielle is now back at Bridgeway Academy.