Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids Simplicity Parenting discussion

A chapter by chapter discussion of Simplicity Parenting - CHAPTER TWO

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Jess Gill a discussion of chapter 2

Dayna thanks for posting this...I will flip through my notes tonight :)

Jess Gill i found this chapter to be a good look at how to think about your child's emotional well-being, and how to be attentive to this before things have escalated to a larger problem. i thought the comparison between an actual fever and an emotional one was an excellent approach, as a physical fever is much more tangible than an emotional one.

i like the idea of noticing when things aren't quite right, behaviorally, and critically thinking about how to adjust things so that it's better. i think by trying to be attentive, and analyzing what's going on rather than just chalking up misbehaviors to a bad day all the time (and of course some days might just be bad/grumpy/off days - i know i have these occasionally) it's easier to keep things from escalating to the point of extreme frustration. i like the point that acting out can be a child's way of saying "enough" - that they're too young to articulate their thoughts clearly, or even really understand what's going on, but they know something is off. just the other night, we took Ben for a haircut - the same place we've been going since he was small. he doesn't usually see the same person, but we've always had a pretty good experience there. this time though, the woman who was going to cut his hair wasn't the most child-friendly, and he picked right up on that... he started refusing to get his hair cut. it would have been easy to just get frustrated with him for acting out (he wasn't having a tantrum, he just was adamantly refusing, and saying others could go ahead of him), but in thinking about it, it was clear that he sensed something was off, knew this person wasn't really someone who wanted to cut his hair, and his way of coping was to refuse. while situations don't always lend themselves to analyzing a child's behavior like this, i think trying to apply this approach wherever possible can be helpful for both parents and children.

i like the idea that "most children, no matter what their age, can reset their emotional clock given two or three quiet days. one restful, simplified weekend is usually enough to make the difference, to break a soul fever." i think about when i've felt overwhelmed - that all i've wanted to do is sit and read a book after a hard day, or after a busy week just stay home. children are the same way. we joke that Ben is like a hermit in that he doesn't like to leave the house typically, but it's (hopefully) because he feels like this is a safe, peaceful (for the most part) environment. one goal we have is to try and make one day of the weekend a day when we don't leave the house - no errands, no places to be or go - even just one day out of 7 like this is really wonderful. it takes planning to get errands done other days of the week, and to make sure committments don't eat away at this time, but i think as we work towards doing this more frequently, it'll be come easier.

i like the thought that maybe the concept of grounding isn't such a bad one... it just needs to be reframed, explained (the purpose) - after all, don't we all need a little bit of grounding once in a while, particularly when our lives feel too busy, to hectic, too overwhelming. of course, i love the comments about nature - how helpful it is for calming. i think about the place we go each summer - our family Farm, and just how calming it is to be there, and a big part of that has to do with the significant amount of time we spend outside (in addition to many other reasons). i'm really focused on making sure we spend time outside as much as possible - even in more yucky weather when it's harder (although it doesn't seem hard for kids, regardless of the temp!)

i love the suggestion of picturing your child's best self during their hardest time to help cope with the challenges of parenting a child with a soul fever. isn't that what we want those we love to do when we're at our worst as adults? i think as parents, one of the most important things we can do is to let our children know just how wonderful we think they are, even when their behavior is less than wonderful. i think this is one of the things i appreciate most about my Dad as a parent - that he's continually supportive, no matter what.

i like the action step made clear in this (and other chapters) - that "simplifying is something we can do. by simplifying we take clear, consistent steps to provide our child what they need - time, ease, and compassion - to process what is bothering them". while we can't control what life brings to us, we can control our response to those things, and the environment in which we go to process this response, and regroup.

looking forward to hearing both of your thoughts!

Dayna Jess - we must have been thinking the same thing..,I tried to post in here last night but goodreads was having issues.

I think we picked up and appreciated many of the same points....

I have read a few parenting books and my favorite ones have focused on how children need most from a parent is to bring the calm and simplicity into their world. Here are a few of my favorite or poignant portions of chapter two.

- When things are in a total tailspin - for the most part it can be restored with 3 days or restful calm. As a parent you have the ability to reign in on that calm and I was amazed by the thought that in one weekend you can make a world of difference. Jess, I like your thoughts on this - that having the home be a safe and comforting place and parents who notice when things are up and take action - a one day at home rest is so wonderful in this day and age. With Tim's work schedule we really tend to focus and center around our home and outdoor space when we are all together. It is a centering and a grounding that we know we can always come to together.

- Sometimes a child just needs to know you are there and that you notice something is not right in their world. Children want to know that they are deeply known and intrinsically cared for.

- Giving children the dedicated time and space to open up to you allows for them to know that the emphasis in your house is on relationships and connection...not things and events.

- I really loved the thought that when your child seems to deserve affection least - is when the need it the most. This reminded me of a Waldorf parenting piece that I read. It talked about how when a child acts out - it is very rarely because that child intends to be malicious. That most times situations where a child is acting out can be diffused by bringing them in close to you. I could easily be a parent who screams...and reading these and putting them into action has only proven that, in our house, acting from a place of calm always triumphs. Which of course parlays into the idea that if you are struggling to remember that calm - then "call someone close and ask them to remind you of all the wonderful things about your child until you say stop". Jess, i love your point about how isn't this what we all want? Certain from my husband...that in the times where I am behaving the least desirable - that he take a step back and remember be in my best light :) This is what is so unique about the very close bonds of immediate family. We see each other at our worst and love each other for our best. How easy it can be to focus on the immediate moment as opposed to reacting with the BIG picture of a person in mind.

- "Things get better" you don't make them better but you ease the way for your children to travel through them. This sounds so right to me in the way we parent. Our daughter is so much her own person with her own purpose and dreams. It is our job as her parents to give her the tools to work through life - not live it for her.

Jess, your point on the action step is well put. I like the thought that once your life and possessions have been simplified that dealing with that which the world presents at your doorstep is easier to handle. Easier then say if you had emotional and literal clutter to climb over first. Working as a family from a centered and grounded base should make the world an easier place to be in.

Jess Gill do you remember the name of the waldorf piece you read? i'm really drawn to that appoach to parenting (have you taken a look at the Sew Liberated blog?) i think my dream job (well, one of about 8) would be a children's librarian at a waldorf school. any other parenting books that you've really loved - i'm always looking for more suggestions.

yes, i think we all want just what you've said - seeing us at our worst, loving us for our best. this just makes me even more convienced that much of what adults crave - independance, security, clear expectations - are all things that children crave too. it's how to provide those things for them that's the challenging part. you don't want them to grow up too quickly (i.e. always rushing them to the next step), but you do want to build independance and foster their growth as individuals.

i love your point, Dayna, of how "it is our job as her parents to give her the tools to work through life - not live it for her"... it seems easy to try to put much of our own expectations/wants for our children at the top of the list, thinking that they're so little and we know exactly what they need/want... yet listening to them, really knowing how they work can be powerful in guiding them along their life journey, rather than living it for them. it makes me think of the difference between a tour book and a tour guide - one provides tips/suggestions, while the other (typically) shuttles the individual/group from one place to another with xxx amount of time for each activity.

what i think is another challenge is putting aside our own childhoods to make room for our childrens. i've talked with two different friends recently about how hard it is to not be disappointed if we can't provide certain things we loved about our own childhood for our own children, such as specific relationships, or the exact same environment that we grew up in. that there will be wonderful experiences our children have that we didn't get the opportunity to, and they'll miss out on some of what we did get.

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