As Covid is raging on and affecting our children more due to the virus mutating and “learning” how to infect yet even more vulnerable people, once again we hear parents who don’t care about the well-being of their children or others scream, “Let the children breathe!” Some states have enacted laws banning schools from mandating masks. Thankfully, an increasing number of school districts are defying those states’ laws that ban mask mandates in schools. Here’s what is already happening as children are back to school full time.
As of this writing, children are not yet eligible for the vaccine if they are under twelve years of age in the United States, and yet, after over a year and a half of this pandemic, people refuse to accept the fact that this pandemic is dangerous and deadly. Some people may get lucky and have a mild case, but not everyone is that lucky. Look at the hospitals and talk to the healthcare workers.
It turns out that children are more accepting of wearing masks than adults. The adults are, sadly, teaching aggression and selfishness by fighting (sometimes literally) over masks, vaccines, and other mitigations to try to stop the virus. This is the wrong direction for all of us. We need to stop politicizing the health crisis and come together. Our children need to see us caring enough about our fellow man that we wear masks and get vaccinated if possible. Otherwise, this world will never be healed.
People talk about selfishness all the time, especially when it comes to raising children and not wanting the children to become “selfish little brats.” However, the parents who are arguing about wearing masks as well as getting vaccinated and protesting against mask/vaccine mandates are teaching the children how to throw a “fit” and be “defiant” to get their own way. These parents, ironically, tend to be pro-spankers. It is so sad that their children are getting spanked/hit for similar behavior that goes against the parents’ wishes. This makes no sense. We have to model appropriate behavior for children. They are mimicking us!
Another thing is that as soon as infants are able to get into dangerous situations, we teach them about danger. An infant doesn’t know that an electrical socket is dangerous, but we tell him/her it is and move him/her away from the outlet. Young children can’t see the danger of running out in the street until we panic and scoop them up out of the street while saying, “DANGEROUS!” There are so many dangerous things from which we have to protect children. They must take our word for it or suffer possible horrific consequences. It is just the same for Covid. Just because we can’t SEE the virus floating around in the air, does not mean it’s not dangerous!
We need to step up and do what is right for the whole world instead of the individual. We must protect our children and everyone else by looking beyond our own wants to the needs of our society. Let the children breathe.
As we continue to deal with this COVID-19 pandemic, the lack of empathy is so apparent in this country. People not wanting to do the simplest things to protect others from the virus. Anti-maskers are shouting about their rights and, ironically, they are using the pro-choice slogan, “My body, my right.” This totally disregards the lives of others. If one is truly pro-life, one cares about the life way after birth! Otherwise, it’s just pro-birth!
Empathy is the ability to put yourself in another’s shoes to understand as much as possible in order to try to understand what the other person is feeling or going through. One can feel the same feelings as the other person or at least get an idea of what the other person is going through.
Empathy is a learned behavior. While some children are born with more empathy than others, infants, toddlers, and preschoolers are naturally egocentric due to their developmental stage. This is a survival mechanism and not a “bad thing.” Adults can help the development of empathy by modeling it to their children and pointing out feelings of others—whether positive or negative.
I talked a bit about helping children understand about COVID-19 in my previous post, but here’s a great book written by a teacher that helps further explain this highly contagious, dangerous, damaging, and deadly virus in a developmentally appropriate way. If you are one who is not taking this seriously, please read this story!
While places are now opened and the topic of going back to school rages on, and schools are opening only to have cases of COVID-19 the first week of school, the numbers of positive cases continues to rise. I am truly saddened by the fact that this health crisis has become political and empathy for people who are high risk, children, teachers, healthcare workers seems to be going by the wayside. Except for the rare medical appointment and the fact that my chosen family owns a private tattoo shop and keeps people out while I am there, my quarantine hasn’t ended. I try to wear a mask but it falls down because of spasms due to my severe cerebral palsy. Anti-maskers laugh that I am not able to be in public because too many people are worried about their own comfort and rights to have empathy for those who can’t wear a mask and/or are high risk. What a horrible example they are setting for our children.
As an early childhood professional,I don’t recommend children going back to school until this virus is under control.I know it’s hard for poor families and I worry about social-emotional development of the children, but we have to realize that even if children are less likely to get seriously ill,some are going to get seriously ill or get the inflammatory disease that kills them.Not to mention bringing it home to the family and then we don’t know who will get mild symptoms and who will be hospitalized and on a ventilator.
I am so grateful for everyone who is wearing masks and protecting people like me who can’t wear masks easily and then the health care workers busting their butts to fight this pandemic.
Children who are old enough to wear a mask in public should! While some children will have an easier time adjusting to wearing a mask, it is possible to help them with it.
Here are some things that we can do to help children adjust to wearing a mask:
Always wear a mask yourself when out in public. Actions speak louder than words!
Educate them about how masks help protect others and them. If they like superheroes, compare them to being a superhero for wearing masks because superheroes always protect others from dangerous situations. There are some wonderful children’s books to read to them to further encourage them to wear a mask in public. I recommend this book.
Start with short periods of time wearing a mask and do a fun activity to help distract them from the mask.
Let the child pick out a few masks and/or let him/her decorate one so he/she wants to wear it.
Try different masks for the most comfortable one for the child.
Validate feelings about wearing a mask and tell the child that it is uncomfortable sometimes but it is the only way to go anywhere.
Keep little hands busy so they don’t constantly touch the mask.
Always have extra masks on hand or in the children’s backpacks because they are going to drop, throw, spill, forget masks so they need extras on them whenever they are in public. Also, keep hand sanitizer with you and/or them for washing their hands.
Make up a silly song to sing such as, “This is the way we wear our masks” to the tune of Farmer Brown.
Turn mask wearing into a game to see who can keep theirs on the longest.
Use mirrors in the car to have everyone put them on at the same time.
If for any reason the child has a meltdown and refuses to wear the mask when you get to have a destination and you have to go in, take some deep breaths, make sure that the child doesn’t have an unmet need, the mask isn’t pinching or hurting him/her, and carry the child in if it isn’t possible to have someone bring stuff out to you.
Never make wearing a mask into a power struggle. This will make the child want to wear it even less. If the child is showing you that he/she is not ready for a mask, make sure that he/she knows that going out is not an option without a mask.
This is a very uncertain time for everyone. We are all extremely stressed and anxious and children are no exception. Regression during times of extreme upheaval and stress is normal for children, so try to hold space for it and your own feelings.
The only way we will get through this pandemic is to have empathy for each other and do what we need to do to stop the spread of the virus. We can do this TOGETHER!!!!
Another post from Ashley Taylor about gentle parenting with a disability.
Being a parent is never easy, but when you have a disability, several aspects of the job can become a whole lot more complicated. For the approximately 4.1 million parents with disabilities throughout the country, the usual questions of parenting are compounded by worries about how they will keep up with their child, keep them safe, and educate them. Whatever your disability, the following tips can help you deal with these questions as they arise.
Focus on Home Safety
As a parent, one of your most important jobs is keeping your child safe and healthy within your home. Parents with disabilities have to be particularly careful, as they are not usually able to keep up with a small child’s energy or react quickly enough if something dangerous is about to happen. Therefore, the key to parenting is prevention.
There are a few key safety modifications that can make the everyday tasks of parenting easier and safer. These can include adaptable products such as chairlifts, modified sinks, and adjustable furniture such as changing tables and toilets. When you have a small child, a child safety gate can be invaluable, as it keeps them out of dangerous areas and can help you keep track of exactly where they are at any given time.
Learn to DIY
Any piece of furniture or kit you can think of for raising a child has a wheelchair or disability-friendly version out there. However, these can often be very expensive. For example, cribs for disabled parents that open from the front can cost about $2,000, but if you can DIY (or know someone who can), you can easily make one yourself.
Another area where DIY helps is food. Opening baby food jars can be difficult for people with cerebral palsy, arthritis, or similar disabilities. Making your own can be both healthier and easier as long as you have a good food processor. These recipes can give you some inspiration.
Teach Them Compassion
Your children will experience a rare benefit from growing up with a disabled parent: They will automatically develop empathy and compassion for those who are differently abled. However, you should still actively teach them about these matters as well.
This article by Parent Map outlines the ways in which parents can speak to non-disabled children about disability. While it is written from the perspective of a non-disabled parent, much of the advice still applies, such as being open to answering questions and teaching them that not all disabilities will look exactly like yours.
Also, you can use your disability to teach them about compassion in other areas of life. Growing up with someone who is considered “different” will help them see the many ways in which “difference” is used to mock, bully, and demean people. You can use this to start a conversation about bullying and how they can prevent it, both in themselves and the people around them.
Know Your Rights
Parents with disabilities will sometimes run into problems with social services or the law because people wrongly believe that they are unable to take care of their children. This isn’t necessarily likely to happen, but it is still a good idea for you to be informed of your rights as a disabled parent. This toolkit by the National Council on Disability is an invaluable tool for this.
Parenting with a disability doesn’t necessarily mean everything is suddenly harder, but it does mean you have to think about certain matters more carefully than other parents. You will have to plan your everyday life in more detail and remain aware of how your experience is shaping your child’s world view. However, a disability will never stop you from having a beautiful, supportive, and loving relationship with your child — if anything, it can sometimes bring you closer.
Please join me in welcoming Ashley Taylor from disabledparents.org. She is a parent with a disability and so when she asked me if she could guest post on my blog, I was delighted. I have severe cerebral palsy but I don’t have children and sometimes that’s held against me. So here’s a parent with a disability that is treating her children respectfully. I hope you will enjoy her posts.
Childproofing a home before a baby arrives is a challenging chore for any expectant parent. And it can be especially daunting for parents to be who are dealing with disabilities. But getting an early start and tackling tasks systematically can help make your home safer for you and its new occupant. Here is some information and advice to get you going.
Background on Parents With Disabilities
Research shows there were 4.1 million parents with disabilities in the United States in 2014, or around 6.2 percent of parents with children under 18. And, though attitudes are starting to shift in some states, the majority have dependency statutes that allow courts to reach the determination a parent is unfit based on the parent’s disability. So, while it is important for every expectant parent to establish a safe environment in their homes, it could be even more critical for those whose skills might be scrutinized by well meaning family, friends, and officials.
Fortunately, some agencies provide services specifically designed to assist prospective and expectant parents with disabilities plan for life after labor or adoption. Services could include home visits to evaluate areas for safety purposes, lending out adaptive child care equipment for people to try before they buy, and performing follow-up visits as the baby ages. Advocacy agencies such as Through the Looking Glass are a good place to start when seeking resources and training programs.
What to Do Before the Baby Arrives
There are some things you should mark off the child proof checklist prior to a baby’s grand arrival in its new home. Here are some suggestions from sources including Redfin.
Install carbon monoxide detectors if you have an attached garage or use oil or gas to heat your home. Check batteries twice a year.
Install and maintain functional smoke detectors. Check them monthly and change batteries at least once a year if your detectors require them.
Keep a fire extinguisher on hand and have a fire escape plan in place.
Keep nightlights away from fabrics, including bedding and curtains, and opt for night lights that don’t heat up when used.
Put together a first-aid kit for babies and take an infant CPR class.
Install childproof locks on cabinets containing poisons, medicines, and cleaning supplies.
If your home has lead paint that’s peeling or flaking, hire a certified Lead-Safe professional seal or remove it.
Make sure your water heater is set no higher than 120℉ to minimize the risk of accidental burns.
Install plates that slide closed over electrical outlets.
Furniture, Rugs, and More
Cover sharp furniture edges with bumpers or padding.
Stony or sharp fireplace hearths should also be covered and expectant parents should also install heat-resistant gates for when the fireplace is in use.
Put non-slip pads under area rugs that don’t already have non-slip backs.
Anchor heavy furniture that could tip over, such as dressers and refrigerators, to the wall or floor.
Consider investing in baby gates to block off areas that you plan to keep off limits for your little one, but avoid accordion-style gates that they might get stuck in. For rooms with doors, try knob covers that make it doors difficult to open for little hands. Test some options early to make sure they also meet your accessibility needs.
Install window stops or guards.
Clip looped window blind cords and install safety tassels. Fit blinds’ inner cords with inner cord stops.
Review safety suggestions and product recalls before buying furniture for the baby’s room.
There will be other childproofing considerations once your baby starts crawling and walking, but this list gives soon-to-be parents a strong start toward creating a home that will help keep all its inhabitants happy and healthy for years to come.
For Valentine’s Day I surprised my husband with a beautiful tattoo that symbolizes our love and our Christ centered marriage. I got this tattoo on my lower left arm. This was my first arm tattoo, so I was a bit nervous about how it would go with my spasms due to my severe cerebral palsy.
If you have been following me for a while, you know that this is my fourth tattoo. My mom was here again but after she helped us figure out how to strap my arm down tightly, she was able to enjoy watching her daughter get another detailed tattoo.
I feel like I need to write about my tattoo experiences because I know I went searching for other people with severe cerebral palsy who had successfully gotten tattooed when I first made up my mind that I was going to do it. I needed to know that others like me were able to do this. So I am putting my experiences out there for anyone else that is like me and wants tattoos.
Plus, there’s always an element of getting a tattoo that relates to parenting and respecting children which is something I am obviously very passionate about.
To read about my first three tattoo experiences and how they relate to parenting, click here, here, and here.
For this tattoo, I took the same medications as always for my spasms and we strapped my arm down to my arm rest of my wheelchair in two different places. Then my husband held my hand down quite tightly. My tattoo artist is a miracle worker and did an excellent job! While there was slightly more movement with my arm than my legs, within twenty minutes my body stopped reacting so much to the needles and I was fine.
Since I had to be strapped down and held down again for the tattoo, it got me thinking about respecting children’s bodies and teaching children consent from birth. We’ve all seen it and maybe even have done it. You see a cute baby and just have to touch him/her. But what if the baby really doesn’t want to be touched? This is especially true if you’re a stranger.
Let’s face it. We don’t respect children’s bodies.
Even before they are born, many people think its okay to dismember the baby’s body if the mother doesn’t want the child.
Then after birth, infants are touched, poked, tickled, squeezed, scooped up, gently pinched against their wills.
Then there’s the issue of corporal punishment. Sadly, many pro-spanking advocates tell parents to even sit on the child to spank/hit him/her. Even when children submit to spankings, they are being forced to do so out of fear, guilt, not wanting multiple spankings, and needing acceptance from their parents again. But they really don’t have a choice as they learn that their parents will make them submit.
Even older children are touched by complete, albeit well-meaning, strangers against their wishes.
Here’s a recent story from my dear friend, Meagan Longest, about an experience with her daughter at a store:
“An old man patted Wynnie at the grocery store today. She was holding onto the side of the cart. She looks up at him, almost cries and then runs to me at the back of the cart.
Wynnie: He touch me mom. Whyyyyy?
Me: I know, honey. That’s not okay.
Wynnie: That’s MY body, mommy.
Me: You’re right. It’s your body and no one should touch it without YOUR permission (While giving an evil eye to the old man and his daughter who was starting to get pissed).
I almost lost it.
Moral of the story- start teaching consent at birth. And don’t effing touch a child without their permission.”
Sure, that old man probably didn’t mean any harm, but in today’s world, we just never know. And how would you feel if a stranger patted you out of nowhere?
I guess I understand this more than some people do because well-meaning people get in my personal space and touch me without my consent. Due to my very slurred speech, I can’t just say, “Please don’t hug me.” “Please move out of my face a bit.” It’s very uncomfortable and I just sit there and deal with it so I don’t hurt people’s feelings.
The reality is that we all have the right not to have our personal spaces invaded by anyone without giving our consent. We need to respect each other’s bodies!
You may be asking, “What about needing to restrain children for care and/or medical procedures?” When a child is given shots, I strongly believe that they should be held in their parents’ laps. There’s never a reason to hold a child down on a table for shots. If your pediatrician doesn’t encourage you to hold your children on your lap for shots and even other simple procedures, then please find another doctor.
As far as giving care, if you must hold them against their wills, always talk to them about what you’re doing and why. Validate their feelings. Say, for example, “Oh I know you don’t like me holding you right now but we have to get your diaper changed. Can you help me by lifting your bottom?”
It helps to try and make sure the child is ready for the transition into care. It also helps to be playful about it when you know your child may resist. The key is teaching children that you respect them and always try to wait for their consent before moving forward. Even for newborns, this can be done by telling them before you pick them up and waiting for some clue that they are ready to be picked up. Moving slowly with infants also helps to teach them consent and that we respect them. Please see this post for more information about respecting infants.
As children grow, it’s so important to teach children that no one should ever touch them without their ok. Even people they know should always ask before touching them. It’s just basic respect. We invite people in and out by our body language most of the time, but children are not skilled at this and many adults ignore them anyway, so allowing children to say, “No!” is very, very important!
Also, teaching children to respect others is equally important. Teaching them to not touch someone that doesn’t want to be touched helps them to respect others.
The majority of sexual abuse and assault cases happen with people that children know! This is extremely scary! If children are taught to obey their elders no matter what, it’s really setting them up for potential sexual abuse and assault. We can’t allow this!
If people don’t understand why you are allowing your children to give or not give consent, just explain that you want them to have control over their own bodies. Tell them that you don’t just let people touch you, so why should children have to allow people to touch them when they don’t want anyone to touch them?
Children are human beings and deserve respect. I consented to being strapped down for tattoos, children should have the power to consent to being touched. It’s about respecting each other’s bodies and personal space no matter what the age is.
The reason why co-sleeping reduces the risk of SIDS, when done safely, is because being near the parents helps infants to regulate their body temperatures, heart rates, and breathing. And they don’t sleep quite as deeply and can even sync their sleep patterns with their parents, which may help them awaken easier to prevent them from dying.
In fact, for countries where co-sleeping is the norm, SIDS is virtually non-existent. Most mothers in these countries have never even heard of SIDS. That should say a lot about the benefits of co-sleeping!
Also, cry-it-out raises the infants’ heart rates and causes them to shut down eventually which can lead to a very deep, unhealthy sleep because it’s unnatural.
Yet, despite the fact that the American Academy of Pediatrics is finally acknowledging the research showing the benefits of co-sleeping, when I shared this on my Facebook pages, many assumed that it meant bed sharing only and rejected it. So I want to clarify what co-sleeping is in the hopes that parents will follow this advice and find the right sleep situation for their family. After all, it could just save infants’ lives!
Therefore, let me clarify that co-sleeping is having the children sleep nearby. It can include bed sharing, but many parents use co-sleepers that attach to the side of the bed, a crib next to the bed, a playpen near the bed, a bassinet near the bed, or a cradle by the bed. You don’t have to bed share to co-sleep. I am a big proponent of co-sleeping because, not only does it save lives, but it also makes nighttime parenting easier because the baby is right there.
Co-sleeping also aides in attachment. Being near their parents makes infants feel safe and secure. They usually don’t have to work themselves up into a full-blown cry when they awaken in the night because Mommy and Daddy are right there to comfort them and meet their needs.
If you’re worried that they will never move out of your bedroom if you allow them to sleep with you, how many teenagers do you know who still sleep with their parents every night? Yeah, none! When you and the child are ready, you can transition him/her to his/her own room.
Please co-sleep with your babies in a manner that works for you. It may save their lives!
I tell the story of both of my kids in regards to running into streets/parking lots to a lot of people because that question comes up so often. I found peaceful parenting when my first was about a year old. We don’t do any punishments or rewards with our kids. I don’t yell at my kids and I don’t use the word “no” very often. It’s not that I let them do what they want (we have some pretty firm limits on certain things), but I had learned that children will begin to tune out the word “no” if they hear it to often so I try to use different ways to tell them when we can’t do something.
So anyway, when my first was a little over two, we were leaving a building and my hands were full. She was always great about walking with me but this time she took off out the door running towards the car, (which was parked right outside the door) but she was headed to the back of the car because she knew I was putting stuff in the back. It’s a little used parking lot but at that moment someone came tearing into it at a rate of speed not really appropriate for a parking lot and it scared me to death that she would run out from behind our car, the other driver wouldn’t see her, and he would hit her. There was no way I could catch her. I shouted “STOP!!” She immediately stopped, turned back to look at me, and came straight to me.
There was no fear in her eyes, only trust. She knew I wasn’t going to hurt her and she also knew that mom never uses that voice to talk to her so this must be super important. At that moment, I was so thankful that I don’t yell at or spank my kids.
Fast forward a few years and I have another crazy little toddler (also two years old, also being raised without punishments). We had to leave somewhere and she wasn’t happy about it so she was crying and sat down on the curb with her arms crossed because she was angry. I was standing just a few feet from her giving her a little space to calm down. In typical unpredictable fashion, she jumped up from the curb and took off into the street but on the opposite side of a car from where I was. She was angry and there was a car coming down the busy street that I knew had no way to see her in between the parked cars and was going too fast to stop. I was even more frightened because this kid is so hard-headed and persistent but there was no way for me to reach her so I did the same thing. “STOP!!”
Exact same reaction as my first daughter. She immediately stopped, turned to look at me and came to me. I don’t know if the result would have been the same had my parenting styles been different. Maybe it would…..but I have my doubts. I think peaceful parenting saved my kids’ lives. I also think that even if spanking would accomplish the same thing, why use it if a peaceful alternative works just as well or better?