A Pandemic Thanksgiving

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Tomorrow’s Thanksgiving and while my husband and I are used to celebrating on our own, I know many of you are doing the right, selfless thing by staying home to celebrate with immediate family only. Some of you are facing a first Thanksgiving without loved ones due to COVID-19. Please know that we’re thinking and praying for you.


This has been a year of constant anxiety, trauma, uncertainty, and unrest. Therefore, as we, hopefully, stay home and gather with immediate family, may we try to find things we’re grateful for even if it is small. May we think or look at the children in our lives and consider the type of world we want for them. One full of divisions and hate and bad church doctrine. Or one full of unity, love, kindness and compassion.


Have a peaceful, safe, loving Thanksgiving.

Where’s The Empathy?

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.

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Source unknown. I got it off Facebook.

Not spanking/hitting or using other harsh punishment with children also promotes the development of empathy in children.  Not using aggression to get what one wants teaches children to respect other people and have empathy.  Corporal punishment and using other harsh punishment only breeds fear and anger.  These make children turn inward in a negative manner instead of being open to other people and what they are going through.

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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.

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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.

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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!!!!

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Covid-19, Black Lives Matter, Mental Health, And Helping Children.

The past few months have been really difficult for me with the Covid-19 pandemic and being super high risk. It has made me struggle with dealing with my own trauma, trying to do what is right and safe regarding the trauma of having a mother who can’t give me what I need, but still wanting her and my other biological family to remain safe. I have felt isolated and anxious and depressed. Being so high risk due to my asthma and severe Cerebral Palsy (CP) has made me angry when I finally realized how serious this virus is for many and seeing how people just don’t want to do what we need to do to be safe!

Life with CP is limiting and even though we find a way to do stuff that I want to do, it’s not easy like typical people who are able to just jump in the car and go. My state is in Phase 3 of reopening and I got my first non-essential, non-medical outing this week to my tattoo artists and chosen family to finish my Samoset kitty tattoo that was started before the outbreak and lockdown started. I was only able to do it because they locked the door and my husband and I were the only ones in there besides the artists. Masks were worn and sanitizer was used even more.

844129F8-4D70-4689-83DD-2AC66EF7AA15 Samoset tattoo by Todd Bass at Triphammer Carbondale.

Throughout this pandemic, I have been aware of all the different aspects of it. My mental health as well as others have suffered due to isolation, people are losing everything, suicide is up. There’s so much to this pandemic and it is so sad that some elected officials are not doing everything they can to prevent this from being so out of control.

I know children and parents are struggling. I think the best thing to do for children is to create routines that are flexible and, if they are old enough, allow them to have a say in the routines. And as I’m sure you have already heard, answer questions honestly but briefly depending on their age and development.

This is scary for the children too. They have lost a lot and they may not be able to understand why. So I have heard a lot of regression in children’s behaviors have been happening from parents. This is so hard because I know parents are stressed out too. I recommend reassuring the children and finding an activity such as meditation or reading or yoga to help calm stress and fear. This is not an easy time for anyone.

Now we have a horrible murder of a black man, George Floyd, that has set off protests and riots in the midst of a pandemic. It is so scary and sad. Racism has got to stop!

I used to say “all lives matter” and even wrote a blog post in which I used “All Lives Matter” for the title of the post that covered every race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and, of course, children mattering.

Having a severe physical disability made me question, “what about other minorities?” I was a Republican slowly making my way towards Libertarianism at the time. I am now a Libertarian and while I still love Jesus, I’m no longer into mainstream Christianity anymore due to the legalism, bad church doctrine, and abuse, and hate.

I now understand the Black Lives Matter movement and right now this group of people desperately need our support, validation, and LOVE! Saying “all lives matter” doesn’t do this for black people who are hurting badly. Jesus immediately went to the people in desperate need no matter who they are. Jews didn’t hang around Samaritan people but Jesus did.

I know many Christians and conservatives won’t hear me because I was the same way about this topic and I had to figure it out for myself. But I am embarrassed by my ignorance even though I was trying to be fair and supportive and was trying to validate everyone but I was wrong. I support Black Lives Matter and peaceful protests except for the Coronavirus concern. I hope my story helps someone moving away from ignorance to validation and love over being “right.”

Our children are watching everything and need to be taught kindness and acceptance for all. There has also got to be a major change because most black families experience so much pain and violence in their lifetimes and parents of black children are even more likely to spank/hit and harshly punished because they fear that if they don’t teach strict obedience to authority that it could be their child that is murdered by a bad cop. But this spanking and hardship make the children more likely to act out and get into crime.

And while police lives also matter, it’s important to keep in mind that there are many good cops of all races and they don’t deserve to suffer. On the other hand, white cops need to remember that at the end of the shift, they are like everyone else. But black people still have to deal with the racism and can’t hide from it.

Please be safe and get tested for Covid-19 if you participate in the peaceful protests and quarantine yourself because we can’t make change can’t happen if we’re sick and in the hospital or dead.

May we strive for kindness and love and create this in our children. May peace, love, and light reign in our world!

4 Key Tips for Gentle Parenting When You Have a Disability By Ashley Taylor

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.

 

Vulnerable People Aren’t Weak!

This is a short post but I had to write it.  Overall, my emotional health has really improved since we adopted our new kitten, Samoset.  He doesn’t replace YP, but he is sure helping us on a number of levels.

However, this has been a rough week for me due to the 8th being the third anniversary of my mother-in-law going Home and the 9th being the 15th anniversary of my abusive dad going Home and some really don’t like me talking about the abuse.

This post, which was written a couple of years ago, describes how it feels to go from honoring someone who never intentionally hurt me to acknowledging my dad’s going Home anniversary.  I will write about  the idea of labeling in a later post.

I always seem to make myself vulnerable to people as I am a very emotional person.  Today’s meditation session on the Calm app was about being vulnerable with others and how it is a good thing.  I really needed to hear that and it made me cry since I have been feeling vulnerable all week.

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I will be honest, while I totally agree with this meme from the meditation session, it can be very easy to just shut down so people who prey on the vulnerable can’t hurt us.  From conception to death, power hungry people love to prey on the vulnerable. Children especially.  This fact makes me angry.

Except these power hungry people were usually hurt as children themselves which is why they behave the way they do. This is yet another reason why I advocate for the respectful treatment of children.  Respected children usually grow up to be empathetic, loving, joyful, vulnerable, and resilient adults.  They don’t need to have power over weaker beings or feel the need to act like they know everything.

I’m grateful that in spite of my pain and dealing with people who just don’t understand, I am able to stay vulnerable, empathetic, and loving.  I’m far from perfect but I do my best to advocate in a respectful manner. I am learning how to become less reactive to people and respond. And I am also learning to love unconditionally from a distance to rid myself of the toxic relationships in my life.

I believe vulnerability is a gift from God. It also allows us to be humble and rest in the peace and joy of God.  May we treat our most vulnerable with respect, empathy, and compassion.

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13, NASB).

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Aggression NEVER Works!

As an early childhood professional and a parent coach, one of the main issues I help parents with is young children being aggressive.  Young children have zero impulse control and often express themselves through aggressive acts until they finally have enough practice and skills taught to them by us to use their words and be gentle.

Yes, aggression is a form of communication in young children and if parented gently and respectfully, these children learn that aggression NEVER works.  It only HURTS!

But what happens if children are never taught gentleness and kindness?  What happens if they are spanked/hit, harshly spoken to/yelled at, and/or otherwise punished and disrespected?

Just turn on the TV, get on Facebook and other social media, or dare to walk outside and you’ll see the effects of harshly treated children crying out for whatever social justice is the current “hot topic.”  You’ll see people actually being shot and killed.  You’ll see people rioting.  You’ll see people verbally assault anyone who dares to offer a different perspective.

Unfortunately, many pro-spankers believe that this is due to not spanking/hitting children enough, but the majority of children are still spanked.  The Bible says that we reap what we sow.  If violence is “lovingly” sown into children’s hearts to get people to do what they want, then it will be easier for them to use aggression and violence to try to force people to listen to them.

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Source: https://www.facebook.com/synergygentleparenting/?ref=ts&fref=ts

I struggle with this at times too.  It’s hard to keep responding respectfully when you’re angry and/or passionate about something.  I have made my fair share of mistakes and constantly strive to be a more empathetic, compassionate, gentle person as that was not how I was raised.  But the fact that I was raised with harshness and was often disrespected and still get dismissed at times due to my disability is no excuse for my mistakes!

Sadly, some people truly believe that violence and aggression–both physical and verbal– is the only way to be heard and enact change.  When people come at me aggressively, I get defensive and shut down.  It hurts, so it makes me not want to listen to the person. When I hear about violent actions in the name of some cause, it makes me want to run in the other direction!  I feel bad for the victims who are usually innocent bystanders that had the misfortune of being in the crossfire of the angry people.

We claim to want peace but end up trying to get it through violence and aggression.  We want equality for all but end up putting certain groups down to get that equality.  We believe in love but end up using hate to try to force love.  We strive for tolerance but end up being intolerant to groups of people who don’t have our same agenda.

We are all guilty of this!  It’s just that certain people fail to recognize this in themselves and think that they are truly making a difference when all they are doing is making everything worse and turning people off. They are even inciting people like them that are on the opposite side to start behaving aggressively.  They fail to realize that aggression never works.  It only hurts!

I love the Nonviolent Communication  approach that Marshall B. Rosenberg writes about, and with which he trains people, because it teaches us that everyone is capable of being compassionate.  I’m trying to work on using this approach more with people.  Here’s a quote from the website.

“Through the practice of NVC, we can learn to clarify what we are observing, what emotions we are feeling, what values we want to live by, and what we want to ask of ourselves and others. We will no longer need to use the language of blame, judgment or domination. We can experience the deep pleasure of contributing to each others’ well being.

NVC creates a path for healing and reconciliation in its many applications, ranging from intimate relationships, work settings, health care, social services, police, prison staff and inmates, to governments, schools and social change organizations.”

We want our children to be gentle and kind. They are always watching us and imitating us.  Therefore, we need to teach them how to be kind and compassionate to others by being kind and compassionate with everyone.  Love is the only way to enact change, not violence and aggression. A toddler that throws a cup doesn’t get a drink, but instead, is taught better ways of communicating his/her needs. The same applies to adults.  Throwing stuff might feel good but won’t get the change we want to occur.  Love always wins in the end!

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Compassion Matters!

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The other night I posted a post called ALL LIVES MATTER!  Imagine my horror and frustration when I find out on Facebook A.K.A “Hatebook” that some white supremacist groups have taken over the “all lives matter” phrase and it is seen as racist.

First, I’m truly sorry that evil groups have hijacked something that is so true.  I thought I was clear that I condemn both the two police brutality cases in which two black men were murdered for no good reason AND the cop killing!

Sadly, extremely sadly, it seems that context no longer matters. Just because hateful people misuse a phrase does not mean that someone like me who had no idea about this is using it to be hateful.  When I say “all lives matter,” or now, “every life matters,” I truly mean just that!

I don’t mind if you’re one of the following:

“American Indian or Alaska Native: A person having origins in any of the original peoples of North and South America (including Central America), and who maintains tribal affiliation or community attachment.
Asian: A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent including, for example, Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippine Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Black or African American: A person having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa. Terms such as “Haitian” or “Negro” can be used in addition to “Black or African American.”
Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander: A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, or other Pacific Islands.
White: A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa.

Ethnicity Categories
Hispanic or Latino: A person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race. The term, “Spanish origin”, can be used in addition to “Hispanic or Latino”.
Not Hispanic or Latino” (http://www.iowadatacenter.org/aboutdata/raceclassification).

Your life matters!  You matter if you’re gay, bisexual, lesbian, transgender, or queer.  You matter if you’re physically disabled, mentally disabled, or both.  You matter if you’re a baby in the womb or an elderly person.

You matter if you’re a woman or a man.  You matter if you’re a Jew, Christian, Muslium, Hindu, Buddhist, Atheist, Agnostic or any other religion.

You know what is truly unfortunate?  My post the other night focused more on how to stop violence and racism and bigotry, but due to a phrase that I unknowingly used, instead of people thinking of ways to stop the hate, they are arguing over the phrase!  They are arguing that cops don’t deserve respect because of a few bad ones who did wrongly by murdering two black men that were not doing anything to warrant being shot!

Right now, as you argue about this, children of all races and ethnicities are being left to cry-it-out, spanked/hit, taught that they don’t matter, being murdered in the womb, being murdered by evil people, and being harshly punished.

Right now, as you argue about whose lives matter most at the moment, a child dies of cancer, hunger, illnesses that can be prevented with modern medicine, and infection. Children are being raped, forced to do hard labor, forced to get married to older people, sold into sex slavery, murdered and/or beaten for being gay, bisexual, lesbian, transgender, or queer.

Right now, as you argue that black lives matter, a child is being abused or murdered because he/she is disabled.  Children are murdered because they are the wrong race, ethnicity, gender, and religion.

Right now, as you argue about what is loving, children are losing parents due to hate. Cops are parents.  Blacks are parents, Hispanics are parents. Native Americans are parents.  Asians are parents.  Whites are parents.  Homosexuals are parents.  Jews are parents. Musliums are parents.  People with disabilities are parents.

Go ahead.  Waste time arguing.  Ignore the hate you are perpetuating by insisting that one group is more important than the other because they are oppressed.  Go ahead and use other hurtful words to other groups of people such as “retard,” “fucktard,” “spaz,” “handicapped,” “slow,” “cripple,” “incapacitated,” “invalid,” and “disabled people.”

I hear these regularly, and yet, I don’t scream, “People with disabilities lives matter.”  We are discriminated against in small and big ways, but I don’t scream, “People with disabilities lives matter.”  I have a Master’s Degree but can’t seem to get my career off the ground, and yet, I don’t scream, “People with disabilities lives matter.”

Look, Black people have been treated horribly throughout history. Racism is alive and well.  But that doesn’t make you better than the Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust. Jews who are still murdered today.  Or other groups who are regularly murdered for being who they are.

And, I’m sorry but a black man shooting white cops is just as racist as a white cop shooting a black man for no good reason!

We, unfortunately, have many, many oppressed groups, children included. How about we stop the arguing, hate, side taking, approval of violence against whoever we’re currently angry at, and work together to make this a better place?  That begins with valuing all human life from conception on!

Get off Hatebook and start showing love to all!!!  Because in the end, COMPASSION is what truly matters!

“For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith” (Romans 12:3, NASB).

My husband and I enjoy Reggae music.  We heard this song Heaven Help Us All by Luciano and were brought to tears. It is exactly the message I am trying to get across. Take a listen.

Encouragement For Dealing With Difficult People

Philippians 1:27-29 (NASB):
“Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; in no way alarmed by your opponents—which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God. For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, …” 

This was today’s devotional on Biblica.com.  It really encouraged my husband and me as we’ve been dealing with some difficult people lately.

Anyone practicing and advocating gentle parenting usually end up running into those who just don’t understand why we are so passionate about treating children with respect. We tend to get put down and berated for not spanking/hitting or otherwise punishing our children.

It can get quite discouraging.  And lately, especially on Facebook, there seems to be more arguing and dissention over everything!  Standing for Biblical Truths seems to be highly frowned upon nowadays. 

Thankfully, we can take courage in the above Scripture. We don’t have to be alarmed by our opponents (easier said than done. Trust me, I know!). Jesus has been right where we are. He had to even walk away and shake the dust off His feet when people would ignore and insult Him. Then on the Cross He put up with horrific treatment.

I often mess up when dealing with difficult people. It’s hard to be insulted and put down for teaching gentleness and love for children. But Jesus gives me grace when I fail. He’ll do the same for you.

And when we show kindness to difficult people, we show them the Gospel. And we teach our children how to be kind to everyone while exercising boundaries when needed.  Since this is the Christmas season, may we share uplifting things with each other in order to stop some of the hate and dissention in the world.

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Why Children’s Feelings Matter

This society seems to value children’s feelings less and less.  From parents telling their children that they ate all of their Halloween candy (as a supposed “joke”) and videotaping them crying in order to send it to Jimmy Kimmel to show on his show so everyone can laugh at it; to the dad who shot his daughter’s laptop because she posted a letter on Facebook about how she felt disrespected by her parents.  The majority are cheering for this dad.

What about the children’s feelings?  Why do so many laugh at an upset child?  It is very disturbing to me that children’s value seems to be less and less.  This is not a good thing!  It means our society is becoming less and less empathetic.  That is downright scary.

Christians aren’t any better either.  Many punish their children for showing any type of negative emotion.  Children are not being taught how to express and cope with their negative emotions in a healthy, positive way.

I understand that we adults get so caught up in our lives and issues that we forget that losing candy, not being able to go outside, or being disappointed about a friend being mean is a big deal to them.  They are new to our world.  They don’t understand adult issues nor should they.  I love how my friend, Rachel, got busy trying to get laundry done and briefly forgot to take her daughter’s feelings into consideration, but then, recognized her mistake and made things right with her daughter.

“I had a parenting fail today because I was tired and frustrated. I was running Sadie a bath and trying to get laundry done for tomorrow so I told her I needed her uniform to wash with the others. She replied “I have to be naked?!” And flipped out. Crying and hysterical. I was trying to talk over her instead of calming her first by saying just her uniform, she can wear her panties, and she was laying in bed anyway playing on her Kindle so she wouldn’t be cold, she has blankets. I was in a rush to get clothes in the washer so I had timeto dry them by bedtime. Obviously that did no good. I finally took the five minutes to sit and listen to her truly, why she didn’t want to be naked, and then what I was saying about having panties on and covering up with a blanket was perfectly fine to her. We are all busy, we all have our own things to get done, but when we don’t slow down and listen, sometimes we are only hindering ourselves. Kids have reasons why they want things a certain way, and we can’t expect them to listen to us if we don’t listen to them, no matter how unreasonable it seems” ~Rachel.

I agree with Rachel. Simply taking the time to listen and validate our children’s feelings is crucial. And, in the end, it makes life go easier. Instead of fighting against them, we can work with them and do our best to understand and validate their negative feelings.

Just because children are young and immature, does not make their emotions and feelings less important than ours.  How would you do if your spouse or friend put you down or dismissed you because they thought what you were upset about was “stupid” or “ridiculous?”  What if they “jokingly” upset you and showed it to the world to laugh at?

We are supposed to live by the Golden Rule. If you wouldn’t like it done to you, don’t do it to your children.

We need to take our children’s emotions seriously from birth.  Always responding sensitively and respectfully to crying infants is to validate their feelings. Instead of shushing the infant and saying, “You’re ok,” I say, “Oh, you’re hungry! I’m getting ready to feed you.” I Always validate even the youngest infants feelings even if I can’t figure out the need. For example, tell the infant, “you’re so upset. I hear you. I’m trying to figure out what you need.”

Teaching children to be “tough” is not a good thing. Crying is not a weakness!  I know many men as well as some women who have a very difficult time expressing and coping with their negative emotions because they were taught to be “tough.”  And sometimes, being “tough” for some is not showing compassion for others, which is not Christ-like at all.  People who are hurting need and deserve compassion and validation.  This includes children!

Finally, if we force children to deny, repress, and bottle up their negative emotions, they will eventually come out somehow. Or they’ll turn to harmful ways of dealing with the pain inside them. For some, this may lead to suicide.

Yes, children’s emotions matter.  Everyone should be sensitive to each other’s pain.  The only way to do that is to model love and compassion towards our children and everyone else that is hurting!  Also, model Jesus.

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Tantrums Versus Meltdowns. Why I Choose To Call Them “Meltdowns.”

After writing and sharing this post, which made me feel vulnerable, I was very taken aback by a couple of uncompassionate responses by people I never thought would have such a reaction. They were mothers of children with Autism. They were quite upset that I had used the term “meltdown” to describe my loss of control. They had said that I had had a “tantrum” “over not getting my way.”

Needless to say, I was quite confused and bewildered by their responses. So were a number of other gentle parents. The argument these two moms tried to use was that only people with Autism are allowed to have meltdowns, and everyone else has tantrums and can control themselves.

I won’t get into how wrong it is to tell an adult who chose to share about her embarrassing episode in the hopes of reminding everyone that meltdowns happen to even mature adults that she had a “tantrum,” except to say that it is wrong.

I will explain that as an early childhood professional, I do have some knowledge of and experience with children with Autism and other sensory issues. These children can, in fact, have very intense and even violent meltdowns that can last for hours. Some of these meltdowns are triggered by sensory overload such as bright lights, too much noise, clothing that is uncomfortable, and having too many people nearby.  These meltdowns are totally uncontrollable. 

But, typical children have uncontrollable meltdowns too. A meltdown is when we lose total control over our emotions for whatever reason. Tantrums are the same thing. Only when most people hear the word “tantrum,” they picture a child trying to “manipulate” us in order to “get his/her own way.”  Even the moms complaining about my terminology said it was to “get my own way.”

In reality, when I lost control of my emotions that night, I had no thought of “getting my way.”  My thoughts were not coherent in that moment.  I was still grieving. I had just watched my husband and his sister bury their mom a month ago that night. I was dealing with my own grief. I just wanted to enjoy the rest of my time with my mom and her boyfriend before they left for home six hours away.  What I truly wanted was for my mom to live closer and for the grief I was experiencing to go away. I knew acting like a fool wouldn’t allow me to “get my way.”

That’s the thing. People witnessing a meltdown have no clue what is truly going on. They see a “bratty” child throwing a fit over “not getting what he/she wants.”  They look at the parents begrudgingly for not “controlling and spanking that brat.” They call it a “tantrum.”

What they don’t see is the child having a hard time. The child may be overtired, hungry, thirsty, getting sick, going through major transitions, being triggered by something sensory related, and/or trying to learn how to cope with a major, to him/her, disappointment. The brain goes haywire. He/She loses control. 

Yes, before a full blown meltdown, people can use coping skills. We can prevent some meltdowns by validating children’s feelings and giving them ways to express themselves as well as meeting needs.

But once anyone enters a full blown meltdown, it’s over until the brain allows them to calm down and regain control. The only appropriate response to anyone experiencing a meltdown is compassion and empathy.

The reason why I stopped using the term “tantrum” to describe children’s loss of emotional control is the negative connotation of the term. Anyone familiar with me and my work knows that I’m trying very hard to get society to see children in a positive light. To help everyone understand the development of young children. And for Christians to view and treat children as the blessings that they are. The term “meltdown” is more respectful.

I don’t care who you are, how old you are, if you have special needs or not, we all have meltdowns. Life gets hard. It will happen. Let’s not judge children or adults. Let’s assume there is always a deeper reason for the meltdown. And let’s not say that one group has “meltdowns” and the other group has “tantrums.”  Jesus tells us not to judge others. Besides, Jesus had a few meltdowns Himself in the Temple and in the Garden of Gethsame. 

May we treat all children and adults with compassion and respect!

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