Posts Tagged ‘culture’

Say “I’m Sorry”: Teaching Kids Good Manners

Well, actually, I figured out that it is not about “teaching kids to have good manners.”

It’s not about teaching my child to say please when she wants something.

It’s not about teaching my child to say thank you when she has received something.

It’s not about teaching my child to say sorry when she has hurt someone or something.

Those awkward moments grate on me, when others (or the voice in my head) expect my daughter to say or do something to show she is good-mannered. I want my daughter to feel what true compassion feels like, what true gratitude feels like, what a true request feels like. When I try to do these things we, as parents, should be “getting our children” to do, I have found these things hard to manage myself.

I have realized that my child’s manners are all about me and my most powerful parenting tool: my example.

It is about me saying please when I ask something of her.

How many times a day do you ask your child to do something or not to do something? How many times do you say please? When you are out at the store or running errands, how many times do you say please when you are asking someone to do something?

Part of Nonviolent Communication is to make requests (as opposed to demands). It is difficult sometimes to maintain a headspace where I am asking my daughter to do something instead of demanding or commanding. Saying “please” reminds me that I  want her to choose to do what I am asking, not just to do what I say.

It’s about me saying thank you when she gives me something or does something for me.

Out of the three of these, I do the best on this one, but only because gratitude is something I have integrated into my whole life. Still, I often have to make a point to stop, recognize and acknowledge the gratitude I feel for my daughter, who she is and what she does.

As parents, we give and give and give to our children. I feel joyously connected and humbled when my child says “Thank you, mama” for doing something that felt important to her. Makes it all worthwhile. (And keep my attitude in check!)

It’s about me saying I am sorry when I have done something I wish I had done differently.

Marshall B. Rosenberg, of the Center for Nonviolent Communication, has a powerful perspective on “sorry” and what we might say instead that would be more accurate and meaningful.) He describe the feeling of sorry without using the word sorry. It’s about me understanding what need I was trying to meet in the moment, doing what I did or saying what I said, and also understanding what need I did not get met by my actions and words.

It is much clearer for me, knowing and acknowledging what I wish I would have done and how I feel hurt/sad that I wasn’t able to meet the needs of myself and others, than saying “I’m sorry.” I actually say I’m sorry too much, almost without thinking. I have recognized this in myself and want to set an example for my children that is mindful.


All these efforts to use my example to show my daughter what we value as a family actually has proven to be effective in my life.

The most recent example went right to my heart:

My daughter was having feelings when I was attending to her brother for something. She hit me. (She’s been having bigger feelings, for the bigger number of years she is, perhaps.)

She stopped, her face fell from angry to desperately sad as she said, “I’m sorry I hit you, mama,” and crawled up next to me and then into my lap to sit and rock for a few minutes.

This girl knew what the meaning of sorry was. She felt that she was trying to get her need for closeness met but disrespected and hurt me in the process. She shifted to doing something that actually got her needs met, acknowledging with an “I’m sorry” that what she had done was, as Rosenberg says, “a tragic expression of an unmet need.”

We cuddled close like when she was a baby, renewing and reaffirming our bond as mother and daughter. It was a precious moment.

Spontaneous. Unforced. From the heart.

Just like “good manners” ought to be…



Committed to Cloth, but….

Welcome to the “I’m a Natural Parent – BUT…” Carnival

This post was written for inclusion in the carnival hosted by The Artful Mama and Natural Parents Network. During this carnival our participants have focused on the many different forms and shapes Natural Parenting can take in our community.


Continuum Family side snap training pants

Cloth diapers. Cute. Eco-friendly. The frugal choice.

I love cloth diapers. Like baby slings, I can see how easy it is to slip into addiction, wanting to collect a wide range of prints, brands and styles. Modern cloth diapers are both stylish and functional; gone are the days of pins and plastic pants, we now have PUL and Velcro.

Everyone chooses cloth for different reasons. I committed myself to cloth diapering when my first was born because it seemed to make sense health-wise, for the child and the planet. I found myself doing hours of research online, weighing all of my choices. Should I go for natural fibers or synthetics? Prefolds, pockets or all-in-ones? Snaps or Velcro or Snappis? How well does a one-size diaper really fit? I embraced all the choices available for me with joy.

I tried a number of cloth diaper companies, getting a few of various styles. As my daughter grew and changed, so did our diapering needs. Continuum Family had the smallest diapers with snaps I could find (had a tiny first child and wanted to practice EC–elimination communication), and I fell in love with them for a long while. The Little Beetle wool covers from Better for Babies (who have now closed up shop) were a great nighttime choice for a time. By then we were really getting somewhere with EC, so we got a couple of Ecapants training pants through EC Wear. We even had her in prefolds with a prefold belt at one point. The longest lasting favorite, aside from the Continuum Family in the pictures, were the Imse Vimse wool covers.

Over time, I learned firsthand the stinky side of cloth diapers:

  • Continuum Family side snap training pants

    Cloth diapers are picky about what they want to be washed in.

  • Cloth diapers are like toddlers in that they will smell louder and louder till they get their way.
  • Cloth diapers prefer to take up a lot of room in a bag rather than share space with snacks, wipes, and spare clothes — it’s called a diaper bag for a reason.
  • Cloth diapers don’t wash themselves.
  • Cloth diapers flatter (or pinch!) each baby differently.

Still, I travelled happily along cloth diapering journey for well over a year, knowing I made the right choice, thinking there would never be a day…

Fast forward to the present.

Goodbye Better for Babies....

After months of battling ammonia diapers and irritated skin, I caved and got disposables for my daughter. They ended up not causing her the rashes that folks worry about with disposables. It was in this way that I found myself staring at the last diapers in the package wondering if I should get more. I ended up getting her some basic prefolds and Flip diaper covers, thinking I could use them with the second baby.

I found myself learning all over again with my son who is shaped completely differently from my daughter. My cutest of cute cloth diaper covers with prefolds leaked every time because he is too small yet and the prefolds would scootch down and scrunch up. I went to the all-in-one cloth diapers my daughter had used, but then we got hit with thrush and the wet fabric on his skin seemed to be on the side of the yeast. When my washer broke for a week and a half, to top it all off, I turned to disposables.

It was during this time that I realized that disposables have advantages I hadn’t considered.

  • Disposables don’t need to be washed.
  • Disposables are compact.
  • Disposables give a trim bum line.
  • Disposables come in a wider range of sizes for a more accurate fit.

Some parents use disposables to handle the sticky, staining meconium in the earliest newborn days before switching to cloth diapers. Some parents use disposables at night and cloth diaper during the day. Many parents find disposables more convenient during travel. Alternate caregivers might find disposables easier or more familiar. Thankfully, there are some brands that leave out the chemicals, dyes, perfumes and other unhealthy stuff.

Continuum Family pull up training pants

Honestly, I can now understand the allure of disposables.

In the end, though, cloth diapers are worth any special thought and care required. Perhaps the struggle is precisely what creates loyal cloth diaper users. What piece of plastic could accomplish that?

Despite any inconvenience, I persist in my cloth diapering. I have got my son back in plain prefolds (size up, big guy!) and a Snappi — simplest and best yet. I’m working on my daughter’s skin health so we’re mostly diaper and pants free (less accidents now!) with disposables at night. Trying to figure out what would be a good move for her to pull down on her own. The search for the next cloth diaper solution continues….

Yes, I may have strayed to disposables, but I remain committed to cloth.




I'm a Natural Parent — But … Blog CarnivalThis carnival was created by The Artful Mama and Natural Parents Network. We recognize that “natural parenting” means different things to different families, and we are dedicated to providing a safe place for all families, regardless of where they are in their parenting journeys.

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

Unconditional Parenting: Chapter 5: Pushed to Succeed


  • Some parents are so focused on future success that the whole of the child’s present is consumed by it. (p. 75)
  • Focus on success shifts learning from “What does this mean?” to “Do we need to know this?” (p. 75)
  • Comparing children to others can cause them to view others as obstacles and base their self esteem on performance and what other think. p. 76)
  • Kohn suggests that it isn’t how much we do for our children but what we do for our children that is important. (p. 77)
  • He also suggests we consider “for whom we are doing our parenting?”
  • Pressure to succes in school (pp. 79-85) and athletics (pp. 85-88) actually backfires (just like use of control) and ends up leading to less success.
  • Children pushed to succeed often have a fear of failure that causes them to put in less effort to succeed in order to not have to face the possibility of failure. (If you don’t try then you can’t win but you can’t lose either.)


  • Did/do you feel motivated to learn for the sake of learning or do you recall having felt overly focused on the outcome (success or failure)?
  • When have you felt the pressure of success affecting your parenting/child? (height/weight percentages? eating and sleeping of infants and toddlers? walking? talking? reading? …..)
  • When you ask yourself “For whom am I doing my parenting?” when do you get the answer that you are doing it for yourself versus doing it for your child?

Unconditional Parenting: Chapter 4: Punitive Damages


  • Research has shown that punishment is “ineffectual over the long term as a technique for eliminating the kind of behavior towrad which it is direct.” (pp. 63-4)
  • Punishment has recently been repackaged as “consequences.” (p. 65)
  • Warnings about the consequences to follow  (punishment–loss of privilege or something else unpleasant) end up being threats that reveal distrust that children want to or will do the right thing if there is no punishment. (p. 65)
  • Natural consequences (Example: forgetting lunch means going hungry) can be experienced by the child as the adult in their life refusing to help. (p. 66)
  • “The more you rely on punishment, ‘the less real influence you’ll have on their lives.'” (p. 68)
  • Why punishment doesn’t work (p. 67-71): makes people mad, models use of power, loses effectiveness, erodes our relationships with our kids, distracts kids from the important issues, makes kids self-centered.
  • Children more likely to ask “What do the grown ups with the power want me to do and what will happen to me if I don’t? versus “What kind of person do I want to be?”
  • Punishing out of love is confusing to children.
  • There is a continuum of conditional parenting(doing to):
    • harsh corporeal punishment       
    • milder spankings      
    • other punishments       
    • tangible rewards       
    • verbal rewards
  • Goal is to get off the “doing to” continuum entirely and moving towards a “working with.”


  • Do you agree that consequences are punishments wrapped up in a new package? Why or why not?
  • When have you found yourself along the conditional parenting continuum? As a child? As a parent/caregiver?
  • What is a time/situation in which you found a solution other than something along the conditional parenting continuum? What led you to that action/thought/solution instead of something conditional?
  • What do you think helps you move towards a working with approach rather than getting stuck in a doing to kind of reaction?

Sunday Surf: The Real Deal

Usually I cheat and make Sunday Surf on a theme to provide information. Today is the real deal. These are just articles and things I’ve looked at that I think are worth sharing:

Building a Table (from Palumba)

From Conception to Birth

Trying to Conceive Naturally: What Are the Next Steps? (Natural Parents Network)

TTC (trying to conceive) is a hard place to be. I didn’t explain in my miscarriage post, but trying to conceive after that felt like a whole to do. About the only thing that actually helped was acupuncture. (I had an extra long cycle that got cut down by about a week, and regulated my hormone levels a bit, I believe.) Still, I did the thermometer, ovulation kits, herbs and more. In the end, I got fed up and gave up trying and that was the time we conceived my daughter. Interestingly, it also happened to be one year to the cycle of my lost baby’s conception.

This is a great NPN post sharing the range of options available to those TTC .

Please Sign Here, You Have No Rights (Birth Without Fear)

Technically, you can go into a hospital with a napkin that says “I consent to

Mother and Baby: Positioning after Birth (Delayed Cord Clamping: Cord Clamping Information and Research)


“I do wonder if more women gave birth without interference (or out of water maybe), would we be more accustomed to seeing mother-directed third stage of labour – where women might have a short rest before attending to her baby – and have a greater appreciation and understanding of physiological fetal-to-neonatal transition?

It is instinct in some mammals to rest in the first 30s-1m or so after birth – leaving the baby undisturbed during placental transfusion. Do we have these same instincts, to be above our babies, to gaze at and touch our babies, to watch them breathe and check the cord…before lifting our babies up?



I found this company after looking for solid wood tables for my daughter. They are pricier than plastic counterparts (or DIY, if you can/are interested in making your own things). All of their products are beautiful, however, so they make a good suggestion for folks trying to buy you stuff that maybe you don’t want… grandparents. This stuff is built to last and inspire the imagination. Here’s more about them:

“We specialize in organic, natural, sustainably built, handmade children’s items created from all natural materials. Palumba’s offering of safe, non-toxic childrens toys, musical items, art supplies and clothing are all dedicated to the natural home.

Best of all, 80% of our toys are made in the USA; the rest are crafted in Fair Trade Cooperatives. All of our toys are made without any toxins or unsafe parts. They are all of heirloom quality, hand crafted and sustainably made with care and integrity.”

Understanding Brain Development in Young Children

Some recent research on how the brain develops, how it is constructed and periods of brain development (language, physical, emotional and so forth). Of course the point is that children’s brains are laying the wiring down in the first years. Here’s the conclusion:

“The development of a child’s brain holds the key to the child’s future. Although the “first years last forever” in terms of the rapid development of young children’s brains, the actual first years of a child’s life go by very quickly. So touch, talk, read, smile, sing, count and play with your children. It does more than make both of you feel good. It helps a child’s brain develop and nourishes the child’s potential for a lifetime.”

Idea List for Toddler/Preschooler Activity Bags (Intrepid Murmurings)

This post is an absolute gold mine of ideas for keeping little hands engaged and exploring — easy, quick and packed full of potential! Seriously, every one is something doable, creative and fun!

Finished Chair!


Best of 2011 from Natural Parents Network Volunteers

Take the time it takes to surf through these links — awesome stuff! These piqued my interest:

        • Why Do Children Have More Food Allergies Than Ever Before? — I don’t want to give things away because it’s an important read….
        • An-depth and informative post about the menstrual cup option, specifically the Diva Cup.
        • A bittersweet post about an (abrupt) child-led end to a cosleeping relationship — of course this made me want to stare at my daughter in the middle of the night and hug her close, especially with another baby on the way and our solo time in bed ending….
        • 80 Uses for Coconut Oil gave me lots of ideas of what to do with the super good stuff I got from a local guy at our coop. This stuff is good for you–all of you!
        • The Best First Food for Baby made me understand why my daughter might have eaten the way she did on our baby-led solids journey. Fascinating!

One Teacher’s Approach to Preventing Gender Bullying in a (1st Grade) Classroom

One of my former students brought this to my attention. It made me think about all the ways in which my environment as a parent trying to raise my daughter is gendered from before birth. Try finding a “girl” shirt that doesn’t have ruffles or puffs or shiny bits or flowers. Even Melissa and Doug has a toy in a “friendship” set (pink and flowery) and a “vehicles” set (primary colors and all vehicles). This article took a glimpse into the classroom to see how these gendered realities are affecting children and their relationships.

Don’t Fix These Toddler Struggles

Loved this post because it not only normalizes the struggles that toddlers have but gives confidence and encouragement to caregivers to trust children and their natural learning processes. What seems like a problem to the adults isn’t necessarily problematic to children…

The Tandem Mommy (

As someone hoping to see if the tandem experience is for my daughter and I (and baby #2), this post felt like a real, honest and helpful post. As always, the comments are good to go through as well.

Unconditional Parenting: Chapter 2: Giving and Withholding Love

Disclaimer: Let’s all agree that we are doing our best with what we’ve got to work with, which means some things we are proud of and some things we are not. Let’s withhold judgment, from ourselves and each other, so that we can be honest and learn and grow together. These ideas are deep and wide and take some time to digest and integrate. Let’s all be patient, again with ourselves and each other as we strive to be our best selves.


  • Studies of discipline (starting in 50s and 60s) suggested that children receiving power-based discipline (hit/yell/threat) were worse off than children receiving love-based discipline (everything else –too broad–including controlling with love). (p.24)
  • Conditional parenting has “two faces:” love withdrawal — “the stick,” (pp.24-31) — and positive reinforcement — “the carrot,” (pp.32-42).
  • Time out originated as “time out from positive  reinforcement” during experiments with lab animals to control animal behavior; Kohn argues that current time out methods with children is effectively a “time out from your love.” Kohn raises the idea that we not focus only on the behavior, that children are not simply more complex in their behavior but also in their learning, and that a parenting model based on control is far from ideal or truly loving. (Remember: Focus is on the child’s experience of our actions/love.) (pp.25-27)
  • “The Stick:” Love withdrawal (emotional punishment) will often produce results because children want love and approval. However, the effects of conditional love may have several negative and undesirable effects, especially as the focus is on the consequences to the child rather than on the feelings or care for others. (pp. 28-30)
  • “The Carrot:” Rewards for compliance (or doing what we, the adults, want) less successful long term or beyond the “payoff.” In fact, they often decrease commitment, quality of work/learning and motivation. (pp. 31-32)
  • Intrinsic motivation (doing something for the sake of doing it or out of true desire) is destroyed by extrinsic motivation (doing something to get something else); this means children will likely stop doing things when the rewards and accolades run out. (p. 33)
  • “Praise” is a reward (positive reinforcement) that expresses conditional love and focuses on the behavior rather than the child’s whole self. (pp. 34-41)
  • High self-esteem is still not desirable if it is contingent on accomplishment; conditional love makes it hard for children to accept themselves.


  • How would you describe your “discipline” style and actions so far as a parent/caregiver? How does what you do/say match what you actually intend to do? Does it create the outcomes you actually want? (Think back to larger goals.)
  • What are your experiences seeing or using time out, rewards, praise, yelling, threats or more unconditional love? What difference do you notice in your child’s response based on your actions/words? How has your view of these methods changed (or not) after reading Kohn’s ideas?
  • When you find you are not using UP principles, do you find you tend to be more a carrot or stick person or both? What past or present influences/circumstances lead you to go to those methods? (For example: Kohn suggests “some parents who received too little unconditional love when they were children end up misdiagnosing the problem and assume it was praise they lacked.” — p.  41)
  • Do you think that saying thank you (for sharing or cleaning, etc.) or stating your observations in an excited tone (You built a tower!) fall under the category of praise and positive reinforcement? Is there a time, place or circumstance for enthusiasm and excitement? (p. 35-6)

Online Resources:

Growth: There IS No Set Pattern

I have never cared about growth charts and percentiles.

It makes sense to me that with the wide range among adults there would come a wide range among children. It also makes sense that children do not grow in regular increments but in fits and starts. I also believe there is a difference in the growth of breastfed babies and babies who are formula-fed as well as babies who start solids around 4 months and babies who start solids after 6 months.

Recently my family has been looking for different health insurance. The company with the plan we have been looking at told us that they would charge us $150 extra a month because my daughter is “does not fall within their guidelines on the chart” for height and weight. (My daughter has always been a lightweight but on the taller side and completely healthy.) When asked what the concern is for her health, the representative was “sure there are many risks associated with having ‘low’ height and weight.” When asked to name one concern, the rep said, “I’m not a doctor, but I am sure there are several risks.”

So now you know. According to some insurance companies, it’s risky business to be short or lean, regardless of your child’s actual health condition and history (or what a pediatrician says).


Here are some growth charts, if you’re interested:

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