Friday, November 23, 2012
For most parents saying ‘Good job’ or ‘well done’ is automatic, it is considered a part of positive parenting and we very rarely even think about it when we say it. So many parenting advice books say ignore bad behaviour and reward good, so it’s something that is built into our parenting collective conscious. For me it was like an automatic tic, I said it whenever I could see my son had achieved something be it small or large. It required little thought and no follow through. It was easy.
Then I read some Alfie Kohn and some Teacher Tom and I reviewed my opinions.
I won’t go into a long spiel about why using non specific praise and positive feedback isn’t ideal, because there are many people who can speak more eloquently on this topic than I ever could. What I will say is that saying ‘good job’ and offering non specific praise does nothing to build confidence or let your child find their inner motivation. Using the carrot and the stick does not breed free thinking or critical thought; it breeds affirmation seeking and compliance. This is not me saying that praise is bad, there are times when it is totally appropriate and if you use one of those phrases inadvertently you are not damaging your child or destroying their independence forever. Parenting doesn’t work like that.
When I first heard about this whole inner motivation thing I was irritated because all of the blogs I read about it focussed on why it was wrong and had an overwhelming message of ‘tsk tsk don’t do it’. So I filed it under yet another way that I am Doing. It. Wrong. But, for all of that, these articles sung for me a little because I personally seek praise all of the time, and if someone criticises my ideas then I am easily brought down. It irritates me that I am so reliant on external feedback and it’s only later in life that I have built the confidence to be satisfied in my own right. Even now I struggle with criticism, so maybe this Alfie Kohn isn’t so wrong after all.
So in saying all of that, this blog is not about how you shouldn’t parent, we have enough of those. This blog is about what you CAN do. Here is a little tool kit of things you can say instead of ‘good job’ and even if you do say good job from time to time. It’s not a biggie, the parenting police won’t come and get you. I promise.
What to say when they’ve done something helpful.
Thank you for that
I really appreciate your help
That was really helpful
Because you did X we can now do Y
That was very kind
It really helps me when you do X
It’s really nice when you help me out
Doing X makes me feel good
I love helping you
When they achieved something great or they impress you
Look you did it
Did that feel good?
I am really impressed at how you (be specific)
I can see what you did there
I see that you did x y z
It looks like you thought really hard about that
I can see you put a lot of effort into that
Wow, look at all of those colours/shapes etc
I see that you did this and look what happened
You have been practicing that for a long time
You worked really hard on that and I can tell!
Wow, how many colours did you use?
How did you do that?
I’m impressed, how do you feel about that?
Tell me about what you did.
When they show empathy and kindness
I bet x felt really great when you shared that with them
It feels nice when your brother sister is smiles doesn’t it
Look at your brother smile, he loves playing with you
It makes me so happy when you share with me
That cuddle made me feel happy
That was very kind to share your x with y
General praise (for those little achievements in life)
I see you worked together to do this
I see you thought really hard about that
How exciting for you
I like to see you thinking about things
I really like to see you play
Seeing you enjoy your game makes me happy
I bet that feels much better now that you pooped/changed your clothes/wiped nose etc
Does that feel better?
Now that you’ve done x, y happened
If in doubt.
Be specific – if you’re going to praise make it very specific rather than a general ‘good job’
Don’t assign a grade or rating (good/bad etc)
Speak from the heart - if you are impressed then say it
Ask questions – people love it when you are interested in what they are doing
Make observations – just stating what you see can be perfect in itself
Talk about consequences – doing this resulted in this
Say nothing and just enjoy being in their creative space
It takes a bit of practice and sometimes I am lost for words, or my comments come out garbled. Sometimes I miss an opportunity to appeal to their inner motivation and fall back on old habits, but it doesn't matter. Sometimes parenting is just about enjoying each moment as it passes and then moving on to the next one. I have noticed a shift in my sons confidence levels since changing my language and that has been nice. It's like watching a flower unfold. Worth a shot?
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
|Hydrogen Peroxide or h2o2|
Calendula and Hypericum are both excellent skin healers, you can buy them independently as salves or as a combination known as hypercal. Hypercal is the Porsche of wound healing. I have the tincture in my medicine cabinet and add a few drops to water before I cleanse wounds and scrapes. Calendula is a natural astringent and antibacterial, hypericum perforatum is also known as St Johns wort and is commonly used as an antidepressant however it is also excellent at healing skin lesions and ameliorating pain and swelling. So the combination of Hypericum and Calendula is really ideal for all of those common childhood war wounds.
What for: Cuts, grazes and scratches
How to use: Use the tincture diluted in water to clean wounds or apply to rashes and grazes. The lotion can be applied throughout healing process as required.
Where: I get my hypercal tincture from Similimum, one bottle lasts an AGE.
Home version: If you have a calendula or pot marigold plant in the garden you can make a quick paste using a mortar and pestle out of the crushed petals and virgin coconut oil to apply to the wound.
|St Johns wort, Hypericum perforatum|
|Pot marigold, Calendula officinalis|
|Chickweed, Stellaria Media|
|Aloe vera, Aloevera Barbadensis|
|Calcium Bentonite clay|
|Witch hazel, Hamamelis virginiana|
|Rock rose, Clematis, Star of Bethlehem, Cherry plum, Impatiens|
Comfrey is a potent healer for ligaments, joints and bones, in fact its hedge name is ‘knit bone’ for it's ability to heal bones and tendons. It is a strong astringent so is excellent for resolving any internal bleeding or large bruises such as haematoma. Comfrey is rich in allantoin and is one of the best cell proliferants in the herbal kingdom which makes it the ideal remedy when there is any damage from strains and sprains that need to be healed. The leaves are also rich in mucilage which is a binding agent and a demulcent.
What for: Extended bruising and haematoma, strains, sprains and fractures.
How to use: Apply a comfrey cream or salve directly to the damaged area and repeat a few times a day. It's important to not apply comfrey to a bone that has not been set correctly as it can facilitate healing on a bad join. Most home use will be on smaller injuries anyway!
Where to buy: Kiwiherb are the foremost herbal dispensary in New Zealand and they do an excellent comfrey ointment made with certified organic sunflower oil.
Home version: A poultice made out of lightly steamed and chopped comfrey leaves is a powerful healer, and when you have some serious healing to do the roots can be mashed up and applied directly to the wounded region along with the leaves. Crushing the leaves releases a thick stringy goop which is the binding and healing agent. This component will also draw open wounds closed and bind it up. For large wounds I suggest seeing a Doctor before taking any action yourself, however once a wound has been treated conventionally you can still use comfrey during the healing process. Comfrey can also be taken internally but I would only recommend this under the supervision of a naturopath. Interestingly Comfrey leaves used to be battered and fried as an alternative to fish during the leaner years of the great depression as it has a similar flavour.
|Comfrey, Symphytum offinalis|
Lavender essential oil is a fabulous item to have in any first aid kid because of its versatility. It is a pain reliever, a healing agent, vulenary, antiseptic and even an antidepressant. The cicatrizant properties make lavender excellent for wound healing and helping to treat eczema and psoriasis where there is open weeping skin.
A few drops on a warm facecloth applied to the temples can relieve headache, a little massaged into the skin with some carrier oil can relieve pain and stress, applied neat to wounds it can relieve pain, itching as well as aid healing. Lavender oil is renowned for its ability to help heal burns. Once first aid has been used lavender oil can be applied to healing skin neat (do not use other carrier oils with it as they pull the heat into the wound)
What for: Burns, wounds, weeping rashes, eczema and tension.
How to use: Apply neat to skin (one of the only essential oils that can be used this way) or diluted with a little carrier oil. Even sniffing the bottle can relieve tension and stress.
Where: I use a specific genus of lavender oil call Pacific Blue from Arbordale Lavender farm. This is a very gentle and safe lavender oil which is low in camphor and can be used neat even on very small children. Cheap lavender oils are made in spike lavender which is not only high in camphor but low in healing properties. Many people find that spike lavender will give them headaches. To order contact Arbordale Lavender Farm on 03 4896191
Home version: If you have a lavender bush then you can bruise a few flowers and inhale them or make a tea from the flower heads to bathe wounds and burns in (make sure the water is cool or tepid)
|Lavender, Lavandula angustifolia|
|Manuka, Leptospermum scoparium|
Chamomile is a powerful pain reliever and mild sedative, Peter Rabbit was soothed with a cup of chamomile tea after over indulging and so chamomile tea is an excellent carminative and digestive aid for upset tummies. Chamomile tea can be used topically to relieve pain or internally for gastro upsets. It is also good for soothing grumpy children, for teething dramas and to aid in sleep and rest. Every first aid kit for children should have some dried chamomile in it for these reasons.
What for: Tantrums, tummies, teething and pain
How to use: If you have chamomile teabags you can dip them in warm water before applying directly to sore spot. For tummies, teething and tantrums it is best given as a tea and can be easily made up like any other tea. Giving children a small cloth bag of chamomile to sniff if they are having a grouchy day can help lift their mood and the same bag under a pillow will help with sleep and sweet dreams.
Where to buy: My absolute favourite chamomile tea is Artemis baby gripe tea as it also has the added benefits of aniseed, fennel, licorice, peppermint, dandelion and cinnamon. All of these ingredients aid digestion and soothe troubled minds. The plants used are processed to maintain full potency and not diluted with fillers such as fruit fragments or poor quality flowers. Note: if your baby has reflux then I would avoid this mixture and go straight to pure chamomile flowers as peppermint can relax the oesophageal valve worsening any reflux.
Home version: Any chamomile tea will do though most commercial brands are weak, if you have a plant out the back then so much the better. A handful of flowers in warm water makes a perfect panacea.
|Chamomile, Matricaria recutita|
Poultices warm or cool, drawing or healing are an excellent home tool to use for treating injuries with herbs from the garden. Every first aid kit should have half a dozen squares of clean cotton to use for poultices. An old sheet cut into 40cm squares is ideal but any hemmed cotton squares or rectangles will do. To make a poultice you simply encase the macerated herbs in the middle of the cloth and roll it up before placing on the injury. If the area harmed is a limb you can use the longer tails to tie the cloth on or secure it with some gladwrap. If you are using a liquid or decoction for the poultice you simply soak the cloth in the liquid before folding it up and placing it on the injury. To keep the poultice warm you can use a wheat bag or hot water bottle placed over the back of the poultice. Some poultices you can leave over night but ideally they will be changed every couple of hours, especially if it is a drawing poultice. A drawing poultice is designed to pull infection, foreign objects and toxins out of the body. A healing poultice is designed to bathe the injury in a healing medium. Most poultices will do both.
1. Lifestream Biogenic Aloe vera mist
2. Simillimum Hypercal tincture
3. Go Native Witch Hazel
4. J.Friend & Co Manuka Honey 10+ UMF
5. Artemis Itch Calm ointment
6. Simillimum Arnica cream
7. Kiwiherb Comfrey ointment
8. Simillimum Arnica pilules 30c
9. Arbordale Pacific Blue Lavender Essential Oil
10. Health Post Bach Flower Rescue Remedy
11. Go Native Calcium Bentonite Clay (packaging differs from standard retail)
12. New Zealand Coromandel Mountains Tea Tree - Manuka and Kanuka Essential oil
13. Thymeheal Chickweed cream
14. Artemis Baby Gripe tea
15.Home Essentials hydrogen peroxide
Not numbered: Pot of Gold Skin Balm
I have put together my ideal first aid kit based on the products I would use and consider to be the best for the job. If you like what you see then comment on this blog post before January 7 and you will be in to win this entire set. Entries are open world wide. Please note the final prize may differ from this image. Some items such as matches, tweezers and bandages may not be included in the final item. If you are an overseas winner it is your responsibility to ensure you check that all items will be allowed into the country and cleared through customs.
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Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Having gone the Baby Led Weaning route we didn’t have a big use for purees and mashed food. However with our first boy I had stocked up on a whole lot of it intending to make my own delicious organic alternatives. My mum in law also kept our freezer well stocked in lovely seasonal produce that she had lovingly stewed and sieved. So once it became apparent we didn’t have a lot of use for it I devised a number of interesting ways to dispose of our lovely purees.
1. Freeze it into iceblocks, my sons love iceblocks in the bath and puree makes excellent non drip iceblocks.
2. Instead of sugar laden jam, use fruit purees to spread on toast.
3. I love porridge with a little fruit on the side, fruit puree is a low sugar healthy alternative.
4. A lot of baked goods are high in fat, you can use fruit puree to replace oil or butter content without losing moistness or flavour. These brownies are a great example made with black beans and prune puree.
5. Replacing eggs, just as above eggs are often used to put moistness into baking. If you run out, open a jar of puree instead. This muffin recipe is healthy and delicious.
6. If you have a dehydrator, fruit puree makes an excellent fruit leather for lunch snacks.
7. Cold cuts of meat or roasts are lovely with a side of fruit.
8. Edible finger painting, a fun game that you can lick off of your fingers when finished. Sensory fun for all.
9. If you have a really yummy fruit puree you can freeze it into icecubes for smoothies
10. Mixing fruit puree with chia seeds makes a delicious and nutritious jam.
11. If your child is all about the finger food, fruit puree makes a great dipping sauce
12. We have just discovered the addictive nature of tomato sauce in this household. Mixing it 50/50 with fruit or vegetable puree (carrots is my fave) is a great way of reducing sugar and salt intake while keeping that great t-sauce flavour.
13. If you are making a soup, stew, casserole or pasta sauces then puree can really bump up the veggie content and the flavour.
14. Instead of buying fruit yoghurt pots that are mostly sugar, add a little fruit puree to natural yoghurt. Yum
15. If you have a massive stash of apple puree then you can make apple butter.
16. If you have any savoury purees they can easily be added to rice or quinoa to make a nutritious risotto.
17. When you’ve had a stressful day with the kids a fruit puree will make a lovely face masque.
18. If you have guests coming over and have nothing for dessert ,then a packet of pastry and a jar of puree will whip up to a delicious batch of Apple McGinties in less than 15 minutes. Just spread the puree on one sheet, top with another sheet, bake, and done. Voila!
19. Add to apple pies or strudels for bulk when you are low on fresh fruit.
20. Make these yummy flapjacks to put into lunch boxes instead of sugary muesli bars. (just replace puree for juice)
21. On a hot day you can use fruit puree icecubes to make this delicious food processor sorbet
22. Stacked with icecream and cream in a parfait glass a puree will become a not so naughty dessert.
23. Soak some oats, grains and dried fruit overnight with a splash of water and some puree. You will have a delicious bircher muesli for breakfast.
24. A great child friendly dessert is this tasty baked apple custard with puree instead of diced apple.
25. When you’ve had one of those days use some of those fruit icecubes to chill yourself a delicious appletini.
26. If you have a teething baby fruit pure makes an excellent and edible frozen teether.
27. On a cold and rainy day make this divine black bean soup and instead of orange juice you can use an apricot or nectarine fruit puree.
28. Make this delicious small batch fruit chutney.
29. Pancakes are my favourite breakfast, topped with fruit puree they are a little less naughty.
30. Fruit puree makes a fabulous marinade for chops or chicken bits and an excellent glaze for hams.
And if all else fails. I guess you can bathe in it?