Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Parenting Teens

Me and my Teens

Parenting teens is very challenging. I would much rather stay up all night with a colicky baby, than to be up all night with my child out there somewhere. Not that my children have really ever stayed out all night but other things keep me up. For example, how do I make sure they make the right choices? How do I encourage them to do the right thing? When do I stand back and allow them to make a mistake and learn from it and when are the stakes too high to allow that?

Of course these are all things that you need to work out with your own conscience and values. My personal opinion is that it is best for them to make mistakes when they are younger teens and still come to you for advice and help. As they get older they come to you less and less. The mistakes they make and get help with will guide them to make better choices and if handled right make them feel comfortable to come to you still. This behavior of breaking away is developmentally appropriate but I, along with many other parents of teens struggle with this. Letting go of your most precious loved one is so hard. Knowing what is out there, not knowing what new dangers lurk about, all makes for a challenge of a lifetime. There is no teen proofing the world.

I do not agree that it is good to shelter teens from the realities, rather I prefer to support them to make the better choices. This has been hard, with my daughter I really struggled letting go, she made some choices I wish she hadn’t, but in the end she is growing into a very responsible and accomplished adult.  She learned from those mistakes and was able to incorporate them into her adulthood.

Foot Ball Team, #55
My son is at that age where he is all about football and girls. He just got his first girlfriend, and they went to the high school dance together. I am sure they will go to the movies soon too. I talk to him about respecting her boundaries, keeping his, and safe sex too. I would prefer he still thought girls had cooties, at least until college, but that is not happening. While I went through this with my daughter it is a whole different thing with my son, so I feel as if I am learning everything all over again. 

In the end we can only hope that all goes well, that they don’t get involved in the wrong crowd, they don’t end up at the wrong place at the wrong time, and they make the better choices. Spending time doing what they are interested in, talking about the big issues, and staying connected have helped so far in my adventures in parenting. I am far from perfect, there are many things I have wished I did differently, but all in all I feel confidant that my children will stay away from the big problems, like drugs, alcohol, and gangs to name a few.

Happy teens still willing to hang with Mom once in a while!


Monday, October 22, 2012

Positive Intent

Positive intent is a great skill for anyone who is working with children. Positive Intent is the belief that children (or any human) has positive intent for doing any behavior.  What this looks like is he belief that a child had a positive reason or plan for the behavior they acted out on.

My favorite example of this is a story that Lisa Murphy tells about twins that started biting their classmates. Biting is a very serious and scary childhood behavior, but it is also very developmentally appropriate. However, it got so bad that the parents were called in. During the conference the mom was perplexed, and the dad was silent. Finally the teacher asked the dad what he thought. It turns out dad was playing a game with the twins where he would chase them and say, “I’m going to eat you up, I love you so!” and the pretend to bite them. I love this story!

Positive Intent does not excuse the behavior, what it does is allow you to be in a state of mind that allows you to deal with the behavior from a positive perspective. Many times there was a very good reason for a negative behavior, whether it was because the child is tired, frustrated without skills, or even just had a really great idea happening and it didn’t turn out their way.

The best way this belief system was explained to me was this way:
            Say you are driving on the freeway and a person cuts you off unexpectedly! Your initial reaction might be to cuss them out, but instead of getting upset jus think in your head that they did not intend to cut you off so rudely, but maybe their grandma is in the hospital or they are late to the greatest game of their child’s life.

Having a perspective of Positive intent has allowed me to give children the space to explain what was happening, and I was able to learn a lot about what they were thinking or going through.

So next time you are frustrated with your child’s behavior, think using positive intent, and see what this more relaxed state of perception will allow you and your child to come up with.


Friday, October 19, 2012

Being Present and Following the Child

I love the focus in this picture!

With Children it is so important to be present. If I could have one wish it would be for adults (parents and teachers) to value and be fully present with their children much of the time they are together. Of course in the day to day pace many times we need to be only halfway there or doing something else. Dishes, dinner, and shopping don’t get themselves done. However what if you spent a day present with the children in your life, following their lead.

This does not mean, necessarily that they get to make all the big decisions, that would be too scary for them, rather it means that you follow their lead. You pay attention to their needs, and some wants, but the needs are greater. If they need space to run, give it; if they need time to get started or stop, allow it; if they need to do something by themselves, let it. Be focused on them; listen fully to them. Put away all other distractions. This will build your relationship greatly, to new heights. It can repair a lot of past traumas and feelings of fear. When you do this one thing it will allow children to build true confidence, true independence and to feel so loved.

There are two things about this practice that are important to do and remember.

First, there is a way to disengage and follow the more traditional form of give and take. Children need to learn that while you are focused on them often, you also have other things to do, other parts of your life. Just think of any relationship, there is healthy give and take, sometimes you do what the other wants and sometimes what you want, and often what is needed to be done.  Disengagement is an art form that starts at the beginning of the time. Be clear about how long you have and then stick to that. Give a warning about 10 to 5 minutes before clean up and when that time is up let them know it is time to begin clean up. I have found that giving concrete events to show the time is helpful for the very young. For example “After this game we will clean up so that I can do … and you can do…” Try to make the next part that they do on their own something fun for them to look forward to, preferably something better than watching TV (but that is just a personal view), that also needs no or very little adult supervision.

Second, Just as it is great to follow the child it is also good for them to understand that they are not in control. Giving young children too much responsibility and control can cause feelings of fear and frustration. Try to keep their responsibility developmentally appropriate by giving them one or two choices that you are comfortable with.

 While most of this information is for parents, teachers can be fully present and follow the children in their class. First focus on the children, not the other adults in the class (they already went to school), turn off you phone, during the time that you are with the children be with them fully. Your students will notice, they will seek you out and show you their authentic interests and knowledge. You will notice more of what they are interested in. With this information you can begin to form curriculum that is truly child led.

You don’t need an entire day to follow your child, spend a little time each day, focus completely on this little human that you love so much. It will be good for you and good for them.


YES on 37!!

I just finished watching Genetic Roulette by Jeffrey Smith and am really fired up. You can watch it free till the end of October HERE. IT WILL MAKE YOU MAD AS HELL!! and if it doesn't then your not paying attention!

I want the GMO SHIT labeled, it is killing us. Anyone who knew me as a child knows that I was fast and fit, I ran everywhere, and I was the fasted person in 6th grade and the fasted Girl in 7th and 8th! I hiked and rodes horses all over all day and was always very active. Basketball, track and horseback riding were my outlet.

Now I am clinically obese and have many health problems that I now see are directly related to GMOs. I literally became this way the year that GMOs came out big. I grew up eating cream of wheat, and now if I eat wheat I get sick, itchy and bloated, have heart burn and feel horrible. When I stopped eating wheat due to allergies I started eating a lot more corn, corn is one of the number one GMO crops and I got sicker.

I know this because I have stopped eating GM food and all the symptoms have stopped, I have lost weight, my skin is clearing up, my hair is filling out, my depression is lifting, I haven't had heart burn or stomach upset in months, my periods are regular. 100% of the symptoms I suffered because of PCOS (polycystic Ovarian Syndrom) are gone, and guess what? 100% of the symptoms of PCOS are the same as seen in the studies of rats and mice.

IF you think GMO's are safe, well fine be blissfully ignorant, Europe and Australia don't even sell GMO's and they are labeled, but not in the US. As a United States citizen we have a right to know, so go and vote YES on 37!!


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

My Vision for the Future of Education

Two Best Friends who waited all day to see the bear cubs!

I want to help create a brilliant future for the education of our children.  One where children are accepted for their unique individual selves, allowed the time and space to play, and seen as creative learners. Where the teacher can trust the child, and parents can trust the teachers. Where the curriculum is created by the interests of the children and teachers together, unique each year. Where there is an abundance of creative and interesting toys and games in every classroom, regardless of age. Where every activity is an opportunity to learn a real life skill, where play is accepted as learning, and children and adults have fun and joy.

Where the outdoors is an extension of the classroom, not just time away from learning. Where the classroom is filled with natural items and neutral colors dominate, but not exclusively. Where we reuse, reduce, and recycle as a regular unquestioned practice. Where times of leisure are seen as an important aspect of a well-rounded education and life. Where sports, music, art (both visual and performing), and times of introspect are not only integral to the curriculum but are the core subjects and how we teach writing, reading and math skills. Where daydreaming is encouraged!

Where we accept and celebrate differences, in learning, in color or race, in language, in culture, in ability and in values. Where every family is seen from a place of love and acceptance, and encouraged to fully participate in the education of their child. Where children are encouraged to always perform at their best, whatever that best might be today. Where we can understand that these skills of writing, reading and arithmetic will be learned, and allow time for true understanding of these important skills. Where social skills, compassion, collaboration, and acceptance are the number one objective of every teacher.  Where funding for education is ever abundant because as a society we understand the importance of a good education for all citizens. This is my vision for the future of education.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Take Children Outside week

I just found out that last week was take children outside week. Just the very fact that we need to have a week to go outside planned for us makes me cringe a little. As parents and teachers we need to slow down and enjoy our lives. Everything is better outside, and if you have allergies and are afraid of the dirt, well then there are medicines and cleaner outside places. I grew up outside in the country, clean dirt, fresh air and lots of space to play, run, roll and later ride. My Children grew up out there too.

My son Hiking in the rain.
Playing outside is more of an adventure. There are trees and mountains to climb, trails to follow, large bodies of water to wonder at, sand to sift or build with, wide open places to run and yell in, and all sorts of living things to discover. I still love running and walking outside, rather than the chore of the treadmill. When I am running and I reach a hill I have to work so hard to get up it, but I make it! I feel so proud and wonderful after that hill challenge! Just the other day I saw a new natural phenomenon when two hawks were squawking more than I have ever heard, it appeared that they were chasing some buzzards out of their territory. I had never seen this behavior before; I wish I could have shared this with my students. Most large cities have wild like parks to explore. Exploring as a child builds many of the skills we need for an unknown future. Skills like creative problem solving, reversal, collaboration, and of course physical ability.

A hike on Mount Diablo, in Ca
Any time outside is a learning experience or adventure, when seen through the eyes of a child. Children find magic in the mundane; even a walk around the block can create vivid ideas. I remember living in Huntsville Alabama, it was winter and we were cooped up in a RV with 4 adults and 3 young children (a story for another blog). It was snowing hard and school was canceled.  I took the children on a walk to a nearby store, but it was an adventure. We pretended we were running away to a huge fancy hotel. Dunstan Checks In was their favorite movie at the time so we always wanted to run away to a fancy hotel in New York that had room service. That was most likely the best trip to the store I have ever taken. We hid and ducked around snow-covered obstacles, made a run for it when there was no cover, and even stopped to make snow angels. By the time we got back we were ready for MY favorite part of snow season, Hot cocoa!

Ready for some Hot Cocoa!

I hope you remember to take your children out, no matter the weather, no matter the seemingly routine walk, the outdoors are an adventure worth sharing with your children. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Are You Listening?

Hey! Are you listening to me??

I have been seeing a wonderful local life coach for several weeks now. I make an effort to pay for this service because I believe that it is something very valuable that I am willing to invest for myself. It is both practical and symbolic, I learn so much from her, she helps me stay on track with my goals, but also I am investing in myself to be Authentic and truly me. I am spending valuable time with a woman who is authentically herself who can role model this life skill and others for me. She is very honest, in a compassionate and loving way.

In this loving and compassionate way she was able to tell me that I need to work on listening skills. I knew immediately that I was caught, in the corner, nowhere to go but UP. 

I have been a lifelong interrupter, I have so many ideas racing through my mind, and if I don’t speak, write or draw it right away I might loose it. Even this blog post came to me on an instant moment of thought, I was sitting with my mother and Aunt having a wonderful conversation at their home, when I stepped away for a moment and whoosh in flew this blog. I knew I had to race to my computer before it flew away. So I ran back to my mother and Aunt and kissed them goodbye, telling them I had this blog idea and raced home to my computer. Nearly distracted by dishes, leftovers and unfinished art projects, I almost lost it. An echo flashed in my mind and I found my computer before it was too late.

My name is Kristine Binderup and I interrupt, often. Sometimes it is because I have a wonderful idea that might help, or a great story that goes along with what was just said. Other times I thing so highly of my ideas that I forget to listen, this is sad. I think of all the people I have interrupted and prevented them telling me their great ideas, their great stories.

I honestly do not do this out of conscious disrespect nor because I don’t value that person. In fact many times I want to help them. I think that my understanding of what they are saying is helpful to them. It is also partly because in my family it isn’t rude to interrupt, in fact it might be the only way to be heard at all. At Family gatherings people are talking all at once, debating, yelling, laughing and joking. The main conversation easily breaks into smaller ones as people jostle to be heard. It doesn’t help that we all seem to be predisposed to hearing loss. ;)

So there I sat, cornered, and called out about my bad listening skills. Right when I thought to become a Child Development coach, an inspirer of great teaching, and helper of childcare providers and homeschoolers. I would most certainly need to listen in order to share my wide range of experience with my clients. Well luckily I had a great role model and teacher.

First my life coach talked about the three types of Listening.
Type 1) Conversational listening, where you might take turns sharing stories, talk at a rapid pace, share time, build a rhythm, question, counter and even interrupt. This is the kind I am MOST practiced with.
Type2) Active listening, where you are spending your time and energy on the other person. Really there with them and their story, staying out of it, allowing them to have the space and time to share their story, feelings, and thoughts. You might question them with open-ended guiding questions, but it is all about them. It is an easy flowing listening; you are just present with what they are saying.
Type 3) Intuitive listening, this is a level up listening, you are following everything form type 2, but you are also seeing their body language, you are super aware of what is happening around. Maybe even sensing their feelings, very connected to this person in how you listen, compassionate feelings for what they are talking about. You are also very conscious of what is going on around and how to bring it into the conversation if needed.  I think I also am pretty good at this when I am able to do type 2.

After the explanation we did an exercise where she used all the different types of listening on me so that I could become aware of how it all felt. I could tell when she was doing type 1 because it was very awkward for her. She is a very good listener. I also felt the flow of what I was trying to say was badly interrupted. I had to take a moment to get back on track and think about what I had been saying. At this point a lot of guilt came up about all the times I haven’t listened. Especially my daughter, she is always saying that I never listen to her…

Happy I can listen now!
So my homework this week has been to listen to people, from my family and friends to people I encounter on the street or in public. It has been interesting because of course I am coming from a place of loving myself, and being my authentic self, but I am just noticing when I am using the different types of listening. I have had a lot of chances to practice as I am spending a lot of time with my daughter who is on maternity leave (her due date is October 24th!!!). I have been listening to her, and I just notice and laugh a bit when I am using type 1 and move into type 2 or even type 3 if I can. I think she is appreciating the time too, our love and friendship is repairing and growing after a couple of hard teenaged years.

So here is to listening, an important skill for any parent or teachers; an important skill for any human.


Friday, October 12, 2012

Power Ball recipe

I love this snack recipe, and so do the kids. I learned it while substituting for a wonderful Montessori school. For a while when I was there I felt a difference, I knew the kids were different somehow but couldn't put my finger on it. Actually it was more like I couldn't find words for it. Having substituted at several public schools, including doing 5 weeks of my student teaching at a public school, I had an idea of what children were like in comparison. One day while I was observing the children at play I realized that these children were genuinely happy.  They were truly allowed to be their unique and authentic selves. These kids are so happy and free to be themselves. I wish all children could grow up in this powerfully loving and authentic community of learners. If anyone is struggling to see that group education could ever provide a loving and accepting community they need to observe at a small montessori school here in Northern California. Community and acceptance are for real.

This healthy snack might also be part of the reason for happiness. 

This is a non-cook recipe for snack. Children love to make snack for themselves, they love cooking and eating. This is another recipe that you can’t really go wrong with, all you have to do is mix the ingredients and roll it up and eat it. Even the ingredients can be changed.

Basic recipe:
Power ball

Mix peanut butter, honey or maple syrup, nuts and seeds (small sizes), raisins or cut dried fruit, unsweetened chocolate bits, and coconut and roll teaspoons amounts into small balls, roll in coconut, cocoa powder or sesame seeds. The ratio is about 2:1 wet ingredients. So 4 TBLS peanut butter, 2 TBLS honey; then 1:2 for the wet ingredients to the dry, so add to the peanut butter and honey mixture 3 cups of dry ingredients. The mixture should be a little sticky so it rolls together but not so sticky that it is messy or drippy. I usually roll it in coconut shavings, but you could also roll it in coco powder, sesame seeds, or what ever you come up with. This is a great recipe to play around with.

For younger students I measure and mix as one big batch, but for older students (2nd grade and up) I offer the ingredients and allow them to mix it up themselves, including new ingredients and making it up as they go.