How can our family’s health story help your family?

A little update on the ‘saving my family’s health’ tale with some ways to spot whether you or your children are also as sensitive. The end is getting happier for us ūüėÄ

Today I am thankful to have my son’s brain working so much better than it ever has. ¬†Many of you have seen how I have been on a journey with Master4, initially to eradicate his ECZEMA without the nasty creams, then to reduce his ‘brain inflammation’ (aka ADHD), then to improve his nutritional health and get rid of the DARK CIRCLES under his eyes and consequently, we got rid of his SLEEP APNOEA, improved his SLEEP out of sight, stopped the BEDWETTING and improved his IMMUNITY. ¬†It sounds quite extreme but we have had to remove gluten, dairy, soy, yeast, corn, sugar, some grains (such as white and brown rice), some fruits/veges (such as kiwi fruit and capsicum) and of course all food additives. ¬†We have also removed chemicals by way of many non-organic foods, soaps, sunscreen and regular toothpaste.

Yes Master4 is very sensitive! ¬†Master2 and I are also as sensitive. ¬†But instead this has made our family take on more of a NUTRITARIAN diet. ¬†Making everything we put in our mouths be filled with nutrients instead of foods that do nothing for our health (many of those above) and it is still very much a work in progress! ¬†And through thinking outside the box, I do manage to fill their lunchboxes each day ūüôā although I have spilt tears at making lunches some days!

After studying him closely, I’ve realised just one mouthful of gluten will inflame Master4’s brain for four weeks. ¬†Four weeks of STRESS for the whole family.

Master4 flies off the handle at what feels like every minute of his day. ¬†His brain can’t process language as well so you can’t talk him through his experiences. ¬†He has little empathy for others which makes interactions with his brother harder. ¬†He has no ability to direct himself to play nor much motivation. ¬†He is more aggressive and shows less eye contact. He has about a 2second window to give an instruction or explain something. ¬†I am forever saying ‘look at me, look at me, listen, LISTEN!’ His world is one big ‘gluten hangover’ (and what appears as Asperger’s Syndrome) and so we hold our breath and wait it out….

Last week, Master4 came out of yet another gluten hangover (from sampling a child’s Tiny Teddy at kindy). Can you hear our HALLELUJAH’s??! ¬†He is now much more easy going, is smiling, plays imaginatively for hours, shares and thinks (a little bit!) about his brother, comes up with brilliant ideas, draws amazingly and can actually listen and be reasoned with.

This is the reason I have realised my life’s goal is to ‘save’ more families from scenarios like this and to improve children’s potential through health and well being. ¬†All with diet and environment, not medications or putting up with it. ¬†Right now, spare minutes are filled with me studying and organizing business logistics.

I hope everyone will benefit from some of the information I will soon have to share, after all who doesn’t count their family’s health as their #1 priority? ¬†It is not easy but once you have seen the difference, you will never go back.

I am looking to start my health coaching business next year, but in the meantime, if you’d like any advice, please let me know. ¬†Or if you know anyone that may need some direction, point them in my direction ūüôā Heidi

The share plate

[Improving social skills]

In order to help my boys learn how to share, particularly when it comes to table manners, I sometimes provide a share plate.  The aim is to only take one piece at a time and to still take the time to enjoy and be thankful for our food.

To help them along, I don’t provide highly desired items on the plate as this only encourages grabbing!

Here is our apple with tahini…

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Mindful children – the answer to the future

Imagine having a child that is learning to be more mindful of others, at one with their natural environment and able to calm and regulate their emotions?¬† This is just some of the benefits of teaching your child about mindfulness.¬† If you’re not sure what mindfulness is about, you can get a quick induction by reading my previous post ‘Are you a mindful parent?’.¬† Now we can apply this to children.

Children are more in touch with their senses than us adults are.  They use these to learn from their world whilst us grown ups are busy thinking, thinking, thinking, but not necessarily feeling.  Without realising, our children might be a step further along their mindfulness practice than we are.  They just need us to guide them.  And this is why it is important to have a think about how mindful you are and start to become a role model of this.

The following list of activities is just a small start to get you thinking about the types of situations that are ideal for encouraging mindfulness with your children.

  • Eat outside.¬† This can be any meal or snack of the day.¬† Breakfast outside? Why not.¬† After school snack outside? Why not.¬† Eating itself is a great mindfulness activity.¬† Talk about the foods you are eating, the colours, the textures, the smell and even the sounds while you are crunching capsicum or snapping beans.¬† By eating outside, you can help your children to take in the sights, sounds and smells around them.

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  • Have a sing-a-long or blow some bubbles.¬† Singing and bubble blowing (letting the kids blow, that is!) involves using diaphragmatic breathing.¬† This encourages relaxation straight away, not to mention focussing on an engaging task.
  • Practice kids yoga.¬† The ultimate in breathing, body awareness, relaxation and enjoying the outdoors!¬† ‘Let the children show you how yoga is done’ gives you a run-down of how to get started.

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  • Get the kids washing each other’s hair!¬† Receiving a massage from a sibling is a great mindful activity.¬† Using a shampoo with essential oils also makes this an enticing¬†olfactory exercise too.
  • Read books that focus on the child or their body.¬† ‘From Head to Toe’ by Eric Carle encourages your child to do animal actions.¬† ‘I Grow in Grandad’s Garden’ by Brian Andrew is a wonderful aide to help your child talk about their worries, feelings, dreams and gratitude.
  • Take the time to appreciate life and each other.¬† This could be as simple as encouraging the kids to¬†thank the earth and farmers for the veggies they are eating, imagining how empty life would be without each other and appreciating the small actions of love they have received that day (for example, another child sharing with them, a sibling singing them a song or a hug from Daddy).
  • Study¬†nature¬†together.¬† Whether it’s talking about the weather,¬†noticing the shapes of leaves or checking out the stars, this¬†helps your child to look past their worries and to use their senses.
I wonder what the clouds are telling us today..

I wonder what the clouds are telling us today..

As you can see, these ideas are mostly activities that involve being outdoors (and taking conscious note of it), using the senses (and taking conscious note of it) or requiring children to move their bodies (and taking conscious note of it!).  This all helps your child to achieve more mindfulness.  And hopefully inspires you too!

What ideas can you come up with?

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Sign of the week begins!

Well it’s on for a limited time.¬† Any parent who is keen to teach their little one some signs (from 6 months +), first get your head around the ins and outs at Do I get on this baby sign bandwagon or not?…..

And if you’re still keen to give your little one a great brain workout (and yourself!!!), here is your first challenge.

Find as many opportunities to sign ‘MORE‘ to your little one as you can.¬† By clicking on the link, you will see how to do the ‘more’ sign.¬† This is in Auslan, so if you are not in Australia, you will need to take a look for a similar sign search website for your country’s sign language.
At first, you will just be modelling it (like you’ve been modelling how to talk all this time) and always saying the word.¬† The aim of spending a whole week just on one sign is to get into the habit of doing it anywhere and everywhere, NOT to get your little one signing it in one week……This will come!
A few examples of where you might sign ‘more’..
  • more bath toys
  • more cereal
  • more (insert favourite song)
  • more blocks up on the tower…..

If your baby lets you, you can take their hand and show them how to do it.¬† One thing to remember… don’t hold things back from your child because they aren’t attempting the sign.¬† You would only do this once you have SEEN your little one doing it at least once.
If you have any other questions, please ask away!

ūüôā Heidi

Turn-taking rules

How do you explain to your child the ‘rules’ around turn-taking?

Here is my turn-taking cartoon strip to get the steps straight in your head but also a great visual tool to explain it to your child from about 3 years of age onwards.¬† Rather than drawing it ahead of time, I draw box by box and talk while I draw to explain what is happening and who is saying what.¬† I find it helps to keep children’s attention, rather than them seeing a page of cartoons all at once.¬† ‘When in doubt, say it with a pen’ includes more information on the benefits and ‘how-to’ of helping to explain situations to your child through drawing.¬†¬† For the littler ones, it is important to keep your language VERY simple.¬† ‘Sarah’s turn then Jake’s turn’ or ‘wait’.

So let’s go through each of the pictures…

1. Use your words! ¬†One of the keys to sharing and turn-taking is learning to use your words instead of your hands, which ends up in ‘snatching’ and squabbles.¬† You will at first need to model the words ‘can I have a turn?’ or for the younger ones ‘mine?’ or ‘my turn?’.¬† It would be too simple if child 1 (with the toy) would simply hand it over to child 2, but normally this doesn’t happen.¬† Instead, you get ‘NO!’.¬† You may not need to step in, but ‘no!’ is usually an alert for a parent/carer to be there if needed.

do you need to step in?

do you need to step in?

2. The warnings.¬† Once child 2 has used their words, I explain to them that they can step back and wait or otherwise ask for help from an adult.¬† This is usually to place ‘warning #1’.¬† Otherwise, child 2 will generally find ‘words haven’t worked for me, so I’ll take it with my hands’… Warning #1 usually goes ‘2 more minutes, Master 2, then Master 4’s turn’, keeping the language as simple as possible.¬† After a minute, ‘warning #2’ gets issued – ‘nearly Master 4’s turn!!’.

warnings and waiting

warnings and waiting

3. Waiting.¬† In the meantime, child 2 can choose to wait there in case they get lucky and child 1 decides to hand the toy over OR they can find another toy to play with while they wait.¬† Occasionally this starts an opportunity to ‘swap’ if child 1 decides they then like the look of that toy!

intervening or independence?

intervening or independence?

4. Intervening.¬† By this stage, you’ve given your final warning to child 1 and it’s now time to intervene.¬† Again, warn with words before you take out of their hands (or they could point the finger at you for snatching!!).¬† Keep the language simple with something like ‘Master 4’s turn now’.¬† Of course there might be tears and this is¬†where you will need to set the rules for child 1 now, ‘Master 4’s turn, then Master 2’s turn….wait…’ (and stick with 2 minutes).¬† If the child is struggling to wait, you might try distraction instead and present a different toy or encourage them to leave the area to do something else with you.

And this is all assuming child 1 hasn’t already handed over the toy in which case I encourage ‘thanks’ (with an ‘eye connection’, that is, establishing eye contact) and enforce this for children 3 years and above. Kids have a lot to learn before manners explains when children are ready to learn about manners.

Ready to start?!  Look at the pictures again and see if it makes sense.  It might take practice to remember simple wording or to not step straight in, but a learning parent is an interested one!

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Leaving the boys to silence

Sometimes I take the boys outside to eat on their mat, then leave them alone. It is interesting to see what they do without my needing to fill their silence with talk all the time!
They don’t necessarily interact but instead take the time to notice their surroundings and also get used to each other’s company, more like the way boys know how, without the need for constant chatter.

ūüôā HeidiIMG_7859[1]

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You’ll need to learn that yourself…

Martyrdom – when a mum (or dad) steps in on their child’s life too much, which prevents the child from living their own life and making their own mistakes. It can be the little things like stepping in to help too much or even to the point of providing too much for your child, preventing them from learning the value in hard work. It can start from when the child is very young.

The disadvantages of stepping in too much:
– your child can learn ‘learned helplessness’ when they figure Mum or Dad will do it for me (and this can carry into adolescence and adulthood)
– they may perceive they can’t do something well because the parent is helping them so much
– they may miss out on important lessons in life and the chance to problem solve themselves
– the PARENT can be stressed and low in energy from living too much of their child’s life
– the parent starts to lose ‘who they are’ as they are so engrossed in their child’s life
– martyrdom is linked with the pancreas and bitterness (as I found out at the recent emotional anatomy of yoga workshop I went to) which lets us know that this can affect our health if we take on martyrdom too much in our life

This is a big one and crops up in so many aspects of parenting that we have probably all stepped into this at one time or another. And remember, there is a clear difference between an ‘involved parent’ and one that is living in their child’s shoes a bit too much.

The ‘answer’ is to instead take on a teaching/encouraging role.

If you’d like a bit more information, you could check out ‘Are You a Mother or a Martyr? How Much is Too Much When ‚ÄúDoing‚ÄĚ for Your Child?’¬†at Empowering Parents. But more importantly, why not take the time to reflect where you could step back from your child’s life…. and also how you can step into your own life more (think putting that energy into your own interests!).

ENOUGH!!

Have you got a child who just LOVES to talk? ¬†On the positive side, good verbal skills is always a great quality to have. ¬†The child that isn’t afraid to say what’s on their mind or gain some attention through their stories will certainly benefit. ¬†However, constant talking can drive a parent to drink!

How do you deal with your little chatterbox? ¬†Firstly, remember it is in your child’s personality to talk. ¬†They are not doing it to be annoying! ¬†Having understanding can give you a tiny bit more patience. Does your child know the ‘unwritten rules‘ about conversations? ¬†When is it appropriate to talk? ¬†When is it inappropriate to talk? ¬†How does your child know when they’re getting a bit boring? ¬†And how do they ‘wrap up’ what they are talking about?

Here are some conversations to have with your child.  It might be worth whipping out a pen and paper and drawing it, cartoon-strip style.  My post When in doubt, say it with a pen goes into more detail about the benefits of drawing to explain to your child.

see, mum isn't looking at you here... what will you need to do?

see, mum isn’t looking at you here… (before you’ve drawn the rest of the drawing) what will you need to do?

  1. Make sure you have the person’s attention!¬† This is an essential social skill that is almost vital for the child that loves to talk. ¬†If you’re going to talk, make sure someone is actually paying attention ūüôā¬†You might encourage your child to say the person’s name first and then WAIT. ¬†Wait for that person to look their way or acknowledge them with a ‘yes?’ or another word. ¬†If the person isn’t looking at them, they might need to call their name again. ¬†Or even tap them (show your child what to do). ¬†But if that person looks busy with someone else or doing something else, your child will need to WAIT. ¬†You will need to run through some examples, such as ‘Daddy is busy brushing little Josh’s teeth, when he has finished, try calling his name again’. ¬†And then there is the time when your child is still talking as you buckle them into the car and close the door and the story is STILL going as you get into the car – remind your child to take note if you are looking at them and able to hear them. ¬†If not, they need to stop talking and wait. ¬†This point could definitely use a drawing to accompany and would only be understood by children 3 years or older. ¬†And will need plenty of practice!
  2. Take turns at talking, remember to LISTEN. ¬†Without being a Nazi about it, you might really have to spend some time pointing out when you have started talking first if your little one interrupts. ¬†Young children need some time to get used to waiting and not interrupting, but it is a good social skill to persist with pointing out. ¬†You might remind your little one, to be a good friend, you have to remember to listen too ūüôā
  3. No talking when I’m on the phone! Except..¬† Explain to your child that when the phone is ringing, you have to answer it then and there. ¬†And you can’t talk to two people at once. ¬†Your child will have to wait until Mum puts the phone down. ¬†UNLESS (start thinking of all the times when you’d want your child to interrupt your phone call). For younger children, you might start with just a few examples – if you get hurt, you come and tell me if I’m on the phone… This leads into ‘what is an emergency’ talk down the track.
  4. Mummy needs a break from listening sometimes. ¬†Some children honestly believe they have the right to your attention whenever they need and it can dampen their spirit when they are not feeling listened to enough. ¬†But they do need to learn when enough is enough, particularly by the time they start school! ¬†You might start by giving a warning ‘just tell me what happened next/just one more question, then Mummy needs a break for a bit’. ¬†Then be specific about what your child needs to do to ‘stop talking’ (short of saying ‘close your lips!’). ¬†For example, ‘Cooper can have a break from talking and play in his room with his cars for 10 minutes, while Mummy goes to the toilet’ (and don’t start further conversations if they follow you there!). ¬†You might need to physically separate your child and yourself for even just a few minutes for your child to understand ‘being quiet’ and you ‘taking a break’. ¬†This can then build into longer periods of quiet play where they are encouraged to talk to their toy friends and make up stories with them. Bring on pretend play!
  5. Sometimes a sibling might need attention or you are just a bit busy for a good talk. ¬†¬†If¬†your little one is getting enough one-on-one time with you and still vying for your attention at other times, this is when you can teach them that besides you needing a break, a sibling might need some attention or you might just be a bit busy for a good talk. ¬†Always give them a tangible time to come back and try again. ¬†‘Let me just watch this bit of the news and when I turn off the TV, I will be all yours’, ‘I’ll just finish on the toilet and when I come out, you can tell me your story’, ‘Josh is pointing at something, but when I have worked out what it is, I will let you know..’. ¬†If you find you are fobbing your little one off a lot, this is when you will have to make up for it by offering them some full attention in between.
  6. Help your child to get to the point! ¬†If your child is spending five minutes trying to work out how to ask the question in their head, you might need to simply ask ‘so what is your question?’. ¬†Or if they are telling you a five minute monologue, try guiding them with questions, to help them ‘make their point’. ¬†You might need to keep summarising what they are saying, just to keep on top of the whole story!
  7. Remember, talking is a way for your child to process. ¬†If your child is asking the 100th question, go through the story or the reason over and over, even if you have to say ‘let’s talk about this again after lunch (or tomorrow morning)’. ¬†The questions are important to them and repeating them is necessary for some children to really understand what might have happened to them, what might happen to them or information they want to know about. ¬†It can be exhausting, but bring in your understanding and you will have more patience!

So go out and practice your strategies with your child, certainly not all at once! ¬†Whilst they may still talk more than the average child, remember that there is still some ‘taming’ that you can do especially for them to succeed in the classroom. ¬†Aim for your child to be very familiar with the above points by school age.

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Milestones – pointing

A not-so-recognised milestone is POINTING. ¬†It is ‘average’ for a child to understand pointing and also point to close by objects themselves between 12-14 months.
This means your child is understanding how to communicate for social purposes!!!
When you think about it, you only point for someone else’s benefit and because you’d like to share something with someone else¬†(and something that is often missing in children with autism).