Friday 1 May 2020

Parenting Arlo

Parenting is such a diverse topic! It’s a wonder it hasn’t been added to sex, politics and religion as dinner party taboo! Remember, there is no, one right way to raise a child. Do your best, trust yourself and enjoy the company of the small person/s in your life. 

However, since I share a lot about our life online, you can see that we are very passionate about the way we parent Arlo. I am often asked questions like “Are you an early childhood teacher?” and “How do you know so much about this?” 

Well there is a reason why I am so passionate…My sister!

She’s the kind of person you want to have in your life and one of the main reasons I am who I am today. I wouldn't be the mother I am today without her. When I was younger before I embarked on my O.E. I did some relieving in early childhood centres. I worked in my sisters’ centre which operated with their own attachment based programme which they designed and developed.  I also did some relief work at a typical childcare centre. My mind was blown away at how different the children acted at these two centres. It was incredible! I couldn't believe how much of a difference there was in the children and their environment.

In short the centre that used the attachment based programme were the children who were calm and confident. The teachers and children's deep relationships and the way they communicated with each other was not only respectful but also the children's ability and willingness was unbelievable to watch. The other centre, well, let’s just say it was more like a scene out of the movie The Cat In A Hat….chaotic!

My husband came in one day to pick me up and was also astounded by the relationship of the teacher and the child. He watched as a teacher asked a child to come and change his nappy. That child walked over to her, held her hand and followed her to the bathroom to get it changed without batting an eyelid. He asked, “Is that normal? I’ve never seen a child be so cooperative before like that.”

We were profoundly dumb struck! 

From that moment on I became more interested about attachment and respectful parenting and constantly asked my sister many, many questions. I watched her become a mother and admired how she parented her two boys. It made me realise the kind of mother I wanted to be. I am so lucky to have such an amazing role model. Her boys are extraordinary and Arlo is very lucky to have such well-mannered, respectful (and fun) cousins to look up to! 

She introduced me to Magda Gerber’s RIE approach along with Janet Lansbury’s books and blog. I had such a strong gut reaction when I first read about it, and the more I read, the more I couldn’t shake it. It made sense. To me, respectful parenting is simply magic.

I wanted to share the below books, audiobooks, apps, websites and podcasts that have really helped us in our journey into parenting Arlo. Parenting is definitely the hardest, most rewarding job that we have ever done. We hope whatever wisdom we have gained along the way will help you too. 

Magda Gerber Caring for infants with Respect: If I were to recommend just one book to expectant parents, it would be this one. I learnt a lot from reading this book and loved learning about RIE philosophy and how important it is. It's not a very big book and has short chapters so it’s very easy to read and easy to refer back to when needed. 

The Montessori Toddler: I myself am a Montessori kid. I wanted to refresh my memory and apply the Montessori theory in my own home to help me lead Arlo and support him. You can see a full blog post I did about this here

The Whole-brain Child: This book is about how to teach children emotional intelligence and why it's so important. How to get them to recognise their own emotions. I really enjoyed this book. It's even helped me learn how to handle arguments and emotions in a better way. 

Janet Lansbury: I often turn to Janet Lansbury’s website. It has a range of articles, audio books, podcasts and videos. It's based again on the RIE model of parenting created by Magda Gerber. It has good real life examples and her thoughtful advice always rings true. Every parent, grandparent and caregiver should read her book Elevating Child Care: A Guide to Respectful Parenting.

Nathan Wallis: Is a neuroscience educator who has a special gift for translating complex neuroscience into easy-to-understand info for parents. I was lucky enough to go to one of his live talks shortly after Arlo was born and I learnt a lot. Especially how important those first 1000 days really are! He has a range of videos, podcasts and also an app! He also recently added webinars so you can attend one of his talks from the comfort of your home!

Parent Infant and Toddler classes: We also attend these classes that are based on the approach of Dr Emmi Pikler in building peaceful partnerships. You will find these classes offered in many places all over the world. You can find more information on NZ classes here.

The above recommendations have helped us immensely. Kids don’t come as a one-size-fits-all, and neither do parents. There’s no such thing as a perfect parent. We’re all just doing our best. Our parenting beliefs continuously evolve from our experiences as parents along with continually reading new research. We find ourselves taking a blend of these parenting styles and adjusting them to what suits Arlo and our family. I have shared them all on my social media before and made some amazing mummy friends online and I am so thankful for the little community we share. We all want to be the best parents we can be for our children and share our knowledge. 

Now, go raise some successful, happy kids!

This post is dedicated to my Sister, thank you for always supporting us, for always answering my many, many questions and being such a great Aunty to Arlo.

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