In today’s fast-paced world, the concept of slow living has gained immense popularity among adults seeking respite from the chaos of daily life. But what about our children? Can they also benefit from the principles of slow living? Absolutely! Teaching kids to embrace a slower, more mindful way of life can help them develop important life skills and foster a deeper connection with the world around them. In this blog post, we’ll explore some valuable slow living tips for kids, inspired by the sweet children’s book, “Bear Becomes Aware.”
Introduce Mindful Moments: Slow living begins with mindfulness. Encourage your child to take a few moments each day to simply be present. Inspire your kids to observe the beauty of nature, whether it’s through watching clouds, listening to birdsongs, or observing the changing colors of leaves.
Embrace the Joy of Simple Pleasures: Slow living is all about finding joy in simplicity. Share with your children the delight of simple activities like drawing, reading, or baking together. Help your little ones find happiness in the little things, like the warmth of the sun on or the sound of a babbling brook.
Disconnect to Reconnect: In our digitally connected world, it’s crucial to teach kids the importance of unplugging. Encourage device-free time, especially during family meals or outdoor adventures.
Nurture Patience: Slow living teaches us the value of patience. Teach your children to be patient when waiting for things, whether it’s waiting for cookies to bake or a special event. The best way to teach patience is leading by example!
Explore the Outdoors: Nature is the perfect teacher of slow living. Take your children on nature walks, hikes, or camping trips. Let them experience the wonders of the natural world.
Encourage Reflection: Slow living invites us to reflect on our experiences and emotions. After a day of play or exploration, encourage your child to reflect on what they learned or felt. This practice helps them connect with their inner selves. Prompt the dialogue by asking questions like “what was your favorite part of the day and why?”
Read “Bear Becomes Aware”: Finally, consider reading “Bear Becomes Aware” together as a family. This enchanting children’s book tells the story of a bear’s journey to slow down and discover the beauty of life. It can serve as a wonderful conversation starter and a source of inspiration for your slow living journey with your children.
In conclusion, slow living is a valuable concept to introduce to children, and “Bear Becomes Aware” provides a heartwarming example of this philosophy in action. By incorporating these slow living tips into your family’s daily life, you can help your children develop a deeper appreciation for the world around them and foster a sense of contentment that will stay with them throughout their lives. Happy slow living!
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In a world that places increasing demands and pressures on young minds, parents play a crucial role in fostering their children’s mental well-being and cultivating a strong sense of confidence and empowerment. Drawing from the principles of unschooling, outdoor play, risky play, and mindful parenting (or any of the mix that best fits your family’s needs), we can create an environment that nurtures our children’s mental health and equips them with the tools to thrive in today’s challenging landscape.
Unschooling: Fostering Intrinsic Confidence
Unschooling, an educational philosophy that emphasizes self-directed learning, helps children develop a natural sense of curiosity and ownership over their education. This approach encourages children to pursue their interests, ask questions, and explore their passions, leading to a strong sense of intrinsic motivation and self-confidence. By trusting their ability to learn and adapt, unschooling empowers children to believe in themselves and their capacity to navigate the world with confidence.
Unschooling, a pedagogical philosophy rooted in self-directed learning, is a dynamic approach that resonates deeply with my background in child development. Extensive research underscores the pivotal role of unschooling in nurturing children’s intrinsic confidence, ultimately shaping them into individuals who are not only well-prepared for future challenges but also possess a solid sense of self-assuredness.
Research by educational psychologist Edward L. Deci and Richard M. Ryan has shown that intrinsic motivation is a critical component of psychological well-being. Unschooling excels in fostering this motivation by allowing children to steer their learning journey based on their genuine interests and curiosities. This approach taps into their innate desire for autonomy and self-determination, igniting a sense of ownership over their education.
For instance, when my five year old daughter exhibited a fascination for marine life, our unschooling approach enabled her to delve deeply into this subject. Guided by her interests, she explored marine biology books, visited aquariums, and conducted online research. This self-directed pursuit fostered a sense of accomplishment and ownership, leading her to feel empowered to explore further and tackle more complex concepts.
Moreover, a longitudinal study conducted by Peter Gray and Gina Riley found that unschooled children often develop advanced decision-making and self-regulation skills due to the autonomy they experience in their education. This autonomy is a crucial catalyst for intrinsic confidence. When children are given the freedom to shape their learning experiences, they become active participants rather than passive recipients. This dynamic process builds a reservoir of self-assurance, as they recognize their capacity to set goals, manage their time, and adapt to new challenges.
In my own journey as an unschooling mom with a background in child development, I’ve witnessed my daughters’ confidence blossoming as they explore topics that genuinely captivate their attention. This authenticity of exploration infuses them with a belief in their capacity to understand complex concepts, seek out knowledge independently, and articulate their ideas with conviction.
Outdoor Time: Connecting with Nature and Self
The benefits of spending time outdoors are immense. Nature offers a serene backdrop that fosters emotional well-being and enhances mental clarity. Engaging in outdoor activities allows children to disconnect from screens and distractions, providing a space for self-discovery, creativity, and emotional expression. Outdoor play not only promotes physical health but also supports cognitive development and emotional resilience, allowing children to build a strong foundation of mental well-being.
Stepping into the realm of outdoor exploration and nature-based experiences, my background in child development and my commitment to unschooling converge to illuminate the invaluable role that nature plays in nurturing children’s mental well-being. Research has consistently underscored the profound positive impact of outdoor time on children’s psychological, emotional, and cognitive development.
To raise a nature-bonded child is to raise a rebel, a dreamer, an innovator… someone who will walk their own verdant, winding path.
The “restorative theory” proposed by environmental psychologists such as Rachel Kaplan suggests that nature possesses a unique ability to restore mental fatigue and enhance cognitive functioning. Time spent in natural environments allows children to detach from the stimuli of modern life, providing a peaceful backdrop that rejuvenates their minds and promotes emotional well-being. Studies have demonstrated that exposure to nature can reduce stress, anxiety, and attention fatigue, leading to improved overall mental health.
Moreover, the Attention Restoration Theory (ART) postulated by psychologists Stephen and Rachel Kaplan posits that natural environments elicit involuntary attention, allowing the brain’s directed attention mechanisms to recharge. This restoration of attentional resources has been linked to enhanced problem-solving abilities, creativity, and cognitive flexibility. By engaging in outdoor play and exploration, children are not only reaping physical health benefits but also cultivating a mental landscape primed for optimal learning and development.
Richard Louv, an advocate for nature-rich childhoods, coined the term “Nature Deficit Disorder” to highlight the detrimental consequences of children’s disconnection from the natural world. His research suggests that reduced exposure to nature can lead to a range of psychological challenges, including increased stress, diminished cognitive functioning, and even attention disorders. On the flip side, immersing children in outdoor environments offers a counterbalance, fostering improved mood, reduced stress levels, and enhanced overall psychological well-being.
As a mom who prioritizes time outdoors, I’ve witnessed firsthand the transformative effects of outdoor exploration on my own children. From exploring nearby forests to picnicking by lakes, these experiences have nurtured their curiosity, encouraged creative expression, and offered them a sense of calm.
Incorporating outdoor time into our unschooling routine aligns seamlessly with the tenets of child development research. By providing opportunities for children to connect with nature, we’re offering them a sanctuary for mental rejuvenation, emotional expression, and cognitive growth. These experiences serve as a potent reminder that the natural world is not just a backdrop but an essential ingredient for cultivating robust mental well-being in our children.
Play is the foundation of learning, creativity, self-expression, and constructive problem-solving. It’s how children wrestle with life to make it meaningful.
Susan Linn Contemporary American psychiatrist
Risky Play: Navigating Challenges and Building Resilience
While modern parenting often emphasizes safety, exposing children to controlled risks through risky play can be immensely beneficial. Climbing trees, exploring uneven terrain, and engaging in adventurous activities teach children valuable skills such as assessing risks, problem-solving, and building resilience. These experiences instill a sense of agency, teaching children to trust their judgment and cope effectively with setbacks. By gradually allowing children to face manageable challenges, we empower them to overcome obstacles and develop a sense of mastery over their environment.
Embracing the concept of risky play as an integral part of my unschooling approach, fortified by my mastery in child development, unveils a realm where calculated challenges become catalysts for fostering resilience and shaping confident individuals. Research and real-life examples vividly illustrate the profound positive impact of allowing children to engage in controlled risky play.
Researchers like Ellen Beate Hansen Sandseter have highlighted the critical role of risky play in promoting children’s physical, emotional, and cognitive development. Sandseter’s “six categories of risky play” encompass activities such as climbing, jumping from heights, and exploring on one’s own. Engaging in these activities not only fosters physical strength, balance, and coordination, but also stimulates the development of risk assessment skills and decision-making abilities.
A study published in the journal of Pediatrics found that children who engage in risky outdoor play are more likely to exhibit enhanced motor skills, self-confidence, and social skills. The study emphasized that activities involving risk allow children to develop a better sense of their own capabilities and limitations. For instance, when my youngest daughter decided to navigate climbing the tree in our yard, she honed her motor skills, learned to assess potential challenges, and developed self-reliance – attributes that are pivotal for her future success.
Furthermore, psychologist Peter Gray’s research emphasizes that risky play not only equips children with physical skills but also cultivates emotional resilience. By experiencing challenges and setbacks in a controlled environment, children learn to cope with discomfort and uncertainty. These experiences lead to the development￼ of a “can-do” attitude, instilling a belief that they can overcome adversity.
In my journey as an unschooling mom with a foundation in child development, I’ve witnessed how engaging in risky play has bolstered my daughters’ self-esteem and fortitude and done the same for many children I’ve worked with over the years. Whether they’re balancing on logs over a small stream or making stick forts, these activities empower them to take calculated risks and experience the exhilaration of conquering challenges.
By weaving risky play into our unschooling approach, we’re not only aligning with established research but also nurturing traits that are essential for success in various facets of life. Through these experiences, our children learn to navigate uncertainty, make informed decisions, and stand resilient in the face of difficulties. By embracing controlled risks, we’re sculpting individuals who are not just confident but also adept at confronting life’s complexities with poise and determination.
Mindful parenting involves being fully present and attuned to your child’s needs, feelings, and experiences. This practice encourages open communication, active listening, and empathy, which are essential components of emotional intelligence. By validating their emotions and creating a safe space for expression, parents enable their children to develop a healthy relationship with their feelings. This foundation of emotional intelligence equips children with the tools to navigate relationships, manage stress, and develop a positive self-image.
Encompassing the essence of emotional intelligence, mindful parenting intertwines seamlessly with my aligned parenting flow. This nurturing approach unlocks a realm where empathy, open communication, and a deep connection with my children lay the foundation for emotional resilience and a harmonious family dynamic. Grounded in research, mindful parenting serves as a cornerstone in my journey through intentional and aligned motherhood.
Research by psychologists John Gottman and Daniel Goleman underscores the pivotal role of emotional intelligence in personal and interpersonal success. By nurturing emotional intelligence through mindful parenting, we’re equipping our children with essential skills that contribute to effective communication, conflict resolution, and the formation of healthy relationships.
Practicing mindful parenting involves creating a space for open communication and genuine understanding. When my oldest daughter encountered a challenging situation with a friend, I approached the conversation with active listening and empathy. This allowed her to share her feelings without fear of judgment, fostering a sense of safety and mutual respect. Through such interactions, our children learn that their emotions are valid and deserving of acknowledgment, setting the stage for them to develop a robust emotional vocabulary and regulation tools.
Mindful parenting also encourages us to model emotional regulation. Research by Mark Greenberg suggests that children learn to manage their emotions by observing how their caregivers navigate their own feelings. By acknowledging our emotions and demonstrating healthy coping mechanisms, we’re teaching our children the invaluable skill of managing their emotional responses constructively.
In my journey, I’ve found that incorporating mindful practices, such as deep breathing exercises or mindful storytelling, facilitates emotional bonding and regulation. These practices not only enhance communication but also create moments of shared presence and connection. My “Becoming The Wild Mother Journal” and The one-on-one coaching sessions offer parents a compass to navigate the terrain of mindful parenting, allowing them to align their approach with their values, and find ease in the complex journey of raising emotionally intelligent children.
As an unschooling mama who loves mindful parenting, I’ve witnessed how this approach not only enriches our family dynamic but also nurtures the emotional growth of my daughters. By cultivating open communication, empathy, and self-awareness, we’re nurturing individuals who are not only well-prepared for the challenges of life but also equipped to navigate them with emotional resilience and grace.
Incorporating unschooling principles, outdoor play, risky play, and mindful parenting into our children’s lives can have a profound impact on their mental health and overall well-being. These practices encourage self-discovery, resilience, and a deep connection with themselves and the world around them. By nurturing their confidence, empowering their choices, and fostering emotional intelligence, we are laying the groundwork for children who are not only mentally strong but also equipped to thrive in an ever-changing world.
Hey there, fellow mamas! As a single mom of two with a master’s degree in child development, I know firsthand the beautiful chaos and incredible joy that comes with being a parent, as well as the struggles of doing it alone and having to face overwhelm and the many burdens that come with adulting and parenting. Motherhood is a journey filled with love, growth, and adventure, but it’s also natural to face moments of overwhelm and stress. Stepping into emotional regulation is a game-changer that can empower us to find our ease and flow in motherhood. In this blog post, I’ll share research-backed tips that have helped me and other mamas navigate the emotional rollercoaster of parenting, allowing us to create a loving and (mostly) harmonious environment for ourselves and our children.
1. Breathe and Be Present: When the day feels overwhelming, take a moment to pause and breathe. Mindful breathing is a research-backed technique that calms the nervous system and reduces stress hormones. By being present in the moment, we can ground ourselves and gain perspective, making it easier to respond to challenges with patience and understanding.
I love starting my day with a guided breathing practice or meditation to make sure I’m not carrying the stressors of the previous day into the new day. You can find a ton of options on YouTube if you want to try a guided practice.
2. Practice Self-Compassion: As single moms, we are superheroes juggling multiple roles, and it’s normal to have moments of frustration or self-doubt. Instead of being hard on ourselves, let’s practice self-compassion. Acknowledge that it’s okay to feel overwhelmed and remember that we’re doing our best. Embracing self-compassion fosters a positive self-image, which impacts how we nurture our children’s emotional well-being.
Post some of your favorite affirmations around the house (my Becoming The Wild Mother Journal includes some awesome affirmations you can hang around the house). Our society can be critical, constantly reminding us of where we can be better, so we have to act as our own advocate in reminding ourselves we are already enough just as we are.
3. Seek Support and Connection: Building a support network is crucial for single moms. Reach out to friends, family, or join online communities of fellow intentional and conscious parents. (Be careful to not join groups that tell you how you should be but rather support you on your individual journey, my community Becoming The Wild Mother is great for support and connection without judgement!) Research shows that having a strong support system reduces stress and improves emotional well-being. Connecting with others who understand our journey helps us feel understood, lessens the emotional burden, and gives us a safe space to share experiences and seek advice.
4. Embrace Mindful Parenting: Mindful parenting is about being fully present with our children, observing their emotions and needs with non-judgmental awareness. Research has found that mindful parenting strengthens the parent-child bond and fosters emotional intelligence in children. By practicing mindful parenting, we create a loving and secure environment where our children can thrive emotionally.
This also gives you some mental space as you realize you do not need to redirect and micromanage your child but rather can be a present support providing a safe space in which you trust your child will turn out well rounded as you lead by example.
5. Prioritize Self-Care: Remember that self-care is not selfish; it’s essential for our well-being as moms. Research-backed studies show that regular self-care reduces stress and enhances emotional resilience. Carve out time each day for activities that bring you joy, whether it’s reading, exercising, or indulging in a hobby. Taking care of ourselves models healthy behavior for our children and teaches them the importance of self-love.
6. Teach Emotional Regulation: As moms, we can teach our children essential emotional regulation techniques. Research supports the effectiveness of methods like identifying emotions, using positive affirmations, and engaging in expressive arts to enhance emotional resilience. By equipping our children with these tools, we help them navigate their emotions and build resilience.
One of the best ways to teach is by leading through example. Pick up habits of deep breathing and self regulation to show yYour child we can bey upset and still express our emotions in a regulated and safe way.
Regulating a dysregulated nervous system can greatly improve emotional well-being. Here are some techniques that can help:
1. Deep Breathing: Engage in slow, deep breathing exercises. Inhale deeply through your nose, expanding your diaphragm, and exhale slowly through your mouth. This can activate the parasympathetic nervous system, promoting relaxation.
2. Progressive Muscle Relaxation: Tense and release different muscle groups in your body to release physical tension and signal relaxation to your brain.
3. Mindfulness and Meditation: Practice mindfulness to stay present and reduce rumination. Meditation, even for a few minutes a day, can calm an overactive nervous system.
4. Grounding Techniques: Focus on your senses to ground yourself in the present. Notice things around you—sights, sounds, textures—to shift your focus away from distressing thoughts.
5. Sensory Stimulation: Use sensory tools like fidget toys, stress balls, or scented items to provide calming sensations that can regulate your nervous system.
6. Exercise: Engaging in physical activity can help release built-up tension and stimulate the release of endorphins, which promote feelings of well-being.
7. Hydration and Nutrition: Proper hydration and a balanced diet can positively impact your nervous system’s functioning.
8. Limit Stimulants: Reduce or eliminate caffeine, nicotine, and other stimulants, as they can exacerbate nervous system dysregulation.
9. Yoga: Gentle yoga and stretching can promote relaxation and help release physical tension.
10. Aromatherapy: Certain scents, like lavender or chamomile, can have calming effects. Consider keeping these herbson hand to smell or make tea.
11. Visualizations: Use guided imagery or visualizations of peaceful places to evoke calming responses.
As mindful mamas, we have a deep understanding of our children’s emotional needs but not always our own. By incorporating research-backed emotional regulation tips into our lives, we can find our ease and flow in motherhood, supporting our own emotional needs. Mindful breathing, self-compassion, building a support network, and practicing mindful parenting are powerful ways to enhance our emotional well-being and create a nurturing environment for our children. Prioritizing self-care and teaching emotional regulation to our kids paves the way for a harmonious and fulfilling motherhood journey. Let’s embrace emotional balance and continue to thrive as strong, resilient, and loving moms!
Growing your family is beautiful. (Congratulations by the way). For little kids, expecting a new sibling can be a time of excitement, confusion, and concern. One way to help your child process these emotions and gain more understanding around the changes in their life is story telling. Relevant story books can help children process the big changes in their life and even become more excited about the new baby!
When I became pregnant with my second child, my husband and I knew it was important we help our daughter transition into being a big sister. We put a big focus on how exciting a little sibling would be and how important her role is as a big sister. We began reading books about being a big sibling every day as the end of my pregnancy neared and sure enough, our first child was excited and proud to become a big sister! Even more heartwarming, big sister now loves to “read” the sibling books to her baby sister.
Picture books are an important source of new language, concepts, and lessons for young children.
I wrote this book after seeing there was a lack of books explaining pregnancy to kids in a fun way! This books talks about how mommy’s are magic and how sometimes they might not feel well while growing a baby but it’s worth adding another amazing person to the family!
This book adds a fun twist to typical big sibling books since it’s about a dragon getting a new sibling! This book addresses the emotions of jealousy or avoidance a big sibling might feel when expecting a new baby in a fun and gentle way.
There are many little ways to enlarge your world. Love of books is the best of all.
Parenting is hard. Yes, there are ways it can be easier and times it can be easier, and people who say it’s easy (are we really buying that story?), but can we just all agree parenting is hard.
If you are an attachment parent, I am pretty sure you’ve already heard “you’re just making it harder on yourself,” or some other variation of that.
First off, not cool. No one wants to hear criticisms on their parenting ESPECIALLY when you are just trying to do what feels right and what you feel is best for your baby. Yet, I don’t think this will be changing anytime soon.
An argument can be made that attachment parenting makes parenting harder, and basically, everyone (who doesn’t follow as an attachment parenting style) wants to make that argument, but it doesn’t have to. If you go about it with a few things in mind, attachment parenting can actually make parenting easier. Ya, that’s right, EASIER.
If you haven’t heard of it or are just starting to learn your options as a new or expecting mom, attachment parenting is basically an approach to parenting that aims to support your baby’s attachment to you (and possibly other caregivers) as well as meeting baby’s needs promptly (aka responsive caregiving).
This all-natural style instructs parents to be in tune with their child’s needs . . . Attachment parents . . . respond to an infant’s demands immediately and respectfully.
As an attachment parent myself, as well as a parenting coach, I decided to share my tips on making attachment parenting easy!
1. Follow Your Gut
Stick to what feels right. Do not let people push you around or guilt you into thinking you are doing the wrong thing for your little one. As long as you love and are connected to your little ones, your gut will know what’s right for them. Mom instincts are real and you should trust them.
2. Stay Connected But Promote Confidence
It is great and a part of attachment parenting to be responsive and available to your little one. I have found a lot of parents get confused on how to both be attached and responsive but also promote confidence and independence in your child.
The key is to maintain your responsiveness but encourage them to problem solve and engage with the world on their own with you as their safe base. Contrary to common belief, attachment parenting actually promotes independence as children feel safe to explore when they have a secure attachment.
3. Surround Yourself With Like Minded Mamas
Friendships and like-minded individuals are more necessary than ever, especially if you are a stay at home parent. It is important to connect with others who share your view on parenting because attachment parenting is not a mainstream form of parenting, so you may feel criticized or like you are going against the grain often. Having mamas with these similar experiences allows you to share your real experience of motherhood without feeling judged and also connect on a deeper level.
4. Self Care & More Self Care
I have always been bad at self care. I love being productive and doing things for others, so it has never been my strong suit, but becoming a mom has made me realize how important self care is. I now practice self care more than ever because it truly makes me a better mom.
Self care can look any way you want it to, but make sure you are taking time for yourself. As an attachment parent, we put our child’s needs first, but don’t forget your child needs a calm and collected parent as well. Also, practicing self care will be a great life-long example to your child on how to care for themselves.
My self care includes solo coffee shop time or with a close friend, bubble baths, going on a run or hitting the gym. Part of attachment parenting is having a small circle of care for your child.
If you do not have a present partner, try to find a family member or occasional nanny who is supportive of attachment parenting and can step in occasionally so you can get some time for yourself as well. Although we exclusively breastfed, we made solo mom time possible by dad being close by at a park or on a walk so we could still feed on demand when needed.
5. Find Relevant Resources
Find resources for attachment parenting. Stick to resources for parenting that you know will be kind and friendly to your parenting style.
As an attachment parent, you can’t pick up any random parenting book and expect it to work for you, in fact a lot of parenting books make suggestions contrary to current research and attachment style parenting. Ask experienced attachment parents or find groups on Facebook. I also love these resources!