Welcome to our newest series. In “Friday Favorites,” our team will share a handful of favorite items. These can range from clothes to beauty products to recipes to books and anything in between.
Traditional parenting methods have never really worked for my super bright, super intense, super sensitive little guy (okay, yes, that is a gentle way of saying “challenging,” and I’m totally okay with that).
Gentleness and respect go along way with kids who are struggling, I have found. Our house is generally filled to the brim with big feelings, and I’ll admit some of those are mine. I’ve spent the better part of five years trying to determine what can help him access some measure of calm in the midst of his internal storm.
And I’ll tell you a secret: they’re all things that work for me, too. Here are a few that are tried and true gentle parenting tricks from our house to yours!
I’ll admit, I clicked on a Facebook ad for Generation Mindful—and I’m so glad I did. They have all kinds of products, but I went with the Time-In Toolkit, which is focused on teaching kids emotional regulation and calming strategies. I don’t know about your kids, but time-outs have NEVER worked with mine, especially my oldest. They just feel like punishment and increase power struggles a ton.
The time-in toolkit comes with posters, activities, and intention cards that can guide you in conversations with your littles about how they’re feeling and strategies they can use to calm down. Since creating the corner in my boys’ bedroom, there have been so many times I’ve caught myself scanning the “strategies” poster and thinking to myself “Deeeeep breaths. Time for a glass of water.”
I love talking with my sons about how I’m still learning how to put these methods into practice for myself, reminding them that we’re in this together.
We saw our first Squishmallows at my son’s play therapist’s office. Super soft and made and filled with polyester fibers, they squish and expand much like memory foam. These little buddies provide cuddles and snuggles — and even act as a great punching bag when your kiddo wants to get out a little aggression.
My 5 year old chose Francis the Lion, though we know him as “Roary Scrape Mape,” and my 3 year old snuggles with Cookie the Flamingo (aka “FluFlu”). When we saw these little guys in CVS, I knew they were the perfect addition to their new calming corner. They’re like stress balls, but bigger, softer, and much, much cuter. And yes, I for sure steal them from my kids on the regular. Mama needs restorative naps, too.
One of my favorite finds of 2019 was this podcast, hosted by Chanel Tsang. Each episode is like a mini guided meditation, geared towards children’s imaginations, with prompts on how to acknowledge feelings that show up in the body before letting them go.
We started with the first episode, “The Little Monkey,” while taking a drive. My kids giggled a bit when they imagined the thumb-sized monkey jumping all over their bodies. But when the episode was over, my three-year-old was fast asleep, and my five-year-old said to me calmly, ‘Oh yeah, Mommy, more please. That podcast is niiiiice.”
Written by Kobi Yamada, best-selling author and CEO of Compendium, this delightful book inspires and challenges both kids and adults to step back and consider their problems from a different perspective. While the story is a bit abstract for my young boys, they are enchanted with the illustrations and the overarching theme: problems might feel scary, but we have a choice in how we handle them. In fact, when we face them and really see them for what they are, problems are usually opportunities in disguise.
We often reach for this book, along with Yamada’s companion books What Do You Do with an Idea and What Do You Do with a Chance, and each time we do, my boys are thoughtful and – dare I say it – QUIET.
To be honest, this one feels kinda like cheating since I already had multiple bags of this under my bathroom sink. But when my son looked up at his time-in toolkit poster, zeroed in on “take a bath,” and said, “Oh I’d really like to relax. Can I take a bath?” I knew this required something beyond the day-to-day rinse and play. I drew some warm water, sprinkled in some lavender salt, and watched my son’s muscles visibly relax. These are wonderful right before bed, but also any time your kiddo needs a little space to decompress.
Speaking of which, I should probably let you go. The kids are asleep and tub is all mine.