Tuesday, January 27, 2015

How to be a Great Parent with the Nurtured Heart Approach

Divine providence has brought an amazing woman into my life. Her name is Julie Katz and she is a Nurtured Heart Parenting Coach. You can read up all about her here and here.

After speaking with Julie a few times, and implementing her parenting strategies, my husband and I literally would just gape at each other in shock every time something she told us to do actually worked. And the results were immidiate. Life changing. Family changing. 

I wanted to call every parent I know and tell them abouthis incredible apporach to parenting, the Nurtured Heart Approach.

I will warn you though- It is a huge amount of work on our part. Huge.

But if you are willing to work it, you will be truly amazed. Your entire family dynamic will shift and your home will be a very healthy and happy home.

I will do my best to give over as much information that I got from Julie as I can, but I truly feel that we should all do a Webinar with her. She is incredible. 

What I have learned from Julie is this: Kids need our attention. They need our energy. They don’t care if its good energy or bad energy, but they need to know that we are paying attention to them.

When kids are doing what they are supposed to be doing: behaving, speaking nicely, being kind, they really don’t get much attention from us. Think about it. I mean when was the lastime you told your child how competenthey were because they did their school work without complaining about it. Or how appreciative you are of their good behavior on a random afternoon.

Its when they start acting up that all of a sudden they get their dose of moms energy. Its not that they want to annoy us or make us angry, they just want us to give them some of our energy. And acting up is usually an instant winner to grab our attention.

"Stop hitting your sister!” “How many times do I need to ask you to brush your teeth?!” “If you say that word again you are going to your room!” “Stop doing that!”

Smile if you are guilty of saying any of the above. 

I figured. 

We all are.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

After realizing that all my kids need is my energy, by giving it to them in positive small doses through out the day, so much acting up has been avoided.

We have found that ‘catching’ them doing good things and showing them that we recognize it, it waters their energy garden.

Its about noticing things that usually go unnoticed or unrecognized. Its about telling your kids, "you are worthy of my time, you will get just as much juicy energy out of me by behaving and keeping the rules.”

Here are some examples:

“David, I see how nicely and quietly you are sitting and reading.”
“Sara, I appreciate how you have kept your bedroom so clean today. You really are a great example to your siblings on how to keep a clean room.”
“Rachel, I see how nicely you are speaking to your little sister. You are very kind.”
“Yossi, thank you for brushing your teeth right away without any reminders. This shows me you are very responsible. ”
“Chana, I really love how nicely you are playing with your toys.”

We are not telling our kids how amazing they are and how brilliant they are. We are simply recognizing ordinary behavior and giving it some of our positive energy.

That’s Step 1.

Now Step 2 is a bit more challenging.

Here are some scenarios:
-David hits/bites/punches/kicks (fill in the blank) Yossi and he starts crying
- Rachel calls her sister a name
-Chana rolls her eyes at you
-Yossi refuses to clean his mess
-Sara says a bad word at the table

Now what?

Remember- its all about OUR energy. Do not reward your child with your energy when they don’t deserve it.

So this is how we discipline using the Nurtured Heart Approach:

1: In a very straight and unemotional tone, tell the child who acted up: “You need a time out/reset. Leave the room.” Then continue doing what you were doing. If another kid was involved, shower them with your attention. “Are you okay?” “I am proud of you for not hitting back.” Energize the child who did not break the rules, not the one who did.

2: Once you and the ‘rule breaker’ have cooled down, go talk to them, one on one. Have a Heart to Heart. Compliment them on how they left the room right away when you asked without arguing. Listen to their side of the story. Help them figure out a different action to take if they are in the same situation again. You are here to help them grow and manage frustrating situations.

3: At the same time, they need to know there are consequences for their actions. Whatever consequence you see fit- take away  favorite toy for the day, no screen time etc. but make sure it is immediate, not ‘no nosh on Shabbos’ which is 3 days away.

4: Once they feel heard and have a consequence, they now need to make it right. They need to fix what they did. If they made a mess, they need to clean it up.  If they hurt someone, they need to apologize and do something nice for them- help them clean their room, say some nice words, let them brain storm something nice that they can do to ‘make things right.’

It is a lot of work on our part, but it works.

Believe me, there are times when the last thing I feel like doing is being civil to the kid who just threw their food on the floor because they don’t like the green things in the pasta sauce. But take 10 deep breathes in and consider it an investment into your child and family sanity.

Here is the book where all this wisdom comes from:

And this one:

If you would be interested in having a Webinar or Q&A with Julie, please let me know and we will make it happen.

I just cannot begin to tell you how this approach has transformed our lives.

By no means are my kids perfect little angels now, but we have created a dialog in our family and a go-to strategy each time a situation comes up.

I have my moments when I'm exhausted and I yell, buthats just a reminder that I am human and the Nurtured Heart Approach takes lots of patience, a lot of work  and lots of practice and we are so committed to making it work.

Catching my kids doing something good and acknowledging them for it has transformed our days.  I find them now coming to me to show me the good solution they came up with to an issue they had. I find them coming to me to help them deal with a situation with a sibling when in the past they would have been beating each other up because they simply did not have the tools to deal with their issue.

It is truly amazing. For the sake of your family, justry it.

Wishing you a wonderful week,

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Jewish Book Reviews

You know that saying, 'too much of something is never good'?
Well, I must disagree.
In my humble opinion, you can have too many toys, too many games, too much nosh and too much stuff. 
But there is one thing I think you can never have too much of: 
Books. Good books.

If you are going to make one investment into your kids homeschooling journey, I say buy books, books and more books. A home filled with books is a gorgeous home.

Having said that, Feldheim has sent me 4 adorable books to enjoy, review and share with you- enjoy:

Shuki's Upside-Down Dream
By Yaffa Ganz

           Did you ever have a funny dream? How about a topsy-turvy, upside-down dream? After Shuki protests elderly Aunt Esther's upcoming visit, he has a very strange dream that helps him see things in a whole new way. This important "wake-up call" turns Aunt Esther's visit into a special time. This classic book by Yaffa Ganz has been reprinted with new illustrations to help children of today's generation with the mitzvah of respecting the elderly.

We Can Do Mitzvos Around the Jewish Year
By Yael Zoldan

            Jewish children can be part of the action as they join their parents and get involved in the holidays! With lively rhymes and vivid illustrations, We Can Do Mitzvos Around the Jewish Year tells what each Yom Tov is all about, showing mitzvos that kids can do on each of these special days.

Around the Clock: A Jewish Child Learns to Tell Time
By Aviva Werner

            When a child becomes curious about clocks and time-telling, Around the Clock is the perfect place to start! In this beautifully illustrated book, author Aviva Werner and artist Avi Katz team up to capture the essence of a day in the life of a Jewish child. Page by page, children will love learning to recognize the hour hand on the clock and how it relates to their own day.

Good Shabbos, Benny!: A Young Boy's Countdown to Shabbos
By Chani Fischman

          What's Benny counting? His Shabbos clothes, of course! Benny can't wait to get dressed for Shabbos. Join him as he hangs an additional piece of clothing on his bed each night. And when the most special day of the week finally arrives, you can be the very first one to wish Benny, "Good Shabbos"!

My kids absolutely LOVED these books, we read all four before bedtime tonight and I could not recommend them enough.

Your kids deserve a home filled with good Jewish books, it is worth every penny. Get started!

Good Shabbos,

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

From Frazzled Mom to Super Mom... How we transform as Mothers

5 years ago I had 5 kids under the age of 4.

I was so overwhelmed, sleep deprived, exhausted, emotional and terrified, but I was so busy taking care of my kids that I didn't really get a chance to truly get in touch with how I was feeling. I was in survival mode.

Interestingly enough, one of the biggest difficulties for me was the comments and looks I would get from strangers when I was out with the kids. This irked me to my inner core.

'Wow, you have your hands full!' Really? Thanks so much for letting me know, all this time I thought my life was so easy, but now that you have notified me that my hands are full, I will be able to move on with my day. And the whole response of 'Oh you should see my heart'- I really don't need to justify to you, perfect stranger, how full my heart is. My hands are full and I'm overwhelmed. Stop rubbing it in. I would politely smile and go,'I know, right?'

'Are they all yours?' No, I found some stray kids in the parking lot, threw them into my shopping cart and asked a friend if I could bring a few of her kids with me to the super market cos theres nothing better then shopping with lots of kids, especially if some of them arn't even yours.

'How do you do it?' Well, you see I have this manual that tells me exactly what to do and how to do it. So its pretty simple. I just follow the instructions.

People would actually count out loud, as if I had no idea how many kids I had brought with me.

These experiences and comments really bothered me. I blamed society and how judgmental people are of moms with lots of kids. Everywhere I went I felt like I was being judged as an overwhelmed mom who had no control over her life.

But- in actual truth, that's how I felt. I was overwhelmed and I often felt like I had no control of what was going on around me. And that is what I thought the world thought of me because little did I know it, but that is what I was projecting.

Fast forward a few years. The kids are growing up, and so am I. I have learned so much about life as a mother, a wife and as a human being in general.

Granted, I have more time for myself and after many difficult and guilt ridden years, I finally realized how much my family gains when I truly take care of myself in all areas of my life.

I read the most gorgeous quote on Instagram today by a fellow mom with lots of little ones:

The way you feel is projected onto those around you. Even newborn babies can sense when we are stressed.


My older kids had some birthday and Chanukah money they had saved up and we decided to go to the store today so they can all get something.

They got their shoes, grabbed a snack and buckled themselves into the car. I grabbed my ice tea and fig bar and off we went, everyone bopping to the music as they were all discussing what they hoped to find at the store. Even the little ones were in on the conversation.

We got to the store, I immediately stuck the little ones in the shopping cart and we headed straight to the toy section. The older kids were all busy looking through the Legos and My Little Ponies while I grabbed a few flashy singing toys for the little ones to play with to keep them busy.

Everyone found something, all smiles, and we headed to the checkout. My 5 year old grabbed a candy bar and asked if he could have it. I told him if he found a Kosher sign on it then we could discuss it. He didn't find the sign so he put it right back, no questions asked. The lady behind me complimented me on my well behaved kids. And no, my kids are no more well behaved then yours, but my kids know that we only eat Kosher so its really no big deal to put it back.

Then a lady in the next isle looks over and goes, 'are you the nanny or the mom cos you don't look a day over 25!' Ha! I gave her a smile and told her I was the very proud mom.

You see, we all go through that overwhelming stage. Where we wonder how on earth we will ever get through  this.

But guess what? We NEED to go through that because that's the only way we can turn into the strong and awesome moms that we become.

I don't remember exactly when the shift happened, but one day I realized that when I go out with my kids, I am just SO proud to be the mom of these awesome people! I walk onto the playground with my camera ready to capture these kiddos in action. I thank Hashem everyday that they are so close in age and everywhere we go they have each other to keep company. And I guess that pride shows because the comments I get show it.

The comments I get now are more like, 'They're so lucky they have each other!' 'Its so nice to have a big family' 'Whats your secret to making it look so easy?' 'How are you so calm?'

People are in awe. Not pity.

So while I am sure there are many of you with lots of little ones who get those pitiful looks and annoying comments, hang in there! We have all been there and we get how annoying it is- and things will change. Things will get so much better that not only will you feel great but the people around you will feel it too.

Wishing you a wonderful week,
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