Tuesday, July 3, 2018

The Shampoo Alternative for When Your Toddler Refuses Hair Washing

I'm not the only mom in the world who has a strong-willed toddler when it comes to bathtime and washing hair. I know there are some frustrated mommas out there who can relate and who are looking for a solution that keeps their child's hair clean but still respects their child's no-hair-washing boundary. There are some hygiene things we just have to get done for the well-being of our kiddos, but I prefer to do these things as peacefully and respectfully as possible. Afterall, a big goal is to raise children with body autonomy, right? We don't want to undermine our message of body autonomy by ignoring our children's boundaries.

So what can you do when you've tried all the hair-washing tricks and nothing works?

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The solution:


Ditch conventional hair washing. Instead, before bathtime, rub some arrowroot powder in your child's hair. It doesn't take much! Arrowroot powder will soak up excess oil. Then while your child plays in the bath, just run your wet hands over their hair until their hair is wet but water isn't running down their face. If your kiddo doesn't like their hair wet at all, you can skip this part, but I suggest using a boar bristle brush to brush the arrowroot powder out of their hair so they don't look powdery.

(Note: my child is white. I'm not sure if this will work the same on black hair, so if anyone tries this with black hair, please let me know!)

Plus, this is a win on a whole other level too because it's all-natural and only one ingredient so you can feel good knowing your child isn't soaking up any shady ingredients found in conventional shampoo. 

There you have it! [EDITED TO ADD: This is all I've been using on my own hair too, and my hair feels and looks better than ever.)

My two-year-old hated having his hair washed because he'd always get water and shampoo in his eyes. Bathtime was a struggle and something I avoided for as long as possible (We Americans bath too much anyway, right?), and his hair would get so oily. But since using arrowroot powder, he doesn't fight bathtime, and he comes out of it with beautiful clean hair. 

Do you have any peaceful hair-washing tips? Share with me in the comments or let me know how this trick worked for you. If you found this post helpful, please pin and share it!

Related post: How to Peacefully Get Boogies Out of Your Toddler's Nose





Sunday, June 24, 2018

4 Reasons Breastfeeding with Boundaries Teaches Toddlers Consent

Breastfeeding has turned out to be a fantastic tool for teaching my toddler about body autonomy, boundaries, and consent.

Honestly, it took me two years of breastfeeding to get to the point where I wasn't down with demand feeding. I never expected to feel ambivalent about breastfeeding since I totally loved it from the start. On one hand, I still love it. On the other hand, I NEED SOME SPACE. Since both my toddler and I want to continue breastfeeding, I knew we needed to set boundaries so our breastfeeding relationship could continue to be a mutually positive experience.

Without clear boundaries in place, it's easy for momma to feel like nothing more than a touched out pair of milkies on tap. Resentment builds. And the lack of boundaries isn't healthy for the child either because they need to learn as soon as possible that every person is in charge of their own body. This not only helps children respect other people, but it empowers them and keeps them safe from potential abusers. 

Here are four reasons breastfeeding is the ultimate tool for teaching toddlers consent.


1. "I WANT MILKIES!"

Toddlerhood is an important time for gaining a sense of self and independence. Toddlers suddenly realize they have their own mind, body, and feelings. Mix that with the inability to delay gratification or regulate emotions, and that's why they really really (extra) really want they things they want and aren't afraid to express that with gusto. What an opportunity to gently explain that no matter how much we want something, if it involves another person's body, and that person says no, no means no. Boys and girls both need to learn this important life lesson. I'll say, "I'm happy to share my body with you, but milkies are part of my body, so if I say no, you need to respect that. We can have milkies later."

2. Strong possessive feelings. 

This lesson can be taught with hugs, kisses, personal space, etc. too, but a child who literally grows on the breast feels a special attachment to the breast even to the point of feeling territorial and possessive over them. Because of that strong attachment, the message of respecting boundaries is so much clearer. Empathize with those big feelings, but make a clear boundary. I'll say, "I can see you really want milkies. I understand how hard it is when you can't have what you want. Right now, my boundary is no milkies. It's okay to feel sad about that."  

3. Toddlers form their own boundaries. 

You can use those boundaries to form connections and understanding. For example, my toddler doesn't like it when I brush his hair. So since tangled hair isn't life or death, I let it go as long as possible and I'll say, "You don't want me to brush your hair. That's your boundary. I respect your boundary, so I won't brush your hair." And then later if I need some space from breastfeeding, I'll say, "I don't want to do milkies right now. That's my boundary, and I need you to respect it." See, the language is the same. He can empathize and understand because he's felt the same way even if it's a different boundary. Teach respect by respecting.      

4. Blossoming communication.

Whether your child signs or speaks, communication explodes in the toddler years! There are so many ways to express the want and need for milkies too. For my son, he leans down toward my breast and smacks his lips together like he wants to eat. It's funny and unconventional, but hey...communication is communication. That's his way of asking and waiting for my okay. There are plenty of times he still tries to just yank down my shirt, but I always stop him and say, "You need to ask first before you share my body." Asking permission to share another person's body is consent, and that's something they need to learn and use their whole life.

You don't need to feign boundaries to teach these lessons. If you want to breastfeed on demand, do it. If you want some space, you have the right to your own space. You're a mom who makes precious milkies for your little one; you're not a milk machine. Your breastfeeding relationship is just that...a relationship (and a fantastic teaching tool).

Read here why breastfeeding without a cover fights rape culture and objectification of women,

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Monday, April 30, 2018

What Prepping My Son's Snack Reminded Me about Faith

After we got home from grocery shopping yesterday, my 2yo M wanted some of the cucumbers and hummus we'd just bought. He's a cucumbers and hummus fiend and was basically asking for it nonstop since we ran out last time. I was happy to finally give him one of his favorite snacks. But first I had to wash the cucumber.

(Can't read right now? Pin here to finish reading later!)

"Cucumber!" He got louder and more urgent. "Cucumber!"

"I'm getting you a cucumber, but I have to wash it first," I said.

"CUCUMBER!"

(Thankfully I'm aware that it's not fair to expect him to wait patiently at this age because he hasn't developed the ability to delay gratification yet.)

As I washed the cucumber, I tried to explain and reason with him. "Trust me. You could eat this cucumber right now, or I could wash it and it would be better." (It wasn't organic this time.)

My reasoning didn't help. He whined as I cut it too, but I knew he'd be able to enjoy his snack better if the cucumber were cut into sticks to dip into the hummus. I kept thinking, "If only he could trust that I'm doing the best thing!"


But aren't we so impatient with God sometimes? We see the thing we want, and we want it right now, or we want it to fit into our neat planners and boxes. We get frustrated when things don't happen right away or like we imagined. But God promises He's working everything together for our good! Everything. Even the waiting and the crud and the waiting some more. He washing the cucumber because it'll taste better and nourish your body better. He's cutting your cucumber into little sticks because it's perfect for dipping into the hummus, and He knows how much you love hummus! Preparation takes time. Working everything together takes time. It's hard to trust when we don't understand what God is doing, but that's where faith comes in. Have faith that He's working on your snack and it'll be delicious when He's all done with it.


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Friday, April 6, 2018

Toddler Sensory and Mindfulness with Food


We live in such a busy go-go-go culture. Go to playdates. Go to library events. Go to mommy-and-me classes.

But isn't life more peaceful and enjoyable when we slow down and savor all the little pleasures that make up the mundane? Mindfulness is a practice of slowing down and being present in the moment. Most of us are totally disconnected from this way of life, so using our five senses alongside our toddlers makes perfect mindfulness practice.

(Pin to finish reading later!)

Pick a new fruit you want to try together, or experience a favorite fruit in a new way by engaging all five senses.


Visual
How does the strawberry look on the outside? Red with little dots. Green leaves. Is it shiny or starting to turn dark? What does the inside look like?

Scent
Smell the strawberry. Scratch the surface and smell it again. Can you get a tease of the taste this way?

Sound
When you bite into the strawberry, how does it sound? Is there a crunch, or is it more of a mush? What about as you chew?

Touch
How does the strawberry feels on your fingers? Is the outside different from the inside? When you take a bite, how does the strawberry feel on your teeth and tongue? What about when you swallow?

Taste
Chew with slow diligence. Taste the juice. Notice the way the flavor slips over your tongue and fills your mouth.

This is a simple exercise anyone can enjoy with any food. And food is great for mindfulness beginners because it's already a time when we should be sitting down and connecting. Connect with yourself and your experience, and connect with each other. When we have this connective relationship, we're more appreciative of the beautiful small things, and we're more in tune with what makes or bodies, minds, and spirits light up.


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Friday, March 30, 2018

I'm Not an Instagram-Worthy Mom or Wife

I'm not an instagram-worthy mom or wife.


In this picture, I'm wearing the same comfy shirt I've worn to bed all week, no bra, and my hair is a mess because I slept on it wet. My kitchen is a disaster because I blinked. And the filter is called My-Tiny-Apartment-Kitchen-Has-Florescent-Lights-That-Flicker.

I stopped trying to venture out into the winter wonderland halfway through winter because I just can't be cold anymore. I missed taking my son sledding again, which makes me feel pretty crummy. I'm holding my breath for spring and just shaved my legs for the first time in like two months. And to be honest, I only did it because I could feel the breeze move through my hair as I walked.

My carpet has a squished strawberry in it that's so old it's practically part of the family. Because if I choose to spend my child's short independent play time cleaning up weird food squished in my carpet, there go the dishes again, and I can't breathe. Sigh. My home will never be an instagram-worthy home.

I have days where I don't make sure my tank is full, so I sputter along on fumes and lash out at my family. Instead of getting "the best of me," they get "what's left of me."

But THANK YOU GOD, I don't have to be instagram-worthy. My worth doesn't depend on how I look, how my home looks, on my bad days, my good days, the ways I don't measure up, or even the ways I excel. My worth comes from only one thing: that Jesus loved me so much, He died for me and rose again. Jesus lives and has given me an abundant life! His grace covers everything, and if He walked into my home, He'd look around and say, "Hi, love. What squished strawberry?"

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Wednesday, March 28, 2018

How to Peacefully Get Boogies Out of Your Toddler's Nose

My toddler, M, hates when I have to get boogies out of his nose. He fights it, and I've struggled and failed to clean his nose peacefully.

But tonight, I had a revelation/breakthrough!

(Don't have time to read right now? Pin for later!)

A seed was planted in my mind last week when I read Parent Allies' tips for being an ally to your child during teeth brushing. One thing the author brought up was that kids create strong memories of pain, so if a toothbrush knocks into their gums and it hurts, they associate the toothbrush with pain.

Fastforward to tonight when I was determined to clean my M's nose peacefully. It's something we have to do before bed or else he sleeps poorly all night long. We've resorted to holding him down and just pushing through to get the job done, but it breaks our hearts. Finally today, I put my foot down. No more holding him down while he screams and thrashes!


The first thing I tried was reversing roles. I told M it was time to get boogies out of his nose, but that he could get mine out first. I handed him the nose bulb thing, and he clumsily jabbed it in my nose. OUUCCHHH. That thing actually hurts! I tried so hard not to flinch the whole time because I didn't want to scare him. And then I remembered the above article's mention of pain memory. I must have poked his nose too hard at some point, and now he's scared of it. I had no idea! So I'm throwing that bulb away tomorrow. It's a goner.

Then I asked M if the bulb hurt his nose before. He said that it had, so I told him I was sorry and asked if he would forgive me. My sweetie said yes. But this was just the beginning because that pain memory was still there. I had to create new, gentle boogie memories.


"I'm going to gently touch the top of your nose, okay? See, that didn't hurt. I'm learning to use new touches. Now I'm going to touch your nostril. That didn't hurt either, did it?"

He giggled and said it did hurt.

"Nuh uh!" I said in a singsong voice. He laughed. We played with gentle nose touches for a long time, goofing around.

Finally, I told him I was going to use the new gentle touches to get his boogies out. (AKA I was about to pick his nose. Haha! But I've heard others have success with the snot sucker.) He squirmed, still scared. So I asked him to tell me about his favorite part of the day. We recounted all the fun we had that day, which kept him distracted enough to lay still and not dwell of the pain memory. I got his boogies out quickly and peacefully!

Quick tips:
  • Start early so you aren't tempted to rush through it.
  • Get yourself in a peaceful state ahead of time.
  • Make sure your child's needs are met first and they're in a pleasant mood. 
  • Notice your own emotions and own them, no judgement.
  • Accept your child's emotions without judgment.
  • Make eye contact.
  • Explain A LOT, repeat key words like "gentle touches." 
  • Be playful. 
  • Use slow movements.
  • Respect your child's "no."
  • Take a break and try again later if you have to.
It takes a long time to override a pain memory. I'm sure we'll have to spend a lot of bedtime just on boogies for a while, but it's worth the time it takes to show my son that I respect him and won't overpower or hurt him. Respect and gentleness are worth all the time in the world.

Have you found a peaceful way to get boogies out, or is this a struggle area for you too? Tell me about it in the comments or join the Her Arms Are Strong closed Facebook group to bounce ideas off a community of crunchy, gentle parenting, Christian moms--no matter where you are in your journey. 

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Sunday, February 25, 2018

Grace When Kids Color on the Walls


"Some of the most important things you can communicate to a child are that feelings are okay, mistakes are fixable, and there's nothing they can do that would push you away or make you love them any less." -Kelly Bartlett

I love this quote. I got to experience this all in one instance with M a couple days ago. He's 2, which means he hasn't even begun to develop impulse control yet. I'm so glad I know this because it gives me peace and perspective in those moments where it might otherwise seem like he's being downright defiant. 

I was on the potty, and M brought me a marker because he needed my help opening it. Right after I handed him the opened marker, he started coloring on the wall. I blocked him and said, "I don't want you to color on the walls, but you can color on paper."

He left the bathroom and I heard the sound of him coloring on the wall right outside the bathroom. "You're not coloring on the wall, are you?" I asked.

He ran back inside and said, "Color wall ummm..." He looked around like "Who? Me?" And then he colored on the wall again right in front of me.

I chuckled and said, "M!"

He jumped at my exclamation even though I didn't think I sounded angry at all. Because I wasn't. I understand how much fun it is to color the wall. But he started crying, wearing his sad I-feel-bad face. This face breaks my heart! I was such a guilt-ridden kid, and I never want him to feel that way.

I hugged him close and told him I wasn't angry. He cried harder. I told him the wall was okay, I was okay, I was there for him, that he was safe to feel sad. I think he knew perfectly well he wasn't supposed to color on the wall. But when you don't have impulse control, curiousity wins. Still, even with all that curiosity and developing sense of self, a two year old has the desire to please. He felt bad, I think, for doing what I asked him not to do because while he's curious, he also does want to make me happy.



Kids don't need to be shamed, blamed, and berated in order to know what's right. They have an innate sense of right and wrong. They may choose wrong out of curiosity or to push boundaries, but they aren't little villains, spoiled brats, or defiant monsters. They're good people. Sometimes sensitive people, like my M.

In these instances, they need our understanding, gentle guidance, and unconditional grace. I understand how hard that can be at times when you just want your child to listen and do what you say. I have a hard time sometimes too, especially when I'm tired. We're all going to mess up and respond harshly to coloring on the walls. (Or whatever "coloring on the walls" is for your kiddos.)


But time is a funny thing, and so is grace. Time moves forward. Grace moves us forward, and with each new minute, we have another chance to choose understanding, patience, and peace. We have a new opportunity to give the same grace we've received from the Father who is always patient with us. 

Grace means "I love you." Grace means "I love you even when you color on the walls." Grace means "I love you and nothing could ever change that."

***

Is there a time your child colored on the walls literally or figuratively? Share with me in the comments!

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