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By: Jenna Somich, Movement Specialist, BIRTHFIT Coach, RIE Foundations Student
When it comes to child care practices and philosophies, there is a lot out there. Many times following particular principles can feel overwhelming. Today, I would like to explore Respectful Child Care practices and discuss a few ways that you can put them into action.
Respectful Child Care is based on the idea that each child is born a complete, whole, and aware human, who is deserving of not only love, but also trust and respect. We seek to demonstrate our respect for each individual child with every interaction. Also, we acknowledge that each individual child is intelligent and knows himself or herself better than anyone else – including us! We learn about the child through sensitive observation and communication. It is a deep and intimate partnership that is ever growing! So where do we begin?
Provided below are some ways to put Respectful Child Care into action:
Respecting the Body:
- Slow Down: Then, slow down even more! Before you complete a caregiving activity, first ask the child if they are ready for that said task. Let the child know what you plan to do before you do it. Welcome their feedback regarding tasks, but remain firm in completing necessary caregiving activities in a calm and engaging manner. This allows the child to be an active participant in their care and sets the stage for independence in the future.
Example: “I see that your diaper needs a change. May we change it? I see that you are playing, but I would like to change your diaper now. I am going to pick you up.”
- Words Matter: Always use correct language and terminology for the body. Using correct and precise language leads to body awareness and sets the stage for autonomy, healthy boundaries, and consent.
Example: “I am going to take off your old diaper. Now, I will wipe your butt with this wipe (show the child). It may be cool. Are you ready? Let’s put a fresh diaper on you. Can you pick up your legs? Thank you for helping!”
- Movement Ownership: Remain mindful of innate movement development and cognitive development. Trust that each child is unique and will develop at their own pace and at their own time. Offer free movement opportunities on the floor or outside. When children are able to move freely and are not “taught” how to move, they move with grace, quality, and self-confidence!
Something to note: Placing children in a seated or standing position before they can achieve it on their own trains compensatory movement patterns, versus functional movement patterns. This would include holding them in that position or using equipment such as a bumbo seat, exersaucer, or walker. If you would like to learn more about this, I recommend the following article: On Their Own: How To Stop Interfering With Your Child’s Development
Respecting the Mind:
- Communicate Authentically: I touched on this a bit above, but I wanted to expand further. With Respectful Child Care, we believe that words are words and language is language. We don’t speak differently to newborns, infants, or toddlers. Also, we acknowledge that children deserve the truth. If we consider each child to be a whole human, our language and communication ought to demonstrate this as well. Using authentic language and honesty not only exposes children to a larger, more diverse vocabulary, it also feels freeing as the caregiver.
Example: “I can tell that you would like to pull my hair. I do not like how that feels. Can you please open your hand? It seems that you are having a hard time with this. I am going to help you open your hand. I am not going to let you pull my hair.”
- Observe and Trust: Allow the children to guide their own play. Children are born learners. When we allow them to self-initiate play, we will see that they are actually much more engaged in their activities. This builds intrinsic motivation. Support their passions and interests without projecting your wishes, wants, or fears on them.
Example: “I see that you are climbing the bench! I am going to stay close while you explore. You did it!”
- Consider Your Own Lenses: Remain mindful of the lenses that we bring into each situation and acknowledge that our personal experiences do not equal universal truths for all. A great tool that parents and caregivers can utilize to avoid placing their thoughts and experiences on children is “sensitive observation” and “sportscasting.”
Example: “I see that you would like the toy that your friend has. It seems that they are still playing with it and would like to play alone. Perhaps you could find another toy.”
Respecting the Spirit:
- Children Have A Voice: All humans deserve to be heard. Age does not inform this right. Openly invite, encourage, and acknowledge all feelings. Ask for clarification if you are unsure of how the child is feeling. Acknowledge when you are feeling unsure and let them know that you will do your best to support them. The key here is that support doesn’t mean “fix.” If we wish for our children to come to us with big challenges later in life, we must show them that their emotions and struggles are welcome, even at a young age and even if it feels like a small challenge to us. It is not small to them. Trust that they are doing their best with the tools they have and the stage of development that they are in.
Example: “I see that you are having a tough time with this. It seems you are very frustrated. I am not sure how to support you best, but I am here with you. What do you feel may help?”
- Learning Love Through Boundaries: Recognize your own boundaries so that you can help support your children in developing theirs. Children learn self-love and self-care by seeing it modeled to them throughout their lives via their parents and caregivers. Having healthy boundaries for yourself and those in your life teaches children that this is to be expected and honored.
Example: “I am having a tough time right now. I need a break. I am going to sit and be quiet and take 10 deep breaths.”
- Choose Empathy and Kindness: Openly and honestly say, “I am sorry” to children. This opens the door for our children to say “I am sorry” to others and understand that being “right” is not as important as showing up with empathy and kindness.
Example: “It seems that when I raised my voice that I really caught you off guard. I can’t imagine what that felt like for you. I am so sorry. Are you OK?”
In essence, Respectful Child Care practices are truly about adhering to the golden rule: treat all people, regardless of age, how you may wish to be treated. In many ways, you are not just parenting the children in your care, you are also parenting or re-parenting yourself and perhaps being that role model that you needed when you were young. It is not always an easy task and sometimes requires a leap of faith, but I believe it can change our world!
Here are some of my favorite resources on Respectful Childcare:
For more from Jenna Somich follow @jennasomich on Instagram!
Have you heard the theory, “No peanuts before the age of one!” New studies are showing that is not the case any longer. We had the opportunity to meet Dr. Katie Marks-Cogan and speak with her about food allergies in children. What a privilege this was and we learned so much about the company Ready, Set, Food! Please read what Dr. Marks-Cogan has to say about her experience with food allergies.
As a board-certified allergist, I’ve seen firsthand how families struggle with food allergies. Fortunately, recent landmark studies have shown that you can reduce your baby’s risk of developing common food allergies by feeding them allergenic foods early and consistently, starting between 4-11 months of age. But introducing babies to allergens can be challenging because many 4-11-month-olds are picky eaters. In fact, many infants aren’t developmentally ready for solid foods as early as 4 months of age.
To help make early allergen introduction easier for busy families, I’ve compiled 6 tips for food allergy prevention, based on findings from the recent studies.
- All Babies Can Benefit From Allergen Introduction
Food allergies are on the rise, with 1 in 10 suffering from a food allergy today. But over half of children with food allergies have no family history. That’s why early, sustained allergen introduction is recommended for all babies, regardless of family history. (If your baby has severe eczema, consult your pediatrician before feeding your baby allergenic foods, to determine if an allergy screening is required first).
- Start Early, Between 4-11 Months
Scientists believe that between 4-11 months of age, babies’ immune systems develop either a positive or negative response to food proteins. Consistently introducing allergenic foods during this critical window promotes a positive immune response to these foods, and helps reduce your baby’s risk for developing a food allergy. But delaying this allergen introduction may put your child at a greater risk for developing a food allergy, according to studies. So, start introducing allergens early, between 4-11 months of age.
- Make Sure Baby Is Healthy
When you’re ready to introduce allergens, choose a time when your baby is healthy. Also, make sure that an adult can closely monitor your baby for at least 2 hours, to watch for any signs of a reaction.
- Consistently Feed Your Baby Allergenic Foods
Feeding your baby allergenic foods only once or twice is not enough to help reduce their risk of developing a food allergy. Instead, your baby needs consistent exposure for their immune system to develop a positive response to these foods. In the landmark studies, infants consumed allergenic foods 2-7 times a week for 3-6+ months. (In fact, in the LEAP study, babies were exposed to allergens for 4 years.) Thus, make sure to feed your baby allergenic foods multiple times a week, for several months.
- Breastfeeding Alone Is Not Enough
Breastfeeding provides a wealth of benefits for your baby, but breastfeeding alone has not been conclusively proven to prevent food allergies. If you choose to breastfeed, you will also need to feed your baby allergenic foods early and often, to help reduce your baby’s risk of developing food allergies by up to 80%.
- Don’t Give Up!
As a mom, I know firsthand how challenging early, sustained allergen introduction can be. When my son David was 5 months old, I prepared an egg, peanut, and yogurt snacks for him to eat several times per week (peanut, egg, and milk comprise over 80% of all childhood food allergies). Unfortunately, this process was time-consuming and frustrating. Most of what I offered ended up either on my kitchen floor or on David’s bib. This difficult experience inspired me to find a solution that would make early and sustained allergen introduction easier for all families.
I worked with a team of physicians, leading allergy experts, and parents to create Ready, Set, Food!, an innovative system that can help reduce your baby’s risk of developing a food allergy by up to 80%.
Our gentle, guided system:
- Follows the precise dosing used in landmark food allergy prevention studies. This eliminates the stress of guessing and preparing the right amounts of allergens for your baby.
- Starts with a low dose to maximize safety, and then increases over time to a higher dose to maximize effectiveness.
- Introduces one new food at a time, based on pediatric guidelines.
- Dissolves into breastmilk, formula, or your baby’s favorite puree, making allergen introduction easy, even if your baby isn’t yet ready for solid foods.
- Contains only organic, non-GMO peanut, egg, and milk – no added sugar or artificial additives.
- Can help reduce the risk of developing peanut, egg, and milk allergies by up to 80%.
- Is recommended by 200+ pediatricians and allergists.
We’ve partnered with Educated Nannies to make allergen introduction even easier! Use the code EDUCATEDNANNIES20 to receive $20 off any Ready, Set, Food! subscription.
To learn more about Ready, Set, Food!, and to take advantage of this exclusive offer for the Educated Nannies community, visit their website here.
About Katie Marks-Cogan, M.D.: Dr. Marks-Cogan is board certified in Allergy/Immunology and Internal Medicine, and treats both pediatric and adult patients. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, she received her M.D. with honors from the University of Maryland School of Medicine. She then completed her residency in Internal Medicine at Northwestern and a fellowship in Allergy/Immunology at the prestigious University of Pennsylvania and Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania (CHOP). After finishing training, she moved to Southern California and currently works in private practice. She is Chief Allergist for Ready, Set, Food! She currently resides in Los Angeles with her husband, 3 year old son, and 8 month old daughter where she enjoys hiking, building LEGO castles with her son, and cooking with her family.
As a mom, horrible sleep is part of the job description. Whether it is nighttime breastfeeding, pregnancy discomfort, a kid with a nightmare, waking up in a cold sweat thinking of all the things you need to accomplish tomorrow, waiting up for your teenager to get home…there is a lot of disrupted sleep and a lot of tossing and turning. I call this Momsomnia.
Some of your momsomnia is biological. Women have evolved to be lighter sleepers. This makes sense. Women already sleep worse than men, but motherhood adds another layer to this. Sorry ladies, it gets even worse with age.
So, what do you do with yourself when you are tossing and turning at 3am?
Bottom line is you have some nighttime hours to kill and they could be spent doing something better than scrolling social media. Turning your momsomnia into a win-win makes is much better for your health in the long run and might make these tough years more bearable.
Here are 6 ways you can nighttime self-care. Some of them take pre-planning but, Mama, you have a little “me time” on your hands. That’s precious commodity in mommyland, so don’t waste it…
- Meditate: Have an meditation app pulled up on your phone and ready to go. If you struggle to find quiet time to meditate during the day, this is perfect for you. You might fall back asleep or might gain a little zen. Either way, you win.
- Read a book. Don’t turn on your phone. Screen time stimulates your brain to wakefulness. Pick something inspirational or life-giving that will feed your soul.
- Get some creative work done.(Heck, when do you think I write these blogs?) The middle of the night can be a great time for creativity.
- Journal: This is particularly great for calming those racing thoughts that keep you up.
- Do work you would have done tomorrow. Instead of stressing about the work you’ll be too tired for tomorrow, take a quick moment to reorganize your schedule. If you are awake and alert now, do the work and schedule a midmorning nap tomorrow.
- Yoga: Some poses are designed for bringing peace and calm.
Self-care as a mom takes a lot of flexibility and creativity. Your schedule is going to be out of whack. What worked for you before children might not work now, and you can’t control your schedule as well as you could before. Turning these stressful moments into wins will help you not just survive motherhood, but thrive.
Author: Dr. Charlynn Ruan, clinical psychologist and founder of Thrive Psychology Group for women.
Here are some tips for kicking “Holiday Break Boredom” to the curb, and making the most of your time off together as a family.
Make Holiday Decorations
Making ornaments can be a fun and simple way to build memories that last a lifetime. All you need is paint, popsicle sticks, a clear ornament (and Pinterest of course), and you’re all set!
Families celebrating Kwanzaa can practice Zawadi as a fun family activity. Pasta necklaces are a no-mess way to celebrate this African custom of gift giving for kids. Using a fishing line or string, add red, green, and black dry pasta noodles of different shapes, and give them to friends and family members.
Volunteer At A Local Food Pantry
This is a great introduction to having conversations with your kids about helping those in need in and around the holiday season. This can also be a way for your family to engage with others who may come from different backgrounds and home origins. It teaches your kids to value others, regardless of their background. You might end up making a new friend!
Christmas Caroling At A Local Nursing Home
What a better way to show appreciation and spread holiday cheer than singing loud for all to hear? Gather your family and some friends, and organize a day at a nursing home in your community. You can spend time with the residents while singing Christmas carols, playing games, and brightening the day of those who may not have a lot of people to celebrate with during this holiday season.
Build A Gingerbread House
Whether you build one together as a family or make it a contest, this is a timeless holiday activity. Stores like Michael’s, Whole Foods and Target have DIY gingerbread houses that come pre-assembled (or, if you’re feeling up for the challenge, you can build one yourself). Gingerbread house building allows your kids to express their creativity. You might even discover you have a future architect or designer on your hands!
Family Excursion Day
Perhaps you didn’t have time for everything you wanted to do this summer. Use your child’s holiday break as a way to fit in some quality family time. Go to the ballet. See a play for the first time. Check out the local zoo or aquarium. Take the opportunity to do that one last thing as a family before the year is over!
Year End Bonus (most popular): A bonus for a nanny is an extra special “Thank you!” for dedicating time all year long to your most precious littles. A typical bonus is either one or two weeks pay depending on how long the nanny has been working with your family. If you aren’t able to afford the same bonus as you gave last year, have an open conversation with your nanny. Any monetary gift is much appreciated!
Gift Cards: Is there a special restaurant, retail or online store your nanny likes to shop at? Would she enjoy an afternoon at the spa or getting a mani or pedi, but would never splurge on herself? Gift cards make the perfect gift for a nanny who is always putting the needs of others first!
Lessons or Memberships: Does your nanny enjoy dancing, drawing, or learning a second language? Does she/he workout, enjoy cooking, or taking photographs? Gym memberships, enrichment classes or lessons are another way of treating your nanny. You may even want to gift your nanny a membership to the International Nanny Association or pay for the conference in New Orleans in 2019!
Unique or Homemade Gifts: Etsy offers a variety of unique gifts for everyone. Perhaps a homemade scarf and matching hat? Maybe a special pair of earrings or a necklace that will remind her of your family. Framed photos of the kids, or a Shutterfly photo book filled with memories shared with your family.
Fun Holiday Options: If your budget permits, fun holiday options include: frequent flier miles so she/he can go home for the holidays, a week vacation at your time-share, a gas card or help to buy a new iPad or computer. If your budget is limited, consider a gift of time and pop home a few hours early to take over for your nanny so she/he can get a jump start to their weekend.
Last but not least, remember the taxes: While this can sometimes be overlooked, please keep in mind that all bonuses (cash or gift), are taxable income to the employee and must be reported on all employment tax documents.
If you have any questions regarding holiday, year-end gifts or bonuses for your nanny, please feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com. We are always happy to help and be of service!
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