Kerry Cares Parenting

Last year I had the pleasure of meeting Kerry Secker of Kerry Cares as she sat beside me at a mums breakfast meet that I went to and within a few minutes of talking to her I felt such joy because I came face to face with a parenting “expert” who believed in my idea of gentle parenting. Thankfully she agreed to meet with me in the new year so I could chat to her about her methods. Here it is…in conversation with Kerry of Kerry Cares Parenting.

NM: How did you get into nannying?
KS: I’ve always loved children. My mum tells me at family gatherings I was always the one found hanging out with and looking after the kids. When I finished my A Levels, I knew I wanted to work with children but university wasn’t going to give me that so I went on to do an NNEB (Nursery Nursing Examinations Board) and then at 19 got my first job working with a family of 3 children (ages 2, 3 and 5 when I started). I worked 8am-6pm everyday.

NM: There’s a lot of pressure put on nanny’s these days. Mums tend to judge their nanny’s for being on the phone when they’re on their phones themselves. Some parents even go onto mum FB groups to name and shame these nanny’s/helpers.
KS: You can not judge anyone based on a snap shot. How do you know the nanny isn’t on the phone to the mum. With such long hours, like with any job, you’re allowed to be on your phone or take a quick call. I try not to be on my phone too much but we’re in a modern world. I could be looking for directions or fun things to do in the local area.

NM: How has the role changed since you started?
KS: I didn’t have a mobile phone when I first started! Back when I started, you just got on with it.

NM: When Kerry first came out of college, she was trained with traditional methods. There was no scientific background then. This was circa 1997. Parenting (like technology) has changed so much. Methods she’d learnt were things like the naughty step or time outs. There was no focus on why children behaved the way they did.
Being young and enthusiastic, she started out practicing what she’d learnt. But being a nanny for 3 completely different children, she soon realised those methods weren’t going to work. Being in “control” of the children wasn’t working. It’s been a long journey going from being the authoritative nanny to founding Kerry Cares Parenting, using a much more gentler approach. What changed?

KS: It’s all about intuition. Our gut is so important and people don’t use it. We’re born with really good intuition but as the rational side of our brains develop, we stop listening to our gut. We don’t trust our gut anymore.

NM: Sometimes I think reading too much is not always a good thing either. Good parenting will come to you when you’re not relying on all these outside opinions but listening to your gut.

KS: I am not an expert and I don’t like being referred to as one. I think the only experts of babies are their parents. How can one person be the expert of every single baby? There are billions of babies out there, each one different and unique. I don’t have a crystal ball or a magic wand, it’s impossible! Every circumstance surrounding every baby is different.

NM: There are many parents who aren’t “being” the parents anymore. There’s a fine line between being the parent and letting your child do as they please.

KS: As a parent, you have to have boundaries when it comes to your children. Children do as they see, they will naturally pick up traits they see in their parents. You will never win against your children! The sooner you realise that, things will become a lot easier.

NM: I’ve always taken a gentle approach to parenting but in the last year, when the threenager phase hit, I found myself losing my cool. I know I’m only human and I hated myself for it but it was happening. The penny only dropped when one day I was telling S off and I said “Don’t speak like that to me” and he said “No, you don’t speak like that to me.” And that’s when a light went on and I thought he’s right. How can I ask him not to speak like that to me, when I am speaking like that to him. Gentle parenting can be tough and it doesn’t work for everyone. What does gentle parenting mean to you?
KS: Fundamentally, it’s just parenting with respect and seeing it from their point of view. There are no right ways to parent. Gentle parenting means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. It’s often mistaken for permissive parenting and not disciplining. But there is disciplining involved with gentle parenting. Kerry Cares is not attachment parenting, it’s just using a gentler approach. How you parent your child needs to feel right for you and your family. So when I have a client, the first question I ask is “How does this feel to you?” And if it doesn’t feel right then don’t do it.

NM: Kerry’s approach is very individual. She spends time talking with the parents she’s working with to get a complete background (from birth) before offering any advice. She follows her ASS method. Your children need to feel Attached, Safe and Secure. When you have these 3, you can tackle anything: Sleep, weaning, behavioural issues, potty training and everything else in between. It’s important to understand why our babies are behaving in a certain way.
KS: I hear so often people saying “What is the best way to put my child to sleep” or “What is the best way to get them on the toilet?” or “What is the right way to deal with tantrums?” The fact is there is no right way, every child is different.

On discipline…

KS: People think of discipline as regimented punishment. Discipline really means “to teach”. Discipline in my gentle approach is to show them how it’s done. And it has to be age appropriate. I don’t tend to use the word tantrum. “Tantrums” is your child communicating with you. You have to allow them their feelings. Even with babes in arms, we often go shh..shhh..shh.. when they cry and while that sound is soothing, it’s also subliminally telling them it’s not okay to cry. And the fact is, it is okay for them to cry. Babies crying is their way of talking to us. They could be tired, hungry, wet. Most people link crying to something being wrong. There’s nothing wrong, there’s just a need there. We have to normalise children’s behaviour. It’s normal to tantrum, to cry, to be loud.

If we teach children from a young age that the only person responsible for their happiness is themselves, they will get it.

Children just want to anchor to you. When children feel their emotional tank is empty, that’s when they need you. If you’re distracted elsewhere, conflict arises.

For more information, check out http://www.kerrycaresparenting.com/

 

What sort of “punishment” is appropriate at school (in 2016)?

I was chatting to a friend earlier when she recounted a story that shocked me. She told me of her son (about the same age as S), getting into trouble at school. The headmaster went up to her a couple of days ago and said I just want to let you know your son was sent to my office because he wasn’t listening and he was splashing water in the bathroom. His clothes got wet and he had to be changed.

“Listen, there’s nothing to worry about, he’s a gorgeous, lovely boy but we just wanted to let you know. I’ve told him that we have good boys and girls at this school and that next time if he was sent to my office, I’d call mummy or daddy and he didn’t want that.” said the headmaster.

This mum accepted it and picked her son up from school as usual. At first he didn’t say anything to her but later on in the afternoon he mentioned he’d been sent to the headmasters office and that he had to face the wall. *This is the part that shocked me* The kid isn’t even 4 yet.

The mum chose not to make a big deal out of it in front of her child but the next morning she went up to the headmaster and the conversation went something like this:

Mum: My son told me he got sent to your office. But he also mentioned that he had to face the wall?

Headmaster: Yes, he had to sit on the floor and face the wall because (and he said this quite dramatically), I was too angry to look at him.

Mum: *shocked face* Okay

Headmaster: He has to learn that he needs to be compliant.

Mum: But I don’t think shaming him is going to achieve that.

Headmaster: He is a strong willed child, you know that! We have to try different methods.

Mum: Yes but it’s also the kind of thing you heard done in the 60s.

Headmaster: I promise you, we’re not doing anything harmful here. He needed to face the wall so that he had no distractions, nothing to see, nothing to think about, except what he’d done. It’s tough love and sometimes it needs to be done but the key word here is love.

Now, is it just me that’s fuming or is this appropriate “punishment” for a top private school in North London. In some circles this child is still deemed a toddler. He’s at nursery, he’s not even four. He got pulled in to the headmaster’s office for essentially being playful.

As a parent, am I over reacting? Should schools be allowed to deal with children’s “bad” behaviour in a manner they see fit? Should the headmaster have been upfront with the mother about what happened rather than wait for the child to tell the mother?

As most people know, I’m an advocate for gentle parenting. That’s not to say I don’t raise my voice or get angry/snappy at S from time to time. But I try my best to approach his tantrums from a space of understanding, using my words to explain what I deem appropriate/inappropriate.

I went to boarding school in India and was punished in a variety of manners. I had to kneel, I had to kneel holding a stack of books up in the air and I once got smacked on my palm with a metal ruler because I was sticking up for my friends. I was a good kid in school and that happened to me so you can only imagine what happened to the kids who weren’t so compliant.

And that takes me to my next point. Compliant!? How boring would the world be if all children were compliant? We’re in 2016, surely school’s should be finding new ways to challenge “strong willed” kids rather than shame them into believing they are not good because they’re not doing as they are told. What ever happened to thinking outside the box?!

This is a subject that I’m quite passionate about (in case you couldn’t tell). I was having a conversation with another mum 2 weeks ago who referred to the English system as “Victorian”. She was comparing it to the more laid back casual American approach. She couldn’t understand why children as young as 4-5 were given home work everyday and pushed to write in a certain manner and be reading at that age as well. That’s not to say all English schools are bad but having seen 3 children go through school and excel, she did feel a lot of pressure was being put on her 4th child by this school.

Look, it takes all sorts and I’m sure there are many parents who would be happy to have the school deal with their children as they see fit. But I’m sure there are many who wouldn’t. I’d love your opinion. Am I being too soft about this?

 

AMTOGG – Genevieve Simperingham

Today’s mom on A Mother’s Time Out Global Gathering by Micheline Green was Genevieve Simperingham.

Genevieve was born and raised in Ireland. She was 1 of 9 children born into a life of struggle and tough times. Her father was very volatile and violent and she grew up very fearful. Her experiences during her childhood led her to become a very cynical, hurt, lost and troubled teen who got into the wrong company and wrong habits. It was only when she met a couple who were running a course for people like her that she had her Aha moment.

She got into meditation which really helped her focus and eventually started running parenting courses (even before she became a parent herself).

In her opinion, a big part of peaceful parenting is having good listening skills. And that’s not just pretending to listen and be interested but to actually “listen” to our children. It seems like a very basic and simple skill but it’s affects are profound. There are endless ways that we can shut our children down but there are also many creative ways we can open our heart and actually listen to our children, creating a safe space for communication.

The biggest misconception that moms have now adays is that everyone else is doing a better job than them. You see kids being dropped off at school and happily going in and think Gee, I wish my kid was like that. But perhaps you haven’t seen the struggle the mom went through earlier that morning just to get her kids clothes on or get him/her to eat breakfast or even get into the car.

Parenting is a really tough 24/7 job of juggling needs. It’s about equiping people with support and offering them safety. *Parents, specifically moms, need a space to offload their struggles without feeling guilty.* They need someone to normalise their struggles and the everyday stress that they feel.

Genevieve ended by sharing some relaxation techniques. One was music – choose a track that relaxes you and listen to it when to calm yourself when all around you is manic. When your child is throwing a tantrum or testing your patience. The second was to use visualisation techniques. At the end of the day, when all is quiet, imagine a moment earlier in the day where you’ve been really stressed. Visualise the moment and remember your hands, jaw, heart rate, how you felt. Then acknowledge it! Say out loud…”I’m really stressed and this is really tough”. Then out your hand on your heart and say “My needs are important as well, my feelings are important as well. Somehow I need to slow down and take the pressure off. I’m choosing to slow down. I’m choosing to take the pressure off”.

By centering yourself and accepting your feelings, you release that pressure valve. You have to name and validate your feelings before you can move on. And this is a technique we can teach to our children as well. Providing them with a healthy outlet will lead to far fewer chances of them lashing out, hitting someone else or taking it out on their siblings/friends/you.

What is Gentle Parenting?

The universe sends you exactly what you need, when you need it!
I’ve had a really tough week, mainly because my gentle parenting method of S was compromised and I felt pushed into a situation that goes against how I’d like to parent him. And then this post by Sarah popped into my inbox yesterday. And quite honestly, I couldn’t have said it better myself!
Many people are of the belief that 2 year olds don’t know what they want, that children need to be forced into things because “they don’t know better” and often we find ourselves at the receiving end of unsolicited advice.
For me, this post sums up how I parent my child. The importance of listening to what he wants, responding to his needs and keeping him happy as much as I can. Because what’s more important than a happy child?
Sure, he’s 2 and he’ll tantrum and he’ll go through various emotions and often get upset at not being able to express himself. But he knows his mama is always there. As Sarah so eloquently puts it, “Gentle parenting is not permissive parenting” (and I’ve said the same thing before). It’s not always about giving into your child or letting them call the shots but taking the time to listen to what they need.
Sarah’s post was just the “gentle” reminder I needed this weekend 🙂

Gentle Parenting is not easy parenting

These days there seems to be many buzz words (and lots of debate) when it comes to parenting methods. Passive parenting, gentle parenting, attachment parenting, etc. Rather than place myself in one particular group, I take a little bit of what suits me from each of them and then devise my own method of parenting. Every child is different and so of course in the same way that Gina Ford won’t work for everyone, Dr. Sear’s attachment parenting will not work for everyone either.

Just to make things easier, I’ll call myself a gentle parent. But what does this actually mean? To me it means putting the needs of my child before mine. Figuring out what S needs, when he needs it and how best to give it to him. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not a pushover. I have boundaries for my son and he is a routine baby because that is what works best for me but he pretty much gets to do what HE wants during “his” time.

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Many people seem to think that gentle parenting is easy. You just let your child do what they want and you go along with it. Err…it’s not as easy as that! Think of it like this…your patience or tolerance level is like the engine of a car. Some people go from calm to crazy, like a Ferrari, in 2.6 seconds while others take a lot longer before they lose it. To me, the aim of gentle parenting is to be as far from a Ferrari as possible. To be able to listen to your child scream, fling themselves on the floor and often throw things and all the time, remain calm and figure out what it is your child NEEDS. Most peoples natural tendency is to scream….even though the child doesn’t understand this. STOP, DON’T, NO….these are words I hear all the time. Instead, a gentle parent will stay calm, knowing that their negative reaction is a reflection of how THEY feel and not what the child is doing. But of course, this is a work in progress. I’m not Mother Teresa!

I hope I haven’t lost you. What I am trying to say is that gentle parenting is not easy, it doesn’t make you a pushover or mean your child has you wrapped around their little finger…it just means you choose to understand why your child is throwing a tantrum, what it is they want and how you can give it to them (while not always giving in to them).

Pretty simple?! 😉 No one said this parenting malarkey was going to be easy…but it’s always worth it.

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An interesting perspective and one I can resonate with: http://evolutionaryparenting.com/the-child-and-the-angry-thoughts/