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HOW TO STAY CALM WHEN YOUR CHILD HAS AN ANGRY MELTDOWN.

There are few things more challenging than angry meltdowns.

I’m talking about an explosion of intense emotion that may include hitting, swearing and screaming. If your child has angry meltdowns, you may find yourself reacting and becoming very angry yourself.

I know what its like. I’ve been there. I have two sons and they both went through periods when they experienced explosive anger.

From the start, I was clear that I didn’t want to punish them. I didn’t want to inflict emotional pain to try and “teach them a lesson.”

I also didn’t want to shame them or tell them that they were bad or wrong for getting angry. I knew that would make them feel even worse and it wouldn’t help them become calm.

So what was left to try? I wanted a new, peaceful approach to dealing with angry meltdowns.

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My biggest lessons from 18 years of peaceful parenting.

Eighteen years ago I used to swim in the sea pool near my home every day when I was pregnant with my first child. Bobbing about like a small whale. It was summer, so the sea helped me keep cool and it took the weight off my legs.

I was excited and very, very nervous.

I had no idea of the wild, life-changing adventure that was about to begin. Jeremy was born on 01/01/01 at 1.01am.
I kid you not.
Just after the fireworks had ended to bring in the new millennium.

01/01/01 sounded like some sort of crazy-weird numerology to me. I have no idea about numerology, but life sure got crazy after he was born.

He was born at home, in a blow-up paddle pool in the tiny living room. I had my darling husband and my best friend holding onto me as I screamed my way through labour. After he was born I sat in the pool for ages with him lying on my chest. Just stunned and amazed. Completely in awe.

The story of my life had just taken the most astonishing twist. Everything was different.

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My deschooling journey: how I came to love home education.

I’ve been a home educator for a long time now. My eldest son is 18 and my youngest son is 14 and they’d both been home educated their whole lives, until my eldest son decided to try out high school when he turned 17. It’s been a very interesting, and a times challenging, home education journey and I’ve done a lot of deschooling over the years. This article is going to be about my process of deschooling over that long period. I’ll also be sharing the tool that I used to question my thinking and to dissolve my school mindset.

Starting from the beginning……..

I have a very “schooly” background because I come from an academic family. My Dad was a university professor, my Mum taught at university and I had a university education myself. I taught at university before I had children. So it was a very academic environment. Obviously, the “academic” type or style of learning was very highly valued in my family. I had kids quite late when I already had a career teaching Law. I had my eldest son when I was 35 and he changed SO much in my life. I’d never been more in love and I’d never been more emotional and sleep deprived.

Then everything changed even more dramatically when my son got to four years old. That was when he dropped out of preschool. He had been enrolled in preschool two days a week and had enjoyed it, but it had always been quite stressful for him. He’d started to have really big meltdowns after preschool and to resisting going and it was getting very stressful. When he was four and a half, he just refused to go anymore. He told me he just wanted to stay at home with me and his little brother. I was left thinking, well, what do I do now? I can’t get him to go to preschool. How’s he going to fit into a school environment?

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The most effective form of self-care for parents.

I used to believe that the best self-care was to have time away from my children. I was desperate for a break from their demands for attention and I felt overwhelmed and exhausted.

Getting away from my children, even if only for an hour or two was something I craved. I wanted walks in nature, relaxing baths, personal shopping, chats with friends and time with my husband. These were precious pleasures and I still very much enjoy them today.

As important as it was, this “me time” was not enough to sustain me in the long term, especially once I made the choice to home educate my two sons. We were going to be spending a LOT of time together and it was going to be a long haul. I knew that I wanted more than just coping strategies. I wanted my parenting years to be joyful. So I set my sights on discovering a life free from constant stress and emotional turmoil. I wanted inner peace – not just while I was in the bath or out of the house, but while I was with my kids in the thick of our messy family life.

These are my top 3 suggestions for self-care.

If you want self-care that’s going to bring long term transformation and joy into your life, here’s what I suggest:

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Nurturing trust and openness with your teenager.

I vaguely remember what it was like being a teenager. It was a long time ago but some things stick with me. Feeling self-conscious. Overseas trips. Being taught stuff. Kissing boys. Learning how to sail and sew. Acne. Such richness of experience!

I also remember not wanting to “get into trouble” with my parents. I was scared of their judgement, anger and disapproval.

As a young child I tried to be a “good girl” and I mostly succeeded. I did my best to meet my parents’ expectations and I tried to anticipate what they wanted. Do as you are told was the basic “rule” that I perceived and internalized. I can’t remember the details of what was said or done when I was little. But I do remember flare-ups of anger, yelling and threats that scared me. Sometimes there was spanking. I have no idea how often but I don’t think it was common. My parents were blameless. We were all blameless. And inevitably, patterns of thinking and reacting were established in my mind.

I don’t know why I was so sensitive to judgement, anger and threats. I never had a thick skin. I took it all in, and it felt awful. Deep down, I believed that it was my fault; that if I said the right thing and behaved the right way I could avoid those flare-ups coming at me. Self-talk started to appear inside my head to remind me that I wasn’t good enough, that I should try harder, that I was to blame. I developed a keen sense of what would trigger my parents judgement and anger and I did my best to avoid it. This logic seemed to work for a while.

By my teens my desire to explore and have new experiences overrode my desire to play it safe. That’s when I started to hide parts of my life from my parents out of fear of their reaction. The highly charged topic of sexual relationships, with all their physical and emotional challenges, was something that I didn’t want to talk to my parents about at all. I used to sneak out of my bedroom window at night and walk through dark Sydney suburbs to meet a boy. My secret nocturnal life eventually led me to sex and fun, then to heartache and then to other relationships.

I was fortunate. I never came to any harm and I never experienced an unwanted pregnancy. I guess if it had come to that I would have talked to my parents out of necessity. As it was, I went my own way and kept quiet about my fears, questions and insecurities.

Perhaps you can relate to some of this? Did you ever react to your parents in fear and hide or pull back from them? Did you try your best to comply with their rules and expectations? Or did you rebel and fight back? Did you ever sneak or hide your explorations of food, porn, drugs, relationships, sex or something else? Did you have problems that you felt you couldn’t share with your parents?

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How to help your angry child

This article is for parents that have a child that gets very angry.

Maybe your child also hits, or swears, or blames you when they are upset. Maybe they have wild, screaming meltdowns.

This article is for you if want to support your child to get past their angry outburst without it becoming a battle between you.

You know your child is suffering and you want to help them rather than just make them feel worse about themselves.

Warning: This article isn’t going to provide a quick fix. But it might change your life in unexpected ways.

You’ve probably tried everything you can think of, but it just keeps happening

I know. I’ve been there.

I have two sons and they both feel things deeply. They have both been through periods of their lives where they experienced explosive anger.

This has sometimes been abrupt outbursts of rage. There was intense screaming and crying. Often there was physical lashing out, hitting and blaming their upset on someone close; usually me.

These outbursts were triggered by something, but it was not always possible to work out what that was. Even if the trigger seemed clear, there may not have been a way to avoid it.

From the start, I was clear about what I didn’t want to do.

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What is Joyful Parenting?

You are a person who cares deeply about your children and who wants to support them everyday in a way that is loving, gentle and playful. You don’t want to be an authority figure who is obeyed or a stressed-out parent who yells all the time. You want to be a calm, open and available person that your child can trust with absolutely anything, knowing that they won’t be judged or lectured.

You don’t want parenting to be all hard work. You want to have fun with your children and delight in your life together. You want to learn and grow into a more relaxed and confident person, just as you hope your child does.

You are looking for ideas that are both practical and grounded in spiritual truth. You don’t want expert advice, but you are open to learning from the experience of others.

You are the sort of person who might be interested in Joyful Parenting.

What makes Joyful Parenting unique?

There are three core elements that work together to make Joyful Parenting a unique approach to raising children.

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How to solve problems with your children without threats, bribes or limits.

Can you guess what most of the parents I hear from say they want?

They want to solve a problem they are having with their child!

Maybe you are in the same boat. Something is driving you crazy and you’re at the end of your tether.

You’re a mum or dad that has a commitment to peaceful parenting and you don’t use harsh punishments like smacking or shaming. But in times of stress things come out of your mouth that shock you. You are suddenly aware that you sound just like your mother or father.

You find yourself resorting to threats even though you don’t want to follow through with them. In desperation you offer bribes but the “price” keeps going up! Setting limits and making rules seem to be a breeze for other parents but you end up in constant battles that go nowhere. These old tactics just aren’t working.

How do you end the struggles, find peaceful solutions and not feel like your children are walking all over you?

I’ve got the answer, even though it’s probably very different to what you’ve come across before. You might think its too way-out-there at first. It’s a process that has worked for me time and time again to tackle every sort of problem that I’ve had with my children.

This approach is something I’ve been teaching my friends and clients for years but I haven’t written a blog post about it ……. until today.

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What dolphins taught me about harmonious family life.

Swimming with Spinner dolphins

I recently had the privilege of swimming with wild dolphins off the Kona coast of the Big Island, Hawaii with dolphin researcher and advocate Roberta Goodman. It taught me a lot about family harmony and living in flow.

I’m not very familiar with dolphins. I’ve seen Bottlenose dolphins playing in the surf in Australia but I’ve never seen a captive dolphin show or been up close in the water. Hawaiian spinner dolphins are much smaller than Bottlenose dolphins and travel in larger pods. They hunt at night in the deep waters off the Kona coast and they come into shallow water during the day to play, sleep and socialize. This brings them into close contact with humans who use these crystal clear waters to fish, surf, dive, sail and swim. These wild dolphins don’t avoid human contact. Long stretches of coastal water are empty of people and yet dolphins linger in the area where boats are gathered and snorkelers are in the water eager to see them. Barbara has been swimming with these dolphins for 20 years and she confirmed that these dolphins seek out and seem to enjoy their interactions with the people who come to meet them.

My son and I were lucky enough to have beautiful calm weather for our morning of dolphin watching. We were with a small group of two guides and 5 visitors. The captain of the boat kept watch for dolphins and dropped us in the water just ahead of where they would swim past. The first few times we were in the water the dolphin pod swam past at their “travelling” speed. We had a short and delightful view as we swam hard to keep pace but we soon dropped behind them. There were a few other boats in the area and other snorkelers in the water waiting for a chance to see the dolphins swim past as they cruised up and down the coast. The dolphins obliged by slowing down and cruising around the gathered observers allowing us to swim alongside them for longer. They started playing with us, swimming up behind us and then zipping past very close. A few times we saw individuals leave the pod and leap up out of the water in a magnificent spin and then slip back into the flow of the dolphin group.

Dolphin consciousness

I lost all sense of time as I watched these delightful creatures. There was so much to take in!  The flow of the pod as they moved through the water was effortless and graceful. They truly moved as one, like a school of fish or a flock of wild birds. And yet, there were also bursts of individual expression as one or more dolphins swerved out of the group to do their own thing. It was clear to me after even this small time observing them that these dolphins experience both a collective consciousness as well as an individual consciousness. Continue Reading →

5 shifts I made to transform my marriage

My husband and I have shared 16 years of intense, passionate and challenging marriage. Things had been the same way between us for a long time. Then just in the last few months our relationship has changed dramatically. The change is so wonderful I can hardly believe it. The intermittent episodes of strain and disharmony have fallen away. Painful patterns have dissolved. There is more intimacy, deep connection and fun than we have ever experienced before. It’s like a whole new relationship with someone deeply familiar.

What brought about this transformation?

I can only tell my side of the story. It’s a story very much connected to my spiritual awakening. I have experienced five shifts in myself that are now being reflected in my marriage. It still feels a bit weird and I want to pin it down for myself. Somehow writing stuff down makes it seem more real. And maybe something of my experience will resonate with you and help you to find more trust, delight and joy in your relationship too. Continue Reading →

How to live well and prosper: life skills that adults and children can learn together.

I am absorbed in an adventure. It is a wild, challenging, unruly adventure that takes place every day in my own home. It is an adventure in learning.

When my family of four embarked on our home education journey over ten years ago my attention was largely focused on the sort of learning that is emphasized by schools and mainstream culture. I was curious and sometimes worried about how my two boys were going to learn to read, write, calculate with numbers and absorb the vast canon of knowledge that is considered fundamental to the task of “getting on in the world.” These matters still occupy some of our time. We enjoy exploring new skills and learning facts about the world. And yet, I think about this sort of learning less and less as time goes on.

The type of learning that fascinates me now is the kind that I am engaged in at much the same level as my children. We are learning alongside each other every day. And what we are learning is far more important to us than the skills and facts of the school model. The focus of our learning is our own wellbeing and purpose in life. It is about discovering the joy of living a unique, precious human life to the very fullest.

The most important thing that we are learning about is ourselves.

We are exploring what excites and delights us most of all:
What do we desire more of in our lives?
What sparks our curiosity and urge to explore?
What can we do today that will give us enjoyment and satisfaction?
What comes easily for us?
What are the gifts that we bring to this life and to those around us? Continue Reading →