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Friday, November 8, 2013

Simplicity Parenting - Kim John Payne M.Ed., Lisa M. Ross

We all want to give our kids the best care in both quantity and quality, but are we really giving them what they need? Payne's approach to raising children is called extreme by some, but many have found his advice sound and truly life-changing for both parents and children.

The first things he recommends is throwing out your kids toys. Why? The average American child has 150 toys. It's no wonder parents find toys strewn about the house and children are overwhelmed when asked to clean up their toys! How many of those toys do children really play with? How many have missing parts or are broken and just taking up space? You shouldn't throw all of your child's toys away, of course, but it's important to choose to keep toys that have staying power and can spark your child's imagination. This mom took her kids toys away and refuses to give them back. A year later she writes a follow-up explaining why it has improved her family's life.

It's easy to recognize when a child is physically sick by the signs of an aching stomach, a fever, or a hurting head; however, many of us don't know how to identify emotional sickness. Children who act out by throwing things, yelling, crying, or moping about may be overwhelmed or maybe understimulated. One parent relates how her teenage daughter was acting out on the whole family, so she asked her to take the weekend off from all of her extracurricular activities. Her daughter raged at being "grounded", but it turned out to be just what she needed. From then on she learned to take breaks herself. Another parent related how her young daughter had trouble going to sleep despite being physically active. It turned out she needed the addition of creative activity during the day, like drawing, to help ease her mind once bed time rolled around.

Payne suggests creating a routine, but with many households being extremely busy with both parents working or going to school, single parenting, or working multiple jobs it can be difficult. And that doesn't count the activities their children may be participating in. It's too busy for routine, isn't it? Payne explains that maybe you're too busy not to have a one. A rhythm, or routine, creates patterns that make things easier for everybody. Making Monday pasta day gives kids something to look forward to and keeps parents from having to stress out on what to cook. Taking a walk in the evening all together is a way to calm down before bed through exploration and conversation.

There are plenty more ideas on how to simplify a family's life within these pages. While not all of them may be for every family, they can certainly provide some ideas on how to adjust. This book isn't just for parents; these same ideas can be utilized by adults without children, as well. Simplifying your life may be just what you need to make life more enjoyable.

Recommended Reading:
NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children - Po Bronson, Ashley Merryman
Free-Range Kids, How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts with Worry) - Lenore Skenazy
The Myth of Choice: Personal Responsibility in a World of Limits - Kent Greenfield

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