Saturday, 7 January 2017

Could THIS common mistake be making your child's behavior worse?


Shame is a widely accepted form of discipline in mainstream parenting. It’s a common belief that children must “learn respect” and “be accountable” for their actions. While respect and accountability are undoubtedly important skills to learn, shame does not teach these things.

Shame isn’t always intentional either. Many times we are using shame to control our child without really intending to do so.

Even the most intentional parents unintentionally shame their children. Shame happens when we focus on who the child is versus what they have done. When we say things like “that isn’t very nice!” or “you are being mean” or we label them as “bossy” or “aggressive”. Shame builds up inside and becomes internalized.

Some amount of shame is actually good. It keeps us from doing something we know we might regret. It helps us make responsible decisions and learn from our behavior. It helps us develop a conscience. Too much shame teaches children that they are not OK. That there is something wrong with them. That they need to do whatever they can to please those around them in order to be loved and accepted. Ultimately, it teaches them that they aren’t good enough as they are.

Shame sometimes seems like it is “working”. The child is told they are bad, they feel that they are bad, they stop doing whatever it is that makes them feel bad (though they still believe that they are bad). OR the opposite occurs, the child is told they are bad, they feel they are bad, there is nothing they can do about it so they continue to be bad since that is what they are, after all. Bad.

Don’t push your sister, it’s not very nice! The child who doesn’t understand their uncontrollable urge to push their sibling then hears “well if I want to push my sister for taking my toys, I must not be a very nice person anyway”. So, the pushing continues.

It might seem like our words can’t impact a person this much, but they can and they definitely do. A child is born with no self-concept whatsoever. As a young baby they see themselves only as an extension of their parent. As they grow older they start to realize they are their own person, but they look to their parents to tell them what kind of person they are, and what kind of person they can become.

When they are told they are “naughty”, “bad”, “bratty”, “sassy”, “annoying” or “mean” that is all they know about themselves, so they believe it.

Some children will hear these words and they will try their very hardest to live up to the expectations that their caregivers have set for them. They want to be a “good boy” or a “good girl”. So they spend their whole life trying to live up to everyone’s expectations. Never really feeling “good” enough, because who is perfect? This causes anxiety, depression, and a myriad of other psychological concerns.

Shame is sometimes more subtle and less intentional. When you tell a child to "stop crying", "be a big boy" or insist they are "OK" when they clearly are not you are subtly shaming them simply for having feelings. How does it feel when someone criticizes your feelings about something? Does it make you feel good about yourself when they insist that it's "not a big deal"? Especially, when to you it feels like it is a big deal.

The problem with shame is it creates a false sense of reality in our minds. We believe there is something wrong with us, with how we feel, and because of this we don't believe that we are good enough as we are. So, we put on a face and try to be the person we think we are supposed to be. The person we think people around us want us to be. We want to fit in, we want to be accepted. We want to live up to those expectations we never could live up to when we were children.

Adults raised with subtle (and in some cases not so subtle) shame as a form of discipline grow into not so confident fragile adults who can't handle any form of criticism. Anxiety and depression run rampant because people are lacking confidence and coping mechanisms. Ashamed of their feelings they project their own anxiety onto their children. Understandably so, if you were shamed for having feelings as a child it makes sense that the big feelings of a toddler would trigger your insecurities.

So what can you do?

First, allow children (and yourself) to have feelings. Any kind of feelings. It is always OK to feel angry, sad, disappointed, etc. A person cannot control how they feel, regardless of how old they are. Do not minimize these feelings in an attempt to turn them off. Acknowledge that the feelings exist, accept them for what they are - A FEELING.

Second, change the way you think. The way you think about something changes how you feel about it. Which in turn will change how you act. Ultimately, (and with quite a bit of practice) the goal is to allow a person to have a feeling, change the perspective around it, and help a child to control their OWN behaviors that result. For example, it's time to leave the park and the child is feeling very angry about this. Allow the child to feel angry, acknowledge that you understand they are angry, and show empathy ("I know it's hard to leave the park, I don't like to leave either"). Then, offer a positive way to think about the situation ("it's hard to leave, but it's time to go home and have our favorite dinner. We can come back to the park tomorrow"). The child is allowed to FEEL angry and upset about having to leave the park, but it’s still time to go and the boundary is firm. This isn’t to say the child will suddenly drop everything and follow you home but it does get easier. This comes after time and practice and a strong relationship between parent and child,

I realize this is particularly idealistic. Things rarely go smoothly, and young children have big feelings they struggle to control. However, controlling our emotions is a skill. A skill that is only perfected with practice and support. A skill even most adults struggle to master.

Changing the way you think about a situation will also help you to approach it with more empathy and patience, and in turn it will help you better support and coach your children. You could think "what a brat, she does this every time!" OR you could think "it's always hard for her to leave the park, she really enjoys being outside". Which do you think will result in a more positive response?

Just remember, we are raising the future generation. If we want to change the world for the better we have to be better ourselves. Don't shame and punish children into submission, lift them up and help them grow into the secure and confident people they were born to be. Treat them and talk to them like they are already the strong, empathetic, kind, loving, giving, caring, beautiful, responsible people that they will grow to be one day. Just imperfect beings like you and me who are learning and growing every day.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Full Tummies Tuesday - Quick & Easy Lasagna Roll-Ups

Here is our fun and simple twist on traditional lasagna! A great way to WOW your family or dinner guests... but without a lot of effort! It's not your ma's lasagna!

You'll need these:

Once your noodles are cooked, spread your prepared cheese mixture on each noodle. You could also add some meat to your cheese mixture if you wish!
Please take note of the tin foil so that your pasta doesn't stick to the counter! You could also use parchment paper here!

Next, roll them up and place them seam-down in a dish of pasta sauce!

Top them with more pasta sauce.

COVER (Don't miss this step!) and bake!

Top with mozzarella voilĂ !!

So quick, so easy, so impressive! Mangiare!


  • ¼ C milk
  • 1 C ricotta
  • ¼ C feta
  • ¼ C parmesan (shredded)
  • ¼ C mozzarella (shredded)
  • ⅛ tsp pepper
  • Pasta sauce
  • 8 lasagna noodles

  1. Mix cheeses, milk, & pepper all together in a bowl.
  2. Cook lasagna noodles.
  3. Spread cheese mixture on each noodle.
  4. Roll up each noodle jelly roll style.
  5. Spread 1 cup of pasta sauce on bottom of pan.
  6. Arrange rolls seam side down.
  7. Top with remaining sauce.
  8. Cover with foil!
  9. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes.
  10. Top with mozzarella cheese and basil or oregano.
*You can easily add your favorite cooked meat to the cheese mixture or sauce if you prefer.


Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Full Tummies Tuesday - Rainbow Pizza

When you have toddlers it's always a challenge to find new and exciting things to eat. My toddler is definitely not a "picky eater", but he does love his favorite foods. So it's easy to get stuck in a rut when it comes to dinner time! 

This pizza is a super fun way to encourage kids to eat their vegetables. It won't take a whole lot of convincing to get them to try out a rainbow pizza, and the cauliflower crust is so yummy and delicious they wont even guess it's made from vegetables!

The key to ANY cauliflower crust is to squeeze ALL the water out of the cauliflower before making the crust. It doesn't seem like it's wet, but once you bake it any moisture left in the cauliflower will just give you a mushy mess. At that point you're basically eating casserole so don't skip this important step!

The best way to squeeze all the water out is using a cheesecloth. Make the pureed up cauliflower into a big ball and squeeze ever last drop of water out using a cheesecloth. Wait until the cauliflower is cooled so that it's not too hot to squeeze! You can also use a thin dishtowel, but it's not ideal.

Anyone knows that the best way to get a toddler to do something, is to make them think it was their idea. So when I try out new recipes I like to get my toddler involved in the process somehow. Maybe he helps to cut something, mix something, or to help measure ingredients. Letting them help you in the kitchen helps them to take ownership for a meal. They will be proud to eat something that they helped create. Especially something that turns out so beautiful!

Here's the how-to:


  • 1 small to medium sized head of cauliflower
  • ¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon basil
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • 1 cup marinara or pizza sauce
  • 1-2 cups mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup diced bell peppers (yellow, orange, red, green)
  • ½ cup broccoli florets
  • ½ cup diced red onion
  • ¼ cup canned corn
  • ½ cup tomatoes (I used grape tomatoes cut in half)

  1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.
  2. Remove the stems from the cauliflower and cut into chunks, Pulse cauliflower (uncooked) in a food processor until it looks like rice.
  3. Microwave the processed cauliflower uncovered in a microwave safe bowl for approximately 4-5 minutes on high. Remove it from the microwave and allow it to cool for 10 minutes. You want it cool enough to squeeze in your hands. After the cauliflower is cooled, use a cheesecloth to squeeze all the liquid out of it. REALLY SQUEEZE IT! Seriously, don't skip this step you will regret it!
  4. Combine the cooked cauliflower, egg, garlic, cheese, and seasonings. Stir until a dough texture forms. Spread the cauliflower mixture out onto lightly greased parchment paper or a pizza pan in the shape of a pizza crust.
  5. Bake the crust for approximately 10-15 minutes (depending on your oven), or until the crust is golden and crispy around the edges. After the crust is golden remove it from the oven and top with pizza sauce and cheese. THEN put the veggies on top of the cheese and sauce.
  6. Place the pizza back in the oven and bake for another 12-15 minutes.


Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Bright Lights (thoughts on Philippians 2:14-15)

We are doing a study on Philippians at our church right now, and I've been very convicted by this verse, especially when it comes to parenting.

Last night, when my youngest woke up for about the 4th or 5th time, I caught myself grumbling away! And I have good reason! I had just had a full day out with my two toddlers, I'm pregnant with our third, utterly exhausted, and to top it off I have a cold! A lot of good reasons to complain, right? Well, I'm sure we all have our lists of legitimate complaints!

Yet, God is asking more from His followers! He is asking us to do EVERYTHING without complaining. Philippians 2:14-15 says, "[14] Do everything without complaining and arguing, [15] so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people." How can I be a bright light for Jesus in this world if I am complaining all the time? 

So last night, as I caught myself grumbling my way to my daughter's room to nurse her back to sleep yet again, this verse popped into my head. So instead, I said a little prayer. I prayed that God would change my mindset to one that is instead THANKFUL for this little life that He has entrusted me with. THANKFUL that I can be here in the night to comfort my daughter, just like God is always there for me, with everlasting, unchanging, unconditional love.