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Reframe the Behavior

“Kids do well if they can,” Dr. Ross Greene

My kid is pretty clever, spends too much time on screens that we don’t adequately regulate, scores average or above average on standardized tests, is generally liked by his peers, and still doesn’t fall into that magical perfect harmony when it comes to the bell curve of ease in school. Up to his first year in preschool (he had two different schools), he was the most popular kid (What?!), gentle, and often asked his peers how he could help when they had fallen, for example. 

We started to notice that he doesn’t fall into that perfect bell curve when he moved from the play-based preschool to the academic-focused pre-k, and we were called because he punched a kid in school. Turns out the class had 14 boys and 4 girls and a very inexperienced teacher. When he moved to kindergarten, we got a similar call. When we dug deeper, we found out that our kid was stuck in a corner while the hordes of children were coming in from an activity. So, we did as good parents ought to, and we sent him to professionals. We have now been to no less than 10 professionals to try to “fix our kid.” 

Our kid doesn’t need fixing. He is PERFECT the way he is. Our SYSTEMS need fixing. Last year, a very difficult year, I was introduced to Dr. Ross Greene and his thinking in Collaborative and Proactive Solutions. This infographic is a great summary of what he has researched and teaches. 

Check out the link too, put out by a Canadian group. It’s a great toolkit for educators. In the scenarios I mentioned, there were stressors that created anxiety and shame in my kid and he reacted thus. It was the environment that created the thought, the feeling, and then the action in my developing kid.

Dr. Greene says often, “Kids do well if they can.” 

That means the onus is ON US to create environments where kids can thrive. That means the onus is on us to create environments where kids can do their best thinking, to have great feelings, to do amazing actions. 

Toolkit: https://self-reg.ca/toolkit2017/

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Your Kids’ Pajamas

Encased in chemicals. Endocrine disrupting chemicals. That is your kids’ pajamas. And, if you are my age, my pajamas as a kid too.

I don’t often truly understand the Chemical Life we live. How those 80,000 approved chemicals truly affect my – our – day today. 

This came to light, for me, the other day when a friend shared an already viral video on Facebook. A mom was actually just shopping in your typical all-in-one grocery store, and she pointed out all the “flame resistant” pajamas. I actually never really thought about it before, what made these PJs so flame resistant? Another friend of mine noted how grossed out she had always been by these, and now considering their origin, I absolutely concur.

Here’s the thing – house fires are scary, and kids on fire is a scary thing. So, from what I can piece together with about an hour or two of internet research is that some time, long, long ago, we decided those were too scary to leave to chance. So, we started adding chemicals to all sorts of things – pajamas, couches, and more. But, like so many things with chemicals, we trusted in the chemicals ability to keep us safe rather than check to see if it interfered with anything else. That coupled with narrow sited choices and some choices just by chance that then became the norm, we went with these chemicals to keep us safe. In some cases, just because California did.

It’s like the story of the pot roast. It’s part urban legend and part truth (for example, this actually happened with my mom). Daughter cuts off the end of the pot roast and mom looks on, “Honey, why are you doing that?” “Because you did,” responds diligent daughter. “Oh, honey, I did that so the roast would fit in the pan. Yours fits as is,” responds clarifying mother. Granted, chopping off the end of a roast is far less daunting than ruining your health through ill-effects of chemicals. However, the point remains. How often do we do things because that’s the way another generation did? Too often I would argue, and it is now getting in the way of our health.

Video mom comes up with a great simple solution – avoid pajamas and buy loungewear instead. And, one final to-do: always read your labels. We read them when we discuss essential oils, regular “medicine”, food, and don’t forget your clothes too. 

Some References for You

  • Children’s Sleepwear Regulations: https://www.cpsc.gov/Business–Manufacturing/Business-Education/Business-Guidance/Childrens-Sleepwear-Regulations
  • A Flame Retardant That Came With Its Own Threat to Health: https://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/04/us/a-flame-retardant-that-came-with-its-own-threat-to-health.html
  • Potential disruption of endocrine system: Flame retardants can mimic estrogens, 3-D images show: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130819102716.htm
  • Endocrine Disruption and Flame-Retardant Chemicals: PBDE-99 Effects on Rat Sexual Development: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1367877/
  • Are brominated flame retardants endocrine disruptors?: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12850103
  • How to find flame-resistant pajamas for kids, without toxic chemicals: https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/on-parenting/how-to-find-flame-resistant-pajamas-for-kids-without-toxic-chemicals/2017/11/08/fe587216-c32d-11e7-afe9-4f60b5a6c4a0_story.html?utm_term=.b7f27121afde

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More on youngin’ emotional identification

I did get this one of him, though
I did get this one of him, though

Using oils to help my son isn’t something new. I started applying them on me and Levi as soon as I got my first package.

What is surprising, though, is how often I use them in conjunction with helping him find emotion. He got in trouble, again, at school. Sure, part is the age, but part — why can’t he just remember?

Then, I have to consider. It’s taken me how long to learn to identify and name my emotions? And, he is only eight years old? I must give this young one at least a grain of salt.

This particular week, he had two days in a row where he was disrupting his class in some way. His teacher purposefully addresses the outcome that wasn’t met to incite a conversations with parents or care givers. She marks off the one of four student-learning-expectations that were not followed. Often, though, our darling son “cannot remember” what happened.

Levi has a very distinctive “flight” response when he doesn’t want to talk about a thing. He clams up. He freezes. And, he runs away. Usually, he runs to his room.

As he’s gotten older, Peter and I have gotten more stern about telling him to stop, come to us, and try to talk.

I have tried to articulate emotions – attempting to model by showing him through me, like this action makes me MAD. We sometimes try to name what we think he’s feeling, choosing a few different words to see if we land on something that resonates with him.

This particular time, those strategies weren’t working.

So, I went to my oils and grabbed Balance and Citrus Bliss. I told Levi to take his socks off, and we both sat on the living room floor. I grabbed his feet and I massaged a drop each of the oils on each foot. I talked, specifically, about something other than the bad behavior.

Within a few minutes, he started to open up, and he was able to remember that he talked out of turn in class.

I love this power of touch, this power of aroma, this power of these gifts of the Earth.

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I will not be ashamed

Refusing to be photographed in Italy.
Refusing to be photographed in Italy.

We do what?

A photographer friend noted how common it was for her women clients to refuse photographs of themselves. They are too ashamed of how they look, so they erase themselves from their children’s lives for shame. What happens is that children, when as adults looking back, children then have no photographic keepsakes of their mothers. Their mothers have been erased from their lives.

I was horrified at the thought of my son looking back when he becomes a young man only to find no pictures of me or his father. Sure, we’re not model beautiful. Yes, we have our own identify issues, but to erase ourselves from our son’s life because of shame of how we look?

I was simply horrified.

Begrudgingly accepting I need to be in photos.
Begrudgingly accepting I need to be in photos.

Until that day, I had accepted that I needed to be in photographs. But, that need was limited to special occasions. At Levi’s birth. His birthday parties.

When I heard that anecdote years ago, now, I resolved to be in Levi’s photos unashamed.

I have tried to make a routine of taking little selflies whenever Levi and I do something. Maybe we’re getting coffee or playing in a park. Maybe I’ve taken him volunteering or brought him to a social justice something. Maybe we’re with friends.

On the coast with family.
On the coast with family.

I also take pictures of Levi and my husband, lest that stage be forgotten.

I always cringe looking at certain pictures. Criticizing myself for my looks. Continuing to be very uncomfortable while trying to be unashamed. I try suppress the shameful thoughts while I embrace the things I love: my son and my husband and the moments we share.

I am my son’s mother. My husband and I are his immediate role models. I want my son to be able to express his emotions. I want him to look back at his childhood with fondness. It takes a sense of courage I never considered.

It takes acceptance of where I am. I cannot figure out how to get more movement into my days. If I can’t get more movement into my days, and I eat a moderately healthy meal, and I know there are obstacles stacked in front of me, then I need to be somewhat okay with what I present.

I am not sharing this to say: do this. Rather, I am sharing this to capture this journey I am on. How I have faced hating how I look, being ashamed, facing the model I am to my son, and trying to assess how I want to show up in life.

I am trying to remember that I like it when I am truly cheerful, despite my (perceived) flaws. I am trying to remember that I like having even emotions so that I can be present to whatever situations arise.

I can’t be present when I am dwelling on things I cannot or am unwilling to change. So, I must face them with owning who I am and being unashamed about that person. I have a story, just like we all have a story. I am living my story, and it is unique to me. It is special for my family to share, and I have to be present for them. And, to be fully present, I will not be ashamed.

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Cooling Relief of Peppermint

In addition to cooling, peppermint supports alertness, clear breathing, and can support healthy digestion.
In addition to cooling, peppermint supports alertness, clear breathing, and can support healthy digestion.
Sunday night, Levi went to bed warm. He had woken up even more congested in the morning, and now, compare to Saturday, he had lethargy added to his obvious symptoms. Bedtime came, and he didn’t even fuss.

However, 9pm rolled around and he came out of his room in a confused and delirious state! I had waited for this moment. The moment when my son finally got a fever.

Sure, he had a few mild fevers as a toddler, but so far nothing as a little boy. After we got him to calm down and stay seated (he had got up unsure of where to go, as if there was a fog over any lucid part of his awareness), I found the thermometer. 101.7! It barely took 10 seconds to figure it out!

So, now, empowered with my natural health care remedies, I grabbed my peppermint oil. Levi is accustomed to me slathering him with oils. We use InTune and Balance daily to keep him focused and help moderate moods. We have had mixed success, but he is always compliant and rarely complains.

I told him I was only going to put a drop on his forehead and on the back of his neck. I warned him his eyes might sting. I let him stay up and watch Pokémon, since this 9pm fever waking was to prevent any school attending for Monday.

Around 10pm, I checked his temperature again. 100.4. He was still ebbing in hotness. I applied more peppermint. I let him continue watching TV while I did whatever it is I construed as work.

Around 11pm, I checked his temperature again. He felt a smidge warmer, and sure enough he was. 100.6. I told him I was going to apply more peppermint. In the interim, he had complained twice of tummy troubles, so we had even brought out the DigestZen with immediate results. Now, time for another application of peppermint, he tells me, “I like that one (peppermint); it made my whole head cold.” I replied, “Good, it’s cooling.”

I had heard, I had read, and I had observed with other ailments of my own the cooling effect of peppermint. It was a joy to be able to have such control of an illness, in my home. I didn’t need to call the advice nurse. I just used my instincts and acted with the tools I’ve added.

Levi woke up Monday in a buoyant mood, at 9am. He was staying home to let the illness clear for 24 hours. But, his temp? It was 98.9. Later, we checked it again, and the thermometer read 98.0.

Thank you doTERRA. Thank you peppermint oil.