This past year has been the most difficult parenting year yet for me. My son turned three in March, and by September he was deep into a power struggle phase that has lasted us, to some degree, through the year. Suddenly, I was looking not at a sweet toddler that I knew how to parent easily, I was looking at my greatest challenge to date.
My spirited and independent-minded son has really pushed me to figure out how the whole Natural Parenting philosophy works beyond toddlerhood. Up until now, Natural Parenting has created a wonderfully supportive foundation for him. He’s secure, confident, sensitive, and, quite frankly, too smart for his own good. But where do I go from here? How do I maintain that strong foundation? I looked specifically at providing consistent care and responding with sensitivity and found boundaries and a consistent rhythm in the home.
It’s easy to slip into too much time outside of the home. The larger part of society pops their children into sports and a myriad of organized activity by the time they are three, or even two. I have found however, through research and experience, that providing consistent care for the three year old and beyond must be rooted in a dependable rhythm – not schedule – with lots of time at home.
My son, in particular, loves to socialize and craves constant stimulation involving other people. We visit with friends, attend a few classes and get out of the house often. However, not without constantly re-evaluating what our needs are for the day. The key is balance. If he wakes up in the morning needing more of me, we stay home, If we are already out and things turn for the worse, we go home. Outside commitments aside, my priority is my children. I also filter what activities he participates in, where they take place, and with whom. For example, the majority of the classes he takes are with homeschooling families with similar parenting styles and most are with a set group of friends. Outside the home, I provide boundaries through all these considerations.
Inside the home, we are developing a rhythm that follows his pace. I work in about 15-minute spurts of time so that I don’t get caught up in what has to be done, and instead I am attuned to him. The basics – eating, sleeping/rest – are still maintained. Playtime takes up a large part of the day but he is also involved in some of the chores. The key is that he works with me and I don’t expect too much. His choices are limited, and when he over-steps a boundary the consequences fit the action. I always give him a chance to “fix” the situation if he is willing, and most the time he is.
Lastly, whether at home or not, I provide emotional boundaries by holding space for my son. I maintain calm and hold strong for him during temper tantrums. I take responsibility for the times these tantrums are caused by my expectations or lack of support. I respond with sensitive words and lots of hugs, and I try to reconnect through play.
Acacia is a stay at home mama playing through life one moment at a time with her husband and two young sons. She is a natural parenting, cloth diapering, gentle disciplining, home schooling, wholesome foods eating, spiritually centered steward to this great Mother Earth.