A few weeks ago I thought this would be the first year in the last five or so that I didn’t have a word for the year, nothing was really sticking out to me, but that changed . . .
I spend quite a bit of time thinking about my words for the year, usually a few pop up and I prayerfully consider the one or two that I feel like God wants me to focus on for the year.
In all reality, sharing my words is real vulnerability because in essence I’m saying: here’s where I really fail.
This year’s word definitely opens up some vulnerability because I feel like I’ve been living the opposite.
The word that I’ve chosen for this year is gentle.
I used to think that gentleness was a weakness and was the opposite of strength but I’ve learned how wrong I was, though gentleness still doesn’t come easily to me.
I specifically want to be more gentle when it comes to parenting this year. And like I always do when I want to learn about something, I’m planning on reading a bunch of books about it.
I have curated a list of what I think are the six best books on gentle parenting that I want to read this year. Most of them I have read before and a couple I’ll be reading for the first time. The ones I have read I plan on re-reading because they are worth it.
I’ve written down the six books I want to read in case there is anyone else looking for some gentle parenting books to read this year.
THE BEST GENTLE PARENTING BOOKS
I’ve already actually listened to the audiobook this year but I promptly went and ordered the hard copy because I know I want to take time throughout the year to go through it again and slower. I’d highly recommend this book!
Triggers: Exchanging Parent’s Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses examines common parenting issues that cause us to explode inappropriately at our children. Moving beyond simple parenting tips on how to change your child’s behavior, authors Amber Lia and Wendy Speake offer biblical insight and practical tools to equip and encourage you on the journey away from anger-filled reactions toward gentle, biblical responses.
I have just started this on audio. It’s written by the same authors as Triggers so I feel like it’s going to be a great one!
You want to say the right thing when your children do wrong — trouble is most parents aren’t sure where to even begin. Parenting Scripts is the much-needed resource for moms and dads who are desperate to speak life to their children instead of defaulting to the same old words and ineffective consequences. Focusing on the most ordinary and yet troublesome areas in our daily routines, Parenting Scripts helps parents to craft intentional and well thought out and prayed over words.
When parents step back to consider their children’s wrong actions, there’s a chance they can plan the right reactions. In the margins of their busy day, Parenting Scripts leads parents to a calm place where they can pinpoint their family’s bad habits and choose better ways of dealing with immature behavior — theirs and their children’s.
Laid out as a parenting book and workbook all in one, each of the thirty-one short chapters includes:
- Parenting Script – main lesson, complete with a script to try at home
- Scriptures – verses to apply
- Prayer Script – prayer to pray
- Make the script your own – empty pages to write down your own parenting script
I read this book a few years ago and bought it last year, I’m looking forward to re-reading it, it’s one of my favorite parenting books!
Parents in our post-modern world tend to be committed to but anxious about their child-rearing responsibilities. They’ve tried the countless parenting books on the market, but many of these are strident, fear-based books that loving parents instinctively reject, while still searching for direction.
Now Dr. Tim Kimmel, founder of Family Matters ministries, offers a refreshing new look at parenting. Rejecting rigid rules and checklists that don’t work, Dr. Kimmel recommends a parenting style that mirrors God’s love, reflects His forgiveness, and displaces fear as a motivator for behavior. As we embrace the grace God offers, we begin to give it-creating a solid foundation for growing morally strong and spiritually motivated children.
This one has been recommended to me by a couple of people already. Paul David Tripp has a 14-day devotional on YouVersion (the Bible app) on this topic with videos on the 14 principles and it was really good, I’m hoping the book is as well!
What is your calling as a parent?
In the midst of folding laundry, coordinating carpool schedules, and breaking up fights, many parents get lost. Feeling pressure to do everything “right” and raise up “good” children, it’s easy to lose sight of our ultimate purpose as parents in the quest for practical tips and guaranteed formulas.
In this life-giving book, Paul Tripp offers parents much more than a to-do list. Instead, he presents us with a big-picture view of God’s plan for us as parents. Outlining fourteen foundational principles centered on the gospel, he shows that we need more than the latest parenting strategy or list of techniques. Rather, we need the rescuing grace of God—grace that has the power to shape how we view everything we do as parents.
Freed from the burden of trying to manufacture life-change in our children’s hearts, we can embrace a grand perspective of parenting overflowing with vision, purpose, and joy.
This is my all time favorite parenting book. Can’t wait to re-read it!
All of us want to raise good kids. And we want to be good parents. But what exactly do we mean by “good?” And is “being good” really the point?
Mother-daughter team Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson contend that every way we try to make our kids “good” is simply an extension of Old Testament Law—a set of standards that is not only unable to save our children, but also powerless to change them.
No, rules are not the answer. What they need is GRACE.
We must tell our kids of the grace-giving God who freely adopts rebels and transforms them into loving sons and daughters. If this is not the message your children hear, if you are just telling them to “be good,” then the gospel needs to transform your parenting too.
Give Them Grace is a revolutionary perspective on parenting that shows us how to receive the gospel afresh and give grace in abundance, helping our children know the dazzling love of Jesus and respond with heartfelt obedience.
I listened to this one on audio a year or two ago, this time I’d like to read the hard copy.
Grocery shopping. Soccer practice. Dirty dishes.
Motherhood is tough, and it often feels like the to-do list just gets longer and longer every day—making it hard to experience true joy in God, our children, and the gospel.
In this encouraging book for frazzled moms, Gloria Furman helps us reorient our vision of motherhood around what the Bible teaches. Showing how to pursue a vibrant relationship with God—even when discouragement sets in and the laundry still needs to be washed—this book will help you treasure Christ more deeply no matter how busy you are.
Do you have a word for the year?
Have you read any of these books? What are you favorites?
Any other book recommendations?
One of my most pinned posts on my personal blog is Raising a Highly Sensitive Child: Tips to Help You Get Through, and I’ve thought a lot about how I am going to homeschool this highly sensitive child.
If the term highly sensitive child/person is new to you, it’s a real thing, let me explain.
Highly Sensitive People (HSP’s) and Highly Sensitive Children (HSC’s) are:
- more aware of subtleties
- can be easily overwhelmed by bright lights, strong smells and a lot of noise around them
- have a rich and complex inner life
- are affected by other people’s moods
- and so much more
I first learned about highly sensitive people last year and I quickly read Elaine Aron’s, [easyazon_link identifier=”0767908724″ locale=”US” tag=”intentiona07d-20″]The Highly Sensitive Child[/easyazon_link]. Let me tell you, this book totally opened my eyes. I felt like I know understood myself and my daughter and it explained so many of our characteristics that I just thought were quirks we needed to get over.
Every HSC is unique. What may be a major for some HSC’s might not affect another.
I am a highly sensitive person raising a highly sensitive child, some days that means I’m more understanding of her and what she is feeling and some days that means I get frustrated more easily.
Truthfully, I don’t know which would be harder, homeschooling my daughter or having her in school. From what I hear she was very well behaved in school and was able to control her sensitivity to a point but unfortunately as soon as she got home all the emotions came out. And I mean all the emotions. Sure, the days were fairly easy when she was at school but it made the evenings and weekends a lot harder. I’m hoping that homeschooling will help the emotions come out throughout the day and she will have smaller ups and downs instead of always having very intense evenings.
Knowing that my daughter is highly sensitive will definitely affect how we homeschool. I’m hoping some of these tips will be able to help you if you are homeschooling a HSC as well.
TIPS FOR HOMESCHOOLING A
HIGHLY SENSITIVE CHILD
KEEP NOISE TO A MINIMUM
While I do have a preschooler to occupy during school time and he sure can be loud, he is just one kid. Compared to the 20+ other kids that were in Raeca’s kindergarten classroom we should be able to keep the noise level in our house pretty low. This also means we won’t really be playing music while we are working on other subjects which I know some kids can handle but not my HSC (or myself to be honest).
ALLOW PLENTY OF TIME
I am blocking off the mornings for homeschooling and am allowing 3 hours to get done 1.5-2 hours of work. Nothing stresses my HSC out more than feeling like she needs to hurry.
KEEP THE HOMESCHOOL ROOM CLEAN
We will definitely need to clean up as we move from task to task to keep clutter to a minimum. Clutter and too much visual stimulation can be overwhelming. We should probably also get a closet door for our school room.
ACTUALLY HAVE A HOMESCHOOL ROOM
This one is actually a bit of an experiment. Personally, I’d prefer to do our schooling in our living space, mainly the kitchen table and living room, but Raeca really wanted a school room. I don’t know her reasoning for it but I wonder if using the space for one thing will help her focus better. I’ll report back when I find out.
FILTER OUT SCARY CONTENT
If we come across a topic or subject that I notice is a little too intense or scary we will back off and save it for a different time. HSC’s have a complex thought life and can also be worriers. Depending on the child you may be able to talk them through it or you may have to wait until they are older to study that content.
TURN MISTAKES INTO SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL
A really good skill to give your HSC is to figure out ways to make their mistakes into something beautiful. When drawing a person’s face only has room for one eye? Can you make their head turned? How about draw some more hair and pretend the eye is covered up? A word is spelled wrong on a birthday card? How can you turn that backwards b into a butterfly? Find the beauty in the mistakes and you will probably avoid a complete meltdown.
PROVIDE TIME FOR DECISION MAKING
HSP usually need some time to make decisions. Choices can be good but if there are too many they can get overwhelmed, try to limit the choices they have and then give them enough time to make the decision. Pressure to make a choice too quickly can stress them out.
There are some neat parts to having a HSC that I think often go unnoticed and I think it’s important as parents that we recognize the strengths our kids do have. Some common positive qualities of highly sensitive people:
- empathy for others, HSC’s are often very empathetic and compassionate
- they have a keen eye for observation and will often notice and point out what most people would miss
- they are conscientious and usually try to do their very best
- creativity! HSP’s are often teachers, writers, counselors and artists
- a wonderful imagination
Do you have a highly sensitive child?
How do you adjust for them in your homeschool?
Earlier this year, among my stacks of library books, I found a gem; The Highly Sensitive Child by Elaine Aron. It was just prior to this that I made aware that the term Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), was actually a true term with real research behind it.
The more I began to read about HSP’s the more the light bulbs began to go off in my head. I was completely reading about myself and my daughter.
In case you do not know, a Highly Sensitive Person, (can also be termed as having Sensory Processing Sensitivity), is not necessarily a person who is highly emotional but those who are keenly aware of all that is going on around them.
HSP’s (and Highly Sensitive Children -HSC’s) are:
- more aware of subtleties
- can be easily overwhelmed by bright lights, strong smells and a lot of noise around them
- have a rich and complex inner life
- are affected by other people’s moods
- so much more.
Since I am a highly sensitive person raising a highly sensitive child I feel keenly aware of the struggle and I feel like awareness is the first step to helping so I wanted to share a few points today in case there are others out there with highly sensitive kids and are looking for some answers.
I’m not sharing this list to say that I have it all together, but more as a place I can refer back to on the hard days (truth be told, I had to stop in the middle of this post for half a day to deal with my daughter having some HSC issues).
This list isn’t in any logical order, just in the order that I thought about them, your child may be highly sensitive and not struggle with all of these, but these are some of the common ones in our house.
So, if you are dealing with a highly sensitive child, here are some things for you to know and do:
Understand that too much noise can make them so overwhelmed they shut down
This is one my daughter and I both struggle with, we can’t handle having more than one noise at a time, two people trying to talk to us at the same time makes our heads feel like they are going to explode. If you want to get the attention of your HSC try to eliminate as much noise as possible, or remove them from an area if there is a lot of noise occurring. It may look like they are ignoring you when in reality their brains are trying to process every bit of noise and it’s just too much for their brains to do at once. They don’t have the ability to “just tune it out”, this is also something to keep in mind when you child is working on homework, having music or people talking at the same time is not going to help them be productive at all.
Doing a lot of things in a short amount of time can rattle them
Constant go, go, go or being rushed is a tantrum or freak out waiting to happen. There are times when a person has to hurry, I get it, but I find that I’m better off speaking quietly and gently to my daughter and not really letting her know that we really need to hurry. Pushing her too much makes her explode and we end up taking longer than we would have in the first place so I try to give her a lot of time to get ready and do her stuff so we don’t usually have to rush it very often.
Itchy clothes and tags, upside down socks . . . actually bother them
Scratch clothes, itchy tags, upside down socks, crooked pants . . . I could go on for quite some time. Your HSC isn’t trying to be difficult but it’s hard for them to concentrate or do anything else when their clothes are bugging them. I do my best to buy comfortable clothes, or offer tank tops under scratchy shirts or offer my services when clothes are not fitting properly.
Just the other day my daughter was telling me about one of her (non-HSC) friends who was wearing their shirt backwards and didn’t even notice until she told them. That would be the day my daughter wouldn’t notice! And of course she was the one to point it out to her friend, she’s observant like that.
They aren’t over reacting to pain – they are just extra sensitive to it – it really hurts them that much
This is one characteristic that my daughter has that I don’t think I do. It’s hard not to get frustrated and tell her to stop overreacting but I try to remind myself that when she yells (okay, screams) in pain, it’s because it really is hurting her that much. I do my best to comfort her and put band-aids on whenever she asks.
Keep the visual stimulation to a minimum
Houses, bedrooms and classrooms can have a lot of visual stimulation going on which can be overwhelming to a lot of HSC’s. I’m definitely a minimalist when it comes to home decor so I guess that works in our favor.
They can get so overwhelmed by stuff that they can’t act
This totally links to the one above. I find that as my daughter adds more and more stuff to her room (toys, books, papers, assorted junk), she gets overwhelmed. She wants a clean room but she doesn’t know where to start. I am completely the same way so I try to help her out by doing a complete clean of her room one day when she’s in school every few weeks or so. Every time she comes home and sees her clean room she gives me a big hug and says thank you, she appreciates that I was able to put away and get rid of the things that she just couldn’t.
A dislike for certain textures in food is real
I’ve always been a “picky eater” myself and then a number of years ago I came across the phrase “superior taste buds” on the Rachael Ray Show. It was a lightbulb moment for me. It’s not just picky eating, they are being super sensitive to everything. This includes food textures, foods mixing together, certain tastes . . . believe me, if I could have chosen to like certain foods when I was growing up, I totally would have. I didn’t like all the extra time I had to stay at the table because I needed to “finish my food”, I didn’t want to not like it, I just did! We try to aim for the kids having one or two bites of each food at supper but we don’t usually force them to eat all of it. But we do then let them know they won’t get dessert and/or a snack before they go to bed. That’s usually enough for them to eat a bit more, if they go away from the table saying they are done when they’ve only had a few bites I’ll usually save their plate in the fridge because it’s not long before they are back because they realize they want to eat something else yet.
If food is a fight for you I’d recommend the book French Kids Eat Everything, I read it earlier this year and use a number of her techniques.
Slightly scary movies are very scary
Even if a movie has a slightly scary scene that can be enough. No real tips other than to just avoid them! Even to this day I can’t watch CSI or other crime type shows without being up half the night, and that’s just not worth it.
Downtime is necessary in the day
A little time to recharge in the middle of the day is exactly what a HSC needs. They can play toys in their room, look at books, listen to an audio book . . . find out what works best for them and work in a bit of time each day.
Hugs always help
When my daughter is having a hard time of something I can see it in her face and try to remember to ask if she wants a hug. Physical touch is definitely her love language so she loves this and it helps to calm her down more than anything else.
During or after a tantrum, sit with them in their room
For the longest time I thought a child needed to be sent to their room when they were misbehaving to have some time to cool off alone, and while that may work for some kids for my HSC it works best if I go in with her and she can realize that even though she feels like she is losing control I am still there with her. I try to continue to talk to her calmly and I find singing also helps (yes, even with my awful voice).
* * *
There are some neat parts to having a HSC that I think often go unnoticed and I think it’s important as parents that we point out the strengths our kids do have.
- at a very young age Raeca knew exactly where to turn to get to places we’d only been a few times because she had always been observing out the window
- empathy for others, HSC are often very empathetic and compassionate
- they have a keen eye for observation and will often notice and point out what most people would miss
If you think you might have a HSC I would strongly recommend reading The Highly Sensitive Child by Elaine Aron, and if you think you are a HSP yourself, I would still recommend reading The Highly Sensitive Child! There is the book The Highly Sensitive Person by the same author, I started to read it but ended up not finishing because of the many references to sexual abuse (of course an HSP can’t handle reading about that!) and found that The Highly Sensitive Child was very helpful in helping me understand myself as well.
Are you an HSP or raising an HSC?
Got any tips?
I’d love to hear from you, say hello below!
I thought parenting was going to reveal my strengths,
never realizing that God had ordained it to reveal my weaknesses.
Some days parenting is tough. That quote above ^ hits the nail right on the head.
Lately I’ve had feelings of failure, when I hear my kids’ bad attitudes I know what I am actually hearing is echos of my own heart and attitude. I’ve been realizing my own need for grace.
We need days of failure because they help humble us,
and through them we can see how God’s grace is poured out on the humble.
I mess up, I get frustrated and yet my children still love me. These last few weeks has honestly felt like the biggest example of earthly grace I have ever seen and felt.
I snap at Raeca and she hugs me and tell me she loves me.
I am frustrated at Ephraim and yet he still wants me to hold him until he falls asleep.
They are teaching me so much. And while the refining process is not fun, it will be worth it.
The weaknesses, failures, and sins of our family are the places where we learn that we need grace too.
It is there, in those dark mercies, that God teaches us to be humbly dependent.
It is there that He draws near to us and sweetly reveals His grace.
Paul’s suffering teaches us to reinterpret our thorn.
Instead of seeing it as a curse,
we are to see it as the very thing that keeps us “pinned close to the Lord.”
We are commanded to give them the law so that they will be crushed by it and see their need for a Savior.
The law won’t make them good.
It will make them despair of ever being good enough,
and in that way it will make them open to the love, sacrifice,
and welcome of their Savior, Jesus Christ.
All quotes in this post are from Give Them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick.
What have your kids been teaching you lately?
It’s been a few months now since Raeca has joined Jared on the gluten free band wagon. I know I shared at the beginning of the summer that we were testing her for Celiac since it is hereditary and she was displaying some of the classic symptoms for it, but I don’t think I ever shared the results. A few days after getting the test done the doctor called to tell us that she tested negative.
While some would think that would be a good diagnosis I was kind of disappointed* because I knew that gluten was indeed affecting her in a negative way and now we had no real “proof” (medically speaking). Despite her diagnosis (or lack thereof) we have continued to assume she at least has a gluten intolerance and time and time again we are assured we are doing the right thing, when we will eat at other people’s houses and even though we (and they) are as careful as possible to avoid any gluten contamination and yet she is sick for days afterwards.
Raeca has been handling the transition to a completely gluten free diet so well. She actually likes almost every gluten-free food that we’ve sent her way and has even eaten gluten-free breads that Jared has tried his best to eat but just couldn’t handle. This has been such a blessing.
I thought with foods like goldfish crackers and pretzels still so fresh in her memory that the transition would have been more difficult but it really hasn’t been the case for her.
Today I wanted to share a few things that we have done that I believe have helped this transition.
EXPLAIN THAT GLUTEN HURTS THEM
We’ve explained to Raeca that it is gluten that makes her tummy hurt, so when we are over at someone’s house and she asks for a delicious donut or other treat all I have to do is tell her that it has gluten in it and she understands, she never whines or complains about it because she knows what it does to her.
MAKE SURE THEY KNOW TO REFUSE SNACKS OR ASK IF IT IS GLUTEN FREE
Raeca isn’t even 4 years old yet and has gotten quite good at either declining snacks when offered by kids or asking adults if the food is gluten free. It is something we’ve chatted about at home, she knows that she isn’t supposed to share food with other children because she may get sick.
MAKE SURE OTHER ADULTS KNOW
Sometimes kids just forget to ask about the food, it’s bound to happen, if you can make sure to keep any adults in the loop who will be in charge of potentially giving your child food you can reduce the risk of contamination. Our families and close friends know as well as her preschool teachers.
HAVE GLUTEN FREE FOODS AVAILABLE
If we go to a friends house for lunch or the evening I always try to make sure to bring food along that she can eat. Sometimes that means I bring an entire meal and sometimes just a snack. Raeca will be starting preschool this week and they will often have “special days” where kids will bring a special snack, I already have a list of days and I plan on sending her gluten-free cupcakes on those days.
GET THEM IN THE KITCHEN
Kids are always more willing to try food when they have helped to make it. Get them in the kitchen pouring and mixing and they will be more interested taste testing afterwards.
Do you know any gluten free children?
Are there any tips you would add to the list?
*Just to clarify: I was disappointed that we didn’t have a clear diagnosis for Raeca, NOT that I wanted her to have celiac.
Linking up with Gluten Free Tuesday.
A couple of weeks ago Raeca planted wildflowers in a couple of little pots and while we were sitting on the deck doing the planting I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of seeds I am planting now.
Am I planting seeds of encouragement, forgiveness and love or impatience, anger and fear?
I know from experience that the seeds I plant are going to result in what grows. If I plant anger, anger will spring up.
Not even just in Raeca, but my own life as well.
Bitterness and jealousy verses grace and compassion.
Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God.
You will always harvest what you plant.
Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature.
But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.
I am trying to make a conscious effort to plant only seeds that I want to harvest, it’s a lot of work each day, but the benefits are worth it.
How about you, what kind of seeds are you planting?
Linking up with Holly
This blanket. Her constant companion, her go-to when she’s sick. It’s one of those things I think I will remember forever (because honestly, it drives me crazy right now how much she thinks she needs it). But I know one day she will give it up and I’ll soon forget how much she loved it.
I’ll forget how she has a favorite corner (aptly nicknamed “Cornie”) and how she holds that corner up to her nose and sucks her thumb.
I’ll forget that prior to our trip to Uganda two years ago I knew I couldn’t ask her to fly across the world without her precious blanket so I cut it in half to save room in our suitcases.
I will probably forget how she always says it’s so soft and cuddly.
One day I’ll forget that my big girl once used to be a little girl so I take photos and write these words in hopes that I never forget.
P.S. I’ll be announcing the winner for the necklace giveaway tomorrow!
Last week I shared some of the verses I am praying for Raeca -thank you to everyone for sharing verses/virtues you are praying for your own children. As I’ve been finding more verses to pray over Raeca I’ve been thinking about how I don’t want these to just be verses that I am praying for her but I would love for them to be a visual reminder so I’ve been working on some prints I can add to her room. And I figured while I am making them I may as well throw them up in the shop as instant digital downloads as well.
I have ordered some prints and can’t wait to show you how I plan on displaying them in her room!
Here are a few more verses I am praying for her (click on the photo to go to the listing):
So besides praying verses for Raeca, I had another bit of a parenting revelation last week. I realized that when Raeca is “out of control” and throwing a tantrum I can usually be found right along side her equally as out of control. I might not have been the one screaming vocally in Costco a few weeks ago but you can bet that I was screaming inside. I realized that I am as guilty of throwing tantrums as she is.
I know it probably shouldn’t have taken me this long to figure it out but the more out of control I get -the more she does. The calmer and more understanding I am, the calmer Raeca is. I’m probably the last parent to figure this out but it’s been a real big revelation for me, and on the off chance there is someone out there who is in the same boat that I was I wanted to share the wisdom I have gained.
I came across the Orange Rhino site a few weeks ago -in essence it is a mother who vowed to not yell at her children for 365 days, I liked the idea when I read it but didn’t actually feel like joining in on the challenge then but last week after my light bulb moment I was finally ready. For me it is not just 365 days of no yelling but 365 of staying cool, calm and collected.
My human nature is not one of control, I grew up in a family with a bit of a temper and definitely inherited that temper, and I can see it coming out through Raeca now. I don’t want her to continue that way and I know the best way to help her to control herself is to model that behavior myself.
Do you have any tips or techniques to share on how to stay calm? I would love to hear them!