Swan Mothers

Discovering Ourselves through Parenting

Doing My Own Work

As I walked beside the lake one morning, a bunch of deer flies swarmed around me head.  At first, I swatted them away with reasonably good humor.  When they would not leave, I found myself increasingly agitated.  “It’s just a sound,” I reasoned with myself.  “Why is it annoying you so much?”  Yet annoy me it did.  Each buzz in my ear, every dart toward my head, pushed me closer to the edge.

There have been times when the sounds of my children have had a similar affect on me.  Their normal, child behavior rapidly changed me from a reasonable, sane woman to a crazy, raving one.

At my worst, I yelled at a newborn to stop crying, slapped a toddler who whined persistently, and snapped at young children for playing loudly.  It is humbling to look back.

These days, my parenting is much gentler.  You might think that this is because the children are older and it’s just easier.  But that is only a small part of the reason.

Mostly, it is because I have done a lot of work on myself.  After years of trying to make my children the way I thought they should be, I realized that they are just fine the way they are.  Even I am fine the way I am.  I simply need to make a few changes.

This, says Carl Rogers, is the curious paradox:  When I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.

Doing Our Own Work

As parents, we take our children’s behavior and appearance — their very being — personally.  When our children won’t eat the food we prepared or wear the clothes we’ve laid out, when they scream and kick in public and encounter difficulties in school, we assume that we should fix the situation.  We assume that we should fix our children.

In fact, our children do not need to be fixed.  They need to be seen, heard, understood, and loved.

But how do we see, listen, and console when we want to scream and shout?  One step at a time and not in the moment of our deepest despair, we change ourselves.

Learn new words to say.   I recommend reading How to Talk So Your Children Will Listen and Listen So Your Children Will Talk, over and over if necessary.  I read it many times.  This book is easy to read and offers many scripts for speaking to our children.

Step into your child’s shoes.  Take a minute to see the situation from your child’s point of view.  While you see a child who is not cooperating, what is your child’s experience?  Is she hungry or tired?  Do the seams on the socks bother him to an extent you cannot imagine?  Has the “nice” teacher spoken to her harshly and now she is afraid?

Look for the positive.  Mary Sheedy Kurchinka, in her book Raising Your Spirited Child,makes many suggestions for seeing challenging traits as assets.  Is your child stubborn, or persistent?  Oversensitive, or perceptive?  Bossy, or knows exactly what he wants?

Reconsider your foundational beliefs about yourself.  We all have limiting core beliefs.  They come from our early experiences, mostly those before age seven.   These limiting beliefs drive our thoughts and behaviors.  Fortunately, they can be changed effectively and, sometimes, quickly and easily, with techniques such as Matrix Reimprinting and EFT and other energy medicine modalities.

Tap.  EFT is very easy to learn and very effective for reducing stress in the moment.  Use EFT to honor yourself and your journey.  Click here to see the tapping points and demonstration.  Then, try tapping these phrases:

  • Even though this has been really exhausting, I’m a good mother and I’m doing enough.
  • Even though I haven’t done everything perfectly, I can love myself anyway.

I continue to work with practitioners regularly. For me, the support and guidance of a professional is essential in making major shifts.  Any work that I do on myself translates to treating my children better, and that’s a very good thing.

 

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6 Tips for Surviving the Darkest Days

There are times in the parents’ journey when we do not see the light. We forget that there is light. We feel abandoned by everyone, utterly alone.

At times like these, it is appropriate to feel our pain, to swim in our despair. It is healthy to allow all of our feelings to flow through us. It is not necessary (and often, it is not possible) for us to cheer up and put on a happy face.

The thing to remember is that we want the sadness to keep moving. We want to allow our sadness to be. We do not want to drown in it.

Six Ways to Support Yourself During the Darkest Days

1. Honor your sadness.

Find a way to take some time for your sadness and yourself.

  • Light a candle.
  • Sit quietly.
  • Close your eyes.
  • Ask your sadness: Do you have a name? What do you want me to know?
  • Listen. (If it feels strange to do this, try it anyway. I have often been surprised by the insights that came when I asked myself such questions. If you hear and feel nothing, let that be okay.)

2. Support your body with nourishing foods.

Your body needs to be nourished with healthy foods to remain strong. Let this be easy.

  • Brew a cup of nourishing, relaxing tea such as oat straw or chamomile.
  • Mash an avocado with a pinch of salt and a squeeze of lime.
  • Order a smoothie or a cup of soup.
  • As you eat or drink, feel every cell and every organ in your body being fed and sustained.

3. Accept help from Flower Essences.

In the early 20th century, Edward Bach discovered that each of our negative emotional states could be brought into balance with a flower essence. Bach Flower Essences may be purchased at most health food stores.

  • For general emotional support during difficult times, try the combination of four flower essences called Rescue Remedy. Put four drops of the essence in a glass of water and sip throughout the day.
  • Other flower essences may be indicated. If you feel drawn to healing with flower essences, I recommend contacting Amy Hendrickson for a consultation.

4. Tap, tap, tap your blues away.

At least 2000 years ago, the Chinese discovered that energy can be moved by stimulating specific points on the body. From this, they developed the practice of acupuncture. You can stimulate acupuncture points on your body, simply by tapping on them. If you do this while thinking about your sadness, the sadness will begin to shift (not necessarily disappear), as if by magic. The basics of tapping for stress relief.

5. Locate the sadness and breathe it away.

Instead of thinking about why you feel this sadness, ask yourself where you feel this sadness.

  • Breathe in deeply through your nose.
  • Feel your breath go to the place where you feel the sadness.
  • Breathe out through your mouth.
  • Repeat until the sadness moves to a new spot.
  • Then, feel your breath go to this new place.
  • Notice colors, images, sounds, and feelings associated with the sad spots. No need to do anything with them, simply notice.
  • Continue as long as it feels good.

6. Read these words of hope.

The following are the lyrics to a song called “Inscription of Hope.” It is based on a poem found on the wall of a basement where Jews were hiding from Hitler. Perhaps reading these words will feed your soul. You can listen to children singing The Inscription of Hope here.

Inscription of Hope

I believe in the sun
even when it is not shining
and I believe in love
even when there’s no one there

and I believe in God
even when he is silent
I believe through any trial
there is always a way

but sometimes in this suffering
and hopeless despair
my heart cries for shelter
to know someone’s there

but a voice rises within me
saying “hold on, my child
I’ll give you strength, I’ll give you hope
just stay a little while”

I believe in the sun
even when it is not shining
and I believe in love
even when there’s no one there

and I believe in God
even when he is silent
I believe through any trial
there is always a way

May there someday be sunshine
may there someday be happiness
may there someday be love
may there someday be peace

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When Your Child Won’t Eat

The process of eating is extremely challenging for many individuals with autism and sensory integration disorder.  Seventy-five percent of children diagnosed with ASDs have limited food preferences.  Approximately half of the autism population in one study was hypersensitive to textures and lumps in food.[1]

Termed resistant eaters, individuals with underlying oral-motor delays[2] or sensory integration dysfunction[3]severely limit their food selections, sometimes to as few as three foods.  Resistant eaters often select foods that have similar traits, such as being white, having similar textures or being easy to chew.  Autistic children often choose only the foods that are  harmful to them:  processed wheat products (pasta, bread, crackers), sugary foods, and milk products. Other resistant eaters limit themselves to foods that are pureed.

Our Story

One of my children had severe oral sensitivity challenges and was a resistant eater.  Daniel literally could not eat many foods.

As a baby, he was not interested in food when I first offered it to him.  I waited and tried again.  He was still not interested.  Eventually, he began eating very small amounts of pureed foods.  When it was time to transition to real foods, he could not make the change.  He would eat mac and cheese and  pizza, but vegetables, fruit and meat where completely unpalatable to him.  He would choke and gag at the sight of food.

Today, he eats almost everything.  We never did occupational therapy, feeding therapy or any other traditional therapies. He made the transition to eating a healthy and varied diet slowly.  His body and process were supported with homeopathic remedies and a huge change in perspective for his parents.

Juicing to Improve Oral Defensiveness

A significant shift occurred when I began juicing. When fruits and vegetables are juiced, the fiber is removed and the nutrients are immediately absorbed and assimilated into the body.  (It is important to consume fiber for optimal digestion.  Drinking freshly juiced produce is a step leading to healthy eating.)

Every morning, on an empty stomach, Daniel (and the whole family) drank freshly juiced fruit and vegetables.  My juice of choice was pineapple and celery, made in my Jack Lalanne juicer.  This juice is sweet and palatable.  Use more pineapple at first to make if very sweet.

Pineapple is an excellent source of the protein-digesting enzyme bromelain.  Celery is high in organic sodium which most people are severely lacking.  Sodium that is available in celery is soluble and organic (living), and is essential for the body. Every cell in our body is constantly bathed in a salt solution, and if the salt level is not in balance, dehydration occurs.

Soon after beginning this routine, Daniel began eating healthy, unprocessed foods, including steak and broccoli.  (Yes.  I was shocked!)

Pureeing for Nutrients

Before he got to this point, I pureed everything in a Vitamix — a very high-power blender essential for making the super-smooth foods orally sensitive children demand. I mixed the pureed meal that the family was eating with gluten-free pancake mix and an egg and fried it into a pancake.  He ate these pancakes for a few years.  I made extra pancakes and sent them to school for his lunch.

Lentil soup pancakes.  Beet and chicken pancakes.  Carrot and steak pancakes.  Everything went in the blender and was served with a large side of mayonaisse.

These days, Daniel occasionally gags at the site of a new or strange food, but is willing to try almost anything.  He has discovered that he may like what he tries — and also that we will not force him to eat even another bite if he does not like the food.

Solutions for Resistant Eaters

Contrary to children who are called picky, resistant eaters may starve themselves, jeopardizing health and growth.[4] For these children, foods must be made palatable in some way that does not destroy nutritional value.

One of the best methods for encouraging healthy eating is education.  Learning where food comes from can begin by gardening and growing fruits or vegetables.  When shopping together, children can be encouraged to choose a new fruit or vegetable, look up where it grows, what part of the plant it comes from, and its nutritional and therapeutic benefits.  Then, the new produce may be prepared and tasted.

Children should be repeatedly offered a variety of health-building foods.  Ten or more exposures to a new food may be needed to get used to eating it. Some children may be willing to eat raw fruit and vegetables.  Others will eat them cooked to a particular degree.  Favorite condiments may make trying a new food a possibility.  Children can find eating a whole fruit or vegetable daunting.  Cutting fruits and vegetables into small pieces and dipping into sauces may make them palatable.

It is essential to accommodate children who have sensory integration and oral defensiveness issues.  For children who balk and gag at the sight of vegetables or other necessary foods, the foods must be disguised or blended into acceptable foods.  Any food may be pureed to a consistency as smooth as necessary.

If applesauce consistency is tolerated, pureed fruits and vegetables may be offered.  Pureed vegetables may be added to mashed potatoes, hidden in spaghetti sauce or in meatballs, mixed with pancake mix and egg and fried or baked as a pancake or patty.  Pureed fruit may be mixed into oatmeal or served as a smoothie, pudding, or ice cream.

For autistic children who understand language, teaching children how marketing works and the advantages of healthy foods gives them tools to make educated decisions in food selection.  Children who do not possess adequate language for such communication need gentle and loving exposure to new foods.

For resistant eaters with physical or neurological obstacles to eating the foods necessary for healing and balance, the above tactics will likely be ineffective.  Remedying mealtime dilemmas will involve a comprehensive plan and a significant commitment from parents and caregivers.  Parents and caregivers must reconsider their assumptions and begin where the child is.  Working with occupational therapists toward improving oral tolerance is important.  Professional homeopathic treatment may yield critical support.  Ultimately, proper nutrition that leads to true healing will make it easier for the resistant child to consume a wider variety of textures and flavors.

EFT and Homeopathy for Resistant Eaters

EFT and homeopathic treatment address underlying issues of orally sensitive children.  These safe and natural methods bring forth the wisdom of the body and support self-healing.

War & Peas

Jo Cormack

If you are worried about your child’s picky eating, War & Peas has the answers you need. Therapist Jo Cormack turns conventional parenting techniques on their head, introducing readers to EAF (emotionally aware feeding). This is not a book about what to feed children, but how.


[1] Mayers and Calhoun, “Symptoms of Autism in Young Children and Corresondence with the DSM.”  Infants and Young Children, 1999, v. 12.

[2] Oral-motor skills include the functions of sucking, biting, crunching, chewing and licking.

[3] Sensory integration dysfunction occurs when the brain cannot efficiently process the sensory information coming from the body or from the environment, causing the person with SID to experience difficulties responding in an adaptive way to everyday sensations that other people hardly notice.

[4] Ernsperger, Lori, Just Take a Bite:   Easy, Effective Answers to Food Aversions and Eating Challenges.Arlinton, Texas:  Future Horizons, Inc.  2004.

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