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Sometimes all the nurturing in the world won’t calm an irrational, worked up or distraught child.  That’s when I encourage parents to get a little help from Mother Nature.  You see, all things nature help bring people to their heart space.  Ever find that you feel immeasurably better after a walk on the beach or through a park?  It’s because nature seeks balance and moves in to restore frantic or low energy creating equilibrium and harmony.

Of course, a child who is cranky because they’ve missed a nap simply needs sleep.  Or if they are falling to pieces because it’s past lunchtime, no amount of nature will quell the effects of low blood sugar.  But if your child is just having an off day, a little bit of time outside could work wonders.

Sending Johnny and Sally out to play together if they have been fighting might not work, but if you take them on a walk, or on a picnic and participate together, I believe you will find a change of attitude in the kids.  Chaos can exist outside, so again, going to a crowded park where there aren’t enough swings or the slide is stuffed with kids is not likely to help you or your child.  The chaotic energy of the people there will surely overrule the calming force of the grass, trees, sun and sky, but if you can play in a quieter park, walk through a botanical gardens, walk on the beach and collect shells, work in the garden at home or sit in your personal meditation garden the effects can be magical.

Too cold or yucky to go outside?  If you have a green thumb you can make sure there is a corner of your home with child safe plants all around.  Plop your child there with some relaxing music, coloring books and/or a story book and allow them to unwind and fill up.  Or, draw a warm bath and let your child soak while you read him a story.  Add a tablespoon of Epsom salts and a couple of drops of lavender and your child just may transform from angry and defiant to complacent and happy! 

Please share with us your favorite ways to employ nature in your quest to nurture your child!

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One of the most used tools for punishing a child’s behavior in the last decade has been the “Time Out.”  Companies capitalized on products geared to assist parents with this consequence creating tools that range from Time Out Timers to  Time Out Chairs.  I’m a fan of Time Out myself.  It’s a great way for everyone to regroup, reset and recharge.  But if a child sits in Time Out and stews about the punishment or is uncertain about what they did to land themselves there the Time Out is really ineffective, and more times than not the child will end up right back in the Time Out seat.

This consequence is much more useful if the child has an opportunity to get in touch with what they are feeling and then get to a calmer more centered place.  A child that leaves Time Out calm and balanced is a child that will interact with his surroundings more successfully.

Here are a few tips for getting the most out of a Time Out.

1) Choose a time out spot in your home and make it peaceful — Maybe at a window that overlooks the garden or in a space that removed from household noise.  It should also be comfortable enough that the child can relax, for example a chair is preferrable to standing.

2) Play some happy music in Time Out.  Not something that is distracting, but this is a good time to use something like Baby Mozart’s Relax, Daydream and Draw CD.

3) Encourage deep breathing in the Time Out space.  This may mean sitting with your child the first few times and breathing with them so that they understand this is part of the Time Out process.  Deep breathing encourages the physical and emotional levels of the body to relax.  Only once these levels are relaxed can anyone process what’s going on around them.  You are much more likely to get your child to understand their actions once they are calm.

4)  If the child is angry, have them count to ten.  This process helps them refocus their energy and helps to move them out of such a negative space.

5)  Just before they leave their Time Out space ask them to tell you  something they love about themselves.  This reestablishes the idea that consequences do not define them, and they will be in their heart which opens them up to better interactions with everyone.   (Remember ideally it’s 1 minute of Time Out for every year of the child’s age.  A 2-year-old can sit for 2 minutes)

6) My only DON’T suggestion is directly for the parents or caregivers.  Do not end a Time Out asking the child if they know what they did wrong.  This only serves to inject more negative energy into the process at the exact moment that we are asking them to go back to playing or listening to instructions.  We are setting ourselves up for disaster when we do this.  Instead, it is appropriate to tell the child why they are going to Time Out when it is issued, or if the child is older, to ask them why they think they are being sent to Time Out.

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