Toddlerhood & Elementary Years

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Those early years...they are immeasurably fun, and yet can be incredibly hard at times too.

Yesterday we introduced the Mom's Panel with the help of my friend Sharita.

Our panel has a blast traveling around and sharing with moms of all ages and we are honored to be a part of encouraging them in their journeys of motherhood.

As I said yesterday, in our 40 minute talk, Sharita covers her "best things she's learned about momming through the toddler years".

She and her hubster have a precious son Jackson, 5, who is lover of all things Captain America, LittleBigPlanet and basically anything boy. I have seen her in the midst of her mom-ness and I can attest she is a great one. What I love about her style is how she has Jackson think through issues and she also has him repeat words back to her for reinforcement. She's a good mom.

Before telling our tips, here is a disclaimer: As we always say on the panel as we share, it's easy to sit up there and talk about these lessons (or write them out here so easily), but the lessons came with years of struggle, fatigue, exhaustion, perseverence, effort, wanting to quit yet starting over, again and again. None of these were accomplished or learned overnight by any stretch! And some still get worked on.
Here's a few nuggets from her 10 things she shares to encourage other moms in the TODDLER stage:

1.  I keep relationship with hubster at the center...the main focus. Jackson joined our world that was already in motion. He isn't the center, but a welcome member.

2.  Consistency, consistency, consistency especially in discipline. It's easier to let things go, but we can't. Never discipline in anger. Deal with the heart issue and discipline with a loving heart. Never inflict shame and guilt. Reinforce love after discipline.

3. Playing with my child is super important (outside, inside, in the dirt, with sticks and mud) We play what he wants, on his level. I also make sure he has time to play alone as well, to stimulate creativity, imagination and reflection.

4. My own priorities have to shift for the greater good of my family.

5. 3 words: first time obedience. This is something we are always working on.

Next in line on the panel is myself. Now my girls are all teenagers, but I happily share about the elementary years for this panel. Why? Because I have come to realize that much of teen success depends a lot on what happens in the elementary years. So here are some tidbits I've looked back on and been glad we did in the ELEMENTARY years:

1. The importance of teaching respect as the foundation for life. Being respectful to parents and other adults was required. They'll have to answer to someone their entire lives. Having respect in place will make life much easier for them.

2. It's worth any sacrifices made in order to be available to enjoy life with them.

3. It's ok to say no to them and they will survive. Even if they are "the only one who can't or don't have one".

4. As a parent, it's important to say no to your own adult peer pressure. We all still face peer pressure, in the form of "all the other parents let their kids" or "Nobody else's parents care or check". Just like our kids, we have to be strong enough to stand up for our own convictions, even when others don't agree. If we constantly cave, we are modeling "caving in" to our children. If we stand up for convictions, that's what we are modeling to them.

5. Use the term age appropriateness to decide when to let freedoms be granted. Sometimes kids ask to have or do things that there's nothing wrong with- so instead of saying a fast yes, or an absolute no, think of it in terms of "is it age appropriate"? They have a lot of years to get through, and it's best to spread freedoms out. Instead of no, it can be "not yet, but in a year or so that might be ok."

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