Tuesday, November 25, 2014

What is a Grandmother?

I was sorting through stuff I've kept and came across a few newsletters from when I was getting diaper service with my last kiddo. The editor stated that he found it in a box of his own grandmother's papers and there wasn't a name attached to it, just "by a third-grader":

A grandmother is a lady who has no children of her own.
She likes other people's little girls and boys. A grandfather is a man grandmother. He goes for walks with the boys, and they talk about fishing and stuff like that.

Grandmothers don't have to do anything except to be there.
They're old so they shouldn't play hard or run. It is enough if they drive us to the market where the pretend horse is, and have a lot of dimes ready. Or if they take us for walks, they should slow down past things like pretty leaves and caterpillars. They should never say "hurry up".

Usually grandmothers are fat, but not too fat to tie your shoes. They wear glasses and funny underwear. They can take their teeth and gums off.

Grandmothers don't have to be smart, only answer questions like, "Why isn't God married?" and "How come dogs chase cats?"

Grandmothers don't talk baby talk like visitors do, because it is hard to understand. When they read to us they don't skip, or mind if it is the same story over again.

Everybody should try to have a grandmother, especially if you don't have a television, because they are the only grown up who have time.

[I get a chuckle out of "enough dimes"...shows how old this is...I think those pretend horses were 10 cents in the '50's and '60's!]

Friday, July 11, 2014

Seven or Eight Pieces I Wish I Knew as a Young Parent

To preface everything I'm going to say: I've raised four kids (3b1g) and lived through what you're saying. I said that no wonder our kids are screwed up, "they" say be consistant, if one thing doesn't work, try a new strategy...soooo, I was consistant in my non-consistancy. Had to go through a ton of strategies to find what worked with my kid(s). Then after a short time (too short IMO), it wouldn't work sooooo, back to the drawning board.

I went back to school and learned a ton about child development (sorta like closing the barn door after the cows got out?) and stuff I wish I had known then.

I have taken a bit from there and here and developed my own "theory"--common sense/logical that if I were to impart upon parents to enhance their parenting skills I would  share them.

1. Trust your gut. Be aware though, of developmental milestones, typical age appropriate behaviours as they will enhance your gut feeling.

2. Know your child. How? Play with them, let them lead the play. Let them have the power in this situation because in pretty much all other situations, you have the final say. Set aside 20 minutes a week that hell or high water, you two will get together and play with them in charge. If you set aside toys/ objects that are only for that playtime, then it is even more special. Your relationship with them will improve because you two will create a relationship that will bind you two forever. You hate playing? Remember its only 20 minutes and if you hate playing, you may need it more than your child!

3. Use "could" instead of "should". Unless there is a safety issue most things can be used as suggestions. "You could dry your hands before eating" "You could place a larger block on the bottom of the tower" ("let's see (if)" also works, it's instead of demanding--use your gut to know when to use it).

4. "first--then". This is one I sooo would have embraced and when I learned this as a special needs assistant, I immediately thought how so few power struggles would have not happened with my own kids!  "First we'll do something I want you to do then we'll do something you want to do"  or, "first we'll wash our hands then we'll dance to the dinner table" type thing. Sometimes they forget about their perferred activity which you really hoped they would forget about! It is really good and works when they are waiting for something good, "first we stand in this line then we will see Santa". "First we sing then we go to class". It really helps them know what is going on in their lives. So much is not in their control (prepares them for being adults right?) and knowing can reduce their anxiety levels. You are still in charge, you are just letting them in on what the action is.

5. Nature vs. nurture. Both matter. I see nurture as altering negative nature aspects of their lives and enhancing the positives. Holding, hugging, snuggling, telling them you love them, doing things together will alter a child's 'natural' person. If they are caring, gentle amazing little humans, well, they'll just be all that confident! If they tend to be on the wild side, it'll tame them without killing their sense of wonder.
     I've worked with traumatized children (abuse of all types) and it is amazing when they are nutured how they grow and become aware of other's pain or joy and respond positively. A traumatized child stops growing emotionally at the age they were abused. What traumatizes one child may not affect another, it is individualized. Of course some traumas are just plain nasty and anyone would be affected by them in some way.

6. There are some good ideas to ponder in all those theories out there. Check some out, ones I like are: attachment theory by Dr. Gordon Neufeld, Montessori method, and Neurosequential development by Dr. Bruce D. Perry, an insightful approach to working with traumatized children which works with typically developing children also because it isn't a "method" or things to do but a way to see how children develop neurologically. Sounds high level stuff but at it's basic concepts, is easy to comprehend. I wrote about it in my last post.

I was at a conference concerning the early years of children (it's actually called "The Early Years" and is every 2 yrs.--an excellent value for anyone, professional or parent) and one of the speakers was talking about Canada's capital punishment law that allowed spanking. She was totally against it. She had many good points. I have one bone I just had to pick at with the anti-spanking group and she got to be their spokesperson (which she was). I started having kids in 1980 and parents were beginning to be told in the 70's not to spank/hit/swat their kids. Period. My bone? I told her that at was fine, but we weren't told what to do instead! She actually agreed. She was about my age, I think a touch older, and she said that was a grave oversight and really hampered the change.

I know some people actually believe "reasoning" with a two year old is possible...but personally I think they're delusional. Since then, I've learned some techniques that replace spanking/hit/swatting and they are effective. They take time to establish because they're preventative, relationship building techniques not 'in the heat of the moment' ones. For those moments I think both taking a time out from the issue is the best. In public? That is where knowing your child, having worked on skills and the relationship works in both of your favours. And knowing what age appropriate behaviours are.  Being totally in control of yourself is a major key. And a difficult one to even almost master! Sleep deprevation is not my friend and I'm pretty sure most the same is for most people.

7. Be the parent. Guide them. Teach them. Love them. You don't have to be their friend, they have siblings or other people's chidlren for that. They need a parent who will set boundries and give a hoot what they are doing.

I guess if you're willing to consider any of these, you are already doing the eighth point: be willing to put in the time to try to do stuff right for your child(ren).

Monday, June 30, 2014

How we develop, brain-wise

I was introduced to Dr. Bruce Perry's work while I was a student in Child Studies, I bought his book "The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog" accidently--it was mistakenly put down as the text for one of my classes.

What a fortunate mistake! I was enthralled with it. As it was, one of my profs. had done some work with him! She introduced us to Trauma Academy (http://childtrauma.org) and through that I learned (or began to learn) about neuro-sequential brain development. Basically, our brain develops from the brainstem up, not everything at once. The cortex finishes developing at about age 25. There are a lot of other things happening and can still happen after that age, but that is the raw basic of the concept.

My practicum (Spring 2008) with that degree was as a research assistant for a maternal-child study. We were collecting data from moms about their mental health & their child's development at 6mos. 12mos. and 18mos. One of the screens we used was the Brigance Parent-Child Interaction Scale (BPCIS). We were presenting (really my boss/the principle investigator and her friend were) this at a conference in Phoenix and I create a slide for it that I talked about. I took Trauma Academy's diagram and added two questions from the BPCIS and connected them with the areas of the brain they stimulated. My boss said that it was brilliant and that I didn't know how brilliant it was (she was and still is right about that-I see it as a logical connection).

Fast Forward to this semester (Winter 2014) and I'm working on my Social Work degree. My final practicum is at a school for children who have experienced a few (or more, yes, plural) forms of traumas. I get the bright idea for my learning agreement to take that diagram I created and add trauma to it! Took me 2 mos. to figure out how to do it and what it would look like and to find the information to put on it. And I believed that the information needed to be from scholarly sources to make it solid. So, here it is, all but one piece can be backed up. The part about the effects of trauma on heart rate, blood pressure and respiration is only me being logical. If alcohol and/or drugs insult/exposure can cause such damage on the brainstem that the baby dies prior to or shortly after birth, what if the amount of exposure wasn't great enough to cause that much damage?  Could it cause enough damage that there are only minor problems that may not hinder the person's life until detected or it is considered "just one of those things"? I couldn't find any information that explores that line of thinking. Finding anything much beyond what the brainstem does and develops is scarce. Or I just didn't look in the right places. I'd love to know if this has been looked into.

The light blue boxes are the two Brigance questions, the far left is the approximate ages those parts of the brain develop, on the right centre is some of the things that those parts control and the far right is some of the consequences of trauma. That trauma could be witnessed, experienced or occurred prenatally (drugs, alcohol, physical, emotional assault...).

I suppose I should list all my references...I also should have been more diligent in keeping track of them! The most important one is that the diagram was created by Trauma Academy. Sadly, I cannot find the original anymore to accurately accredit it. It is/was titled "Sequential Neurodevelopment and Play". I have contacted them but have not heard back, so that may mean they are still searching for the source or they are really busy.

Monday, January 27, 2014

I just feel like looking at photos

I'm on day 4 of a 4 day bed rest order. Hopefully I'll be able to stop coughing enough to fake being healthy at my practicum tomorrow. I've completed my online school work. I think. I'll check later.

Right now I'll post some photos I've taken over the years that I really like to look at.

The Columbia Icefields are on the highway between Banff and Jasper...right smack up the centre of the Rocky Mountains.

 The Columbia Icefields in 2010. I wonder if I have one from my High School Geography XII field trip there. It has shrunk considerably since I first went to it in 1976. If I took the same photo from the same position then as in 2010 the ice would be past the bottom of the frame.

That ridge/arete (accent over first e) was where some of the students climbed. I can still hear one kid calling out "I haaavvvee nooothhinng to hoold onnn toooo" as he slid down it. He was fine. The glacier wasn't at the bottom of it there. Despite being a less cautious era, we were FORBIDDEN to climb on or near the glacier. The glacier was a lot closer then than now though! We could easily see how huge it was from our vantage point at it's foot. Couldn't touch it, that would be too close.

Then there is Mt. Robson, the highest point in the Canadian Rockies at 3954m. (that's a lot of feet!). Apparently it is a great hiking mountain...I've never done it. I take photos of it when you can see the top. I've even taken a couple when you can't. It is a delight to see the top as it is not a usual sight.

Yep, Mt. Robson in it's usual state.

Just west of Mt. Robson is Moose Lake. It is a mountain lake that is cold all year! In the heat of the summer it is refreshing. In the winter, not so much.

 Looking west

Shoreline looking west


Winter from the front seat of our car looking west

July from the front seat of our car looking east