Created with Sketch.
Learn With Less
47 minutes | Jul 21, 2021
Self-Advocacy in Birth: One Mother’s Birth Story and Shared Lessons, with Val Pitaluga
Lessons Learned About Identity, Ableism, and Systemic Health Disparities When It Comes to Birth On this episode of the Learn With Less® podcast, we sat down with Val Pitaluga, of JoyCo Therapy, and Accessible Vacations. Val is a multi-passionate mom, wife, speech-language pathologist, and business owner. Her personal experiences as an immigrant and English language learner fuel both her professional work and personal advocacy efforts. Val has a background in Early Childhood Education and extensive experience working with children of all ages. Val’s husband is a quadriplegic after sustaining a spinal cord injury in a car accident over a decade ago. They met post-injury and bonded over their many shared interests, chief among them travel. They now share about parenting and traveling with a disability via their non-profit, Accessible Vacations. We discussed: Val’s various social identities, and the privileges she holds leading up to the birth of her second sonWhat can happen in a hospital when the system does not prioritize birthing people and their familiesDefinitions of ableism, the ABC’s of Safe Sleep, and evidence-based practices around birthVal’s top tips for advocating for what you need before, during, and after your birthWhy Val advocates for community-based support and leaning on practices of gratitude Helpful Resources to Acknowledge For This Episode: Accessible Vacations American Academy of Pediatrics ABC’s of Sleep JoyCo Therapy Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Pregnancy Related Deaths (CDC) Evidence Based Birth Learn With Less® Bundle: get our favorite infant and toddler development resources (and save 70%)! Discover how to support and connect with your tiny human, without having to buy a single toy. Connect With Us: Val Website / Facebook / Instagram / YouTube Ayelet: Facebook / Instagram / Pinterest Text Transcript for This Episode Ayelet: Welcome back to Learn With Less®! Today, I have Val Pitaluga joining me. Val is a multi passionate mom, wife, speech-language pathologist, and business owner. Her personal experiences as an immigrant and English language learner fuel both her professional work and her personal advocacy efforts. Val has a background in early childhood education and extensive experience working with children of all ages. Val’s husband is a quadriplegic after sustaining a spinal cord injury in an accident over a decade ago. They met post-injury and bonded over their many shared interests – chief among them, travel. They now share about parenting and travel with a disability via their nonprofit, Accessible Vacations. Val, thank you so much for joining me today on Learn With Less®… we have connected over social media in a variety of speech-language pathology and interest-focused groups, and I’m just so glad to be in community with you. You shared recently your birth story, and I just found it so compelling on so many levels, and I think it’s so important to share experiences like this in general. And so much of what we do here at Learn With Less® is focused on community and education, and the simplicity of what we all would like to be focusing on as far as early parenthood and early childhood. I just thought that this was a great story to share, and I’m so grateful to you that you have decided to join me today. Val: Thank you so much for having me. And thank you for allowing me to share my story on your platform. Ayelet: Well, so just to sort of get started, so now you have several children. How many kiddos do you have? Val: I have two children. Ayelet: Two kiddos. Yeah, the most recent addition to your family is this tiny human that you have attached to you right now, as we record and he is… Val: Six weeks old? Yeah! Ayelet: Six weeks old, amazing. So let’s just sort of get right into it. I’d love for you to share a little bit about what happened with your birth, what is happening, how you are now and that’s sort of the trajectory of the conversation that we’ll have today. But there’s a lot to unpack, because of your own social identities and the identities your family holds. So go for it. Let’s hear… Let’s hear it! Naming Social Identities and Privileges Val: Yeah. So I think in the post that we bonded over and where this idea started, for having me come on your podcast, was just highlighting, like you said, my birth story. So from the lens of how many privileges I held when I came to my second birth, my most recent birth. And so some of those privileges, and I think you you might read a piece of it, and you’re welcome to, but just off the top of my head some of those privileges were I did have a healthy, full term live birth, before the pandemic. So I had that experience of having my husband at every doctor’s appointment and having visitors at the hospital and all those pre-pandemic things. You mentioned, I’m an immigrant and an English language learner. I’ve been told I speak English with native-like proficiency. And so I did speak English when I arrived at the hospital. I am Latina, but I know that I don’t run a higher risk of having a severe maternal morbidity or dying, basically, while giving birth because of the color of my skin. And still, my birth experience left so much to be desired. And I’m a healthcare professional, you know, so I just felt that had I not had all these stacked privileges, my birth experience had the potential to be, frankly, traumatizing. And you know, of course, part of that had to do with, as I mentioned in the passage, that I had a precipitous labor and delivery, right, so my son decided it was go time and it was like he was on a rocket launcher. It was a whole two and a half hours from I’m pretty sure that’s the contraction to having my baby on my chest. Ayelet: I had the same experience with my second, as well. Yeah. Val: It was wild. My mom, who stayed with my firstborn son, so our older son, Joseph, he will be three next month. And my mom had plans to stay with him. And of course, you know, as these things happen, it happened in the middle of the night, 11pm was when I had, 1130 lives and I had my first contractions. So my mom, who was coming to stay with him, was coming from Miami, and we live in Fort Lauderdale. So it’s about a 40 minute drive. And I mean, if she had been 10 minutes later, we would have just delivered him in the parking lot. But yeah, so we arrived, like I said, I was crowning. My husband and I both speak English, we were able to very clearly say like, Hey, I’m crowning. I’m in active labor like, get me a room and part of it is probably hospital protocol. Part of it was probably not realizing the urgency of it. They had me sitting in the admission bay, like, nurses bay, asking me all kinds of questions. How many weeks pregnant are you, who’s your doctor but somehow forgot some like really critical questions, like what’s your group B strep status, like are you positive? So anyway, I’m sitting there in excruciating pain answering this, these questions like, Pitaluga, P-I-T-A-L-U-G-A! Ayelet: Between contractions right? Oh my gosh. Val: Right! And so, my water broke, and finally I got kind of annoyed, and I was like, Okay, my water broke and I need a room, now. And so they’re like, okay, take her to room seven. So I go to room seven, and I’m begging for an epidural, which, you know, in hindsight, full body sweat, shaking uncontrollably. There’s no way they were gonna get a needle in my back at that time, but I’m begging for an epidural. The nurse is like, no, we can’t. My husband is an amazing, amazing advocate. After our second labor, I joked with him that he should become a doula, he should be like the wheelchair doula. Ayelet: Oh, my gosh, that’d be amazing! Val: I’ve already branded it for him. It’s so easy. For some reason. He won’t take me up on it. Ayelet: We’ll see! Val: Right? So he was advocating for me. So like, for example, one of the things that really helped me with my first labor was having a mirror so I could, I’m very, like goal driven. So I could see my son’s head and I was like, Oh, my gosh, I want to meet this human so bad. Let me push harder. So he asked for a mirror and it was just like, the nurse gave him this confused look, and was like… a mirror? And we were like, okay, nevermind, moving right along. And then I think, like, the most dehumanizing moment of my birthing experience was when about an hour and a half after I delivered, the nurse walked me to the bathroom, barefoot, gave me a Peri bottle, and said, here you go. And then she was knocking and I was like, you know, there’s a lot of postpartum waste. I’m working on, on cleaning by myself barefoot in this tiny bathroom. No, I’m not done yet. So yeah, that was probably the most dehumanizing part of it for me. Ayelet: I don’t know, because of my own experiences, because with my first, I was living in Europe, my husband and I gave birth – I gave birth, excuse me, I gave birth to my first while we were living in London, and, and we had a hospital birth. And it took a very, very long time. And I ended up having an epidural, and a forceps delivery. And afterwards, I was, you know, I was not in any position to get up off of my back and, and go clean up. So I had people helping me do that. My second, we were back here in the US, and I also had a precipitous labor, and we did not make it to the hospital. We actually were planning potentially a home birth, we wanted sort of like all the options open to us. But so, I certainly was, you know, cleaning up myself, but in the luxury and comfort of my own shower, and, you know, a very different birthing experience, and a bit like, you know, minimal tearing, and all of those kinds of things. So I honestly, like, I don’t know, what, what is the standard of care? What did you experience with your first birth after… after giving birth? Evidence Based Birthing Options Val: Yeah, so, it’s interesting, we have so many similarities. So I wasn’t in Europe, but I was in Ohio. So my second birth, obviously, happening in Florida. And my first birth was in Ohio, and I gave birth in a hospital called Dublin Methodist Hospital. And it is a newer hospital. So that was another privilege. Of course, they are very, very EBP-focused. They, for example, don’t use an overhead system at all, because they just want moms to be feeling peaceful and relaxed and not, you know, with all this sensory stimulation. And so it’s, it was a very calming and soothing hospital to begin with. But then also the standard of care was great. So I did have an epidural with my first… Ayelet: Oh, sorry, just to go back. You said EBP, which which stands for evidence-based practice for anyone who’s listening, who’s not a speech-language pathologist or in the health, allied healthcare professions, yes. Sorry, please go ahead. Val: That’s right. I’m sorry about that. But, yeah, so they’re very aligned with that what research says is best for mom and for baby. And yeah, I mean, like, that’s a privilege most people don’t have… Ayelet: Right, which is bizarre… and reality. Val: … and unfair. But also Yes, reality. So I did have an epidural with my son and I am so lucky, I have super easy births. And so after I delivered my son, the epidural was kicking off and I was able to walk to the bathroom. But my nurse held my hand and was actually kind of shocked that I was walking, she was like, you need to slow down! So she held my hand walked me there, obviously wearing, wearing my own sandals that I brought in, my flip flops that I brought in from home, and kind of walked me through the whole process of you know, icing the area, care and you know, the first 24 hours are crucial for swelling, and those are things so those are more things that I had to advocate for. I had to ask for an ice pack after delivering a seven pound baby with no pain management, you know and… with or without, you know, the swelling is gonna be brutal. So, so again, I had that experience with my first nurse, Wendy, that I will never forget. Ayelet: I love that you even remember her, like she you know her name and everything you know? Val: Yes, yes. Ayelet: She partnered with you. She was present, she was part of the experience. Whereas the second one, yeah, very different. Val: Absolutely. Yeah. And she, I mean, she honored everything about our family. I remember distinctly her, looking at… so my firstborn son was born on a Monday, she – I’m gonna get all emotional, now. She looked at us and said it had been a hard weekend on L&D, on the labor and delivery unit. And she really needed our, our birth, our family that morning, and she told my husband, he was the most like committed and involved dad I’ve seen in the delivery room in years, and she just like, thanked us for giving her a positive morning after a very difficult weekend. Ayelet: Amazing. Yeah, that’s, I mean, again, you’re partnering with your healthcare team. That’s, that’s the idea, right? Like this is this is what quote unquote, should be happening. Alright. So back to number two. So you’re, you’re you’re told to go into this bathroom, you don’t have any shoes on, you’re not – it sounds like you weren’t given any time to like, sort of prep, you weren’t really given any materials to to help you. No icepack. No nothing, no instructions, no reminders of how how this is supposed to go? And then you’re told, “Are you done yet?” Right. You’re hurried out of the experience trying to do your best. Where is baby at this point? Val: So, baby was still having his neonatal care. So he was being weighed and I think he was struggling still with some temperature issues that I think he might have been under the warmer. So he was he was in the care of – they had at that hospital, two nurses, so one for the mom and one for the baby. So he was with the baby nurse. Ayelet: Okay, and this is relevant, because the next part of your story is about your husband’s experience. Ableism In The Birthing Experience Val: Right. So, I shared how it was dehumanizing for me. My husband, you also mentioned in the intro is a quadriplegic. So quadriplegic, for anyone who’s listening who may not be familiar with the term or may have this stereotypical kind of “Christopher Reeve” idea in their mind. Most people think they can’t move anything at all. People might think they’re event dependent, they’re always in a power chair, but that’s not really the case. Quadriplegic just means all four limbs are affected. So my husband does have weaker hands, he cannot perform fine motor movements. So things like gripping a pencil or a zipper or opening a can of coke or pop (depending on where you live). And so he, he struggles with fine motor movements, but he’s still very independent. He’s, you know, a young guy who was an athlete before his car accident. He’s still an athlete, he plays wheelchair rugby, and quite well, he has tried out for the Paralympics in the past. And he, you know, he’s in a manual chair, like I mentioned, he’s involved in our all of our parenting is mutual. He’s just a regular dad, that parents from a wheelchair. So all that to say he’s very capable, and… Ayelet: And the healthcare professionals can see that he’s maneuvering his own chair. He’s quite, you know, clearly quite strong. He is a totally independent person, please continue. Val: 100%. Yes, he wheeled himself into the hospital, as he does everywhere. And then, he was not… and this was just the beginning of the saga, he was not offered to hold our son after our son was born. And it wasn’t until, obviously, I was in a funny state, obviously, having just delivered – not funny I was in a postpartum state, to call it accurately what it is. So it took me three hours to realize that Oh, my goodness, you haven’t held Julian! So, I have the picture. It’s time stamped 5am, and our son was born at 2am. And that was only because I said, here, hold your baby. But at no point did the baby nurse or the mom nurse, or the attending physician who was also unfamiliar to me, nobody offered my husband to hold the baby, which I think we’ve talked about is rooted in ableism. And that is, that is a discussion that can probably take up a full episode of on its own. But very quickly, ableism is just discrimination on the basis of somebody’s disability status, and it’s rooted in the false belief that able bodies are somehow better than disabled bodies, and they’re not. They’re just different. So my husband, again, comparing it to our first birth, he was immediately like any able bodied father and support person in the delivery room, was immediately given the baby to hold, bonded over him. I, again, I distinctly remember, Joseph was born and he was crying and letting everybody know that he had arrived. And my husband put on like a karaoke background of the song that he had sang to him on my whole pregnancy. And Joseph immediately stopped crying. So and of course, I was bawling when that happened, but But yeah, so all that to say my husband’s perfectly capable, and he was just denied that very special moment. And my husband is a super peacekeeper, he is, you know, he’s always, “Why are you stirring the pot? Or, you know, like, it’s okay. It’s not a big deal.” So he wouldn’t have said anything for sure. But I know that that’s something that was important to him – as it should be. And it was denied by the healthcare staff, or delayed for three hours. Ayelet: Right. And ultimately, it was you who handed the baby to him? Val: Yes, absolutely. And you know, and I think part of the real problem I had, too, is that at no point, did anybody take a step back and say, oh, wow, that was a wild birth and delivery, we’re acknowledging that and here are the things we could have done better. And we’re sorry that we missed the mark… because that alone would have meant a lot to me. If they had said, wow, you know, we should have asked your Group B strep status when you came in, or we should have given your husband the baby. And, you know, we’re sorry, it was a lapse in judgment. Because everybody has a lapse in judgment at some point! Ayelet: Right? Well, and that just, acknowledgement marks at least one step of learning and hopefully doing better the next time around. That’s the whole right. But there was not that, right. So that’s why what Val is saying is so important, right? That is literally the first, tiniest thing that you can do. So what… were there other people in the room when you finally were able like to realize that your husband had not held the baby? Like, were there other people there who realized and saw that? Or was it just the two of you? Val: Yeah, both of the nurses were in and out at that point. And, you know, I just think that they, I think with… so you mentioned, I’m multi passionate, I’m passionate about dismantling ableism and racism and all these other isms, as you know, but I think the problem with a lot of isms is that people don’t even realize they harbor them. And they’re not, like we said, willing to acknowledge them. And so, I think that they maybe were at a point where they didn’t even realize that they were being ableist, that they were denying this right to a father because of their perceptions of his abilities. So they thought nothing of it. Honestly, that’s, that’s my best guess. I don’t know. Maybe they’ll listen to this podcast and say, Oh, yeah, we did. We did realize it or not, but yeah, that’s all I can think of is maybe they don’t even know. Ayelet: And there, it sounds like there wasn’t necessarily any kind of reaction when, when you were like, Oh, my gosh, you haven’t held our son. And if there was, it was so insignificant that it did not warrant any kind of realization that someone had. Yeah, yeah. Val: No, it was definitely business as usual. I mean, yes. Ayelet: Fascinating, hmmm. And all right. So continuing on, you had this experience with ableism with your husband. It sounds like there were, you know, moment after moment of what we call micro-aggressions. Right, these tiny little, quote unquote, I’m air-quoting myself when I say “tiny little”, because they all add up, and they all have an effect on everyone involved. And you’re both experiencing these things. Okay. So now you’re, I’m looking, I’m looking at your, your beautiful passage and the story. So you said you asked to be discharged less than 48 hours after you arrived. And that was because, number one, your husband was not offered to hold his newborn son at any time during the birth or aftermath. It was three hours… and then you were transferred to a room right? And now, what room was this? They can see who you are, who your husband is, what needs he has, what kind of room is this? Val: Yeah, so and I actually so it was a not not a wheelchair accessible room. So this is a hospital in the United States where we have the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. So, by law, they have to have a wheelchair accessible room. And so, I mentioned that I have very easy births, and I’m very lucky to say that. I feel very, very lucky, I know that’s not the case for many people. But because I was feeling empowered by just having cleaned up my own waste by myself, I actually walked upstairs to the fourth floor recovery room, and denied the the hospital chair, wheelchair that they offered to transport me in. And so as I was walking up and out of the elevator I, because I’m married to a quadriplegic, I make a habit of making a mental note of accessibility features, I saw a wheelchair symbol on a doorframe in a patient room. So I thought, Oh, that must be the wheelchair accessible room – one of them, at least, on this unit, and proceeded to my room, room nine, and found out that it was not a wheelchair accessible room. So, my husband again being the peacekeeper that he is, finds out that he cannot shower in that room. It’s not that, that bathroom is not… he can make it happen. The transfer from the wheelchair to the shower chair, the opening was not wide enough. And it just, it was not going to happen. And so he ended up going home, having to leave the hospital to come to our home, to use the restroom that night, our first night there and then came back, of course, to stay the night with me and with Julian, and so the following day, because I knew the plan wasn’t for me to be discharged before 48 hours, I asked my nurse, could we please be transferred to the wheelchair accessible room on this floor? Well, imagine my surprise when she tells me, “No, we don’t have a wheelchair accessible room.” What? record scratch I was like, hold on. First of all, it’s, it’s law. And second of all, I walked past it on my way in, so I know you have one. So I told her, I said, could you please make sure because I’m like 99.9% certain that you do have one. So then in comes a couple of hours later, the nurse leader, apologizes, and she says I’m very sorry, I heard that you were given wrong information. We do of course have a wheelchair accessible room on this unit. But we’re still not going to transfer you to it because there’s somebody else in it. Ayelet: … who… presumably did not need it for the for the reasons that you need it. Val: Right. Presumably. Ayelet: We don’t, we don’t know that, necessarily. Val: No, we don’t know for sure, really. But, although I feel like she would have mentioned that, despite privacy laws that are in effect, she probably would have mentioned this person also has a legitimate medical need for it, which was not mentioned. So I just presumed that that’s the case. But yeah, so I was told it exists. And yes, we see that you have a legitimate medical need for it. And we’re sorry, I told her that my husband had to leave the previous night. I was told sorry for that. But also, there’s nothing we’re going to do about that. And so then at that point, I was like, Okay, well, then please discharge me because my husband deserves the dignity of using a bathroom that works. And we’re just kind of hanging out here and I’m feeling great. I’m obviously being left to my own devices, anyway. So can I please just go home. And so we did a couple of hours after that conversation with the nurse lead. Ayelet: Let me just reiterate to people who are listening, like we’re talking about Val’s husband needing to go to the bathroom, right? We’re talking about necessarily showering, although that that is a basic thing that he should be able to do, because anybody else who is able bodied would be able to do that. However, we are literally just talking about relieving yourself. And like, being in a room with your family and supporting your partner when a new baby comes, and you cannot just simply use the bathroom. Literally cannot do it. Because just not a possibility. Okay, so there’s one more piece of this that I think is really interesting, and I think warrants, you know, part of telling the story, was this last part here about the time like was this… Did this happen the first night after your son was born? Val: I really can’t recall… Ayelet: Right, it doesn’t really matter, regardless. Val: But yeah, I think it was towards the end, I want to say it was towards the end of our stay. Yeah, it was our last nurse that we had. So the last, like, 12 hours that we were there because I know she was the last nurse that we had who did… what we’ll talk about. Ayelet: Well, and I mean, even just what you just said there is very important information because this is – we’re not just talking about one shift one set of medical professionals, one nurse, one set of nurses, one doctor. Like, this is consistent throughout the experience. This is clear that there is a lack of training at this particular hospital as opposed to the training that was experienced by hospital staff at the hospital where your first birth occurred, right? I mean, this is like a systemic issue in and of itself within the system of this particular hospital that there is a lack of training, awareness and ability to see what is happening… and I’m giggling because Val is just making the cutest faces to her tiny baby. Safe Sleep Conversations Alright, so this last part is about sort of a backstory about the ABCs of Sleep. So the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all newborns sleep A, alone; B, on their back; and C, in the crib to avoid SIDS or sudden infant death syndrome. This is the AAP, the American Academy of Pediatrics, this is a, this has been standard practice for a number of years after an increase of SIDS deaths in like the 80s and 90s with young children. There’s a whole lot of stuff to be said all about, you know co-sleeping, bed sharing. You know, the ABCs of safe sleep obviously is there to prevent Sudden Infant Death which nobody wants. And there are cultural implications with regard to this, right? Because there are many countries and many places, many cultures wherein bed sharing co sleeping is the standard practice and ABCs of Safe Sleep does sort of negate this norm, and disregards that cultural informed practice and culturally informed care. So, regardless of where you, listener, fall, in your own practice, on your own standard, what your experience personally has been, I think it’s really important to, number one, name the fact that the ABCs of Sleep obviously was created to help families do things to lessen the probability of sudden infant death syndrome. And also, there are so many different ways that people sleep next to their children. And the idea that there’s this dichotomy of a “right way” to sleep or a “wrong way” to sleep goes against and just negates the idea that there are many ways to do a certain thing, and feeds into this idea of such a divisive worlds in terms of early parenthood, right? Where how we choose to put our babies to sleep, how we feed our babies, how how we do all of that, how we diaper. or like all of these things that feel – especially in like the American sort of way – or like you’re, you’re this kind of mom or that kind of Mom, you’re a cloth diapering mom or disposable diapering mom. And the reality is like, there are so many things that people do because of where they come from, because of the identities they hold, because of what is working or not working for their own family. And the idea that there is a right and wrong way to do things… It’s, I think we have to acknowledge that there’s a gray area. And yeah, that’s, that’s what I’ll say about that. So with all of that said, let’s hear what happened within your experience, though. Val: Yes. And if I could just add, from my multi passionate point of view, a couple more things about the ABCs of safe sleep, even within the United States where that is standard practice, or at least to my understanding, it is that every birthing hospital, we fail to acknowledge the fact that within our country, there are women and families who may not have a crib, yes, we are not doing anything. We are not providing every parent with a crib when they’re being discharged from the hospital. I think there is a country I want to say Sweden, but I’m probably wrong that provides… Ayelet: Finland Yeah, the baby box. Val: …that provides baby boxes. And so it’s kind of the same idea that the baby sleeps in their own sleeping safe sleeping space. But you know, at least there are some countries that are making sure that you have this arbitrarily selected sleeping space, right. But we don’t do that. And so even within the United States, we are failing to acknowledge the fact that not every family has the privilege of having a crib or bassinet or some kind of, what we’ve deemed a safe sleeping surface. So there’s that. And then also, it also negates biology, right. So when a mom is very, very tired and sleep deprived, I might really, really, really, really want to get this baby into his crib. But oh, my goodness, my eyelids are winning. And oh, no, now I’m sleeping with my baby. And does that make me the worst parent on earth? Does that mean I want my baby to die? Of course not. So I just wanted to add those two things. But anyway, we so we had been told, of course, that this is an American hospital and that they’re observing the ABCs of Safe Sleep, we were told what the ABCs of Safe Sleep were. And we were told before warned that any time that a nurse or any kind of medical professional would walk in, if we happen to be asleep with the baby, that they would just gently wake us up and let us know that they would be placing the baby in the bassinet. And you know, that was standard practice sure, for our first birth as well. So it was nothing new. We could agree to that, fair enough, great. But the real problem came with the fact that I actually happened to biologically let my eyelids win, way more often than my husband does. And I had been quote unquote, “walked in on” asleep with Julian several times during our stay. And of course, I was only lightly asleep. I’m a light sleeper to begin with anyway, but you know, I would kind of gradually answer Yeah, no, I don’t need pain medicine, or Yeah, he had his newborn hearing screening or whatever. But I was still very visibly asleep with the baby in my arms. And the fact of the matter is that he was never taken from me to be placed in his bassinet. I can’t tell you if that standard practice, it certainly seen that way just based on the amount of times it happened, but… Ayelet: Right, basically, they did not do what they said they were going to do. Val: Exactly. Right, right. They made a big to do about you know, we’re gonna have to do this. And so they had every right if they had done it, I wouldn’t have expected it. I was kind of actually, in my head, thinking, boy, they haven’t done that a single time and That’s odd, because they had told me they were going to do this. But anyway, I’m not going to tell them to take my baby from me! So I just kind of chalked it up to chance… until, within the last 12 hours that we were there, the nurse came in and my husband happens to be asleep, or I don’t, I’m not sure if he was asleep, or he just had his eyes closed, but either way, appeared to be asleep with the baby. And the reaction was completely different. It was Sir! You know, these are the ABCs of Safe Sleep, and we’ve gone over them and I’m going to take the baby and I’m putting him in the bassinet. Ayelet: Not… wow. So intense! Like, not even like, excuse me, sir. As you know, we’re going to have to do this. I’m going to take the baby now. Here we go. Right. like totally different tone, right? totally different. Like, oh, excuse me. Sorry to wake you. And…. right? Val: Yes, exactly, exactly. Ayelet: Admonishing him. Val: Yes. And so to me, that basically… To me, I think that’s still rooted in ableism. And this heightened fear that because my husband is disabled, that he would be more likely to, you know, either smother our child or drop him or whatever, have any kind of adverse impact on him by sleeping with him, than I would. And, you know, as a side note, even if that wasn’t rooted in ableism, because, you know, I’m sure many people will listen to this and say, maybe you’re reaching, maybe everything isn’t an instance of ableism. And I respect that, I can, I can see that, you know, maybe some people think, your, your sensitivities are heightened. But I just want to say, as a child of a single mother, that even just reinforces the fact that fathers have a different role to fill or parent differently than mothers. And I think that that’s really damaging to the family structure and society, because we do that unconsciously. So often, to fathers specifically, that we think that that, you know, they need to be different than mothers. And, and I just, I don’t know, I think you worded it beautifully about, there is no one right way to parent. And so you know, maybe the father does want to be gentle or wants to be the gentler disciplining parent, or maybe he doesn’t want to be the one to sleep with the baby, or whatever… Ayelet: Or may just be the primary caregiver, right? Like… Val: Or maybe the caregiver might be a single dad. And so you know, I think that either way, regardless of what it was rooted in, ableism, or fathers are different than mothers, or their… you know, I think either way, it’s detrimental to the family unit, to the experience of birthing a child in the United States, and it just really rubbed me the wrong way. Ayelet: Me too. Systemic Problems Related to the Birthing Experience Val: And, you know, the other piece, I think you mentioned, really, that is key is that it was a systemic problem. It is a systemic problem in that particular hospital, and when I was contacted by their unit manager, I was kind of given kind of Band Aid fixes, you know, oh, well, we’re moving to a new building, so accessibility shouldn’t be an issue there or well, that nurse is no longer with us. I was told by her contracting company that she, that she would not be coming back… and Okay, like those things fix some aspects of it. But that culture shift is what I’m not really getting a feel that they’re going to really address and get to, which is, is what all of it is rooted in, in my opinion. Ayelet: Yeah. Well, I’d love to just sort of shift gears a little bit and ask you, because of your own identities, because of your own experiences, and your own proclivity to like, stand up and advocate for yourself, right? Like what, for you, in your mind? What are some things that expecting moms or dads can do, who, you know, might want to be aware of things like this or hospital procedure or protocol, like the things that you experienced? Like what are some things or tips that you might give to people about either what they can do before they enter the hospital, anything like things they could write down? Or say or do or ask when selecting a hospital, things like that? Like, do you have any kind of sense of things that like, what you would do differently, or what you would tell your best friend who’s like having a child at that hospital who shares or doesn’t share any of the identities that you hold? Val: Oh, that’s such a good question. And it’s loaded, it’s rich in answers! So my number one answer would be trust your instincts. Right. So like you mentioned, I am a really passionate advocate and this is a little bit of a rabbit hole that I’m going down, but when I was pregnant with my first born son, I was having some dental issues and I was given the go ahead by my OBGYN to get them addressed during pregnancy. You know, she said, You’re out of the first trimester and it’s now safe so long as you are not administered epinephrine. So, fine, so I go, I scheduled my doctor’s appointment. My OBGYN has to fax over a letter clearing me – of course, very importantly, to the dentist’s office, where she made that note, no epinephrine. Because, epinephrine is, I believe – my understanding – is synthetic adrenaline and it can actually send you into premature labor. And so I’m sitting in the dentist chair, the doctor has the needle inches away from my mouth. And I’m thinking, don’t be that person. Don’t be that person. Don’t be that person. But of course, I am that person, so I stopped her. I stopped her, and I said, I just want you to know, I’m pregnant. And there’s no epinephrine in that, right? So I see her, like, grabbing the needle, and, like, putting it behind her bag and switching the vial, and she’s like, you’re pregnant? Um, let me look up the note. And oh, yes, of course. It’s right here in the patient notes! No epinephrine, sure! But I see her, like, changing the vial of what’s in the syringe. So clearly, there was epinephrine in it. And so, so therefore, my number one advice is, you know, trust your instincts. You know, so often, we like have imposter syndrome where we want to discourage ourselves. Oh, no, like, why would you know better than the doctor? Or why would you know better than the dentist? Don’t ask that. That’s annoying. Of course, there’s no epinephrine in that, of course, this is just the way that things are done. Ayelet: Of course they have your best interests in mind, right? Val: Yeah. And I want to say no, you know, if you don’t feel right, question it. Question everything, you ultimately have options in your medical care in, you know, what birthing hospital, even whether you go to a birthing hospital, as you mentioned. So that’s number one, is trusting your instinct. I would also… I’m very big about trusting the consensus of the community. So I had put out a question about what the best birthing hospitals in the area were, and nowhere on that list was the one I delivered at. And, in hindsight, I’m not surprised by that at all, you know, and when I specifically asked, Well, what about this hospital, but I was told, oh, well, my experience there was two decades ago. And I’m like, well, that’s not, that’s not comforting. Or, you know, and so it was, in hindsight, it was very easy for me to see that the writing was on the wall. And I, you know, I found a physician that I was very comfortable with, I felt her cultural sensitivity aligned with what I needed. And she only delivered at that hospital. So I made that concession. And, you know, it was a fine choice for me, like I said, but it could have had the potential to be traumatizing if I didn’t have all these other benefits that I had coming in. And then the last thing is, just that talking to people that you know, and trust, every birthing experience is different. A birthing plan, I’ve never had one because all I know is that nothing ever goes according to plan when it comes to birth and delivery. But the more you speak to other people, the more you will know what to expect. So I am a very… oh, buddy. Ayelet: Yeah! You got stuff to say about that, too. Yes, you do. Val: I am an extrovert, but I don’t like to share like very private details of my life with anyone. And so you know, I didn’t know about ice packs in your nether region when you’ve just delivered. I didn’t know that. But if I was a first time mom, knowing what I know, now, I would be asking everyone, how did you take care of what was your postpartum care like, and I would ask different people, moms who had a C section moms who delivered naturally – because that care looks different, too. So I think the power of the community should not be undermined, you know, people are our best resource, always, I think. And so leaning on your community. Moms who have been there before, dads who have been there before. I think that’s the beauty of social media that we can connect with people during a pandemic, during lockdown. So barriers are kind of non-existent now to connecting with other people… and at the same time barriers are at the highest they’ve ever been, because we’ve got 5000 things pulling at our attention at any given time. Ayelet: Well said, yes. And then I’d love to know if you have any resources that you can share that have been helpful for you while exploring any of these topics. But we’ve touched upon, which is so many things. But I think, you know, part of what we do here at Learn With Less® is just, you know, open up people’s ideas and minds to what’s out there and sharing great resources. So if there’s anything that you would like to share that’s been helpful for you in terms of thinking about things in terms of educating you on any of these issues as far as ableism. As far as the systemic issues of privilege and identity. I’d love for you to share a few of those right now. Val: Oh, another loaded question. I don’t have any, like, “go to” resources. Of course, I’m going to point everyone to Accessible Vacations, because that’s just where we share, my husband and I share, about our life, kind of how some of these things show up in everyday life. I think normalizing disabled parenting is really important. I think reaching across the aisle and talking to people who don’t look and sound and parent like you is also really important. So, for example, I breastfed both of my boys and some of my dearest friends have exclusively formula fed. And I think that there’s a there’s a big debate about that “breast is best” versus “fed is best.” And we tend to, like, overly theorize these arguments and we’re like no like, biologically breast is best. There’s no other way. No, but science is so great, that formula is the same – fed is best if I don’t feed him, he’s gonna die. But when you really put a face to that, it’s hard to be so stuck in your ways. There’s no way I could look at my best friend who formula fed her daughter and say, actually, breast is best and you did your daughter a disservice. There’s no way. Right? Because I know that’s not true. That’s, that’s factually inaccurate. And also, there’s a human behind there. And there’s, there’s two humans, there’s my best friend and my best friend’s daughter, who is one of my son’s closest friends. So I think reaching across the aisle, meeting with people who don’t think the way you do and then lastly, checking your own privileges and kind of being aware of it, I make a practice of that when I express my gratitude. So anytime I’m looking around, and I’m thinking, wow, you know, I have food on the table, or, you know, wow, I have a safe roof over my head, or wow, I have a kind of animosity that like my options are endless for ABCs of Safe Sleep. I like to take that time to kind of take on someone else’s perspective and really think about what would it feel like to be a mom who didn’t have the luxury of having a crib at home? And maybe I want to put my child to sleep alone on his back and in his crib, but financially or space? I don’t, I have limited space? And I don’t, I can’t have a crib in my house? How would that feel? Or how would I feel to have to skip a meal to feed my child or what, you know, you name it. I, so I do that during my daily gratitude practice. And just as I’m being grateful for things I have thinking about what it would feel like to go without those things and, and how that would affect my interaction with the community. Because the fact is that it does. People who don’t have a crib in their home are looked at differently, you know, and treated differently and face different obstacles. Ayelet: Right. Well, I love that literally, the first thing we did when we started recording today was you acknowledged all of the privileges that you hold. So, there – like, thank you for modeling to us the things that we can all do and and acknowledge. Val, thank you so, so much for coming on today. And for having this conversation with me. I really appreciate it. Again, please, let’s go ahead and share where can people find you if they’re interested in learning a bit more about what you do. Val: Thank you. Thank you for having me. Again. I’m so grateful. This was so great. And I can’t wait to hear the feedback and see if anyone else finds it useful. But my husband and I we run a nonprofit. It’s called Accessible Vacations. It was born out of our love for travel, but has since grown along with our family to include a lot of parenting and we are on Instagram @accessiblevacations, we’re on Facebook, @accessiblevacations, and we’re we have a website accessiblevacations.org and we’re also on YouTube, although we need to improve our presence there. Ayelet: I obviously will be sharing all of those links in the show notes. And yeah, I cannot wait to share this episode with everybody. So thank you so much for joining me, and for anyone who’s out there at home or on the go, thank you so much and we will talk to you next time. The post Self-Advocacy in Birth: One Mother’s Birth Story and Shared Lessons, with Val Pitaluga appeared first on Learn With Less.
29 minutes | Jul 8, 2021
Educating Parents To Be Their Child’s Best First Teacher, With Rachel Kammeyer
She wanted to empower new parents with tools to understand how they can support their young children Today, I’d like to share the story of one of my clients, Rachel Kammeyer. We’ve heard from Rachel on the Learn With Less® podcast in a few past episodes, in which she shared her own experiences with Learn With Less® resources from her perspective as a parent. In this episode, however, she’s back to talk about her experience from the perspective of a professional. Rachel is a speech-language pathologist, and the owner of Improvised Therapy. Her career has been an illustration of the varied opportunities the field of speech-language pathology offers, including work in a pediatric private practice, elementary and middle schools, sub-acute brain injury rehabilitation, skilled nursing rehab, home health, advocacy for the rights of the disabled, and most recently, expanding into parent training to support infants and toddlers, and developing community-based support groups for adults caring for adults. For our purposes today, Rachel and I sat down to talk about her parent education work, as it’s near and dear to her heart as a parent of several young children (and one more on the way), and as a professional. Without further ado, let’s bring Rachel to the conversation! Related Resources in This Episode Learn With Less® Facilitator Training & Certification Program: Apply Now Learn With Less® “Caregiver & Me” Classes Learn With Less® podcast episode: Activities For Your Baby and Toddler, with Rachel Kammeyer Learn With Less® podcast episode: Surviving and Thriving in the First Year of Motherhood Learn With Less® podcast episode: How Lesley Took Her Existing Skills as an Educator, and Started Serving Infant/Toddler Families In a Holistic, Meaningful Way Learn With Less® podcast episode: How to Use Your Skills as an Educator or Therapist to Serve Families Holistically as a Parent Educator, with Allie Glazer Connect With Us: Rachel: Website / Facebook / Instagram Ayelet: Facebook / Instagram / Pinterest Text Transcript of This Episode Ayelet: Rachel, you’ve been on the Learn With Less podcast several times before in a parenting capacity. And now you’re back in a professional role. You’ve always been a speech language pathologist throughout our relationship, our knowledge of each other. And also, you’ve, you’ve been a mom through this entire process as well. You decided to move forward into the Learn With Less® Facilitator Training & Certification Program. And you have completed the training program, and you are a certified Learn With Less® facilitator. So I just wanted to take a few minutes and chat with you about you know, what that experience, number one, has been like for you. What brought you into this part of wanting to use Learn With Less® in this capacity in your life, and just hear a bit more about that? Rachel: I’m really thrilled, this has been a really awesome journey, and especially in this year. I think growth, and, you know, achieving a really, a growth mindset is sort of like what you need in this year. And also, the idea of, like, Learn With Less®, has become critical, because so much of us had access to so much less this year. And, in a lot of ways, that’s been something that’s kept me going when it took longer than the perfectionist would have necessarily wanted. But I really believe in this framework. And I really believe in everything that the Learn With Less® philosophy is about – not just as a parenting philosophy, but as an evidence based philosophy, or tried and true, I mean, if it’s evidence-based, we know that the science supports it. And as I’ve thought a lot about what I want my practice to be in the future, when I’m no longer mostly a stay-at-home mom, I really want to support people so that they know that they are enough and that they feel empowered and have tools that are simple and straightforward, and can give a child and a parent an opportunity to connect without the extraordinary amount of pressure that is put on parents and caregivers these days. And so that was sort of the personal motivation, plus the professional recognition that this is a fantastic program, and also that it’s for any child zero to three, it’s not necessarily for a child who is presenting with some sort of communication disorder, it’s for everybody, and that we all benefit from these types of activities. What Are The Challenges For New Parents? I think, I think there are two problems. I think there’s a crisis of confidence that a lot of new parents or even parents who have – one of my participants, were saying, I know I’ve been there and done that. But I, you know, you forget. And I think that comes from a culture of comparison and social media and a lot of things that make it really easy to judge ourselves. And I think the other problem that we’re solving is that — this is all my opinion, it does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Learn With Less®! But I think that there’s a lot of competition and pressure that we place on children to be academically successful that the measures of childhood have become a little skewed towards like the alphabet, counting. And those are important. And I think that a lot of the toy industry has prioritized that. And so, when it comes to social/emotional learning, or helping a child learn how to feel their body out to develop, and rhyming and how so important rhyming is as a phonological skill, these things are really basic and don’t have to be huge. And I think that memo was sort of, like, lost in the advertising culture. And so to me, the two problems are how do I help a parent feel confident that what they have is enough, and what they do is enough, and then if there’s something that they might learn to grow, that that’s great. And then also that the things that we have in our home, like my laundry basket cover that I’m holding in my hand, is a circle, okay, circle, there’s one thing, but it also has a lot of texture, and we can talk about the color, and I didn’t have to pay for a giant toy that represents a circle, I’ve got it right here in my bedroom. And there’s so much opportunity in that, that it’s almost like the problem is we’ve told people that they need more, when really less is more. But I really feel like, you know, I want parents to take a step back and say, you know, what I’m paying for is connection and support and confidence. And maybe seeing the world through the eyes of a child where everything is new and interesting, and that it doesn’t have to be something off the shelf, or that it could be off the grocery shelf, you know, it could be off any shelf. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the toy shop. Right? And that’s going to be okay, because it’s from the child’s perspective. And we’re feeding into what they need. Yeah. Ayelet: So what because you’ve now been explaining the program to people in your life and your community… What do you number one what we’d love to hear some feedback that you’ve received from people who have experienced to your class (and you don’t have to, you know, quote them), but just in a succinctly ish way, whatever the kinds of things that that people were saying about your class and what you did do for them? Educate New Parents By Educating Ourselves Rachel: I think a lot of the feedback we got was that it was valuable, that it was worth the time to take the time. To connect with other caregivers, and parents, and that parents have it in there, and they just needed to be reminded. And so I think I’m really excited to show parents all the different components of the framework through a variety of different opportunities. So they can really kind of get into ways to generalize this beyond the class. Ayelet: Yes. Which, of course, is the like, entire point, right? We’re literally we’re building family capacity in this way. Yeah. Yeah. So what how about for you, like, what’s been a perception change for you? Because we’ve talked a little bit about from the participants point of view, but how about you, as a facilitator, like, who came into this program, maybe thinking, you’re going to learn one thing, and then what has been a perception change for you, coming out? Rachel: I honestly didn’t think that I was going to be as insecure about some parts of it, I really came into it thinking like, I’ve got this, I don’t need to improve. I mean, like, there’s a horrible conceit, sometimes, you know, we as professionals have, and like I was talking about with growth, I think a lot of it that was so humbling was suddenly being like, it was 15 years ago, and I’m a grad student again, and there’s something I need to learn. And there’s something that I need to be judged, and not in a bad way. But in a like, I have to be accountable. And I really, like was surprised and humbled to have that experience of like, this is bigger than me. This is not just, you know, putting on my speech therapist hat, putting on my friend hat, it’s a different hat. And I need to learn how to wear that hat, and also give other people the space to be themselves. How do I learn to be like, you know, why am I talking? Right? You know, that’s an exercise I think I will probably have until I am riddled with dementia, and someone else is teaching me to give someone else a turn again, you know, and it’s gonna be like… But it’s I think, you know, this is part of the reason I signed up for this program is because I think somewhere inside of me, I knew I wanted to be the kind of friend and caregiver and professional who was better at letting other people have those opportunities to practice. Ayelet: So there’s a question… why now? We’ve been in the depths of a pandemic. You have two young children, what on earth made you decide to go as you said, back to grad school to learn something new to improve something, to learn some new skills? What was the impetus for you? And I would love to hear that? New Parents All Have The Same Questions Rachel: Oh, well, I think there are a couple things first, and foremost, being a speech therapist, and being a, like, helper is my identity like, is very much wrapped up in who I am. And I always knew I wanted to be a stay-at-home parent, mostly because I can only juggle a few things at a time while maintaining my sanity, I’m just like a two things that are big, and that’s it. Otherwise, I struggle too much. So not “working” quote, as a speech therapist. And also being a parent, though very fulfilling, and exactly what I want for my life right now, there was definitely this void of… it’s not that I’m not doing what I love. I’m using what I love every day, but I’m not using it in a professional capacity that could also help educate other people. So this program was sort of like this perfect bridge between the two “wants” of my life. And when I signed up for it, I knew that in a few months, maybe that stretched out quite a bit. Eventually my kids are going to be well, my kids will be back in preschool, you know, and both of them will be in preschool. And I’ve really grown… and the other impetus for this is that I’ve become very involved with our local parents club. And I just keep hearing and listening to the parents who are having their first kids, having their second, multiple children through zero to five. And they’re always asking the same questions, they always have the same things they want to know and feel reassured about. And I thought, well, with this program, in my community, I can become a resource to help the parents in that group start to have a place that they can go to find answers, or at least find support, if not answers. And so that was the other draw. And that’s not going to change if there’s a pandemic or not. Right. And so for me, definitely there was the bridging the gap between parent and SLP and then also just wanting to put this program in the hands of more and more people, because I really do believe in it. Ayelet: Well, and you’ve experienced it as a parent, too, which is really special! Rachel: Yeah, I it really like – I was so happy, like okay, so for anyone who hasn’t listened to the other podcasts, I stalked Ayelet on Facebook, because I wanted to find local SLP friend moms, and then it turned out that she had this amazing empire she was building! And so, you know, win-win! I learned a lot from that relationship. And so, you know, I think that that’s what we all want is connection and finding people that help us feel good about the way we’re raising our children. Ayelet: Oh, yeah, cheers to that. What do you feel like will be the impact on your life and community as you continue along this journey? The Impact on Parent Education On Your Community Rachel: Well, I like to dream big. So I’m hoping that the Learn With Less® brand, and then other speech therapists who are also associated with the brand, and not just speech therapists, as well, just anyone who is a professional in the sphere… Ayelet: Right, because we’ve got occupational therapists, special educators, early childhood educators… Rachel: That anyone in this will be valued for our opinions and for the science that backs the activities and resources that are offered. And that whenever a parent says, “Oh, you know, sometimes I’m not sure what I should do, how do I keep my two year old engaged? I’m really frustrated with this situation…” That someone will say, oh, have you? Have you talked to Rachel or Oh, there’s this book, Understanding Your Toddler, and that the answers will be readily accessible to people, and that it’s going to be local! And it’s going to be science, and that ‘s my goal. So, so I just wrapped my series, I’m going on maternity leave. And so I think, Well, you know, for sure I’m gonna do an infant class. I don’t know if I can swing a toddler class with a newborn, but from the toddler class was also very, like, what are some concerns you have, and I had one friend who kind of mentioned some things that fell onto my like therapist radar, right. But what we’re doing isn’t therapy. It’s really more about helping parents feel competent and successful. So I’m really working on that piece. Like that’s always going to be the piece that’s hardest for me is the “not director, but facilitator.” So I really challenged myself to just be like, I’m not going to bring it up. I’m not going to ask, I’m just going to provide opportunities. And we were doing the lesson for one – it was heavy work – because my son needed heavy work and that was the other thing… I was like, I know how much heavy work changed my life and so it’s one of my favorite ones to talk about. And in that lesson, we talk a lot, you know, Ayelet did an amazing job putting together the “Oh, I love how you’re like reaching or do you feel balanced when you’re leaning over,” and so what was happening is the other two participants… for some context, this is all happening in my front yard. So like, I had this plan for them to move the laundry baskets. And instead, they wanted to like run around and go up and down the steps to my front porch, what I observed was, the child couldn’t go up and out independently. And he’s about two and a half. And when he was always like, leaning out for his mom to grab him, and then the other little girl who was one could go up, but she couldn’t come down. And so these steps were suddenly presenting this really natural opportunity for us to kind of talk about how we can make that transition from being the person who brings the kid versus the person who coaches the kid. And so it was just so much fun to like, be on the steps, kind of walking backwards with one and then saying, oh, why don’t we show him how to use the side of the step to hold on to like, I love how you’re reaching for support, and Oh, do you feel stable, and then you could see the mom was like, Oh!, and I didn’t have to go into the body mechanics or any of that, she could just see that he felt confident. And she was giving him a tool versus being there like the tool. And so it was just it was a really great class. And then of course, the next time he came, all he wanted to do was show me how he could go up and down the steps… which provided another opportunity for talking about how you can entice the child into an interaction when they really want to go do something else, you know. But I got a lot of feedback that that was sort of, like, mind boggling in a lot of ways. The like, Oh, this is this is the bridge between seeing what I want them to be able to do and then doing it myself. And then in the next lesson, one of the kids was very reticent to put the jacket on. And the mom looked right at me was like, he’s not gonna put that jacket on. And I was like, great! We have a baby doll. Let’s put the jacket on the baby doll. So we, so it was in a lot of ways. It was this crazy moment where I didn’t. I’m not practicing as a therapist. So sometimes when I have these moments, I’m like, oh, like therapist mode, like it’s still in there. Ayelet: I mean, you’ve been in mom mode, which is quite similar. Rachel: Yes. Right. So the baby doll was like, “oh, help me get dressed! Can you put…” and it’s like this giant toddler size like, and he jumped right in. And like, it was so cool to have this moment again, where it’s like, I’m not telling her how to do anything. We’re just playing. And I was like we’re playing: everything is about playing. And so I think the value that my participants got out of it was seeing that we as parents are playing, too and how we can be both like, in one sense, the director or the facilitator, or the coach. Yeah. And then also the playmate. And it really like I just I could tell that there was a lot of like, relief. Yes. So yeah, so coming off of that was really special, because that was the last class, too. Ayelet: Before your maternity leave. Yeah, so awesome, Rachel. Rachel: Right, a lot of it just came from like gauging their reactions from one class to another and tweaking it, because the infant class had a completely different dynamic, because the infants were all four months old. I mean, they’re like, they’re just, they’re kind of there. And it’s really about the, the parents and or the caregivers, and that and so they’re all kind of shy and all kind of quiet. And so it took a little while to like kind of figure out if we were having a groove. But you can also play with that, too. I was like, Oh, we don’t, we can do a lot more sharing and support with the infant class, like that ended up being the bigger piece. And so it turned out more to be like the “mommy and me” support versus like, a whole lot of the kind of content that gets stressed. But that was just those three moms, I mean, a different group might have a different vibe. And so I think, you know, what they’re going to tell their friends is, it was so good to be able to talk to new moms versus the toddlers were potentially saying, or the parents of the… Ayelet: What do you think the families with the who participated in your toddler class would, would be saying? Rachel: I think they would be saying that they would feel more empowered and more confident. And then they, that their play changed how they play what they get out of the play changed. One of the moms would fill out the survey and she said that she could see more things for her daughter to do during the day, because she, again, when you listen, what or when you’re opening up for the struggles hers was I can’t get anything done because my daughter’s right there all the time. And it’s like, oh, okay, well if you’re in the kitchen, here’s the things in the kitchen you can give to help her play, you know, without saying that, just with her experiencing it. Ayelet: Right exactly because that’s the entire class. Didn’t have to say it you just you just showed her! So powerful. Rachel: Yeah. The Social and Human Impact of Increasing Family Capacity Through Parent Education Ayelet: Yeah! I’m curious, because you’ve mentioned like the word community, and being local, and serving your own area a few times, like, what does that mean to you? What’s the value of that for you? Rachel: So this is sort of probably a unique to the Bay Area situation, there’s a high rate of turnover in this area for long term friendships and community, I think, because it is expensive pandemic change to how people are working. And I think I’ve had like 15 friends move this year. And I think that for me, I moved a lot as a kid, I don’t really know if I have like a home. I know, a lot of people here, especially in my community are not local, we didn’t grow up here, our family isn’t here. And we have to create a village and a lot of times, we have our work life, and then we have children. And so you’re like dating to find parents, you know, dating to find families that kind of align with how you want to learn, because sometimes you meet really cool people, and then you do a playdate. And you’re like, Oh, we have different philosophies on things. Right? Oh, we can’t… Ayelet: Which is also valuable, right?! Rachel: Exactly. And so you have to, like, take a step back and be like, what, why am I uncomfortable? Or is it just that, you know, this is new to me? Or is this remind me of something I experienced? You know, it’s just, there’s a lot. And so I think, especially for me, and especially in this area, having parents feel like they are supported kind of replaces the like, absent grandparents or the like, you know, the, the friends that you have for the first year, and then they move because they want to have an affordable home, with, you know, a lot of square footage, because they want to have more than one kid, you know, and so there’s, that’s why it’s very important to me. And you know, you psychologically, you could probably go back and be like, Oh, well, you know, you said that you moved like 13 times in 12 years, you know, like, is that important to you, Rachel? Probably, but I also do you think that especially during the pandemic, we’ve seen that like, who is in your community doesn’t have to be geographic, like, you know, and that, you know, we have a lot of opportunity for virtual connection that is quite meaningful, and some of us are going to be doing this for quite some time. And I feel like a lot of us really just want to know that our kids have friends, too, that they can still be connected, even though they may not be going to preschool or daycare, like we had planned or envisioned for them earlier. Ayelet: that’s all it’s all there. Who knew? Zoom “parent and me” is definitely a thing! Yeah, yep. I would love to know if you have anything that you would say to another professional, potentially thinking about becoming a facilitator? Rachel: Oh, I do. Because I have like four of my friends that I want to, like, have do this. Because for one reason or another, I think they’d be phenomenal. I think that especially some of the questions and insight that I’ve heard from my friends who are in the early childhood sphere, that the ability to demonstrate and offer opportunities for ritual and routine and expanding on different communities and having equity is crucial. And we’re part of that. That, no matter your socioeconomic status, no matter your race, religion or creed, all of this applies to everybody. And that this is a really accessible toolkit, I mean for any family. And so for, I have friends who are providing services, and I have friends that are much more just like caregivers, caretakers, but they’re very social and have huge networks. I think that if you have any interest in helping people feel like they have what it takes, and they have what they need, and you want someone to like, you want to be able to, like, show them that. But you don’t necessarily want to write the book, Ayelet already did it for you! And that actually, the training is golden. Like, I really am just, you know, I was telling my husband that this is, it’s no joke, like it is legit. It’s very well structured, it’s put together in a super professional and quality away. It is like having a very big CEU course, it’s training for a certification to use their program. People might say, Oh, I want to pay for like XYZ training so that I can have this credential. And I would say, this is an equivalent program for serving this population. If you’re considering that one, you could also consider this one, and also not even have to be offering it as a professional scope of practice. This is something anyone could have access to. And that’s, I think, really huge. The net is broader for serving, because, right, like specific to one component of the population or a child with some sort of communication disorder. Ayelet: Yeah, exactly. It, you’re becoming a parent educator, this is how you can do that with an inclusive program that can serve any family from anywhere, in any way. Yeah. Is there anything else that you would like to add or just share from the heart? Rachel? Rachel: You know, I have to say that one of the parts of the training that surprised me that we dive into, like, what holds us back? And I think very few trainings, offer that level of reflection. And then that piece is not just powerful, because… because I can tell you like after I finished that module, I was like, okay, whatever. And then three months later, when I was like, why am I scared to schedule my demo? It was, oh, okay, this is what’s going on here. And you had already had the forethought and the wisdom to address that. Because that’s what some people do. They have what it takes, and they are self limiting for a variety of reasons, either related to perfectionism, or a fear of starting a business, or not knowing how, but everything that you put into the training is useful and relevant for the process of becoming a professional who is serving a population. And so I just, I really, I really appreciated that. I shared [in our facilitator community group] that I literally had a dream where like, I was falling off a precipice. And then like Ayelet pulls like some steps out of nowhere. But it was like my brain reconciling like “you have what it takes, it’s okay. Look, it’s already here. You’ve got this!” But also being, that it’s fine to say “I’m scared.” Ayelet: In the group… Rachel: Yes, yeah, yeah. And that it’s, you’re gonna be supported. And I think that, you know, I was really surprised by how relevant it became as time went on. And I really, I think anyone who really practices vulnerability knows that you have to give people the tools to not just be vulnerable, but to do something with that, and I think this program is great for allowing you to grow. That’s that’s what, that’s all I have to say about that. Ayelet: Thank you. Rachel, thank you so much. Are You Looking For a Parent Education Training Program? Now, if this kind of work calls to you, if you are an educator or therapist looking for new ways to serve families, to use your knowledge to support new parents and caregivers in your community, I’d love for you to check out the Learn With Less® Facilitator Training & Certification Program. When you send in your application, I’ll be gifting you my exclusive, private training all about how to create lasting impact leading “caregiver & me” classes with a high quality, evidence-based, “plug and play” program that will have families coming back again and again. All you need to do to get an invitation, is fill out the quick application form at learnwithless.com/certification Now, I’d love to know more about you: does this work call to you? Do you already serve families in your community in a similar way? Send me a direct message on Instagram – I’m @learnwithless and I’d love to hear from you! The post Educating Parents To Be Their Child’s Best First Teacher, With Rachel Kammeyer appeared first on Learn With Less.
30 minutes | Jun 22, 2021
How to Deal With Picky Eating in Babies and Toddlers, with Melanie Potock
How do I know if my child is really a picky eater? On this episode of the Learn With Less® podcast, Ayelet sat down with speech-language pathologist Melanie Potock, who describes herself as “a mom who once had a picky eater.” She’s experienced first-hand the stress that parents feel when they are worried about their child’s nutritional health. Fast forward to today, and you’ll find Melanie blending her knowledge of feeding therapy with practical parenting strategies that help the entire family eat healthier. She’s an international speaker and author of three books, including co-authoring the award-winning Raising a Healthy Happy Eater. We discuss: Melanie’s personal and professional background, and how she came to do the work she’s doing todayTypical stages of eating development with oral eatersHow to tell whether you’re dealing with a “picky eater” or just a typical toddlerMelanie’s top 3 tips for true “picky eaters” and top 3 tips for more typical toddler food preferencesMelanie’s favorite resources to share with families who are dealing with eating challenges Resources Mentioned in This Episode: Melanie’s playlist on YouTube for Pediatrician Advice Raising a Healthy, Happy Eater, by Melanie Potock and Nimali Fernando Adventures in Veggieland, by Melanie Potock You are not an Otter: The Story of How to Become an Adventurous Eater, by Melanie Potock Kid Food Explorers Connect With Us: Melanie: Website / Instagram / Facebook Ayelet: Facebook / Instagram / Pinterest Text Transcript of the Episode Ayelet: Today I am speaking with Melanie Potock, an international speaker on the topic of feeding babies, toddlers, and school-aged kids. She is the co-author of the award winning Raising a Healthy, Happy Eater, a stage by stage guide to setting your child on the path to adventurous eating, and Baby Self Feeding: solutions for introducing purees and solids to create lifelong healthy eating habits. The tips in her cookbook for parents and kids, Adventures in Veggieland, help your kids learn to love vegetables with 100 easy activities and recipes, are based on the latest research and Melanie’s 20 years of success as a pediatric feeding therapist. Melanie’s children’s book, You Are Not An Otter, takes preschoolers on a food adventure exploring all the ways that various animals eat. Melanie’s advice has been shared in a variety of television and print media, including the New York Times The Wall Street Journal cnn.com, and parents magazine. Melanie, thank you so much for being here with us today. Welcome to Learn With Less. Melanie: Well, this is so fun to get to know you! And I’m just so glad we’re doing this today. Thank you for having me on. Ayelet: My pleasure. So Melanie, today I’ve asked you to come on speak to us about how to deal with picky eating in babies and toddlers. But first, just to get a little bit of information about you. Why don’t you tell us more about you and how you got into this work that you are doing today? Melanie: Well, thank you sure I, you know, it’s I’m going to try to give you the brief version. All right, having my own very picky eater, before I ever went back to school to become a speech pathologist, and even when I was in graduate school, I didn’t really focus on feeding, I was focusing on augmentative communication. But then as life, as we know, has these twists and turns, I worked in a rehab hospital and they had an opening in the NICU. And that is what got me really thinking about the fact that feeding is developmental. That we learn to swallow in the womb, and that we learn to bite and chew and enjoy a variety of foods, really over the next four years. And then, from there, a lifetime – because we’re all learning eaters. You know, I tried haggis for the first time last year, speaking of Scotland. So I’m learning eater, but it really got me realizing that with my own very picky eater, I knew I needed to keep it fun. I knew I needed to keep the joy in family meal times, but also that there was a learning curve here. And that’s when I started to combine my own experience as a mom with what I learned initially in the NICU, and then helping these kids as they grew and becoming a pediatric feeding specialist. Ayelet: Amazing. Yes. Well, we have that in common that actual technical background, and then “becoming the parent” background. When you marry those and connect those. It’s quite an experience and a very different experience. Melanie: It is it just kind of rounds it all out. And it raises so many more questions, right? Ayelet: Absolutely. Well, let’s dig right in. Tell us a little bit about those typical stages of eating development with oral eaters. And by oral eaters, I’m really referring specifically for our audience to those children receiving nutrition orally as opposed to say, a feeding tube. Melanie: Well, first of all, I think that is an excellent, excellent question. It is the whole reason why wrote Raising a Healthy, Happy Eater, a parent’s handbook… to really explain to parents – and professionals like that book too, but to really explain to parents that, as I said earlier, feeding is developmental. So there are various stages of development that children move through to help them learn to love food. Although I can’t explain every single one in this short time. Just to give you a couple brief examples. As I mentioned earlier, babies actually learn to swallow in the womb. And then once they come into the world, and they are going to breast or bottle feed, they rely on reflexes, the suckling reflex, the sucking reflex that sucks, swallow, breathe, coordination, all of these incredible ways that their body works naturally to teach them to eat. They actually learn from those reflexes. And then the reflexes integrate because we don’t need them anymore. Well, likewise, the toddlers, they also learn from the tongue lateralization reflex. So if you simply were to touch the side of like a 12 month old’s tongue, the tongue will actually move toward the stimulation. And that’s, that’s a reflexive move that starts in that first year life, but then it starts to go away because the babies have already figured out – because the reflex taught them – how to move their tongue left to right. And all of those natural phases of feeding development, that we see all the way up to about age three, are what help kids try new foods in combination with these awesome parents. Ayelet: Love that. Yes. All right, well, how can parents and caregivers tell whether they are dealing with a quote unquote “picky eater?” Or just a typical toddler? Melanie: Yeah, yeah. Well, first of all, we have to recognize the fact that there is this garden variety stage of picky eating that almost every child will go through in the toddler years, they’re supposed to, you know, kids learn the word “No.” They also have a huge drop in appetite, because their growth really slows down, especially as they approach age two, so between 18 months and three years of age is this window of time where kids will be picky on and off, and it can be really frustrating for parents. But the honest truth is, if we just parent proactively, and we follow a few tips, the kids will emerge out the other side at about age three, once again, on the journey to adventurous eating. The dilemma is, is that it’s really common to get advice from other medical professionals that say, all toddlers are picky, they’ll grow out of it. Well, that’s actually not the case: one in four typically developing children will develop a feeding disorder. In other words, they don’t grow out of it. And we don’t want to wait to see if that’s going to happen. So to answer your question, just a few red flags. And I list all of them in my book, Raising a Healthy, Happy Eater, as well as some of my other books. Just a few red flags in those toddler years is, is it incredibly stressful on a consistent basis? That’s my big one. Is there really no joy in meal times anymore? Do you find that you’re having to serve the same thing over and over and over? That signals that problem, and it definitely is something to call attention to when you talk to your pediatrician. And if you’re wondering how to do that, I have a whole playlist on my YouTube channel, which is titled, Pediatrician Advice, that will walk you through exactly what to say and what pictures to bring in, frankly, before and after a meal, or where to get a three day food diary to share with your pediatrician to really get to the why that this is stressful trying to find that why is so important. And just a couple other red flags that I’ll throw out to the audience. With toddlers, we of course, want to be very aware of choking. But once kids get into that, oh, you know, the early toddler years, 14-15 months, they really shouldn’t be gagging on a daily basis. And definitely, if you have even one choking episode, just one, you have to talk to your pediatrician about that and document what happened before the choking episode, what happened during, and what happened after, so we can make sure that doesn’t happen again. And that it doesn’t possibly signal difficulty swallowing in some way. Because sometimes, kids can just get really large tonsils and have a choking episode. You know, there’s a lot of different reasons for that. And then finally, I would say that one of the major red flags when it comes to toddlers developing a feeding disorder is that they limit what they’ll eat to a specific texture like oh, the kid only patches of applesauce, etc. all day long. He never really likes to chew. Those sorts of things. Ayelet: Right? So that distinction between Yes, he loves applesauce, but he won’t eat an apple. He won’t try a sliced apple. Interesting. So those are great, wonderful tips. And I think it’s really interesting, too about you know, we going back to what you said about the reflexes, we think about motor development and reflexes, like I think most parents have heard about suckling and palmar grasp and like those early reflexes, but I think it’s really helpful to think about feeding and eating as well. And it definitely surprised me when I first heard about the fact that toddlers have these reflexes remaining like we think about that is often something that goes away in those early infant months. But there are developmental pieces to eating and changing and food and feeding and eating development. And I think that’s so important. So thanks for really going into that with us a little bit. Let’s take just a brief break to hear a word from our sponsors. And then we’re going to hear a few tips from Melanie about what you can do to support young children with regard to eating preferences, and we’ll hear about her favorite resources to share with families. As a parent or caregiver of an infant or toddler, you want to make sure you’re doing it “right.” But everywhere you look, there’s another learning toy or fancy subscription box that you don’t have room for and that your child seems to lose interest in all too quickly. You want to support your infant or toddler’s development, but you struggle finding the “right” toys or enough time and energy to do it. You just want the map to get through these first few years and find more joy in the journey, as well. If any of this rings true for you, you’re in the right place. Right now I’m giving away my infant/toddler development blueprint, a straightforward guide that will help you discover the four major areas of development in the first three years of life and what’s involved in each of those areas, find out what you can do to support development using what you already have in your home. Learn how to follow my four pillar framework to maximize the time you’re already spending with your tiny human, and much, much more. If you are ready to boost your infant or toddler’s learning, stop feeling like you’re “winging it” all the time and simplify your life head to learnwithless.com/blueprint and download my free infant/toddler development blueprint today. Ayelet: All right, Melanie, we would love to hear… we’ve got two sets of sort of tips that I’d love to go into. The first is: we’d love to hear a few of your top tips for families who are actually dealing with true picky eaters, Melanie: You bet so is kind of that garden variety picky eater, you know, is doing fine on the growth curve, but just isn’t very adventurous, really hesitant to try new things. But there’s enough of a food repertoire that nutritionally they’re doing okay, we just need to expand on that. Well, for those what I call “garden variety picky eaters,” it’s interesting because no matter where a child is on the picky eating spectrum, whether they’re garden variety, or highly selective, or what we call extreme picky eaters, we still have the same foundational tips for both, and then we expand from there. So if I can just give you three basic ones that will fall into both categories. And I can tell you a little bit more about our more extreme picky eaters. The first one is make sure that your toddlers and older are on what we call a hunger schedule. And by that I mean the moment they sit down for breakfast, it’s another two to two and a half hours later before they sit down for a snack again. So the time at breakfast, gosh, it might be 10 minutes, it might be 20 minutes, you know, everybody’s a little bit different. But the moment they sit down, they have their breakfast and they take their plate to the counter to say they’re all done. They’re all done. The kitchen is closed, you know water, yes, of course. But that two to two and a half hours until a small snack is offered? That’s growing time. That’s playing time. And you can learn more about that eating time and growing time schedule. If you go to melaniepotock.com and just click on my free toolbox tab and you can download that schedule and put it right in your kitchen to help you remember how to get kids a little bit hungry for meal times, but not hangry. But definitely the hunger schedule is good. Ayelet: And just to clarify, again, this is for those kiddos who are really experiencing, like this is not for those just typical toddler food preference, like maybe a little bit here, maybe a little bit there. But this is for kiddos who really have been sort of diagnosed or identified as real picky eaters? Melanie: Actually, it’s for both no question would be for both. So let’s just take a look at that for one second. So one of the easiest missteps we can make as parents is to let kids graze throughout the day, and especially our picky eaters, as a mom myself of one I know it was really tempting that every time she opened her mouth, I offered her a goldfish cracker, you just want to get some food there. And the reality is that we know that kids will actually try new foods, are more likely to try new foods, and will eat even their preferred foods in more reasonable amounts because picky eating also involves volume a lot of times… if they truly come to the table hungry. So as tempting as it is to let them graze throughout the day, all of the best registered dietitians, and of course my favorite pediatrician Dr. Young, who wrote Raising a Healthy Eater with me, agree that kids really need to have two to two and a half hours between snacks and meals. But there is one more reason for that. And that is their teeth. The American Dental Association also recommends that so that the mouth can really be restored to the typical pH that it needs to be. If we graze all day, we actually have a much higher risk for dental cavities, etc. But to answer your your comment there for our more extreme picky eaters, it’s the number one thing I start with because even if we’re only going to have three foods that we eat, and we have months of therapy to learn how to eat even two more, we still have to create that hunger, not not “hanger,” you don’t want them hangry! – but hunger, so that at least we have a little bit of desire. Most kids who are extreme picky eaters, who have the diagnosis of avoidant restrictive food intake disorder or ARFID, aren’t really that excited about food, you know, they don’t really find food that pleasurable. And part of the reason why is they have a very low homeostatic appetite, and that means they’re just not really that hungry and they sort of just eat because we eat, you know? Where you and I are like… when’s dinner? Ayelet: Definitely, yes, definitely. I can, I can agree with that for myself, for sure. I think it is really important, though, to distinguish that, and to to help parents really understand that this is not about withholding food. This is not about creating an environment in which we’re saying, No, you cannot eat, or you can only eat on this very rigid schedule. We’re talking about giving additional opportunities for children to develop an appetite. And this is just one strategy among many that you would recommend, Melanie. Melanie: Can I expand on that a little bit? Yeah, exactly. It’s no different than being in preschool. Kids don’t get to graze all day of preschool. You know, there’s a center for snacks, there’s a center for artwork, there’s a very specific schedule. And we always, especially if we happen to have a child who perhaps has had a rough start, or perhaps is coming from an orphanage, I have a number of kids on my caseload who have been adopted in the United States from other countries where, frankly, the kids are kind of worried about food, and is there going to be more food. And we always want kids to understand that we just had eating time. Right now it’s play time. But then we want to reassure them, so sweetheart, it’s playtime right now. So we’re going to go to the park, we’ll have a small snack, when we get back, you always want to reassure them that absolutely more food is coming. And our job as a parent is to provide options for food, you know, our job is just decide when food will be presented. But it’s not in a way that is… we just don’t want it to be counterproductive to developing a joy for eating. Ayelet: Sure. I also think it’s important to note that if you, in your family, if you are grazers and that’s just the way that works for your family, and you’re not having any kind of problems, keep doing what you’re doing. It’s – you’re not doing it wrong, Melanie: Right, you’re not doing it wrong. It’s if you have concerns about it, and you’re raising this to your pediatrician, et cetera. This is the first strategy we start with. And as long as your child takes in a variety of foods for good nutritional health, even if it’s in a grazing pattern, that’s totally fine. As a matter of fact, some kids need to be able to do that, especially if they have type one diabetes, for example, or cystic fibrosis would be another good medical reason or slow stomach emptying gastroparesis. So there are a lot of reasons that that works better for some people than others. And it’s not unusual in our assessment to determine that perhaps this child may not be able to go on what we call a typical hunger schedule. But instead of snacks and meals being rotated, actually needs five or six mini meals a day. Ayelet: Yeah, thank you for that. Melanie, I think it’s just really important to always be aware that we’re talking to such a variety of people, and that everyone has strategies that work for them. And no one here is telling you exactly what to do. This is just sharing ideas and information. So thank you for that. Alright, how about… Do you have any other specific tips that you’d like to share about those more true picky eaters? Or shall we move on to more tips for families who are coming into raising toddlers, who are just really expressing those more typical food preferences as I like to call them. Melanie: Right, let’s give you one more that would apply to both. And you know, if you want to expand from there. When we have the garden variety picky eater, it’s very tempting not to put new foods on their plate, because what’s the point they’re not going to eat it, you know, and we certainly don’t want to waste food. But there is a compromise there where we can continue to do the most important thing, which is expose them to new foods. So I asked my families just to put a tablespoon – literally the tablespoon off your measuring spoons where we you know, we all use to bake with right? I mean, it is small, not a spoonful out of you know, a serving spoon out of your drawer like a true tablespoon. And just kind of keep that out on the counter to remind yourself that when you pre plate, that you always have a little bit of everything on child’s plate, it’s their choice if they want to eat it. You know, that’s not a big deal. But we’re never letting go of the possibility that one day they’ll be ready. And even for those families who, especially this year, are struggling with just food insecurity and budgets are really tight. Don’t hesitate to take a few leftovers and just freeze them in an ice cube tray. And then you know, defrost them and keep – and you’re just using them for exposures or even for food play. Like everyone was really tired of that chili you made and you know you don’t want to dump it. You know what you could do with it. Get out a cookie sheet, put a little bit of chili in the middle, get out some plastic dinosaurs and make a big chili volcano and the kids are now exploring it with all of their senses. And if they decide to lick their fingers, we’re just not gonna argue about that! Ayelet: I really love that. Thank you so much for that great idea, Melanie. Such a good one. Yeah, because I think it’s, it can be really hard for many families to recognize because we have that, like, “Don’t play with your food sort of mentality,” a lot of times, right? Many of us were raised that way. But can you just speak – just for a minute, about why is that important? What is that connection? And of course, we’ve talked a bit about this on previous episodes of Learn With Less, but I’d love to just get your sense about that! Melanie: I love to talk about that because I wrote a whole book about it. But, you know, it actually ties nicely into the third suggestion that I was gonna give. You have a picky eater or an extreme picky eater, and that is to follow my three E’s. That’s what I always say to my parents. Listen, there are three E’s, you’re gonna follow: expose, explore, expand. And that’s how we get from fun to yum. We start with exposure. And exposure can be food play that you and I just talked about. But the food play, as much as we love it to be messy, therapists, we love messy play, you know, because it incorporates all the senses, and kids need to get messy. But it can also be a food activity. Like in my book Adventures in Veggieland, I go through 20 different vegetables according to season. And right now we’d be in the chapter with asparagus. And asparagus… What’s fun to do with that? Make it asparagus log cabin! So we just get, we just get a milk carton and we spread it with cream cheese, and we take our asparagus and we make a cabin. Now if you take a bite of raw asparagus in the process, that’s cool, too, you know, raw asparagus is is actually very yummy. Most people don’t realize that, that’s okay. But it’s not the primary goal because we’re in the expose face expose might also mean helping to wash the asparagus and using a child-safe knife to trim the ends or learn how to snap off the end, you know that we all do it that magic spot on the end of the asparagus, but it from there, then we get into explore. And explore mostly means cooking together. There’s so much good research that shows that when you bring your kids into the kitchen, and you cook together, and you don’t worry about the end result whether or not the recipe comes out perfect, and you just parent in the kitchen… that those kids are much more likely to be adventurous eaters and much, frankly, much more likely to be healthy eaters. And then finally, expand just means that you take the skills that you’ve got from expose and explore. And maybe you make more complicated recipes, or you branch out to, Oh, a veggie lasagna that has asparagus in it. You know, in other words, there’s more texture, there’s more elements to the dish, and from a sensory perspective, that takes time to develop that skill. So absolutely any sort of food activity, food play, using food in a way that isn’t necessarily about taking a bite is actually what will lead to the kids taking a bite. Ayelet: That’s fun. All right, let’s move on just into a little bit about some of your favorite resources. We always like to empower those families and give them resources that say you’d like to share with families who are dealing with any type of eating challenges. Melanie: Sure, you bet. It is the whole reason I developed my website and I have so many free resources for families. I have a tab on melaniepotock.com as I was mentioning earlier, called your free toolbox. And you’ll find over, Gosh, I think about 12 or 13 free downloads there. Several of them go along with my children’s book that you mentioned, You Are Not an Otter. And they involve games and matching cards and fun things that you can do with kids just to introduce the idea of being a learning eater, of being an adventurous eater, of being a food explorer. That’s the point. And then on my YouTube channel, I have Gosh, I don’t know over 180 videos now, and all according to playlist. And one thing I do want to mention about YouTube, you don’t always have to watch YouTube, a lot of my videos are much more like a podcast, like the wonderful ones that you provide. And you know, I hate to clean my house. But if I can just put YouTube in my ear and just listen to a few of these videos or listen to a great podcast like yours, boy, I can get a lot of cleaning done. So you know, that’s a great way to find some information. And then lastly, my social media is packed full of free information and resources for parents. My Instagram has so many different infographics. And lately I’ve been really pleased to get emails from speech pathologists, occupational therapists and parents saying is it okay if I print this off? Yeah, I’ll keep your copyright on it because I print this off and I want to laminate it and stick it up in my preschool classroom. Absolutely. Please do that. That’s why I’m creating them just to find as many ways I can in addition to my books and my video courses, but ways the parents don’t have to spend any money to really get this information. Ayelet: I wonder if you have other types of feeding therapists who you love to follow or that you would recommend also that other people follow? Melanie: Yeah, you know, there are, the one that actually comes to mind. She’s not a feeding therapist. Yes, yes, she’s, she’s wonderful. And her name is Dani and you’ll find her under kid food explorers on Instagram. And she has got the most fabulous books. She used to work in special education. She’s also a teacher and a mom and she is brilliant at helping kids learn to love food. So she’s also a dear friend of mine that I met on Instagram, which is the way I met you too! So I would say that is honestly Dani’s is my favorite to go for all the time to her. Ayelet: Great, thank you. Melanie, thank you so much for your time and energy today for everyone listening from home or on the go. Thank you so much for joining us and we will see you next time. The post How to Deal With Picky Eating in Babies and Toddlers, with Melanie Potock appeared first on Learn With Less.
25 minutes | May 20, 2021
What is Early Intervention Speech Therapy, With Grace Bernales
What does an Early Intervention Speech-Language Pathologist Do, Anyway? On this episode of the Learn With Less® podcast, Ayelet sat down with Grace Bernales, a pediatric SLP based in Los Angeles, and owner of Graceful Expression, providing in-home speech/feeding therapy. Grace works with the early intervention population (birth to three) and elementary-aged children, and provides helpful information and play ideas on social media and in her store on the site, Teachers-Pay-Teachers. We’ll discuss: Grace’s personal and professional background, and how she came to do the work she’s doing todayWhat does a speech-language pathologist do with an infant or toddler during early intervention services?What is the “parent coaching model” and why is it so effective?Grace’s top 3 tips and resources for parents and caregivers who want to use everyday materials and routines to support their young child’s language Resources Mentioned in This Episode: Starfall and abcya.com Learn With Less® podcast episode on Parent Coaching and Routines Based Intervention, with Cari Ebert Connect With Us: Grace: Website / Instagram / Facebook / Teachers Pay Teachers Ayelet: Facebook / Instagram / Pinterest Text Transcript of This Episode: Ayelet: Okay, welcome. So today I’m speaking with Grace Bernales, a pediatric speech language pathologist based in Los Angeles and owner of Graceful Expression, providing in home speech and feeding therapy. Grace loves working with the early intervention population and elementary aged children and provides extremely helpful information and play ideas on social media. And in her store on the site, Teachers Pay Teachers. Grace’s primary passion is providing speech and language therapy for the three and under population as well as preschoolers, and she truly enjoys coaching families and believes in the importance of empowering parents to connect with their child. So Grace, I have just loved getting to know you a little bit on social media. And I want to welcome you today to Learn With Less®! Grace: Well, hi, Ayelet, thank you so much for having me. I’m so excited to be here and talk about the early intervention population. Ayelet: That’s it. Yes, a passion for us both. So I have asked you to come onto the show, of course, today to speak to us about early intervention, and really, what a speech therapist does with infants and toddlers. But first, why don’t you tell us a little bit more about you and how you got into the work that you’re doing today? Grace: Yeah, sure. So I knew growing up, I always wanted to work with children or help people somehow I just wasn’t sure yet. I initially actually wanted to be a school or clinical psychologist, so I had my degree in psychology. So while I was in school, I worked as a behavioral therapist, and a lot of the children were children on the spectrum, or with Down Syndrome, and they often had speech therapy and a communication device. So that’s kind of how I learned more about the field. And then I decided to do a few observation sessions, larger opportunities for that. And that’s kind of how I got into it. And then also, my dad had his own clinic as a physician, and I just, it kind of inspired me to do my own thing and also open up my own clinic, but that’s how I came up with Graceful Expression! Ayelet: That’s so great. I love that. Well, let’s dig right in. So what does a speech language pathologist do with an infant or toddler during these early intervention services, specifically, Speech and Language Pathology, off course, is we can speak to Grace: Right, that’s a great question. And I feel like, you know, coming into the family’s homes, or just, you know, for the initial session, not many families know exactly how the sessions work. So usually, I’ll, you know, tell them, you know, it’s very important for the families to be involved in this each session versus just, you know, sitting on the chair, or watching the therapist or being on their phone, I like to explain to them, you know, it’s very important for the families to be involved, it does involve a lot of play. And I always tell families to me with when we’re just playing, but we’re actually using a lot of different sheets and language goals and to target using different toys. And it also, you know, it’s very common for a speech therapist to interact with the parent, you know, we kind of talk about how the session goes, I explained to them different strategies that they can also do with their child during that session. But now, now that COVID is around, of course, my sessions are virtual, and it’s still very much the same. It’s just more parent coaching versus me, showing them ways their child can play. Ayelet: Right, well, this is a great sort of lead into the next real question that I have for you, which is you were speaking so much about, you know, that involvement of the parent or caregiver with the child within a therapy context. So tell us a little bit about, for those families who don’t really know what this is, what is the parent coaching model? And why is it considered so effective? Grace: Right! So parent coaching is a very interactive process between the therapist and the parent, it involves a lot of observation, reflection and action to help promote the parent’s ability to support their child’s participation during the session. So for example, oftentimes, you know, before a session, I’ll speak with the family, whether it’s on the phone or email, I’m asking, like, Hey, is there any specific toy you want to work with today? Are there any specific words or strategies you want to work on today, and then we’ll come kind of come up with something together prior to the session. And then oftentimes, the session or the toys that we use are, of course, what the parent has already, I don’t expect families to, you know, go out and buy their own toy, I like to use whatever is already within their home. That’s kind of part of the parent coaching model where I tell them, you know, we can use these toys, today if you like, we can use those toys, and then usually throughout that parent coaching I’ll, while I’m observing them, or I’ll kind of include them if you fix that, you know, they could adjust or I’ll kind of help them build up on strategies that they’re already doing themselves, as well as adding on new skills that they can share with their child throughout the session or throughout the week when I’m not speaking with them. But yeah, and I just feel like parent coaching is just so effective because a parent is with the child 24-7. The therapist is not there 24-7, you know, they’re the one that’s interacting with their child throughout the day, throughout the week, throughout the month. It’s really important for the family to be hands-on with the child, you know, versus a session where let’s say the family sits in the waiting room or the family is the sitting on the couch, it’s going to be very different, or difficult for the parent to try this strategy without seeing it themselves or doing it themselves. And I know most people are very hands on – I know, I’m very hands on. So I feel like for me to really understand a strategy or do a certain skill, I need to feel, I need to be able to also get in the action. That’s kind of why I feel like parent coaching is so effective, because we’re having them do that particular strategy with their child. And that way they can at least remember like, okay, Grace showed me how to do this, I did this during the session. So I can do this with my child more, so I feel like that’s why parent coaching is just so important. Ayelet: Right, because it’s an, it’s like an active learning process. So it’s so interesting, because I think so often we as the adults in the room, and as a parent, for instance, we oftentimes will assume like, okay, my child is receiving services. So my child will be the one who this therapy session is focused around. But really, in many cases, early intervention is so much about parent education, and about building up that parent’s or caregiver’s capacity to really be able to feel confident that they can do that, that they can serve their child that they can support their child, and that they have the tools to connect with their little one and support their little one within play, within everyday routines. I’m just curious to hear from you, you know, I think we do, in general, as a society, and as parents in this day and age, focus on the tools themselves instead of those interactions. And play can really – obviously, as you know, and I know that you share this all the time on say Instagram, for instance, play can happen and developmentally supportive and enriching play can happen with everyday materials. And in those everyday routines and interactions. And I’d love – we’ll get some specific tips from you in just a moment. I’d love if you could share just a few of those actual materials that you might recommend, whether they are the, like a toy, or the everyday material “version” of a toy, for instance, that you might sort of gravitate towards or help families gravitate towards within your sessions. Grace: Yeah, sure. So a few that come to mind at the top of my head, number one would be a paper towel roll or toilet paper roll, which I’m sure everybody has. So, I always tell families, when you run out of paper towels or toilet paper, you know, save those because you can do a lot of different things with them. One of the main things I like to use it as is like a microphone. Because I feel like children just love hearing like how their voice echoes or how your voice echoes, so I like to tell parents to use that. And then it’s also fun to play an “I Spy” game with if you have two of those, so that, you know, you can get a lot of language with those roles. Then I also like to use boxes. And a lot of I’m sure, especially people these days are using Amazon boxes or whatever they’re shipping to their home. And I’ve had kids where they pretend it’s like a car. I’ve had parents draw wheels on it, and they push them in the box, but it’s also turned into a fort or like a castle where you can draw windows on it. So you know, definitely toys don’t have to be actual toys. Like you said it could be everyday items. And then I would say the third everyday item that I like to use often, too, is a muffin tin. Right. I like using muffin tins because you know, the parent can put whatever item or toy they can put in there. And then I tell them to cover it up with some tape or painters tape. That way they can use that for a lot of requesting, labeling, and it’s fun for kids to also riff off the tape. It’s like they’re opening a present each time. So that one’s definitely a favorite of mine, too. Ayelet: I love that. Yeah. Do you, do you like to use the like solid metal ones? Or have you ever experimented with the the rubbery sort of foldy ones that can that can be heated up in the oven? Grace: Yeah, I’ve done both. I think most of the times they use a regular, the actual muffin since you put it in the oven. But I’ve had some families where they had the rubbery one. And that was just as fun too! Ayelet: That one’s fun too, for sure. Awesome. Well, we’re gonna just take a very brief break to hear a word from our sponsors. And then we’ll hear just a few tips from Grace about what you can do to support your young child’s communication development using what you already have. And we’ll hear about her favorite resources to share with families. As a parent or caregiver of an infant or toddler, you want to make sure you’re “doing it right.” But everywhere you look, there’s another learning toy or fancy subscription box that you don’t have room for and that your child seems to lose interest in all too quickly. You want to support your infant or toddler’s development, but you struggle finding the “right” toys or enough time and energy to do it. You just want the map to get through these first few years and find more joy in the journey as well. If any of this rings true for you, you’re in the right place. Right now I’m giving away my free infant/toddler development blueprint, a straightforward guide that will help you discover the four major areas of development in the first three years of life and what’s involved in each of those areas. Find out what you can do to support development using what you already have in your home. Learn how to follow my four pillar framework to maximize the time you’re already spending with your tiny human, and much much more. If you are ready to boost your infant or toddler’s learning, stop feeling like you’re “winging it” all the time and simplify your life had to learnwithless.com/blueprint and download my free infant/toddler development blueprint today. Ayelet: Okay, Grace. So what tips – other than everything you’ve already said – what tips do you have specifically for families who are curious about, say, using everyday materials, and using those routines to really support their child’s language development? Grace: Sure. So the number one tip and I get this is difficult to do on is to decrease questions. Ayelet: To decrease questions? Okay, great. Grace: So decrease questions and instead turning them into statements, because you know, it does take the pressure off the child. So for example, let’s say I’m sure a lot of us are watching our hands these days, you can have your child as they’re washing their hands, instead of asking, What are you doing? You say, oh, wash hands, wash hands, we’re washing our hands. So doing a lot of narrating and just remember, and instead of asking the question, turning that question into a statement. So another example could be, let’s say, you know, your child is eating a cookie. Oh, what are you eating? What flavor is it? What color is it? You can just say, oh, you’re eating a chocolate chip cookie, or you’re eating a cookie. And that way the child is hearing the words that we want them to say and it takes off the pressure because I feel like oftentimes, you know, when I see children get asked so many questions, they kind of shut down and they shy away more versus when it’s more indirect. So I would say… Ayelet: That’s such an interesting point. Grace: Yeah! That’s probably one of my favorite tips to give. And then I would say another tip I like to give is providing choices. That way, when you give a child choices, it makes them feel like they’re in control. And this can be helpful I feel like with meal times. Of course, you know, when you do give the choices, don’t give them something you definitely don’t want them to like two sugary meals! Ayelet: Right! It has to be – both both choices have to be something that you feel comfortable with. Grace: Exactly. Yeah, so you can even ask, oh should we eat an apple or a banana? That way they can choose, but in their mind, they’re like, Oh, I get to choose which one I get to eat. So providing choices. And that can be done during many routines, whether it’s meal time, dressing up, maybe you know, their little ones like to choose their own clothes, they can say, oh, should we wear our red shirts today or white shirts today? So that one’s another helpful one that can be done throughout the day. Ayelet: That’s a great one too. Because in that like “choice making” you’re also bathing them in all this language, right without, like, drilling the colors, for instance, which I think a lot of us as adults tend to get stuck in and like my child has to learn how to say red, white, blue, green, purple. But in reality if they can’t communicate, like the things that we want them to communicate, of course are within that everyday context and everyday routine. So if they can indicate which one they’re interested in, or say “shirt” or whatever, like or say “that!” That’s the word “that” is a way more useful word than the, than the word read. For instance, I love that. Grace: Yeah, no, especially with the colors, because like you said, I do often see a lot of parents focusing on like, Oh, my child doesn’t know their letters or their colors yet. And I say, you know, that’s okay, what about other words like “help,” or “want” or “open?” Do they know that yet? So that’s another good point you said, too, is focusing on those functional words because that way they’re able to communicate better. If the child only knows or colors, how are they going to ask for help? They can’t just say “red.” Yeah. So yeah, I like that point that you made there. And that’s another thing is I guess this goes along with using everyday items too, is well one with toys and when families ask me like, oh, what toys, kind of toys that I get from my child, and I’m looking to get them something for their birthday or for the holidays. So I remind them, you know, it’s really better to get a toy, the less a toy does, the better. And that way, so specifically toys without sounds, without any battery, and you know, when I tell them that they said, Oh, really, that’s interesting, why is that? And I said, Well, you know, the toy is already making the sounds and the words, will your child say the sounds or the words and the sounds? And they’re like, Oh, no. So it’s really helpful to get a toy that has no sound. And I mean, a few of my classic toys are like blocks, wooden type puzzles, pretend food, because that way the child is able to do different sounds with it, they can label it, as a toy isn’t doing it for them already. Ayelet: Right? And they can engage in those sort of imitative play contexts, like with the pretend food, you know, giving it to the parent asking the parent if they want it, even giving the parent choices. Right, and then they’re imitating what we do to them. And that’s something that we always want to see with, with little ones. So yes, great point. I love that: open ended materials versus those cause and effect toys. Because again, as we’ve talked about, so often on the Learn With Less® podcast, you know, when we have those kinds of toys that purport themselves to be teaching your child, all of these things, maybe, you know, on the side, they’re like complementing that knowledge. But really what they’re teaching is cause and effect, which you can also teach with a light switch. Right? Grace: You’re right, yeah. A light switch! It would definitely give you that. Ayelet: So definitely save your money on that. And then how about resources, we’d love to know what some of your favorite resources to share with families are, who are, you know, looking for those practical and simple solutions to support their little ones? Grace: Yeah. So, a few specific resources that I use… well, Teachers Pay Teachers does have a lot of various resources, and I don’t want to think like, oh, it just says teachers, is it only for teachers? It’s really for, you know, anyone and a lot of the handouts that I make too, are also meant for parents. So, Teachers Pay Teachers, I use a few websites, you know, for parents that want to have an interactive experience online. Of course, I do like to limit the usage of doing it on the laptop or the iPad, but one of one website I like to use is called abcya.com. They have a lot of different games on there, they have holiday games on there. And what helps is, you know, of course the parent can be there with you. So you can make it interactive for them. You can, for example, there’s one where you can build the pumpkin. So you can ask the toddler, which one should we get? We get the black, the brown one so I like that the website’s very interactive. And they also have stories for children, too. Same with Starfall there’s a lot of different stories and animated activities on Starfall, as well. Ayelet: So, so you said Starfall – what was the first one you said? Grace: Abcya.com. Ayelet: Okay, cool. So, so those are a few great sort of high tech resources for families who are looking for the more technology. Grace: I’m always getting asked, oh you know, what can we do online, so okay, remember, be there helping make it interactive, vs. just, here you go, go play with the iPad. Ayelet: Right. And also to point out too, especially with the little ones under the age of three, the most effective, you know, play is is going to be with those actual, physical objects that they can touch and manipulate and move around and lift and figure out how big they are, and how heavy and all of that. But those are really fun resources to like build out, if that’s where you want to go with with some of the time that you’re spending with your little one. That’s great. Any other resources just like for parent education that they can look to? I mean, obviously, your… I want to give a big plug to your Instagram feed because it is so helpful. We both share a lot of information with parents on Instagram. Can you tell us what, just so that they can hear it what your Instagram handle is? Grace: Sure, it’s @gracefulexpression.slp – So yeah, like on my Instagram, I do also like to share a lot of different handouts and the handouts include strategies that parents can do with certain toys, certain activities, certain daily routine, you can also just provide a few activities or even things you can do for like brushing your teeth, or sometimes I’ll collaborate with other people like with a dentist who talks about the brushing teeth and you know, using sweets and how you can serve sweets with your toddler. So few of them are also a feeding therapy related. Ayelet: Cool. Great. Well, where can people find you who are looking to find out more about you about the services you provide the resources that you provide, Grace? Grace: So I’m in Los Angeles, but because of COVID I am doing everything via teletherapy at the moment, but if it wasn’t if it wasn’t COVID and I usually do provide services in the home either in the, I know Los Angeles is a big county, so specifically in the Pasadena area, Glendale area, Burbank, La Cañada, but right now since I am doing teletherapy, then it could be anyone in California because that’s where I’m licensed in. Ayelet: Excellent. And your website. Where can people find you online? Grace: Oh, sure. It’s graceful-expression.com! Ayelet: Beautiful, wow, very, very great. Thank you so much for your time and energy today, Grace. Thank you for everyone listening from home or on the go. Thank you so much for joining us and we will see you next time. The post What is Early Intervention Speech Therapy, With Grace Bernales appeared first on Learn With Less.
24 minutes | Apr 26, 2021
How to Impact Your Community With Parent Education and Parent Coaching Skills, with Laurel Smith
She Needed the Tools to Be Successful In Empowering Families to Support Their Young Children Today, I’d like to share the story of one of my clients, Laurel Smith, of More Than Words Therapy. Laurel is a pediatric speech-language pathologist with a masters in public health, and is based in the Bahamas. When we met, she told me she had an interest in gaining knowledge and skills in parent education and parent coaching, and she was very interested in providing more community-based support to families. When she entered the Learn With Less® Facilitator Training & Certification Program, she stated that she believed becoming a parent educator using the Learn With Less® curriculum will give her the tools she needs to be successful in this area, and the support she needs to ensure she’s providing evidence-based strategies that will indeed empower and support families. She loved that the Learn With Less® program focuses on using the things in the families’ environment, and helps them to understand that it doesn’t take a fancy toy to allow them to support their infant and toddler’s development. As a busy private practice owner, she’d always had an interest in leading parent education classes, but she didn’t have the time to create a program – so I wanted to share this episode with you, to check in with Laurel and see if, now that she’s completed the training program, she feels ready with the knowledge and skills to make her dream a reality. Before we get into it, though, I’d love to invite you to join me on a private training I’m holding for educators and therapists, on Thursday, May 6. If you’re interested in working with me to create a high quality, community based parent education program using the Learn With Less® curriculum, all you need to do to get your invitation is to fill out this quick application at learnwithless.com/certification. Ok, let’s hear from Laurel. Connect With Us Ayelet: Facebook / Instagram / Pinterest Laurel: Website / Facebook / Instagram Related Resources in This Episode Learn With Less podcast episode: How Lesley Took Her Existing Skills as an Educator, and Started Serving Infant/Toddler Families In a Holistic, Meaningful Way Learn With Less podcast episode: How to Use Your Skills as an Educator or Therapist to Serve Families Holistically as a Parent Educator, with Allie Glazer Apply for the upcoming private training: How to Create Lasting Impact Leading “Caregiver & Me” Classes With A High Quality, Evidence-Based, “Plug & Play” Program That’ll Have Families Coming Back Again & Again Text Transcript of the Episode: Ayelet: All right. Well, I am joined here by Laurel Smith. She is a speech language pathologist, as well as having a background in public health. Laurel, thank you. And welcome to Learn With Less®. Thank you for having me. I wanted to just give the good people a sense of who you are and what brought you into the Learn With Less® Facilitator Training and Certification Program. What were some of the things that drew you to this program? Laurel: Okay. So I found it, I believe on Instagram and I, well, I love the idea of Learn With Less®. So I did your training and I was able to get a better understanding of what Learn With Less® was about and how it works and being in a community where we don’t have anything like this… And working with families that I believe would benefit from having the opportunity because, well, within my age group, a lot of my friends are now having babies. So they’re always asking various questions about what things did they can do. And I’m usually having to just guide them and give them little tips and tricks here. So I can only imagine how many other parents, especially new parents feel that way. So it would be an opportunity for me to help them along their journey. And so I liked the Learn With Less® program, because it’s not something where I having to be the instructor, but rather the facilitator and allow them to see that they are likely doing a number of things that are helping their babies and toddlers and you know, other things that they can possibly add on to, to make it even more worthwhile with building their child’s communication. I love that this course would give me the roadmap to be able to put something like this in place, because with my busy schedule, the idea has been there, but it’s stayed at that phase. So now this training gave me the opportunity to move that into the phase of where it can come to life and I can shape it, how I’d like to see it in my community, as well as being able to add an additional service to my private practice. Ayelet: I’d love to know a little bit about when you were thinking about joining, what were some of the things that you were skeptical about as far as joining a program like this? Laurel: I think, in the beginning it was probably that it was only going to take me six weeks or well, or so, like it was only like six modules and I was like, boy, how are we going to learn all of this in this amount of time? But I realized that the modules are very specific, and well, they provide a lot of information, but they also provide you with opportunities to make it more practical and allow it to focus on where you’re at and the thing that you’re doing. So it’s structured, but also unstructured in a way that you can use it and personalize it to your community. So I enjoyed that it ended up being, not just a lot of information about how to do XYZ, but it was also, there was also a practical component and then having the community available as well has also been helpful, so I didn’t have to be skeptical about, even though it’s only six modules, there is a wealth of information and a lot of examples, like the demos, which have been very helpful to see that, you know, other facilitators have had demos where it could go left or right. And they still make it work, though. They still make it work and they work with what they have. So that completely kind of went away once I started and I saw how it is and how it’s structured and that we’re able to kind of use our community to help each other, ask questions and then the Q&A calls also add to it. So if there were any outstanding questions, I can always get them answered, but everything turned out to be pretty straightforward and to the point. So now that I’m at the end where I’m preparing to do my demo, I feel pretty prepared and that the modules gave me sufficient information to get to this point. And so, yeah, I’m excited to do my demo and become certified. Ayelet: Woo. We’re excited, too. I’d love to hear a little bit about whether there was a perception change in your work or this work or what this would be as far as the program itself, as far as what you expected to get out of it, or what leading a class might look like, you know, after having participated in the training program, were there any perception changes for you? Laurel: Well I think because it seems like a lot of the community members’ biggest thing was trying to get parents to understand that we’re not here to just teach you. And because a lot of them are speech-language pathologists, taking that cap off… And instead of being the SLP, you’re now a facilitator or… And parent coaching is a big part of it versus what we would do in our everyday life. I think that’s changed. And I guess being able to see others, having the same mindset and thought process about it and then hearing or seeing how they’ve been able to show, or you’ve given us strategies, I should say, and tips to be able to help parents and families understand that that’s not what we are here to do. We’re here to allow you to see where you’re at and build on that versus just giving you the information but aligned… And to do it in the course. I think that was the biggest thing. Like being able to see that the parents will be able to do the hands-on and how do we get that information and get that kind of into their thought process that, Hey, we’re not here to just show you what to do, but you know, it’s more than just that. Ayelet: It’s practical! Laurel: Especially because people don’t – right. People don’t understand that it doesn’t have to be a time where you just have to say, okay, this is sit down time for learning with my child, but you can use it in routines. And I mean, that’s something that I continued to struggle with as an SLP anyway, because trying to tell my parents that they don’t have to necessarily create this homework time, so to speak or this speech time, but you can use it and fit it in where you can, because I understand that you have a busy life and this is just kind of to help add at home, but not necessarily in a way where you have to just carve out this time, but use it in the routines and the times that you have available. So whether that’s in the car or whether that’s during bath time or whatever, have you, you kind of use those opportunities and build on whatever goals we’re working on at those opportune times. Ayelet: Right, right. And not only whether or not there are specific communication or motor or social, emotional or cognitive goals, right? Because again, this group of people is not just speech therapists. It’s also occupational therapists and early childhood educators and special educators. And so many more that I’m not even thinking about like clinical social workers, people like that, that this is outside of a therapeutic or educational context, right. This is like an enrichment context. This is helping them just to create those opportunities for play and helping them see that they get to do that all the time. So I love, I love what you said about that, because it also, it helps you as a facilitator, take off your therapist hat and put on more of a parent coaching hat, which I’m guessing will also impact – if it hasn’t already your therapy – with, with younger children. Laurel: Right. I definitely see it. Well, with my little ones, I do find myself singing more. And I think one of the things that I learned was about singing about anything. So in the beginning, I would think that I could, I just had to use like, or McDonald or itsy bitsy spider. But now if my little one is playing with a puzzle piece and it’s of a firetruck, and then I can use the tune of any one of those songs and just talk about the firetruck in other ways. And instead of just having to try to think, okay, what’s song do I know that has a fire truck in it… Now I just make it up as I go. And so from that perspective, I’ve seen where my little ones will join in and it’s like, okay, well, we just made up our own little song. And so I try to remember to write down the lyrics so I could know it for the next time. And we continue with that tune, but if not, then I just wing it and I do the same thing over and over again. But they have definitely been more responsive when I use the singing in particular, in it. And then I, well, obviously with COVID, I don’t really use as much of the toys that I would have, before. So I would try to use more of the things that they might have in their environment. So I’m not bringing stuff, but I’m like, okay, well you have an empty water bottle. Let’s just put some stuff in there and shake it. You know what I mean? And that way we are still able to use things in your environment. And I tell my parents a lot more about things and examples of things that they can use – instead of having to go out and buy things. Ayelet: Yeah. So this is really cool to hear, right? Because it’s sort of this, I’m making a motion that nobody can see, but it’s like this cross-pollinating effect of, within this, the Learn With Less® program, which is like a family enrichment training program, so that you can go out and provide these types of parent education, parent support classes. It’s also affecting how you do your everyday job as a therapist. And vice versa, right? So I just love, I love hearing that. And I’d love… That sort of brings me to my next question, which is, you know, what, what do you anticipate more of the impact or results of being involved in this program and offering these classes in your community? What does that look like in your biggest vision? Laurel: Well, I think for the program itself, I think that it would allow me to have an impact on a larger community because so much of the focus as we know, is on alphabet and numbers and… Ayelet: For parents, you mean? Laurel: Right. And so just really trying to help to change that thought process that, you know, it’s, it’s not the focus and you’re already doing the things that you’re doing. You don’t have to worry about you, you don’t have to worry about the battery operated things to be able to communicate and bond with your child. So I think I’m most excited about parents being able to see, Oh yes, I can definitely do this at home, or I’m doing this now. So now I can just add X, Y, and Z and getting them to see, which is why I like the program, because I liked that once they’re able to have that hands-on opportunity, it gives them an opportunity to see, to have that aha moment like, Oh yeah. So I really didn’t need toy X. I could just do this, instead. And I add a little song to it. And now I see my little one imitating me, imitating my actions, imitating the song. So I’m like, there it is. Now you see it for yourself, how you learning with less works and how you’re likely already doing the things that you can with, you know, maybe some additional tips, you can help to allow your child to blossom in their communication skills. So I think I’m most excited to see or hear parents, their feedback about having that aha moment and saying, I’m doing this and I can do this. And it’s nothing that I have to really change per se or even add. Ayelet: And you’ve been able to see some of those aha moments in the classes that like the demo classes that your fellow facilitators have led for families, right? Yes. You’ve been able to see that in parents’ faces and in their comments. So it is such a positive, social and human impact that you’re making on your community when you can provide these things. I love how you said it’s, it’s not – and also it’s not just for families with children who have delays, right. It’s for all, it’s for all families. But once you can sort of make that bigger dent in like the perception of what parents and caregivers think they’re coming to the class for, or think they’re even supposed to be doing with their child and really elucidating the fact that it’s like, well, no, it’s actually way easier. It’s, number one, it’s like the stuff that you already have and the time and energy that you’re already expending with your child, those everyday routines and rituals and interactions that you’re having with your child, instead of thinking that you have to add in more opportunities for, like you said, numbers and colors and shapes, oh my! Right? Like, it’s the everyday interactions. Instead. And that’s where the value is. Right. I love that. Laurel: Because that’s the biggest thing that everybody always says or worry about or even, well, actually is the biggest thing that they would even tell me if they come in for a consultation is, Oh, well my child can, they know their colors, they know their shapes, they know their alphabet. And then I find sometimes that the missing piece is that okay, well, and I asked them, well, how are they communicating with you? Then there’s the disconnect. And so it’s trying to retrain people to understand that this is the important parts that are needed. And I think that this Learn With Less® program will allow me to do that and expand, especially because obviously people come to me, if they have concerns with their child’s speech and language. So if they don’t, it still will allow people to understand what it really means to help to expand your child’s communication skills and what that really looks like. Ayelet: I think it’s so important, I mean, let’s not forget the value of that for your practice, right. I mean, by offering these classes, you’re, you’re going to be providing so much more word of mouth for your other services, in addition to supporting your income through leading the classes in and of itself. So that’s, that’s hugely valuable as well. Let’s not forget that part, right. Laurel: That’s important, the financial impact! Ayelet: Is there anything else that you would like to share, Laurel? Laurel: I’m just excited for the next steps, getting on the road to see how this program really evolves in my private practice and making it fit my community. Ayelet: Yeah. Well actually let let’s chat about that for just a second, right? Because like number one, I’m based in the U S many of the facilitators are based in the U S you are not based in the U S. So, like tell us a little bit about your community. Laurel: So well, in The Bahamas, we are, I think with, as far as parenting, I wouldn’t want to call it a parenting class, but as far as “caregiver and me” types of classes, it’s definitely going to be something that’s very new to my community, because most of the time parents aren’t really, I wouldn’t say they’re not receptive, but they don’t think about it so much. But when I speak to parents individually, especially those that know what I do, and I get the questions I’m like, Hm, that means that there are so many more people who probably feel and thinking the same thing. So it will definitely be a new addition because this is something that I haven’t seen here, as yet. So it’s going to be a new endeavor, but I believe that people are going to be receptive to it, especially new parents and people are kind of, you know, understanding that it’s so much more, that they can kind of grasp about things that they can do to help their children. So, yeah. Ayelet: It’s interesting too, right? Because it’s not just about the, the child’s learning. It’s also about, so much about the parent’s learning. And it’s also so much about creating community around you as a new parent or caregiver, right? Because we’re supporting that community-based learning and getting that social support, which, you know, obviously people are getting in their own way, if it’s not through these sort of “parent and me” style classes, but, but I think what you said is so key, right? That they are asking, they’re all asking the same questions. And when you start pointing that out to them and the value of that social support and the being in community and getting the benefit of helping their little one and getting their child to be around other little ones, whether that is virtually or in person, right? That that will be something that has a lot of value. And of course you have all the tools available to you to talk about that and market and get it out there. So, yeah. Laurel: Yes. I think it’ll definitely help because parents, well, I love that about Learn With Less® than the parents get an opportunity to share and probably you’re right. Realize that, Hey, I’m not the only one feeling this type of, this way at this time. Or I’m not the only one experiencing this with my child. So, you know, it’ll allow other parents to connect. And even though I’m not a parent at this time, I think that they will still be able to enjoy being able to connect with each other. And who knows where I can go after that. Ayelet: That’s it. Awesome. Laurel, thank you so much for your time and energy today. I really appreciate it. And I love having you in the program. Laurel: You’re welcome. Ayelet: Now, if this kind of work calls to you, if you are an educator or therapist looking for new ways to serve families, to use your knowledge to support new parents and caregivers in your community, I’d love for you to join me on my free upcoming private training. All you need to do to get an invitation, is fill out the quick application form at learnwithless.com/certification. Now, I’d love to know more about you: does this work call to you? Do you already serve families in your community in a similar way? Send me a direct message on Instagram – I’m @learnwithless and I’d love to hear from you! The post How to Impact Your Community With Parent Education and Parent Coaching Skills, with Laurel Smith appeared first on Learn With Less.
49 minutes | Apr 15, 2021
Parent Coaching and Routines for Early Language Development, with Cari Ebert
What Can Parents Do to Encourage Infant and Toddler Language Development? On this episode of the Learn With Less® podcast, we sat down with Cari Ebert, of Cari Ebert Seminars. Cari is a speech-language pathologist, parent, consultant, author, product developer, and nationally recognized speaker in the areas of Apraxia, Autism, and early intervention (and routines-based intervention) who has dedicated her career to helping young children achieve their maximum potential with speech, language, and social and emotional development. We discussed: Cari’s personal and professional background, and how she came to do the work she’s doing todayDefinitions of the terms, speech, language, and communicationHow parents and caregivers can support early communication through everyday routines (and what “routines” even are)Why there is no such thing as a parenting expert (and what the purpose of parent coaching, parent education, and routines-based intervention actually are)Cari’s top tips and resources for parents and caregivers hoping to support early communication development Resources Mentioned in This Episode: Learn With Less® “Caregiver & Me” Classes Become a licensed Learn With Less® Facilitator Understanding Your Baby & Understanding Your Toddler: Development & Activity Guides for Playing With Your Baby From Birth to Three Years Games to Play With Babies by Jackie Silberg Games to Play With Toddlers by Jackie Silberg Free Download Handouts from Cari Facebook Live series from Cari Connect With Us: Cari Website / Facebook / Instagram / Ayelet: Facebook / Instagram / Pinterest Text Transcript of The Episode Ayelet: Today. I am speaking with Cari Ebert, a pediatric speech language pathologist in private practice in the Kansas City, Missouri area. Cari is a therapist, consultant, author, product developer, and nationally recognized speaker who gets paid to do what she loves most: talk! She specializes in early intervention, Apraxia, and Autism, and has dedicated her career to helping young children achieve their maximum potential with speech, language, and social and emotional development. Cari, I have followed you for years and been familiar with your work in the area of early intervention and routines-based intervention, and just working with families with infants and toddlers in general, of all developmental levels. But I have to say that I was tickled when I realized that you were following me on Instagram and I’m totally going to go into fan-girl mode right now. When I say that you commented on a post in my feed with the words, “you are an early intervention rock star.” And I just wanted to let you know that that may have been the single most validating and gratifying moment of my career. Cari: Well, I have to say I don’t comment a lot on social media, you know, I’m on there so much posting, so and I don’t tend to comment a lot. And so when I do, I mean it’s authentic and it is sincere. So, I appreciate everything you’re doing in our Ayelet: Thank you. Well, you know, to be recognized by another person in the field who I have such deep respect for just, you know, it feels good. So thank you for that. And welcome. Welcome to Learn With Less. Cari: Thank you for having me. I was honored that you asked me to be a part of this. It’s very exciting. Yeah. Ayelet: Yay. I’ve asked you to come onto the show today to speak to us about these sort of differences between… What are all the pieces of early communication, what does it mean when we’re talking about that with a child who’s meeting communication milestones versus a quote-unquote “late talker,” and then how to support all of that during and within daily routines. But first I would love to just hear a bit more about you and how you got into the work that you’re doing today. Cari: Very good. Yes. Well, I’ve been a speech language pathologist for 25 years, and 20 of those years have been as an early intervention provider. So working with the birth to three population is my passion. I always say those of us who get into early intervention, don’t do it for the paycheck. We certainly do it because there is so much that can be gained by working with families and caregivers and supporting early child development during those naturally-occurring routines and interactions that just happen every single day, whether the child’s at home, at daycare, at Grandma’s house, at the park, wherever. So I am extremely passionate about the birth to three population. I do a lot of research, and write professional development courses that pertain to the birth to five population. So like I have a course on the power of play that really looks at play development from birth to age five. So birth to five is like my area, but birth to three is where my love is. And partnering with parents is the thing that means the most to me. One thing that I’ve said for years is that I am the expert in communication development as a speech-language pathologist, but the parent is always the expert on their child, their family, their routines, their culture, and their concerns. And so it takes two to tango. And, I am here for the dance. Ayelet: I love that. Cari: I also just for listeners who maybe are interested in this, I have, my husband and I have three children, two are neurotypical and our son is Autistic. And so I get to be a speech language pathologist working in the field of early intervention. And I come at this, you know, from the professional side, but also from the parent side. So it allows me to kind of, I don’t know, I’ve been in the shoes, you know, of the families with whom I’m supporting. And so it gives me a different perspective. Ayelet: Oh my gosh. Absolutely. Well, I mean, so much of what you just said resonates, obviously, with me, because I, I do say so often to people like I abhor that term “parenting expert.” And like, if I, if I’m like asked to speak on a panel or in a summit or whatever, I’m very clear to, like, clarify immediately that no, I am a professional who knows some things… And I am not a “parenting expert.” There is no such thing as a parenting expert. The goal is for each parent or caregiver to become an expert on their own child. And that is an ever-evolving process. And you know, that like, you’ll be trying to do for the rest of your life, if you’re lucky, right? Like is that’s the point, right? That’s the goal. And I think it’s a very important clarification that we have to make for both families and other providers, really. Cari: Absolutely. I just have to add that two of my daughters are in their twenties now. And so now I’m having to learn how to parent adult children, because when you say it’s an ever, it’s a lifelong thing. It is because parenting toddlers is different from parenting teenagers and it is different from parenting adult children. So I feel like I’m having to relearn how to parent again, you know, so I love that you say nobody is a parenting expert, you know, we’re constantly evolving in that process. Ayelet: Oh my gosh, completely. Well, and I think, you know, you and I both have that both parent and professional piece, which can be very helpful. I think as far as relating to parents and not to say that, you know, SLPs or other providers who are not parents or caregivers themselves, “can’t” do those things. But for me on a personal level, like when I became a parent, I suddenly realized all of the areas in which I personally was like, Oh wow, I cannot believe I ever said that to a parent. Like, oh my gosh. And it totally reframes everything that you do. And, and all every statement that you have to feel like, okay, well, I’m going to qualify this with like, okay, this here is like the place that would be ideal that in a textbook, this is what we could do, but here’s what we’re going to start with. And here’s where we’re going. And here’s the path, right? Like start with what you can do. And, and again, like you said, too, individualized treatment, working with families of all types of all cultures, from all backgrounds, with all different kinds of priorities and working within family capacity, right. That is the entire point of what we do within early intervention. Cari: I just love that you used that word. I’m sorry. I’m like, I’m so excited now. I know they can’t see us, but I’m like doing like this little party over here because when you say, you know, it’s building capacity. That to me is, is why I am such an advocate for early intervention because it is an early intervention is a capacity building program. And when I first heard that term, Oh, what do they mean? We’re building the child’s capacity? No, no, no. We’re building the caregiver. The parent’s capacity to support their child’s learning and development during everyday routines and interactions that naturally occur, right? And so to me, that’s just really powerful because I don’t leave homework for families to work on. I don’t give them extra things to do. I’m a parent and I know I barely have enough time in the day to get through the things that absolutely have to be done. And if someone is going to give me a speech therapist or an occupational therapist or a physical therapist is going to give me homework, I’m going to be honest with you. It’s probably not going to happen. So that’s why, what I love to talk to families about is embedded intervention. We want to embed strategies into your already existing routines. And that’s what I’m hoping we can talk about a little bit is what do we mean by those daily routines? Because it’s a term we use, but I’m not sure that everybody has a great understanding of the power of routines-based intervention. Ayelet: Yeah. Right. Well, guess what, Cari, you’re in the right place, because this is Learn With Less®, which literally is all about using the materials you already have and the time and energy that you are already expending. So, first, first let’s dig a little bit into really that number one, like the term “late talker,” and then just really pausing for a moment and defining for families, those various aspects of early communication as the umbrella term, because I do find that it’s not uncommon for parents and caregivers to be unfamiliar (of course, why would they?), with the difference between speech, language, communication… Like, so let’s break it down for listeners so that we can really just sort of help families understand why when we are talking about each of those things, they are actually distinctly different from one another. And also like why, when we say “late talker,” quote unquote, it’s not just about identifying a child who is not using words consistently or who is not totally clear or intelligible in their speech. So let’s start, let’s start there. Cari: Okay. So communication, I love, again, you’d think that you and I have like had multiple conversations before, and this is really our first conversation, but the term that umbrella term, I always say, and I have in one of my, my seminars, an umbrella to show that communication is this umbrella term. And so on the umbrella, I have the word “communication,” and underneath communication dangling from the umbrella you have hearing, right. It’s very important that we make sure all children can hear. That’s why, in this country, we have, newborn hearing screenings, you know, so that we can make sure that they are able to hear. And if not that we can get them assistance, there. So hearing is one component of communication. And then we have language, and under language, we break that down even further, right? We have receptive language: what does your child understand? And we have expressive language: how does your child express themselves to other, you know, with other people? And then we have speech. And speech is one component of expressive language, but speech is the actual physical, motor act of talking, right? So you can have a child who has both an expressive language delay and a speech delay. Or the speech could be intact, but they could just have an expressive language delay. I think there are a lot of people who think that speech and language are the same thing. And that’s where you and I, as you know, when we were talking about speech-language development, it’s so important to recognize that they’re not the same thing. Speech is a motor act, right? Language is this global way of expressing and having interactions, communicative interactions, with other people. And so they’re not the same thing and language develops before speech, right? So it’s very… And the other thing that I think is so tough is separating out expressive and receptive language. It’s very hard to separate them, right? So when we talk about children who are struggling with language development, we always want to look at how much does your child understand are they following directions? You know, we really want to make sure that receptive language is strong because it’s pretty hard to talk about something that you don’t understand, right? So that receptive language is an important component, there. And so when we really look at that umbrella of communication, we want to consider early language development. We want to consider, you know, speech development, and we want to consider hearing. And then we kind of want to look at, you know, pragmatics – or just those social components of language, things like eye contact and turn-taking and some of those. So, you know, we could talk for hours about that, but I think… Ayelet: Right – that’s a whole other episode! Cari: It really is! But when we talk about the birth to three population, really just in general, talking about early language development is appropriate, because that encompasses speech, too. You know, speech is a component of expressive language. So I really like to just give parents strategies on ways to support early language development. And then if we find there are actual speech concerns, you know, then we can, make more, really dive deeper into specific strategies for speech development. But that term late talker, you know, it’s a tough term. There, there are different – Hanen has a specific definition of a late talker. When we talk about, you know, children who are late talkers, it’s usually that people say that because the child doesn’t have as many spoken words as we would think that they would have. And in some late talkers, you know, their receptive language is really strong. And it is just that they’re not saying the words, but it also can be that there is, you know, more of a global language delay that includes that receptive language as well. Ayelet: Mm-hmm, okay. So talking about how to actually support early speech and language, early communication development, we spoke a little bit before we actually started recording a little bit about how those strategies to support communication within the birth to three population within infants and toddlers, they are the same things that you would do with a child who is developing along that, you know, typical progression of development that we see within the milestone checklists that you get from your physician. And also they’re exactly the same strategies that we are going to be using with children who fall outside of the norm, right? And really it’s about, like you said, embedding these strategies into the everyday life of families. And that means, into those interactions that you’re already participating in… And really what that looks like is routines. But as you said earlier, I think when we say routines, families actually get confused and even providers, right? “Caregiving routines” or “daily routines” or “play routines” are all different types of routines. And when we say routines, what are we really talking about? Because I do think also for many new parents and caregivers, like, that word is also very much tied to sleep routine where it’s like something beneficial for the parent to create a set of steps that the baby can recognize as cues for say, going to sleep. And then everybody’s happier in the end. Well guess what, like that same preface, like that same rationale of creating that set of steps, a pattern of some kind… That routine is it’s the same premise for any type of routine. And you and I know that the idea of like caregiving routines or everyday rituals have much more value also than just like following a set of steps. So number one, why are routines so important when it comes to supporting early language develop – not only early language development, but also we didn’t even talk. And we could someday about like the connection between concept development, which really is a cognitive skill and language development, understanding what a word means and all of the concepts that go along with it. But regardless, like why are routines so important when it comes to supporting that early language development for any infant or toddler, regardless of whether or not they are meeting early communication milestones? Cari: Yeah, yeah. Routines based intervention is what I provide as an early intervention professional. When we talk about routines, the reason it’s so important is because these are naturally occurring learning opportunities. So I always say, the whole purpose is for the child to develop meaningful skills in meaningful ways with the meaningful people in their life. Okay. So a lot of times people say, Oh, you’re a speech therapist Cari, you do speech therapy. So will you come in and teach my child to talk? Right. I have a two and a half year old. He’s not talking. I want you to come in and teach them to talk. And I say, yeah, we don’t do therapy with infants and toddlers. The same way we do therapy with older children. I mean, we don’t sit, it’s not like golf lessons or tennis lessons where I’m going to sit this two year old down and drill them. And you know, and that’s what some parents want, you know, from a speech language pathologist in early intervention. I say, no, no, no. What I’m here to do is to transfer my skills and knowledge to you. Okay. Because I’m the expert in communication development. You’re the expert on your child, your family, your routines, your culture and your concerns. Right? So together we are going to collaborate. We are partners in this. And what I want to know is, you know, what, what does a day in the life of little Joey look like? Right? So you’re going to tell me as the expert on your child and your family, what is a day in the life of little Joey look like? I want to learn about your routines. I want to learn about you, when you say, well, we get up in the morning. Well, okay. Let’s start there. How did you know little Joey was awake in the morning? I mean, a lot of people don’t even recognize that waking up is a routine. It happens every single day. So how did you know, how do you know when little Joey’s awake? Well, what do you mean? I have a baby monitor and I hear him crying. Okay. So does he call for you? Does he say “Mama?” You know, I mean, what happens if you don’t go in right away and when you do go in, does he reach to be picked up or do you just scoop him up? I mean, I I’m telling you, we could talk for a half hour just about the routine wake up, you know, and all of the different components of that. And so then what do you do next? Oh, well we go to breakfast. Well, how do you get to breakfast? What do you mean, how do we get there? Well, do you carry him? Does he crawl? Does he walk? I mean, I don’t know. How do you get, see all, every single interaction with a child is an opportunity for learning and development. Can we work on gross motor fine motor communication, social/emotional. We can address all areas of development in every single interaction, right? And that’s, what’s so powerful about routines. One of my favorite routines to talk to families about is getting the mail. If your mailbox, like in our community, in my neighborhood, you have to walk like a couple houses down and there’s this, you know, mail box center, if you will. So everybody has to go out. So take your child instead of getting your mail at nap time, let’s build this into a regular routine where we take our toddler and okay. So are we going to walk down the driveway? Well, I’m going to actually walk through the grass because that’s an uneven surface. So it’s going to challenge the new walker’s balance. It’s going to, you know, maybe teach them to hold my hand. You know, maybe this is a child who isn’t great at holding hands. It’s going to really force them to visually scan and look at what’s going on in the yard. So they don’t step in a hole. I mean, again, we can talk forever. So we finally get to the mailbox and maybe we have a key, what do we do? Do, do I wait for him to request, to be picked up or do I anticipate his needs and pick him up? You see, every, oh, I, I mean, I’m so excited. I’m sorry, I’ll try to calm down. So we get the mail out and maybe we count the pieces of mail, you know, so we know how many we’re going to carry home. Now he’s got to carry mail in one hand and maybe try to balance either holding my hand with the other or walking, you know, maybe we walk along the curb again to challenge balance, there. We go inside, what are we going to do with the mail? Well, we’re going to junk mail from important mail. Mommy’s mail and Joey’s mail. Right? And then Joey’s mail is the best. Look. I’ve got some of Joey’s mail here because I keep all my junk mail because these are the best things in the world for teaching children to snip with scissors. Because you see how they’re they’re they’re I mean, look at them all I always save them, but my husband’s like, why do you save the junk mail? I’m like, you don’t understand. I’m like powerful stuff. Right? Ayelet: For reference, Cari is holding up… Because this is a listening podcast. I know, I know. She’s holding up a bunch of stuff, like junk mail. Cari: Postcards like this one’s like, get some new windows or this one’s from tele floral or, you know, backflow water testing. I don’t even know what they are. I don’t care. But they’re postcards. So they’re thick, right? Ayelet: Yes. Yes. And guess what, like all of that has print on it too, right? So all of the things that you’re doing there is also supporting early literacy because you’re looking at print in the environment and you’re pointing out letters. Cari: Yeah. There’s a J! Your name is Joey. Your name starts with a J. Look here’s mommy’s name, my name look that says Cari, that’s mommy’s name! I mean, it’s so amazing. So you can, I mean, it’s just, yeah. I love grocery store ads. That’s one of my favorites for building vocabulary. So we’re going to look through every Wednesday is when we get our grocery store ads. So we flip through and we, we, we talk about the different foods. We circle the foods we want to buy. Maybe we make a grocery list, which is another early literacy skill. So these are things we can just model. So all of a sudden we’ve taken getting the mail, which maybe the parent used to do while the toddler was napping, to now, it is an interactive activity that encourages learning and development across all different domains of development. And it’s just so exciting. And that’s really why I think you and I are kind of like soul sisters, if you will. Because even though we live, you know, in different areas of the country, and it’s just a fluke that we finally, you know, connected on social media, what we are talking about is you don’t need to go and spend a lot of money and buy store-bought toys. I mean, are toys fun. Yes. They’re great. Do I sometimes post, you know, toys that I like sure I do, but I do just as many posts about, you know, using what’s available in the natural environment, you know, and about to me, it’s about relationship-based learning. That is my absolute favorite term. It’s not about screen-based learning. Because I know everybody wants to know, is there an app for that? What app can I download for my two year old Cari? And you don’t ever want to ask me that question? Because my response is there is no app to replace your lap. And I’m not going to give you any apps. I don’t know any apps for toddlers. So don’t even bother asking me because I want you to feel comfortable supporting your child’s learning and development, not just during routines, major routines, like bath time and meal time and dressing time. Like those are great routines, but also when getting the mail, when playing in the backyard, when hanging out in the family room, right? When riding in the car, right? When brushing your teeth, when washing your hands, when putting on your mask, I don’t care what it is. Every single interaction is a time for your child to learn, to learn about sequencing. What do we do first, putting your shoes on – isn’t that an important routine that we do on a daily basis? So what do we do first? What do we do next? What do we do last? We’re building vocabulary. We’re teaching children how to be patient and how to wait. I mean, we can, we’re building fine motor skills, gross motor skills, you know, social skills. It’s just learning and development… It doesn’t have to be complicated. Okay. What we want to do is empower parents and caregivers that every interaction, every routine that you engage with your child is an opportunity to help them learn and develop new skills. Ayelet: Yes. I love, I mean, everything there was exactly. Yes. But I, I love also when you started with the, like, getting that sort of pre-assessment of like what, helping families identify, what is happening here? What does it look like? And you asking those really seemingly very mundane questions. Like how do you know that that child is awake? Well, they are crying. Okay. Then you go in, then what happens? The fact that they’re raising their hands and reaching for, you… well guess what? If they’re doing that and a parent can report all of that. Then even if you’re not there at morning wake up time, you now know that the child that you’re in, the family that you’re working with, that child is able to gesture using a representative gesture to represent, “pick me up” by holding their hands up. Right. Okay. Well now this is very useful information. You can jot that down in your notes as a provider and say, great, this child is using gestures. And then you can also show the family, show that caregiver like, look, your child is communicating in these certain ways already during this specific time. So one thing you might do is you could say the word for what the gesture represents like, Oh, look, Oh, you want to come up! Up, mama, up. And then you’ve provided the very specific singular word and verbal language for what that gesture represents. And now you’re embedding and building and scaffolding doing all of the things that you are, number one already doing, you’re just doing them slightly more enhanced. You’re, as one of my clients said, you’re creating like a tiny play revolution because it’s, you’re like, Oh my gosh. Now you’ve just expanded on just maybe making a tiny to what you are already doing. It’s this very revolutionary feeling of empowerment, right? Cari: I love it. Can I just give you two words? I mean, this is just, I just get so excited about this stuff. Okay. So my two words that I love about parent coaching and about early intervention is reflect and refine. So what I want to do is ask thought provoking questions that encourages parents to reflect on what they already know about their child’s learning and development. How do you know when he’s awakened warning? How did you know he was hungry right then? How did you know that he had a dirty diaper or was lonely? You are the expert on your child. So sometimes parents just don’t spend time in reflection mode to really think about, Oh my gosh. I do know. I do know that my child communicates, right? So I want, I want to ask you these questions. These open-ended, thought provoking questions, that encourages parents to reflect on what they already know. And then together, what we’re going to do is figure out how you can refine the way you interact with your child, in order to support an area of learning and development. So it’s reflect and refine. So what I’m here to do is ask the question. So you can think about how did you know that he wanted to be done eating? Oh, well, cause he threw his plate across the rooms. That’s how I knew he wanted… Well, are you, are you happy with that way of communicating because all behavior is communication? Well, no, I don’t want him to throw his food across the room. Well, how do you wish he would let you know? How do you want him to communicate with you? So now, see, we’re going to, we’re going to try to work on this. Well, I mean, I wish he’d maybe say “Mama” and then hand me his plate or maybe, you know, tell me all done well, since he doesn’t talk yet, what do you think about teaching them to sign for all done? Oh, well I don’t know any sign language. Well, would that, you see what I mean? So we can actually then build skills through our collaboration. And that is why I think parent coaching is, I think parent coaching gets a bad name. Parent coaching is about capitalizing on the family’s strengths, right? What they are already doing and focusing on their knowledge, they are the experts on their child. So my early intervention case history form that I created is like eight pages long. Not that you guys can see it. I’m here trying to show it on the screen, but I have routine activities. And again, these are some of the basic ones. And just with the basic ones of wake up time… You know, when I asked things like, what time does your child typically wake up? How do you know when your child is awake? Does your child play for a while in the crib or bedroom after waking up? So it, I actually, you know, made all these prompts for me to ask, because if I just say, you know, tell me about your day. All of that stuff just gets skipped over. You know, when we wake up about seven, we eat breakfast, then we go to the park, then we do… Well, we missed like 500 opportunities for learning and development in there. So for me, it’s all in the details, right? It’s all in the, within one routine, we should be able to break that down into like 25 learning opportunities. And so it’s really about empowering parents, for example, following directions. That’s a really great thing to work on. Let’s say, during diaper changing, right? So instead of just getting a diaper, picking your child up and putting them on the changing table and changing their diaper, how about Oh, stinky, you know, p-u! Did you go poopoo? Maybe we teach them the sign for toilet or for poopoo, right. Whatever it is. And then, Oh, go get me a diaper. So now, we’re going to start working on following one step directions. Do we have to point to give them a cue? Do they need that gesture? You know, and then, you know, throw it, you know, lay down on the floor, lift your legs up. We can teach body parts whenever we’re doing things like that. And then, you know, at the end, throw it in the trash. I mean, there’s so much that we can focus on right Ayelet: Well, right, and even before, before they are expected to do this, or we even give them the words to do that. We feed that language to them, right? Like when they’re infants and we’re – this, again, we’re talking about kids who are “typically developing” quote unquote and kids who are, have developmental delays, right? This is you create a language rich environment by saying those things out loud. Oh, we’re going to pull up your feet. Okay. Up, up, up! Feet up. Here we go. Okay. And then you talk through what you’re doing. We give them those cues. Yeah, Cari: Yeah. Becoming a narrator. Isn’t that really what that’s, what a language rich environment is, is I’m going to talk about what I’m doing. Okay. I’m going to talk about what you’re doing or seeing, or hearing. Right. And so we become a narrator of sorts. Oh, you’re waving to daddy. Bye, bye daddy. And then we add some language to it for our children who are not expected to, you know, they’re too young to be verbal yet, but absolutely. It’s, it’s really, and that’s why relationship based learning is so very powerful because there’s, there’s, um, learning to be had in every single interaction. Ayelet: Yeah. Well, and you know what, here’s the thing I get asked a lot. Also. What about us introverts? What do I do? If it just feels super unnatural to me as a parent or caregiver. And I’m curious to hear what you have to say, but generally what I say is like, Hey, start with a routine that you, that you do this with. And then just let it, let it go. See how it feels. Do that every time you change the diaper or every time the child wakes up, or every time you put your shoes on before you go outside, whatever it is, and see how that feels. And then over time, you’ll see a difference in how your child relates to you and reacts to you because they start learning to expect you to talk about that thing. And they might hold up the thing for you to say it, expecting you to say the word, whatever it is, right? Cari: That’s so exciting. Ayelet: So that’s why, like, in our Learn With Less® classes, in like our curriculum for “caregiver and me” classes, which is really parent coaching outside of an education or therapist context, it’s just that, it’s what you said, Cari, right? It’s like, exactly. You’re creating an opportunity. You’re giving the family an opportunity to understand a concept, right? Like whether it’s using early literacy through junk mail or some kind of caregiving routine or some kind of motor play, whatever it is. And then you’re giving them that practical application to actually do it, right? Because number one, we know that and toddlers learned through interactions and everyday context and everyday partners and all of that. And we know that grownups learn very differently. We know that we need like this system to follow, we’re procedural. We need like to see what the steps are and observe other people doing it and, and emulate. And then we can explore and reflect. And that’s, what’s packed into like a Learn With Less® class. Right, for instance. And, and that really helps like all of the parents and caregivers who, regardless of whether they aren’t number one, parenting, a child who falls in or outside of the norm would, regardless of whether they feel confident or competent, regardless of whether they’re introverted or extroverted, right, like, to learn through watching others is actually, as we all know, like very powerful and in practice, like that’s how you do it, but I would love to hear, like, what, what do you say for parents and caregivers who have that, “Ah, I dunno, this feels a little weird,” kind of a thing? Cari: Well, I’ve actually had parents say to me, kind of with this odd look on their face, like, um, Ms. Cari, I’m not sure I can talk like you. And I say, Oh, well, that’s because I haven’t taught you the strategies yet. Okay. And they look at me like, what do you mean? I say, well, when I talk to teach children language, okay. I talk much differently than when I just talked to communicate with an adult or to communicate with an older child. So the way I talk is certainly not something that comes natural to everybody. So I always tell parents, of course, you should feel uneasy with this. I’m going to ask you to be, I’m modeling for you. And I’m going to be asking you to use new strategies that maybe aren’t very comfortable in the beginning. So I anticipate that there will be this learning curve for you. So what I like about that conversation is it helps parents to understand that I’m not just “good with kids.” I’ve had so many parents say to that to me when I was, at first, you know, in the field, they’re like, Oh, you’re just so good with kids. And I was like, Oh, well, yeah, I kind of am. But I now understand that’s not it. Okay. The reason I can elicit so much from young children, the reason I’m so successful in my job is because I’m using skilled strategies. And I know how to use them. I know when to use them. And what I’m here to do is to help parents see the value in those strategies, as well. Okay. You and I are not just – contrary to popular belief – just good with kids, right. We are providing a skilled service. And so I would love to share with you. I know we probably don’t have a lot of time left, but maybe a couple of my favorite strategies. Would that be okay with you? Ayelet: Yup, let’s do that. That’s exactly what I was going to ask you. Cari: Wonderful. So one of the strategies, and again, I have this whole list. I have like 12 or 13 strategies. So we’re not going to go through all of them. But one of my things, one of my favorite strategies is: don’t tell your child to say words. Okay? So “don’t say, say” is one of my favorite strategies. Instead, what I want parents to do is to model the word you wish your child would say in the moment, but don’t instruct them to say it. So let’s say, you have a ball and your child is reaching for it. “Eh, eh!” Instead of saying, say ball, okay. That’s not that that creates this prompt dependency where the child then waits for someone to tell them what words to say. So instead of say ball, if I have a ball in my hand and the child is reaching for it, I would say “ball.” And I use the rule of three, which is where I say the target word three times and pause. After each, each time to give the child an opportunity to imitate me. Ball. Count to three, silence. Child goes, “eh!” He doesn’t talk. Right? So I do it again. Ball, pause, look at him, expectantly. Okay. He just says, “eh,” that’s fine. The third time I say “ball” and I hand it to him. It’s automatic reinforcement the third time. I just want him to get used to me saying words, having him look at my face. I want to make sure he’s not expecting me to tell him to say those words. What I want is spontaneous verbal limitation. That is how children learn to talk is through spontaneous imitation. And so try not to say, say, okay, just say the word. So if your child is pulling on your shirt and clearly wants to be picked up, don’t say, “say up mama.” Right? And we don’t want another adult to say, say up, mama, tell her what you want. Say up mama. No, no, no. We’re just going to say “up mama.” He grunts again “up mama.” He grunts again. Third time “up mama.” And then you pick them up and love on him. So we’re giving him the language right, where we’re giving it to him, but it’s in context and that’s, what’s so important about that strategy. And then the other strategy I would love to share with you. Again, I have so many, it’s hard for me to pick, but I, this is probably my all-time favorite. And I wished somebody would have taught me this strategy in grad school. What I try to do is get families and caregivers to balance out “business talk” versus “extra talk.” Okay? So if somebody had given me this language a long time ago, I feel like I would have been better able to support parents. So business talk is language that we all have to use when interacting with young children, “business talk” is what keeps life moving forward. So some examples of business talker, things like no, stop it. Sit down, be quiet. Keep your hands to yourself. Not now. Finish your breakfast, clean up your toys, put on your shoes. Does that make sense? Those are directives that we give children to keep life moving forward. If we didn’t have business talk, we would never accomplish anything in a day. So everybody parents, caregivers, speech-language pathologists, teachers, daycare providers, everybody must use business talk, but here’s the kicker: business talk is not language-rich. Business talk is highly repetitive. No, stop it. Sit down. Be quiet. Finish your milk. No, stop it. Sit down and be quiet. Finish your milk. We say the same exact words, all day, every day in order to keep life moving forward. So you cannot create a language rich environment if your own language is filled primarily with business talk. So what I try to coach parents on is to balance business talk with extra talk. Now, extra talk is spontaneous chit-chat. Extra talk does not serve any purpose. It doesn’t keep life moving forward. It doesn’t get you through your day. Some examples of extra talk would be things like, Oh, I like that sparkly unicorn on your shirt. Whoa, that building is taller than the tree, you know? Or, uh, Oh, look at that little tiny lady bug he’s so small! Or wow, it is raining so hard outside. I hope the neighbor took his puppy in, you know, it’s just, mm. This chocolate cake is delicious. So extra talk is where we get this language rich environment. Okay. So what, what I like to do is have parents kind of keep track of their own, you know, become aware of how much business talk am I using in a day, and how much extra talk. So here’s the great thing: when you read a book, when you sing a song, okay, what is that? That is not business talk. What is that? That is extra talk. And that is why we, I think it makes so much more sense to me now in understanding why we promote reading and singing to children so much, is because it’s all extra talk, right? And so for me, it’s been extremely powerful to help families and childcare providers really start to intentionally use more extra talk. It’s not that you can use less business talk. Does that make sense? It’s just that a lot of what our introverted parents will do are parents who aren’t talking a lot to their child. They’re only talking when they need to use business talk. So if you want to change one aspect, if you want to do one thing at home, start being very aware of how much extra talk you are using with your young child, with your language learner. And it doesn’t matter if they’re learning one language or three languages, right? This, this all applies. And that’s, what’s so powerful about early language strategies. Ayelet: Yeah. Well, you know, what I love about that too, is that it’s very much a parallel process of what, of course we want our children to then emulate. When we think about these sort of three categories of function of communication, right? Behavioral regulation – regulating another person’s behavior. Stop. Don’t do that. I want that. No, don’t like to, to protest or reject or deny to, to request an object or an action. All of those kinds of things. That’s the business talk, primarily. And then you have socially interactive communication. Hello. Thank you. Yes. I love that. Right. Like, and, and also joint attentional acts, right? So all of the like commenting and soliciting attention and relaying information and… All of the pieces of why we communicate are in those, those two categories that you’ve defined, but like really so many different things. And you give them all of that? Yeah, go ahead. Cari: And one last thing that feeds into exactly what you were saying is we need to limit the number of test-like questions, because I feel like when parents are thinking, Oh, I need to help make my child smarter. You know, I need to help my child learn to talk. What color is it? What shape is it? How many are there? You know, all of those questions, the problem is then kids, if they do respond it’s with one word response, right? Blue, four green. Okay. So it’s this… that’s not that communication. So instead of quizzing your child, life is not a quiz after all, instead of quizzing, what color is it? I would much rather you create a language rich moment and say, Oh, you found the blue ball. I like that blue ball. I don’t know where that blue ball came from. I didn’t buy it. So you see how now all of a sudden I’ve created this language rich moment with my child, or I could have just said, when he picked up the ball, what color is it? “Boo.” And he walks away and it’s over that doesn’t support back and forth, conversational reciprocity, which is really what we want is we want to create communication, not just quizzes for children to prove that they know their letters, numbers, shapes, and colors. Ayelet: And can I just, can I just say that, like, that’s what communication is. It’s an interactive event it’s back and forth and back and forth and back and forth until we’ve completed the, the journey, right. That’s also what play is, right. We, we don’t want to only provide our children with things that are cause and effect-type toys. We want them to have an open ended experience where they can explore and look at and use one thing in a very unexpected way and put, you know, the chapstick on top of the Kleenex box, because my goodness that’s tower building, right. By the way, you don’t need blocks. And it’s also like, and all of the things that… Cari: I keep wanting to show you things, but I’m like, Oh, I forget. They can’t see me. I’m like, Oh, if you could see my container blocks, I save all our cottage cheese containers and sour cream. And we, I call them container blocks. I’m like, you don’t have to go spend money on blocks. So yeah, no, that’s play, man. We could do a whole other episode, but yeah, yeah, no, this has been great. I just, I, again, lots more strategies, but I think in general, limit the number of questions, use balanced business talk and extra talk and try to avoid telling your child to say words all day long. You know, those would probably be three of my top strategies. Ayelet: That’s they are so good. Well, tell us, we’d love to know about a few of the different resources that you like to share with families who are either looking for more strategies or concerned about their child’s communication development, those that you have created, and also ones that you just love to share with families in general. Cari: Sure, sure. Well, following early intervention providers on social media, if you happen to be on social media, I think that’s where you can get daily, like I do daily posts related to early child development now because I’m a speech-language pathologist. Some of my posts may not be relevant, but you know, you can always sift through and find those. So I think following providers who serve the birth to three population, following childcare providers who are on social media or Pinterest or whatever, and want to share, you know, their activities and ideas, that can be very helpful on my website, cariebertseminars.com. I have a whole host of different handouts and materials. Again, they’re designed for early intervention providers to use in their parent coaching sessions, but like my parent coaching handouts for early language development, I mean, obviously parents would find those extremely helpful, you know? So there are, there are those things I have again, I know you can’t see, but my, my bookshelf is just filled with so many different resources. Can I just show you one thing? And then, you know, they can’t see it, but like for example, I have these, these two books and I know you have amazing books as well, but like when I just pull off my shelf, Games To Play With Babies, this is just a very simple, and they’re just, you know, very short activities. I have Games To Play With Toddlers. There’s one that’s called Games to Play with Preschoolers. So I sometimes think, gosh, for a baby gift instead of buying, I don’t know, you know, Baby Einstein DVD, I don’t know, please don’t buy that. I would much, this is what I often give is a baby gift is, you know, a book about ways to play with your baby that don’t require you to go out and buy toys. And if you are going to go buy a toy, can I just end with this one thing? That the more the toy does, the less your child does? So please buy toys that do nothing. We want your child to provide all the power, all the imagination, all the sound effects. And so I’m not a big believer in battery operated, cause and effect button pushing toys. They’re my least favorite ones that are out there. So I always just say, you can go to the kitchen and find plenty of toys. The kitchen has the best toys on the planet. And sometime I would love to, uh, that I feel like almost has to be… Maybe what I can do is have you on my Facebook live some night. I do every Thursday night, we do a Facebook live, but because I feel like we need to show people things, but I would love, I love to talk about using what’s available in the natural environment, which is your whole premise of everything that you do. And so I’m just so excited that we were able to connect and now we can be besties forever. Ayelet: Can’t wait, yay! Cari, thank you so much for your time and energy today. It was such a pleasure to connect with you and for everyone listening from home or on the go. Thank you so much for joining us and we will talk to you next time. Cari: Thank you. Bye bye. The post Parent Coaching and Routines for Early Language Development, with Cari Ebert appeared first on Learn With Less.
43 minutes | Mar 29, 2021
What Conscious Parenting Is and Isn’t, with Brandi Jordan
How Do We Define Conscious or Gentle Parenting? And Who is it For? On this episode of the Learn With Less® podcast, we sat down with Brandi Jordan, founder of the Cradle Company, a pregnancy and postpartum resource center. Brandi’s work as a consultant, a parenting group leader, and in-home practitioner has led her to develop a unique philosophy of gentle parenting techniques that are a pragmatic, practical, and healthy approach for the whole family. In 2018, Brandi also founded the National Association For Birth Workers of Color. Brandi is a board certified lactation consultant, pediatric sleep specialist, newborn care specialist, and postpartum doula. We discussed: Brandi’s personal and professional background, and how she came to do the work she’s doing todayWhat are “conscious parenting” and “gentle parenting” – and who are these parenting philosophies for?How can parents and caregivers become more conscious about their own parenting choices?Brandi’s top tips and resources for parenting in a more conscious way, self-care strategies, and asking for what you need Resources Mentioned in This Episode: Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting: Five Strategies That End the Daily Battles and Get Kids to Listen the First Time, by Noel Janis-Norton The Big Leap, by Gay Hendricks Learn With Less® Caregiver & Me Classes (for families with infants and/or toddlers) Using the Language of Listening With Infants and Toddlers, with Tracy Cutchlow (Learn With Less® podcast episode) How to Stop Yelling At Your Kids, with Amanda Rueter (Learn With Less® podcast episode) Connect With Us: Brandi: Website / Facebook / Instagram / Facebook Group Ayelet: Facebook / Instagram / Pinterest Text Transcript of This Episode: Ayelet: All right! Today, I am speaking with Brandi Jordan. Brandi has been helping new families grow, adjust, and find balance for almost two decades. Brandi is a board certified lactation consultant, pediatric sleep specialist, newborn care specialist, and postpartum doula. She holds a BA in child development, a master’s of social work from USC, where she is also adjunct faculty lecturing in the area of infant mental health and culturally competent mental health care. In 2009, she opened The Cradle Company, a pregnancy and postpartum resource center. Brandi’s work as a consultant, a parenting group leader, and in-home practitioner has led her to develop a unique philosophy of gentle parenting techniques that are a pragmatic, practical, and healthy approach for the whole family. And in 2018, Brandi founded the National Association of Birth Workers of Color. Brandi, thank you so much for being here. Welcome to Learn With Less. Brandi: Hello! Thank you so much for having me! Ayelet: Well today, we are going to be talking a whole lot about tips for parents, what conscious and gentle parenting are, things like that, but I would love it if you could start, I gave the sort of “formal “introduction, but I’d love to tell our listeners a bit more about your background and really how you came to do the work that you are doing today. Brandi: So, I came to this very much differently than most people. So when I was 19, I was home from the summer from Texas originally, you know, you’ve kind of, I was trying to figure out what I really wanted to be doing. And I was in my car and NPR came on and it was talking to this old-timey career called midwifery. And so I was like, what is this? What is it like, I need to know everything. And so I don’t know if it was me going online or look looking at a yellow pages back then, whatever we had back then. But I cold called the interviewer, who for whatever reason, allowed a 19 year old to come and train with them. And I kind of just like found my space in life, but I was also 19, and I was like, who the heck is going to hire someone who’s 19 to be their doula or whatever. And so I kind of put out of my mind, but I knew I wanted to work with families. And so I went down the child development track. That next year I moved to LA to finish my studies, and I moved next door to the Hollywood Birthing Center, I would say, not by chance, but had them as my neighbor. And so I was like, okay, maybe I should do something with this. And so I took a formal doula training in 2001 and just found my calling with parents and with families. While I was doing the academic side of like getting, you know, a bachelor’s degree getting a master’s degree, it was also working inside the home, doing doula work and just seeing, you know, I didn’t have children of my own back then. And so I was kind of just seeing like what people were learning, what they were doing, and matching that up to how I was parented and kind of having this idea of like, what do I want to take with me on that journey that I learned in my own childhood? What do I want to, you know, take away and then had my first in 2007 and kind of went down this path of like, how do we connect more, be more gentle to ourselves and to our children, and kind of do it in a way that’s actually practical. That makes sense for all of the pressure that we do have on ourselves, as modern parents. Ayelet: Here, here. Love it. Well, let’s talk a little bit about these terms, you know, conscious parenting, gentle parenting. Let’s talk a little bit about what conscious parenting is and also what it isn’t, because I think these, this is like such a important conversation. I think parents, caregivers today, we hear these terms being thrown around. These are terms that certain people have like created and then run with. And then it’s, you know, this thing and in the parenting ether. And I think it would be nice to just hear your definition in your own words and from your own experiences as both a parent and a professional. Can you give us a little bit of a definition of about what you understand about this whole world? Brandi: Yeah. So I feel like conscious parenting is such a loaded word, but it’s kind of one of the things that… We use it because it gives people kind of an idea what we’re talking about. But I think when people think of that, they’re thinking of like any of these super woo-woo parents who do yoga and who are vegan and most likely White, you know? And so there’s a lot of connotations when we think about parenting. And I use that term because I know that people have this idea that it’s kind of this parenting from the inside out, but I’m hoping that we change when we think about that word, that it has more global, diversified connotation of just people who are trying to get closer to the parents they wanted to be before they had kids. I think we all have this idea of like the perfect parents we’re going to be before we had children. And then reality sets in… Ayelet: Oh my gosh. Especially those like professionals among us, right? Who have always worked with families, but… Brandi: Yeah. But I think it’s this idea that like you realize how imprinted your own journey of parenting is like on a cellular level. And it’s kind of being really conscious of that and figuring out, you know, what is, what parts of this is serving me and helping me to create the relationship I want my children and what part isn’t. And the idea that it’s conscious. It’s more that you have to be intentional about it. It’s not something that just saying like, I’m going to be conscious is going to work. It’s like the actual intentional of like, what is your story? Like, what things did you love about the way that you were parented? What things were missing in that equation and how do you make a turn if you want to, with your own children, and the idea that it has to be something that you actually think about, talk about, make a plan for, and falter many times. But that’s what I think about when I think about conscious parenting. And my goal is that people start to look at it differently, like being a conscious parent doesn’t mean that you’re it’s, you know, letting your kid do everything. It doesn’t mean permissiveness. It doesn’t mean that you have to be this, like, you know, a person who’s made it to this place of enlightenment, you know, like I use lots of F-bombs and I’m still a conscious parent! You know, I try with my children, but, you know, it’s this idea that you have to be like this Yogi who’s mindful and never, you know, loses their temper. It’s not perfection, is what I really would get across. It’s really flawed people that we are trying to be better for our children. And to me that’s conscious parenting. Yeah. Ayelet: So, so many important points to unpack there and to think about! I do want to hit on something that you did say, which I think is really important. And especially for our listeners who come from a very wide variety of backgrounds, whether they are based in the US, based in the quote unquote “rest of the world,” whether they are diverse in race and culture and ability level and all of those, you know, power holding spaces. I want to just touch upon that, what you said about how we think of White families when we think of conscious parenting. And I, I think that’s really interesting and I think it’s totally true that, in general, the White parenting world has become this ubiquitous… Like yes, that’s the like, place that everyone thinks that we aspire to or something. And I would like to just hear in your words, what about conscious parenting do you think is reflective of Whiteness and white society and white parenting? Brandi: I think there’s a couple of, like, I will just say in quotations “parenting philosophies” or groups that have kind of coined terms, you know, that create this kind of social status in parenthood, you know, whether it be that you have some kind of, you know, monopoly on attachment or monopoly on consciousness, whatever, and it becomes this kind of way to like, you know, “we’re doing this and they’re doing that.” And it also, it has a condescending flavor to it that like we’re more R.I.E. We’re more like “in the know,” because we’re doing these practices with our children. And I think a lot of those organizations, or those groups tend to have a large, you know, White parent following, of people who tend to be middle to upper middle class, following those. And so it, in some ways becomes a very reflective of, especially in the United States, it’s very reflective of what parenting circles look like. You know, we have to have and have nots like that are going to these circles. And so I think that creates a little bit of a condescending nature. Like, you know, I was at a park once and I remember her mom like going around and asking everyone if they, if their kid wanted a parsley snack and I was like, no kid wants a fucking parsley snack, but, you know, I could tell, to her, it seemed like a really like “arrived” and my kid doesn’t eat sugar. My kid doesn’t have this or that and she talked about it about the park and it’s like, you know, I think it’s great if that works for your family and it’s great for your DNA and your own biodiversity of food. And that makes you guys feel strong and healthy. But in some ways we use it as, as kind of like badge of honor. And I think we see that in a lot of different places when it comes to parents of, you know, differing backgrounds, that there is kind of a segregation that happens. And so I think that’s why a lot of people, when they hear that they kind of think like, Oh, that’s for rich White parents, it isn’t for us. And my goal is that I want both BIPOC parents and White parents to see that there is a place for them in conscious parenting, because it means that we are treating our children with respect, that we’re giving them their space to become who they should be and not something that like we left on the table and want to get it through our kids. And I think if, if we don’t make that distinction and we keep it divided, that there’s a lot of kids who are going to suffer in that, you know, and I don’t want it to be the social status. It should be that we’re all striving to create a space that is more just, and more gentle for our kids. But I think, you know, like so many conversations that we need to have in the United States, there has to be one around parenting and what that support looks like and what it looks like for, you know, all people. Ayelet: Yes, absolutely. Well, I think so much of what the conversation tends to be within circles of parents, of all kinds. It becomes divisive, right? It’s so easy to get, to get two parents, whether they look exactly the same or whether they look totally different or whether they came from totally similar backgrounds or not, together. And it’s really hard. I think for many parents to see the commonalities, especially in those early days, when you’re overwhelmed, you’re trying to make the quote unquote “best” decision for your child and for your family, it can feel very divisive. And I think you and I are, are both working towards this community approach of look when we get each other together, when we provide these supports, when we provide, you know, knowledge and education around intentional practices, whether that’s, you know, parenting, whether that has to do with, with breastfeeding or sleep or child development or how we engage our children in play all of those things. When we bring people together to sort of observe each other, observe their children, figure out what’s happening… We find that families tend to say, Oh, okay, this is happening for you, or that’s not happening for you. Or I never had to deal with that. My goodness, how great that I finally got to understand that that’s something that you think about every day, for instance. So I just, I thank you for that. And I think it’s… I, in my own personal opinion and thoughts like community is how we move through this. All of it, right. Is, is looking at those commonalities and those divisions and helping each other, understand what, what life looks like for somebody else, Brandi: Right. I’d just like to add, you know, parenting is probably one of the greatest cultural expressions that we have. And so, you know, when we have these rules that are set for people, like you have to do this when your kid is misbehaving and you should be doing this, you cut out, you know, the way that different cultures deal with those things. When you have this kind of like one size fits all to parenting, which so many of these, like, you know, parenting philosophies or things that people are following. And it definitely cuts out like the cultural part that is important, the values that are gonna be different from family to family. And it’s figuring out how do you get all that inside of it while still being gentle? And I think that’s kind of, what’s been missing. Ayelet: Oh gosh, gosh, yes. So let’s, let’s move. A little bit into some, some useful tips from you about how to do that practically on a day-to-day basis when you and I spoke previously in preparation for this discussion, you were talking about how, yeah. Like, how do we do this in this not, you know, this is not just breathing through it. Like how do I actually get my toddler to put their shoes on in the morning? So I would love to hear a few of your, you know, best favorite, useful tips for practical strategies using gentle parenting and conscious type parenting approach. Brandi: Yeah. I mean, the first thing that I would say is that we often, you know, look for these formulas, and we skip over like the easiest, most basic things, the simple things that we just feel like aren’t going to work. And it’s, it sounds so simple when you’re telling someone that, but it’s like, but did you do that? Like, no, you actually didn’t. And so, you know, I think about for young children, I think that’s probably a stressful stage for so many of us. I have a teenager and young kids, you know, so I’m in all the stages at three, five and 13. And so particularly when I’m working with clients with younger children, they’re dealing with a lot of like big emotions. Like they’re trying to figure out their limits and they’re super emotional. They don’t necessarily have the cognitive or, you know, impulse development that allows them to act like sane humans. So we’re often managing those things. And I want to say that… Ayelet: Paired with, let, let me just say paired with that, like sleep deprivation on the parent’s end, right? And the like feelings of overwhelm and trying to figure it out and that all your own transition into, and through those early years of parenthood, like we are lacking in our own impulse control and self regulation and all of that! Brandi: Exactly, exactly. You know, it’s such a, like I always say parenting is a parallel process. And so there’s so much focus on like, how do I get my child to act? And it’s like, how are you handling yourself? That’s number one. And so if you’re lacking sleep and you’re meeting your, you know, your two year old, hasn’t slept like two disregulated brains meeting each other are going nowhere fast. So, you know, the first thing I tell parents is, is like the same way you do the care of your children, like making sure they get to bed on time and they brushed your teeth and whatever: you got to know yourself first, you know, I know it’s hard if you’re getting up with an infant, but sometimes have to decide, like, do I want to scroll Facebook or do I want to take a nap? You know, do I need to entertain, you know, in different times when we’re not actually able to entertain back in the olden days when we didn’t have a pandemic, you know, it’s the decisions that we make that sometimes take from our quality of life, because we get into these “should’s.” I should be doing, or I have to be doing. And a lot of times it’s that lack of self care that creates a lot of the frustration that we have. Now, once you’re kind of saying, like, I’m taking care of myself, I’m, you know, I need more than self care. Like, what else are the things, the practical things. You know, one thing I always talk to my toddler parents about is this idea that you can’t rush toddlers. It’s not possible. It’s probably one of the biggest frustration for parents is getting their kids to do something, getting them out of the door in the morning, when you gotta be at work, you’re already running late and you know, they’re still eating cereal and they should be dressed. And it’s all those things. And it comes down to what time did you guys get up? You know? Ayelet: Right, working backwards. Brandi: You know, to do this task. And it sounds like a really simple solution, but we have to like put time in our schedules to be at their pace. Oftentimes, we’re making our little ones and even our 12 and 13 year olds be on our pace. And it creates a lot of frustration because they just can’t do it. They can’t be in our pace. They don’t care about our pace because they’re still in the mindset that they’re on their own timeframe and schedule. And we’re the ones that need to get on board. Ayelet: Yeah. And that Cheerio, like looking at that Cheerio from every different angle is a very important learning moment. Right? Brandi: You know? So thinking like, if, you know, you gotta be at work at 8:15, you know, how much time realistically do you need to have in that morning routine so that you don’t feel rushed because you can sit next to the door with a toddler who wants to take 10 minutes and do it. “I gotta do it myself,” you know, to put that shoe on, you know, then there’s days that won’t work out. Of course, I totally understand that you overslept, you’re tired, you slept in whatever. But you know, if 80% of the time, 75% of the time you have this idea of, like, I know that my toddler has a hard time with this one task. I’m going to double the amount of time that I give to them. The control that parents feel in that space of control over themselves and their emotions. They’re really actually being intentional about the idea that their kid actually needs something during that space. And they’re just not being annoying and trying to like, you know, make them late for work. Like that little flip just changes everything, you know? And it still might be frustrating, but when you kind of plan for it, it creates more of a sense of control over your own emotions. So that’s one of my biggest tips for families. Like you just need to give more time to kids. Ayelet: I love that. Yeah. Right. I think time is such a huge thing. And there are other tools too, right? Like, like visuals, right. Like I remember, especially when my older one who’s now seven was like three, four years old. He did really well with getting out of the door. Like, okay, well, what do we need to do before we leave? Right here are the, here are the things like, here’s the reminder, right there. So whether it’s a visual schedule on top of planning backwards, right? Because again, like you were saying, this is so much about reverse engineering from, from the parent end, right. What do we need to get done? How, what are the tools that we need to put in place that we can get these things done? So I love that. Brandi: Yes. Knowing you’re… In that space, you learn your own triggers as well, because a lot of them they’re feeding off of you. Like one of my triggers is like the one shoe and taking 25 minutes to put the other shoe on. And so for me, it’s like, I want to have extra time. And so you go put your shoes on, I’m going to get myself ready, you know, so that I’m not there for most of that dilly dallying time, you know, of putting the shoe on because that’s my own trigger, you know? And so just building that in and just creates a bit of a, you know, I’m able to be more gentle to be more patient, cause there’s time built in. You know, the other thing, you know, that we talk about a lot in conscious parenting because you want to take out this idea of like, you know, behavioral modification and like making them, you know, be compliant. It’s more about like, how can we be in relationship with each other to get the things done that we need to get done in this family. And so I’m not using things like rewards and things like that because I want it to be an intrinsic want to actually help and be a helpful part of the community. And so sometimes that looks like just being really descriptive. Like you might’ve heard, like there’s a really good book that I would recommend to your listeners and some of it, you know, like if anything, take it to, you know, take some that you want and leave the other part, but it’s called Happier, Easier Calmer Parenting. And in her book she talks a lot about descriptive praise, meaning this is not the idea that we’re just like giving people, the kids a high five because they like, you know, you know, woke up. You know, I feel like there’s so much like, you know, junk praise that we’re giving. It’s more of just like talking about the things that we want them to be doing. Talking about the things that we saw them do that were great. And it’s kind of like I saw today, you know, you got your shoes on, right when mom asked you to put your shoes on, very matter of fact, no one’s getting a cartwheel or, you know, a, you know, candy or something like that because they did something that you wanted them to do, but you are putting it out there in the universe that that is a behavior. That’s something that was really helpful in saying that can be really helpful as opposed to like, you know, doing rewards and things like that that tend to like work for awhile and then it won’t work later. But when it comes like out of them and their own value system, it’s more longterm. Ayelet: I think that is so great. I love that tool too, because it can, it can be applied on both sides, I guess you could say it. Like that non-judgemental just observing, saying sort of what you see happening can be applied for like the, wow. I, I saw that you did that you know, so well or whatever, I saw that you put your shoes on. Great. And it can also be like, wow, I saw, I saw that you left your shoes out. And I tripped on them that really hurt. Like here’s where we put our shoes or whatever, right. And it’s like you were saying, it’s, it’s much more about being in relationship with another person. And instead of that sort of hierarchical positioning of, I am the parent, you follow my rules. Brandi: And that becomes really authoritarian and shouty. Like that’s when I get into, like, that’s like a really easy way to go to like “shout parenting,” you know, and that, like, “they’re not listening to me!” And it’s like, that’s where the ego starts to get involved. And so much about conscious parenting is kind of letting go of the ego and the expectation, you know, and what we’ve been trained to know. Like I was trained that kids are supposed to listen to before the jump, when I say jump, they say how high, you know, that’s how I was trained. You know, that there was a hierarchy and children are at the bottom of that hierarchy. And to unlearn that, that means that I have to be really mindful of like those structures I’m setting up and I fall back into them. So this is not about perfection. Like there are many times I’m just like, Oh, wow, that was a little control freakish. Let me pull that back a little bit. Like, why am I saying no to this? Because I’ve been conditioned to say no, or because there’s actually something wrong with this request or what they’re asking or what they’re doing. Ayelet: All the time. Yes. Yeah. Definitely. I think pandemic living gives us, you know, so many more opportunities to, and to enjoy that reflecting and that unlearning for sure. Brandi: I think that people will talk about gentle parenting. This is a time where you need to be the most gentle to yourself, you know? And I think, you know, I was talking with someone and they were like, you know, can you believe that, you know, so-and-so like the teacher had my, you know, four year old doing zoom all day. Like, Hm. Was the teacher in your house? Like how, you know, it’s like, the question is, it’s like, no, no one’s forcing us to do that. We’re choosing to like, why do we feel like there’s certain things we have to do if we’re feeling within our soul that is not helping our children. And then it goes back to like what we’ve been trained, like who’s authority and who we’re supposed to listen to you, regardless of what our internal being is telling us we should, or shouldn’t be doing, you know, the same thing we don’t want our kids to stop doing. We have forgotten because that’s how we were conditioned. And so, you know, in this time where there’s going to be things that are happening, where you just like, you know what, that doesn’t feel good to me in my, for my, for myself or for my kids. It’s going to take some people like bucking against that and saying, Hey, I don’t think I want my three-year-old to do zoom classes all day long. Like, I’m noticing that it’s making them ragey and making me ragey and, you know, we’re having a problem with that. And I think so a lot of this is coming up for people because they do have this instinct that, you know, this maybe isn’t the way for my young child or my older child. And not really sure, you know, if it’s okay to say no, or to take a stance for your child. And so I think we’re all kind of figuring that out and what that space is. Obviously we’re all concerned about our community’s health and doing things that make sense for our community. But I think it’s, it’s going to be also a parallel process to make sure that we’re doing things that are okay for like our kids’ brains and longterm development. So yeah, I think we’re all learning that, but I’m getting lots of emails from parents about the emotional factor of the pandemic on their children, the behaviors that they’re seeing. Ayelet: Yeah, definitely, definitely. I would love to hear from you also some tips for those younger, even younger than toddler. Cause we do have a lot of like brand new parents of infants and toddlers in the zero to three years, listening in, uh, as well as professionals working with that age range. So I feel like we’ve talked a lot about like that two and a half and up, but I’d love to hear a little bit from you about even the younger set. Brandi: Yeah. So, you know, most of my career has been spent working with young babies and pregnant people. And so I, that’s kind of my specialty. I think, you know, there’s a thing that I always say to clients, you know, that calm is contagious. It’s really true because you know, I work a lot with clients who are having difficulties with their baby sleeping or having breastfeeding issues, et cetera. And so I’ll go and like, you know, do the thing. And they’re like, I did exactly what you’ve been doing. Like why the heck did that baby go to bed right now? And I was like, it’s not what I’m doing. It’s what I’m feeling and what I’m thinking. And that could sound woo woo for some people, but you know, they’re so innocent and open and so aware of what’s happening around them with people’s emotional state and what they’re carrying, you know? And so when someone’s coming to them with like the secure center and, you know, security, they feed off of that and that feels good and they pay attention to that, you know? And so if you’re coming to this space with like, Oh my God, how long is this gonna take? Like, Oh, that’s good to take an hour and a half for this kid to go to sleep. And it’s hard not to be in that space. I totally get that. But the baby is open to that and listening to that and it is affecting them. And so a lot of times it’s kind of, you know, what do you need to do to get into that space where you’re able to go into this bedtime? And this is a new bedtime, this is a fresh space. Like let’s renew that energy around it. And so, so much of what happens between parents and babies. A lot of that is like how well we’re dealing with their own emotional, emotional state. And I know parents probably tired, like why is it always me? Like, why can’t I just don’t put it into this kid? Like why is it always fixing myself? Particularly with babies, you know, a lot of those techniques, obviously routine can be something that is really helpful for young babies and that’s whatever routine works for you, not what routine the book said, because the book doesn’t know that you work nights or that, you know, you’re parenting by yourself or whatever, but a routine, whatever that is for your family, can be something that can be really helpful to babies managing their emotions. It also makes it much easier for parents to see those shifts in emotions and better understand their cues. Like if they’re hungry versus bored versus over tired, it’s much easier to see that when you guys kind of developed your own rhythm and routine, whatever that is… Ayelet: Right. When there’s a pattern to follow, you notice a pattern interrupt, whether you’re a baby or a grownup. Right? Brandi: Exactly. So the first step that I, for any client that I’m working with, it’s like, I need to see a log, tell me what’s happening with this baby, because it really, it feels like Groundhog day when you’re a new parent and you’re kind of like, in a barrage of either bottle feeding or breastfeeding or sitting on your sofa doing the same thing 10 times a day. It’s hard to kind of see that. And so just by doing the log, sometimes parents have their own epiphany, like, Oh my goodness, I’m seeing that from like one to six, like she she’s, you know, eating every five minutes and not really actually having a full meal. Like you might, you find these things, you’re able to do the log and say, if you’re not doing that, you’re dealing with, you know, eating problems, sleeping problems, breastfeeding problems. The first step is start to write it down, if you’re not already doing that, because that’ll one give you more information, but if you’re enlisting someone to help, you they’ll have a much better picture of the situation if it’s written down as well, you know? Yeah. Ayelet: Yeah. I want to just say too, I, I like your distinction of writing down the sort of routines and the patterns much more than, like, recording every single feed and that, like, it was on the left side, it was on the right side. He had three ounces, whatever. Like, because personally speaking in my own experience, like I definitely got into that like rigid need for control, which absolutely contributed to my own like early postpartum anxiety-style fun, you know? And, and so I think that suggestion that you just gave of, of a much more sort of top level, which is a harder thing to get your head around when you’re in it, right. But I totally appreciate it because I think it’s so important that we don’t stick to the minutia. And like, when I say this, I know this is a podcast and nobody can see my, my whole body is like, totally tensing up! Brandi: You’re prickling. Exactly. Like there is flexibility in parenting. There is so much room to like create your own system. And so the book is saying, your kid has to eat at nine, 12, three, maybe for your kid. That means seven, nine, 11,2. You know? And so when people ask me for a schedule, I always, I know it’s helpful to people to have a framework but I always kind of like do my own kind of like, ah, should I, should I not because I want people to know there’s so much flexibility. And it’s just kind of like get into the rhythm of figuring out what your rhythm is, because there will be a rhythm, even if it’s not what the book says, you guys have a rhythm. The question is whether or not it’s working for you or not, you know, and if it’s not working for you, then by all means, try something else. See if another system makes more sense or makes you feel at ease. If you’re doing anything that doesn’t bring the feeling of ease, don’t do that. You know? So it might seem like the thing that everyone’s doing and all the friends at the parenting circle are going to this class. This is what their person says, but if you do it and it makes you anxious or it makes you feel incompetent, or it makes you feel like you can’t get anything right. It’s probably not the thing for you to be doing. And I think that’s what I want parents to connect to more is having like more of a body compass check of like, you know what I feel really good. This feels easy. Like I’m doing this with ease. I don’t feel like I have to study for, you know, a calculus exam to figure out this thing. And if you’re feeling most of the time, you’re probably on the right track. Ayelet: Oh gosh. I mean, just that permission I think is like, that’s it for people. Fabulous. Thank you. Brandi: Well, thank YOU! Ayelet: I mean, it’s so important for, for parents to hear this! So, okay. So we’ve talked about some of those resources that are like the rigid ones, the, the book that says this, the book that says that what are actually some of the resources that you do like to recommend to families? Brandi: I mean, it’s hard because you know, there is so much of like our own parenting stuff and our culture wrapped up into it. And so a lot of the books discount other people’s culture, even if they have good tips. And so I always tell people like, take what you like and what you don’t just don’t pay attention to that. Like, don’t follow anything, but don’t let anyone, even myself cancel out what you know, to be true for yourself and your baby. You know, take it as compliments to your already amazing intuition, whether you believe that or not, you have it. It’s just starting to believe it is the, is the thing that we have to work on. And so, Happier, Calmer Parenting is one that I recommend. And surprisingly, one that I recommend that is not a parenting book at all is a book called The Big Leap. Ayelet: Yes, I’m reading that right now! Brandi: And for me, like literally the first 20 minutes that book was life changing to me because so much of it is learning to accept where we are ourselves in life, as perfect, and not in need of being fixed in, in worthy of like love and happiness every single day. And I think for me, like I recommend that to all parents to read because so much of the way we parent our children is wrapped up in our own self-worth… That if my kid is doing X or not doing this, I’m going to be either considered a good parent or a bad parent, and none of what our kids should be doing should be reflection of us. And so I feel like it’s such a great book to kind of get that idea that things could just be going right. Like we don’t have to plan for failure or for things to go bad. And I see that so much with the families that I work with, particularly babies that we do have this, like, you know, what if this happens or what if that happens? It’s like, and so much of that I think is things are going, it feels so good. And being a parent feels so good, we’re just waiting for the other shoe to drop, you know? And it’s like, how do we train ourselves? Not to believe that something bad has to happen when you know, you are happy and doing well, and your kids are thriving so that we can pass that kind of feeling onto our kids. Ayelet: Absolutely. I think such a big part of this, too, is having that opportunity to be in community with other families, because that gives you the reflective practice of, Oh, you’re trying it that way. That looks like something I might want to try, or my goodness. I would never do that. I don’t think that sounds good to me at all, either way! Brandi: And finding that community that is going to be like that. There’s a lot of communities, but is it the community that’s going to be mom shaming or like, Oh, your kid has sugar or, you know, Oh, you’re bottle feeding. You know, like you gotta be really, you know, I tell people like, that’d be so protective of the people that you bring into your parenting village because it’s all those like, you know, it becomes, you know, like almost things like ideas, spread, feelings spread, if everyone’s doing one thing. Even if you instinctively feel like it’s not the right thing, you’re going to feel like you need to do it when everyone else is doing, because it also automatically becomes like this. Like, well, well maybe I’m picking the wrong thing. If these 10 people are saying, this is the right thing. So I tell people like, you want to make sure that you’re getting into spaces that are curated with the idea that there are so many ways to do the same thing and that no one is doing it wrong. Everyone’s figuring out like, what’s the best mix for that child because I have three kids and I’m not going to parent any of them the same. Nope. You know, if I’m doing it right. You know, so I think it’s, you know, being really mindful of how a community makes you feel, if you’re feeling the need to perform in a community to show up as something different, to not like, let your full hot mess self show up, then I want you to kind of rethink why you’re in that community. Is there a better community where you can a hundred percent be yourself and find people that you can have deep relationship with that you can lean on when things are going really bad when you don’t feel competent, because we all have those feelings of inadequacy, but you have to be within a real community to be able to share that and get those, you know, kind of pep talks and real talk from people. And you can’t do that when you’re not presenting your full self, because you’re either feeling insecure or are you wanting to meet some kind of standard Ayelet: That’s right. Yeah, absolutely. Thank you. Brandi, where can people find you? Brandi: All my pages are public, so Brandi Jordan on Facebook, on Instagram, I’m brandijordanofficial. And then I have my free parenting support group that embodies a lot of what we’re talking about, which is Calm Is Contagious . And you can find that, on Facebook. Ayelet: Say it, say it one more time. Brandi: Calm is contagious. Ayelet: Perfect. Thank you, thank you so much. Brandi: Yeah, no, thank you. Thank you for all that you and just teaching people this idea of like more connection, less things, and you know, having some mindful relationships. So… The last thing that I wanted that I didn’t mention about babies for this last tip… Is touch. That’s one thing that we don’t talk enough about, like so many people in the world are under touch and that promotes more depression, more anxiety, more, all the things and the human mammal is the only mammal that can’t survive its infancy without touch. And so particularly in this time, we’re not, none of us are getting enough stimulation… taking time throughout the day, just to like, touch your baby. Like have a little bit of massage. If that’s just like five minutes before bedtime, if it was just playing with their hair before a nap, you know, just doing as much of that as possible. And just building so much in their brain, so much with the attachment and security and they need more of it because they’re not getting enough of that with like friends and seeing friendly faces when they’re out on walks, because we’re all masked up that we can kind of counteract that with providing them with more touch and physical interaction with them than we normally would. Ayelet: I love that. That’s great. How about for the parents who feel over touched? Brandi: I know a lot of moms who feel over-touched. Ayelet: Myself included. Yes. Brandi: I felt that very much so during breastfeeding, and then I was very overtouched, that I had to like actually have like blocks of time where I was like, not with baby, not with anyone. My husband would have to like give this 90 minutes span, in evening time where I was just over touched where I would go and just do my own thing, which meant not hearing, talking, or seeing, or touching anyone for 90 minutes. But I kind of like put that in purposely. And I think a lot of people don’t give themselves permission to say like, Hey, you know what, I’m a bit over touched. Like, you know, I would like it that you’re not doing a handstand and breastfeeding right now. And so knowing that it’s okay to make those boundaries for your body, you know, in those times where you’re feeling over touched, it might be good, not necessarily to be touching herself, but you know, you, you know, doing more of that for yourself, but finding ways to kind of release that. So taking a hot bath, doing, you know, a vaginal steam, which might seem like why would I do that for touching it’s about the release and then relaxation to kind of release that tension. Sometimes when you don’t want to be touched having something just like steam and heat can make you feel that release without like getting a massage or, you know, having someone, you know, caress you or et cetera, et cetera, that can be a way to release that. So those are the things that I recommend for someone who is feeling over touched to find ways to have that feeling of weightlessness or, you know, and you most likely will feel that in water. And so having a shower and nice bath, sometimes you just like be in your own space, you know, for me, like I like warm things. And so I can just like put myself in a cocoon, you know… Ayelet: My little hot water bottle has been my, my thing this, since it cooled down. Yeah, it’s great. Brandi: Well, you need that kind of relaxation. If you happen to not be a warm person, then doing things that make you feel cool. Maybe you’re like smelling a little peppermint, you know, doing like, you know, sometimes I would do like a cold towel and like put some eucalyptus or lavender on it and put in like in the fridge or the freezer, put them on the back of your neck and just like sit somewhere. Like if you’re a person who tends to be hot, you know, so just find ways to kind of have that release of tension, of frustration, whatever that is. If you can’t do it every day, you have to at least put it in one time a week. And if we can’t give back to ourselves, that means we need to redo our entire schedule. If we can’t give ourselves like one hour a week. Ayelet: I love it. Thanks Brandi. Thank you for that permission. So good. Thank you so much for your time and energy today. I really appreciate it. And I’m so happy to share this episode with listeners. Brandi: Oh, I’m so happy, as well. So thank you, and thanks for having me! The post What Conscious Parenting Is and Isn’t, with Brandi Jordan appeared first on Learn With Less.
28 minutes | Mar 8, 2021
What is a Play Schema and How Can it Help Me Support my Baby or Toddler, With Lina Richards
What are the different types of play? On this episode of the Learn With Less podcast, we sat down with Lina Richards, an early childhood educator and family support worker. Lina mentors caregivers serving infants and toddlers as well as providing play experiences for children and their families who have been approved for supportive services via Early Steps. She is the proud mother of twin girls and a military spouse. We discussed: Lina’s personal and professional background, and how she came to do the work she’s doing todayWhy play looks “different” at different developmental stagesWhat is a play “schema” and why is it useful for parents and caregivers to understand these?Lina’s top 3 tips and resources for supporting a young child’s learning through play Resources Mentioned in This Episode: Mudbugs Early Learning Facebook Group, hosted by Lina Richards Learning Through Play: How to Recognize Play Schemas from handmadeplaces.co.uk Raising Human Beings, by Ross W. Greene, Ph.D. The Whole-Brain Child, by Dan Siegel, M.D., and Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D. Connect With Us: Lina: Facebook Ayelet: Facebook / Instagram / Pinterest Text Transcript of This Episode: Ayelet: Today, I am speaking with Lina Richards. Lina is an early childhood educator and family support worker. Lina mentors caregivers serving infants and toddlers, as well as providing play experiences for children and their families who have been approved for supportive services via early steps. She is the proud mother of two twin girls, and a military spouse. Lina, welcome to Learn With Less! We’re so happy to have you here. Lina: Thank you. Happy to be here. Ayelet: Excellent. Well, I’ve asked you today to come onto the show to speak to us about play (one of my favorite subjects), and specifically what is a play schema? But first we want to just hear a little bit about you. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about, you know, how you got into the work that you’re doing? Lina: Well, I’ve had a long, very different career. I don’t tend to stay places very long… So, I went into the military and from there, I always kinda knew I wanted to work with children and families. And so I went into nursing, but that wasn’t my thing. So obviously, I went back to teaching. Once I had my daughters, they were two. I stayed home with them from the time they were one years old to two years old. And then I was like, okay, time for you to go to school and me to go to school. I went back to college and pursued getting a bachelor’s degree that allowed me to work in early childhood education. Ayelet: Amazing, amazing. And I’m sure that journey has had lots of different definitions and has looked many different ways, as well. And it’s, it’s great to be able to support other families as well, especially once you’ve become a parent yourself, because you can feel like, you know, how important it is and how helpful it can be. Lina: Oh, yes, my mom was an educator, so education was always a foundation for me. She always encouraged that, we’d be in the libraries and we’re always learning. So it was natural for me to pursue education. Ayelet: Awesome. That’s so great. Well, let’s dig right in. Tell us a bit about why play really looks different at different developmental stages? That’s like a huge question, but I would just love your take on, you know, tell us, break it down a little bit for us about, you know, obviously I think many parents and caregivers come into parenthood thinking, okay, we’ll play is like, you play a game, you know, you run around the field and you play that or you read a book and you read it from front to back. And that’s how we as adults conceptualize play. But obviously that’s not what it looks like to play, especially with an infant or a toddler. So tell us a little bit about what those sort of early developmental stages and what play might look like in different ways. Lina: So when I was thinking about this question, I was thinking about as adults, we should still be playing! So I think over the years, when I look at how I’ve played, it’s changed. What I read, what I read has changed when I was going to nursing school, I read murder mystery books. And, you know, I focused on games that had something to do with nursing. So I, I feel like just like with adults, children are going, their interests are going to vary as they grow and they change. So I’ve had three, I had two different ideas and my, you know: children are different. They’re unique and they have different ways to explore just like we have different ways to explore, ourselves. So we need to honor that, like I just said, I went from one interest to another interest in all the years that I’ve been alive on this earth based on what interests me in that particular moment. So I think with children, we have to follow them with what interests them in that different moment. And then when you think about children with developmental delays, they’re going to need more time. They’re going to need more support in, in developing what they are enjoying. And I always feel like we need to meet children where they’re at, just like we meet adults where they’re at, we need to meet children where they’re at. So those, when we talk about the schemas of play, it’s very important to provide them an environment that’s going to be interesting and engaging to them. I frequently see questions on different sites that I’m on that say, well, you know, I need some ideas for play for children, six to 12 [months]. It’s not that easy, right. If it was that easy, I don’t know, there’d be a book out there and people would be buying it. But I just, it’s just that I feel like you have to tailor it to meet the needs of the kids, just like anything else. We want people to tailor to our needs as well, as adults, we needed to look for the children. Totally agree. Ayelet: And I think the, the real word that stuck out to me in how you answered that question was the word exploration, right? Because that, that is, it that’s – that is play, right? Especially for children and certainly for adults. And I think it’s such a good point that you bring up. Like, we lose sight of that. We, we define like, as adults, we think of procedural things that we have to get done. And we forget that exploration and just time with an object or in a place or with a person is so valuable! And it’s not about, you know, getting something done or specifically targeting a skill. Like if that happens, awesome. And it probably will, but like, if you give your child, I like to have something on hand. So I’m holding up a funnel. If you hand, just a small, everyday safe, obviously, household objects and you see how they explore – that is going to be a whole lot of learning, right there. And it may not be what you came into the activity, you know, expecting, but it’s certainly, there are ways to, to help your child integrate learning and to do the learning of the day based on how you’re talking to them, how you’re playing with them, how you’re exploring the object, or just talking about the object or giving the space and opportunity. So I just, I love, I love everything you said about that. So let’s hear a little bit about, as you mentioned, what is a play schema and really, why is it useful for parents and caregivers to understand what these are? Lina: Okay. So I recently not even a year ago, discovered the list and I think I have put it on your site and a response to a question someone asked from your group, and this – it comes from Britain. Everything comes good from overseas, for some reason. But anyways, there’s nine schemes of play. And I didn’t really know about the schemas as myself working in education, but I kind of, you know, I didn’t know there was a name I knew that kids need certain ways and they had certain interests. So this chart has been really helpful and beneficial and I enjoy stirring this chart and encourage you maybe to post it somewhere yourself so that your members can see it. Ayelet: We’ll definitely link to it in the, in the show notes of this episode. For sure. Yeah. Image Credit: www.handmadeplaces.co.uk Lina: Good. So there’s nine scheme as a play and I’ll just briefly go over them. I’m not going to go into detail if you put that up there. So the first one is orientation, then there’s positioning, connection, trajectory, which is the throwing of things, and transporting, moving from one basket to another basket, or as my friends like to say, “dumping it into the toilet or dumping it into my coffee cup!” And then there’s enveloping where they’re hiding underneath blankets or going in tents. I was at a visit yesterday and I had a friend that kept burrowing underneath the cushion of the couch. I was like, it seems like he’s trying to find somewhere to hide. You know, he wants to go burrow like a little animal would. Rotation, those children that like to spin and, and go on the swings and stuff like that. I think my group, I mentioned that I’m not a big spinner. I love roller coasters, but if you put me on a spinny ride, I don’t like that. So you have those kids that enjoy spinning. And then you have transformation, which is more like your mixing, cooking and baking – those kids that like to do those things, experiment yesterday I had some neighbors over, we made homemade play-dough. So you have those, and then you have enclosure, which is kind of similar to the enveloping, where they like to go into things and maybe in the boxes and make tools with boxes or those kinds of things. Ayelet: Yeah. Well, just hearing about these different, you know, the names, these different kinds of play it. I think it’s very helpful as an adult and even just as an educator and like you were saying, you know, it, it’s just nice to hear the words for things, because it gives a word to describe everything that you’ve seen before as an educator, or a therapist, and, and as a parent. And because that is, it’s so useful when you say like, these are things that happen. And again, we don’t necessarily see these things develop in order, but it’s definitely, it definitely develops over time and on some type of trajectory, can you speak a little bit to that, Lina? Lina: Sure, well we’re going to bounce around in our interests. You know, just like I said earlier, I haven’t had the same interests in the 40 some years that I’ve been alive on this planet, you know, and, and even as an adult, there’s things in these schemas that I enjoy. So I would say, you know, when you’re little, when you’re baby newborn, you’re going to be more in, you know, just basic you’re on the floor. And you’re maybe getting into that rolling stage. You might be pulling that blanket over your head, you know, playing that peek-a-boo those kinds of things. So that’s kind of like your enclosure, your enveloping. Your toddlers, they’re going to be into, you know, that trajectory, throwing everything. They’re going to be into the transporting, the connection piece, the mix, the transformation, those are going to be your older toddlers. So I, I feel like, but like I said, you’re going to vary maybe a month, you might be in one thing, maybe two months, you might be in another, it could be a year. You might be in something. So it just, you kind of what I like to tell the parents that I’ve talked to is you have to be a detective, just sit back, watch, ’em watch how they’re playing, just with anything in the home. Or you can set up something, put out some kitchen gadgets and see how they explore with them. And just sit back and watch ’em, take some notes. And, you know, just set up that play experience that it’s a guest play experience that you’re not going to have to tell them no, just sit and watch them and see what they do with the materials. You don’t always have to be in there. Oh, you got to do it this way. You got to do it that way. Just watch them, you know, see what interests them, take notes. If they like to throw things, you know, offer something that they can throw. Instead of always saying, no, no, no, no, you can’t throw this. You can’t throw that. You know, give them some socks to throw, give them some cotton balls or give them, you know, something that they can do so that you can encourage that type of play. Ayelet: Yes. Because it is play and it is learning and it’s all valuable. And, and I think it’s so helpful to hear that this is something that it’s not just your kid, who’s throwing things. It’s not just your kid, who’s dumping things into the toilet or dumping all of the books off of the shelf. Like number one, that’s early literacy. And number two, like it’s how they are learning about like, they are these tiny scientists and they are learning about how heavy something is and how much force it takes to move one thing to another place. And all of those things – that’s learning, right? It’s not holding up, holding up a flashcard and saying, what’s this, it’s figuring it out. It’s tactile education. It’s, it’s all of those things. And I want to hear a few of your great tips to help parents to figure out how they can get started or reframe their thinking into doing those kinds of things in just a second. But first we’re going to take a brief break and hear a word from our sponsors. And then we’ll hear some of those great tips and resources from Lina about what you can do to support your child’s learning through play. Okay. Lina, we would love to hear if you have three top tips or just any of your favorite tips for helping parents to do what it is you just explained and we just talked about, about, you know, sitting back and exploring and letting them play. What does that look like? What, what are some things that parents can do to sort of support that reframe for themselves and feel confident that they’re doing enough and doing it right. Lina: Right. I think the main thing for us, it’s like you said, our society is so rush rush, and in the developmental milestones, they, they become overwhelming to caregivers. You know, you want your child to be meeting these milestones, but I think the thing about milestones is they’re just guidelines. Don’t put so much pressure on the guidelines. I firmly believe that children bloom when they’re ready. I’ve worked with children with developmental and they were just so awesome. You know, they have gifts that other children might not necessarily have – all our kids have gifts. So we need to take the time and relax and study them and watch, watch, just watch them and see what their interests are and not worry so much about, Oh, they didn’t do X, Y, and Z in the physical domain or the motor domain or the whatever else. You know, your child has probably has strengths in other areas. Maybe they’re just really loving and kind, and they got those social, emotional skills down. So I just, I feel like we just need to read and watch them and let them develop in who they are. Just like, I would want someone that I work with to let me develop and, and not rush me along and realize that, you know, I have strengths and commend me for those strengths specifically, praise me for those strengths and meet me where I’m at when I don’t, you know, give me those baby steps. I know with our age range, that zero to three, it’s not always easy to come in and, and I guess give them the opportunity to use their voice. But even if they’re non-verbal, they have a way to communicate. They can point to this or point to that. So respecting their voice, even if they don’t have a voice, right. Ayelet: However, they’re using their, their own modes of communication, whether it’s looking at something or moving towards something, if they’re not even at that pointing phase yet. Right. Yeah. I love that. And I love Lina, how you bring it back to, like, what would I want? Lina: Yeah. Ayelet: It’s so obvious when you think about it that way. And I think as a society, we don’t often regard young children in that same way. So thank you for that. I think it’s so important. And I think it’s so important for parents to, to hear that and to remember and recognize that, especially because we live in such a fast paced society, What other jewels of wisdom do you have to offer for us? Lina: Well, the main thing for me is setting up a “yes” environment. So often parents say, no, no, no, no. So we have to create the environment that is tolerable for us and acceptable. Some kids like to jump, they want to, you know, have that risky play opportunity. And that’s perfectly normal. They need to have that experience. When I had a home daycare and it was raining outside and we couldn’t go outside because it was too hard of a rainfall, I would take the couch cushions out and I would just put music on and they would just run all about the house. And they would be able to jump on and off the couch cushion, because they need to have those opportunities to use all their muscles throughout the day. So decreasing the amount of time we say no, and allowing them to have risky play, giving them the opportunities like you said, to explore how they see fit and not stepping in all the time to take over their play. Ayelet: Hm. That’s something that I hear again and again from parents that it’s really hard to do. And also on the other side from educators and therapists like myself who want tools to help parents do that, do you, we didn’t talk about this, but do you have any, you know, little bits of wisdom in your, from your own experience about ways to help parents to step back and like, what have you, like, what are some things that you like to say to parents to help them see that? Lina: I just say… Be a detective. I love the concept of being a detective it’s so relatable. You know, a detective sits back and observe. I have personally myself, I’m an observer. I don’t jump right in and take over a situation I’m going to watch. And I’m going to see what’s going on before I offer an opinion. And narrating! We have to do a lot of narrating with our young ones. You know, we don’t always have to control the conversation. And especially when they’re zero to three, they’re not doing a lot of talking anyway. So just being, I call it being the sportscaster, of doing a play by play of, Oh, I see you doing this. And I see you doing that and giving that specific praise. I really liked the way that you did this. That was really smart. I would have never thought of that. You know, being okay with the fact that they don’t have to do it your way, as long as it gets done, this is not math and the math that they have nowadays, where you have to do it X, Y, and Z way. Why does it matter? As long as it gets done, it gets solved. You know, that was great that you came up with that way. I would’ve never thought of that way. I bet that’s the thing about working with kids that excites me. They come up with things that we might not have ever thought of. I truly believe we can learn from anybody. Ayelet: I totally agree. And I, it makes me want to invite you into my home and play with, with you and with my kids to hear you. It’s so sweet. I love it. And then Lina, will you tell us a little bit more about some of your favorite resources to share with families, for supporting a young child’s learning through play? You mentioned, of course, And again, we will link to that handout that was created that is a really nice, just summation of those schemas of play and stages. But what are some other things that you have found useful to share with families or even for your own edification? Lina: Well, I really enjoy following those researchers that are interested in brain science. It’s totally fascinating to learn about, you know, there are reasons why everybody does what they do, but now they’re really getting to know children and exploring, getting those, you know, why kids are having lagging skills or why they’re doing so well in this area. Those kinds of things, brain research, really fascinates me. Loose parts, I love loose parts. Like you said earlier, we don’t have to have that fancy gadget. Most of the time I take out recyclables, you know, going for a walk in nature. You know, finding parts out in nature is the best way. You know, you get that fresh air, you get that opportunity to escape the busy-ness of the day, especially if you’re going to a park, you get that time to just breathe and relax and have that meditation, which is so important for us because we’re rushing, you know, as caregivers, we have maybe the responsibility of work, full-time motherhood, those things are not easy. So we need to, you know, I follow groups like that, that I share with people in my group so that they realize that, that it’s important to take time for you in order to be the best caregiver for your children. Ayelet: Absolutely. Do. You mentioned following brain science researchers, do you have any favorites? Lina: Dr. Tina Payne Bryson. I love Dr. Ross Greene for older children and well for school-age, but all of his techniques, you can still use with the primary… the planning, plan B plan C, and we just involving kids and having their voice heard when you get buy-in from a kid, they’re going to do it more likely than if you’re sitting there, commanding them all the time and you know. Ayelet: Said anyone with a toddler, right? And you have a beautiful Facebook group. Can you tell us where people can find that? Lina: Yes! I decided to create Mud Bugs Early Learning Resource, because eventually I want to turn it into a school in my backyard. And that’s what my plan is done, hopefully one day, because I have mud bugs in my backyard – they’re pretty cool! They’re interesting! Anyways, I decided to do it because I see a lot of good groups, but sometimes groups just talk about one concept and I wanted to make sure that, you know, parents understand that you have to heal yourself. And sometimes you have to look and reflect on yourself. What am I doing wrong? Because we as adults, we do stuff wrong – and it’s okay that we do stuff wrong, we’re human beings. So I just want them to realize that, you know, as parents, we have to sit back and reflect, how can I change my own actions? My own responses was I hungry? Was I sleepy? Was I this or that? Maybe I needed a break away from the kids for a minute. So I include that part in there. And then I also, because I love play so much, I include play in there and basic child development. I just pull resources from everywhere. You had asked me my favorite researchers. I really, I mean, those two are one of my favorites, but I just love researching in general. Ayelet: Yeah, totally. I’m the same, as you might have guessed. Awesome! Well, Lina, thank you so, so much for your time and energy today. For everyone listening from home or on the go, thank you so much for joining us. And we will see you next time! Lina: Thank you! The post What is a Play Schema and How Can it Help Me Support my Baby or Toddler, With Lina Richards appeared first on Learn With Less.
12 minutes | Jul 8, 2020
3 Myths Holding You Back From Leading Caregiver/Baby Classes
Empowering Parents is the Key As an educator or therapist, you recognize that empowering parents and caregivers is the key to supporting the families you serve. They’re the ones that are “doing it” everyday. Maybe you work primarily with children… and you want to expand to serve the family more holistically. Maybe you’re a therapist who believes in the parent coaching model and routines-based intervention… and you’re curious to expand into serving families in a resource and support role. But the idea of serving families in a new way in a parent education or parent support role can be daunting: to make a whole curriculum, to teach parents language (and other) strategies, to work with the whole family unit, outside of a classroom or therapy setting… You know this work is needed, probably an amazing expansion of your own skill set and knowledge. But in my work both delivering caregiver/baby classes and training other professionals to create these programs in their own communities using the Learn With Less® Curriculum, I see 3 myths that tend to get people stuck, holding them back – often before they even get started. Now, before I get into these 3 myths and why they’re wrong, I want to encourage you to register for my FREE on-demand training, How to Supplement Your Income By Providing Enriching, Meaningful, Supportive Resources That Every Infant/Toddler Family Can Access – Even If You’ve Never Led a Group Workshop For Parents! 3 Myths That Are Holding You Back From Leading Caregiver/Baby Classes I find that many people believe you have to have children of your own or be an “ideal caregiver” yourself to lead Caregiver/Baby Classes in your community… First of all, I personally would pack up my baby and things, and leave the room if I walked into a group where the facilitator claimed to be the best parent ever or to know everything there is about early child development. Of course parents and caregivers want to be led in community by a facilitator who has knowledge, someone who has experience… But let’s stop for a second and think: do you like learning from a perfectionist? Especially in one of your most vulnerable states (i.e., early parenthood)?? When parents and care givers come together in a group setting like this to gain support, education, and ideas about how to help their child thrive… they’re often not looking for a rigid parenting philosophy. They’re looking for a place where they can feel heard. Where they can connect with each other, with their babies, with a community that understands what they’re going through. So it doesn’t matter whether you have kids of your own, or whether you regularly fall short of being an ideal caregiver yourself. What matters is: do you love being around kids? Do you interact well with kids? Do you love empowering and coaching parents? Because when it comes to wearing your teacher hat or therapist hat OR a family enrichment facilitator hat… what you’re doing matters… but it doesn’t matter as much as how the parent feels their child is doing. The goal is to help the parent or caregiver feel supported, empowered, and curious about discovering something new about themselves or their child. What matters is whether you have empathy, whether you can learn to create community so that you can help parents and caregivers feel empowered to try new strategies or new ways of playing with their kids. Myth #2: You have to perform for the parents and caregivers or spend a lot of energy to get them to participate and engage with your classes I find that many people considering leading parent education and support classes believe that you have to perform for the parents and caregivers or spend a lot of energy to get them to participate and engage with your classes. Professionals with whom I’ve spoken often share with me that getting adults to participate can be difficult, or that they seem conditioned to approach the class as if you’re doing a service or performance for them. Now, I have certainly seen this happen. And I think a lot of it comes down to a few things. First, the primary objective is to lead with trust building. Parents are often confronted with divisive topics and opinions on every single topic, whether it’s how they choose to feed their babies, hold their babies, or put their babies to sleep… The primary objective when building community for parents and caregivers is to ensure that you are creating a place where everyone – regardless of their background, whether it’s cultural, linguistic, economic, racial, or otherwise – can feel included and heard. Now, that’s no small order. That’s why I highly recommend that you stop looking at these groups with a “therapy” or “teacher” hat on. You’re not leading them. You’re not telling them how to parent. You’re not telling them what to do. You are facilitating. That means that you need to be modeling, you need to be sharing, you need to be asking them what they need, you need to be setting the tone. You don’t need to solve their problems. You don’t need to give them “one-size-fits-all” solutions. I also think there is a lot here to do with the fact that often, when leading a group of parents and young children, the greatest challenge for you as the facilitator is actually meeting the needs of the group versus the needs of the curriculum. This is why ensuring that the content you share needs to be flexible. It needs to allow for and accommodate the needs of the group. As a facilitator, you may not know how to address everyones’ questions. Please know: you don’t have to. The knowledge of other families in the room may be useful, and when you are the person in the room with access to more resources, there’s nothing wrong with saying, “let me look into that and share some information with you later.” Myth #3: You will have to spend lots of money and time on marketing, ads, logistics, etc. that may or may not work I hear from many, many professionals who believe they’ll have to spend lots of money and time on marketing, ads, logistics, etc. that may or may not work. While this absolutely CAN be true, it doesn’t have to be. When you have a plan, when you know how to address the challenges your families are sharing – within your marketing… When you make time to create systems around logistics like finding spaces, communicating with your potential audience through things like email and social media, building relationships in your community, and build self-reflection measures into your entire process… It all becomes much simpler. When you know the value of your program, know what you’re presenting, have a plan for promotion, create partnerships with existing organizations and businesses in your community… you have a roadmap. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. You can create a system that works. You can be intentional about where you put your energy. You can do more of what you enjoy – which, of course, is the actual service to families. Don’t Reinvent The Wheel So if you want to discover how to show parents and caregivers what play is all about: helping them learn to let their infants and toddlers explore, experiment, fail, and persist. If you want to find out how to get parents to try new things – even if they haven’t been willing in the past. If you’re looking for ways to establish a relationship quickly and get buy in for your families. If you want to logistically enroll for economic diversity in a fiscally responsible way – even if you’ve considered various avenues before. If you want to discover new ways to offer your knowledge to young parents in your community – even if you don’t have a clear plan! If you want to figure out what to present, how much to charge, how to promote, and how long to make your workshops… Start by registering for my FREE on-demand training, Then I invite you to register for my FREE on-demand training, How to Supplement Your Income By Providing Enriching, Meaningful, Supportive Resources That Every Infant/Toddler Family Can Access – Even If You’ve Never Led a Group Workshop For Parents! Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions. The post 3 Myths Holding You Back From Leading Caregiver/Baby Classes appeared first on Learn With Less.
27 minutes | Jan 27, 2021
How to Use Your Skills as an Educator or Therapist to Serve Families Holistically as a Parent Educator, with Allie Glazer
She wanted to expand her scope and create more parent coaching, parent training, and parent education opportunities in her community Over the last few weeks, I’ve been sharing a lot with you about the value and benefits of leading caregiver / baby “parent & me” style family enrichment classes or workshops. As educators or therapists who serve infant and toddler families or who have an educational or professional background in a field related to early child development, we know that our job is much more than simply helping babies and toddlers develop new skills. We know the exponential impact we can make when we serve families holistically in our own communities. If you haven’t yet downloaded my free Caregiver/Baby Classes roadmap, I invite you to do so today at learnwithless.com/roadmap. Today, I want to share the story of a licensed Learn With Less® facilitator who I’ve had the pleasure of working with in the last year. I’d like to introduce you to Allie, who is a pediatric speech-language pathologist. She’s been working with infant and toddler families in early intervention for several years, and fell in love with the population – she loves the home coaching, the flexibility, the parent empowerment, and, as she stated, “learning from my clients as much as they were learning from me.” When she first learned about the Learn With Less® Facilitator Training & Certification program [a parent educator training and certification program], Allie felt that it could be a great way to expand her scope, and to have a different kind of interaction with families than the 1:1 therapeutic sense. She’d been approached multiple times (and mind you, this was pre-pandemic) by families wanting overall support for early learning, community, and language development, even – or especially – if they didn’t have significant developmental delays. She knew there were plenty of kids slipping through the cracks for therapeutic services, and that families with children of all developmental levels were looking for support from a knowledgable professional. Before she signed up, Allie did have some reservations and skepticisms. She wondered whether this was a program that could actually help her pivot in her career, and refresh her professional perspective. Upon completion of the training program, Allie wrote, “the program went above and beyond in content, evidence based support and scope of support and content. I’m so excited to review, tie the pieces together, and try it out.” It’s one thing for me to read her words… but I’d rather you hear directly from Allie. Allie and I work together in the group each month, where certified facilitators get continued support and coaching. She was kind enough to sit down with me to chat about what she’s doing now, how it’s going for her, and share with you the kind of impact the Learn With Less® Facilitator Training & Certification Program is having on her life. I do want to say that when she refers to modules, she’s referring to the 6 modules within our training program, which provide training around foundational areas licensed facilitators need to utilize the program effectively. Connect With Us Ayelet: Facebook / Instagram / Pinterest Allie: Website / Facebook / Instagram Related Resources in This Episode Learn With Less podcast episode: How Lesley Took Her Existing Skills as an Educator, and Started Serving Infant/Toddler Families In a Holistic, Meaningful Way Caregiver/Baby Classes Roadmap (free download for educators and therapists curious about leading “parent & me” style classes and finding a parent educator training or certification program) Text Transcript of This Episode Ayelet: So you have been you’re out there. You’re doing it. It’s so great. I like love seeing it so fun. I’m proud of you. That’s really… Allie: You were a big inspiration for that! The whole, the whole, uh, modules [training program] like kickstarted my fire. And I think for me, COVID was like, I wouldn’t have done this if COVID weren’t happening, I would just be doing my normal day to day. Ayelet: That’s so fun, so, okay. That’s fascinating. Tell me more, what makes you say that? That’s so interesting. Allie: Uh, not driving all the time. Every 15 to like 30 minutes between sessions certainly frees up a lot of time. Ayelet: Doesn’t it? And mind space, too! Allie: Yeah. So I think having more, more time to like be, and even if I’m like, I’m not super productive about it, it’s not like, okay, I’ve got 15 minutes. I’m going to like, here’s my one thing on the to-do list, I’m just gonna crank out. I think it’s, it is the mind space and it is having the, um, being in one space more often allows me to explore, explore my goals in different ways. And I think the, the modules [of the training program] were extremely focused and since I could do them at my own pace, like it was a topic to think about until I did the next one and in addition to it, you know, for me, it was very focused and without the pressure of having to act on it right in that moment, because I think for, for me earlier on like this year has been crazy in a lot of different ways, but it also gave me a lot of space to think about my own professional development and what I wanted from it versus just maintaining a caseload and maybe taking CEU’s in an area that I like wanting to get better in. And that would have been my goal for the year, had I not pivoted to teletherapy, had I not developed this whole new coaching reign and also had kind of a push in my caseload changing so much in that format to be able to entertain the idea of taking on groups and trying something outside of the speech therapy thing. Cause I was always curious about it beforehand, but like didn’t have the capacity and didn’t have the, the resources to really develop that. Ayelet: Totally. That’s awesome. Allie: Yeah. So like a silver lining of COVID is that now I’m doing these classes and got to take the module and like all that good stuff. Or maybe I would have, it just would’ve been a lot harder or it would have been a lot slower. Ayelet: Right. Well, I mean you had, you had number one, you had already signed up for the training program before COVID so you already knew you were interested in doing this, but it sounds like, you know, it was kind of the, the idea of like, well, I’ll, I’ll start, I’ll start it. I’ll get my mind around it and then I’ll do it someday when I can do it versus like, Oh actually this is the perfect time to do it. How many classes have you led now? Allie: I have done one, one paid one a month. Since October. I believe October was my first paid one. Ayelet: That’s great. It’s so, it’s so good. I mean, I’ve been doing virtual classes since 2017, so it’s like, I know there’s a need, people all have always want, wanted to not have to get out of their homes to go when they have a new baby or whatever, a toddler, nap, schedules, all of that. So what, Oh, okay. Well just to gratify me, what’s been going well. And what have been the challenges for you so far? Allie: Yeah, I think for me developing the confidence to explore different, different types of advertising and different wording and different, like, calls to action. I, I really appreciate like the streamlined, “this is what you need.” Once I had my central hub of like, this has all the stuff I need to send out, like that’s been awesome. And I feel like I’m prepped for it. The families are prepped for it. I haven’t… There was only one time for my, one of my first demo classes where the family was like, Oh, were we supposed to do something? And I was like, Nope, don’t worry. We’ll do it now. But everything else has been pretty smooth. And in terms of getting the families who are interested and they sign up, they’re feeling the flow of the classes has been pretty good. Feedback has been pretty good. So I think the tools that you gave us about the pre the post-class surveys are awesome and things to think about through the reflective coaching and the group call that, where you gave me more feedback. So yeah, I think those, those have been the strengths. So just, like, people are getting so much out of it. And I, I was hoping that they would, but I also was like, okay, don’t like, don’t get too hopeful. It’s still a still pandemic. It’ll, it’ll be great. But maybe not that great, but like, it’s awesome. Ayelet: So yeah. Well, I would love you to share just from, you know, what you remember, like, what are some of the things that, that have really stood out to you? As far as the feedback that you’ve gotten? Allie: One of my, my toddler demo class, one of the moms was like, I, we just, we, we, we know the regular songs, but we don’t think to sing about other things. And, and this was just written feedback from her. And I’m like, and she, I think she said something was, that was like, we can just sing throughout the day. And my daughter loved it, or like somebody else was like, we haven’t ever built a fort with my two year old. And it’s just those, those things that I, you know, I, I was thinking of like, Oh, everybody’s already tried this already because you’re providing it… It gives them a safe space to practice instead of just thinking about it. And there was another one that was feedback from my first infant class with like, I just never think to use mailers. I never think to use junk mail and like that again, it was one of those things of, Oh, you must have already tried this. Why are we talking about it? It’s because we’re provided with space to do it. Yeah. So that’s my reinforcement for it too, is every time I’m like, Oh, this seems like a really, but I, again, I like have to, I talk myself out and into it. Of like, it, it seems like a really simple suggestion and I don’t want to insult anybody by suggesting something I think they’ve made already tried, but most of the time… They, they may have tried it and it’s either gone really well or they tried it and it went terribly. So they don’t want to try it again, or they haven’t even tried it at all. It’s like, those are usually the three options. It’s not usually like, you know, we, we try it once in a while and it goes really well. And then we never do it again. Ayelet: No. Right. I mean, or, or, and if they do, then they’re like, Oh right. I appreciate the reminder that I’ve… Because we did that a few months ago and like, Oh yeah, that’s right. That went really well. And I’m going to do it again. And now I know that it’s actually supporting this area of development. Like how, how important, how great. Yeah. Yeah. I feel like we hear that, we hear that all the time as facilitators that like, Oh, right! Like, it’s such a good reminder of, even if it’s something that you already do, like, feels like it’s a validation, right? I mean, I think you had written about the feedback that you got… I think from one parent was like, this was exactly what I needed: the confidence and reassurance. Like, that’s it. And like for parents and caregivers, especially like during a pandemic, when you already feel guilty that you’re not doing enough, not going places, not having the social time, all of that, like giving families that sense of like, Oh, I am very capable and I am, I feel empowered with the knowledge that I can do these things. Like, that’s a gift! That’s awesome. Allie: I don’t think we should discount… We shouldn’t discount that either, because that’s something I wasn’t, as… I wasn’t expecting to be as powerful as it is. Ayelet: Huge. It’s huge. Yeah. Oh, good. What about some challenge? What’s… what’s been more difficult? Allie: Yeah… I think my challenge is marketing to get enough people in a class. And I haven’t deep dived into trying a lot of different strategies all at once, because right now, my goal is to do one class a month through the end of the year. And I’ve already got one scheduled for December and I’m going to meet my goal and I’m really excited about that. But the, the two to three person group has felt pretty good. I also remember doing a five person group and that felt crazy, but awesome. Ayelet: Was that with toddlers? Allie: Yeah, that was with toddlers. Ayelet: Yeah! It’s a whole different energy. Allie: Yeah. So getting… accessing more people who are ready to sign up for a group. And I don’t know if that’s like, if they’re not connecting with my marketing posts, if I need to try, like snazzing them up in a certain way, if it’s just that, like, it’s, it’s a hard time right before the holidays to try anything new. So… Ayelet: It’s also a numbers game. And again, like you said, you’ve been trying new things that you’ve never done before… and you’ll continue to go down the route of things that like we’ve talked about in the marketing module and that we continue to talk about in the coaching strategies that we do every month, and stuff like that. And I’m just so happy that you have not let that hinder you. You haven’t stopped, you’re getting the experience, there’s not a whole lot of overhead costs for you, either, and that’s great! Because then you get this amazing feedback from the families that you are serving, and you get to go forward and get the experience. And that’s fantastic! Allie: I also, I set, my goal was to set, set my fees so that one person doing one class would pay for my zoom membership. And that’s like, that’s all I need for the month to not only get the practice, but also be like, okay, I can, I’m covering some expenses with this. Ayelet: And then a little more! Allie: And then a little more, yeah, right on. There was also… yeah. And I’m gearing up to do a little more outreach to like pediatricians and agencies. I’ve, I’ve got some ideas brewing. I’m not ready to, to make gung ho on them yet, but I think just kind of developing the confidence to entertain those ideas and then make motions on them based on the stuff that you’ve given us in the modules is.. but that’ll open up. Ayelet: All right, let’s be clear! You have been, you have been teaching classes with like a, quite a small audience and doing it and you haven’t even reached out to like your local resources. Like that’s huge. You’re… Number one, you’re fearless. And number two, like you you’ve just been doing it and that’s great. And you have so many more resources at your fingertips that you can move forward with. Allie: Yeah! Ayelet: Good. I would love to know also just like a perception change that you’ve had now that you’ve actually started doing the classes? Allie: It gets easier with practice. Yep. That’s for sure. I think that the nerves are so powerful the first few classes that you do. It’s, it’s like inhibitory of just having that feeling of like, am I going to, and I think I posted about this in the group of like, am I going to feel like this every single time? Oh my God, I hope not. And it gets better. I feel like I’ve also been, and this is really in terms of the feedback that you’ve given me about like not making it the “Allie Show,” it’s gotten a lot easier to facilitate, interaction with other members just by like pivoting the questions back to them. And I, and I think that even before I was starting the module two, I was trying to figure out how to not only be the therapist in these, in these moments. And so I think that took some work to, to take off that hat, but it, it has been really empowering to shift into more of the supportive, encouraging role in addition to informant and really remembering that like the goal is not for them to come on, only focus on me telling them things like this, isn’t a webinar, this isn’t, this isn’t a, you know, a class that they’re taking for credit. It is a chance for them to join and get some time to play with their kids and learn with their kids and interact with other parents too. Like, there’s more to it than just the, the tidbits I give them, which, you know, they’re very important and they get them in the, in the handout too. But I think I wasn’t necessarily expecting to feel all the different formats and sections of the class come together to be the experience that they have become. Like, I think I was expecting like, okay, I’m here to share information. I’m here to teach you something. I’m here to tell you about this developmental thing, but it’s, it’s become a much more natural way when they’re the ones who are doing it. Ayelet: Totally. I love how you said that. It’s true. It’s so true. What do you feel like will continue to be the impact that it’s having on, on your professional, personal life? In general?Allie: I feel like my I’m also working really hard to do more parent coaching in my therapy sessions as well. And you know, incorporating a direct model, but also doing much more reflection in a variety of ways. Like I’m trying to do video modeling, I’m trying to do different types of routines. And so I think the combination of, of starting to learn more about coaching from a speech therapist perspective and also this program being entirely based on things you already have, the whole guise is that you don’t have to go out and like prep hard for the thing you’re about to do. There’s… You can have the same outcome with the things that you would already be using just in a slightly different way. Right. And so I think that that for me has been really empowering of not feeling like I need to have all the answers all the time I do. I’ve got a big binder next to me that I just keep norms in, and then I’m always like, “Hey, just here are the, here they are,” just in case. But sometimes giving, giving the families re reflection opportunities and chances to like, think through it is way more powerful than me saying, you know, at 12 months they should be doing this. Totally. So, yeah. Yeah. Just encouraging more of that reflection, encouraging reflection on positives and on the ways that they can do it themselves. I think that’s something that I wasn’t doing. I would usually want to come in and give an answer. Like here’s a suggestion for your week, do this. But it being like, what do you, what’s a way that you think you can redo what we just did. I’m still getting, I’m still working on doing it in the classes. I’ve, I’ve been doing it more in my, my, my speech therapy sessions. So there’s practice happening there. Ayelet: That’s amazing. I just think that’s so amazing. It’s true. It’s true for me too. Like my therapy, when I do speech therapy with, with families, like it’s way more parent coaching, which is extremely effective, obviously like, like we’re talking about, but it’s, and people love that. It’s very helpful to have things reflected back. I mean, that’s, that’s everything you’re giving them tools. That’s great. Allie: Yeah! And we don’t always do that in our day to day. Like we, we’re either looking for quick fixes or we want answers, or we want somebody else to tell us how to do it. And there’s certainly a place for that. And it is very helpful to have somebody with a lot of expertise, give you some insight, but also to like force the, the reflection or like maybe gently support. I feel like a lot of things I do, I’m very forceful of like, I’m just gonna do this. Let’s see how it goes, but give the opportunity for somebody else to think through what they would do about it. Yeah. Because I, I’m just thinking of like all the, the marketing stuff I see all the time is here are three, “three things you need to do to do, to be more successful,” like blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I’m like, okay. But that only works. If I came up with it myself, I’m like one of those learners that if it’s way more powerful, if I think about it, if I do it, if I develop it, I do want all of the resources and the information, to come to my own conclusions. Yeah. Ayelet: The strategies. Yes. Well, and that’s really good because that’s totally how the, like our training marketing module was created. Like that’s what it was. It was like, here’s all of these great marketing conversations that you can have: go forth and do it! Allie: And I think it’s helpful that they’re, that we, I did them once and that they’re there for me to reflect on. I think I really have done like most, most revisiting of the logistical one. And I want to revisit the diversity one again too. I have not revisited that one, but that one is on my shortlist to do next. Ayelet: Yeah. So good. When is your website going live? Allie: I still have to decide that. I think it might be next week, but I don’t know… I have a friend who’s in marketing who’s helping me coordinate and create, and… she’s like, you can launch it anytime you want.. and I’m like, no, no, I want bubbles, I want fanfare, I want, like, I want to do the, “oh in 3 days there’s going to be something exciting happening, I want to send you bubbles, yes, like I want this to be a celebration! Ayelet: Yay! Fun! So, that’s another thing… you’ve been doing all of this with no website, and a brand new Instagram and Facebook account for business. Like, sorry, let’s not forget that! Allie: As of October, I think I went live with my Instagram account, or maybe September. I don’t remember. It’s been less than four months. Ayelet: Yeah – just a couple of months! That’s amazing! Allie: Yeah! So you don’t need it! You don’t need, like, I do think that the module about creating all of that and the, the reasons to were really powerful for me because I like, it was something that I was always very afraid of and much more of a lurker than an active participant in… Ayelet: In creating, in having those assets for yourself? Allie: Yeah, in social media… other than the “Buy Nothing” group, like I’m very pro proactive in that. But like for other things, in terms of speech therapy stuff, or just parent stuff, I would imbibe the information, but not necessarily feel like I was at a place where I could be the one who sharing that. And so I think having that resource to, to be the push of like, “if you wanted to do it, this is how you could potentially do it with these resources. Here are the things to think about.” I don’t think I would’ve made a website if I hadn’t taken the module. I don’t think I would’ve done Instagram had I not been within this Learn With Less program. Like, I feel like it’s, it’s, it’s something that sets me apart and it’s like, it’s a, it’s a niche development for sure. Ayelet: You’re creating a… you’re an influencer, Allie. Allie: Oh my gosh. Can I put that on my resume? I influence. Ayelet: You’re, well, and you’re also, you’re facilitating with less! You’re not just learning with less… Allie: No, right here, this is the program, this is the program at work! No, truly, it’s… And I think I, because I started my private practice for speech therapy in 2018 with like word of mouth, only continuing with me, you know, after kids age out of our program, I would see them privately. And I was also not quite ready to do any major marketing there of like, I love the idea of becoming a, you know, a successful practice that has the logo and has the maybe, maybe may or not have a brick and mortar office, but just like the, the idea of the presence, which I wasn’t ready to kind of fully practice that. But with feeling empowered to make a website and feel like, yep, the things I’m sending out into the world via social media are things that people are hopefully learning from and benefiting from. And it’s also pretty cool to see the positive response to something that I’m doing. Ayelet: Oh my gosh, your posts have been great. I love the one with your cat was so great. Oh my gosh. I mean, brilliant. Like for you. It’s so great too, because you came into this program feeling like, Hmm, I don’t have kids. Can I really like teach parents quote unquote. Right? Like, and, and you are using what the experience you have. You have, you’re using your kitties. Like, I love it. It’s so great. It’s so good. Allie:I have no kids, but I have two kitties. So we’ve gotta be creative with what we have, you know, we don’t, and we don’t necessarily have to have the, “the expected” for it to be successful. Like, I don’t think we need to check all the boxes in terms of like, Oh, this is what it means for me to be successful and an idea of that is great, but we don’t necessarily need all of those things for it to be successful in a different way. Ayelet: So true. So true. Allie feels confident, she has a roadmap to reach another level in her career. She knows exactly what she needs to do next, and she’s already started laying the foundation. At the time of this recording, she’s leading her first “4 week group program,” completely virtually, and for me, to sit and watch her take the reigns, to put her own spin on it, to create rich, meaningful, supportive experiences for the families who participated – and will continue to participate in – her classes… it is just incredible. I got to hand that to her, and she gets to bring it to her community. Now, if this kind of work calls to you, if you are an educator or therapist looking for new ways to serve families, to use your knowledge to support new parents and caregivers in your community, I invite you to download my free caregiver/baby classes roadmap, which is waiting for you at learnwithless.com/roadmap. Downloading that will get you onto the waitlist to learn more about the Learn With Less Facilitator Training and Certification Program, which I’ll be opening for enrollment again very soon. Now, I’d love to know more about you: does this work call to you? Do you already serve families in your community in a similar way? Send me a direct message Instagram – I’m @learnwithless and I’d love to hear from you. The post How to Use Your Skills as an Educator or Therapist to Serve Families Holistically as a Parent Educator, with Allie Glazer appeared first on Learn With Less.
21 minutes | Jan 20, 2021
The Ultimate Guide to Supporting Infant & Toddler Families
What are the kinds of things we as educators and therapists can do to support young children and their families? What are the things we can show parents and caregivers that can help them infuse every single interaction with more connection, more opportunities for interaction, more vocabulary, more modeling? The post The Ultimate Guide to Supporting Infant & Toddler Families appeared first on Learn With Less.
35 minutes | Jan 4, 2021
How to Prepare For Baby’s Arrival: The Postpartum Plan, with Mercedes Thomas
On this episode of the Learn With Less podcast, we were joined by Mercedes Thomas, of Advanced Practice Wellness. We chatted about: Mercedes’ personal and professional background, and how she came to do the work she’s doing todayWhat to ACTUALLY expect as a parent, what kinds of topics to collect wisdom about (to prepare for that beginning phase), and how to prepare for thatWhy it’s so important to develop your postpartum plan, not just a birth planMercedes’s top 3 tips and resources for supporting new parents through that initial postpartum period Resources Mentioned in This Episode: Download a portion of Mercedes’ forthcoming book, What In The Baby?! The Modern Mama’s Guide to Confidently Caring For Your Baby and Surviving the Postpartum Period Mercedes’ classes and services (parenting classes, lactation services, healthcare consulting) Learn With Less® Classes: “parent & me” classes worldwide (in person and virtual) using the Learn With Less® curriculum Learn With Less episode with Dr. Katayune Kaeni: Perinatal Mood Changes and Postpartum Mood Disorders Learn With Less episode with Arianna Taboada: Postpartum Care and How to Get Your Mental Health Needs Met Learn With Less episode with Kate Turza: What Is A Postpartum Doula? healthychildren.org napnap.org/ The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, by Diane Weissinger Hypnobirthing (Marie Mongan Method) and Natal Hypnotherapy (Maggie Howell) DONA International (find and connect with a birth or postpartum doula) Connect With Us: Mercedes: Website / Instagram Ayelet: Facebook / Instagram / Pinterest Text Transcript of This Episode: Ayelet: Welcome! Today, I am speaking with Mercedes Thomas, a board certified pediatric nurse practitioner, certified lactation counselor, maternal child health consultant, and author of What in the Baby: the Modern Mama’s Guide to Confidently Caring For Your Baby and Surviving the Postpartum Period, which will be released in February, 2021. Mercedes is also the owner of Advanced Practice Wellness and Lactation, which is a private practice based in the Washington DC area, where she provides virtual lactation services, parenting classes, and healthcare consulting to organizations serving families. Mercedes was most recently awarded the 2020 Washington Parent Pick in the category of breastfeeding support. I saw that, Mercedes that’s so cool! And Mercedes has over 12 years of nursing experience working in both the neonatal intensive care unit or the NICU as well as inpatient and outpatient pediatrics. Her mission is to combine her nursing experience with her experience as a mom, to support families with evidence-based education and resources, which is why I just love everything you share, Mercedes, and I just want to welcome you so graciously to Learn With Less! Mercedes: Thank you for having me. I’m excited to be here today. Ayelet: Great. Well, I’ve asked you today to come onto the show to speak to us about, you know, how to prepare for baby’s arrival by developing a postpartum plan. But first, why don’t you just tell us a little bit more about you and how you got into the work that you’re doing today? Mercedes: Sure. So I’m a wife, I’m a mom of one. I have a two and a half year old son, and my story is pretty straightforward. So as you’ve seen, I have, uh, basically my whole career has been dedicated to babies and pediatrics. It was obvious to me right out of nursing school. I didn’t need to do any soul searching. I didn’t need to do any figuring: it was pediatrics for me and NICU. I thought it was a great place to start. For those that are listening that may not be familiar. A NICU is when babies are born too early or premature, and we help them and their families to grow and learn during that period. And really, although I’m making it sound a little rosy, it can be a little scary for families. So I, I thought it was a good place for me to start. I got a ton of great experience at a huge NICU down in Atlanta, which is where I started my career. And we learned a lot. We learned from critical care how to take care of really sick premature babies. So that was starting at 25 weeks of gestation all the way down to a lot of education with breastfeeding. We had a lot of multiples too. I’m not sure how that ran, like in terms of numbers with our hospital, but I just remember having a ton of multiples and we were in about a hundred bed unit. So a lot of great experience. I stayed in NICU for about three and a half years. Went back to get my master’s in pediatric primary care, which is kind of a different token. So I went from being in a hospital setting to being in a primary care setting, or when you would go visit your pediatrician, that’s essentially the role that I was doing, but as a nurse practitioner. So I did that for several years. And then I had my son, we moved up to the Washington DC area and yeah, the rest is history. We had some troubles with lactation, even though I knew a lot. I thought I had it covered. Our story wasn’t rosy because he didn’t come out and it wasn’t just, it wasn’t just an instantaneous ease to breastfeeding. Taking care of the baby was pretty easy because I had a ton of experience with that. But the, the trials and tribulations of being a new mom, postpartum, and breastfeeding is not going right for you. We had a lot to work out. And so I had a lactation consultant myself because I felt like, you know, you can have a baby and have all this experience and then your baby comes and you’re like, huh? Like I literally actually have a Facebook post that I’d like to go back and find when I was the new mom. And I was like, now I get what everyone’s saying. When it’s your baby, you don’t know anything, which is absolutely crazy, right. 12 years of a career. And then you’re like, huh, what do I do? How do I do this? It’s just kind of, it’s kind of like a postpartum fog almost that you almost may even be in for up to a year. So it’s totally normal. And I can sympathize with that. So that’s why I’m doing what I’m doing. I’ve decided to help other families. And I, the real thing is to get out quality, evidence based information to them because there’s so much swirling around. I love mom groups. I’m a part of some of them in my area. And they’re great. They’re very supportive, it’s a great way to network with other moms and that are in small businesses, which is great. But you have to be careful about the information that you get sometimes because people can mean well, and I don’t think anyone ever means to hurt anybody with the information they give, but sometimes it may not be reliable information that you get. So, yeah, that’s why I’m here today. Um, hopefully we can get you the right information or where to look for the right information. Ayelet: Absolutely. Well, I just, I appreciate so much what you said about how, you know, you’re, you’re the best parent until you become a parent and you’re like, Holy moly, what just hit me?! So let’s dig right in, you know, also pulling from my own experiences as a parent, I definitely, from on my end, like I had a lot of information and ideas around supporting my tiny human’s development and, and knowing how to connect with my baby or play with my little one and things like that. But there were many areas that I was not, I, I suppose I could say informed around or prepared for, you know, for me it was things like the realities of infant sleep patterns or how to my own postpartum mental health, and so many more. So I would love to know what you think, you know, in your opinion, professionally, from your own experience, both as a professional supporting your parents and pulling from your own experiences as a new mom, what are some of those things that we can actually expect as, as a parent? What are the kinds of topics that new and expecting parents can collect wisdom about in order to really prepare for that beginning phase? Mercedes: So I think you need to know your options. That’s first and foremost. So before you have the baby is when the preparation really begins. So you don’t want to get just insane about it and reading 50 books and reading all the blogs and… Pick several trusted resources, maybe two or three, figure out what your mode of learning is. So is it a book? Is it a class? How do you learn best and figure that out. There’s also even individual classes that you can have where someone can teach you one-on-one if you work best that way, we did a hospital class, which was great. The nurse that taught it, she had a ton of experience in lactation and in both L and D. So I… Ayelet: Oh, Labor and Delivery, for those who don’t know. Mercedes: Oh, sorry! Yeah. So she had a lot of experience, and it was fun. It was a fun class. We got to get up and feel things. We got to simulate different positions and comfort measures that my husband could try and so that is very helpful. Getting a class. You want to try to look for those resources that you are going to sign up for, like commit to and around your third trimester. So I would really suggest a birth class that’s first and foremost, because you need to know your options. Some people out there, they don’t even know where a baby comes from anatomically. So please know where the baby is coming from, coming out of how they’re growing in there and what you need to do as a parent when the baby is on the other side. So after you’ve had your baby, do you want to formula feed? Do you want to breastfeed? I have to insert that I’m a huge breastfeeding advocate, but as a pediatric nurse practitioner, I support all families. So although a lot of my content, a lot of my book is very infant feeding heavy. It’s probably like half of my book. That chapter is like very heavy for obvious reasons because it’s one of my focuses, but I want you to know what you want to do. So you don’t have to have it all figured out, but know your options. Maybe you want to breastfeed and try and see how it goes. And then maybe you have to figure out another way, if that doesn’t go right for you. You mentioned a lot about your mental health. So you have to figure out what is going to work for you as a parent and whoever your support system is. If it’s your spouse, if it’s a family member, maybe it’s a neighbor. Maybe you’re a military spouse and maybe your partner is not going to be able to be there. So figure out your situation, get a book, if that’s your mode of learning, that’s – really, people can do that in between working, in between other kids, get a podcast like this one, you can listen and consume that information. If you have another child, it makes it easy to pop in maybe a wireless headset, but get reliable information from professionals in whatever mode you learn best. We talked a lot about when we initially talked about this podcast about a postpartum plan. A lot of people, they are gung ho about their birth. They know what they’re going to do. They’ve got an eight page birth plan about what it is that they want to have happen. Sometimes those things happen. Sometimes they don’t. Sometimes the nurse may look at it and the doctor and go, what is this? And kind of sit it to the side. Keep your plans, at least a page. So that can be front and back, but try to keep it to a page, try to really figure out what it is that you want not to happen, right? So we can figure, I think that list is going to be a lot shorter for most of us than what we want to have happen. So maybe you don’t want to have an episiotomy, but these are things again that you’ve talked to your provider about before you’ve had the baby, but these are kind of like reminder bulleted points about what to do. You get a postpartum plan as well. So don’t just focus on the birth. What’s going to happen after? Who’s going to help you. How do you get to your first doctor’s visit after you have the baby? Can you have someone else come into the doctor’s visit with you with the baby? You know? Ayelet: Especially right now, as we record, right, during COVID. Yeah, Mercedes: Absolutely. So things have changed. Know what your pediatrician or your pediatric nurse practitioner, what their office policies are. Are they going to have someone on call? If you need to call someone in the middle of the night and think your baby’s sick or have a question, is someone going to be available to you to answer those phone calls at midnight one o’clock in the morning. If that’s something that you need, then that’s really important to discuss when you’re looking for a pediatrician before, certainly should go in your postpartum plan. Because you would be seeing your pediatric provider, at least maybe on the second or third day after going home from the hospital. Think about those things. Are you going to go somewhere where they’re able to space out your vaccines or are you going to be on a schedule? These are not things you want to go somewhere and figure out afterwards what you want to do and get into that is going to mess with your mental health and you don’t want that. So figure out what you do not want to happen, right? And then work from there and come up with a plan. That’s going to be workable for you and your family. Ayelet: Yeah. I love that. I would love to just dig a little bit deeper about this sort of distinction between developing a birth plan versus a postpartum plan. Because again, like you said, if you have never experienced, assuming you are carrying your child physically, and I think a lot of us do focus on birth. What does that look like? What is that gonna feel like? What is the whole experience going to be like? Because that’s something we can wrap our head around, right? And then, and then there’s a baby, or maybe several babies. So what are some of the things that you would recommend considering? And including in that postpartum plan? I, myself, I had a birth doula, but not a postpartum doula, but I, for my first birth, when we were living abroad, my mom was in town. She was here for, for the first month. And that was incredible and so important for me. And so what, what are some of the pieces there that you would recommend to new parents looking into this? Mercedes: So you touched on one, definitely. So who’s your village, who’s your support system? So is that support system going to be a family member? Is it someone that can reasonably get to you in a safe way, meaning “safe” because we’re in the midst of a pandemic still. So how can you figure out a plan for if you want a family member that may not be local to you, for them to be able to help you, if you don’t have any family, if you don’t have friends to help you, do you have the resources and the funds to be able to hire out help? You mentioned a postpartum doula. That’s something that definitely I would look into as a new parent, as a new mom. They are not only really there to help support you, but they’re there to help support you with the baby. So if you need to go take a nap, if you need help preparing meals, they’re there for you to do that. And it’s absolutely great if you have the resource and the funding to be able to do that. If you do not have that, your postpartum plan should most certainly talk about what is going to happen in each situation. Maybe think of a week of what your normal week would look like when you’re doing laundry. When you’re cooking, try to have a plan for your meals. That’s important. Are you going to have a meal train? Are people going to drop off a meal to you that’s home cooked? Are you going to make a bunch of meals and then freeze them? That’s a really good way to approach it. Are you going to have a family member that’s going to be able to come in and cook for you? After I had my baby, my mom was able to come up immediately, right after we had him. It actually, I had him two weeks earlier than my due date at 38 weeks. And so it actually worked out that my mom was on her spring break. She’s a teacher. So we wouldn’t have had that additional time built in to her being able to be there for like almost seven days, if not a little bit more. So we didn’t want him to, you know, you want the baby to stay in there. You want to be patient. But I did have him two weeks early. He was still full term, but that was actually a blessing for us. So my mom was able to come and, I mean, my mom does everything. She cooks. She cleans, she, I mean folds the clothes too. So, she’s doing it all. And so I think the thing that you need to ask yourself is what can you do to help make things easier for you? You may not necessarily need help with the baby, right? Because this is your time immediately after birth to bond, but what can you do so that your time is freed up and so that your body can heal. You’ve just had a baby that you’ve been carrying around for most women have been carrying for nine months, at least. So what can you do to support that? So that you’re not in a stressful state, in a heightened, stressful state because you’re already emotional and you have hormones that are readjusting. And that’s another important thing -before you have the baby, right? Who is your support system to know how you normally are, right? So does my husband understand that I’m just a little tearful and sad versus like I’m having scary thoughts about harming myself or my baby. Those are absolutely things that you want to consider before you have your baby. Because when you’re in the thick of it in the midst of it, you may not even, I mean, your partner or your support may be tired too and miss some things. But I think these are real conversations that we need to have. And not to assume that anybody knows these things. I had, I had someone say they didn’t even know what postpartum depression was. That was at the, and it was a person that I has gone through masters and doctoral program. And they still, so don’t assume people understand that they know that, they may have. That’s why I backtracked to, before you have the baby, did you take a class? Did you read, did you prepare yourself? Figure out at least one or two resources, definitely taking a class about the way that you would care for your baby. If you don’t have any experience with that, realizing a lot of families and people have never even changed a diaper before they’ve had a baby. There are classes that can go through all of that with you. And infant safety, what to do if your baby is in a scary situation, they’re choking. If they change color, what do you do in those situations outside of calling nine one one, but what can you do before, you know, in the midst of that? So these are really important things. And I, my book goes through those steps of what to do. I use a method that I used to teach and I go through, from infant feeding from your postpartum plan. I like to call it a postpartum wishlist rather than a plan, because a plan sounds so, like, serious, but I think we need to communicate what you want to have happen. And so those are our wishes, right? What we really want to see happen and yeah, work on that and know that your postpartum, what you, what you’re normally like have a baseline for that with whomever is going to be the closest person to you so that you can measure if you’re not feeling well. I even have a, a little chart in there to kind of document your feelings for the day. And it’s super easy. You just kind of check off the smiley face. It’s not writing anything if that’s not your thing, but just to kind of check in with yourself and say, Hmm, how do I feel today? And if you’ve been putting in only frowning faces for greater than three weeks, four weeks, and you just can’t figure out how to get out of that, you definitely want to talk to somebody, even if it’s before your six week visit, which is usually when you get back in to see your OBGYN or midwife. Ayelet: I am going to absolutely link to several other podcast, episodes that touch on some of these things. In addition to your book, Mercedes, which I’m so excited about, and we can let people know that they can listen to a few of those other podcast episodes that inform people about, like, we had an interview with Dr. Katayune Kaeni about postpartum mood disorders. We’ve had an interview with Arianna Taboada about maternal mental health – going, going back to work and setting yourself up and things like that. So we have a lot of great resources that we’ll link to in the show notes, in addition to a link to pre-order your book. Okay. So we’re going to just take a brief break to hear a word from our sponsors. And then we will hear a few tips from Mercedes about what you can do to prepare for that postpartum period. And we’ll hear about her favorite resources to share it with families. Ayelet: Okay. Mercedes, we would love to hear your top say three tips for really supporting new parents through that initial postpartum period. Mercedes: So, we, I talked a little bit about what is going to be an evidence-based resource versus just maybe a personal blog or maybe information that you’ve gotten that are, “this work for me, so…” Yeah, try to stay away from that, right? Because what worked for somebody what even worked for, if you’re not a first-time parent for another child that you have may not work, just because, so, one of the things that I like to do is give out websites that are going to be reliable for families to be able to get the information that they need. One of my favorite resources for that is Healthychildren.org that’s by the American Academy of Pediatrics. They even have an symptom tracker on there that you can look in there and kind of, you’re not diagnosing yourself, but you’re kind of seeing, is this something that I should be worried about, which is important to know as a parent also napnap.org. That’s the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners and it’s napnap.org/families. So you’re also going to get a bunch of information and it’s kind of divided by development category. So you’ll get all the way from birth up until 21, which is the range of pediatrics. If you are looking for a book on understanding how to feed your baby, maybe breastfeeding, a really helpful book is The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. Like I said, my book also has, it’s pretty heavy on infant feeding and goes through positioning, latching, all of those things. But that book is pretty comprehensive and giving you what you would need to know about preparing to breastfeed. Take a class. So there’s a lot of resources for that. You can take a class, I even teach classes on infant development. So I think that’s really important to know what’s normal and what’s not – I think a really great example is that most families do not know that a newborn baby, their sleep wake cycle is about an hour to 90 minutes at a time. That’s a shocker to a lot of people because they think, “my baby’s not sleeping. They’re up all the time,” but it’s not just you. It’s pretty normal, the research tells us that. So you want to manage your expectations, too, as a new parent, because that can really take you in a, in a dark place. You don’t want to go, if you feel like you’re doing it all wrong… Why is my baby not doing X, Y, and Z? This person said their baby was sleeping eight hours by X, Y, and Z time. Developmentally, your baby is going to be waking and it’s for, one, safety purposes and also to feed. So those are really good resources that you can check out to have something reliable. You want to stay away from just a personal blog post that someone wrote, and it’s, it’s just opinion based. And it may not be fact based, and it may not apply to your situation at all. Ayelet: I love that. And I also want to pull that back into what you said earlier about, like, how do you like to learn? Do you like to learn through listening, right? Whether it’s an audiobook or a podcast, do you like to learn through reading, whether it’s through text, or do you like to learn by watching – whether that’s in a class or watching a series of videos or something like that? And I love that, like you pointed out, you have these fantastic infant development classes, Learn With Less® classes are all over the world, as well, and offered, and you know, all about evidence-based practice. Even if you’re not like a terribly social person, I think there’s so much to be, there can be so much to be gained by just that power of observing others and seeing the differences actually, because that’s, that’s a piece of it too, is knowing like, all right, well, my baby is not crawling and is eight months old and this baby is, but look like they’re both developing along a spectrum that is a typical progression. And having that knowledge base of sort of like a facilitator who does have that knowledge and understanding to help you to see that, like there’s a range of typical development and you may or may not fall within that with your child, but like having that community based network of other families who are going through it at the same time is so important. So just another plug for community in general, I think is just such, there’s so much to be gained from that. So awesome. What else have you got for us Mercedes? Mercedes: So, I don’t want to leave out on us on a scary note, but this is something I like to, for all families to know. And like I said, this is about your support person, too, being able to sometimes recognize things that we may not see. So I did want to talk about the post-birth warning signs, absolutely important for all women [birthing persons] that have just birthed the baby. And basically it’s an acronym and that was developed by a nursing association. I won’t get into the whole acronym, but, so it’s literally just that. So it’s POSTBIRTH. And so the P stands for pain. These are things you want to watch out after you have your baby. That may mean that you need to contact your healthcare provider right away. The O is for obstructed breathing or shortness of breath. Seizures is the S, T is thoughts of harm. So we talked about those scary thoughts, which is what I like to call it. If anything is, if you ever hear voices, if someone is, if you feel like you’re compelled to do something to harm you, your baby, or a family member, the birth B is for bleeding. So bleeding is specifically soaking heavy soaking of a pad within an hour’s time. So if you see that happening after you have a baby, you’re doing a very soaked pad within one hour constantly, then that is an immediate call to 9 11 and to your provider to get in, to be seen right away. The I in birth is for incision and healing. If you ever have any reddened area, if it’s burning, stinging, has any like discharge coming from it, that’s another sign that there may be an infection, a rather swollen leg that could mean that you have a blood clot forming, which is really common, and you don’t want that to happen to get up into your lungs. So again, it might just feel like, man, what’s going on? Am I just swollen because of pregnancy or am I just swollen for other reasons? So just watch that. And you just want to monitor that if you see that and elevate your legs up, if you notice that. A temperature, a lot of people are not really clear on what a fever is. So a fever is a 100.4 [farenheit] and a baby that’s rectally adults. We have some flexibility with taking that. But in a baby that’s a rectal temperature of 100.4. So you wouldn’t ever stick a thermometer in a baby’s mouth. You can do under their arm, but under three months, you want to stick to doing a rectal temperature. And then headache, right? So this isn’t your normal, like just hormonal headache. This can be changes in your vision. This can be, you just are not even functional, not your normal headache. So these are things that you want to look at, the things that you want to contact your healthcare provider about right away. In some of my mom groups, I see people oftentimes say that they have these things, and they’re not quite sure what it is and skip the mom group and call your provider. Okay. So, that’s very important. You could save your life or someone else’s life by just knowing those things. Ayelet: Wow. That is that’s all so important. And so good. I had never heard that acronym before. Thank you so much for sharing that. I’d love to know, too, what are some of your favorite other resources to share with families who are looking ahead and who are expecting the arrival of their baby? You mentioned a few amazing ones, right? Healthychildren.org. Yeah, go ahead and let us know what some of the other ones that you would recommend. Mercedes: So I, I mentioned those earlier, but in specific the types of birth classes that you want to take. So I would look for a certified childbirth educator. So there’s multiple out there. There’s Lamaze, that’s really popular. That’s internationally known. You can also look at – some parents like Hypnobirthing. I’ve never participated in that, but there’s been a lot of good feedback where you’re able to kind of channel your mind into another place, to help with the pain and, hopefully alleviate some of the pain that you may have going into birth. Ayelet: Anecdotally, I did do that in the UK, the natal hypnotherapy, which is like the same idea, but it it’s, it’s fascinating. Yeah. Mercedes: Yeah. I’ve heard some really positive feedback about it. So I would explore those. And there are also classes if you decide that you want to have a birth at home, so you may have a midwife, there’s either nurse midwife or a certified professional midwife that you would hire, and they’re able to also come into your home. DONA International has a really great checklist. If you’re looking to interview someone for a birth doula or postpartum doula, they have a list on there. So you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. You can go to that website and they’re able to get a list that you can use to interview someone that you’re potentially thinking about having help you. So birth doula would be a really important thing. Really important thing to note is even with COVID, there are virtual services available to you. Please look at those. You can be supported whether in person or virtually – same thing with the classes, there are classes, a gamut of classes that are available to you virtually even if it’s just not even having to do with COVID, it may just fit into your schedule better. Yeah. So look at those and definitely look into getting a doula that would be something really important, a resource, even if you’re a family that may not be able to afford it, there are resources out there to get scholarships and lower costs in many different areas. Ayelet: Yes. I’ve even heard that some hospitals are providing that as a service, which is incredible. Awesome. And I understand you have a special link that you’d like to share with our audience. Mercedes: Yeah. So I am going to be giving away a couple of pages of my first chapter. So, check that out and it will allow you to be able to stay in touch and learn about pre-sales. And, also I have some awesome giveaways coming up, so that will allow you to get first dibs on that as well. It’ll include my book and then also some other awesome items. I partnered with a local mom and she does beautiful crochet items. So that’s all I’ll say. And she has, graciously donated a few items. So we’re excited about getting those out to parents. So we have a few giveaways happening. Ayelet: Excellent. And the link to that will be in the show notes available on this episode. So do not miss that. That’s an amazing gift. Thank you so much, Mercedes. Mercedes: Thank you. Ayelet: Thank you for all of your time and energy today, Mercedes, and for everyone joining us from home or on the go, thank you so much. And we will see you next time. The post How to Prepare For Baby’s Arrival: The Postpartum Plan, with Mercedes Thomas appeared first on Learn With Less.
51 minutes | Dec 8, 2020
Tips to Create A Toddler Tantrum Toolkit , with Sonnet Simmons, Veronica Morales Frieling, and Bryana Kappa
On this episode of the Learn With Less podcast, we were joined by Sonnet Simmons, Veronica Morales Frieling, and Bryana Kappa. Sonnet and Veronica are hosts of the “Not Your Mother’s Podcast.” and co-creators of the parenting online course “Raising Children You Like” with Bryana Kappa. We chatted about: Each of our guests’ backgrounds and how they came into the work they’re all doing todayPersonal experiences in the transition from parenting an infant into toddlerhood What’s happening in the brain when a young child is having a tantrumOlder methods of discipline and diffusing a tantrum why they don’t work, and what you can do insteadSpecific changes these parents have made as a result of understanding their toddlers betterRecommended resources for families looking for additional support Resources Mentioned in This Episode: Not Your Mother’s Podcast (hosted by Sonnet and Veronica) The system of courses over at Raising Children You Like, including the Toddler Tantrum Toolkit Beyond Behaviors, by Mona Delahooke No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame, by Janet Lansbury Parenting From The Inside Out, by Dan Siegel The Conscious Parent, by Dr. Shefali Tsabary Siblings Without Rivalry, by Adele Faber How to Talk So Kids Will Listen, and Listen So Kids Will Talk, by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish How to Talk so Little Kids Will Listen, by Joanna Faber and Julie King South Bay Mommy & Me, based in Redondo Beach, California Connect With Us: Veronica, Sonnet, and Bryana’s resources at Raising Children You Like: Website / Instagram Ayelet: Facebook / Instagram / Pinterest Text Transcript of This Episode: Ayelet: So, today I am speaking with Sonnet Simmons, Veronica Frieling, and Bryana Kappa. Sonnet and Veronica are hosts of the Not Your Mother’s Podcast and co-creators of the parenting online course, Raising Children You Like, with Bryana Kappa. So, Sonnet and Veronica are two long-time friends who became new moms at the same time, and who kept asking the question: “why doesn’t anyone tell you this about motherhood?” And set out on a journey to find answers to the unsaid and unspoken’s of motherhood by interviewing experts in areas like sex after baby, female body postpartum marriage. That’s two separate things. Postpartum, marriage… Sonnet: [Laughter] postpartum marriage is definitely something! Ayelet: Yes! Childhood development, and so much more. Sonnet is also a singer and songwriter. And Veronica is a digital marketing queen. And Bryana is a licensed marriage and family therapist with a private practice in Redondo beach, California. She’s endorsed as an infant family, early childhood mental health specialist. And she works exclusively with new moms and young children, birth to five. She owns, it operates South Bay Mommy and Me, and is the mother to Mateo, someone we can hear in the background because we are all parents. We’re all moms and welcome to motherhood, right? Veronica: Yep. Yeah. I tried to put her down, but she wanted to go down. Ayelet: Hashtag, motherhood, right? This is a podcast for and from parents. So it’s fine. So Sonnet, Veronica and Bryana. This is I think the first time we’ve ever actually braved three guests on the Learn With Less podcast, and I can’t think of a better triple threat panel. So I want to thank you so much for coming onto the Learn With Less podcast to share your story. Welcome, you guys. Sonnet: Thank you so much for having us. Thank you. Ayelet: So I’ve asked you to come onto the show today to speak to us about some tips to create what you guys call a toddler tantrum toolkit. But first I know we did a little bit of a background, but why don’t you give us just sort of a short backstory about you guys and how you came into this crazy thing called parenthood. And whoever wants to go first, just chime in. Bryana: You guys go. Sonnet: Okay. Um, so this is Sonnet, and I don’t know. I mean, how I got into parenthood is I think the same as everybody else. One, one, one night, one sexy night, that’s how that happened. But luckily I had Veronica and I have been friends. We have been like single lady friends. We met at a music festival. Like you look through our pictures together and we have really gone through a lot. And so we became moms at the same time, too. And we would go on these walks and we were just in that mode of transition, where you’re trying to just get back to your old identity and you haven’t figured out yet that there is no getting back. And so you’re just frustrated that nobody talks about this, and you can’t put your finger on it, and you can’t find information about it. And so we decided to find that information ourselves. And I mean, you also go on your own journey, but through the experts, we have learned so much, and we’re so grateful to be creating this community of moms and experts to get information from and how much we’ve learned as mothers to really allow ourselves to go through that transition. And to understand that we are becoming new people, rebirthing ourselves, as well as, you know, as a child, when we become a mom. And how that looks so different than you could ever imagine it will look. So that’s pretty much it, here we are! Ayelet: So true. Anybody else Bryana: For me? This is, this is Bryana. I, my story is a little different because I actually started working with moms and children, long before I became a mother myself. I’ve been working in a clinical capacity for eight years. And I think what really led me to working in infant mental health in particular and toddler mental health, was my own relationship with my mom and my family. And really just trying to understand and make sense of what happened as a child and the way it affected me. And it really like lit this fire in me of, wow, what can I do to help support moms and children in having healthy, safe, secure relationships, attachments like a real sense of trust so that, you know, these children grow up. I want, I would like children to grow up into adults who believe that they are worthy, who believe they’re adequate, who believes that they can be loved and can love themselves. These are all things that I, myself, even just as an adult, with all the work I’ve done, still struggle with and still feel uncertain about. And, you know, after learning about attachment and family systems in graduate school, it was just like this light bulb went off of, Oh, wow. Trauma. Isn’t just something like something that’s happened to you, but it’s something that gets passed down from generations. And sometimes you’re the, the holder of multiple generations of trauma. And what does that do to a person’s psyche? And what does that do? How does a person like go out into the world and live like that? So all of those things just kind of came into one melting pot and I got that’s what really put me into the field of prevention. I was like, well, it doesn’t make sense to try to like work with adults who are already like going and like already having so much baggage. Let me like work with adults in this major transition. Let me work with parents in this major transition into life of becoming a parent where they are in such a powerful, influential place with their child. And how can we start that, right from the very beginning and prevent things right from the very beginning. So I’m very motivated by that. And then I became a mom myself, again, one sexy night. Ayelet: [Laughter] Just to put it out there, it does not always happen that way, right? Veronica: Okay. That’s true, that’s true. Bryana: That’s true. For us, it did, and it was a very intentional, sexy night, guys, legs up, you know, for 30 minutes. Sonnet: Wearing your heels and earrings. [Laughter] Bryana: Anyway, so then, I became a parent myself and I started to, with my own child, utilize the things that I’ve been teaching parents for all these years. And it all kind of solidified for me like, wow, this, this stuff actually works. And now, as you know, through just over the course of the last 18 months, we’ve been, Sonnet and Veronica and I, have been working together to really solidify the message of what really helps support children and families in their relationships in their, you know, engagements in everything. So, okay. I’m done talking. That was a lot. Sonnet: No, it’s fantastic. And obviously just to add, like we, I met Bryana through South Bay Mommy and Me, I was a student or I still am, you know, I had come in and was just blown away by the whole approach, you know, cause it’s what we desire as moms, to show up for our children that way. And then we were like, come work together! Veronica: So like before Sonnet went to South Bay Mommy and Me, we were in a Mommy and Me class up here in LA and that, our instructor was the one that introduced her to Bryana and once, and once, I got pregnant (another sexy night) six months after the first toddler was born. And so I, so I, while Sonnet was like, really in toddlerville, I was in like, Oh my God, I’m going to be a mom to a second child, you know, place. And when I saw, and so Sonnet moved down and we don’t see each other as regularly as we used to. And when I saw her, her parenting and her relationship with Cairo had completely shifted from when I had last seen them. And I was like, whatever you’re learning, I need to learn too, because we were getting into the, the tantrums and that whole thing. And so that’s when we were like, we need to work with Bryana and really get her message out there because it’s so helpful. And so it just, in the past few months of just working with her, I’ve seen a complete shift in my own patience and all, all that jazz that we’ll get into. So yeah, that’s how we all came to be. Ayelet: I love it. Okay. So let’s get into it. Sonnet and Veronica, from a parent perspective, I would love to hear a little bit more about what that transition from parenting an infant to parenting a toddler, was like for each of you and Veronica, we can start with you also, because you mentioned also, you’re not only, at that point, you were not only parenting a toddler, but also an infant at the same time. So, yeah, I… It’s hard. Let’s hear about that. Veronica: Also, what I’ve learned is that each stage that you hope to get out of, the next one that comes isn’t better than the last one, you know, there’s, there’s always problems. So it was really not about the child. It’s about the parent. Yeah. It’s like, I learned that it’s not about them. It’s about you. It’s not about where they’re at, because they’re gonna, they’re gonna run their course. They’re gonna do their thing. They’re going to learn and be messy and make mistakes and do all those things regardless of how you feel about it. So it’s really not about them. It’s about you. And also, that time goes by really fast. So now seeing Melrose, my four month old, before months, whereas just Cecilia was four months last year, time goes by so quickly. So I’m not so honed in on like fixing them or like, or like fixating on the problems. I’m able to also care less because I just don’t have the bandwidth to be so, like high strung on what’s going on with them, even though I still am high strung. Um, but it’s just really, it’s just about doing the work on myself. Ayelet: Yeah. Let’s, I mean, we’re going to get into all of that too, but will you give us a couple of things about what, what does that look like for you? Veronica: Um, uh, so just prioritizing self care. So before, like now I’m going to the gym five to six times a week, whereas before it might be like two or three times a week, and it would be around their nap schedule and feedings and all this stuff. And it’s like, they can just call me if they, if they’re hungry, if they’re tired, I can just leave, but I have to get there and take care of myself. So I would say that’s like the biggest shift. Also, I’ve been working with Bryana with this, about when Cecilia, my toddler, is having a tantrum. She’s very triggering like her, her and I are, her birthday is like a day after mine. So I think there’s like some cosmic, like relationship thing that is going on between us. So a lot, like most of the things that she does, I’m like, Oh God, okay. Like I can’t react. So I’m learning how to pause and take a breath, multiple breaths, before I engage has been like a total game changer, because it’s so easy for me to react to her, rather than to like proactively or like, not necessarily prevent, but just create some space between us. But so I don’t like get into her swell of energy. I’m much better at creating the safe space for her to come to me and me be there for her to like, give her a hug or listen or whatever it is that she needs at that time. Ayelet: Yeah. Yeah. Beautiful. And then to, to figure out like that, okay. That you’re taking a breath and then try and figure out what it is that she needs. Right. Because she’s going, “BLEH!!!,” right? But if you are able to just sit, sit for a second with, with your brain, your, your like adult brain, which actually does have layers of like impulse control that she doesn’t have… When you can activate it, right, which is hard, especially when you’re being triggered.But the, that you can find those ways to step back. That’s awesome. Sonnet, let’s hear about it from, from your perspective, what was that transition like parenting, this brand new, cute little baby who’s coming themselves every day and then there’s a shift, right? Sonnet: Yeah. No, I was like, hello, I just gave birth to you. So I feel like you should still be listening to me. Like, you know, I should still be in control here! But it’s not the way it goes, you know? And, and I think for me, what has been really helpful is just understanding where they’re at, you know, like developmentally, this is super normal developmentally, this is why they’re doing this. And this is why they need this kind of support. And the best thing that I, like, I was in a restaurant the other day with an older lady, like my grandma, I was like an older lady who shall remain nameless. With my grandma. And Cairo was making a little bit of noise. And she was like, we do not make noise in the restaurant like this. And I was like, well, you know, she’s a toddler. She’s going to make noise. She’s babbling, she’s doing her thing. Like, she’s upset, she’s whatever. But it’s such a just difference in the parenting of, I probably was raised like that. You know, it’s like, we are quiet here. And if you’re not able to be quiet, then we’re going to leave. And it’s a very different thing to be like, okay, well, she just needs to sit here and like, take all the sugar out and put it all back and she’s not hurting anybody. And I can like take a deep breath and be okay with that and let her be, you know, and it’s really a testament to Bryana teaching us, really, this whole story of, of where they are developmentally so that we can help support them where they are and what they need. And like you said, they don’t have those layers. That’s just not built into them yet. And so we are, we look to them and we’re like, why don’t you understand? I mean, I even hear my husband say it sometimes. Like she should know.. I’m like, but she doesn’t like, she doesn’t know, like, that’s okay. You know, like… Veronica: You’re like, you’re 40 and you don’t know! Sonnet: I know, right? They’re not even there yet, you know? So how do we help them support them where they are at, whether that, rather than where we are. Ayelet: Right, well, and I think, too, it’s important for families and, and grownups in general to hear like, because I think some people could hear what you’re saying. Like, Oh, well, this child in a restaurant was so loud and that mom’s just letting her be so loud. Like, there’s a difference between, like, I mean, there there’s a limit, right? Like, of course I’m not run loose in a restaurant and trip all the waiters and scream and not let other people enjoy their restaurant experience. But I am gonna let my child maybe like open a sugar packet and empty it into a bowl. Like, that’s fine. That’s fine motor control and all kinds of wonderful developmental tasks. Right. Like that’s okay. And like you said, the babbling and the talking to herself, that like, that’s fine, right So I just wanted to like, be perfectly clear. Cause I think a lot of people are like, well, what is it? Like, where’s the limit? Like there’s a limit. Sonnet: Yeah! But then I find when she is like super loud and she is feeling like she needs to go trip all the waiters. Like I need to take her outside. Like my job is not to make her sit in her high chair and yell at her till she does, till she’s quiet. Ayelet: Cuz that’s enjoyable for all the other people, too. Sonnet: Totally. Yeah. Yeah. But we don’t keep her there to trip the waiters. Right. Bryana: Right. We’re always looking at our child’s sense of regulation. And our goal is not to control our child because that doesn’t work. That always ends up in power struggles and battles between children and parents. Our goal is to see, how regulated is my child, and if my child is not in a nice green ready to go zone, then how do I get my child back to that? And so, yeah, sometimes a child is just babbling and happy and playing and they’re good to go. And they’re not, like I love the way Sonnet said it. Like, she’s not hurting anybody, but if we’re yelling and we’re screaming and we’re a hot mess, or we’re even like screeching and throwing our bodies around, yeah. Go take a sensory break, get out of that, loud, you know, environment of the restaurant or whatever it is. Go take a walk, go take in some fresh air. And it actually is more regulating for us as well. And that’s something that I keep talking about, you know, because so much of parenting these days has become about like, what can we do to our child or what can we do for our child? And I think the best thing that we can do for our child is get ourselves grounded, really feel our bottoms on the chair, our feet on the floor or wherever we are, take some deep breaths and clear our own mind before we hop in, and before we try to engage and support our child. There is something so powerful about a regulated parent hopping in to support a child who’s not feeling, not feeling their best. Whereas when we are dysregulated, we’re only going to further add to the dysregulation of the child. Or if we’re dysregulated and our child is regulated, we’re only going to further, we’re only going to cause that child to become dysregulated because our children are really, you know, they’re monitoring their own regulation based on us. They’re looking to us to get themselves calm, cool, and collected, not the other way around. Ayelet: Right. We talked so much about self-regulation in children, and in fact it is all about co-regulation, right? Bryana: All of it. Ayelet: That’s exactly what you’re saying, Bryana, it’s not just getting your child to be regulated. It’s being able to provide a model because they are always learning in observation and in imitation of us, right? So how are they going to be calmed and regulated if we’re like, ” YOU HAVE TO BE CALM!” Bryana: That’s how I grew up, by the way. Ayelet: Okay. So we’re going to take a break in just a minute, but first Bryana, can you tell us a little bit about what is happening in the brain when a young child is having a tantrum? Cause we spoke a little bit about this regulation piece, but… Bryana: Absolutely. So children have, you know, for the, for the most part, children, birth to five are doing the majority of their operating out of the emotional part of the brain. That’s a very non-technical term, but we do have, like, different segments of our brain that our children are operating from the thinking part of the brain that allows them to rationalize strategize, organize, plan. The moment a child becomes triggered, that part of the brain flies off the handle. And if we look to Dan Siegel, he kind of talks about like our thinking brain, our hand brain model. So this is the, this is our thinking brain. It flies off. And now just that really emotional part of the brain is like, “AAAH!,” and it, it activates the fight, flight, or freeze response for our babies. And that’s a very instinctual, emotional, almost reptilian response. And this is why our children can, you know, show physiological signs of distress, right? If they’re anxious, their eyes are going to get really big and they might start to slobber and their bodies might look kind of scared and they might be pushing away. If they’re feeling really angry, you might see their eyebrows, kind of, you know, tense up and their jaws are going to get tight. We start to see the fists close in. Either way, the body starts to kind of expand and go away from a nice calm, cool midline, keeping the body, you know, inward, the body starts to splay outward. And this is really the brain communicating to the body: Hey, you got to get ready because you’re threatened and you need to do something about this threat. And what happens then, the brain releases adrenaline and cortisol, which are some really big stress hormones in the body. And what happens in our brains, as we’re watching that, we’re taking in, visually, the information that we’re seeing from our child, and our brain is also reading all of their cortisol, being, being dripped into their, into their system. And so our brain starts releasing a ton of cortisol and adrenaline too. So our brain actually ends up mirroring our children’s brain. And now we have an adult, which is like, who becomes like a mini child, and a child, both operating in this limbic system, this, this emotional part of the brain. And it’s a really unhelpful place for us to be as parents, because what it kind of does is it creates this feedback loop in the child’s brain that says, yeah, this isn’t this an event where I should be threatened. Or this is an event where I should be scared. This is an event that I should be feeling really angry and really upset because my parent is showing me the exact same thing that I’m feeling. So what we, I met, I’ll just stop there. Cause that I feel like answers, answers the question. If you want me to go into more detail, I can. Yes. Ayelet: I love it. Well, well, we all have more opportunity for that during our Q and a portion after the interview, with our participants, but we’re going to take a break to hear a word from our sponsors. And then we’ll hear a few tips about raising toddlers and diffusing tantrums from Sonnet and Veronica and Bryana. And we’ll hear about their favorite resources to share with families. Ayelet: Okay. Bryana, let’s start with you. I would love to hear about some of the, what we might call “older” methods of discipline, and diffusing a tantrum. So why… Tell us a couple of these, why they might not be terribly effective and then give us a “what you can do instead,” if that’s alright. Bryana: Okay. So to just kind of piggyback off what I was saying with the brain, spanking is an older, you know, not as popular, but still being, being utilized way to discipline children. But what happens when we, when we spank, research has shown that children are not able to discriminate spanking from physical abuse. So the brain reads it and experiences it as if it is physical abuse and it automatically activates that fight, flight, or freeze response in the child’s brain. And then what this creates is a lot of complication in that child-parent relationship. This child kind of becomes a little bit more submissive and compliant in the moment, but out of fear that the parent is like a dual source of love and, and also fear and pain. And so long-term, that is not a very effective way to promote healthy, secure relationships and attachments, which is really, you know, where discipline and, and you know, that like internal sense of like self motivation and self control and impulse control really comes from – it comes from healthy, secure attachments and a sense of trust in the world and people in your world. So we have that. Another old method, um, are timeouts now timeouts aren’t as like, I don’t know what the word I wanna say is, you know, damaging, if that’s the best word? Veronica: Traumatic? Ayelet: It’s not a physical reminder… Bryana: Reminder, but happens when we do timeouts is it sends a message to a child that you’re, I can’t tolerate your big emotions. You need to go be alone with your big emotions. And so this child then internalizes that as, you know, I don’t, I don’t have anybody who can safely help me navigate these big things that I’m experiencing, that I’m supposed to be experiencing. And so that’s why, you know, timeouts are, can be kind of, again, they can be effective in the moment, but they’re largely ineffective in the long-term because what I would really, what I think of like a whole person, I think of somebody who is aware of their emotions, is aware of how other people impact them and is also aware of how they impact others. And that is an experience that we get to teach our children about, and we get so many opportunities to teach them about. So I like to look at temper tantrums and emotional dysregulation as an opportunity to teach my child about what is going on with them inside, how they are impacting others, and how others are impacting them. And each moment is really a learning opportunity. It doesn’t need to be something that I need to punish, because that sends the message that these things are bad. But instead, it’s something that I get to teach because we’re really learning and growing from them, me as a parent, I’m learning and growing from them. And my child is also learning and growing from each of these experiences. Ayelet: Okay. So there’s that part. And then we’re going to get to the, what you can do instead part, for sure. But before we do, I want, I want to just say for the purpose of this show, this podcast episode is not to tell you as a parent what to do and what not to do. I think for me, the idea is, when we have, when we see what’s modeled to us from our own parenting, from our friends, from our culture, whatever it is, we feel like that’s what we have. And that’s what… So the purpose of this is to give you a broader toolbox to use, to understand, to, to see about what some other options are. And then you go back into your family and you decide what’s right for you, right? Because, number one, I also want to say, I love that you, Sonnet and Veronica have sought out professional resources, other people, and as you call “experts.” For me, as a professional, with a background in early child development and early language development, I actually abhor that word “expert” because I don’t believe there is a parenting expert out there. There is no parenting expert. Who is the parenting expert? That’s you, that’s you, you’re the parent. You are, you are becoming the expert on your own child every single day. And that’s the only way that you’re going to get through this thing. But, there are professional resources out there, so, call it semantics, call it whatever you want. But I… it’s like one of those triggering terms for me. That I’m like, noooo the chalkboard! Like, No, I’m not an expert. I mess this up all the time! Right? Like Bryana, you’re so mellow and so together right now, but I’m sure you have your moments too, right? Like I love it. And I love that. We all have, like, we can call each other out on this because we are human. So I think it’s important to recognize this and say like, these are the tools in our tool belt, when we can activate and be regulated ourselves with our tiny humans, then we feel… Like personally, I’m like, I am an Olympic athlete. I just killed that. Like, that was awesome. I did it “right,” like “right”. Like I got that. I know that I did not activate that limbic part of my kid’s brain and I didn’t quote unquote, damage him in the moment. Like I’m going to do it later today, but I did it that time. And that feels really good. And the more we can retrain our brains – cause that’s what we’re doing, right? Where us, we have to retrain our brain. For them, we are training their brain, like and it’s both really hard from both sides. I just wanted to say that because I think it’s important to say, because when we, as parents hear, you know, “these are the tools and they’re so pretty, and here’s what it looks like when you do it right?” Like, you’re not going to do it right all the time. And that doesn’t make you a bad parent. It’s okay. Bryana: Right. It’s such an important conversation. I feel like I was having with sauna and Veronica, when they wanted me to put together tools, I was like, look, guys, the tool is… The tool is take some deep breaths and trust that it’s all going to unfold the way it’s going to unfold, and we have to do our work. It’s our work! Where, we’re raising our children, but really they’re raising us. They’re really teaching us about what we need to work on and what we need to understand better about ourselves and about our lives. So I’m totally with you. It’s, you know, Ayelet: I love how you said, that, too. It is that, it’s a self discovery piece, right? It’s rough. Veronica: Absolutely. Yeah. And it’s so easy to feel like you’re doing it wrong. I think that’s such an ease. That’s like a thought that just comes in all the time of your, your head. Like there must be a right way to do this because this one isn’t working. And to really trust and give yourself permission or give yourself permission to trust that you are the best person who can answer this, you know, with, and, but it, it’s very helpful to have an education and have information and, and know kind of what’s going on for your child, but then you’re the best one to kind of, to be there for your child. Yeah. Ayelet: You’re the one decide what and how to do that in your own families. Right. I love it. Bryana: And it needs to be authentic to you the way that you re respond and are in relationship with your children. If it’s fake, if it’s somebody else’s words or someone, else’s way of being, it’s not going to be an authentic way of being in relationship with your children. Like presence is probably the best parenting skill. One of the best parenting skills that we have, is how do we just be present, be in the moment and, and recognize what’s happening for me and recognize what’s happening for my child, without any judgment, just holding both of those. Like at all times, you know, that, I feel like if, if we did that, that would probably be enough. That’d be all we need to do in raising our kids. Ayelet: That would change the world, right? Bryana: Yeah, it would! Sonnet: For everybody, Ayelet: Alright, so we have some quote, unquote older methods. These methods have been around a long time, spanking, timeout. What can we do instead? Bryana: So I like to talk about self-regulation as a tool and our AWE method. So, self-regulation and the AWE method go together. Self-regulation i how do I get myself feeling grounded, get some deep breaths into my body. Am I, is my chest, is my breath in my chest? If it is, send it down into my tummy, what’s going on with my hands? Are my hands starting to clench, if they are relax, them. Notice my shoulders. Are my shoulders up at my ears? If they are, can I bring them down? I am literally trying to change my physiological cues of stress and get my brain to respond by taking deep breaths and feeling grounded as opposed to reacting to the stress that’s happening in front of me in the moment. And then, I want to hop into that AWE method. So with my AWE method, it’s, it’s very simple. A W E. A stands for acknowledge. I’m going to acknowledge what I see going on for my child. It’s a pretty simple description. It’s non-judgmental. It’s really simply narrating noticing, in a short way, like one quick little sentence. I can acknowledge the emotion, I can acknowledge if I don’t understand the emotion or if I’m unsure what the need is. I can just notice the behavior that’s in front of me and maybe speak to that quickly. And then my W is wait. We must wait. Because in those moments that, like I said earlier, the front part of the brain is shut down. It’s all emotional, which means they are processing at a slower speed. And so I need to see: how does my acknowledgement land on my child? Did I get it right? My child is going to be the best indicator, the best litmus test to tell me if I got it right or not. And if I got it right, they’re gonna, you know, take a pause. They’re going to listen in. If maybe I’m maybe I didn’t quite get the emotion right or I didn’t quite get that need right. Or I’m not really seeing the behavior for what it is. My child’s going to protest a little bit, but when we get it right, they do, they feel felt, they feel heard by us. Then I can hop into my E, which is my, my engage and my connection. So my whole philosophy is connect before we correct. So I really wanna, like help my child feel safe in that moment. Cause obviously if they’re having a big meltdown, they’re having a big emotional dysregulation, they’re not feeling safe. So my, my main goal is how do I get my baby feeling safe? And then I can set a little limit if I need to. Right? Like if for the restaurant situation, maybe when we’re in the restaurant, we use our gentle hands or we use, we use our inside voice. When we’re in the restaurant. If you need to use your outside voice, let me know. We’ll take a break and we’ll go outside. Those kinds of gentle but effective limits. And then I want to trust that this process is going to repeat itself. And my child is not going to remember every single thing that I said. But over time and through consistency, we’re going to have this experience. My child’s body is going to get wired to be able to respond to their own stress in these kinds of ways. And for children who are older, then we can really start problem solving. You know, my young kiddos, my two, you know, two, three-year-old kiddos, I’m helping my children problem solve at that age. For my kiddos four and five. I want to enact that problem solving process because it’s that problem solving process that helps impulse control, and helps our children really, you know, navigate their own emotions and navigate their behaviors in a healthy, safe, and adaptive way. And yeah, that’s the process. It’s pretty simple. Ayelet: Let’s hear, because you gave a really wonderful example of what that, the engaged piece looks like with say the restaurant example. I would love to have you just give us an example of what the A piece looks like. So for instance, okay. I’m Sonnet’s two year old and I’m shoveling stuff in my mouth, or I’m standing on my chair, whatever I’m doing, what does the parent say? Bryana: Oh, I would probably say, Oh, it looks like your body really needs to move right now. That would be my A. And then I would wait. So just nonjudgmental, simply noticing what I see the child doing. Ayelet: And helping the child call attention to what, what it is without, without being like, Oh yeah. Oh yeah, my body. Bryana: There you go, exactly. Because that’s promoting mindfulness. I’m teaching my child’s brain and my child’s body to be in sync and to recognize, Oh, that is what’s going on. And maybe that two year old will say, “outside.” Maybe, maybe then that two year old will solve their own problem. I want to go outside. If not, either way I’m waiting and I’m taking deep breaths. Especially if I notice this is triggering for me, or I’m aware that other people are watching me and other people are upset with what my child is doing. I’m going to get myself regulated. And then I hop in with that engage and connect: I can see you really want to move your body right now. We do need to move our bodies outside. I’m going to pick you up and take you outside. Beautiful. Right? Simple, safe, warm, affectionate, but still the boundaries are clear, and they’re, and they’re firm, I’m not advocating for letting your children run the show. I’m not advocating for children being your boss. No, I believe that parents are still the ones in charge, but we don’t need to be controlling to be in charge. We don’t need to be punitive to be in charge. We can actually collaborate. And I think when we really see our children as our best collaborators, it changes how we, how we want to be in relationship with our kids. It changes how, how they want to respond and be in relationship with us. Sonnet: Yeah. It’s because you feel like the weight, the weight of the responsibility is balanced. You don’t feel like you’re responsible for how they’re acting and for all of those things. And that’s how mom, where mom guilt comes in, you know, because it’s like, I can’t control my child. My child is insane, you know. Ayelet: Right, right. Cause they are, we think of them as a reflection of ourselves, right? But we have to acknowledge that they have their own needs, their own physical and emotional needs and feelings. And that’s how they are engaging with the world. I love it. All right. Sonnet and Veronica, I want to hear what are some specific changes that you have each made as a result of really understanding your toddlers better? Veronica: Oh, what shifts have we made? I mean, just the AWE method that Bryana has that just talks about that has been the biggest shift because, and for me, it’s like, like I had said earlier, it’s the, before even getting to the A, because I was showing up triggered, just taking the breath before I even engaged with her because I just kept feeling like I wasn’t showing up authentically. I was irritated saying like, it looks like your body needs to move. You know, because I was already, I was already frustrated, showing up. So I had to take a pause before that, uh, to re, to re because my I’m short fused, you know, it’s like these two under 2 is like, don’t do that. It’s a lot. It’s a lot of, it’s a lot of, it’s a lot of baby. So just, yeah, I would say that the AWE method is the, is the biggest shift in, in how I, in our relationship. And it does change so much. And most of the time when I engage, when I get to the E and I just say, like, it looks it when you can just tell that they’re having a hard time. I’ll just say like, it looks like you need a hug. Do you need a hug? And then she’ll just be like, Ooh. And then like, we’ll hug and then it’ll be over. Yeah. But it’s like, I wouldn’t have gotten there had I, if I didn’t regulate before I engaged authentically. Ayelet: Yeah. I was just gonna say, I love how you identified because it is so easy to like, try and make that nonjudgmental sentence with so much like, Oh, totally. “Your body’s really loud right now.” Let me try that again. Veronica: Yeah. That was, I was having a hard time getting there right now. Ayelet: Yeah. That’s great. How about you for you Sonnet? Sonnet: I mean, similarly, I feel like just having the acknowledge part, learning that, that it doesn’t have to be this big, like huge acknowledgement paragraph. You know, it’s really like narrating what is happening in that moment for them too. And it’s also extremely helpful for you because it makes you have to take a break and be like, Oh, I see what’s happening here. And have to put words to it. For me, that’s been incredibly helpful. I don’t even know if Cairo even knows sometimes, you know, like what I’m saying, you know, but for me it’s helpful. Cause I could, I can put words to it and be like, okay, well we’re going to go outside then. Cause I can see you need to move your body. So for me that’s been one of the most helpful parts of this is, is the acknowledgement of it. Ayelet: Yeah. That’s awesome. Um, all right, well guys, let’s hear about some of your favorite resources you’d like to recommend to families who are looking for additional support in this area. Cause we have acknowledged that it is hard. We have given some tools, but we have knowledge that it is difficult. So what are some resources that families, that you’ve used, that you’ve created, that families might look to for additional support and strategies? Bryana: Go ahead, girls. Sonnet: Well, I mean, we’ve created together something, cause we were looking for that support and we were looking for information that really spoke to us, you know, as the whole parent and how are we going to show up to help support a, a child that is going to be a teenager and going to be an adult and not just in that moment. And so we created with Bryana, Raising Children You Like. And it’s actually, it’s actually going to be, it’s a series of online video trainings, not just with tantrums. And we’ll talk about discipline and connecting with your child and screen time and lots of different aspects of the parenting world of information that you can take and use to incorporate into your life as you, as it works for your family, but on your own time. And so the first one that we launched was Toddler Tantrum Toolkit. So I think that has been an incredible resource for me. You know, like we started this podcast because we were looking for answers and then we created this because we were looking for answers too so, you know, we don’t, we’re just learning, we’re just figuring it out. Ayelet: You’re learning with some guidance and it’s wonderful. So that’s, uh, I’ve had a chance to look at it. It’s a beautiful course. So if anyone is interested in going that route, we will obviously put the link to that in the show notes. Bryana, what about you? What are some resources that you like to recommend to, to families? Bryana: Some of my biggest inspirations for my work are Mona Delahooke and Janet Lansbury, Dan Siegel, Dr. Shefali. I mean they wrote some, some really powerful things. Mona Delahooke wrote a book, Beyond Behaviors. So we’re really learning and understanding the nervous system of ourselves and our children. And how do we promote, how do we see beyond the behavior? So one of the things that we talk about all the time, I talk about all the time is, you know, behaviors are really just the gateway to what’s going on emotionally. And when we can tap into that, then we can actually see the child’s need. And when we start shifting to see the child’s need, we’re really going to help our children in a way that’s more profound. Janet Lansbury, you know, she takes a very, you know, No Bad Kids and takes away the sense of shaming our children into listening and following directions. So she has a very, you know, she comes from Magda Gerber and the, the RIE philosophy. So it’s really child led and respectful and gentle, but still an effective way of raising children. Dr. Dan Siegel and Dr. Shefali, you know, they both wrote two books: Parenting From the Inside Out, Dan Siegel, and The Conscious Parent, Dr. Shefali, that are really asking us to look inward and understand our own past, and how our past influences how we are raising our children today. What old wounds are being triggered in relationship with our child that have nothing to do with our child that we need to show up for, for ourselves. How do we need to, how can we repair it ourselves so that we can now really show up for our children in the way that we want to? And I think all of these, you know, there’s so many wonderful resources. These just tend to be some of the ones that I really rely on that just really change our framework, shift our framework in how we see parenting, how we see our role as, as parents. I really think it kind of grounds us as mothers. We don’t have to see ourselves as these martyrs who know how to do everything perfect. And these Disney princesses who get everything done well and right, that we actually get to be human beings in this process who are alongside, our children are learning and growing. So yeah, I just, I really appreciate those. And I think any parent at any stage in Parenthood actually can really benefit from these. And then, one more resource that I point parents to is Siblings Without Rivalry when you, especially when you’re adding in multiple children. Because I think that really creates a collaborative non-competitive atmosphere. And I know some parents benefit from How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk. That book gives more, like, scripts, and kind of trains us to even use some of this language that I’m talking about. So I think especially for parents who didn’t have great models, and who are kind of struggling with being triggered in the moment, that is a really hands-on practical book that, you know, I think can be very empowering for a lot of, for a lot of parents. Ayelet: Agreed, Yeah, I actually, I also love the one that her daughter wrote, co-wrote, which is the How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen. Yeah. Veronica: I just got the audio book of that one. Ayelet: Yes. Yes. It’s lovely. Perfect. Really great. They’re both perfect. Yeah. Excellent resources. Thanks so much. And I love, I love what you said Bryana about, about the Disney princess mother, right? That’s none of us, by the way. Nope. Bryana: Even though I pretend to be, I do sing Disney songs all around the house. But I’m not actually a Disney princess! Ayelet: Thank you so much. Sonnet, Veronica and Bryana, and thanks to all our participants of the Learn With Less® curriculum who are here, listening live as a benefit to our membership community. We’re going to continue the discussion and open up for a Q and A session for you all in just a minute, but for everyone listening from home or on the go, thank you so much for joining us. And we will see you next time. The post Tips to Create A Toddler Tantrum Toolkit , with Sonnet Simmons, Veronica Morales Frieling, and Bryana Kappa appeared first on Learn With Less.
23 minutes | Sep 28, 2020
How to Provide Nurturing Environments That Shape Your Young Child’s Brain, with LaDawn White
On this episode of the Learn With Less podcast, we were joined by LaDawn White, an Early Childhood Educator and Family Childcare Director. LaDawn is the owner of Labor of Love Childcare, a preschool prep, family childcare program that services families with children aged birth to three years old. We chatted about: LaDawn’s background and how she came to do the work she’s doing todayWhat are the kinds of materials and experiences she finds are the most supportive of learning for infants and toddlers?What are some of the simple ways parents and caregivers can set up the home environment to help support early learning and connection?LaDawn’s top tips for parents and caregivers who want to ensure they’re “doing it right” and “doing enough” when it comes to their little onesLaDawn’s favorite resources to share with families raising infants and toddlers of all developmental levels Resources Mentioned in This Episode: CDC Developmental Checklist Janet Lansbury: Elevating Childcare Connect With Us: LaDawn: Website / Facebook / Instagram Ayelet: Facebook / Instagram / Pinterest Text Transcript of This Episode: Ayelet: Today I am speaking with LaDawn White, the owner of Labor Of Love Childcare, a preschool prep, family childcare program that services families with children aged birth to three years old, located in Northern Indiana. Through her collection of experiences and education, LaDawn offers an all-inclusive childcare program that provides education, activities, and resources for young children and their entire families. LaDawn, you and I connected a while back on social media, and I know that you provide such value for families in your community. So I’m really excited to chat with you about your approach to play and early childhood education. So welcome to Learn With Less. LaDawn: Thank you for having me! Yay. Ayelet: I’m so glad you’re here. So I’ve asked you to come onto the show today to speak to us really about, you know, how to provide nurturing relationships and environments that shape a young child’s brain. But first, why don’t you tell us more, a little bit about you and how you actually got into the work that you’re doing today? LaDawn: Sure. So I started, just, I guess initially this wasn’t my career pathway. So I was in fashion design and had children got married, had children and was like, okay, I need something a little more practical. I need something that… I’m a small town girl, you know, big cities did not seem very appeasing to me having a young family. And so ultimately, I just wanted my kids to have the best education and for them to be with people who I could trust. And so that kind of is what prompted me to look into education. And then I started thinking about how I didn’t want to work with kids that were too old. So, you know, the younger children seem to be underserved. So maybe I can kind of explore that field, just really got into it and start off as a nanny, of course, trying to make sure my children knew as much as they needed to before they went off to preschools and things like that after I kind of let go because I was like, “oh I don’t want them to go!” They can stay with me. And so I ended up, that prompted me then to open up a childcare in my home, my first one, I was like 23. So, you know, things were lot different than they are now, now I’m 35 and, you know, looking at things different through different lenses, from experience and education. So, you know, I was just so just excited about being in a field that was underserved. And I knew that I could offer a lot too, cause I come from a family of teachers. So I’m like, okay, this may be my purpose. This may be way to do it. It just came so natural. And then, like I said, through the different experiences, I’ve been a teacher assistant, I’ve been a teaching coach. I had my own program, now of course my own program again. And I just really enjoy and love teaching children. And I noticed such a big need to teach not only them, but their families, they need the resources to do. And in order to help their children be the best they can be. Ayelet: Yeah, well said, it’s so true. And I love how, because I, I had a similar path as far as the parent education component of my career when I had my own child, I definitely felt like, well, I already know a little bit about, you know, early childhood education on play and early child development. And I, I think, you know, and we have talked about this in the past, like that feeling that you, you know what’s best for your child and you have a little bit of knowledge and you can apply that. And that, that is really so powerful and so empowering for you as an educator and as a parent. LaDawn: Yes, exactly. Ayelet: So let’s dig right in. What are some of the kinds of materials and experiences that you have found are the most supportive for learning for infants and toddlers? LaDawn: You know, during that stage, children are just imitating so much, you know, I’ve been one of those educators and parents that really wanted to get gadgets and gizmos that, you know, have bells and whistles and, you know, they, they did so many different things and the kids, just their attention span was so short with those things. And I’m like, I just spent a gazillion dollars on this toy for the child to love the box that the toy came in and it’s like, that is not what is supposed to happen. You know, I really, throughout the years it just seems like kids want whatever the adult has, whether it be a phone, whether it be a cooking utensil, whether it be the laundry basket, I mean, whatever your child sees you with, they ultimately want. And so providing a child with those types of items where they can have, and you know, this one’s yours and this one’s mine, but this one’s yours and it looks just like yours. So ultimately, you know, of course I still want yours, but at least knowing they have something that looks like, you know, yours, they will be more inclined to play with. And then, you know, you’ll be able to do whatever you need to do as a parent or an educator. And so it’s so funny that, you know, we would think, I don’t know who makes toys, toys for children, but I don’t know. I don’t think it’s the thing. I don’t think it’s educators, because it’s like, that’s not what they like, you know? And it’s sad because you think all these people know, really know what children like, and then ultimately you see them play with for two seconds. And it was like, Oh, what a waste of money! So, you know, boxes. And like I said, kitchen utensils, bubbles, kids love bubbles and anything sensory based, sand and dirt and water, which ultimately are very minimal costs. You know, these are things that kids love. And so, yeah, that’s been my experience. Ayelet: Yeah. I love what you said about how, like, I don’t know who’s making these toys, but… Because the point is like, they’re not marketing to the children, obviously they’re marketing to the parents, right? The baby industry. And I’m also, I think it’s really interesting because I think especially parents, but also us as educators, therapists, professionals, working with families like that term “educational toy,” and I’m doing air quotes, we think it means something, right? We think that it means that that’s passed through some sort of process to become accredited. And it’s just a term you can put on a box that’s, you know, it doesn’t mean… LaDawn: It’s a marketing term. Ayelet: Yes! It’s marketing, so, right. Like you said, families are looking for these high quality things, but what we often and educators too, because I think you’re absolutely right. As a, as a therapist I’ve, especially earlier in my career, I spent hundreds of dollars getting, you know, that one toy that I could only find on eBay because some other speech-language pathologist said it was so great for, you know, for therapy, but really I could just make it out of cardboard pieces, right? I mean, it’s ridiculous. And it’s that, I like to say, like the emperor has no toys, right? Because if it’s like it just, but it does, it takes a reframe and we’d have to come back to like what you were saying about how children learn through observation of their environment and the people in their environment, imitation of what the parents and caregivers and other adults are doing in their environment, and interaction with those people and those objects. So I love all of that. So tell us a little bit about, because as we know, there are many families, especially right now, as we record in the midst of a global pandemic, there are a lot of families who are home with their kids and thinking, Oh my gosh, I need more materials, more stuff, more things to entertain my child. I’m not doing enough for their, you know, their learning, their development. What are some of the very simple ways that parents and caregivers can set up their home environment to help, to support early learning? What do you recommend? LaDawn: I believe in a lot of your philosophies, which is why we connected so well use what you have in your home. It’s not, you know, it’s really just that simple. I mean, we have so many teaching tools that we can use and implement that children love just naturally. Why buy some fancy toy just because, like I said, it’s marketable or it’s trending, you know, based on a mom’s group or a parent group “try this new toy. You know, this is the coolest thing to have,” you know, no, we want to do what’s best for children and doing what’s best for children, it’s just the simplest thing. So use what you have in your environment! Ayelet: Totally. What are some of the kinds of, I mean, you already gave some great examples as far as like kitchen items and cardboard boxes. What about, like, what are some of the ways that you have set up, for instance, your family and daycare program, the space itself to help, to maximize learning? LaDawn: We have a lot of open space. However, of course, with, you know, childcare environments themselves, you have to kind of section off things to reduce, you know, behaviors that may not be as appropriate because of the space and having so many children. But, I believe, you know, we initially, like I said, got all these fancy toys and all these fancy things, we switched out a lot of stuff to just things, like I said, that are everyday materials, every day, things that kids can use. So, we we’ve gotten like phones, you know, that are the corded phones that we used to have back in the day, the landlines. We use ice cream scoops, we use, we’ve had at one point we had the strainer bowls, we had some of those, just a lot of open ended materials that kids can use, that they can use their own minds and creativity to learn and to explore. I’m trying to think of a few things that we just put in. They love to pound on things. We got these like age-appropriate hammers, like, that they can use. And just really looking at what they’re interested in and what we can provide that is an age-appropriate, you know, mimic or copy. So, yeah. Ayelet: I like how you were saying earlier about how it’s great to give them a developmentally-appropriate size or weight or something of the thing that the parent has like exactly the same thing, but, and it doesn’t even necessarily have to be like the plastic keys that come as a toy. It can be like, you know, a few old key, like keys on a key chain or whatever it is. That’s like a safe version or a safe size, or, you know, obviously a lot of these things you need adult supervision. LaDawn: Of course. Ayelet: But you would do with infants and toddlers, anyway. LaDawn: Anyway! Yes. And speaking of keys, we have a container of keys. They are so drawn to it, you know? And like you said, there has to be supervision because there’s small keys, there’s larger ones. So yeah, definitely. Ayelet: Right. And then when it comes to that independent play, you can be present and also, you know, ensure that your child is playing with safe things. What about for, for families who are say, trying to work or work part time at home while their children are home, what are some of the kinds of things that you might suggest to families to help help them deal with that? LaDawn: Yeah, the same kind of stuff, you know, and we are a no-screen environment. We don’t have any television screens, computer screens when we play our music, if it happens to be YouTube, I’m always so very adamant about making sure I flip over the phone because they’re drawn to it. Kids are naturally drawn to technology. Ayelet: Just like us. LaDawn: Yeah, just like us. We do a lot of sensory baskets for, you know, younger children. It gives them a variety of options, textures, different items that they can explore. They might want like one thing versus the other. So parents can do that. They can get a basket of different items that a child may be interested in and gather them up and hand those. And they can see, you can switch them out. You can do different kinds of sensory baskets. You know, you could do themed ones. So those might be good for young children to keep them busy for a little bit. You know, children’s attention spans when they’re young are hard, but I think having those types of items, and of course having a schedule for children, even though you may be home, will be beneficial, allow you to be able to get some more things done, because if you don’t have a schedule, then kids are kind of going to, it’s going to be hard for you and them. Ayelet: That’s so true. That’s such great input. Absolutely. Well, we’re going to just take a very brief break to hear a word from our sponsors. And then we’ll hear a few more sort of specific tips from you, LaDawn, about what you can do to ensure that you have, you know, access to a great environment and what you can do to support your child. And we’ll hear about your favorite resources to share with new and expecting parents, as well. Ayelet: Okay, LaDawn! What are a few of your top tips? And we sort of got into these a little bit, but we could go into them a little bit more, I think, for parents and caregivers who want to ensure that they’re “doing it right, “and “doing enough” when it comes to supporting and connecting with their little ones. LaDawn: So for me as a educator, you know, provider, I really believe it’s important to not have just, I guess I wouldn’t say nonsense toys, but toys that don’t have a purpose. So everything that we do, even when it comes to lesson planning, we think about what type of skill will be developed and present a certain kind of toy. So, as a parent, you know, there’s a lot of different resources and things out there and available for parents to be able to know what kind of skills my child would need for their different developmental area. There’s developmental guides, checklists, things of that nature. So, you know, I would, I would look for those types of things. I know that’s probably the next question I’m kind of going into that is what, you know, what are the resources, but I would look for those types of things and thinking about, you know, how I can help my child, the different checklists and tools to see how a toy could match up. And that may be a little harder and easier said than done. But, yeah, there’s a lot of resources available for parents, parents interested in that. Ayelet: Could you give a couple of examples about what that might look like? I think that would be really helpful for parents. LaDawn: Sure. For instance, like with our, our little ones, our infants, they do a lot of bringing things to midline, you know, where you’re bringing the toy to midline. So we, we look and try to think of what type of objects that we can give to them, um, to be able to help them to do that. Ayelet: Yeah. So like, to the middle of their bodies, for parents who aren’t quite familiar with that. LaDawn: Yeah, and definitely a skill that, you know, helps in fine motor development later in life, you know? So we look for things that they may be interested in to kind of help them with their grasp. You know, once again, you can go back to sensory baskets that have a lot of different options for younger children, especially infants. And then you can look and see what’s age and developmentally appropriate. But we, you know, we do those, I’m trying to think for toddlers, looking at the same skill, maybe we’ll find motor and development. We’re looking more at grasp. We do a lot of, you know, things that they can hold. So we call them work utensils, or work tools, markers, giving them opportunities to write and draw, scribble play dough, um, things of that nature. So you’re looking at, you know, these different skills, which once again, you could find a developmental checklist that will kind of coincide and then the activity would then be to, you know, allow them to use a tool to practice the grasp and, you know, the, the pincer grasp, which is definitely important for later future writing when they get to school. Ayelet: For everything early, right? Like self-feeding and independent and adaptive skills like that. And then writing on all of those things. Yes. So as you know, I’d love to know what are some of the, your favorite resources that you might like to share for families raising infants and toddlers of all developmental levels? LaDawn: Yes, definitely. I follow you. That’s how we met. I follow your Facebook page, I believe you have a lot of great resources on there. I really love Janet Lansbury’s information. She has the same types of philosophies, a lot of great articles for everything from infant to toddlers and beyond. So, between those two, you got your hands full, but I also follow every group that I can on Facebook, because I feel like, you know, there’s so many things that we can learn from each other, you know, there’s people that are experts, but like we don’t know everything. So you can always learn from somebody and I just love to continue to learn. So I’m in every group I could find that relates to what I do. So I think as a parent, I would look for groups that, you know, are, you know, the same thing related to my child’s age and like and join those groups, follow those groups, look for tips and strategies. So, you know, of course we’re in a technology age. I can’t think of a specific book, but there’s lots of resources online. Yeah. Ayelet: Do you have any specific favorite developmental checklists or, or milestone checklists like that, that you mentioned? LaDawn: I do. I I’ve used the, I wanna say I can’t remember the specific, but it’s a government one that we use for our parent teacher conferences, which we do three times a year. And we use a checklist that is government derived. Like I said, I can’t remember the exact one right now. Ayelet: If you want, if you want to let me know later and we can link to it in the show notes. LaDawn: That will be great. I’ll, I’ll pull it up for you. And it has, it has what a child should be doing at a certain age. And then it has a checklist. So you can kind of check off, you don’t want you, you’re using it as a loose guide. It’s not something that every child is going to be doing, but just kind of to give you an idea of what your child should be doing around a certain age to show if they’re progressing as they should. Ayelet: That’s great. Well, thank you so much for your time and energy today and thank you to all our participants of the Learn With Less Curriculum Online Family Program who are here, listening live as a benefit of our community. We’ll continue the discussion and open up for Q and a session for you guys in just a minute, but for everyone listening from home or on the go, thank you so much for joining us, and we will see you next time. The post How to Provide Nurturing Environments That Shape Your Young Child’s Brain, with LaDawn White appeared first on Learn With Less.
25 minutes | Aug 4, 2020
Postpartum Care and How to Get Your Mental Health Needs Met, With Arianna Taboada
Navigating Postpartum Care Can Be Tricky… In this episode of Learn With Less, Ayelet sat down with Arianna Taboada, a maternal health consultant for businesses and entrepreneurs. Arianna holds a Masters of Social Work and Master of Science in Maternal & Child Health, and was introduced to the maternal health field as a public health professional working with new mothers in some of the most vulnerable situations women can find themselves in: living in poverty, leaving abusive spouses, navigating a new country and language — all while they experienced pregnancy, postpartum, and tried to make sense of the resources available to them. We discussed: The status of postpartum care (and how the US falls short of international standards)Maternity leave as a human rights and economic equity imperativeArianna’s best tips on what you can do to ensure you have access to the postpartum support you need (both clinical and psychosocial support)A little known way you can leverage your baby’s pediatric visits to get YOUR mental health needs metArianna’s favorite resources to share with expecting and new parents Resources Mentioned in this Episode: Paid Leave for the United States (PLUS) Postpartum Planning Workbook from Arianna Taboada New Mom Mental Health Checklist from Postpartum Progress Postpartum Support International Learn With Less Podcast episode: Perinatal Mood Changes & Postpartum Mood Disorders, with Dr. Katayune Kaeni Connect With Us: Ayelet: Facebook / Instagram / Pinterest Arianna: Website / Facebook / Instagram / LinkedIn Text Transcript of the Episode: Ayelet: So today I am speaking with Arianna Taboada, a maternal health consultant for businesses and entrepreneurs. Arianna holds a Master’s of Social Work and Master’s of Science in maternal and child health, and was introduced to the maternal health field as a public health professional, working with new mothers in some of the most vulnerable situations women can find themselves in: living in poverty, leaving abusive spouses, navigating a new country and language – all while they experienced pregnancy, postpartum, and tried to make sense of the resources available to them. Arianna, I think that your work is so important, and you bring so much passion and gusto and intelligence to an extremely complicated field. So I’m so excited to have you on the show today. Welcome to Learn With Less! Arianna: Thanks. I’m so glad to be here and very glad that we’ve connected in the past few weeks. Ayelet: Me too. It’s very exciting. So I have asked you to come onto the show today to speak to us, really, about postpartum care and how new and expecting parents can get their mental health needs met. But first, why don’t you just go ahead and tell us a bit more about you, and how you actually got into the work that you’re doing today? Arianna: Sure. So, one of the funny things that people, or that people always find funny when I talk about it is that I worked in maternal health long before I was actually a mother. So, you talked about my background and in clinical settings, I was in mental health settings, and in the U.S., In what we call “safety net systems.” So, health centers and clinical settings that provide services to primarily the Medicaid population. So people who are below a certain level of the federal poverty line, and therefore have access to services that are reimbursed by the federal government and, and states to some extent. Uh, so this was all pre-baby for me. And from… Started in health centers in 2002, and I didn’t have my kid until 2016. And at one point I did end up pivoting a little more into the research side of things. So, instead of doing direct patient services, I was on the side of evaluating programs and implementing new programs and quality improvement in services. And I went into private practice in 2013 and have been doing that for the past few years. So that is, kind of, in a nutshell how, how it happened. And obviously once I was in private practice, I also had my own for – the personal and professional collided, and I became my own client, in other words. Ayelet: Yeah. I’m super familiar with that! Yeah, it’s great. So well, let’s dig right in. So, I wanted to just sort of start by telling a bit about my story, because my experience with postpartum care is not typical. I myself was in an interesting position during my “birthing years” we can call them, because I spent my first pregnancy, birth, and postpartum months and years after my first child was born, in the UK. And I spent the majority of my second pregnancy living in Germany, and I had my second child in the US so we actually ended up hiring a home birth midwife to cover the last 10 weeks of my prenatal care, the birth, and the postpartum care – partially because we only qualified for emergency health insurance for the first 30 days of our, I think you call it repatriation. And at that point I was actually 30 weeks pregnant, so that was not going to fly. And then partially because I really wanted access to very good postpartum care. You know, someone coming to my home to check on me, as I’d had in the UK, thankfully, cause I, I did have complications with my first. So now, I understand, that this is not the standard of care in the U S, so let’s hear a little bit about that. Tell us about the status of postpartum care and how the US compares to international standards. Arianna: Sure. So I’ll, I mean, it’s a big question. For people that have had babies in the US you might already know that the standard is pretty, the bar is very low in the US. Essentially, there, since the formalized maternity care system in the US it has been a kind of six week postpartum visit that only about 60% of mothers even make it to. Ayelet: And it’s not in your home, it’s somewhere else, right? Arianna: You have to get up from wherever you are lying with a baby clinging on you, and make your way to this visit. And so that really varies from state to state, in urban versus rural geographies. And in terms of how realistic it is that people even make it to that postpartum appointment. There was a shift last year in the federal recommendations. So the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology developed a set of postpartum guidelines that are greatly improved from that six week, one time checkup. Ayelet: In 2019, we finally have guidelines! Arianna: Right! But, and again, they’re recommendations. So what we know in healthcare settings is that recommendations take a long time to trickle down and actually be policy. And then once their policy, it takes a long time to trickle down and be standard practice. So we’re probably a good 8 to 10 years away from any kind of quality postpartum care in the US and especially compared to international standards, where four visits within the first six weeks is standard. And there’s also a long list of things that should be covered in those first four visits. And it ranges from the physiological recovery, which in the US is kind of the only thing that was checked on in those first, in that six week appointment. So basically, is mom healing? And the international standards recommend covering that, but also social support, psychological support, emotional wellness, and kind of the full scope of what you need to be well postpartum. Ayelet: Yeah. Seems pretty standard. Yeah. Okay. As it is now, it feels also very much like maternity leave is this, like, added benefit or like a super bougie option that women are lucky if they, say, work at a company that values it. I would love you to get on your high horse and tell us your thoughts about maternity leave and where you think we should be going. And if you have any ideas about how we, how we can get there and how we can help get there? Arianna: Sure. So again, just to set a little context on what the very low bar is in the US… We, during the Clinton administration in 1996 was when the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act was signed in as a bill. And so what that means is that certain companies, large companies who have over 50 employees, are required to not give someone’s job away for 12 weeks after birth, and allow someone to take 12 unpaid weeks of leave. And that’s it, that’s all we have. Uh, there are some states that have implemented state leave policies where essentially, similar to how part of your paycheck is taken into state taxes, you pay into a state disability leave policy, and you can request to dip into that money when you have a baby. So it’s six weeks of partial pay for those who have a vaginal birth, eight weeks of partial pay for a caesarean birth. And it is based the percentage that you get of your income is really based on how much you make. So a lot of people make a very small percentage, are given a very small percentage of their income during that leave. So you and I are both in California, California has that, for example, Rhode Island has it. And New York has a version of it. I believe a few other states are rolling out their, their state level policies. So again, when we look at the international comparison, where it’s pretty standard for new parents to have paid leave, wage replacement, and also a, I won’t even call it generous amount of leave, like a normal amount of leave. So, you know, it ranges widely country, to country and UK. Your experience might have been a lot of people, mothers have have a full year of leave. I mean, Canada, there’s a full year in like all the Nordic countries, and the U S is one of three countries in the world that doesn’t have – and the only industrialized high income country that doesn’t have a paid leave policy
18 minutes | Jun 29, 2020
How Lesley Took Her Existing Skills as an Educator, and Started Serving Infant/Toddler Families in a Holistic, Meaningful Way
She envisioned more for herself – beyond the classroom Over the last few weeks, I’ve been sharing a lot with you about the value and benefits of leading caregiver / baby “mommy & me” style family enrichment classes or workshops. As educators or therapists who serve infant and toddler families or who have an educational or professional background in a field related to early child development, we know that our job is much more than simply helping babies and toddlers develop new skills. We know the exponential impact we can make when we serve families holistically in our own communities. If you haven’t yet watched my on-demand training for educators and therapists, I invite you to do so today: How to Supplement Your Income By Providing Rich, Meaningful, Supportive Resources That Every Infant/Toddler Family Can Access – Even If You’ve Never Led a Group Workshop For Families Today, I want to share the story of someone I’ve come to know over the last few months. I first met Lesley in February of this year (2020), just about 6 months ago. Lesley has a B.A. and M.A. in Human Development with an emphasis in Leadership and Education. She has been working in infant and toddler classrooms for over 10 years in a variety of settings, and most recently in her own family child care program for birth to three year olds in San Jose, CA. Lesley had been following “Learn with Less” on the podcast and on Facebook, and regularly used my information to share with the parents of the children in her care. She had been daydreaming about expanding her reach to other parents. So many moms, fathers, grandparents, friends, etc have been following her facebook page and instagram account where she documents the learning happening in her childcare program with simple materials, and she was getting a lot of positive feedback and questions. She started to feel that parents in her community were craving this type of information. She envisioned more for her own program. She wanted to be able to create a support system for families, serving them (eventually) with enrichment services from the prenatal period through toddlerhood. So finding a new way to offer informational and supportive enriching experiences for the whole family felt like a natural next step for her. Here’s how she describes it: Lesley: And so I think this was the next step for me because it uses the skills I’ve been developing, and under a philosophy that I really appreciate, you know, these loose parts and recycled materials. That’s been part of my classroom since I first opened the door. And for the past two years, I was kind of researching different parent/caregiver baby classes, and, you know, there’s baby sign language, infant massage, all the different approaches and they all, they all sounded great and I still would love to be all of them, but yours spoke to me the most because it is just use what you have and you can enhance your child’s experience and their learning and their, your attachment just by being yourself and using things that you have. That’s so important to me because I, I just, I feel I always did not really appreciate all the marketing tactics that all you see in the baby industry that lead with, say, fear. And I didn’t really understand it until I was pregnant too, because even though I had this philosophy ingrained in me where I just want to use everyday materials, loose parts, I felt, “oh, well, I need to get this, and I need to get that,” even with my prior knowledge, I still felt all this pressure. So I was thinking, and having conversations with my friends and hearing how much bigger their fear was, and I found that yeah, this is really important to talk about. There’s gotta be a way… I started following you on… I think I even listened to your podcast before I found your internet presence. And I was like, oh this is so interesting! Who’s this lady? We would totally get along! I started following your stuff for probably at least a year, if not more. And when I, as soon as I saw that this was available, I knew it was like a sign. The “this” that she’s referring to is the Learn With Less® Facilitator Training and Certification Program. Now, when I first met Lesley, she had offered a few workshops to both parents and other providers, but she wanted to step up her game and offer more workshops for her community. On top of running her own infant and toddler child care program, she had some experience with designing and developing programs for families. But Learn With Less aligned so well with her approach, and she was excited to partner together. But she was having a difficult time being able to do the actual work of taking her years of education and experience in this other direction. She was craving a clear way to take her child development knowledge beyond the classroom and be confident about it! Now, she had some initial hesitations when considering the opportunity of joining the Learn With Less® Facilitator Training and Certification Program. Here’s what she said: Lesley: I know one of the things was cost because, you know, I’m an early childhood educator. It’s just the, you know, we don’t get a very respectable pay. So I have to really reflect hard on how I want to invest in my future. And so I think interviewing with you and talking with you helped me make that decision to move forward. Ayelet: What were some of the things, or, what did I say that convinced you?! Lesley: I think it was just the conversation. I don’t even think it was anything specific, I think because you’re relatable. And you just talked about your program with passion that I knew that it was going to be something good. I think I just, that made me remember why, my hesitation – because I was going to be part of the first cohort that I was, I wasn’t sure, like, you know, does Ayelet know what she’s doing, you know? Like this is the first class, and I like to be over prepared. I had shared that earlier. And so without having run all of that before, your program, I was a little hesitant. But like I said, that conversation where you spoke with passion, you explained what the classes looked like and you know, that, that was enough to convince me. Putting Your Faith In Yourself Lesley was part of the first cohort of the training program, which meant that she had to put a lot of faith in me. One of her main hesitations was that she was worried that the training program I had developed might not adequately help her feel confident to actually go forward and lead a class in her community, either online or in person, using the curriculum I developed, or that she wouldn’t finish what she started. She shared: Lesley: I think, one of my personality traits is sometimes not being able to complete what I start. So something that required a length of time to, to partake in, in order to complete, and also having to host a demo class, which was a little scary and intimidating. Yeah, I was just worried that I was going to invest in something and not follow through, which I have done a few times in my past. Ayelet: Sure. I think we all have. Lesley: Yeah. I just kept reminding myself that I felt like this was meant to be, and I was meant to be part of this program, in the first cohort, and I just, I pushed through it. And I think what helped was that you had your schedule. I can listen back as needed, attend when I, yeah. And so I didn’t, sometimes I attended and you know just had the earbud on but listened, even though I was cooking or something. So that was very helpful. And I was able to go back and be listening to the lessons, which was very helpful. There are some things that I just wanted to hear again, you can just go at your pace, still, and even at the end, I wanted to host a demo class, but I’ll have to do it this week. Because I knew, if I procrastinated too much that I might not do it, I just put it on the calendar and did it.” Ayelet: And yet you’re the second person to complete the entire, the entirety of it. So, ta-da, congratulations. Yeah. Lesley: It’s such a huge sense of accomplishment because I was fearful that I wasn’t going to finish. So I’m feeling pretty proud of myself right now. Ayelet: And it’s what, like, not even two weeks since we completed the last module, like that’s amazing. And in the middle of, lest I say it, a global pandemic. Okay. So how about like, what is, what is a perception change or a few, but that you’ve had after participating in the program, what are some of the things that maybe also that you didn’t expect to learn or think about that you, that you have? Lesley: Yeah, that’s, that’s great. I think when I entered, I had this idea, Oh, well, I’ve been teaching infants and toddlers for 10 years. I probably know all this stuff already. I’m in it, just so I can learn about the class structure and to be able to learn how to create this business. But I think throughout, I was able to learn so much more and just reinforce what I’ve already believed in, but maybe mainstream media told me that it’s not ok? So, you know, it just felt good to be in a group of people that all shared the same idea, that you can really have a wonderful experience with your child, just you and your child, and junk mail or pots and pans. Yeah. Or, you know, some brushes from the bath. Yeah. And you know, I, I sometimes strive to have that Instagram worthy, you know, play area or activity. And it just, it’s not about that. Ayelet: Lesley, we’re, we’re changing. We’re changing what “Instagram-worthy” looks like. Yes, but sorry, I interrupted you please. Lesley: Oh, no
13 minutes | Jun 15, 2020
5 Reasons Why You Should Lead “Mommy & Me” Style Enrichment Classes
Supporting The Family As A Unit As an educator or a therapist of any kind, you know that parents and caregivers need to feel confident that they can support and connect with their new baby or toddler. As a professional working with families, the single most important thing that allows you to do your job effectively… is to support that CONNECTION between parent and child. You know that all parents and caregivers – regardless of where they come from, what language(s) they speak, or what socio-economic bracket under which they fall, ALL want the same thing for their child: to raise a great human and to have peace of mind they’re doing what they need to do to support their child. You also know that not all parents and caregivers come into parenthood knowing about how to support their children’s development, and many of them have a LOT of questions. They may rely on you as an educator or therapist to “fix their child” or “educate their child” for them, but many of them want to know more, want to “do it right” and “do it better.” You know that not all kids who need a bit of help are going to qualify for early intervention services. And finally, you know that ALL parents/caregivers – whether their children are developing within “normal” limits or whether they fall outside of the typical trajectory – could use the support and education involved in seeing how the magic in those mundane, everyday moments is the key to connection, the key to supporting their child’s development, and the key to raising a great human being – from day one. You Have the Knowledge and Ability Within the therapy room, you can support parents and caregivers alongside their children if you’re serving a child with delays, and if you can manage to get buy-in and engagement from the family. Within an early childcare setting, you can support the children by creating a language-rich, movement-rich, child-led environment to support open ended play… But still, you know you could be doing more to support the family unit as a whole. Still, there’s that niggling feeling that, with your knowledge about early child development and how to support the bond between caregiver and child… you could create truly enriching opportunities to help families from all backgrounds in your local area… And… you know could probably get paid to do it! You may have already started checking out the other offerings in your area. You may already be the person many of your friends and neighbors confide in or ask questions about development or behavior problems… The idea of leading “mommy and me” groups or “sign language” classes or “early language development” workshops… may crossed your mind. And you may be tempted to put yourself out there and try something new… So I want to give you 5 reasons why leading “mommy & me” style family enrichment classes is in your best interest as a professional working with families. Don’t forget to download my FREE Caregiver/Baby Classes Roadmap! Click here to download! Your email is safe with me – I’m a mom and an SLP, not a spammer! 1. Promote parent education about play and development Whether you work with children who are developing along a typical progression, or who are experiencing developmental delays, you may be looking for additional tools to encourage parents and caregivers to understand their children and the stages they go through. As professionals working with families, I know many of us feel we’re often repeating suggestions and are often looking for more concrete suggestions for parents, as well as multiple ways or activities that they can do to address early learning. Leading caregiver/baby workshops allows you to establish a relationship quickly, gives all families access to fun and simple activity ideas they can learn to do to help their infants or toddlers thrive, and can provide them with suggestions they can take home and apply more generally – even if they’ve seen your examples in a therapy room or classroom setting as the only way to do things. You can help them see where their child’s development is, what their child is looking for, what their child is showing them, how they can respond to that to get their child to the next step – you can create a space that says, “this is a place where we can explore together.” 2. Facilitate opportunities for early parent support Early parenthood can be incredibly isolating for families. Parents and caregivers don’t often have the opportunity to observe and reflect about their own challenges, or about their children in an organized, uplifting space. A group scenario that allows families to benefit from quality, developmentally enriching opportunities, adds a whole other layer of enrichment – as families can learn together and from one another. Often, bringing families together provides them with additional opportunities to build their own confidence and parental competence, and allows the facilitator to convey to parents that THEY are the agents of change in their household. It doesn’t matter where you come from or what economic level you’re at, everyone wants the best for their child – that’s universal! When you get groups of parents together that are of different backgrounds, it can be quite miraculous because everyone gets to learn together and from each other, and everyone gets their assumptions blown out of the water. 3. Establish yourself as a resource and leader in your local community As a therapist or educator, I’ll bet one of your biggest thrills or pleasures is giving families resources for other high quality supports that are community-based. What if you could create a natural transition for families to engage with you – and with other families – what if you could partner with other local organizations, and support families in new ways? As a therapist, you know that you can only do so much in your role as “expert” – or as an educator, you can create that learning environment for the child… but to be able to truly empower the whole family unit is a gift that keeps on giving. When we’re in a therapeutic or educational context, you’re often focusing on one specific skill that you’re trying to do. But in so doing, you’re also supporting all kinds of different things, we just don’t talk about that. The family enrichment class context provides the context for learning, exploring, observing, and scaffolding – for both the child and the adult! And you get to facilitate that! 4. Earn an income You can earn or supplement an income, diversify your current offerings and practice, and supplement a maternity/paternity leave! You may have gone into the field you’re in because you’re passionate about working with children, dedicated to helping families, committed to the work of early childhood education, maternal mental health, or strengthening family relationships. You have a knowledge base that is valuable to others. And in this climate where we aren’t quite sure what’s coming around the corner, how we’re going to be serving our communities, or whether our industries or companies will survive a global pandemic… The ability to diversify one’s income streams and the ways in which we serve our families by sharing knowledge, imparting information, providing enriching experiences… the ability to introduce families to developmental concepts (supporting their babies with what they already have) not only in our primary functions as therapists or educators… that’s what creates freedom and true job satisfaction. 5. Create a steady stream of clients for your other services When you help families bring more joy into their homes, when you create community by bringing families together, when you can foster early development and early parent support… you also build your own authority in your community. You can promote your other services through your classes – you can create and build a system that allows you to build your reputation in your community as a provider in the realm of early childhood and early parenthood, regardless of whether you’re wearing a “therapist” or “teacher” or “parent educator” or “facilitator” hat. My grandfather believed in the idea of “repotting” yourself – the idea of moving between industries or roles in life and in business, to remain inspired, and to keep oneself fresh. To never stagnate. When we repot ourselves by taking on new roles, we get to support families in different ways, towards the same end goal: connection. Because everyone wants the same thing: to connect and support their child and do the best that they can. Caregiver/Baby Classes Roadmap So whether you’re a new parent yourself, looking for extra income and a way to share your professional knowledge (as I was)… Whether you’re considering dipping your foot in the water and starting your own thing (private practice, your own small business)… Or whether you’re looking to expand your offerings within an existing practice… I’ve created a new free resource that I’d love to share with you: a caregiver/baby classes roadmap, helping you discover how to promote parent education about play and development, facilitate opportunities for early parent support, establish yourself as a resource and leader, earn an income, and create a steady stream of clients for your other services. This roadmap will show you the six areas you&
24 minutes | Apr 28, 2020
How to Use Everyday Routines to Boost Baby and Toddler Development, with Stacey Landberg
Why are early interventionists and developmental therapists implementing “routines-based intervention” with families, and how can ALL families benefit from this approach? On this episode of the Learn With Less podcast, Ayelet is joined by Stacey Landberg, M.S., CCC-SLP of speechtheraping.com. Stacey is a pediatric speech-language pathologist and regular presenter on topics related to early intervention, autism, and navigating parenthood in the digital age. She is also the mother of two great kids. On this episode, we discuss: Stacey’s own professional background, and how she came to do the work she’s doing todayWhat everyday routines have to do with early developmentWhy these everyday, mundane tasks are such powerful opportunities for supporting early developmentWhy early interventionists and developmental therapists are implementing “routines-based intervention” with families, and how this is model different from what traditional therapy looked like with 0-3 year oldsHow the Learn With Less philosophy goes hand in hand with this new model of interventionStacey’s top tips and resources for parents hoping to maximize the interactions they have within everyday routines Great resources we mentioned in this podcast episode: Zero to Three Family-Guided Routines-Based Intervention Harvard Center for the Developing Child Understanding Your Baby and Understanding Your Toddler (books) Learn With Less® Curriculum Online Program Learn With Less® Facilitator Training & Certification Program Connect With Us Ayelet: Facebook / Instagram / Pinterest Stacey: Website / Instagram TEXT TRANSCRIPT OF THIS EPISODE Ayelet: Today I am speaking with Stacy Landberg of speechtheraping.com. Stacey has devoted her career to supporting communication and connection between young children and their caregivers. She has worked in the homes of hundreds of families across Southern California, and she has guest lectured to early education specialists across the United States. At the time of this recording, Stacey is in her 15th year of professional practice as a speech language pathologist, and her current work is focused on interdisciplinary and early intervention and dissemination of best practice patterns for improved child and family outcomes. Stacey, you are an incredible resource for parents and caregivers and professionals working with families. So I’m so excited to finally have you on the show today. Stacey: Yay. Thank you, Ayelet. I’m so happy to be a guest, it’s just an honor because I obviously love the work that you do as well. Ayelet: Thank you. Well, I’ve asked you to come onto the show today specifically to talk about, you know, how to use everyday routines to support infant and toddler development. But first, why don’t you just tell us a little bit more about you and how you got into the work that you are doing today. Stacey: Sure. So I feel like you already gave me a really generous introduction. I, yeah, I feel like, you know, I always knew I wanted to work with little, little ones, early intervention. So that was why I specifically like went to the program that I went to and pursued that. And then, you know, and then I just, I stuck with it. But it’s easy to get burnt out cause as we know, like little people are, can be exhausting… Ayelet: … as we know, both as parents and professionals! Stacey: Yes, and so, and so, you know, then I had my own kids, very close in age, they’re 19 months apart. And I was just really in the thick of like motherhood and how hard that was. It was a very, um, you know, I dealt with all the postpartum stuff and it was such a hard transition and that kind of reinvigorated me to want to just support parents, period. Not even, you know, of course parents because I’m a speech pathologist of kids with special needs, but just to all parents need support. And so yeah, I just have such a calling towards this young age group. I will say that around like my kids turning four, five, six, it’s like every year the clouds lift a little bit more, but I feel like those early years are just so precious and so that’s kind of why I’ve devoted most of my career to that age group. Ayelet: Great. Well, we’ve talked, you know, certainly talked on the podcast about everyday routines and everyday household objects, but I would love to start by just hearing from you in your own words, what do everyday routines have to do with early development? Stacey: So every day routines are like the context, right? Basically, I don’t even, I know that it’s called routines based intervention, but I don’t even love calling it that because as you know, you know a lot of people, we think of a routine as brushing your teeth. But even within that, there are those tiny little moments between like choosing your toothbrush, opening the toothpaste, putting it on. So it’s more of like these, and I think you’ve used the word before, like these mundane moments, right? So it’s creating the magic in those little moments. For me, that’s so cool and special because really as adults we do that stuff automatically. That’s our procedural memory. Just we don’t think about it. We don’t even know later if we think someone asks you, where did you put your toothbrush back? Like on the left side or the right side, you might not even remember. Because it’s so habitual, right? But for little people it’s like those tiny moments are new and exciting for them. And that’s really where learning happens. And of course it happens within play as well. But when we bring those elements of play into these little moments or just love and excitement into them, that, that was such a mind shift for me as a parent because I had been doing therapy, right, in air quotes, for so long with like a bag of two ways, a bag of tricks and sitting down. And then I had my own children and I was like, Whoa, when am I ever going to sit down and do this with them? And I didn’t need to because that’s not where the magic happens, right? So it was such a mind shift for me, even though I had that training in school and I, I was aware of it. It just, yeah, it really shifted for me once I entered motherhood. I don’t know to actually answer your question about what of routines. Ayelet: Well, yeah, I mean it, like you said, it’s the context for learning, right? It’s that it’s, it’s those things that happen day in and day out and it’s the, it’s implanting those moments with play. I think that’s, yeah, that’s such a key. Stacey: And playfulness. So, cause we all have our own sort of definitions of what play looks like. Right. So you know, if you’re playful to children, that’s how they experience as fun. Yeah. Ayelet: Exactly. So, okay, so let’s get a little bit deeper into it. What is it about everyday mundane tasks and everyday objects that are such powerful opportunities for supporting early development? What, what makes them so strong? Stacey: Okay, so they’re special, right? So first let’s talk about the mundane moments, the routines themselves. Why are they special? They’re special because they happen over and over and over again, right? So, and they’re functional for the most part. Meaning a parent doesn’t have to have add anything else to their schedule. They don’t have to go to a class, they don’t have to read a specific book, get a specific object. They’re already doing it. They’re already putting, picking out socks. They’re already putting shoes on. So it, and they have functional outcomes. Meaning when you embed our activities, our learning and our play into these moments, the functional outcome is my child’s shoes are on their feet and we’re ready to go. So now as a parent it’s like, okay, I didn’t have to add anything extra because we’re already so overwhelmed, right? And then there’s the opportunities for repetition, right? Because you wash your hands five times a day or 20 times a day. So the idea is if you’re already doing it, the child has that opportunity of repetition to learn and practice. But if you’re going to say, okay, instead, you know we have to add play, a specific toy or a specific routine or this or that, how often does that get done? How often does the child have that interaction? It might be once a week instead of five times a day. Two of the reasons they’re special routines are also predictable. So like I said, for adults, it’s this like automatic memory. And so if we do something the same way kind of every day like, okay, it’s, we’re going to eat, I’m going to pull the high chair over to the table, I’m going to reach over. You’re going to reach out, I’m going to put you in. Well, maybe the child is reaching up there because you know, reaching up to request being picked up because that happens so frequently that they’ve learned, okay, in this routine, this is where my job is, this is how I initiate. And those are the building blocks, right? So their routine is kind of like the anchor. It happens all the time. It happens in the same way very often. And then the child knows, Oh, this is where I get a part, this is how I can initiate. And then as adults we build off of that. So they reach up and we say, up! And then the next time and the next time that happens 20 more times and then they say up and then we say, up! Now you’re in, and then the child, you know, so it’s like there are these building blocks that are anchored within the routine. That’
27 minutes | Mar 2, 2020
Hands-On Learning For Infants and Toddlers, with Jeana Kinne
What is “hands-on” learning for babies and toddlers, and why is it so important? An Early Childhood Development Specialist tells all. On this episode of the Learn With Less podcast, Ayelet is joined by Jeana Kinne, M.A., of jdeducational.com. Jeana is an Early Childhood Development Specialist with over 15 years experience working with children birth to six years. Her work experience has taught her that regardless of whether a child is typically developing or has some developmental delays, a parent’s engagement in their child’s daily lives directly correlates with their child’s academic and social progress. On this episode, we discuss: Jeana’s own professional background, and how she came to do the work she’s doing todayHow Jeana defines “hands-on learning” and why it’s so important for young childrenHow young children experience the world through sensory experiencesJeana’s top tips and resources for parents hoping to offer more opportunities for hands-on learning at home, even if they have limited time, energy, or materials Great resources we mentioned in this podcast episode: Pairing Process Art and Early Literacy Experiences: Learn With Less podcast episode Pre-K Your Way: Jeana’s curriculum Pre-K Your Way Level 1: Beginning AcademicsPre-K Your Way Volume 2: Intermediate Academics and Alphabet ActivitiesPre-K Your Way Volume 3: Advanced Academics, Multilevel Projects Soothing Sammy, story book by Jeana Kinne Soothing Sammy Emotions and Feelings Activities: Soothing Sammy program by Jeana Kinne Natural Playscapes, by Rusty Keeler Connect With Us Ayelet: Facebook / Instagram / Pinterest Jeana: Website / Facebook TEXT TRANSCRIPT OF THIS EPISODE Ayelet: Today. I am speaking with Jeana Kinne of jdeducational.com. Jeanna is an early childhood development specialist with over 15 years experience working with children birth to six years. Her work experience has taught her that regardless of whether a child is typically developing or has some developmental delays, a parent’s engagement in their child’s daily lives directly correlates with their child’s academic and social progress. So Jeanna, I am so excited to have you on the show today. Jeana: Thank you for having me. I’m so excited to be here. Ayelet: So I’ve asked you onto the show today really to speak to us about the importance of hands-on learning for young children. But first, why don’t you just give us a little bit more information about you and how you really started to get into the work. Jeana: Yes. So I started as a young child babysitting, and then I moved into college and I started working at the children’s center on campus, which we watched all the teachers and the staff and the students’ kids. And I was undeclared at that point. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I knew I loved that job. And I so enjoyed being around the kids and playing with them, and helping them learn and grow. And so I decided to get my bachelor’s degree in sociology and human development. And then I went on to getting my master’s degree in early childhood curriculum development. And from there became a preschool director. That was my ultimate dream at that time, was to have my own school and direct it. And so then I ended up transitioning into a new kind of career working with infants and toddlers with special needs and their families, supporting their learning and working with speech therapists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, and also becoming a preschool consultation specialist, working with preschool teachers and staff in the area. Trying to better their programs. That’s more what I do today, but I still love the preschool and being with the kids. Ayelet: Yeah. Well, and I know that that’s sort of your “golden age” and of course the Learn With Less podcast is more about the infant-toddler side, but everything that we talk about today, we’re going to be able to chat about the early stuff, and then heading into what’s coming next, as well. So we’ve spoken a lot on the Learn With Less podcast about the fact that you know, infants and toddlers really do learn through observation and imitation and interaction with other people and with objects in the environment, regardless of whether, as you said, they are developing along a typical progression or whether they have developmental delays. This is how young children learn. So we know that it’s a very much sort of a experiential process. But I would love to hear from you, how do you define hands-on learning? Jeana: So hands-on learning to me means that there’s multiple different ways that children learn. And to have an experience with an object or an activity is better than just watching someone else do the activity. So, I know we had talked about the multiple languages of learning and how my whole master’s degree was on this theory by a guy named Howard Gardner who developed a theory called the “eight learning languages” or the multiple languages of learning. And he talked about how children learn not just through one language, but multiple languages at a time. So by moving and by touching and by seeing and by hearing and by really becoming super engaged in an activity in more than one way. And that also means children that are not so interested in sitting down and doing worksheets or tracing letters. There’s other ways they can learn through moving and games that the adults are able to adapt the whatever learning skill they’re trying to teach that child to the way that child learns. Ayelet: Right. And it’s, yeah, it’s so hard because I think, you know, we hear, I hear so often from parents like, “well, you know, my toddler is, he would so much rather run and jump and climb and stuff like that than, like, sit and learn his letters.” So what would you, what would you say to a parent who says something like that? Jeana: Well, and I, I like to give the expandable of as an adult, and you walk into a classroom about trains, would you rather someone sit at the front of the room with a PowerPoint and give you the 50 top bullet points about what makes a train a train? Or would you rather experience through videos and for the adults maybe songs or maybe stories about trains are actually getting in there and learning the mechanics of trains and how they work and doing a lot of this stuff hands on. And most kids want to be in there, hands on. They don’t want to be talked at or told what to learn. They want to actually experience it for themselves, which is how they remember what they learned, tomorrow. So if someone were to give me a PowerPoint if 50 train activities and they asked me tomorrow what were the 50 train activities, maybe I’ll say one or two. Well, if I was actually actively engaged in building this train and singing songs about this train, I could probably tell you tomorrow 50 to 75% of what that person was trying to teach me with the train. So it’s all about making sure your child is experiencing these lessons in multiple different ways. Ayelet: Yeah, and I think it’s so important to say too that this does not mean that you have to go out and, number one, buy expensive materials so that they can experience whatever it is you are thinking that they want to learn or should be learning about. It doesn’t mean that you have to go out and spend a whole lot of money on, you know, experiences like museums and wonderful centers… Like these things are amazing add-ons that of course are wonderful and can benefit your children, but they are not the essentials. And what I think is important for the take home for parents and caregivers to hear is that that’s not how we can do it at home. How we can do it at home and in a learning environment in general, say a daycare center or a school is with very simple materials, with movement, with play, with, you know, like you said, music and, and in communication with each other, right? It’s that interaction. It’s not about sitting and doing a worksheet. It’s not even about sitting and coloring a worksheet. It’s about actually moving and playing and all of that experience with an object and with a person. And you’re nodding. So I want to give you a chance to respond. Jeana: Yeah. In the curriculum like, and I create curriculum for parents to do at home with their kids and also preschool and daycare teachers do this, too. And one of the – trains is one of the themes – that starts by, they can either watch a YouTube video of a real train going down the tracks. Cause some kids have never seen a train before, they don’t even know it looks like or what the railroad tracks look like. And then go to the library and get a book about trains, and then encourage your child to build a train out of empty cardboard boxes and maybe making the wheels out of empty toilet paper rolls, coloring the box of crayons. Even if you have a big box and you put a couple of them back to back, the kids can actually get in and out of the boxes and the different parts of the train. You could talk about the front of the train, the caboose of the train, where does the conductor sit? All of that sort of stuff. And all that you needed were three big boxes and empty toilet paper. Ayelet: Yup. And, and look what you have. You have vocabulary, you have core strengthening, right? I mean, and again this is a great thing for if you have an older kid and a toddler or even an infant who’s starting to sit up, like putting some cushions around them and helping them, like moving them around and working on that core. That’s
51 minutes | Feb 12, 2020
From Pediatric Occupational Therapist to Surviving The NICU with Three Under Three, with Jennifer Russell
Surviving the NICU with micro-preemies... while she had a toddler at home. What this pediatric occupational therapist and mother did to support her babies. Featuring Jennifer Russell The post From Pediatric Occupational Therapist to Surviving The NICU with Three Under Three, with Jennifer Russell appeared first on Learn With Less.
Terms of Service
Do Not Sell My Personal Information
© Stitcher 2021