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Karen Duncan

parenting ally ❂ promoting healthy mindsets, playful learning for the whole family ✾ wishing happiness for all through connection and contribution ❀❁✲

http://www.homegrown-happiness.com/

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“There is no description, no image in any book capable of replacing the sight of real trees, and all the life to be found around them in a real forest.” ~Maria Montessori #homegrownhappiness #getoutside #naturelovers

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If children do not spend time with nature, why would they ever want to take care of it? 5 Tips to Help Raise a Nature-Lover: * Teach your child to notice nature. Right before this photo was taken, we noticed the leaves were curled and the soil was very dry. I explained these were two signs the plants were thirsty. “What should we do to help?” The children suggested immediately that we give them water and were super excited to take on the responsibility! * Being outside can change or avoid a sour mood, so on a daily basis, BUT ESPECIALLY if you or your child are starting to feel a little cranky, just open the door and walk. Pick a destination and walk to the same spot each time. This creates a tradition. * Since you are going to the same spot every time, let your child be the guide. Help her notice the landscape. We turn left when we get to the big boulder and then right by the evergreen tree. This is an easy way to give her some control and will help her gain confidence. * Go outside at night! It’s a whole new world in the dark. Take a flashlight and go slow. Star gaze along the way. * Spend some of the time in silence. Let your child move away from you to a spot of his choosing and just sit quietly. Resting in nature is grounding. On your walk home, you can pick up the conversation again. These simple things don’t have to take a long time, they just need to be repeated, and making a habit of doing them will help your child and YOU glean the benefits that nature provides. #homegrownhappiness #naturelovers #getoutside

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Children never seem to get tired of this simple song. PEEK-A-BOO, I SEE YOU, HIDING IN YOUR PLACE. PEEK-A-BOO, I SEE YOU, SMILE UPON YOUR FACE! PEEK-A-BOO! ~Old Town School of Folk Music (from the Wiggleworms Love You cd) #homegrownhappiness #singtogether #musicforkids

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Children have big emotions. In order to help them learn to regulate their emotions, we must: 1) Let them feel them! If we keep telling them to stop, they’ll never learn how to control their feelings on their own. 2) Give each feeling a name. When you label the feeling out loud, children begin to understand and claim what they’re feeling. 3)Teach strategies to calm, such as taking 3 deep breaths, counting to 10, asking for help, etc. It helps to practice these strategies while your child is NOT in full-blown upset. If you’re looking for a little support while encouraging your preschooler to cooperate, this adorable book will help. Reading REX WRECKS IT! by @benclantoon is a wonderful way to begin a discussion on feelings and choices and how our behavior affects others. It’s a must-have in every preschooler’s library. #homegrownhappiness #raisingchildren #toddlers

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The best discipline technique to use with young children is simple: Play with them. MOVE, LAUGH, CONNECT. I find that after reconnecting, everyone is happier and more willing to cooperate, including me! #homegrownhappiness #positivediscipline #happyfamily

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Safe and helpful. If you think about it, these are the ONLY RULES YOU NEED to guide a toddler’s behavior. Young children do not benefit from long lectures or explanations when they are misbehaving, and when they are out of control, they won’t hear you anyway, so don’t waste your breath. Try to ward off negative behavior quickly by asking one of two simple questions: Is that safe? OR Is that helpful? If the behavior already happened, it’s not too late. Ask the question—state a simple resolution—and then proclaim your hope for a better next time. ASK: 1.) When you hit your brother, was that safe? No, he’s hurt. Let’s go get the boo-boo sponge. We need to make him feel better. I know you’ll be safe next time. 2.) When you refused to clean up your toys, was that helpful? No, we didn’t have time to go to the park. We missed out on the fun. I know you’ll be helpful tomorrow. The rule “In our family we are safe and helpful.” helps to alleviate the power struggle. It’s no longer about what you want or what they want. It becomes a matter of whether or not it is safe and helpful. Children catch on to this concept quickly, and they are able to internalize it and use it as their own personal guide, which is the exact reason we discipline in the first place, right? To teach them to understand what is right and what is wrong, or in this case, what is safe and what is helpful! 😉 #homegrownhappiness #positivediscipline #happyfamily

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“Children need to sit in their own boredom for the world to become quiet enough that they can hear themselves.” ~ Dr. Vanessa Lapointe I think the same can be said for adults! This is so important since we set the example for our children. Why do we schedule our lives and our children’s lives to the point of exhaustion week after week? Is it because we are afraid to be bored? Boredom has benefits. Boredom is the greatest motivator. It teaches us how to make something out of nothing. It teaches us how to entertain ourselves. Boredom helps us become more creative. I recently saw the movie A Star is Born and I loved the scene where Bobby said, “Jack talked about how music is essentially 12 notes between any octave. Twelve notes, and the octave repeats. It's the same story, told over and over, forever. All any artist can offer the world is how they see those 12 notes. That's it.” Of course, for us it might not be music, but the point is, we create the lives we live, and we need to see ourselves clearly before we can arrange our thoughts in order to become interesting and able to offer the world anything important. If we can learn to enjoy being alone, we will be able to hear ourselves think. We will be free to strengthen our opinions and our judgement. If we embrace boredom, we can figure out what we are truly interested in. It moves us forward because, when cleared of clutter, our brains are wired to seek out new things. Boredom gives us time to be curious. Yesterday, a couple of different moms told me that they made sure they had absolutely nothing planned this weekend so that they and their families could recharge. I’m so excited for them! I hope they get bored!!! #homegrownhappiness #happyfamilies #unplug

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One of my favorite parts of working with young families is watching them grow closer together. I love to hear stories of how one little tweak improved the quality of their family’s interactions, and I ALWAYS appreciate when they take the time to share their stories with me. @emmanuela12 recently took the time to share her story, and it made me so happy, I wanted to share it here. She said: “I have to tell you.... the other day I had a long moment of PURE happiness and tranquility, I had not felt in a long time. Any worries or negative thoughts was lifted and put out. I was outside in the morning, in my front yard, determined to tackle my overgrown lawn. I was surrounded by my giant trees, 5 wood peckers, and many other chirping birds. I instinctively took a long pause to take in my surroundings. And it FELT wonderful. Something I hardly do. The air was cool. The rising sun was peeking through the trees. The shadows were beautiful. I love shadows. I said to myself...If I did this more often, I would experience all the great benefits nature provides. I MUST do this again and again. I MUST do this for Emmanuela. I need to let her explore, learn, and feel that magic! So I will to make a list of parks and trails to visit. And I'm going to set up breakfast in our driveway under the trees on the weekends. 🤗” Setting up breakfast under the trees!! Isn’t that a great idea? This story reminds me of what Richard Louv says, “We tend to block off many of our senses when we’re staring at a screen. Nature time can literally bring us to our senses.” Wondering... Is there a simple tweak you can make to your routine that takes you and your family outside for a little Nature Time? #homegrownhappiness #parenting #getoutside

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We all know how important it is to read to children, but if you want to do it right, you can follow children’s book author Mem Fox’s 10 Read-Aloud Commandments: 1. Spend at least ten wildly happy minutes every single day reading aloud. From birth! 2. Read at least three stories a day: it may be the same story three times. Children need to hear a thousand stories before they can begin to learn to read. Or the same story a thousand times! 3. Read aloud with animation. Listen to your own voice and don’t be dull, or flat, or boring. Hang loose and be loud, have fun and laugh a lot. 4. Read with joy and enjoyment: real enjoyment for yourself and great joy for the listeners. 5. Read the stories that your child loves, over and over, and over again, and always read in the same ‘tune’ for each book: i.e. with the same intonations and volume and speed, on each page, each time. 6. Let children hear lots of language by talking to them constantly about the pictures, or anything else connected to the book; or sing any old song that you can remember; or say nursery rhymes in a bouncy way; or be noisy together doing clapping games. 7. Look for rhyme, rhythm or repetition in books for young children, and make sure the books are really short. 8. Play games with the things that you and the child can see on the page, such as letting kids finish rhymes, and finding the letters that start the child’s name and yours, remembering that it’s never work, it’s always a fabulous game. 9. Never ever teach reading, or get tense around books. 10. Please read aloud every day because you just adore being with your child, not because it’s the right thing to do. Mem believes, “The fire of literacy is created by the emotional sparks between a child, a book, and the person reading. It isn’t achieved by the book alone, nor by the child alone, nor by the adult who’s reading aloud—it’s the relationship winding between all three, bringing them together in easy harmony.” #homegrownhappiness #earlyliteracy #familytime

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Help your children learn how to make good decisions, so they can stand tall with confidence. Their confidence will grow when they learn to regulate their emotions. It will grow when they begin to consider and understand the feelings of others. It will grow when they keep trying until they overcome challenges. Encourage your children to develop an inner sense of achievement and pride by emphasizing their accomplishments, both the ones that come easily, and, especially, the ones that are difficult. Stepping in too quickly is counterproductive if we want children to learn to trust and believe in themselves. If they are having a problem, ask a line of questions that will guide, but allow their brains to problem-solve on their own. “How do you feel about what happened?” “Could you have done anything differently?” “What do you think you should do to move through this?” When your child asks for help with a task and you think he/she can do it, say “Keep trying. You’ve got this. I’ll help in a minute if you still need me.” Encourage and allow for trial and error. If they work through the challenge on their own, compliment them authentically and specifically. Be wary of showering them with too much praise. If we praise every little thing they do, our compliments will lose their power to motivate. Children are brilliant and can sniff out insincerity a mile away. Instead, encourage your children stand tall and feel proud as they develop an “I can do it!” attitude. That’s where confidence lives. #homegrownhappiness #confidence #confidentkids

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Wherever I go, I can’t help but notice the interactions between parents and children. It’s an occupational hazard, I guess. It’s not that I judge them—I have not forgotten what it’s like to raise two boys—it’s just that family interactions stand out to me, like misspelled words on a page. I had the good fortune of being present to watch a beautiful interaction unfold between my friend and her almost-5-year-old daughter the other day. We met each other at a local coffee shop and had a nice visit. Her daughter was creating a little piece of artwork with me when Mom gave a warning that it would be time to go soon. Her daughter didn’t acknowledge the warning and kept on creating, happily. The gentle reminders happened a few more times and each time her daughter responded without looking up, “I want to make one more.” When it was actually time to go, Mom stood up, but her daughter stayed in her chair, not to be defiant, she just clearly wanted to continue creating. This was the moment... it could go either way... upset or calm... which would it be? It was then that my friend put on her invisible cape and showed off her amazing Super Mom skills!!! She didn’t say, “Let’s go! You’re done.” or “I’m not going to tell you again!! Get going!” She didn’t just scoop her up and carry her away, kicking and screaming. She squatted down to her child’s level and said calmly, “You want to stay, but your brother is waiting for us. We don’t want to be late. Can you imagine if you were waiting for us and we were late picking you up? Do you want your brother to feel that way?” Her daughter paused, looked up, hopped off the chair, took her mom’s hand, said goodbye, and off they went! And I got to witness it all. It made my heart happy! I was SO proud of my friend! Thank you @samiam6202 for unknowingly bringing me such joy and for being the mom that you are. Thank you to all of the parents who are thoughtfully working hard to do it right! The world is a better place, because you are in it! #homegrownhappiness #positiveparenting #familyovereverything

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The next time your child has a day or weekend that is crazy-busy and over-scheduled, the kind of day where one activity moves into the next, where timing is everything, and you have to divide and conquer just to squeeze in everything on the social, play date calendar, please think about this beautiful quote by Janet Lansbury. “Often the richest, most productive play doesn’t look like much, because it’s dawdling, imagining, daydreaming, big picture thinking. To encourage this kind of play, we must: first, value it; second, observe it; and lastly, not interrupt. The secret to not interrupting is to refrain from speaking to children until they initiate eye contact.” ~ Janet Lansbury A child’s genuine play time, meaning time in which THEY choose what to explore, should be valued, too! Children will not learn the joy of being curious, if they never get a chance to practice. Remember to first schedule chunks of time every day for uninterrupted play, and then you can build the rest of your social schedule around that. #homegrownhappiness #parentblogger #slowdown

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There is so much beauty in our natural world. Spending time outside reminds us that we are part of something bigger! It helps us shift our egocentric focus. We all serve a purpose on this planet, but how often do we think of our connectedness to nature? Nature is always there. It's dependable, and it's so easy to take for granted. This complex natural world surrounds us every single day, and it is mind-blowing and magnificent if we stop (or at least slow down) to notice. A simple nature walk is the perfect way to unwind, notice, and connect to the beauty that surrounds us. 🌳 Spend time outside TOGETHER! Make it a priority, a habit. The fresh air has a magical way of calming our senses and restoring our energy. Read books on a blanket, have a snack, watch clouds, go on a nature scavenger hunt. Outdoor time is a playful way to increase your children's vocabularies, improve their attention spans, and ignite their imaginations! 🍃 Plus, think about it... if your children are not connected to the environment, why would they ever want to take care of it? 🌱 #homegrownhappiness #outdoorplay #outdoorkids #raisinghappykids

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When you are in the thick of raising little human beings, it’s hard to stay balanced. I often hear from parents about how stretched they are, how worn out, how hard it is. Yes, when you are doing it right, there will be times of exhaustion, but it shouldn’t be ALL the time. It is imperative that you find a way to balance all the crazy with some calm in order to keep yourself and your family in alignment. If you cannot stay in touch with your best self, you will have a harder time being the best parent you can be. If you are having an extended stretch of crazy, then simplify. Stay home. Unplug. Breathe. Collect yourself and get your family’s rhythm back in sync. * Get outside. Grab a bedsheet and take your breakfast, lunch, or dinner and have a picnic in your yard, preferably under a tree. Together. * Grab the art supplies and start creating. Go into their room/playroom, not just the kitchen table, if that will make it a little different...special. Inspire each other’s imaginations. Make brown bag puppets or nature collages from things you gathered on your picnic. * Put on music and sing together. Teach them YOUR songs. There is no rule that says you have to listen to kid’s music all the time. Bond through music. Have a dance party until everyone is sweaty and exhausted and happy! * Star gaze at night. When you don’t have to rush out of the house early the next morning, you can let your child experience the excitement of getting to stay up a little bit later in order to gaze at the stars with you. Grab some blankets and look at the sky. While you gaze, tell a story or two about when you were little. Children LOVE to hear stories about when the adults they love were their age. There are so many alternatives that will help you balance a crazy/busy life, but you have to CHOOSE them. Choose things that make you happy. You have to be okay with declining invitations to do other “stuff” and, instead, choose the simple things that will nourish your family, so everyone will be healthy and ready to handle the next wave of crazy! #homegrownhappiness #slowdown #choosehappy

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