Non-Punitive Screen-Time Family Contract

Also featured in Today’s Parent Magazine

Family Screen Time Contract 

A Contract for Digital Health and Safety between Parent_____ and Child(ren)_____



  • I agree to always ask you for help, explanation, advice and information regarding anything I can’t handle myself on the cell-phone, Internet and computer/video gaming platform.
  • I agree to abide by safety and health precautions as outlined between you and myself.
  • I agree to never meet strangers in person without your knowledge.
  • I agree to discuss and solve any problems that arise from meeting your needs and mine.

Child’s Signature__________



  • I agree to discuss and solve any problems that arise from meeting your needs and mine.
  • I agree to never confiscate your cell-phone, TV, computer, tablet, music player or video game console.
  • I agree to abide by the same health and safety rules for my usage as well.

Parent’s Signature__________



  • Tech-free zones will be meal-times, church, socializing with relatives, and when visitors drop by.
  • All electronics will be turned off 1 hour before bedtime.
  • Everyone does 30 minutes of physical exercise every day.
  • Giving attention to people takes precedence over attention to electronics.
  • (Add more here)

Date We Will Review Contract To Ensure It’s Function For Child and Parent_________

Child and Parent’s Signatures__________________________

Posted in Babies 0-1, Democratic Education, Emerging Adult Children 19-25, General Parenting, Preschoolers 3-5, School-Aged 6-12, Teenagers 13-19, Toddlers 1-2, Unschooling/Self-Directed Education | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Playgroup Altercation: Your child is the victim


The Playgroup Altercation


Part Two – Your child is the Victim

You hear a loud thud, an ear-piercing scream, and then your child appears before you wearing a tear-stained cheek and red eyes and is pointing to another child.  Apparently your son was hit by another parent’s daughter in the playgroup and you are wondering what to do. The mother is busy chatting away to another parent and is missing the whole scenario.  What is the best way to handle playgroup altercations that leaves everyone feeling content and supported?

Hear are six easy steps:

Calming Down

  1. Comfort your child. Attend to any first aid necessary.  Acknowledge his feelings.  Say, “You are sad and hurt because you were hit.”  Wait until he is done crying. Keep comforting him until he is fully calm and able to listen to you.  Ask him what had happened and what he would like to occur. Remember to stay calm yourself!


  1. Find the other child if she is still present. The first rule of conflict resolution is to speak to the person directly responsible for the negative feelings. That would be the other child, not the parent.  Go to the child and encourage your child to speak about how he feels over what happened and what action he would like to have.  Perhaps he wants his toy back or wants his turn on the ride-on toys. He may even want an apology. Focus on what your child wants, not what the other child did.  If you child is too shy to speak, you can do it for him.  This teaches him the words and tone of what to say.
  2. If the other child does nothing, the next step is to appeal to their parent. Again, speak in terms of how your child feels or what he wants, not how bad the other child’s actions were. You could say, “My son was hit by your daughter when she took away his truck.  Would it be possible for him to continue his turn with it?”


  1. Hopefully, the parent will take control of the situation and your child gets the truck back. No matter how the child and parent react to you and your son’s requests, you have three choices:

Persist – Continue to verbally assert your needs, even higher up the chain of command, such as appealing to the playgroup organizer. In conflict resolution, if the problem is not resolved at the level of the direct people involved, move up to people higher on the authority ladder.  That shouldn’t be a first step. Try to resolve things with the child first and then the other parent, because it’s respectful to bring the problem to their attention first. Only appeal higher if there is no effort to resolve things from the daughter and her parent.

Flight – Leave the group for the day. This is a viable option if you just don’t have the energy to deal with the other parent or if a altercation has happened more than once that day.

Redirect– Steer your child to another activity and ignore the other Mom and her child and enjoy your day. Say to yourself and your child, “Oh well, what else can we play with?” This might be a good choice if the other child or parent is no longer present.

In fact, with every situation in life, from a bullying teacher, a manipulative friend, or an unfair boss, we only have three basic ways to deal with what we have been handed: Persist, Flight, or Redirect.  Outlining those three options to your child teaches them a valuable life skill.

  1. While playing with your child, or even on the ride home, debrief by asking him how he feels about the outcome and what he could do differently next time. This gives him a chance to vent and also to feel in control of his actions, even if he can’t control the other child’s actions.
  2. Many parents feel that they need to teach the other child a lesson. This is not advisable.  The other child is a product of her parents.  You are not in charge of her life lessons.  Focus on your child.

If another altercation ensues with the same child or another child, recognize that your child is having a bad day and go home.  Have some snuggle and one-on-one time, because your child needs to feel comforted by his parent and shown that his feelings matter.  It gives him the message that even though there are challenging people out there, we feel better by immersing ourselves in people that are good and nurturing to ourselves. Don’t forget to give yourself some pampering too!  You are an excellent parent dealing with a challenging day.

Excerpted from: Parenting With Patience: Turn frustration into connection with 3 easy steps.

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The Playgroup Altercation: Your Child Hits Other Children

The Playgroup Altercation – How to Handle it with Finesse and Respect


Part One – Your child is the hitter. 

You are having a lovely pleasant chat with a mom you haven’t seen in ages and suddenly you hear a loud thud, an ear-piercing scream, and then another mother appears before you clutching a sobbing preschooler with a tear-stained cheek and red eyes.  Apparently, your son hit her daughter and now the mother and daughter and all eyes from the playgroup are on you as to what you are going to do about it.  It’s a parent’s worst moment and one that is never covered in the parenting books.  What is the best way to handle playgroup altercations that leaves everyone feeling content and validated?

Hear are six easy steps:

Calming Down

  1. Comfort the other child if her parent is not around. Attend to any first aid necessary.
  2. Ask for her point of view of what happened. If the parent is confronting you, listen carefully without interruption or judgment.  Clarify any misunderstandings by asking questions.  Validate her feelings even if you don’t agree that the situation happened as she describes. This reduces her defensiveness.  You could say, “It is very sad to watch your child being hit.”
  3. Say that you need to talk to your child and you will be back.
  4. Give your child the same opportunity to talk and listen without interruption and judgment. Children have an innate sense of fairness and can often tell you what preceded the altercation. Remember that your child might be upset too and you have to help him calm down. Validate his feelings of anger or frustration.  Say, “You were angry that she took your truck?”


  1. When everyone is calm, go back to the other parent and her child and see if you child is ready to apologize. If his is, that’s great.  If he isn’t, don’t force it. It doesn’t matter who is right or who is wrong as most altercations involve fault from both children. Ideally, both children should apologize to each other, but it rarely happens.  You are concerned only with teaching your child social manners and not the other child.  Model apologizing by saying it yourself, such as “I’m sorry that my son hit your daughter.  We will deal with it.”  This is all the other parent needs to hear.  She has her “social bandage” – the apology, and your assurance that you will follow through with your child. You are not telling her how you will “deal with it” and that’s okay.  Modeling an apology shows your child how to make amends but respects his emotional status by not forcing him to do it when he is clearly not in that mindset yet.  Sometimes the situation demands immediate apologies because of time constraints, but children are not emotionally ready to do so yet. If that’s the case, then your apology for your child’s behavior should suffice.


  1. Here is the “We will deal with it” part.  Do not punish your child!  Away from the crowd and staring eyes, help him to discover techniques for handling his anger other than hitting.  Walking away, breathing, and counting to ten are all ways to handle anger that even a three-year-old can handle.  Remember that you will show them these feeling management techniques many times.  Children up to 12 instinctually hit, bite, push and throw things at other children and need many, many practices of handling anger with either using their words or walking away like adults do.  Assure your child of your unconditional love and your expectations that he will make a better choice the next time he is angry at playgroup.  Supervise him closely.  Nothing gets a group of parents madder than dealing with a parent who ignores her child’s anti-social behavior in groups of children.

If another altercation ensues with the same child or another child, recognize that your child is having a bad day and go home.  Have some cuddle time and one-on-one attention time because perhaps that is what your child needs most of all.  Don’t forget to give yourself some pampering too!  You are an excellent parent dealing with a challenging day.

Excerpted from: Parenting With Patience: Turn frustration into connection with 3 easy steps.

Next article – Part Two – Your child is the victim.

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Giving Kids Their Own Personal Space

Small house, many children: How to give kids personal space

Humans are territorial and want some control over their belongings and the space where they are kept.  We love to nest and this is the beginning of that behaviour for children. This begins around age 2 when they begin to learn the concept of “mine!” 3-year-olds don’t have as many belongings or privacy issues as a preteen.  They still need a bit of space but not as much as an older child.

Each child can have their own space in a house – perhaps “their” shelf in a bathroom, or their cupboard or drawer in the kitchen.  A corner to themselves if they have to share a room, or a blocked off area of the family or living room that is totally theirs to control.

Many children under age twelve share rooms. There is a lot of upsides to this. Room sharing helps kids sleep when they are experiencing separation anxiety from parents or fears of the dark.  Having someone else is nice and comforting.  It facilitates play as they can share toys and games and it obviously saves space when siblings share a room.  Toy clean-up is easier if toys are taken to one room.  It is the same with laundry.

The downside of room sharing is that kids are harder to settle down for bedtime as they want to play, talk or wind each other up in a game of the sillies.  One child may want to read while the other wants to go to sleep. Noise, light and activity such as sleepovers are all sources of conflict and problem-solving. One child might be messy and the other neat.  Children should be allowed to control how messy or neat their space is.  It’s theirs after all.  Communal areas should be kept to the overall standards of the house.

Children can have separate shelves, areas of the closet, and areas in a shared room.  Obviously, the bed and space underneath can be personal space, but also bookcases and wall space can be designated as their own without having to put masking tape down on the floor to designate boundaries.  Boundaries should be discussed among children so that each knows what area is off limits and what is communal space.  Have a rule that permission must be received before a sibling (or sibling’s friend) touches or uses items in the boundary space.  This also includes computers and video game consoles.

Does drawing a territorial line in the room or dividing the room in half so each child has a half of the room make sense? If kids are fighting over space, a line may help at first, to establish boundaries and may be removed later.

Bunkbeds are a great idea for saving space.  They allow for the children to have more essential floor space to play. They can be used as a puppet theatre with sheets around the bottom bunk area. Also if the older child wants to read on top, the younger one can have dark by hanging dark sheets under the top mattress. If the opposite occurs (younger child wants to read), get a little reading light or a top cover from Ikea to keep the top area dark. If one child wants to watch a DVD, they can use the small players and headphones for noise. Children younger than six should not use the top bunk. Bunkbeds are not really great for when a child is sick and parents need to attend to them. The bunkbeds with a single on top and double below are ideal for sleepovers and attending to sick/scared children.

A common question is when should siblings move to a separate room. The answer is when they want to. Many teens naturally want more privacy at age 13 away from parents and siblings, but sometimes due to small space, they still have to share a room. That’s okay. It will do them no harm unless boundaries are not respected. Many teens are okay sharing a room until they leave home, depending on the size of the room and space limitations.

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Teaching Sex Education By Age

Some of the best conversations about sex, biology and gender was when my older children were 6, 5, and 3 years old and I was having another baby. They would happily draw pictures of sperm and eggs after we had discussions about babies where made from sperm and eggs. One day, the 6 year old asked me just *how exactly* the sperm reaches the egg? My second born son was very happy to hear that he came from a sperm that actually won his own sperm race to the egg.  Without discussion, he had thought that he came in second to his older brother in his race and was happy to know he was first in his very own race. It’s hard to know what kids are thinking, when we have a different idea of what they are thinking!

Teaching children about sex, sexuality, gender, and identity really begins at birth. Often, we don’t use words, but teach through our actions, reactions, body language and attitudes expressed. Here is a partial list of what children need to know, when they need to know it.

Foster a climate of open communication. This begins with you.  Don’t wait for them to start asking questions – because it might never happen. Your child is also learning through media, society, friends and experiences. Be sure you have a voice in teaching them as well. Talk to your children and tell them your values.  They might return the conversation.


  • Give them proper words for body parts – penis, vagina, vulva, testicles, urine, stool, menstruation, etc.
  • Acknowledge that although touching themselves in their genitals (penis, and vagina area) feels good, it should be done when they are in a private area.
  • Teach public behavior and private behavior. Butt-scratching, masturbation, nose-picking and swearing are all private behavior and best done in the bathroom or alone in the bedroom.




  • Begin teaching your values about sex and sexuality. For example, you might say, “I believe that marriage is only for a man and a woman.” Or, you might say, “I believe that marriage is for two people that love each other and two men that love each other, have the right to marry.” As your child enters teenage hood, they will develop their own values, but as a parent, you have a heavy influence, beginning when they can understand language.
  • Answer any questions children have with simple, accurate language. For example, a child might ask, “How does a baby get made?” Your answer might be, “A baby begins as a tiny cluster of cells when a man and a woman love each other. The man and woman lie close together on a bed and the man puts his penis into a woman’s vagina. Sperm comes out of his penis and swims up the woman’s vagina and finds an egg. When the sperm goes into the egg, a baby begins to grow.” This explanation may even spur more questions such as “How long does it take?” Does it hurt?” “Do you have to do that to get a baby?” “Do you have to have a man and a woman?” Again, give accurate, simple answers.
  • Don’t worry about getting too detailed or giving too much information. Children will only take as much information as they can understand. It’s better to give too much information than too little.
  • We often give too little information and not enough. Children are always taking in information about sex from friends, TV, Internet, movies and even children’s media. They need your values and accurate information most.
  • The most important benefit of answering questions is that you give your child the message that you are approachable and willing to talk about his questions. He knows that he can ask you anything.
  • Teach your child that it’s “Her body, Her rules!” Whenever she is uncomfortable with anything regarding her body and another person, she has the right to say, “No” and that must be respected. If she doesn’t want to kiss Grandma good-bye, she is saying “No”, and Grandma has to accept that. If she doesn’t want to take her pants off for the doctor, she must be respected. Perhaps she needs more explanation and preparation for the next visit.
  • This is a good age for children to begin asking questions as they often see their mothers or mother’s friends breastfeeding children. They often follow you into the toilet and see first-hand how things work.
  • Exploratory behavior is very normal at this age. Continue to talk about “private” versus “public” behavior in terms of masturbation, nose-picking, farting, and other behaviors.
  • Children should be taught to not touch other children. Looking and touching sibling or friend’s privates are common. It becomes a problem and possibly criminal behavior when a child is over age 12 and/or if there is 5 years age difference between the children.
  • This is a good time to begin discussions about consent. Talk about what family, friends, doctors and others can do with the child’s body. Basically, if the child says “No,” their wishes must be respected and it is up to you as the parent to enforce that. Say, “Whoever says “No!”, rules!




  • Continue putting comments out there such as, “When you begin menstruating, we will purchase some pads for you.” This invites your child to ask questions as they know you are willing to talk.
  • Recognize that there will not be one talk; there will be many little talks.
  • Give information on puberty changes, the mechanics of sexual intercourse, how babies are born, sexual transmitted infections, birth control and anything else they want to know.
  • If they don’t ask questions, respect that.
  • Use media as a talking point; Say, “What do you know about abortion? Would you like me to explain it to you?” after watching a movie such as “Dirty Dancing.”
  • Do more listening to your child rather than lecturing.
  • Most children around this age become very modest. Respect their choice by covering up yourself and closing the bathroom door.
  • Don’t use your child as a confident. They are embarrassed easily. Let them set the pace for questions, but you can throw comments out there to let them know it is okay to ask you.
  • If your child agrees, celebrate first occasions by going for lunch when your daughter gets her period, or going for coffee when your son learns how to shave.
  • Be sure to share your values when listening to their music, movies and videos.
  • Children at this age are developing their gender identity as a male or female.




  • Attend your city’s gay pride parade with or without them. Show your support and let your child know that he will be supported if he/she/they comes out as a person who is LGBTQ2+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgendered, Queer, Two Spirit +.)
  • Provide information and websites about contraception and body changes.
  • Leave books in the bathroom so they can pick them up and read them.
  • Discuss healthy dating, intimacy, relationships and consent from talking points such as movies etc.
  • Have conversations and practice refusal skills and well as initiation skills. How to ask for a date and how to refuse unwanted attention.
  • Discuss what is appropriate to put online. Photos of body parts, drinking and drugs, and relationship status, as well as personal information is a no-no on social media.


Excerpted from Attachment Parenting Tips for Raising Toddlers to Teens, by Judy Arnall, Copyright 2019

Posted in Babies 0-1, Democratic Education, General Parenting, Preschoolers 3-5, School-Aged 6-12, Teenagers 13-19, Toddlers 1-2, Unschooling/Self-Directed Education | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Solve Your Child’s Problem Sleep

Think of your child as a special flower in the garden. Remember the seeds given at the beginning of the year. You have been given a special seed that needs its own quantity of water, sun, and special soil conditions. Every seed is different and has different needs for amount and type of parent comfort. And that’s ok.

What do we know from current research?


High need children often do not schedule very well. They do not adapt well to sleep training or separation from parents during the day or night. Consider your child’s personality and temperament.

Cognitive Ability

Remember that two year olds still have limited memory and almost no cognitive reasoning skills. Therefore, they have no means to “manipulate” parents. Manipulation requires higher level thinking skills out of the range for two year olds. When you are out of sight, you are pretty well out of memory. They have no concept of if, or when, you are coming back. Their cognitive ability is in the Sensorimotor stage which is limited to “here and now” thinking. So, when you leave them to cry at night, they may be left feeling abandoned, distressed, and insecure. . Often, the child with a limited memory “gives up” hope that comfort is coming, and resorts to self coping techniques to offset the loss of the parent at night. They are left wondering what happened to Mom who usually comes quickly during the daytime distress, but not the nighttime distress. And they don’t understand the difference.

Behaviour or Feelings

Many parents think that Ferberizing “works” in that the child stops crying and goes to sleep. However, we have to question the term “works”. The plan works in that it enables parents to not have to get up at night and they can get some sleep. It can be successful for some children in shaping their behaviour, but at a cost to their emotional wellbeing. Recent brain research is telling us that children can have memories from experiences even before language acquisition, which can show up residual problems later in anxiety and stress. We also know that sleep problems are never done once, and often sleep training has to be repeated over and over due to typical upsets in sleep patterns: travel, teething, separation anxiety, guests, illness, vaccinations, developmental milestones, and family changes/stress.

Attachment Theory

The first three years of a child’s life are critical years for developing attachment and trust with the parent. If a child is not responded to most of the time with comfort and nurturing when they are sick, upset, or hurt, they can develop attachment problems. This inconsistency can affect how secure and anxious the child is during waking hours. They can become clingy and dependent. It’s what experts call an Insecure Attachment, whereby the child receives nurturing at some time and not others.

Brain Research

Recent advances in MRI’s (magnetic resonance imaging) done on small children’s brains show that the stress hormone, Cortisol, impedes brain cell connections between the Frontal cortex and the Limbic System. Therefore, it’s imperative for parents not to leave the child in distress for extended periods of time. New research shows that early distress experiences by a pre-verbal child is retained and stored in the Amygdala center of the brain, which controls emotions, and may contribute to later emotional problems such as anxiousness, low self esteem, and insecurity. (Emotional Intelligence, Dr. Daniel Goleman). It’s interesting to note that Dr. Ferber’s last book was written in 1985 which is almost 35 years ago and does not reflect current research. In addition, there is no studies present that show a child will have emotional damage or long term bad habits from sleeping with or in close proximity to parents.

Reframe the Situation

Remember that when your child is ten, you are probably not going to think, “ I wish I trained my child to sleep better.” You might think,” I wish I had more cuddle time with him.” If you are meeting your child’s needs now for emotional closeness and security, it will enable him to become secure, happy, and independent as he grows older.

The situation can change in a few weeks or months. Your child’s developmental stage will be different and things will get better on their own. All children have insecure periods in their lives where they need more closeness and comfort. It’s not an either/or meeting of needs. How can you meet your sleep needs and his need for comfort and closeness? See tip sheet on “Help, I’m Tired”. Most children that have slipped into the habit of being parented back to sleep can develop self induced sleep habits by the time of their second year molars, around 2.5 years. This could be longer for high need children.

Re-consider co-sleeping. Cultures where children and parents sleep together, have almost no sleep problems in children. In North America, routine co-sleeping was common until the invention of central heating in the 18th century, and since then, many children do not respond well to night time separation. Babies have not changed in their needs over the last 10,000 years of evolution. Humans are the only mammals that put their children to bed separate from them. You would never see a lion mother put her cub to sleep in a bush 10 feet away from her. Sleep practices are very much influenced by culture.

Resources Recommended

For Family Beds, Co-Sleeping, or Leave things as they are and they might change, method:

Anything by Dr. Laura Markham

Sweet Sleep, Teresa Pitman

The Baby Book, Dr. Sears

The Family Bed, Tine Thevenin

Nighttime Parenting, Dr. Sears

Attachment Parenting, Katie Alison Granju

Attachment Parenting Tips Raising Toddlers to Teens, Judy Arnall

 For Graduated Sleep Plans, that encourage parents to pick babies up, soothe, and try again:

The Sleep Book for Tired Parents, Rebecca Huntley

The No-Cry Sleep Solution, Elizabeth Pantley

Resources Not Recommended (Because of recommendations that contradict best practices derived from updated research)

For Parent Supported at various intervals, but some crying, sleep plans:

Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems, Dr. Ferber

 For Extinguishment – Let them cry for however long it takes, sleep plans:

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, Dr. Weissbluth

Babywise, Gary Ezzo

Parenting Power, John Rosemond




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Co-Sleeping Safety Tips

Your baby has been crying for hours in the middle of the night. Nothing will calm her.

Finally, she settles in your arms but awakens and screams the minute you set her in her crib. Out of exhaustion, you take her into bed with you and both you and baby snuggle in for a cozy sleep.

Video: How to get baby to sleep.

Except for North America and Europe, most people in countries around the world sleep with their children. The trend is also increasing in Canada, although many parents don’t like to admit to the practice. They worry about safety concerns and receive advice from friends and relatives that once their baby is in bed with them, they’ll never get her out.  (Which is unsupported by research.) But the reality is that most parents will sleep with their baby at some point in time whether for a temporary period or an on-going practice.  Many parents want the closeness and comfort of sharing a bed with their baby full time.  Whether for half the night while getting the baby to sleep, or getting more sleep during the early hours of the morning, or for naptimes. Baby could be teething, sick, have night terrors, and need night-time parenting. Or you could be on holidays with no crib. It’s important for parents to know that there are risks and benefits to co-sleeping just as there are risks and benefits to crib use.

How can parents make co-sleeping safer? An adult bed is just like an automobile; both are not custom made for infants. For cars, we have invented car seats to reduce the risk of injury and death while travelling. For beds, we have several safety recommendations to reduce the risk while sleeping together.

There are basically two ways to have a safer sleep-sharing experience. Some parents try the sidecar approach. They put the crib in the master bedroom with one crib side down.  The lowered crib side is moved right next to the bed. This is called co-sleeping. Other parents just get rid of the box spring and put a king size mattress down on the floor so there is no danger of falling. Just as adults are aware of the edges of their beds and seldom fall off, mothers and babies become intuitively aware of each other as they sleep, so rolling over on baby is not common.  This is called bed-sharing. The following tips can reduce the risks of suffocation, wedging, entrapment and falling:

  • Never sleep with baby while under the influence of drugs, prescription drugs, over the counter drugs, and alcohol, or if partner is under the influence of the same.
  • Never leave baby unattended on an adult bed.
  • Keep pillows, comforters, stuffed animals and sheets away from baby. Dress baby in a warm fleece sleeper and Mom in a warm cotton turtleneck so the upper body doesn’t get cold and you don’t need blankets or comforters to cover up.
  • Pin away adult’s long hair and fasten up.
  • Make sure sheets are fitted under the mattress.
  • Always put baby on her back to sleep.
  • Avoid siblings in the same bed. If siblings do share a bed, Mom should sleep between sibs and baby.
  • If using a bed with legs, make sure the spacing between headboard and footboard is no more than currently allowed for mattress-crib spacing in safety approved cribs.
  • If mom or dad smoked during the pregnancy, avoid bed-sharing.
  • Mattress must be firm and preferably flat on the floor.
  • Never sleep on couches, overstuffed chairs or sofas, waterbeds or hide-a-beds.
  • Never cover up baby’s face.
  • The mattress should not be against a wall or furniture because baby could become entrapped.
  • Baby should not sleep between mom and dad due to overheating produced from both bodies. Sleeping between mom and the end of mattress on the floor is the safest. Many countries where sleep sharing is common, only have mom and baby bed share, not dad, siblings or pets.
  • Avoid strings and ties on baby and parent’s nightclothes.
  • Avoid overheating the room and baby.
  • Avoid sleeping near window treatment cords that could strangle, or windows that could pose a falling risk.
  • Avoid using bed rails for infants under one year.

No infant sleep environment is 100% safe.  But by following the safety recommendations for cribs or co-sleeping, we can greatly reduce the risks of suffocation. After the age of one year, there are no safety concerns and where children sleep is a personal matter of family preferences.  No health professional should tell parents where their child should sleep because research supports that children thrive physically and emotionally in all sleeping environments where no one is crying and everyone is sleeping safely.

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Co-Sleeping Benefits

In many parts of the world, parents and babies sleep together.  It is a viable sleeping option for parents, babies, toddlers, and children of all ages.

Benefits of Co-sleeping

  • Parents and baby have close emotional and physical bonding time.
  • Mom gets more sleep as she can attend to baby’s needs while both are still somewhat not fully awake.  Mom and baby can get back to sleep faster.
  • Baby barely wakes to feed, but can easily attach to the breast, so she goes back to sleep faster.
  • Mom and baby’s breathing cycle adjusts to be in sync with each other.  May offer SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) protection by keeping baby’s breathing adjusted to moms and preventing deep sleep for babies where they may forget to breathe.
  • Dad has the ability to provide warmth and bonding time with baby, in order to give mom a break.
  • Touch between parent and baby is necessary survival need.
  • Provides easier access for on-demand nursing.
  • Provides psychological and emotional health for baby in that they develop trust and security that their needs will be met anytime in the daytime or nighttime of the first year.


  • Baby could be suffocated or entrapped in the first year by Mom, Dad, siblings, pets, bedding or surroundings.  For safer co-sleeping, and to minimize risks of suffocation, see tips in the “Safer Co-sleeping” article.


  • Babies and children will find it so cozy that they may never leave the bed to go to sleep in their own bed.

It’s true that babies and young children love to sleep with their parents.  It makes them feel safe, secure, happy, contented and loved.  Some children have longer dependency needs than others and may stay until preschool and school aged.  Other children are fiercely independent and may want to share a bed with siblings or sleep on their own.  Research consistently shows that the sooner a child’s security needs are met, the faster they become independent, so it’s in the child’s and parent’s best interests to let the child decide when and where they will sleep alone.

  • Parents will never have sex.

Many parents move the child to their own bed after they fall asleep and then have time and space to be romantic.  Other parents choose the guest room or sofa to have sex.  Variety of settings, adds spice and excitement to the relationship.

  • Children can feel too psychologically powerful if they sleep with parents.

There are no studies that show that co-sleeping does a baby or child any emotional or psychological harm.

Posted in Babies 0-1, Preschoolers 3-5, School-Aged 6-12, Toddlers 1-2 | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Top 10 Ways to Get Baby to Sleep

Recommendations:  The CPA and AAP suggests that for the first year of life, baby should sleep on their back, with no pillow, on their own surface, in your room. Many parents do co-sleep or bedshare and make the sleep environment the most safest they can. (See the blog post on Co-sleeping Safety.) After one year, baby can sleep anywhere, with parents, siblings, on their tummy or back.

Tips to facilitate sleep: Recreate the womb!

  1. Shhhhhhhhhhh, white noise, music
  2. Dark
  3. Warmth
  4. Smell
  5. Routine – keep the same bedtime routine of gum cleaning, pajamas (sleeper) story, snack (breastfeeding or bottle) and singing or rocking before
  6. Sleep Associations – have several for flexibility. Rock, nurse, music, pacifier, swaddling, etc.
  7. Sucking – hands or pacifier
  8. Movement – car, stroller, on you, rocking and carriers
  9. Containment – swaddle but leave hands visible for baby to suck on
  10. Leave to sleep when drowsy – watch for signs: quieter, eyes glazed over and losing interest in things, rubbing eyes, becoming fussy or crying, yawning, slumping over, looking to suck with nursing or bottle.

Sleep Cycles

Babies and adults have about five sleep cycles a night. Sleep cycles consist of light sleep and deep sleep. Babies cycles are about 30-60 minutes per cycle and adults are about 90 minutes. After the first light sleep cycle (of 10-15 minutes) babies go into deep sleep.  Put baby to bed where they will wake up. Wait until they are in the deep sleep stage to put them down.


  • High need babies tend to want to be held quite a bit and sleep close to a parent. They do not schedule well in eating, toileting or sleep habits.
  • Take care of yourself so you can parent high-need babies with patience and empathy

Baby Still Doesn’t Sleep? How to Cope

  • Send partner out of the house with baby – then nap.
  • Trade sleep times with partner – one person sleeps in the furthest corner of the house while other partner tends to baby.
  • Try to catch a few winks while baby is sleeping.
  • Ask for help from friend or neighbor to take the baby so you can sleep.
  • If you can’t nap, get some fresh air, sunshine, water on your face, cold air, exercise and energizing company to get through the day without sleep. Your spirits will be better.
Posted in Babies 0-1, Preschoolers 3-5, Toddlers 1-2 | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Socialization: It’s More Than Just Having Friends

Say No to Peer Pressure

When families homeschool, parents are often asked the question, “What about socialization?” Many people are fine with the academic achievement of homeschooling but worry that children who do not go to school to interact with the same aged peers daily, lack necessary social skills to grow into a well-rounded citizen.

Children are socialized by four agents in society – parents, school, communities and media, however, most people think that school is the only one. Yet, when pressed, most people admit that a playground of 200 children and one teacher or supervisor is not the ideal arrangement to teach  children the proper way to get along with other humans. Recess, bus time, and lunch time is when children are free to socialize in school, and anyone who has ever been a bus monitor, or lunchroom lady will know, that the socialization consists mostly of teasing, bragging, one-up-man ship and bullying. Not much conversation, listening, and caring comments goes on with a room of school-aged children and little to no adults.

When people ask, “What about socialization?” what they don’t mean is, “How will my child learn how to be a decent, compassionate, communicative adult with healthy relationships?”  What they mean is “How will my child find friends?”

This is a valid concern. First, friends do not always come from school.  Children thrown together because of age do not necessarily get along with each other due to different temperaments, cultures, and gender role expectations. Friends are everywhere in a child’s life, not just at school.  Clubs, sports teams, church, interest-based classes and neighborhoods are a great way to meet a variety of multi-aged friends.

Second, children are more in need of adults than peers. The smaller the child-to-adult ratio, the better. Children learn proper behavior toward each other by the presence of aware adults, who teach positive social skills. Adults are nurturing, not peers.

Third, there is a myth, not supported by research, that children exposed to negative socialization like bullies, sarcastic comments, teasing, etc., learns how to handle it better later in life. Research proves the opposite; that a child who has had minimal bullying and teasing, tends to have better long term self-esteem and self-confidence in adulthood. Early exposure to nasty socialization leaves lifelong scars. The best way to avoid this is to have a lot of adults around to monitor negative socialization and gently correct it, as well as model assertiveness skills, confrontation skills, kindness, manners, and conflict resolution skills to children.

Video: Helping Introverted Children Accept Themselves

Bullying is also minimal in the presence of adults. Since homeschooling provides quite a high adult-child ratio in many social gatherings, this may be one of the best reasons to consider this education alternative.

Whether a child is home educated or in a physical or online school, here is a checklist for all children, on determining if their social skills are up to par. In fact, many adults could use a brush-up on these basics too.

Social Skills Checklist

A person with good social skills…

  • greets people with a “Hello,” and a handshake. Asks how people are and listens to the response.
  • can start a conversation by noticing a detail.
  • maintains eye contact.
  • smiles and nods while listening.
  • respects other people’s personal space. In North America, it’s a peripheral of about 18 inches around a person.
  • ask questions, listens and responds after listening.
  • gives opinions that are generally positive and upbeat. Doesn’t criticize excessively and never criticizes other people.
  • doesn’t talk about other people negatively. Discusses ideas, opinions and own anecdotes rather than other people.
  • talks for 15 seconds and then listens while the other person takes a turn to talk for about 15 seconds.
  • doesn’t talk too much about themselves. Doesn’t share too little about themselves so the other person in the conversation has nothing to ask them about. Visibly shows an interest in the other person.
  • is not distracted from a conversation by cellphone, or electronic devices or other people walking by.
  • doesn’t interrupt conversations. Can wait and determine the proper moment to interject into the conversation with own insights.
  • can interpret visual and auditory clues to people’s moods, such as expressions, voice tone, and gestures. If exceptionally skilled, can articulate the other’s people’s feelings with empathy to encourage the other person to share.
  • gives encouragement and empathy when others talk about their woes.
  • can exit a conversation by saying “Thank-you, it was nice to speak with you,” and “Goodbye.”
  • uses “Please, May I, and Thank-you as well as “I’m very sorry.”
  • asks permission to use other’s belongings. Articulates when not sure about a situation to seek other people’s guidance.
  • knows what constitutes private behaviour and public behaviour such as swearing, picking noses, and letting out gas.
  • knows when it is appropriate to not speak.
  • politely and respectfully uses I-statements beginning with “I think.., I feel…, I would like…, I am disappointed…,” to assert ones’ needs.
  • initiates and co-operates with problem-solving for win-win solutions when there is a difference of opinion or plans.
  • knows their own limitations and is comfortable saying “No, thank-you,” to requests.
  • shares, take turns, and offers help to people in need.
  • knows the different levels of conversation and which is appropriate for different audiences and situations. For example, level one is making small talk for strangers, level two is sharing facts with acquaintances, level three is sharing beliefs and opinions with friends and lastly, level four, is sharing feelings with family and intimate friends.
  • is not feeling lonely in solitude. Knows when they want to be alone and when they want to be with other people.
  • queues in public line-ups and does not let joining friends into their space in line.
  • can find common ground for conversation with people of different ages, cultures, religions, uniforms, genders and social status (bosses, police etc).

It’s important to remember that most of these skills are learned in the school-aged, teen and emerging adult years. It takes a lot of practice but will come with time. Children don’t need a whole plethora of friends to learn socialization. All a child needs for healthy development is at least one good friend, one attachment adult and a lot of supportive people in their lives.








Posted in Democratic Education, General Parenting, Preschoolers 3-5, School-Aged 6-12, Teenagers 13-19, Toddlers 1-2 | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment