Friday, January 25, 2013

What I've Learned from Parents and What I Can Give in Return

EcoYogini shares what she has learned about preschoolers and gives back what she can to the awe-inspiring eco-parent in the blogosphere...

When I embarked on this eco-blogging adventure, it took me a while to figure out that most eco-bloggers are (fabulous) mothers... and American.

As a result, I was much more active on the yoga blogs than on the eco-blogs, since I just didn't have that much to contribute. It was a bit tricky (and remains so) to relate with posts about the intricacies surrounding parenthood, since the closest I get is my work and our two cats. I mean, for the longest time I wasn't even sure if I ever wanted to have children (this has since changed- especially in the past year...).

I suppose it makes sense that many parents become more cognizant of environmental concerns once the consequences could negatively impact the health and future of their child.

As someone who is type A, I can see that the true challenge would actually be finding a place of balance between doing what you can as opposed to doing everything. Especially if you are a new parent.

My job as taught me a lot about children and parental guilt. For over six years I've been working closely with preschool aged children and their families as a Speech-Language Pathologist. I've learned a lot (and I've learned no longer to say "When you have 10min of free time to practice..." lol), such as:

  • children eat their boogers. It's a fact of life. It also most likely a response to a) not understanding social etiquette yet and b) pre-ability to physically blow air out of your nose- developmentally that takes a few years to get. It no longer grosses me out.
  • all parents smell their kid's butts. I will smell my child's bum. There is no shame in this.
  • expecting a preschooler to cough in their sleeve is a bit unreasonable. Again, it's the whole cognitive ability to appreciate social etiquette, along with the fact that under the age of 4 children don't have the physical awareness of knowing WHEN they are going to cough until they are actually in the process of coughing. I just wash my table, hands and toys a lot.
  • my clients think I live in my office. No really- it's kinda cute. When I point out there is no bed, usually they get confused- because where else would I live?
  • If a child drinks too much milk too quickly, runs around in a circle, they will vomit all over my office floor. This is ok. 
  • Children under the age of 5 years rarely do anything just to "be bad". Behaviours always have a reason (typically around communication or lack thereof). 
  • There is no cookie-cutter behavioural management program or magic recipe. What works for one family might not work for another. It breaks my heart when parents feel like they've failed because 1,2,3 magic doesn't work for them. Honestly, I think 1,2,3 magic is a load of baloney. 
  • All parents feel guilty about everything all the time. I will too when I have a child.
  • Parents don't sleep and don't have any free time. I am not being facetious. This is a fact of parenthood. I need to accept it as an eventuality.
  • Preschoolers are my absolute favourite population to work with. They are the cutest, funniest and most fulfilling clients to have and their families teach me so much.

So, in thanks for all that I have learned and will continue to learn from my client's and their families, I'd like to give a few snippets back with what I have to give:

  • Bilingualism does not cause language delay. No really. It doesn't. Speak multiple languages to your child, it will be fine. If you want research to back this up- email me and we'll chat :)
  • Children start combining words around the age of 2 years. Even bilingual kiddos do this. Sure, 50% of children might grow out of it without any help, but the other 50% who aren't combining words ("more mama") might need extra support... and it's almost impossible to tell the difference that early. This is true for French language development too.
  • Talking lots to your child is great, but waiting for them to say something or answer is even better. Often we ask lots of questions and don't give our child a chance to say a word in edgewise. Try waiting, count to 10 in your head, and see what happens. You might be surprised.
  • Many preschoolers can spend a period of up to 6 months stuttering. This is normal and may pass. However, it should resolve within six months. Stuttering can be "fixed" before the child starts school... but after that it's all about managing the stutter and less about "fixing" it.
  • Having a bit of difficulty with communication does not necessary go hand and hand with level of intelligence. Some children need glasses, some aren't great at running and jumping and some kiddos need a bit of help with talking and understanding. 
  • Unless you significantly neglect your child (and should be arrested), a speech or language delay is not your fault. No really. It's not.
  • Preschoolers don't learn language from tv, computers, "leapfrog" or ipads. They learn language from other people. The best educational "app" for your child is you.
  • Speech therapists are FUN, and depending where you live, it's free! (i.e. in Canada). 
  • Since we're so much fun, why wait until school starts? So much fun stuff can happen before school, and if you have coverage (or you live in Canada and it's free) why not take advantage? (I might be a little biased on this point- I will admit). Often public services have waitlists, so if your concerns disappear in the 6-9months that you have to wait, it's usually never a problem to kindly decline service. No harm done :)
  • YOU as the parent are the expert on your child and what works best for your family. Professionals are there to help give you extra tips and suggestions, but ultimately you know them best. You should feel respected and an essential part of any health care team, in fact you should feel like you are your child's team leader. 
  • If you as a parent are concerned, in my book that's enough. You know your child the best and it's so important that you advocate for your child's needs. In most provinces in Canada you don't need a doctor's referral for speech therapy anyway. 
Thank YOU, eco moms and dads, for teaching me so much and sharing your insights, thoughts and dreams! I can only hope that I'll be as inspiring and as fabulous of a parent as you :)


Betsy (Eco-novice) said...

My sister was a speech therapist and my son was a pretty late talker -- was evaluated several times formally (never QUITE qualified for services) and I had lots of talks with my sister about what is "normal." We are a bilingual household so I did some research on that too. Now at 5 1/2, he is in a dual immersion school and it has been really fun to see his Spanish (his less dominant language) AND English just blossom. I agree -- seeking out services earlier rather than later certainly can't hurt.

I like your list of what you've learned from parents -- very sweet, and true.

Eco Yogini said...

@Betsy- i love Spanish! It's so close to French and so lyrical (it's also more grammatical rich than French, which is neat) :)

Laura said...

Thank you for this post today. Tears were rolling down my face while I read. Wonderful reminders... you're going make someone a wonderful mama someday!

And thanks for your list of lessons FOR the parents!

Eco Yogini said...

@Laura: awww thank you!!! :)

Becki Lewis said...

You are going to be a GREAT parent!

I like what you said about kids learning language from other people. This is so true. I had foster kids a while back who had very limited communication (but plenty of TV). Their vocabulary and communication skills were clearly lacking.

It's true that I became motivated to make a change and live a more sustainable lifestyle when I had kids, but I appreciate that you are already living more Eco-friendly!

robbie @ going green mama said...

I know I mentioned on facebook, but I truly loved this post. The observations on parents are entirely too true!

And yes, you will make a fabulous parent!


Eco Yogini said...

@Becki: thank you! yes, i can tell the little kiddos who have just watched way too much tv- it shows in their disordered language skills :( But that said- I can appreciate just how important it is to find SOME time to get stuff done.
I also often have parents ask me what app or website can teach their kids french... and there are none.

@robbie: aww thank you! :) I'm glad you liked it!

Melissa Garvey said...

I think I need to do a better job at giving my son more time to answer my questions. Thanks for this tip! Don't worry too much about lack of sleep and free time. The joy of motherhood is like a wonderful high that gives you amazing survival super least for me it's been that way.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin