A modern lifestyle brand redefining motherhood

Shifting your parenting approach is a big transition, and you can expect some bumps as you and your whole family learn new patterns of relating. Those bumps don't mean that you're doing anything wrong, even if your child sometimes "acts worse" than she ever would have before.


In fact, what's happening when your child acts out is that she's showing you feelings from the past, from those times when you yelled or punished, and she felt so alone and misunderstood. It takes extra compassion from you, but your empathic response will heal those hurts so you can all move on. You might think of it as healing old hurt feelings so they stop driving new bad behavior.

Many parents also find themselves feeling guilty for the way they acted before they discovered peaceful parenting. But feeling bad doesn't help you act "good," any more than it helps your child. So ditch that guilt. You're paying the price, after all, and making amends now, by helping your child heal those old hurt feelings.

Still wondering how anyone makes it through even one evening parenting peacefully? Here's your plan. Take it step by step.

1. Start with yourself

The "peace" in peaceful parenting comes from you. Specifically, from your commitment to regulate your own emotions. That means that when you feel upset, you stop, drop your agenda (temporarily) and breathe. You notice the sensations in your body, which helps you be more present, so you don't get hijacked by anger. You refuse to act on that urgent "fight or flight" feeling that makes your child look like the enemy. Whenever possible, you delay taking action until you feel more calm.

This takes practice—both in the moment with your child, and in general, as you become more aware of your own thoughts and emotions. It's not easy. In fact, it's really, really, hard. Every time you do this, though, you're building gray matter in your brain, which develops impulse control. And you're excavating those triggers, so you don't get upset so often.

2. Focus on connecting

Peaceful parenting doesn't work without connection. So before you change anything else with your child, start building up your bond. Otherwise, you'll drop your punishments, but your child still won't feel motivated to "do right" and you'll just see more testing behavior. Start spending at least 15 minutes connecting one-on-one with each child daily, just following his lead and pouring your love into him. You'll be amazed at the difference in the way he responds to your requests.

3. Explain what's happening

Once you see more connection and cooperation, initiate a discussion.

"You know how I used to yell at you and send you to your room when you broke the rules? Have you noticed that I've been yelling a lot less? I'm so sorry that I've gotten into a bad habit of yelling so much. I love you so much, and I know you try hard. You don't deserve to be yelled at, no matter what. No one does.

We still have all the same rules. So it is never okay to lie or break promises or hit your brothers. But we think you'll learn more from cleaning up your messes and repairing your mistakes than from being punished, don't you? So when you damage something, including a relationship with someone in our family, we expect you to make a repair. We'll always be there to help. And when you're upset, we want to help you with whatever problem you're having. Let's begin by having a family meeting about what household rules are important to us."

4. Ask for cooperation

"Our most important rule is that in this house we treat each other with kindness. I'm going to work very hard not to yell at you, and to really listen and be kind. Do you think you can work on this rule, too, and be kind to your sister?"

You can count on your child losing control sometimes and breaking the kindness rule. Resist the temptation to use that to justify your own yelling—you're the role model, after all.

5. Offer support and model win-win solution

"I know your little sister gets on your nerves sometimes, and she always wants to play with your things. That's really annoying to you. You deserve to be able to keep your treasures safe. But it isn't okay to yell at your sister or hit her. Why don't we work together to find a safe place for your treasures where your sister can't get at them? And if you start getting annoyed at her, what can you do instead of yelling?"

6. Keep setting limits

You become more flexible as you see it from your child's point of view more often, and that's a good thing. But you'll still need to set plenty of limits. The key is to set the limit BEFORE you get angry, while you still have a sense of humor and can empathize with his perspective.

"You wish you never had to stop playing and get ready for bed, don't you? I bet when you grow up, you'll play all night every night, won't you?! And right now, it's time for your bath."

Acknowledging your child's perspective as you set the limit is what helps them cooperate with you.

7. Teach reparations

If you've been punishing, you'll feel unfinished if your child breaks a rule and you don't punish him. So train yourself to think in terms of repair, instead.

After everyone has calmed down and is feeling reconnected, have a private discussion with your child about what happened. Be patient, listen and really empathize. That's what will help him past it. "You were pretty mad when he did that... I hear you."

Resist the urge to teach until after your child has opened up to show you all that upset that caused him to act out. Then, point out the cost of his actions, being careful not to shame or blame. "When you said that to your brother, it really hurt his feelings... I wonder if it made him not feel as close to you."

Ask your child if there is anything he can do to repair the damage. "I wonder what you could you do to repair things with your brother?

Resist the urge to punish or force an apology. Instead, empower your child to see that he can repair his mistakes. "You know we always clean up our own messes, right? This is just a different kind of mess, like spilled milk. I know you'll think of just the right thing to make things better with your brother....I can't wait to see what it is."

Just as with matter-of-factly cleaning up the spilled milk, the process of cleaning up his messes will teach him that he doesn't want to cause those hurts to begin with. Just remember that this isn't a punishment. It's his choice.

What if he resists? That means that he needs more help from you to heal his upset before he can move on to repair. Double-check to be sure you aren't lecturing, and that you're really seeing his perspective. If old resentments are creating a chip on his shoulder, then make a commitment to yourself to start the repair work today to melt those resentments.

8. Expect emotions

When children are punished, they learn that those big emotions that drive them to misbehave get them into trouble, so they try to stuff those "bad" feelings down. That doesn't work, of course. The jealousy, frustration and need are still there in your child's emotional backpack, popping out at the slightest provocation. The only reason your child keeps them under wraps is because she's afraid. So once you stop punishing, those emotions are bound to bubble up to get healed.

Acting out is not a personal challenge to you. When your child "acts out" she is acting out feelings that she can't express in words. Like "All those times you yelled at me, and I was so scared...I acted like I didn't care, but I was terrified inside....That fear is still inside me and it eats away at me and feels awful....So I lash out to keep those feelings down." No child could tell you that, so she acts out.

Train yourself to see misbehavior as a cry for help. Emotions are never the problem; humans will always have big emotions. And, of course, that doesn't give her license to hurt anyone else. The key is to help your child work through the hurts and fears that are under her anger, so they no longer drive her behavior.

How do you help your child with those emotions? Connection, laughter and tears.

9. Create safety

When your child shows you his upsets, stay calm. Don't take it personally. The more you stay compassionate and accepting, the more he'll feel safe enough to show you the woundedness behind his anger. (Anger is just the body's fight response to those threatening feelings.) Expressing those tears and fears is healing. Once he shares them with you—and he doesn't even need to know what they're about, or to use words—those upsetting feelings will evaporate, and he won't need that chip on his shoulder to protect himself.

If he's stuck in anger, create more safety by being as compassionate as you can about what's upsetting him. If that isn't enough to help him cry, and he stays angry, it's a sign that he needs more daily empathy, and more daily laughing with you. Both build trust.

10. Help your child make sense of her experience with a story

"When you were little, I was having a hard time... I yelled a lot... I didn't know what else to do... That frightened you.... So you got very very mad sometimes... Nowadays I work really hard to be kind, and not to yell... You don't get so frightened... And you are learning better ways to show me when you are scared or mad... We work together to solve problems in our family... Everyone gets upset sometimes... We try to listen to each other and be kind... Then we always repair things between us... There is always more love."

All children benefit from using words and stories to understand their emotional life. Just be careful to empathize, not analyze so she feels understood, not invaded or lectured.

11. Model apologies

Don't force your child to apologize, because it leads to resentment. But if you model apology yourself, your child will learn to follow your example. When something goes wrong, take as much responsibility as you can to model how to step up and take responsibility.

"I see two upset kids... I'm so sorry I wasn't here to help you work this out before you both got so upset and started hitting... and then I got worried someone was getting hurt, so I started yelling, too... I'm so sorry... Let's all try a do-over... I know you don't want to hit each other, hitting hurts... And I hear how mad you are... Let's start over so you can tell each other what you need without attacking each other."

Notice there is no blame or shame here, which makes it easier for everyone involved to consider how they might have contributed to the problem, and to acknowledge that.

12. Expect setbacks

You're human, so you aren't perfect. The secret of making this transition is having compassion for yourself, just as you do for your child. Expect to make mistakes. Expect some days to be a huge struggle. Parenting is hard, and this kind of parenting is even harder when you start. But it gets easier. And even while it's hard, you're healing your child's old wounds and your own so you'll feel the difference. Quite simply, there's less drama and more love.

13. Every morning, make the commitment

"For me, this type of parenting is a daily choice. Every morning I have to make the commitment not to yell, to stay calm, to chose love. And there is something very empowering about that. I apologize to my kids when I make mistakes and slip. I see that when they accept my apology, they feel empowerment and generosity of spirit. This influences their behavior with each other - there are more kind words and gestures, more "I'm sorry" and more "Don't worry, I know it wasn't your fault" that they extend to each other, than before. There are days when things are a big struggle, but I really feel that something is changing deep within our hearts AND I feel us grow closer together when we choose love, and when in the middle of a tantrum I hug my child and genuinely tell him that I hear his pain and that I'll help him work through it."

You're on a path now that leads to a happier, more peaceful family. Two steps forward, one step back still gets you where you want to go. Soon you'll find yourself in a whole new landscape. Enjoy the journey.

Originally posted on Aha! Parenting.

You might also like:

Comments20x20 ExportCreated with Sketch.
Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

Subscribe to get inspiration and super helpful ideas to rock your #momlife. Motherhood looks amazing on you.

Already a subscriber? Log in here.

Between the sleepless nights, endless worries, and persistent temper tantrums, parenting can feel like a fast track to gray hairs and wrinkles.

Now, researchers at Northwestern University have proven what we've suspected all along: having children does, in fact, speed up the aging process. A new study, which was published last month in Scientific Reports, found that each pregnancy can age a mother's cells by up to two years.

Each baby ages a mother’s cells

Researchers studied 821 women in the Philippines between the ages of 20 and 22, with various reproductive histories. They examined two separate markers of cellular aging—telomere length and epigenetic age—to measure the toll pregnancy takes on the body.

"Telomere length and epigenetic age are cellular markers that independently predict mortality, and both appeared 'older' in women who had more pregnancies in their reproductive histories," Calen Ryan, lead author of the study and a doctoral student in biological anthropology at Northwestern, said in a statement. "Even after accounting for other factors that affect cellular aging, the number of pregnancies still came out on top."

The researchers were surprised to find that cellular aging increased between about six months and two years for each additional pregnancy—a figure much higher than what they originally anticipated. Meanwhile, women who were currently pregnant had cells that looked significantly younger than predicted for their biological age."

It's an interesting situation in which pregnancy makes someone look temporarily 'young,' but there appears to be some lasting, cumulative relationship between the number of pregnancies and more accelerated biological age," noted Christopher Kuzawa, PhD, senior author of the study and a professor of anthropology at Northwestern University.

Our telomeres shorten and our epigenetic age increases

Telomeres, which are stretches of DNA at the end of chromosomes, protect our DNA and make it possible for our cells to divide. Longer telomeres are associated with longer lives and better health. As people age and as cells divide and replicate, those telomeres shorten.

Given that there is hyper cell production during pregnancy, it makes sense that those telomeres would shorten and, therefore, appear to age dramatically.

"During pregnancy, more cells need to be produced for carrying and nurturing the fetus, such as in red blood cells, placental cells, and more," said Dr. Kim Langdon, an Ohio-based retired OB-GYN who writes at Parenting Pod. "In addition, the cells in all organs such as the heart and uterus enlarge. This is known as hypertrophy—and when cells hypotrophy, their telomeres shorten."

Meanwhile, the epigenetic age begins to climb. This is an estimate of a person's biological age based on changes in the DNA that are caused by environmental factors, such as toxins and stress.

In other words, pregnancy puts a lot of pressure on the body. "I'm not really surprised," Langdon told Healthline about the findings. "Every OB-GYN knows the extreme stress to the system that pregnancy causes."

Throughout pregnancy, the blood volume increases by 50% as does the cardiac output, which puts strain on the heart. The kidney function increases and the lungs have reduced capacity, which causes breathlessness.

Why, then, did the pregnant women seem so much better off?

It may all come down to the immunological, hormonal, and physiological changes that take place during pregnancy to support development of the baby.

For example, pregnant women experience elevated estrogen levels, which can lower oxidative stress and prevent damage to telomere length and epigenetic age. Once the baby is born, though, those shifts are no longer necessary.

The findings may not be permanent

The study supports previous evidence that women who have had more pregnancies are more susceptible to certain illnesses and have slightly shorter life spans. Earlier this year, researchers from George Mason University found that childbirth could age a woman by as many as 11 years.

While it may be nerve-racking to learn that having children can accelerate the aging process, scientists still don't fully understand why this happens and don't want women to worry.

According to Langdon, we are far away from understanding if these findings could impact family planning or the longevity or long-term health of the mother.

"We don't know if these findings are permanent," Langdon said. "More longitudinal studies need to be done over many years, even decades, to see if this is reversible or if it really can predict when you will die."

The researchers from Northwestern University and the University of Washington have already started they working on a follow-up study that will examine the same group of women 13 years after their cellular measurements were first taken. Eventually, we'll be able to see if the women's cells continue to appear older throughout their life.

Until then, though, you can keep blaming your kids for those fine lines and dark circles.

Originally posted on Healthline.

You might also like:

In the moments after we give birth, we desperately want to hear our baby cry. In the middle of the night a few months later it's no longer exactly music to our ears, but those cries aren't just telling us that baby needs a night feeding: They're also giving us a hint at what our children may sound like as kindergarteners, and adults.

New research published in the journal Biology Letters suggests the pitch of a 4-month-old's cry predicts the pitch they'll use to ask for more cookies at age five and maybe even later on as adults.

The study saw 2 to 5-month olds recorded while crying. Five years later, the researchers hit record again and chatted with the now speaking children. Their findings, combined with previous work on the subject, suggest it's possible to figure out what a baby's voice will sound like later in life, and that the pitch of our adult voices may be traceable back to the time we spend in utero. Further studies are needed, but scientists are very interested in how factors before birth can impact decades later.

"In utero, you have a lot of different things that can alter and impact your life — not only as a baby, but also at an adult stage," one of the authors of the study, Nicolas Mathevon, told the New York Times.

The New York Times also spoke with Carolyn Hodges, an assistant professor of anthropology at Boston University who was not involved in the study. According to Hodges, while voice pitch may not seem like a big deal, it impacts how we perceive people in very real ways.

Voice pitch is a factor in how attractive we think people are, how trustworthy. But why we find certain pitches more or less appealing isn't known. "There aren't many studies that address these questions, so that makes this research especially intriguing," Hodges said, adding that it "suggests that individual differences in voice pitch may have their origins very, very early in development."

So the pitch of that midnight cry may have been determined months ago, and it may determine part of your child's future, too. There are still so many things we don't know, but as parents we do know one thing: Our babies cries (as much as we don't want to hear them all the time) really are something special.

You might also like:

I always thought I'd have babies. As in, multiple babies. Maybe three or four? I knew it would be hard. I knew pregnancy was tough and childbirth was no walk in the park.

I just didn't know how tough. And I also had no idea how hard my recovery would be.

It's been nearly four months, and I'm still taking pain medicine. I'm still using the witch hazel pads and haven't touched toilet paper. I'm still struggling with issues from my labor and delivery that just won't go away.

I'm still dealing with the emotional guilt that comes from feeling like I failed my daughter because I don't remember her first moments of life due to the trauma of what my body went through.

My birth story was traumatic and terrifying—and rare.

At 38 weeks pregnant, I had been in what we thought was labor for almost two days—but was actually a kidney stone. I was in constant, terrible pain for nearly 48 hours straight, and morphine didn't take the pain away—it only took the edge off. I watched out the hospital window as the world went by outside, and the hours dragged on.

I didn't sleep because of the pain. My body was completely drained and had gone into survival mode because of what felt like endless torture. Eventually, I was induced because of a small leak of amniotic fluid and had to give birth in an exhausted physical state and a completely anxious mental state.

I was in no way ready to have my baby—the baby I had been so ready for just weeks earlier.

This lead to all the things I had hoped to avoid for my birth—inducement, more inducement because I wasn't progressing fast enough, having to lie flat on my back, epidural, episiotomy and forceps.

By the time my sweet daughter finally entered the world, and they placed her in my arms—all I could do was immediately fall back onto the bed and close my eyes. My body was shutting down from sheer exhaustion. I wasn't even able to look at my brand new baby, let alone admire her or watch her take her first breaths. This part of my birth story still breaks my heart.

After they moved me to my recovery room, I asked my husband what our delivery room number was—because I never wanted to go in that room again. I didn't want to see it. I didn't want to walk down the hallway past it. And I really didn't want to think about what happened in there. My mind was scarred by the fear and anxiety I experienced.

The hardest part of all of this is that now, the thought of getting pregnant again terrifies me. My heart longs to have a house full of little feet running down the halls, yet my body says "closed for business." It's a confusing tension.

I know of women who have suffered through experiences much worse than I have. I know there are stories out there that are almost unbelievable. I don't know if or when or how I will ever feel ready for another baby again.

Yet, I have been realizing a few things.

It's okay that I'm scared. It's okay that I didn't feel as strong as I hoped to be. It's okay that I didn't power through childbirth without assistance. It's okay that I wasn't like the moms who can give birth in their sleep.

And it's okay that I wasn't physically able to witness my daughter's first moments of life. It doesn't make me a bad mother. It won't ruin my daughter's life. She doesn't even know what happened—only I do. I'm the one whose heart is broken because of this—not hers. She was in mama's arms and that's all she knew.

So I'm giving myself grace. I'm letting my mind and body heal for however long it takes. I'm not going to feel the guilt of failure—because I didn't fail.

So, mama with the traumatic birth story, please give yourself grace too. You're a good mom. You're a strong and powerful woman who has done something amazing.

You brought life into this world.

Your body didn't fail—you survived, and you're a mother now. And it's absolutely, 100% okay if you change your mind about having another baby. You have permission to feel exactly how you feel, right now at this moment.

Don't feel like less of a woman because of a story that was ultimately out of your control. You did it. You really did it. That is what makes you a strong, powerful woman. You are amazing, and you are a rockstar for going through what you did.

And you know what? You're killing this whole motherhood thing, too—just so you know.

You might also like:

First responders do a lot of heroic things on the job. We're used to seeing police officers on TV pulling victims to safety or chasing down the bad guys, but sometimes, heroism looks a lot different. Sometimes, it looks like breastfeeding.

A Facebook photo of a police officer breastfeeding a hungry baby in an Argentinian hospital has now gone viral for very good reason. It's a simple act, but to that hungry baby, Officer Celeste Ayala is certainly a hero.

The photo was posted to Facebook by Marcos Heredia, who says he witnessed the police officer comfort and breastfeed a hungry baby while on duty at the Sister Maria Ludovica Children's Hospital in Buenos Aires.

According to Heredia, who tagged the officer in the Facebook post, Officer Ayala was attending the busy hospital on August 14 when she noticed the baby, a patient, needing care and comfort, and took it upon herself to give it.

"I want to make public this great gesture of love that you had today with that little baby, who without knowing you didn't hesitate, and for a moment you fulfilled [as if] you were their mother," reads a loose translation of Heredia's post.

Multiple Spanish-language websites report the 6-month-old baby Ayala breastfed is the youngest of six siblings who were in the process of being placed into foster care because their mother did not have the resources to feed them. The children were at the hospital for the medical exams they needed before being moved into foster care when Ayala came into contact with the baby, who was desperately hungry while waiting, according to reports.

Metro reports Ayala spoke to local media in Buenos Aires, explaining that she noticed hospital staff were overwhelmed so she, a mother of two, asked if she could comfort and feed the baby. "I noticed that he was hungry, as he was putting his hand into his mouth, so I asked to hug him and breastfeed him. It was a sad moment, it broke my soul seeing him like this, society should be sensitive to the issues affecting children, it cannot keep happening," Ayala reportedly said.

Not only is Ayala a mother and a police officer, but she is also apparently a volunteer firefighter as well. Her fellow firefighters joined in the chorus of people supporting Ayala's simple heroism on social media.

'We want to congratulate the voluntary firefighting cadet Celeste Ayala who yesterday in her job as police officer whilst she was on guard duty at the hospital, breastfed a young child who arrived crying."

Sometimes, first responders pull people from a burning building or save people from a hostage taking. And sometimes they feed babies.


You might also like:

Motherly provides information of a general nature and is designed for educational purposes only. This site does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.Your use of the site indicates your agreement to be bound by our  Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Information on our advertising guidelines can be found here.