Tag Archives: book reviews

Book Club : Simplicity Parenting Chapter One

Today I will be summarizing and discussing the first chapter of Kim John Payne’s book, Simplicity Parenting. In a world where childhood seems to be flooded with too much, too fast and too soon Payne helps parents clear the way to a simpler, more connected and whole-hearted family life. After reading this book parents will feel empowered and ready to declutter spaces, establish stronger home rhythms, cut down on screen-time and most of all to slow down and prioritize meaningful moments with their children. Most remarkably, the book is truly applicable for all families regardless of their diverse faiths, backgrounds and values. It is completely free from dogma and instead, offers practical and adaptable advice to all.

Chapter One: Why Simplify?

Payne starts the book with the story of an eight-year-old named James whose parents were both working professionals and very involved in world issues and politics. James was not sleeping well at night and he had stomach pains seemingly unrelated to his diet. James was described by his parents as cautious and mature. Payne advised his parents to completely eliminate James’ exposure to adult talk and media. “They aimed to keep their discussions of politics, their jobs, and their concerns to a time after James went to bed.” p.4 Over a period of a few months, James improved dramatically- he was more adventurous, his appetite increased and he was markedly more social, creative and courageous. But, as Payne asks, “Was all of this directly attributable to the changes James’ family made?”. His answer is no, and yes. The changes absolutely helped, but what’s more his parents brought an awareness to their parenting that they hadn’t in the past.

Quite Simply: By simplifying we protect the environment for childhood’s slow, essential unfolding of self. p.6

Payne then goes on to describe his working background- in his early twenties he was involved in social work at refugee camps in Jakarta and Cambodia. Later on he worked in the UK in a number of private schools as a counselor seeing children diagnosed with ADD, ADHD, OCD and ODD. It finally dawned on him in the early 90s that the treatment plans he was developing for these Western children was the same as the ones he had developed for children suffering from PTSD in Refugee Camps.

Quite Simply: Our society- with its pressures of “too much”- is waging an undeclared war on childhood. p.8

Payne called this new psychological imbalance “cumulative stress reaction” or CSR. The level of stress described by CSR is different from regular everyday stressors in a child’s life in that it is consistent and frequent. Constant CSR affects a child’s resiliency. CSR is caused by “a daily life submerged in the same media-rich, multi-tasking, complex, information-overloaded, time-pressured waters…”p.10

Payne calls for a reexamination of at what is stake- childhood and consequently our children’s well-being. He asks not that we as parents make changes out of fear, but because we have a vision for our family: a dream “of the comfort of a family where each member could be their authentic self, well known and well loved.” p.16 He believes making simple changes will provide our children with greater ease and well-being.

Payne often begins his “Simplification Regime” by decluttering children’s (and sometimes adults’) spaces around the home. He has found that by simplifying the environment a space is created in a family’s “habit life and intentions”. p.23

He points out that a child’s natural quirks can be turned into disorders when cumulative stress is too much. For example, a child has the endearing quirk of collecting things- with stress this can lead to OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). A child who has a quirky fiery nature when faced with too much stress can be labelled as ODD (oppositional defiance disorder).

Quite Simply: Stress can push children along the behavioural spectrum. When you simplify a child’s life on a number of levels, back they come.  p.26

Payne embarked on his own study to prove the effectiveness of his simplicity regimes. He and his researchers took 55 children diagnosed with attention difficulties and devised a simplification plan with an emphasis on simplifying environment (including diet), screen media and schedules. They found the “68% of the children whose parents and teachers adhered to the protocol went from clinically dysfunctional to clinically functional in four months and a 36.8% increase in academic and cognitive ability.” p.28 These children were treated with no drugs whatsoever. They repeated the study again with very similar results. Payne speaks of the research done in the field of neurology and affirms that the evidence of our brain’s plasticity offers hope to parents who are tired of messages of genetic and chemical pre-determinism.

Quite Simply: Our children come to us with a deep destiny that needs to be honoured. p.33

What we bring to our attention, presence and focus to is what becomes our reality. With simplification we are realigning our daily lives with our family’s vision and values.

Finally, Payne shows us where to start. He advises we begin with imagination: imagining a life and home that moves slower, is less cluttered, and where we have more time and space to be together and honour one another.

What did you insights did you gain from this chapter? Could you relate to stress as a trigger for behavioural problems? Have you noticed when your children are overstimulated or over-scheduled that their behaviour changes? How?

Book Club : Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne

I am so excited for the next book in our Book Club series: Kim John Payne’s Simplicity Parenting.

In a world where childhood seems to be flooded with too much, too fast and too soon, Payne helps parents clear the path towards a simpler, more connected and whole-hearted family life. After reading this book parents will feel empowered and ready to declutter playspaces, establish stronger home rhythms, cut down on screen-time and most of all to slow down and prioritize meaningful moments with their children. Most remarkably, the book is truly applicable to all families regardless of their diverse faiths, backgrounds and values. It is completely free from dogma and instead, offers practical and adaptable advice to all.

Payne is a consultant and trainer to more than 230 US independent and public schools, he has been a school counselor, adult educator, consultant, researcher and educator for almost thirty years, as well as a private family counselor for more than fifteen. He is the Director of the Simplicity Project and together he and his team have trained over a thousand Simplicity Parenting Coaches worldwide. Payne is also the Founding Director of The Center for Social Sustainability, an organization that trains teachers, parents and students in the Three Stream Process (this link is an example of how the Three Streams is used by schools).

I will be reviewing and discussing Simplicity Parenting chapter by chapter over the coming weeks and I would love for you to read along. You could request a copy from your local library or local Waldorf/Steiner Book Centre or purchase one here or here. Although I will share a chapter summary each week I cannot recommend enough that you get your hands on your own copy and read along with me. I have had my copy for years now and it is dog-earred, highlighted and very well loved. Everytime I return to it, I take something new away. I so look forward to connecting with you and discussing each chapter in the comments section below.

DISCLOSURE: This journal entry contains a link to Amazon.ca. Meagan from Whole Family Rhythms is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.ca. Thank you for your support.

 

Book Club : Sanctuaries of Childhood Chapter Eight

Today I will be summarizing and discussing the final and eighth chapter of Shea Darian’s book, Sanctuaries of Childhood: Nurturing a Child’s Spiritual Life. The book is written for parents or caregivers who are looking for inspirational ideas on how to nurture spirituality (non-denominational and all-encompassing) within themselves and their children. I will share a chapter summary every few weeks and would love you to join in with your reflections in the comments section.

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Chapter Eight

Sacred Conversations – The Sanctuary of Serving Others

Entering the Sanctuary of Serving Others

  • Darian tells the story of a doing some service work in college and the lesson she learned:
  • we receive “in our service far more than we [give]” p. 129

Nurturing Children in the Sanctuary of Serving Others

  • home is the place where attitude is formed
  • children learn about acts of generosity and service through experience and watching these values become a part of their daily life
  • Family teaches us the true meaning of Servanthood
  • Keep our hearts and minds open to opportunities where we can help while still maintaining balance at home (especially with young children)

Seeking Wisdom in Serving Others

  • Young children shouldn’t be overburdened with worldly problems or solutions at young ages- better to learn about the world in a developmentally appropriate way
  • “Our fears of the future often lead us to expose children to adult issues long before they have the ability to assimilate these issues in meaningful and helpful ways” p.133
  • Encourage children to serve others within their circle (home for toddlers/lower grades; expanding to school, friends and community for middle and high school aged children)
  • Children can guide non-human communities eg. earth, plants, animals
  • Avoid television and media about “big issues”
  • Tell children about issues that need attention but work on them little by little (eg. Turn tap off when brushing teeth, pick up trash together at the beach etc)
  • Balance serious issues with fun and humour- how can community service be fun? (eg. Weaving mats from milk bag plastic)
  • Try to live by example- how does your lifestyle and consumer habits reflect your values and service to others (eg. fairtrade).
  • Darian recommends The Better World Shopping Guide by Ellis Jones

Welcoming Diversity in Our Lives

  • Begin to foster in our children a sense that they are global citizens
  • tolerance for other races, religions, abilities, lifestyles and economic classes through making our schools more integrated, attending culturally based performances, reading multi-cultural books or learning about a range of cultural celebrations- these gestures can shatter stereotypes about those who are “different from us”

Simple Blessings to Create a Sanctuary of Serving Others

  • Take time to acknowledge and appreciate acts of service within your family
  • Hold annual or seasonal get togethers with your neighbours to foster a sense of connection and servitude with and for each other
  • Keep your eye out for opportunities to serve those in your community- bring friends soup if they are all home sick, offer neighbours help with their yard work, bring new mothers food or offer to clean or do some laundry for them
  • Create a family wall or like- posting photos of people we believe are in our larger ‘family circle’
  • “Enough, if something from our hands have power. To live, to act, to serve the future hour” – William Wordsworth
  • Set aside a small portion of children’s weekly allowance for charitable organizations
  • Identify songs of service that are about sharing your Divine Light with others and bring them into your home

Personal Renewal: For Adults Only

  • In order to have the reserves to open ourselves to the larger community, our inner work and personal renewal must be a strong part of our own daily rhythm
  • “We have little room in our lives for others because we have so little room for ourselves”  p.143
  • Taking some moments each day to connect to a Higher Power and to feel gratitude is enough to really fill us up each day
  • Our daily actions of kindness, love and empathy are far greater reaching than a single act of philanthropy
  • “Service to the larger world begins and ends in that still, small place within” p. 144

 

Service is something I am very conscious about brining to my children and I am more aware that while they are very little, it is in my own acts of generosity and kindness within our small community that my children will see and feel the blessing of being able to serve. This year we went at Christmas time I felt my eldest were old enough to come with me to help sort at a toy drive. They enjoyed getting out and meeting new people and feeling part of a community that was helping. That said, still so much of what they experience as ‘charitable’ are the little acts of kindness that they see within their home and school community. Mother Theresa once said, “If you want to bring happiness to the whole world, go home and love your family.” I could not agree more. Start in your home with acts of service and slowly work your way out into the larger world.

How is the Sanctuary of Serving Others present in your home? And how do you strike that fine balance between giving to those around you and giving enough to yourself?

 
DISCLOSURE: This journal entry contains a link to Amazon.ca. Meagan from Whole Family Rhythms is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.ca. Thank you for your support.

 

“Quotes from Sanctuaries of Childhood by Shea Darian used by permission. Copyright 2011 by Charlene DeShea Bagbey Darian. Revised 2nd Edition.”

Book Club : Sanctuaries of Childhood Chapter Seven

Today I will be summarizing and discussing the seventh chapter of Shea Darian’s book, Sanctuaries of Childhood: Nurturing a Child’s Spiritual Life. The book is written for parents or caregivers who are looking for inspirational ideas on how to nurture spirituality (non-denominational and all-encompassing) within themselves and their children. I will share a chapter summary every few weeks… read more




Book Club : Sanctuaries of Childhood Chapter Six

Today I will be summarizing and discussing the sixth chapter of Shea Darian’s book, Sanctuaries of Childhood: Nurturing a Child’s Spiritual Life. The book is written for parents or caregivers who are looking for inspirational ideas on how to nurture spirituality (non-denominational and all-encompassing) within themselves and their children. I will share a chapter summary every… read more