Not everyone wants to raise wild, free-thinking children. But for those of you who do, here are my tips:
1. Create a safe space for them to be outside for a least an hour a day. Preferable barefoot & muddy.
2. Provide them with toys made of natural materials. Silks, wood, wool, etc…Toys that encourage them to use their imagination. If you’re looking for ideas, Google: ‘Waldorf Toys’. Avoid noisy plastic toys. Yea, maybe they’ll learn their alphabet from the talking toys, but at the expense of their own unique thoughts. Plastic toys that talk and iPads in cribs should be illegal. Seriously!
3. Limit screen time. If you think you can manage video game time and your kids will be the rare ones that don’t get addicted, then go for it. I’m not that good so we just avoid them completely. There’s no cable in our house and no video games. The result is that my kids like being outside cause it’s boring inside…hah! Best plan ever! No kid is going to remember that great day of video games or TV. Send them outside!
4. Feed them foods that support life. Fluoride free water, GMO free organic foods, snacks free of harsh preservatives and refined sugars. Good oils that support healthy brain development. Eat to live!
5. Don’t helicopter parent. Stay connected and tuned into their needs and safety, but don’t hover. Kids like adults need space to roam and explore without the constant voice of an adult telling them what to do. Give them freedom!
6. Read to them. Kids don’t do what they are told, they do what they see. If you’re on your phone all the time, they will likely be doing the same thing someday. If you’re reading, writing and creating your art (painting, cooking…whatever your art is) they will likely want to join you. It’s like Emilie Buchwald said, “Children become readers in the laps of their parents (or guardians).” – it’s so true!
7. Let them speak their truth. Don’t assume that because they are young that you know more than them. They were born into a different time than you. Give them room to respectfully speak their mind and not feel like you’re going to attack them. You’ll be surprised what you might learn.
8. Freedom to learn. I realize that not everyone can homeschool, but damn, if you can, do it! Our current school system is far from the best ever. Our kids deserve better. We simply can’t expect our children to all learn the same things in the same way. Not every kid is the same. The current system does not support the unique gifts of our children. How can they with so many kids in one classroom? It’s no fault of the teachers, they are doing the best they can. Too many kids and not enough parent involvement. If you send your kids to school and expect they are getting all they need, you are sadly mistaken. Don’t let the public school system raise your kids, it’s not their job, it’s yours!
9. Skip the fear-based parenting tactics. It may work short-term. But the long-term results will be devastating to the child’s ability to be open and truthful with you. Children need guidance, but scaring them into listening is just lazy. Find new ways to get through to your kids. Be creative!
10. There’s no perfect way to be a parent, but there’s a million ways to be a good one. Just because every other parent is doing it, doesn’t mean it’s right for you and your child. Don’t let other people’s opinions and judgments influence how you’re going to treat your kid. Be brave enough to question everything until you find what works for you. Don’t be lazy! Fight your urge to be passive about the things that matter. Don’t give up on your kid. This is the most important work you’ll ever do. Give it everything you have.