I’ve really enjoyed reading this book. In fact, it’s tagged with lots of Post-it notes to remind me of different techniques to use. The author, Lou Harvey-Zahra has taught in many different setting including kindergarten, primary, special needs and Steiner-Waldorf schools and thus has lots of valuable advice to share.
The author describes conscious parenting as being open-minded and aware of children’s needs and behaviours. This is something that many of us strive to do and ‘Happy Child, Happy Home’ provides tools and techniques to faciliate conscious parenting.
The book is full of practical ideas to make your home more harmonious such as having daily and weekly routines. One example Harvey-Zahra suggests is having a special meal each week or month such as Pancake Day involving cooking pancakes on a Sunday morning. She explains that having regular routines provides security for children as well as prioritising special family time. This is especially important in busy households.
One of my favourite chapters focused on celebrating festivals and seasons each year to give children a sense of happiness and security. Harvey-Zahra writes at length about celebrating festivals in a meaningful manner rather than just focusing on the commercial. For Easter, she suggests making homemade hot cross buns and having an Easter Egg Hunt while for Christmas, she suggests a homemade advent calendar and creating handmade cards and presents.
For birthdays, the author encourages parents to look beyond just buying presents for kids by incorporating family traditions. She provides examples of making a birthday memorable for a child such as saying a special Birthday Verse or poem or having a special birthday ritual.
There were a few beautiful ideas in the book that really resonated with me. Firstly Harvey-Zahra encourages parents to tell stories. They don’t have to be good stories or even true stories. They just need to be stories that either entertain, inspire or soothe your child. You might not realise it but there are probably dozens of stories that you can share with your child whether it’s about family history, funny anecdotes or tales of when they were a baby. My kid always asks me to tell stories about the things I did when I was a kid. Through her prompting, I’ve been remembering things I had forgotten from my childhood.
Another idea is to encourage kids to re-enact real-life roles in their playtime at home such as playing doctor, firefighter or bus driver. She suggests holding kids up high in shops or at the post office so they can see what’s happening and interact with staff. It’s amazing the things kids notice and remember when they are playing at home. You can use boxes to recreate fire engines and buses at home or use old bags as medical kits.
She also writes extensively about creative discipline which is a chapter of great interest to me. She outlines ten techniques for Creative Discipline such as looking at the reason for inappropriate behaviour and exploring different ways to deal with the behaviour such as redirection, changing the environment and saying “No” in a different manner. I’ve been consciously using these techniques and have found them very useful in defusing stressful situations and in disciplining my child in an effective yet loving way.
The author describes this book as “an uplifting guide to raising happy children and creating happy homes’. I agree. It’s a thoughtful, practical book that highlights the importance of love and nurturing in parenting.
‘Happy Child, Happy Home’ is available s available from the author’s website http://www.skiptomylouparenting.com as well as online book stores and shops and is also available in an e-book format. RRP $29.95