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I'm Avital.

You want a present, peaceful and playful family life? I'm here to help you make that a reality.

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How Sportscasting Helps Your Children Overcome Challenges

Whenever we see our children challenged… perhaps they’re struggling with a puzzle piece that Just. Won’t. Fit. or they might be arguing with another child over who got the toy first. Or, despite their determination, they’re not managing to buckle their shoes independently… Our initial knee-jerk response is often to soothe, fix or distract the problem away.

We show them the puzzle piece just needs to be turned 45 degrees! There! Or we swoop down and decree our judgement “Sammy got it first!” (grabbing the toy back and handing it to Sammy) “It’s his turn now and in 2 minutes it will be your turn, I’ll put on a timer!”. Or we quickly buckle their shoes for them, “It’s OK!”.

Sportscasting is a tool, first taught to me by Janet Lansbury which allows us to take a conscientious moment before we solve a problem for our child.

Sportscasting happens when, rather than getting involved in the problem with the child, we describe it for them. Using objective descriptors and an emotionally neutral tone – we reflect for them, with curiosity, what we’re seeing. (Tweet it!)

“Huh, that piece isn’t fitting that way. It’s pretty difficult to get it in.”

“Hmmm. Two boys want the same truck. Sammy and Evan, you are both holding it. You both want it. And there’s only one. I wonder what can be done…?”

“It’s hard to close that type of buckle, you’re frustrated!”

Think of a sportscaster reporting on the game before them, recounting the players moves play by play in real time. The sportscaster doesn’t make suggestions, doesn’t jump in and play the game for them, but rather simply portrays what he sees, objectively and without interpretation.

When we sportscast, we send our children some important messages:

  • I see your struggle. I take note of you. I am by your side. You have my attention. I care.
  • I trust you to be your own problem solver, I don’t have the answers any more than you do. You are the author of your life, and the initiator of change and solution.
  • I am not overwhelmed by your discomfort, and neither need you be. Being in an uncomfortable place is simply the initiation of a new idea. You do not need to be saved from negative feelings of frustration, fear, irritation, conflict, disorganization, confusion…
  • When a problem arises we need to pause and take note, not rush to fix it. That way we can make wise, mindful, creative choices about how to solve it.

 

Do you see the refreshing juxtaposition? On the one hand I care, I’m here, I support you. On the other hand, I trust, you have autonomy, you have ownership and control.

Our problems needn’t overwhelm us. We can take note, we can pause, and then we can steadily, slowly and deliberately unpack these problems and decide how to tackle them, constructively.

Once we’ve sportscasted a situation, we’re essentially gently handing back the reigns to our children to solve their problems, with the benefit of our trusting support and attention.  Beyond serving as a “deep breath” reminder for our children, it serves us adults (who need this reminder even more) as a reminder to step back from our controlling tendencies and respect our children’s creativity and capacity to figure things out. I personally need this reminder, daily if not hourly.

The Parenting Junkie’s Sportscasting DOs and DON’Ts

 

  1. When you see a situation arise DO pause and observe, perhaps the child can figure it out without any help from you.
  2. When their frustration escalates, DO comment on what they’re trying to do or struggling with. “You weren’t done with that dinosaur, and now Ella has it.”
  3. DO empathically sportscast their feelings, as well as their actions, “You’re upset, waiting is hard.”
  4. DO sportscast even when you are the one triggering their upset “You didn’t want me to take the cup away, you’re really mad, mad, mad!”
  5. DO encourage them to come up with ideas  “So what can we do to solve this problem?”
  6. DO encourage multiple ideas and solutions “We could buy another truck, that’s one solution. What else could we do?”
  7. DON’T place any blame or label victims and aggressors (even if you perceive them). Instead neutrally describe the events. For example: “Jinny was climbing on that slide and now Max is.”
  8. DON’T take sides. Make sure to describe what you think is going on for each of the children involved. “Jinny you wanted to play on the slide by yourself. Max, you also would like time by yourself on the slide.”
  9. DON’T add in any evaluations or judgments “it’s not that bad” or “you’re being silly”
  10. DON’T rush to offer ideas for a solution. Instead leave your questions open ended “Hmmm, what can we do so that everyone is happy?”
  11. DON’T poo-poo their ideas. Instead validate each one and lead them to see what works and what doesn’t about that idea. “You could grab it back, yes,  that’s one idea… how do you think Ella would feel about that?”
  12. DO support by gently offering your own ideas if none are being offered by the child or if none are feasible “Hmmm… I was wondering if perhaps we could turn the puzzle piece a bit? Would that work?” or “I wonder if Turner would accept a different toy instead of that one? Want to try and find him another option?”
  13. DO point out other children’s emotional response (our children don’t always notice them or take note of them). “You want to scream and sing very loudly. Can you see Talya’s face? She’s showing us her ears hurt! What do you think we should do?”
  14. DO accept solutions that everyone’s satisfied with.  “OK, so you both agree that Jinny, you’ll be on the swings and Max, you’ll will be on the slide? Great.”
  15. DO point out how helpful and pleasant it is when we find solutions, and express gratitude for their help in this. “You guys did it! That’s a plan we’re all quite happy with. It feels great when we can solve our problems and come up with new ideas. Thank you!”

 

Do you use this reflective approach? How does it work for you? 

Want an actionable plan to set limits with empathy? Check out Empathic Limits

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COME FIND ME ON INSTAGRAM!

Imagine that instead of brushing your kid’s teeth every day, you decided to wait until they’re 16. ⁣

The side effects of this choice would be…⁣
😝 Bad breath⁣
😬 Plaque build-up and discoloration⁣
🦷 Toothaches and cavities… ⁣
and eventually, BIG $$$$$ at the dentist for treatment.⁣

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!⁣
Of course, this is not a good plan!⁣

I'm going to assume you would rather create a small, manageable daily habit that invests in our child’s oral hygiene to last a lifetime.⁣

Because we know: ⁣
It might be a pain to get started and stay consistent, but over the long haul, it will save you so much pain, $$$, and grossness.🤢⁣

And it's the same with, independence.⁣

If you invest a little bit in your child’s independent play right now - taking small, manageable steps every day to maintain and establish healthy habits - you will reap the benefits over time.⁣

A tough-love moment here - it’s not realistic to wait until your child is 16 and then suddenly expect them to be independent enough to drive or get their first job or figure out a plan for the summer.⁣

These are skills you’ve got to build slowly and gradually.⁣

It’s also not desirable to spend the next decade suffering through burnout, exhaustion, clinginess - because you’re not making the little investment that it takes to establish healthy independent play habits (just as it’s not awesome to endure cavities, toothache, and bad breath for years - rather than invest in establishing healthy brushing habits early on).⁣

So I guess my message is: Don’t wait with this. ⁣
When we neglect our child’s need for independence - it gets worse, not better.⁣

But when you take the time to follow along with the small, daily, doable actions that are outlined in the Reclaim Play Challenge - it will pay off in spades years later! ⁣

That’s why you’re here.⁣

You can do this. 💪⁣

It’s SO worth it. The small actions you’re taking now are going to pay back dividends... forever.⁣

Reclaim Play is all unlocked! Link in bio
...

“𝗗𝗿𝗮𝘄 𝗺𝗲 𝗮 𝗵𝗼𝗿𝘀𝗲!” my daughter said. Not gonna lie, I draw a mean horse. 🐎 So I did. She watched me, wide-eyed, so impressed. So excited. So grateful! A beautiful moment, right?⁣

I thought so. “𝘎𝘰𝘰𝘥 𝘱𝘢𝘳𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨, 𝘈𝘷𝘪𝘵𝘢𝘭!” I thought, patting myself on the back.⁣

After she colored it in she said: “𝗖𝗮𝗻 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝗱𝗿𝗮𝘄 𝗺𝗲 𝗮 𝗺𝗲𝗿𝗺𝗮𝗶𝗱 𝗻𝗼𝘄?” 🧜‍♀️ ⁣

“𝘞𝘩𝘺 𝘥𝘰𝘯’𝘵 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘥𝘳𝘢𝘸 𝘪𝘵, 𝘮𝘺 𝘭𝘰𝘷𝘦?”⁣

“𝗜 𝗰𝗮𝗻’𝘁 𝗱𝗿𝗮𝘄 𝗮𝘀 𝗽𝗿𝗲𝘁𝘁𝘆 𝗮𝘀 𝘆𝗼𝘂.”⁣

oomph.⁣

My heart sunk just a little bit. 😟⁣

In my well-meaning attempt to answer my daughter’s sweet request - I had undermined her own creativity. ⁣

I had shown her that I, the adult, was more developed, more skilled, more capable - so much so that she might as well not even try. ⁣

Why try when she could never measure up to the mermaid that I can produce? ⁣

Look, it’s not a big deal. I’ll still draw for my kids from time to time - but I really try not to. ⁣

I try to say, 'No', to playing with them or for them - because I want to say, 'Yes', to something else...⁣

I want to say YES to their: ⁣
❤ Creativity⁣
❤ Independence⁣
❤ Personal Satisfaction⁣
❤ Development⁣
❤ Resilience⁣
❤ Problem-solving⁣
❤ Focus⁣
❤ Attention⁣
❤ Concentration⁣
❤ Inner World⁣

I want to step out of the way of THEIR self-expression, curiosity, exploration. And as an adult, if I interject myself (even if they’re begging me to!), I’m totally likely to overshadow and overpower - even with all my best intentions!⁣

So, my friend, if you ever feel guilty for letting your kids play independently, for saying “no”, stepping away, or becoming less involved, know this:⁣

𝗜𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗽𝗲𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗽𝗹𝗮𝘆 𝗶𝘀 𝗸𝗶𝗱𝘀 𝗯𝗶𝗿𝘁𝗵𝗿𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁!⁣

We owe it to them.⁣

I hope this is a liberating thought for you, as it was for me. ⁣

#reclaimplay #independentplay⁣
#childhoodunplugged #motherhoodthroughinstagram #letthembelittle #playpandemic #presentplay #intentionalmotherhood #intentionalparenting #loveparenting #enjoyparenting #parenthood #parentingwisdom #childdevelopment #playisimportant #playislearning #playisachildswork #independencebaby #toddlerdrawings #toddlerdrawing
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Want results like Stephanie? Want to look back in a few years and think: I did it! I became the parent I knew I could be and showed up for my kids’ childhood.

Then I hope you’re taking the first (tiny, easy, doable!) baby step and follow along with Week 1 of the challenge! *Simplify*

Do you believe your kids are capable? Do you believe you’re capable?

Remember: “Whether you believe you can or believe you can’t: you’re right.” (FREE www.theparentingjunkie.com/challenge) #reclaimplay #presentplay
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