Mom Of Two Advocates for Her Neurodiverse Daughters

Girl playing with Time-In ToolKit

Natasha is a mama of two neurodiverse daughters and she has one big focus: teaching her girls social and emotional skills, not only to help them express themselves but to advocate for themselves.

“My girls are black, and they are on the spectrum. This leaves so much room for misinterpretation and judgment, and if you add in the complications of communicating with uninformed neurotypical individuals, my girls are already set to have a difficult life advocating for themselves. This is why it is important to their father and me that we do everything in our power to lay a foundation within our home of love and kindness where their emotions and feelings are acknowledged and worked through.”

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Paris, 32 months, and Riley, 16 months, both have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ADS), yet they present differently. “You know how people say if you met one Autistic person, then you met one Autistic person, well that is true in my home. The way Paris’ autism manifests is different from Riley’s. Early intervention is so important and it is important to know that no toddler displays the same signs or all the signs so you have to take notice and speak up for your child.”

One way Natasha chooses to support her girls is through emotional education. “I was reading a few positive parenting books which mentioned the effectiveness of time-ins. I did a google search of time-ins and Generation Mindful was the first link to come up. I was immediately drawn to the Time-In ToolKit. Emotional intelligence is so important to me, especially since my oldest daughter struggles to communicate her emotions and understand others. I needed an interactive guide to help me educate her and I knew these tools were perfect for my family.”

First, the family created the space by hanging the ToolKit posters and filling it with various sensory items, fidgets toys, books, soft beanbags, and stuffed animals to hug and squeeze. Then, Natasha introduced the Calming Corner to the girls through daily doses of connection and play. “I take Paris and Riley to their space anytime they choose, just to get familiar with the space, which is at least once a day. We review the emotions on the chart and try to mimic the faces in a nearby mirror. We also review the different calming strategies. My girls love to point to each and every expression and have me say it and show them the expression on my face, too.”

Natasha shares how the tools have been helpful in facilitating communication for her girls. “Paris said her first word at exactly 2-years-old. It was ‘baby,’ referring to her little sister. With the help of speech and occupational therapy, she learned and said her letters, numbers (1-10), shapes, colors, animals, and sounds, but we were unable to get her to say, sign, or move her head to indicate yes or no.”

But that all changed the day she set up the calming corner. “The day I set up the calming corner, I pulled out the yes, no, and a little cards from the My Feelings Activity Mat and Card Set. I showed Paris the yes card, read it aloud, then nodded her head along with mine to indicate yes. I then did the same for the no card, shaking her and my head to indicate no.”

Natasha said she was surprised by what happened next. “Paris picked up the no card and said ‘no’ right after. I got so excited but thought she was repeating me. But, then she grabbed the yes card and said ‘yes.’ It solidified everything for me. To have that happen on the first day of having the calming corner was absolute kismet to me.”

Introducing her girls slowly and through playful rituals, the corner has been effective during tantruming moments, too. “So far Paris likes counting to ten, taking three deep breaths, and squeezing her stuffed animals to help her regulate.”

Natasha shares that in their home, they focus on autism acceptance and normalization. “We aren’t trying to change who are girls are, stop their stimming or other unique traits, but we are trying to prepare them for a world that doesn’t understand or adjust very well for them while still providing a secure place at home. We want to create outlets for our girls to be who they are and get what they need, and GENM has helped with that.”

Through Generation Mindful’s Positive Parenting Course and Time-In-Toolkit, Natasha shares that her family is learning to name it to tame it and feel it to heal it. “We are a neurodiverse, black family implementing conscious/positive parenting. That puts us in a very specific and small group. However, we name/feel it so we can tame/heal it by advocating and encouraging other black families, other neurodiverse families, and other black and neurodiverse families to see the absolute benefits of treating your child like a respected individual that can learn to regulate emotions.”

Natasha shares the secret to her family’s success. “Parenting takes work on our part. You can’t just tell a child to go in their calming corner and expect them to get it. It is about being there with them, teaching them emotions, walking them through the strategies, and the process of managing their bodies. It is truly a team effort.”

Together, Natasha and her family are creating a space where all emotions are sacred and unique traits are celebrated. It isn’t about being the same, but rather honoring the humanness in us all and creating a safe space to be who you are. We are linked by love and, as we give it, we receive it.

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Generation Mindful creates educational tools, toys, and programs that nurture emotional intelligence through play and positive discipline. Join us and receive joy in your inbox each week.

Time-in Toolkit in action

GENM's positive parenting course

 

Life With Filters, Responding Verse Reacting

What is something that your child does that reminds you of yourself?
When we pause and look, we often discover that our children mirror our behaviors. 
Join Selina as she chats about living life with filters and tools for responding to (instead of reacting to) our children so that we model the behavior that we desire. 

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Generation Mindful creates educational tools, toys, and programs that nurture emotional intelligence through play and positive discipline. Join us and receive joy in your inbox each week.

Time-in Toolkit in action

GENM's positive parenting course

 

The Top Myths about Lust and Love and How They can Ruin Your Sex Life (Part Two)

In this article, Certified Gottman Therapist Dr. Cheryl Fraser continues to debunk love life ideas that you’ve got to be in the mood and that great love “just happens.”

The post The Top Myths about Lust and Love and How They can Ruin Your Sex Life (Part Two) appeared first on The Gottman Institute.

Celebrating The Birth Of A Mother

By Jessica Fahrenholtz

Motherhood is natural, so it is supposed to come easy, right? 

Before having children of my own, there was no doubt in my mind that I would be an excellent mother, but when the realities of postpartum and motherhood set in, all I felt was fear and doubt. 

Pregnancy was rough, but I couldn’t wait to hold my baby. I did everything by the book – no caffeine, no lunch meat – I wanted it all to go and be perfect. Then the day came for my baby to enter the world, and something unexpected happened.

When my daughter was placed in my arms, I didn’t know what to do. This surprised me. Surely motherhood was a natural instinct, and I waited for those primal urges to guide me … for hours, then days, then weeks, and then months… I waited, but all I felt was fear.

Was I holding her right? Was I making enough milk? Was I comforting her too much? I was giving motherhood my all, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that it was not good enough.  

Becoming a mother is one of the most transformational journeys a woman can make, yet this transition from woman to mother is something we don’t talk about or prepare for. 

When a child is born, so too is a mother. 

I felt unprepared for the postpartum period. No one told me about the emotional ups and downs … about the doubt and fear that comes with being a mother. I expected parenting to be challenging, but I didn’t know I would spend hours rocking my new baby and wondering What is wrong with me? Why am I struggling? 

Motherhood seemed to come so easy to everyone around me, yet here I was, barely keeping it together. To me, that could mean only one thing; maybe I was a bad mom. 

I wish I could say that I quickly found a solution to my insecurity as a mother, but it took another baby to realize I needed help. You see, I was raised in a home where we did not show our emotions. We did not ask for help because needing help was a sign of weakness, and crying was met with a sharp, “dry up!”

I knew I wanted to break that cycle with my children, but I found myself demonstrating precisely what I wanted to break. I was not asking for help despite feeling like I was drowning. I was also afraid to cry and share my emotions because I thought I would be labeled a bad mother. 

Because I was holding it all in, to the outside world, I was fine; I was the perfect mother. Inside, however, I was withering away. My anxieties and fears about being the ideal mother were slowly but surely eating away at the lively and confident woman I once was. 

As a teacher, I knew that the best way to enact change was to lead by example. I knew that If I wanted to raise my children differently, I had to create space for emotion in our home. I had to create an environment where asking for help and making mistakes were welcomed and respected. I had to create an atmosphere of self-love and acceptance. 

How could I tell my children that they were enough, loved, and meant to do great things if I did not love myself and believe in my own self-worth? I knew the change had to start with me.

That meant loving myself. Every part. The stretch marks, the tears, the silly, and the angry. I needed to practice loving every part of me if my children were going to grow up doing the same. This would take action!

So, I started a new routine in our home. For me, it was beginning every morning by writing three things I am grateful for in my life. I try and make one of those things straightforward, the sun on my face or the breeze in my hair. 

I also started ending each night by writing three things I did well that day. These two new habits took me only a few minutes, but their impact was incredible.

Within a week, my entire focus began to shift from I am not enough to I am so grateful for this time with my girls, and maybe I can do this. 

I started to tackle my insecurities, which was a massive step in the right direction, but I wanted to take it a step further and give my children the tools to love and accept themselves no matter who they decided to be. 

I searched for social-emotional resources that I could use at home and stumbled upon Generation Mindful. Their tools gave our family the peaceful and emotionally-supportive structure we needed to thrive. 

Using the Time-In ToolKit from Generation Mindful, I created a calming corner in our home when my daughters were just one and two-years-old. Before they even understood the concepts or could read the words, we would sit in our calming corner, openly talk about our feelings, talk about what they meant, and how to handle them.

The calming corner gave me the gift of an open and honest dialogue with my children about the emotions I was taught to stuff down.

This free space to talk about our emotions is what I always wanted for my kids, but never having it myself, I didn’t know where to start. The tools from Generation Mindful gave me everything I needed to set a positive change in motion for my entire family. 

As the proud mother of a now thriving kindergartner and preschooler, I am grateful every morning for the peaceful and loving home we have built as a family. We are far from perfect, but we are learning together to trust our intuition and love ourselves for everything we are and everything we aren’t.

It may have taken me a little longer than expected, but I now celebrate being a mother. I love myself, and although I am not perfect, I am enough!  

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****Jessica Fahrenholtz is a mother, educator and copywriter. She spent 5 years working as an elementary school teacher before having children of her own. She now uses her passion for education and her love of writing as an educational copywriter.

Generation Mindful creates educational tools, toys, and programs that nurture emotional intelligence through play and positive discipline. Join us and receive joy in your inbox each week.

Time-in Toolkit in action

GENM's positive parenting course

 

That Friday Feeling: Tune In And Just Be

When was the last time you had a moment to yourself? 

As parents, self care may feel like a forgotten art. Yet, part of helping ourselves through challenging parenting moments is to expand our capacity to care for ourselves on a regular basis – which may be in small ways or in small moments. 

Join Selina as she teaches the tool of finger breathing – a effective way to take the time you need during those not so great moments, to love yourself in spite of the edges, and give yourself permission to just be. 

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Generation Mindful creates educational tools, toys, and programs that nurture emotional intelligence through play and positive discipline. Join us and receive joy in your inbox each week.

Time-In Toolkit in action

GENM's positive parenting course

 

That Friday Feeling: It’s Okay Not To Be Okay

We are all working on this parenting thing together. When we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, we become courageous to be with what is and be who we are. And the truth is, it is okay to not be okay. 

Join Selina as she recognizes and honors the individual and collective challenges parents face, and tools for being present. 

When we help make ourselves whole, we do the same for our children, holding space to not to be okay, and loving them (and ourselves) through it.

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Generation Mindful creates educational tools, toys, and programs that nurture emotional intelligence through play and positive discipline. Join us and receive joy in your inbox each week.

Time-In Toolkit in action

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Sesame Street Speaks Up Against Racism

Sesame Street Speaks Up Against Racism

Sesame Street leads the pack on educating children about inclusion, social issues, and kindness, and now, with their newest special, “The Power of We,” they will teach children how to stand up against racism. The special, composed of little skits and songs in a Zoom-like format, will stream on HBO Max and the PBS 24/7 streaming channel on October 15, and air on PBS Kids the same day.

The half-hour special defines racism for younger viewers, shows how it can be hurtful and urges children who encounter racism or hear someone else be the victim of it to call it out directly. “When you see something that’s wrong, speak up and say, ‘That’s wrong’ and tell an adult,” 6-year-old Gabrielle the Muppet advises.

In the song “How Do You Know?” Elmo tackles racism with a friend. “Hey, Elmo, how would you feel if I said, ‘I don’t like you ‘cause I don’t like the color red?‘” sings Tamir, a Black, 8-year-old Muppet. Elmo responds, ”Elmo wouldn’t care what you said ’cause Elmo is proud, proud to be red!”

In another animated skit, a Black Muppet is told by a white Muppet that he can’t dress up like a superhero because they’re only white. Even though feelings are hurt, the Black Muppet refuses to stop playing superheroes, and says that they can come in all colors.

Over the summer, Sesame Workshop – the nonprofit, educational organization behind “Sesame Street”- coupled with CNN for a Town Hall called “Coming Together: Standing Up to Racism.” The Town Hall centered around the nationwide protests after George Floyd’s murder at the hands of Minneapolis police.

“The Power of We” expands on the work the show began over the summer, demonstrating Sesame Workshop’s dedication to incorporating inclusivity in its storylines and diverse cast of Muppets, human cast members, and guest stars.

“Sesame Street has the ability to entertain children while explaining complex issues like no other program and equips families and caregivers with the support they need to have empathetic conversations,” said Kay Wilson Stallings, Executive Vice President of Creative and Production at Sesame Workshop in a statement.

“We believe that this moment calls for a direct discussion about racism to help children grasp the issues and teach them that they are never too young to be ‘upstanders’ for themselves, one another, and their communities.”

Sesame Workshop has included online resources for parents to help guide meaningful conversations around race with their child, including talking, singing, and breathing together. There are also downloadable pictures to color and a certificate with a place to put the name of an upstander.

It’s never too young to be an upstander.

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Generation Mindful creates educational tools, toys, and programs that nurture emotional intelligence through play and positive discipline. Join us and receive joy in your inbox each week.

Time-In Toolkit in action

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To My Girlfriends, I Will Be Back

Girlfriends

To my girlfriends, 

Remember how we used to take in a yoga class, followed by brunch – only to cap it all off with a happy hour? Yeah, me neither. Those days are feeling far, far away

Fast forward to the present day where the text you sent me three days ago sits on my phone marked “read” minus a reply – unless you count the one in my head. 

My lack of time for us has to be frustrating, and I worry that it might even hurt a bit too. At the same time, I know you get it because you’ve been there for me every step of the way, cheering me on as I stepped into a new world, swapping out my high heels for sneakers, and my push-up bras for these sexy little numbers with snaps for easy access.

Despite your patience, I want you to know something …

I care about you, and I miss you. I miss us. 

Honestly, I’m still trying to figure this whole mothering thing out, searching for my new norm and a thing I hear other new moms calling “balance,” though I’m pretty sure this is a unicorn.

Most of my days fly by so fast that by the time things slow down long enough for me to do something for myself, like replying to your text, I’m too tired, so I crawl into bed without brushing my teeth instead. 

Some days, my SuperMom cape is flowing and other days I am touched out before I’ve even finished my first cup of coffee. 

I still have a lot to learn about being a mom and I am still figuring out how to fit myself into the equation. But I am seeing that it’s okay to take time for me. I am getting there, and I will get there for you, too. 

I may have this new role of being a mom, but I haven’t forgotten my role as your friend.

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel – a place where my intentions for reaching out to you actually solidify to action. Where I can shed the guilt of leaving my kids, shed the guilt of not being with my friends, and just be me. A beautiful, crazy mix of it all. 

The horizon is near. Dinner dates are in the future, and yea, maybe, even that happy hour, too. 

I promise my friend, I am coming back. 

Thank you for your patience. 

XO, 

Me

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Generation Mindful creates educational tools, toys, and programs that nurture emotional intelligence through play and positive discipline. Join us and receive joy in your inbox each week.

Time-in Toolkit in action

GENM's positive parenting course

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