Why potty training in public is not performance parenting

4 Oct


Since introducing our off-grid parenting style, and appearing on the this morning show (where our daughter took centre stage by peeing through her nappy on the floor), our family have been touted as the parents who don’t do potty training. This is not entirely false, we actually don’t engage in any form of child training including sleep training and potty training since adopting the child-led parenting philosophy.

Last week I received an email from a researcher on ITV this morning that read….

“Sorry to bother you out of the blue, but we’re trying to cast a debate for Monday’s show and I was keen to get your thoughts.

In a nutshell, one of our team saw a child using a potty in the middle of a busy restaurant the other day and so we want to put together a debate on whether or not this is acceptable. I just wondered how you went about potty training your children and if you think using a potty whenever/wherever is OK?”

Conventional potty training didn’t work for our son so we took the ‘toilet learning’ approach and allowed him to transition in his own way and in his own time which took until he was around four year old. My youngest toddler has had some nappy free time this summer and doesn’t like sitting on a potty yet so we provided her with alternatives such as a waterproof mat or going out in the garden. She is now choosing to sit on a potty when she has a nappy on.

As long as children are exposed to healthy, social role modelling I believe they have an innate intelligence and desire to integrate and learn the skills they need to achieve both independence and cohesion in society, without the need for adult coercion. That said we all have different ways of achieving the same goal and for some potty training fits in perfectly with their family and their lifestyle.

The ITV this morning debate ensued on this topic of public potty training and created quite a stir.
Professional potty trainer, Amanda Jenner quite rightly pointed out that parents are potty training under stressful and chaotic environments and should not be expected to put their whole life on hold and not go out whilst their child is transitioning out of nappies.

Journalist and mum of one, Kelly Rose Bradford was quick to judge and labelled any such incidence as ‘ performance parenting’, going on to say “For me it just totally smacks of this total entitlement performance parenting, that we all seem to be totally subjected to all the time now and other people’s children’s needs come before anybody else’.

I personally wouldn’t encourage my child to go to the toilet near to where others are eating however, that doesn’t mean I would judge another who finds themselves in that situation. Perhaps the parent in question has a child who has a phobia of public toilets and there was no suitable alternative or maybe the child was desperate and couldn’t make it to the toilet in time. Would we prefer they wee all over the restaurant floor through their clothes?

Furthermore, the whole issue of eating and going to the toilet in the same place brings up the hypo racy of our society: many consider it perfectly acceptable to expect breastfeeding women to feed their child in a toilet which is surely the same thing an adult being expected to eat close to where a child is using a potty.

The whole idea of adult supremacy and that children’s needs should never take precedence over the needs of fully mature adults, seems ridiculous to me. Surely as grown adults we should be accepting that the needs of anybody’s young children come before our own preferences and opinions of what is unacceptable and unpleasant to those surrounding them….After all, there is nothing performance related about that, it’s simply called empathy and compassion!

Why we favour alternative medicine over modern medicine

1 Aug


My children have never visited a doctor, not even for a check-up, never been vaccinated and never taken any drugs – not even over-the-counter drugs. This may sound like child abuse to many if you fail to recognise that these kids are much healthier than the average child and are also being raised very differently to the average child.

As a family we are definitely unconventional when compared to the average family. We ditch the 9-5 mortgage-focused, structured rat race. We choose to work on self-development rather on curriculums and timetables. We choose to eat whole and raw plant based food over fast food. We detoxify and cleanse regularly and listen to our bodies cues for hunger, fasting and tiredness. We seek emotional and spiritual healing rather than blaming our genes. We forage wild herbs and foods for our medicine. We choose to live with faith rather than fear.

You have probably already heard of the Placebo effect where the very positive suggestion of some medicine or treatment being made actually influences the patient to manifest that healing reality but you may not have heard of the Nocebo effect. The Nocebo effect is occurring in hospitals and doctors surgeries everyday where fear tactics are used to plant a negative self-fulfilling prophecy into the patient’s psyche of the ‘potential’ dangers/risks of the diagnosis or potentiality of not taking up a course of recommended treatment.

I recently experienced this myself at the local dentist; eg: dentist – “you have signs of tooth decay and will need to have fillings” patient – “no thank you, I don’t wish to have any fillings” dentist – “If you don’t have fillings you will suffer from excruciating nerve exposure and will be back complaining to me” patient – “thanks for the advice (warning/coercion)”.
Don’t get me wrong, this approach is necessary for those who do not wish to take responsibility and accountability for their actions and choices, but not for everyone.

Aside from not wanting to fulfil a negative prophecy around my kid’s health, I also choose not to use treatments, as a first port of call, that do nothing more than suppress the symptoms and ignore the true, root cause of the problem.

I also wish to protect my kids from the-not-uncommon phenomena of ‘medical kidnapping’ by the state who believe they know what is best for a child above and beyond the parent’s instinctual, intimate knowledge of their own offspring. The only real way to guarantee protection from your children from being forcibly treated is to abandon the system from where they are abducted. There are so many cases of medical kidnapping being made public in the media, one such case (Ashya King) involved the whole family fleeing the UK to go to Spain to seek the cancer treatment they desired for their son rather than accept the orthodox cancer treatments that the conventional health services inflict on adults and children alike which violently attacks the whole body.

In keeping my children out of a doctors registration and care, I am claiming back my rights as a parent to be the one who decides what is best for my children’s health and wellbeing.

Our decision not to vaccinate goes beyond the scope of this article but I can safely say that it was well researched from all avenues and not taken lightly. I honestly believe that my first child would not be with us today had I had allowed him to be vaccinated on the recommended schedule. He is highly sensitive and had a tough time sleeping and remaining settled through his younger years. He also experienced baby asthma and allergies. He has so far contracted both chicken pox and scarlet fever and made a speedy recovery from all illnesses without any drugs and any harm caused. As a result of overcoming childhood diseases he has now become a very healthy five year old with no medical complaints. For those parents who truly want to make an informed decision when it comes to this important decision, there is now such a wealth of information available online including documentaries such as ‘vaccine nation’ and ‘vaxxed’ and the very informative website http://www.nvic.org.

Growing up I frequently visited doctors, dentists and optometrists and as a result ended up with strong vision correction from 18 months old, a mouth full of fillings and a crown and constant fatigue and digestive disturbances. The sad truth is that these practitioners don’t make money unless we are sick and the more they interfere, the worse our health becomes and the more reliant we become on further intervention.

When it comes to fevers and fasting we view them as a healing opportunity for the body to cleanse rather than a potential danger. A fever is the body’s natural inferno which is created to burn through morbid and diseased matter in the body before excretory pathways such as sweating, mucous deposits and eliminating faeces help to sweep out the waste in order to cleanse the body of it’s previously acidic, disease-inducing state.

The body will naturally desire to fast (decline solid food) during a fever in an attempt to free-up digestive energy for cleansing the body effectively. As long as the fever is not a dry fever ie. plenty of fluid is taken on board to assist in temperature maintenance and the fever stays within the recommended parameters (see link for more info: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/10/26/scary-symptoms-that-are-really-no-big-deal.aspx), a fever is normally a safe and necessary detoxifying modality for the human body to undergo in times of disease.

Medical care has its place and we believe emergency care is important for unnatural incidences where we know the cause such as car accidents. For all else, we choose to doctor ourselves first and only use medical assistance should we feel that the condition is outside of our coping capacity. We have previously taken our eldest to hospital once during an asthmatic breathing attack, triggered by a mould allergy to have him checked out after our usual natural methods of opening up the lungs in a steam room failed to alleviate the symptoms sufficiently.

I choose to safeguard my children’s health using attachment parenting methods such as safe co-sleeping, baby wearing and full-term, on-demand breastfeeding. We also acknowledge the importance of emotional and mental wellbeing by seeking to understand the role of psychological thought patterns and trauma in manifesting physical disturbance. We believe every disease has a corresponding mental invitation at the root of it (see Louise L.Hay for more info). We also choose to opt out of the structured, educational establishments whilst immersing in nature. Furthermore we strive to make material sacrifices so we can provide full-time, at-home child care which enables us to tune into our children’s individual day-to-day requirements for remaining balanced and healthy.

However you choose to look after your children’s health is entirely up to you but I would recommend that whatever path you take, do not trust blindly. When deciding who to trust always follow the money trail; where there is greed for money and power, corruption and misconduct often follow closely alongside. Don’t settle for side effects that are as bad as the disease itself and research every avenue you come across including such documentary series as ‘The truth about Cancer: A global quest’. Ulterior motives can be tough to unearth, but when it comes to your families health, uncovering the real motives behind the pharmaceutical industry can result in a matter of life or death. I wish you all great health.

(Disclaimer: I am not a medical practitioner and do not intend to give medical advice. I am a concerned parent who wishes to share my experience of raising my children unconventionally. All references given are not necessarily sourced from peer reviewed studies and come from the information I have gained along my parenting journey.)

What is positive discipline and how do we manage unwanted behaviour?

24 Jul




The word “discipline” originates from the Latin word disciplina which means “instruction” and derives from the root discere which means “to learn.” The word discipulus which means “disciple or pupil” also stems from this word. So in a very fundamental sense, discipline can be considered systematic instruction given to a disciple. Discipline does not have to imply punishment.

Discipline works best when it’s tailored to suit the age and accommodate any special needs each child may have. For example, a toddler has no impulse control and little empathetic development so should not be expected to be capable of sharing and waiting long periods or sitting still. Furthermore, Children who have sensory processing issues should not be expected to be capable of remaining still and calm in unfamiliar and busy environments, also around crowds of people.

Behind every behaviour is an unmet need.

Every child’s ‘bad’ behaviour reflects an unmet need with a positive intention of fulfilling that need. Crying and winging don’t just happen because a child is deliberately trying to upset their parent, rather it is a form of communication to let the parent know that something is out of balance and they need help to fix it. Often the imbalance may even be a reflection of the parent’s mood or behaviour so self-reflection is a great practice to engage in should you wish to get to the root of your child’s behavioural issue. In times of meltdown I always check in with my own feelings and wellbeing before I continue to talk with my child about what’s going on in his mind.

Equality does not mean the same but does include respect. Respect is shown in many ways, the way we communicate being one of the most important when it comes to building strong relationships with others. Non-violent communication is a method of resolving conflicts and disputes in a respectful manner. You can find out more about the nvc formula of effective communication here…..Nvc

Positive discipline sees the child as an equal human being who deserves the same respect as you would give another adult. At the same time, positive discipline seeks to move away from exerting power over a child, instead coming from a position of authority to guide, discuss and compromise in order to find a solution that respects the needs of everyone involved.

No shaming or coercion.

Positive discipline does not use punishment (physical or mental), rewards, shame or bribery as a method to deter or control unwanted behaviour. Naughty steps are never used, instead the adult is encouraged to take time out and come back when they are calm enough to speak rationally and respectfully with their child.


Examples of unmet needs: stimulation/boredom, tiredness, overstimulation, hunger, lack of connection, sadness, stress

Let me illustrate some of these principles with a basic example: my children find the bag of flour in the kitchen cupboard and want to play with it so begin throwing some over the floor. Instead of saying ‘no you can’t do that’ I find a yes to go with that no, identify the unmet need and also give an explanation to go with it. ‘No you cannot throw flour inside because it will be difficult to clean up on the carpet but you may play with it in the garden’ (unmet need = lack of mental stimulation and the need for messy play and exploration).

Discipline for 0-3years: Avoid saying no too much, instead distract.

With toddlers and pre-school aged kids, distraction may also be a useful tool to manage negative behaviour just so long as the adult does not use it to suppress the child from releasing their emotions. Validate feelings when a child is angry, upset or sad by saying what you see again e.g. We must go home now for dinner, I see you are sad that you can’t stay and play longer’ and then offer a choice if possible e.g. ‘Would you like to pick the slide, the swings or the climbing frame as your last thing to play on before we leave?’

Motivating your child to be their best.

The problem with the use of Rewards to encourage good behaviour is that they only work on the principle of extrinsic motivation ie. ‘If you do X then you will receive Y’. This method inhibits intrinsic motivation which is an inner desire to help for the sake of feeling good. With extrinsic motivation the child comes to always expect something in return for his or her co-operation, with intrinsically motivated kids, they need only to understand the reasoning behind the request rather than be bribed. Bribery is very different to giving occasional treats though. Treats can be offered without condition for exceptional behaviour or achievements such as helping someone out in need or courageously making it through a traumatic time.

Saying well done in an effective way.

Praise can be good but also can be negative, especially if it’s overuse results in the child becoming dependent on it to fuel their self-esteem. Often it’s better to ask the child how they feel about their achievement rather than just giving your opinions. Praise is fine on occasion but so long as it’s not empty praise statements, lacking specifics such as ‘good boy’ or ‘good job’. We must explain to kids what they are doing well and describe our observations without focusing on the outcome but the effort instead e.g. ‘I see that you found climbing that net really tough but you didn’t give up!’

It’s not you I don’t like, it’s your behaviour.

When you are discussing issues with your child try to label the behaviour, not the child. Behaviour can be changed but a personality quality cannot. E.g ‘you acted irresponsibly when you ran across the road without stopping’ rather than just ‘you were naughty crossing the road like that’.

Do we have rules?

Of course we do, our rules are mutually agreed on and follow basic courtesy for other beings. Every family must decide what rules are important for them. Here are some of ours:

*Take shoes off inside the house.
*Do no harm to others.
*Respect other people’s needs, property and boundaries.
*Allow others to sleep in quiet, if you need to make noise then go somewhere else.

Do we set limits?

We follow a child-led, unschooled approach to lifestyle. We feel strongly that limits should not be set on issues such as bedtimes, food intake and choice and screen time. We wish for our children to learn to listen to their own body’s needs over someone else’s ideas of what is appropriate for them. This way we believe they will not lose touch with their own wellbeing e.g. hunger and tiredness cues. I do admit that screen time has been the most uncomfortable issue for us as we are great nature lovers. Technology does have a lot to offer in terms of learning opportunities but also has a downside of restricting a child’s movement, interaction with others and exposing them to electromagnetic pollution. Despite this we have found that as long as we continue to offer a range of activities and social opportunities, our son regulates his own screen time quite nicely.

Of course we all falter when it comes to implementing our ideals but the important thing is that we always try to catch our mistakes and become aware of how to move forward in a positive and peaceful direction. If we want to build a relationship of mutual respect with our children well into adulthood then we must start now, for our children’s sake and ours too.

For more info on these topics please visit my posts on mom.me

Natural living is expensive, how do we afford to live this way?

22 Jul



Our family live a frugal lifestyle in Brighton, as close to nature as possible. Since our appearance on itv this morning where we discussed our “off-grid” parenting style we have received many queries asking how we manage to sustain ourselves financially.

We both get paid, working part-time. I write for parenting sites such as mom.me in my little spare time that I have in between full-time child care and home education. Matt is a freelance yoga instructor and health coach. It is important to us at we both have equal opportunity to raise the children and give them quality time.

We also rely partly on some benefits including housing benefit, child benefit and child tax credit. We do not use the tax payers money for the education system or medical system when it comes to our kids. We do pay reduced council tax and use libraries, museums and parks. The majority of our money goes on the basics like food, amenities and public transport, where required.

We don’t have a TV but do have computers. We get by shopping a lot at budget stores out of necessity but this does not imply that we agree with their ethics as businesses. Much of our furniture, the kids toys and clothes are either free cycled or second hand or gifted from their nan. We don’t take holidays, nor have a car. We live in a modest one bed flat with a garden in a location where we have good access to everything we need. We regularly forage wild food and also grow some of our own food in the garden. We home cook a lot and rarely eat out. We are in debt like much of the country including student loans and overdraft and do our best to pay back what we can afford.

We are living in a country with an unfair family taxation system that does not support home education or recognise those providing care for the family, including home educators.
I would like to take the opportunity to promote a cause close to my heart, http://www.mothersathomematter.co.uk

At the end of the day, we as humans have created a system where we are the only species who pay for our basic survival requirements and we all need money to live. We don’t have inheritance, trust funds and savings to draw upon so we have started a crowdfunding campaign through http://www.fundmytravel.com to help us become self-sufficient and in return we intend to build a business which shares advice and knowledge to help others do the same. We hope everyone who desires to make their lives better can find the courage to reach out and improve their situation also in whatever way they can.

What is “off-grid” parenting?

18 Jul


Off-grid parenting is a term used to describe a style of parenting which seeks to adopt a natural, self-sustainable, unconventional and intuitive approach to all aspects of child rearing. Off-grid parents usually step outside the system when it comes to their children’s medical care and education and opt for alternative health care, alternative education such as unschooling and adopt alternative child rearing praices. Off-grid parents usually arrange their work schedule to ensure they can spend maximum quality time with their children. Off-grid parents don’t vaccinate or medicate their children using artificially produced drugs and medicines but may use fasting, food, herbs and other alternative forms of medicine. Off-grid mums oftern choose to manage their pregnancy independently of a doctor and usually birth outside of the conventional hospital system. Conventional parenting practices such as baby sleep training  and cry-it-out method as well as punitive discipline are shunned in favour of attachment parenting and child-led methods such as co-sleeping, on-demand, full-term breastfeeding and  positive discipline. Off-grid parents do not adhere to a ‘one diet fits all’ philosophy but do seek to eat whole, natural and ethically produced foods to maintain good health.


Coming soon…off-grid parenting documentary, watch this space!


Forget Brexit: Ten reasons why British mums want to exit the UK.

5 Jul


With the latest EU referendum edging on a leave vote for the UK to exit the European Union, here’s ten reasons why British mums are in despair at the thought of raising a family in not-so-Great Britain:

1. Stay-at-home mums in the UK are now being denied any state pension if they haven’t worked at least ten years and a reduced pension if they haven’t worked at least 35 years in the work force. This kind of system that does not recognise the value of carers, encouraging parents to have fewer children, with smaller age gaps between siblings which can be restrictive and stressful for the whole family unit.

2. Due to mothers at home not being recognised as contributing to society, Britain has an unfair family taxation system which penalises those who earn only one family income.

3. Single mums reliant on benefits are now being forced back into work as soon as their child reaches three years old, before they are lawfully expected to be in full-time education. These moms are supposed to do the work of two parents plus that of the bread winner, an unfair expectation.

4. Government will not provide help with childcare unless it is an Ofsted recognised educational setting. This setup fails to recognise that not all kids are suited to such environments and need home-based parental or relation care.

5. UK kids rank amongst the unhappiest in the world and are the unhappiest in Europe. The Children’s Society report, which looked at 15 diverse countries, ranked England 14th for life satisfaction of its young people, ahead of South Korea.

6. Brexit has won the EU referendum and with Britain coming out of Europe this means the citizens are likely to become isolated from other cultures as freedom of movement of the people is compromised, with an increase in racism and xenophobia. Britain leaving the EU means our kids may have restricted freedoms when it comes to travelling, working and living abroad.

7. The government wants to institutionalise our kids younger and younger, robbing them of their right to a playful childhood. The education system is failing more and more children, especially boys and those with special educational needs. As a result more and more families are turning to home education but this option is made tough for many as home educated kids are not financially supported in any way, even though these parents still have to contribute into the tax system.

8. The United Nations has recognised that the UK Government is not putting children at the heart of its policies or as Native Americans put it, ‘at the centre of the fire’. Children are seen as an economic inconvenience in society.

9. Austerity measures have created a huge increase in children living in poverty, 1 in 4 British children are now living in poverty according to the child poverty action group. This is an unacceptable standard for a so-called ‘developed’ country.

10. According to a survey by ‘dirt is good’ campaign by Persil, 3/4 of all children in the UK are now spending less time outdoors than the average prison inmate (At least one hour). This is likely due to lack of green spaces, extortionate rents; contributing towards a lack of garden space and increased sardine-style living conditions. In 2013 the RSPB published a three-year study, which concluded that four out of five children in the UK were not adequately “connected to nature”.

So while the political world gets anxious about the state of immigration, British mums turn their thoughts to the option of emigration. We are asking ourselves how can mums like us stay in this situation and do we want our children to be raised in a society that is more distracted by worldly capitalist gains than the welfare of future generations? Maybe it’s change that’s needed, change of awareness, perception and policies that promote family values and community growth.

Model Graciousness

28 Dec

Visible Child

stubbornchildThere’s a parenting question that comes up perhaps more frequently than any other. We seem to be able to wrap our heads around how to respectfully set limits, offer choices, acknowledge their feelings, understand the differences between natural and logical consequences, even calmly support them through tantrums. But when push comes to shove, there is one thing that stumps us:

“What do I do when they simply refuse to do what I am asking them to do?”

I would reword the question, actually.  Don’t get me wrong, I hear you.  You’re asking what to do when your kids refuse to pick up their toys, put their clothes on, brush their teeth, clean up a mess they made.  I know.  i would still reword it.  I hear the words that you are asking.  And after they go through the filter that is oh-so-handily inside my ears, the question…

View original post 2,398 more words