Happy Healthy Blogger Thursday!

I am not only excited about this week’s healthy blogger, I am also PROUD of this amazing blogger. Folks, meet Heather Shumaker, blogger at Starlighting Mama and author of a revolutionary new book, It’s Okay Not to Share…and other Renegade Rules.

I met Heather at the UW Writer’s Institute where she was speaking about her most recent book, and I was teaching about blogging and social media marketing for writers. She admitted she was a little nervous about the blogosphere, but was committed to giving it a shot. After the institute she got her blog rolling, and has been kicking some serious butt ever since. Check her out on Facebook and on her website after you read her post below.

Today she is sharing some sneak previews from her latest book, and if you are like me, you will want to run out and buy it after you read below. I love her common sense, brave approach to parenting. She dares to say what most of us think, and that’s why her book has been such a hit so far.

Without further adieu,

heeeeerrrrrreeeee’s Heather!


If you’re like me, you cook and parent simultaneously.  And sometimes meals don’t turn out as planned, say, when you get distracted by cries of “Mom!” which causes you to forget a key ingredient in the chili.

I’m an author and mother with two small kids.  My book, It’s OK Not to Share…And Other Renegade Rules for Raising Competent and Compassionate Kids (Tarcher/ Penguin, 2012) is full of counter-intuitive ideas for dealing with young children’s intense energy, emotions and conflicts.  The book covers topics like: free play, weapon play, social rejection, swearing, rough-and-tumble play, risk-taking and creativity.  You won’t find a chapter on food or nutrition in the table of contents, but it may just help you get through the dinner hour.

If you’re tired of playing referee in your children’s sharing squabbles or worried about school pressures, you’ll find new ideas here.  Crazy (but effective) ideas like stopping a temper tantrum by taking dictation and writing down the child’s angry feelings.  You can read a free sample chapter here.

To keep sanity in your life and in the kitchen, here’s a sampling of some of the book’s renegade rules.

  1. “I Hate You!” is Nothing Personal

It’s hard to stay calm when you hear words like this.  But remember it’s nothing more than a young child who is temporarily mad.  Bypass the word “hate” and go directly to the feeling underneath.  Translate her angry words into what she means: “You’re mad.  You’re really mad at me right now. You wish you could have another cookie.”

  1. Let Kids Hit and Kick

Young kids express emotions with their bodies.  For some kids, a burst of physical energy is necessary before they can reach calm.  If an angry child is hitting, don’t stop the motion.  Just redirect.  “I can’t let you hit me, but you can hit the sofa.”  A substitute target reinforces the idea that people aren’t for hurting.

  1. It’s OK Not to Share

We expect kids will learn generosity when they have to “give something up” (usually the toy they are busy using).  But giving something up feels terrible.  It interrupts play and instantly rewards the child who asks for it.  Instead, have kids say “I’m not done yet.” This teaches positive assertiveness – how to set respectful limits on peers.  The waiting child gains, too.  Waiting teaches impulse control and delayed gratification, vital life skills which also bolster the region of the brain necessary for academic success.

  1. Kids Don’t Have to Say ‘Sorry’

Young kids love the word ‘sorry.’  Like magic, it lets them off the hook.  Push someone?  Just say ‘sorry.’  No remorse and no responsibility involved.  Instead, ask kids to take action (go get a tissue or ice pack) and make a meaningful guarantee: “I won’t push you again” or “I won’t knock over your tower.”  A guarantee helps kids feel safe and holds them accountable.

  1. Boys Can Wear Tutus

Play that crosses gender roles is creative and harmless.  Kids have the right to choose their own play themes and try on any kind of dress-up clothes. We give girls tremendous freedom to be anything.  What about boys?  Trying out different roles helps children develop empathy – a huge part of moral development.

  1. Don’t Get Ready for Kindergarten

You may think putting Johnny in a preschool which drills math and reading will give him a step ahead.  Actually, the opposite is true.  Long-term studies show that kids in academic preschools do worse in later school years, and kids who PLAY do better.

The book’s inspired by a one-of-a-kind preschool in Columbus, Ohio where my mother teaches and where I (long ago) went to school as a child.  They do things differently there.  They welcome rough, active play, for example, and even give kids boxing gloves for roughhousing games in the classroom.  It’s a welcoming, loving place, and with this book I’m thrilled to share their unconventional philosophies with readers like you.

And…since I know you love food.  If you’re looking for a creative book for cooking with kids, try Vivian Kirkfield’s new book Show Me How!  It’s chock full of kid-friendly cooking recipes combined with crafts (and what I love most) – ideas for good picture books to read aloud together.  What’s great is the recipes are linked to the books she chooses, so for instance, the book Blueberries for Sal gives you a recipe to make blueberry muffins.  You can find it here: www.positiveparentalparticipation.com


Heather Shumaker and her family

Heather Shumaker is the author of It’s OK Not to Share…And Other Renegade Rules for Raising Competent and Compassionate Kids (Tarcher/ Penguin, 2012).  She’s a journalist, blogger, speaker and mother of two young children, whose work has appeared in Huffington Post, New York Post, Parenting, Pregnancy and Organic Gardening.  She’s a frequent guest on radio and TV shows about writing and parenting, and blogs at Starlighting Mama.  You can learn more about Heather’s book at www.heathershumaker.com


What are some renegade rules you use in your parenting, or that you were raised by?



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