‘Based on the latest research on brain development and clinical experience with parents, Dr. Laura Markham’s approach is as simple as it is effective. Her message: Fostering emotional connection with your child creates real and lasting change. When you have that vital connection, you don’t need to threaten, nag, plead, bribe – or even punish.’
Picked up this book in my ongoing quest to stop yelling at the kids. Now that 123 Magic has helped me cut down drastically on my yelling, I would like to stop yelling completely… if that’s possible.
First and foremost, I agree completely with the author that ‘parenting isn’t about what our child does, but about how we respond.’ Because I know my biggest hurdle is not the children’s misbehaviours, but my short-temperedness and my tantrums.
On good days, i.e. when somehow I was able to remain calm when the kids were acting up, their misbehaviours rarely escalated into full-blown tantrums. I have experienced this ‘miracle’, but the difficult part is, how do I always remain calm? (or at least most of the time)
But alas, as I read the book, I felt that its proposed solution is for the parent to attain saintly composure and patience and always do the right thing. It advocates no punishment, no cry-it-out – very attachment parenting. (Which is good. If I have three domestic helpers, one for each kid. Oh, make that four – one for the housework. Gosh, I shall write a post on attachment parenting soon. A lot to say about that.)
This book is also too psychoanalytical for me. The author suggests that parents run into difficulties because ‘virtually all of us were wounded as children, and if we don’t heal those wounds, they prevent us from parenting our child as we truly want to.’
Hmm. I did my degree in psychology and I have always preferred cognitive theories. I also very much believe in WILL over being controlled by childhood incidents that occurred 30 years ago.
In addition, the author also says that children’s tantrums are a result of repressed emotions.
“.. we could also think of misbehaviour as acting out a big emotion that the child can’t express in words. So all ‘misbehaviour’ is a signal to us as parents that our child needs our help with an emotion that he can’t process, one that’s driving him to misbehave.”
Gosh. While I don’t believe that children purposely manipulate parents, neither can I accept that ALL misbehaviours are symptoms of bigger problems. I prefer to think that children are just naughty at times. I mean, they are children after all!
Suggestions are given on anger management for the parent, such as a parent time-out, to wait before disciplining, monitor our tone and word choice, etc. But I think these are pretty standard ideas for anger management and nothing new.
Then, comes another recommended solution that I cannot fathom – scheduled tantrums. “Ignoring his behaviour and hoping he’ll get into a better mood will result in an escalation of acting out until he ends up in a full-fledged upset, usually at the most inconvenient time for you. Instead, move into a ‘scheduled meltdown’ on your own schedule – while you are still calm enough to stay compassionate.”
OK, the rationalisation for this sounds logical. No doubt the parent will find it easier to remain calm if she is not busy at the point of tantrum, and is prepared for the tantrum to happen. But… purposely making the child have a tantrum seems rather cold-hearted… : (
The author goes on to suggest that if the child gets angry instead of crying, ‘help him surface his fears by lovingly confronting his defiance… feeling the love coming from your eyes will melt his hardened heart and flood him with all those hurting feelings that he’s been hiding away… He will either burst into tears (bingo!) or lash out angrily.”
Aiyo. Actually, I shouldn’t be spending time writing this since I do not think this book will be useful for my readers anyway. But I really need to say what I feel about this book!!
There are two ideas which I like though –
1) The most important parenting skill: Manage yourself. Much like inflight emergency procedures advise parents to put on the oxygen mask for ourselves before attending to the child, the parent should take care of herself so that she is not venting on the child. Tired, hungry, stressed? Won’t be easy to be patient then!
2) Having daily Special Time with each child. It can be just ten minutes when the parent is being fully present and paying full attention to the child. No television or radio or phone. No other children around unless that child is able to self-entertain and not disturb the Special Time.
I am now reading another book called Screamfree Parenting. Similarly, it focuses on the parents. But it looks a lot more promising! Shall write the review once I finish!