Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Out of the Mouth of Babes

Parenting is hard enough without all the confusing messages out there. We adopt a style when our babies are young, but most parenting books drop off around age 2. Part of living a Barefoot life, for me, is creating a healthy, happy, nutritional soil for my daughter's emotional, spiritual and physical growth. A child-centered approach can be tricky, especially with the inundation of glossy-one-paragraph-theories that are so popular right now in the parenting world. I was just beginning to notice a second grey streak in my hair when a new book arrived on my doorstep, thanks to the moms at Mother-Talk and Mom Central.

Author Dyan Eybergen is a pediatric psychiatric nurse, but she's also a mom. This is obvious by the practical wisdom in her book, Out of the Mouth of Babes: Parenting from a Child's Perspective. Dyan has delivered a gently constructed book directing the parent to "develop an understanding for how a child sees and feels about a given situation, to listen to and respect your child's point of view, and to attune to a child's individual needs and personality, and parent him accordingly." Prosaic and situational, but practical, this book was the perfect read for rare stolen moments throughout my day. One particular afternoon I landed smack in the middle of Chapter 7: Discipline. We always strive to use natural consequences at our house, and Dyan had plenty to offer in this vein. By the end of the day I was implementing some new ideas. Simple. Commonsense. Why was I not doing this, already?

For example: Dyan suggests that when giving a time-out to a child, you should not give them warnings beyond the first recognition of misbehavior. I had fallen into a particularly nasty trap of warnings with my daughter. I can proudly say I am recovering from this illness and enjoying the fruits! My daughter is also learning t0 practice self-quieting during time-outs and is recognizing when she is ready to rejoin the activity at hand without an arbitrary time-limit.

This books offers a refreshing reminder to recognize your child's uniqueness and suggestions on tailoring your parenting to fit the individual child. Clearly, the author has been down the road of "one size does not fit all" parenting and she now offers her wisdom to the rest of us. One of the best parts of this book is the collection of children's quotes throughout. I'll leave you with a couple:

"If you won't let me have a cookie before breakfast, how am I going to grow any bigger?" -Talen, age 4

"I don't want to go on time-out. Maybe you should go back to babysitting school." -Kohan, age 6

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