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This book distinguishes between two types of child behaviour: 'Stop Behaviour' & 'Start Behaviour'. Stop Behaviour is behaviour that must be stopped immediately, like whining, fighting or yelling. Start Behaviour is behaviour that involves a longer process that needs to be done by the child – particularly behaviour that is often delayed or difficult, such as getting ready to leave the house in the morning, eating meals or going to bed at night.

The two main principles of this method involve two parenting 'rules': no talking, and no emotion. Phelan says that the two biggest mistakes parents make are to discipline emotionally, which results in parents arguing or pleading with the child which can lead to yelling and 'hitting'. As a parent, I don't have anything against spanking in itself, although I entirely agree that when a parent is reacting to their own emotions, yelling at or spanking a child can become very dangerous. The other mistake is talking too much, or trying to reason with a child who is either incapable of understanding reason, or is too selfish to care about your reasons.

The whole basis for this method and these principles is the belief that children are not miniature adults who are capable of reasoning and empathy, but selfish beings by nature. I know that this view would not be held by everyone, but as a Christian who believes in the sin nature, and based on my own observations and experience, this completely rings true for me. This method is about stopping bad behaviour using mild but consistent and emotionless discipline, while gradually training a child to develop their own self-discipline. Later in the book, the author reminds readers that part of the goal of parenting is to raise people who can leave their parents' homes and take care of themselves, which is something I try to keep in mind constantly when making parenting decisions and it was comforting to hear the author of this method emphasis the importance of this.

The basic 'Stop Behaviour' method outlined in this book is counting – when a child is misbehaving deliberately: whining, yelling, teasing, fighting, etc., you count to 3, giving about 5 seconds of silence between each count to give the child a chance to stop misbehaving. Almost always, the child knows what they are doing wrong, and so usually no explanation is necessary. If the child is legitimately clueless, the author says to quickly tell the child what they are doing wrong, but other than this to say nothing. Later in the book, the author describes situations and circumstances where talking and explaining are important and necessary for the parent/child relationship, but states that the time for talking is NOT during discipline. An emotionless parent can't be emotionally manipulated by the child, nor can the parent lose control of their own emotions.

So far, we have been following the method in this book for about five days, and despite its simplicity, it is difficult to remain emotionless and to keep quiet. I have always thought of myself as a calm and collected parent when it comes to discipline – I nearly always follow through on discipline without showing anger – but through this method I have realized how much I talk and allow myself to be distracted and manipulated before the discipline occurs.

For example, today Clara was asked to pick up her boots off the floor, and she began to babble about something and because I wasn't sure she had heard me, I asked her about three times before I realized I should count. I said 'That's one', and she continued babbling through 'That's 2...' and appeared as though she hadn't heard me at all. So, I stopped the count and explained to her again that I was counting, and if I got to 3, she would have a time out so she'd better clean up her boots. Finally, she started slithering (on her belly like a snake) sloooowly across the floor toward her boots. I was tempted to start counting again, since I had stopped proceedings to re-explain the situation to her, until she momentarily stopped on her way across the floor to examine a toy and I said 'That's 3' and she had her time out. What I should have done was to count right up to 3 – no explanations – when I started counting, and given her the time-out immediately. Based on her behaviour, she clearly doesn't take it seriously when I begin counting, and I need to make sure that I stay consistent – and quite strict - for a couple of weeks for sure to make sure she begins to take me seriously. Obviously I continue to give her reason to question my resolve.

The book goes on to discuss methods for encouraging children to complete certain tasks – like getting ready to leave the house in the morning, or to eat their dinner, or finish their homework – and although I think there is a lot of value in what the book spoke of here, many of these ideas will be more useful to me when Clara is a bit older. For now, it is my job to get her mostly ready in the morning and starting a kitchen timer to give her a limited amount of time to complete a task would – at this point, I think – still be over her head.

All in all, I appreciate this book – largely because it has given us a plan, and a simple methodology that involved principles that we had not yet considered. After realizing last week how very poorly we were doing in the area of discipline, we needed something different and this book was exactly that. 

Thursday, 23 February 2012 10:00

Your Kids Are Your Own Fault, Larry Winget

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As the title of this book suggests, Larry Winget believes that a child is the product of how he or she is parented, and that it is the responsibility of the parents to make sure that their children become responsible and productive adults. He prefaces his book to say that he believes that all of societies problems including financial problems, illiteracy, poor educational systems, crime, bad driving, etc. are ultimately the result of bad parenting.

 

Winget makes no apology for his strong views on this subject and even warns his readers to be ready for an honest perspective that seeks to fix the parent and not the child.

 

Winget outlines a number of popular views and practices of parents today and points to these as the reason why so many teenagers and adults are becoming less and less responsible as the years go by. These include telling children that they are special and making them the most important thing in a parents life, because this gives them a false sense of importance which doesn't carry over into the real world. “When your kid walks out your front door and gets to school, she is just one more little kid in the third row...” (pg. 22). He also points to the focus on 'building self-esteem' as damaging to children, because it is not the parents who can 'give' their children this, but rather self-esteem only comes from feeling good about one's self, which is normally a direct result of feeling a sense of achievement from accomplishing something.

 

Winget goes on to discuss what he views as the five basic elements of parenting: communication, involvement, education, discipline and punishment. He discusses how a child learns how to communicate from the way he or she sees communication in his or her family, and that a parent needs to be involved in their child's life while being careful not to be over-bearing or controlling. He stresses the need for education and discipline as well as punishment, stating that although some parents focus on punishment, if all other areas are done correctly, punishment will be the parenting area that is required the least.

 

The third section is a set of chapters on different topics that should be discussed with your children including money and how to handle it; sex; relationships – theirs and yours, good and bad, both romantic and otherwise; health including how to eat healthy and get enough exercise – Winget argues that to teach your kids poor health habits is a form of child abuse; physical appearance – what is a big deal and what isn't, including how you should or should not allow your child to dress; the importance of and lessons that can be learned from school; technology and how to respect it, and when to limit it; honesty and integrity; allowing your child to find their own purpose in life; and finally, a checklist for teaching your kids how to plan for success.

 

The book ends with three short sections including a letter written specifically for teenagers in Winget's typical style of confessing a parent's inevitable flaws while telling the teen not to be an idiot with the choices the teen makes.

 

Overall, I love the style of Winget's writing as well as his general attitude about the responsibility of parents in the people their children become. I differ from Winget on a few fundamental beliefs, and so there are a number of views expressed that I do not agree with, particularly those that go against the Christian faith. As a whole, however, I highly recommend this book; particularly to those who are concerned with raising independent, responsible and productive adults – because I believe many parenting philosophies today are creating very much the opposite of this, which is concerning for the future of North America.

 

 

A collection of simple ‘rules’ to follow for raising children.  Sturges organizes these rules into seven areas including communication, manners, safety and discipline.  One rule, as indicated by the title of the book, discusses having strict guidelines for children while in parking lots to always stay right next to their parent with no exceptions to ensure the child is kept as safe as possible.  Another more parent-directed rule instructs the parent to smile whenever their child enters the room regardless of the parent’s current mood, in order to make the child feel special and important.  I found this to be a quick and easy read, which also has the capability of being read in bits and pieces as you find time since each chapter is an independent thought or idea.

 

 

 

 

In response to working with brain damaged children and discovering that with adequate brain stimulation brain damaged children were reaching intellectual milestones years ahead of their 'well' peers, Glenn Doman and Janet Doman sought to discover exactly how to encourage each child to reach their full potential.

 

Due to the fact that the brain does the vast majority of its growing and developing in the first six years of life, Doman and Doman state the importance of brain stimulation in a child's early years.

 

The majority of the book outlines a program for optimal development for babies including sensory development, motor skill advancement and language development from birth to approximately 12 months or whenever the child completes all stages of the program. Stressing the importance of the at-home mom, Doman and Doman encourage mothers to become 'professional' mothers – giving their babies their full attention and energy on a full-time basis.

 

I found this book fascinating – particularly the beginning chapters that discussed a child's capacity and how most babies are capable of much more than we give them credit for. I personally found many of the exercises suggested in the book to be more involved and require more equipment than is practical for the average stay at home mom, although they provided an excellent framework for planning activities for baby that are appropriate for learning as well as giving a number of exercise suggestions that are quite feasible with little or no equipment.

 

This book is for people who are looking to develop their child's overall brain development from an early age, and are willing to put in (at least some of) the time and energy that is required.

 

Wednesday, 22 February 2012 22:48

On Becoming Babywise, Garry Ezzo & Robert Bucknam

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An infant-care ‘formula’ for guiding the feeding and napping cycles of your baby.  The Baby Wise strategy encourages a cyclical pattern of ‘eat-play-sleep’ to achieving a child’s natural sleep cycle.  According to this strategy, a baby should be encouraged to take full feedings (ie, not falling asleep or getting distracted) before having some play time and then sleep time, which should result in the child falling into their own predictable cycle of approximately 2-3 hours.  This book is for parents who would like to help control and guide their child’s routine, as well as parents who would like to encourage through-the-night sleeping as soon as possible.

 

*There is a lot of negative criticism floating around the internet in response to this book – I am convinced the critics have not read it.  Ezzo seems adamantly opposed to holding out on feeding a baby, he simply encourages a parent to use their own judgement regarding why their child is crying (assuming that it might not always be hunger), and proposes that a healthy baby (much like a healthy adult) should not be eating as frequently as every half hour.  He also encourages parents to remain in close contact with their pediatricians and to keep a close eye on any indications that your baby might be unhealthy or not receiving enough food.

 

 

 

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