Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

You Can Survive Colic

I recently came across a very interesting article from The New Yorker entitled, The Colic Conundrum and oh, how I could relate to this article. My son (now 19 months) was quite fussy as an infant and although he was never formally diagnosed with colic, I believe that's probably the only label that would describe his behavior. Although he did not have all the "symptoms" described in this article, he did have to be held, bounced, rocked, and nursed the majority of the day in order for him not to cry for long periods. He slept fairly well at night (2-3 hours at a time) but in his early months the only way he slept that long was for him to sleep on either my or my husband's chest. Additionally, he HATED the car seat. Once strapped in it, he might be content for 5-10 minutes and then it was blood-curdling screaming the rest of the time. Needless to say, we didn't leave the house much. I rarely discuss my son on this blog, but I felt like this topic was one where my personal experience might help other new moms out there who are struggling with this difficult issue.

The main point of the New Yorker article was that, despite years of research, doctors and psychologists really do not know much about what causes colic or how to treat it. Before having a child, I always thought colic was a gastrointestinal problem in which the baby has a difficult time digesting milk and this causes stomach pain. Although some infants with colic do have digestion problems, including reflux, many babies do not and simply seem to cry for no reason.

One researcher who has done quite a bit of work in recent years on the subject of colic believes that these babies are "hypersensitive to normal stimuli"; that is, "they perceive and react to changes in their bodies (such as hunger or gas pangs) or in their environment (such as loud noises or the experience of being touched) more acutely than do other babies." Although I don't know if there is much research to support this hypothesis, I think this is one of the best theories I've heard. Like many parents, I had read Dr. Harvey Karp's The Happiest Baby on the Block, while pregnant and I understood the neurological immaturity of newborns. Dr. Karp argues that the first three months of a newborn's life are really like a "fourth trimester" in which they have to adapt to life outside the womb. Unlike other mammals, humans are born still being very immature, both physically and neurologically. They go from existing in a warm, dark environment of constant movement, noise, and nourishment to a world that is bright, cold, and by their standards, quiet.

After carefully observing my son for weeks, I began to see that this theory seemed to fit him. He was especially sensitive to stimuli and had very little ability to self-soothe. Of course, no newborn has much ability to self-soothe but you may notice that some young infants will suck on their hands or take a pacifier. For others, like my son, none of these strategies offer comfort. My son was very alert and for lack of a better word, jumpy. He often startled easily at the sound of the air conditioner turning on or cars driving by. On the other hand, he was soothed by the sound of things like the hair dryer or the vacuum cleaner (great tip from Dr. Karp's book!). He loved constant motion like being in the front pack baby carrier while bouncing on an exercise ball.

Theories aside, I write all this to say: colic does get better! This is hard to hear if you are trying to cope with a baby who seems to cry endlessly, but know that it does get easier. Around 3 months by son started having longer and longer periods of awake, happy time and by 6 months he had established a fairly regular sleep schedule and would actually nap during the day for more than 30 minutes at a time. I am happy to report that now he is a very happy, healthy, active (climbing on everything!) toddler who has learned to self-soothe and will actually tolerate the car seat.

One issue the New Yorker article points out that I feel is very important is the fact that having a baby with colic often puts moms at risk for depression and a poor infant-parent relationship. It's easy to see why this could happen. Professor Barry Lester who studies colic, describes it this way,

The most common thing our patients say is, ‘I must be doing something wrong.’ It triggers a whole cycle: the mother feels inadequate and unable to parent effectively. And when these mothers get angry at their baby, they feel guiltier: ‘How can I get angry at my baby?’ The problem spirals out of control.”

Feeling as though you cannot do anything to soothe your child is very discouraging, but it's important to realize that, in most cases, you are doing all you can do by simply responding to the baby's needs as best you can. Even if the baby continues to cry despite the rocking, feeding, etc., I firmly believe that the baby internalizes the fact that you are there helping him/her try to cope. Studies have shown that babies who are responded to promptly (especially in the first 3 months) will, over time, cry less frequently.

If you have a colicky baby, it's also important to seek out support when you need it. I was very fortunate to have a wonderful husband, parents, and in-laws to help provide support (and keep things in perspective) when I needed it. Even if you can find a trusted person to just hold the baby for an hour so you can take a break and gather your thoughts, it will make a difference in your state of mind.

You may feel (as I did) that colic "stole" the first few months of you and your baby's life together, but know that all the efforts you put forth for your baby will ultimately pay great dividends with a happy, content baby. In a few months when you see your baby contently playing with a toy, you will not take that happiness for granted.

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Friday, June 3, 2016

What To Do When Your Child Is Overweight

As a disclaimer, I'm not an expert, but I speak from experience. 

Encouraging a loved one to lose weight is one of the touchiest subjects that can be approached and whatever you say can really backfire.  I have a critical grandmother who caused a lot of damage with her girls who were not overweight, but just going through puberty and were developing hips and breasts.  They were absolutely beautiful!  I learned later from my kids' pediatrician that it's common for kids to bulk up at a certain age and then go through a major growth spurt.

I was injured at about 12 years old and it caused me to have to be much less physically active than I was before, just as puberty was approaching.  I wouldn't have been described as fat, but I gained weight rather suddenly.  One day we were dress shopping for a special outfit for the last day of school when my mom was trying to give me some self-awareness and pointed to my newly developed roll of fat on my back, "You know that's not supposed to be there, right?" 

I love my mom, but please, mothers.  Don't do this to your child.  They're not stupid.  We are our own worst critics and always will be.  Pointing out the problem isn't helpful.  Trying to put your child on a diet or nag them about overeating isn't going to fix things.  Eventually they're going to be out of the house and will have to make their own eating decisions, plus they will be self-conscious.  I don't like to exercise in public, which limits me to exercising at home.  I remember a male relative making fun of a slightly overweight woman who power walked all over town.  He laughed, "Better walk faster if you want to get rid of those thighs!"  She couldn't hear him, but I could.  What you say to your skinny friends and family will hurt later when they're not so skinny anymore.  They will know what you really think .

You have to lead by example.  You can't raise your family on unhealthy food and then determine that the child unlucky enough to be struggling with their weight needs to be singled out.  I gained weight eating what the rest of my family was eating.  My mom has always been quite thin, but doesn't eat healthy. She also has high cholesterol and triglycerides, plus a protein that indicates inflammation in the arteries.  No one wants to be lectured by a person who isn't living the lifestyle they say you should be living.

You can't go back and change what your family's diet typically consisted of, but you can slowly make changes to help your whole family become healthier. 

1.  Say no to soda.  I swore this off as a household staple over 5 years ago and I don't miss it.  I haven't had any this whole time.  There is absolutely no nutritional value in soda and it's bad for your teeth on top of that. At least make it a rare thing rather than something your fridge is always stocked with.

2.  Introduce whole grains.  I was raised on white bread and really don't enjoy the flavor of whole grain bread as much, but I have forced myself to use it more.  My kids don't want to touch it because they have been raised on white bread too.  If I were to do it all again, I would make sure my kids have a taste for whole grain bread.  Try whole grain pasta!  It's actually pretty good.  Experiment and see what your family likes. 

3.  Vow to cook more meals from scratch.  I get it.  I have five kids and some days are really hectic, but I try to avoid foods that have ingredients I can't pronounce.  Try doubling the recipe and freezing meals for later if you need convenience food.  If you buy ingredients in bulk, some of them you can chop up and freeze for later use such as onions or peppers. 

4.  Buy produce as a snack.  If you're having a movie night, there's no rule you have to eat candy.  Buy everyone's favorite fruit!  Maybe some nuts too.  My family absolutely devours watermelon.

5.  Limit TV time and invite everyone to do something active together.  It's hard to change the rules when your kids are accustomed to a certain way of life, but I find myself thinking a lot more often that the habits my kids have now are going to be what they do with their families.  How are their spouses going to feel?  Go swimming.  Play tennis.  Go for a walk together and play a game along the way.  Or even make the destination ice cream.  Make it a positive experience.  It's such a better bonding experience than watching TV!  I've been doing a healthy living challenge and eventually my daughter wanted to join me on walks.  We ended up going in the cold lake and she loved it!

6.  Try not to keep temptations in the house.  Especially if someone is prone to gorging on things, don't have it around.  On a bad day, I could really drown my feelings in ice cream.  If I don't have it, I'm more likely to choose fruit. 

7.  Help your kids find an activity they love.  I struggle with boredom when it comes to exercise, but I thrive when there's music involved.  It helps me feel much more energized!  Dancing has really worked for me as far as getting aerobic activity.  I loved gymnastics when I was younger and although it was very hard, I was always able to push myself towards harder things.  I have several friends whose children are quite overweight, but they were positive towards them and the kids were always involved in some kind of sport.  They seem to have a healthy self-image too. 

What have you done to help your family's health?  How do you approach the subject of weight? 

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Thursday, May 19, 2016

Say It Again: Repetition Aides Language Development

We all know that young children love repetition. If you have been around a child under the age of 3 lately, you know this well. They repeat questions, they repeat words, they repeat actions....over and over again. For us adults, this is honestly kind of annoying, but for these little ones, this is learning at its best. Practice makes perfect, as the old saying goes. Little children know this well and they inherently know what their brains need.

It turns out that repetition is helpful for young children before they are even verbal. New research coming out of the University of Maryland is showing this clearly. In a recent study, researchers evaluated 121 infants (7 months of age) and their later language development at age 2. The authors specifically wanted to understand if the amount of repetition in language that the infants were exposed to was related to their later language development.

Not surprisingly, the researchers did find that repetition makes a difference. The more words mothers spoke to their infants, and the more repetition all predicted better language development at age 2. Researchers believe that this repetition may help prime children to understand how to "segment" words. Segmentation involves how children learn to break up fluent speech into individual words. Obviously, this is a crucial task that children must learn in order to learn language.

These findings are very instructive and helpful in thinking about how children learn language. For years, we have known that the number of words a child is exposed to early in life can have strong impact not only on their language development, but their lifelong academic trajectory. As I have written about before, this exposure (or lack thereof) can also present a source of inequality among children of differing socioeconomic groups. Children in lower socioeconomic groups tend to be exposed to fewer words, which is often associated with a later achievement gap as preschoolers.

From this new research on repetition, we can see that it's not just the number of words, but also their repetitiveness that may make a difference in language development. We are continuing to see how language is really a gateway skill to many aspects of development. Language is one of the skills that makes us uniquely human, it connects us to each other, to knowledge, and to the world around us. So in talking to our youngest children, we are not only establishing a crucial bond with them, we really are setting the stage for much of their future development.

ResearchBlogging.orgNEWMAN, R., ROWE, M., & BERNSTEIN RATNER, N. (2015). Input and uptake at 7 months predicts toddler vocabulary: the role of child-directed speech and infant processing skills in language development Journal of Child Language, 1-16 DOI: 10.1017/S0305000915000446

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Friday, May 6, 2016

Some Things I Would Do Differently As A Parent

I'm not saying I'm filled with regret, but now that some of my children are older, there are a lot of things I have learned.  If I could go back, these are the things I would do.

1.  I would have taught all of my kids to like water from the beginning.  Years ago we were on WIC and they give you vouchers for juice.  Of course, I would get the juice and my boys would drink it, which trained them to be turned off by water.  As they got older, I learned that doctors don't really recommend juice.  I now rarely buy it.  A couple of my kids love to drink water now.

2.  I never would have agreed to buying a game console.  They wanted to have fun things like their friends and I wanted them to have something to do in our small apartment.  We never bought the latest and greatest, but I grew to really resent the struggle over gaming time.  I worry that my boys will grow up to be husbands and fathers who neglect their family to play video games.  I can't stand that it's their number one priority and I had to make a rule that they can't play them on school days because they would rush through their homework and do a lousy job.  My oldest son became more aggressive towards his brothers after we got our console and I would ban him from it for up to a month. 

On the other hand, Saturdays are when we need to be cleaning the house, but then they want to play video games because of all the time they missed during the week.  One time my son was expecting a new game to arrive and tried not to go on a campout.  I informed him that he would not be playing the game if he stayed home.  He could go camping and play it when he got home or he could not play it at all.  It's just not worth the battle.  Avoid it if you can.

3.  I would have trained them to like healthy cereal.  I wish they would eat the healthy stuff that's high in fiber, but they won't.  Not sure how I fix that now.

4.  I would have trained them to like whole grain bread.  When I buy it, they refuse to eat it.  It's always more expensive than white bread, so when we were struggling hard financially, that's what I felt like I had to buy. 

5.  I would have insisted on making family exercise a part of our regular routine.  We did go swimming sometimes or outside to play tennis, but we had way too much TV time. 

6.  I would have worked more on etiquette.  I look at one of my older boys and think, "Oh my gosh.  Who taught you how to eat?!"  Or rather, "Who didn't tell you how to eat?"  Um, I guess me and his dad.  I didn't enjoy being nagged as a kid for my table manners, but they really are a necessary thing.  He eats like the food is going to disappear.  Well, I guess because it is!  It goes fast with four siblings.

7.  I would have prayed with them more and remind them more often to pray about their problems.  I tend to focus on helping them fix their problems when I should be teaching them how to solve them. 

8.  I would have given them more hugs and kisses when they got older.  I can do that now, but they'll think I'm weird.  It's not too late to change.  I nursed my babies for over a year and ended up feeling "touched out" to the point that I didn't want anymore cuddles.  My oldest son would ask for hugs when he got sick.  I felt bad because he needed to feel loved.  I was worried about getting sick and getting our babies sick.

9.  I would have made an organized space for all of their school papers.  I did try.  It just didn't end up happening.  With mountains up paperwork times three, there was so much information, yet I wasn't aware of a lot of things because I was overwhelmed.  Now that we have a house, that's something I can implement more easily.

10.  I would have given them more individual attention.  I was often preoccupied with my trials.  I should have put them aside for even 5 minutes a day for each child.  Other times, one child needed so much extra attention, it was hard to have time for the others.  I think the best thing I could do is to be off the phone and computer when they get home and look excited to see them. 

What would you do differently? 

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Thursday, April 21, 2016

Babies Have Social Brains from a Very Young Age

When thinking of a child's development, we often discuss areas as separate entities--cognitive, social, emotional, etc. If you are a parent, you've probably seen that all these areas of develop are really closely linked. For example, once your child can crawl (motor development), that opens up a whole new world of learning and exploration (cognitive development) because they can move themselves into new areas. 

In the research world, understanding these connections between different aspects of develop are very difficult to study. A small child obviously cannot explain to you what they are thinking as they move in a new way or explore a new toy. Thanks to technology, however, some advances in understanding are happening.

In a recent study of 7-month-olds, babies were fitted with a electroencephalography (EEG) cap so that researchers can measure their brain activity. The babies observed an adult reach for one of two toys. Then the babies were given the opportunity to reach for either of the toys. What the researchers found was fascinating:

- while watching the adult reach for a toy, sometimes the motor system part of the babies' brains would activate

- in other cases the motor system part of the babies' brains would not activate while watching an adult reach for a toy

You can probably imagine what the babies' next actions would be based on their brain activity.

- babies whose motor system activated during watching, would go on to grab one of the toys

- babies whose motor system did not activate during watching would not imitate the adult and would not grab a toy

What does this really mean for children's development? It essential means that scientists are beginning to show that babies (even as young as 7 months of age) understand another person's actions while they are watching them. They understand the intent of the person's actions. Furthermore, their social brain and motor brain are linked enough to know that they can imitate the other person's action.

This study is just the most recent addition to a growing body of research showing the connections between cognitive and motor development. Researchers have also found a link between the development of reading skills and fine motor development. 

What we are really seeing is that moving is learning. These two aspects of development interact and feed one another. This raises the question again of the role that physical activity must play in the education of children at all ages. Numerous studies have shown that students who are more physically active during the school day (e.g., amount of recess time) tend to do better in academics. 

As parents, then, our responsibility is to allow our children as much opportunity for movement at all ages. This becomes more difficult once our children are in school for many hours a day. This means looking beyond organized sports and thinking about movement, play, and development from a new perspective

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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Importance of Repairing a Parent-Child Relationship

I want to get vulnerable and share a personal story that helps highlight the importance of a parent repairing the relationship with our children.

A couple of weeks ago, I did not win father of the year. My son instigated a spontaneous nerf gun war. We had only recently acquired most of our gear. What we were missing were safety glasses. During this random nerf battle, I accidentally hit my son in the eye. He collapsed to the ground, grabbing his eye. The dart that hit his eye was a velcro dart.

He struggled to open his eye for me or my wife to look at to see what was going on. After about 90 minutes of no relief we finally placed a call in to our optometrist, who was able to quickly see us.

While meeting with the optometrist he had me look at my son’s eye so as to build sympathy. When I saw the scratches on my son’s eye, they looked like claw marks, I did not feel sympathy; I felt sad, embarrassed and ashamed. I had, even though accidentally, inflicted pain on my child. We left with drops and a new pair of shades that he had to take and wear for 24-36 hours.

When we returned home, he was understandably upset about the day he had had. He was even more frustrated that he had to have drops in his eye every hour. He kept saying it was my fault. Not only was I the shooter, I had not provided adequate protection, safety glasses, for us to have fun and harm free play in. He wanted to shoot me in the eye. We agreed for him to shoot me with a round of nerf darts in the back of the head.

Still feeling like he had not “evened” the playing field he jumped on my back and wanted to wrestle his frustration out. After a while this wrestle turned into a tickle fight and we were both laughing together. A switch had changed. The anger turned to joy. The feeling of hurt and damaged trust was repaired, or repairing. He realized dad made a mistake, it was an accident, he knew dad was sorry, and was willing to trust, a little bit, again.

This struck me as the importance of repairing the relationship with our children. Whether we inflict pain intentionally or accidentally, it is up to us as the parent, to approach our child and do what is necessary to repair the relationship. They need to know it is safe to trust us. Plus learn a healthy way of correcting mistakes.

The amazing feature about eyes is that they are quick healers, and my son has resumed his 5 year old activities. But my son will remember this day for a while, however I will remember this day forever, and remember it’s importance to me.

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Thursday, March 17, 2016

What Being a Stay-at-Home Mom has Taught Me About Child Development

It's been over a year now since my oldest son started school full time. For those of you who are stay-at-home parents, you know that sending your child to school full time is like graduation day for you. I felt this intensely. As I watched his little 5-year-old body run (literally) into school, I felt that moment was 5+ years in the making. As a stay-at-home parent, I had spent the last 5 years pouring my heart, soul, time, and energy into him so that, in large part, he would be ready for school. Not just prepared in the educational sense, but also confident, happy and emotionally ready to be in a classroom and interact with his peers. Of course, I have much more lofty parenting goals too but this was a big one. There was a tinge of sadness in it for me, but I also felt proud of him and glad that he seemed more than eager to go meet this new experience.

Now his little brother is in that fun, sometimes challenging, stage between toddlerhood and preschool. He and I are beginning once again this journey of learning and discovery that will eventually take him to the door of kindergarten too.

Lessons Learned

As I look back at some of the lessons I've learned from child #1, I thought it was a good time to share how these insights have really added to my understanding of child development. As all parents know, children are the best teachers. I've read many a child development book, but I really didn't know anything until I had children of my own and learned day-to-day what child development really means.

1. Observe closely. Sure, we are all around our kids a lot; many hours a day in some cases, but how often do we really observe what they are doing; what they are learning. This is a lesson I learned very early with my first son, but only really came to appreciate a few years later.

As an infant, close observation meant trying to understand why he cried so easily, what movements or activities actually helped soothe him. I've written before about colic and maybe that's what he had but maybe it was just his temperament. Either way, close observation is what helped me "decode" his behavior and learn about his emerging personality.

Later, as he became a toddler, close observation helped me really understand when he was working on a new physical or cognitive skill. We can usually tell when a young child is working on a new physical skill like walking or crawling. What about cognitive skills? By closely observing sometimes you can tell when they're little brains are ready for understanding numbers or spatial concepts like "under," "over," or "behind."

2. Let your child's interests lead you. I really don't do any type of formal homeschooling with my kids but I do try to incorporate as much learning into our daily activities as I can. With very young children, they have such limited attention spans that this is really the best way learning happens in my experience. It just feels like play to them and we all know that's the best type of learning for little ones anyway.

Once my son reached late toddlerhood/early preschool age, it became clear that his interests would have to lead our learning activities. Maybe it was just his personality, but he usually had no interest in most activities or crafts that I just suggested off the top of my head. The activities or books that included something he was interested in were always a much more appealing.

I think many children are similar in this regard. I think this is why some young children struggle in conventional school settings--simply because the topics hold little interest to them. Many of the topics that adults feel are "educational" or "seasonally topical" don't make much sense to little kids. In her recent interview, child development author Erika Christakis discusses this in a beautiful way.

I think many young children go through phases where they are really "into" a particular topic, animal or toy. I think if you present children with plenty of books, experiences, ideas, (maybe even a little educational TV), they will find these topics to delve into themselves. My son went through  phases where he was "into" trains, ants, snails/slugs, robots, cowboys, and the list could go on. When he was really "into" that topic we would basically center most of our activities around that idea. We would go check out every book we could find at the library on that topic. We would go visit a museum or aquarium that might have exhibits on that topic. We might do crafts or coloring pages that featured whatever topic he was interested at that time.

I firmly believe that if children are given the space and opportunity to experience new ideas, they are natural learners and all you have to do is serve as their guide. These days spent exploring ants and slugs and robots are some of my best memories with my son.

3. Go to the library a lot...and not just for storytime. I love libraries. I want my kids to love libraries. When my son was a toddler we would go to the library and try to go to story time. Note the word "try." He would seldom sit down long enough to listen to more than 3 minutes of the story. I would often leave frustrated and downtrodden, thinking I was doing something wrong and that my child would never enjoy books. Well, I finally learned my lesson (and learned my son's temperament) and decided we would just go to the library to play or explore whatever he wanted to explore. That worked much better. Fast forward a couple of years and he was able to sit through story time, but he also would bring books to me to read to him at home.

If your child is like mine and will seldom sit through story time, it's still a great experience to go to the library. Most libraries have little toys or a play area for young children. I think just being surrounded by books is great and the love for books will eventually rub off on them. My younger son is much the same way, but he still likes picking out books and using the computer check out system. Picture books, even for somewhat older children, are key to not only language development but also visual literacy.

4. Be patient. Okay, patience is a skill that many of us parents struggle with maintaining. I struggle with patience on a daily basis. Spending your days with young children is taxing on most of us, but patience in many forms is a virtue that reaps many benefits.

Patience with waiting while your preschooler struggles to put on his/her shoes is one thing, but patience with the development of your child is a whole other concept. Child development is a process, not a race. Barring any developmental delays, most children go through the process of learning and growing in their own unique way, but at a similar trajectory.

I really thought my first son would never be potty trained. We thought he was ready when he was a few months shy of 3, but it took another almost 6 months until he was really completely clean and dry all the time every day. I read all those articles about "potty train your child in 3 days" but to no avail. Ultimately, it just took patience on our part and him really wanting to do it himself. No amount of bribing, cajoling, or talking him into would work.

The same thing happened with my second son giving up his pacifier. We tried every technique in the book, but he had to eventually just give it up himself when he was really ready. I think talking about it with him helped, along with watching a few videos and reading books about giving it up. Ultimately, though he had to be ready and one day he just threw it in the trash.

Many aspect of child development are like this. We, as parents, want certain phases to be over or we want our child to meet certain developmental milestones. When it comes down to it, however, development goes at the pace that's right for each individual child. We can help move things in the right direction. We do have to introduce potty training or the idea of giving up the pacifier, but with many of these changes, the child has to want to make the change.

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Friday, March 11, 2016

Parenting by the Book: 5 Rules of Caution

by: Dyan Eybergen RN

Parents often strive to raise their children "differently" from how they were brought up and resort to popular parenting books to help them make decisions regarding their children. As Samantha Schoech wrote in her 2014 article entitled "Why I'll Never Read Another Parenting Book": Anxious parents are big business, and parenting books — along with baby monitors that track breathing, baby baths that digitally control water temperature and tutors for preschoolers — are an important segment of the insecurity economy. 

As an author of my own parenting book (Out of the Mouths of Babes, 2008) I couldn't agree more. Here are 5 rules of caution when perusing through the tombs of parenting advice on book shelves:

  1. Trust your intuition. It doesn't matter what the advice is or the credentials of the person who wrote it or the research behind it (if there is any research behind it); bounce it off your own parenting radar and if it doesn't resonate with you, don't be swayed by it. 
  2. The difficulty with parenting books is that the advice most often given is of the one size fits all variety. Most parenting strategies do not take into account the specific dynamics of your family and the temperaments of your children. Not all parenting strategies will work in every scenario with every child. For instance, time out would not work well with a child with separation anxiety!
  3. In every interaction we have with our children we should strive to preserve their integrity, and your own integrity for that matter. Ask yourself: Does this parenting strategy help my child to learn? Am I being a good role model here? If the answer to either of those questions is NO, then revisit how you are interacting with your child. 
  4.  Don't be fooled by the books that suggest you are a bad parent for not doing this, or that right. Making mistakes is human and parenting is not a role immune to making errors. Don't fall into the trap of doing everything " by the book"  in pursuit of being the perfect parent. There is no such person. Accepting that will make your life a whole lot easier!
  5. It's perfectly okay to take a little bit of this and a little bit of that and develop a parenting style of your own that works for you and your family. You don't have to subscribe to one philosophy or one theory. Try them all on, see how they fit! 



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