Positive Discipline: The First Three Years Paperback – 31 Mar 1999
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As far as nursing, it merely encourages mothers to watch their children for signs of readiness to wean, instead of forcing a pre-determined schedule for weaning (whether it be at three months or three years). I know several people whose children weaned themselves around one year, so I think there is some truth to the idea that some babies are ready to wean then. I personally nursed my daughter until just over two, so I am not biased against extended nursing. And neither are the authors--they just say to find resources such as La Leche League and other books to discuss nursing, weaning, and extended nursing further. This is not their area of expertise, and they do not claim it to be.
As far as Attachment Parenting (AP), this book makes no reference to it, period. Some reviewers have said that it is pro-AP and some said it is against-AP. I can't find evidence of either. As I said, I raised my daughter so far strongly guided by the principles of AP. However, she is almost three, and I feel that I need some other philosophies to guide me in my choices. I have not read The Discipline Book by Dr. Sears, but from what I hear it is like most of his books and a bit repetitive of information in all of his books (many of which I have read). I needed a new approach, so I came to the Positive Discipline camp.
To quote the book, "The key is a balance that meets the needs of everyone concerned. A baby should not be left in a playpen or infant seat too long, and a parent should not feel like a slave to his or her child." Furthermore, they say, "When in doubt, always trust your heart." Now how does this conflict with Attachment Parenting?
I personally felt like a slave to my child many times when strictly following the guidelines of AP. I am not at all of the mindset that babies should toughen up or learn to soothe themselves at a young age, but there are times in life when we as parents need a break--like to shower, cook a meal, tend to another child, or go to the bathroom alone. This book helps parents find that balance.
This book is very helpful in demonstrating age appropriateness. It helps to be reminded that a toddler's brain is not like ours, and that they are not capable of understanding concepts that we think they should. There are several ways the author suggests to see for yourself, and that is extremely helpful. To acknowledge this is not insulting to my or my child's intelligence (as one reviewer said); it is honoring it. Humans have extremely complex brains and it takes time to develop them. A three year old's brain is not nearly as developed as ours. Period.
On the same token, we should not force infants as that reviewer said into "Infant education." That is absurd. Some parents go overboard in trying to "teach" their infants things they are not ready to understand yet. Let kids be kids. Play is a children's work. They learn through experience and discovery, not through videos, TV, flashcards or "lessons" at four hour intervals at age three. That is what the authors are saying. As far as footnotes, this book isn't written in that format. It's not supposed to be a research summary. It is a book to guide parents in disciplining their children. The authors do in fact reference researchers, which is all they need to do for this type of book.
It would be helpful if reviewers of this and other books mentioned their children's ages. I can see how this would not be helpful immediately for parents of an infant. Other books are more appropriate for that age.
I bought this book after hearing a lot of great things from parents whose parenting styles are similar to mine and have pleasant, well-behaved children. I have used some of the methods and strategies that the authors suggest and IT WORKS!!!
I was at my wits' end with my daughter. She went through a strong testing phase and about did me in. I tried everything--time outs, removal of priveledges, and even a pop on the bottom (twice only, when she was totally out of control). Nothing worked and it all got worse. She went from having a time out once a week to three times a week to three times a day within a couple of weeks. Just as the authors say, punishment does not work. "Children do better when they feel better" they say, and when they are punished, they think to themselves, "I'm bad." Well guess what? My daughter has even said to me, "I'm bad," even though I have NEVER uttered those words or anything like it to her. And neither has anyone who has taken care of her, either. This is a judgement she came up with because she was being punished.
I, however, have taken time out. The first time she had a tantrum after reading this book and using the methods (tantrums do happen, the authors say, despite our best efforts), I took a timeout and as the authors suggested I ignored her, picked up a book, and moved to a different room. She finally calmed down, I gave her a hug, did not make a big deal about it, and everything was fine. I let her know that having a tantrum was not going to get her way, nor would she be punished for showing her emotions. She got out her frustration in her tantrum, felt better, then moved onto something else.
I highly recommend this book. It has saved my sanity and possibly my relationship with my daughter. I look forward to reading more from these authors.
Let's say that your 12-month-old baby bites you while nursing. The book suggests: put baby down, wordlessly, and leave the room. Come back in one or two minutes and resume nursing as if nothing had happened. Repeat as necessary until baby quits biting, confident that baby will make the connection between action (biting) and not getting what is wanted (nursing).
Again: Toddler throws a fit in the grocery store. The book suggests: gently carry toddler to the car. Sit in the car until everyone is calm. Return to store to finish shopping. Repeat as necessary until shopping is done, confident that toddler will make all the connections (that screaming isn't appropriate in the store, that we're going to finish shopping anyway, that screaming doesn't "win" the goal of going home).
This all sounds reasonable to me.
But then the author says: Don't bother with time-outs, even "positive time-outs" (her phrase for crooning "Wouldn't you like to go snuggle with your pillow until you feel better?" instead of saying, "You are going to stay in your crib until you're done screaming!") or anything that an adult might think is remotely like 'punishment' until age 30 months, because young children just can't make connections. According to this book for the first 30 months, your only successful options are "supervision and distraction."
Well, I don't count leaving a biting baby unattended, or carrying a screaming toddler bodily out of a store as either "supervision" or "distraction," even though I think that the above two techniques, sensibly used, are effective, because kids DO make the connection.
So I think this book unnecessarily limits the parents' responses. If you believed the theory in this book, you'd have every reason to believe that you needed to spend 30 months per child doing nothing except trying to find ever more interesting toys to distract baby from the previous object of interest.
I just don't think it's true in the real world, and her examples contradict her weak "theory." The examples are generally more sensible than the sweeping statements.
I'm not into what some people think is attachment parenting (*some* people twist it into "I am your parent, I am your loving god, every good thing comes from me, and your highest goal should be to gaze into my eyes or lie in my bed"). If that's your notion of AP, then this book doesn't support you. Of course, neither does most of the rest of the AP community, so you're probably used to people disagreeing with you.
However, I'm not prepared to say that ANY single style of parenting is ALWAYS the right style for EVERY parent-child combination, so I don't have a dog in the "it's not my style of attachment parenting" fight that some of the reviewers are getting into.
I do know a bit about early childhood development, though, and this book is right on the mark about not pushing kids into "culture cramming" or passive knowledge acquisition (such as watching "educational" videos instead of letting a kid actively explore the dirt in their own backyard). In case you need a footnote to support that, please look up the American Pediatric Association's website, where you will find that the correct number of minutes of TV- or video-watching for children under the age of two is: zero minutes per year, even if it's supposedly "educational" stuff.
Fundamentally, I don't buy the basic premise that a toddler is not capable of being willful, or the idea that telling a kid "No!" is damaging (although I think that "Danger!" or "Hot!" might be more descriptive when it's appropriate).
Actually, I think "No" is a positive word that makes the world a better, safer, place: No, it's NOT okay to drive on the wrong side of the road. No, it's NOT okay to steal. No, it's NOT okay to beat your kids. No, it's NOT okay to demand that your toddler "get control his emotions so I don't have to listen to that sobbing any longer" (yes, some people do that).
The book is generally in favor of weaning around the age of one year (give or take LOTS), generally opposed to parents sleeping with their toddlers in the toddlers' beds (and there IS good research on that, even though it's not cited here), generally opposed to early toilet training. You don't have to agree with any of that, though, to benefit from this book.
What I particularly like is the book's explanations of developmental appropriateness and personality types. This is what I think is best about this book. The book goes to some effort to explain that kids get into attractive stuff because their brains are wired to explore. Toddlers don't exactly mean to break stuff or spill things, but they do mean to feel/taste/bend it (not realizing in advance the consequences), and the push in their brain to figure out what that feels/tastes/bends like is just as strong as the push in a thirsty person's brain to get a drink of water NOW.
I think if we all understood the demands of the developing brain a little better, that we might be less suprised and upset by some of the situations that we get into now -- or even take some steps to prevent them. We might, for example, turn off the television, put a gate across the office door rather than being distressed by the mess that was created in mere seconds, and not take baby to the grocery store during naptime. We might, not to put too fine a point on it, start using our own brains.
One more thought: there's this perverse assumption in the book that there are only two actors in the world: you and baby. The other parent rarely figures in the book, and grandparents, neighbors, friends, and child care providers basically never do. I think the target market for this book assumes relatively privileged first-and-only babies who are most likely to be in the full-time care of a single adult whose life is arranged so that s/he is always immediately available to baby. Not only does this parent never go to work, s/he never has to fix dinner, never has to take a shower, never has to talk to the washing machine repairperson, never has to clean up disgusting messes (baby, of course, is never sick) -- in short, s/he never has to do anything that can't be dropped if baby decides to investigate a new object. It's a subtle bias, but one worth keeping in mind as you adjust these ideas to fit the real world.
This is the best book you can buy if you want to understand where your child is coming from. It has also taught me how deeply and pervasively parenting style impacts a child. It has truly made me a better parent, and I can see it in my child's behavior already!
I am particularly pleased by how nicely my son treats other children. I have also been very impressed by how well he listens to me, even if he does the same thing again a few minutes later! They often do! They're two! Read the book and you'll understand what I am talking about.
I have read this book and referred to it many times since my son turned 8 months old. We have just entered the "terrible twos" and we are hanging in there pretty well. While I watch other exasperated parents yell at their children in frustration, I am delighted to watch my little boy experimenting, learning and developing. I owe my perspective to this book.
Neither my son nor I are perfect, nor will anyone be, but I can honestly say that the "disciplinary" suggestions provided in this book really work well.
I have also read and often refer to "Positive Discipline: A-Z", and it is a great second book to have, since it offers many solutions to specific situations. But, I would definitely read this one first! I believe that it is important to really understand Ms. Nelson's philosophy verses rushing to find a "quick fix" for your child.