Saturday, July 7, 2012

Parenting In Progress...

As most of you have probably already noticed, parenting is a frequent topic on this blog. Our children (Benjamin, almost 3 and Grant, 14 1/2 mon.) are still quite young, but over these past few years my husband and I have already learned a lot about how much we can love, how we much we love loving them, and when in doubt, love. 

Then the toddler years hit. 

Even though we'd become more and more comfortable with a broad range of child-related topics (click here for our Top 10 Parenting Tips) during the first year of our first child, we were definitely shooting from the hip when when it came to how to handle emotional outbursts freedom of expression, not following directions developing good listening skills, and creating disasters practicing general manners. That's when we knew our excuse of "Can't read another book on parenting because we're still too overwhelmed from the one-million-and-one books we attempted to read while pregnant" was going to have to change. We still enjoyed learning as we went along (this to me is one of the BEST parts about parenting) as well as following our gut, but aside from those handouts they give you at the pediatricians office, and occasional updates from, I think we were a bit late when it came to educating ourselves about the many facets of a developing child

So, around the fall of last year we signed ourselves up for 3 free child behavior workshops (my husband and I are both classroom learners) offered by a local health clinic. We really liked the first session. It was easy going with approachable teachers, and we were eager to learn all that we could so we could "add a few more tools to our toolbox." Then we went to the second session.  This time it was no more mr. nice guy and more like do this right now or your child will turn out bad. Thumbs down to that fear-induced approach that we so often received while pregnant. I refuse to live in fear, and definitely refuse to parent out of fear. After completing all 3 classes, we applied about 1/4 of their material, which was just enough for us to still feel comfortable with our we-just-do-what-feels-right parenting style, and get some of the results we were seeking with our then 2-year old. 

Overall, we're still thankful that we went to the classes and really think the idea of presenting and discussing parenting topics in a class should be more popular because let's face it: there's an incredible amount to learn about the human nature of children. Regardless if we did everything they recommended (we still definitely believe in parent intuition), it strengthened our commitment to raising our children as well as we possibly can, and intrigued me to do some more child development research of my own....research that would reveal more about the inner-workings of those clever brains of theirs and provide us with a bit of a preview (of course, every child is different) of what's to come as they continue to grow.

So, I hopped on and found these top rated books that I still have yet to read (like this post title states- parenting is a work in progress!), but based on their synopses and user reviews am hopeful that they match our newly refined parenting style which is more about understanding and empowering children than constantly trying to correct and punish children. 

Here are those (in no particular order):
  1. Parenting from the Inside Out by Dr. Siegel and Mary Hartzell
  2. The Whole Brain Child by Dr. Siegel and Dr. Bryson
  3. Discipline Without Shouting or Spanking by Barbara C. Unell and Jerry L. Wyckoff
  4. Siblings Without Rivalry by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish
  5. Raising Children Raising Ourselves by Naomi Aldort

I bought the Raising Children and Raising Ourselves one (still have yet to read), and put the rest on my Amazon wish list. I also checked out the below two from our local library (both of which I have read, can I get a woot woot?!) and thought I'd share some of the takeaways that I found most valuable. 

Who's The Boss? by Dr. Arthur Lavin and Susan Glaser

Quotes Worth Sharing:
"For any child, parents are forever balancing a sense of contentment with a sense of worry."

"Our goal is to emphasize the normal aspects of conflict to see it as a valuable opportunity for your child's growth."

"Reflect on the wishes of the child without giving in to their demands."

"Set up rules for acceptable behavior. Once the rules are broken, get down to the child's level and make gentle physical contact before speaking (this avoids yelling which children learn to tune out), make eye contact, then tell them in a no-nonsense voice that grabbing the toy (or whatever unacceptable behavior they've done) is against the rules."

"A forced "I'm sorry" does not demand enough responsibility for an inappropriate action."

"Allow your child to be the problem solver by empowering them with solutions. This also develops positive self esteem."

"Remember conflict is not only natural, but helpful in creating a peaceful family."

"Children respond more positively to a parent who is in control and who allows for the expression of strong feelings, even while forbidding the action."

Guiding Young Children's Behavior: Helpful Ideas for Parents & Teachers from 28 Early-Childhood Experts by Betty Farber

Quotes Worth Sharing
"Children should not be labeled as "Bad" or "Good." Instead, they are individuals who grow at different rates and have different interests, strengths, and weaknesses."

"Discipline should be thought of as training that develops self control. It is a long term process by which the children adopt their parents values and attitudes as they develop their inner controls."

"When we teach children how to solve their own problems, we are building their confidence and coping skills."

"Child communication tips: shorten the message, use praise often, encourage participation."

"When you make a mistake, explain to your child how you would do it differently next time."

"Accept your child's feelings. Children need to have their entire range of feelings heard and acknowledged."

"As a child's physical and mental capacities grow, and their social and emotional experiences become more complex, their expressions of anger steadily increase in variety and sophistication."

"Don't take your child's anger personally. Your preschoolers is psychologically compelled to test his/her personal power against the people who exert the most control over them."

"Take it seriously. It's critical to realize a child's emotions are very real to them, and perfectly legitimate from their point of view."

"Don't allow negative interactions to undermine the good."

"Don't hesitate to ask questions to your Dr. and Caregiver until you are fully satisfied. It is extremely important that you feel you can trust them implicitly and that you can develop a partnership with them."

How's that for an extra looooooong book report? Yes, in case any of you are wondering, I take notes while I read. It was a habit that I developed in school to help me retain things more, and what can I say other than I enjoy being a lifelong learner. ;) As promised, here's some online articles that I also thought were really good...

  1. Following Directions by Tina of The Mother Huddle
  2. Parenting With Humor by Sarah of Notes on Parenting
  3. Going With The Flow by Michelle Duggar
  4. Time Outs by Michelle Duggar
  5. Discipline Tool Kit by

Hopefully all of these parenting resources are helpful. I know the last thing I wanted to do after a tiring day of parenting is read a book about parenting, but TRUST ME when I say that the results are well WORTH IT. Children (even toddlers) CAN understand and share their feelings, CAN follow directions, and CAN be polite all while still being their amazingly creative, energetic, curious, independent, and wonderful little selves. It has taken us some time and I know we still have lots more to learn, but knowledge is power and just as I said in this post, it's ever so important to at least try to make things better, especially when important relationships are involved. Oh, and when in doubt, love. You can quote ME on that. ;)

"A family in harmony will prosper in everything."
- Chinese Proverb


  1. I am definitely bookmarking this post. I truly believe you can never be done learning about anything! And since parenting is my main job these days, it is important for me to keep growing.

  2. Love this post! I was just writing a post about parenting classes for Kids All Around (thanks for the mention by the way). I am going to add some of these to my list. Some books I have read and liked (though just like you I take about 10-20% of what I read and try and apply it): Happiest Toddler on the Block (loved Happiest Baby on the Block for infants), 1-2-3 Magic, Parenting with Love and Logic, and How to Talk so Your Preschooler Will Listen. I also have Raising Cain and Bringing Up Boys on my list.

  3. Great post. It was very helpful to hear what you've been reading about lately and how you're thinking through it with your children.