Welcome to Educated, Common Sense Parenting! This is my parenting education/commentary blog. Start here and read About This Blog.

I believe too many parents today have let their children rule their households. Their children dictate their daily lives, demand every ounce of their attention and do not show any respect for their parents. This needs to change. The only way to do this is if parents start letting good old common sense start dictating their parenting practices and stop letting their children run the show. You're the parent. Act like one.

Follow this blog! I always like to know who my readers are! Just scroll down and click on "Follow" on the right-had sidebar.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Setting Limits Part 1

My sister in law recently asked me if I knew of any good "parenting" books that she could relate to for her 2 year old. I told her hands-down, the best book on parenting I have read thus far (and I have read quite a few!) is Setting Limits by Robert J. MacKenzie. Let's face it, around 18 months (give or take), we've hopefully got the eating and sleeping things sorted out with our kids. Now it's time to move from "caring" for your child, to actually parenting your child. This is when the fun begins!

I'll be writing a series of posts on all different aspects of this book. Hopefully you will find them helpful. I learned so much by reading this book.

I have had the pleasure of meeting Dr. MacKenzie in person last year. He and his team trained our entire teaching staff on how to set limits in the classroom. He's also held a number of parenting seminars for the parents at our school And lord knows, many of them need to learn a thing or two about parenting! We've been implementing his program at our school with great success.

Dr. MacKenzie is a smart, witty, easy-going, common sense kind of guy---which of course is why I like him so much. His methods are straight-forward and are practically all just plain COMMON SENSE. No special "methods" or "tricks"...no getting in touch with the "primitive" side of your toddler--for those of you who have read The Happiest Toddler on the Block. The great thing is, you can read this book and you will be able to relate it to your 2 year old who throws applesauce off his highchair to your 16 year old who constantly breaks her curfew. It's timeless! However, I have not had the opportunity to parent any child older than 4, so I will not be commenting on how this book relates to anyone older than 4. I will only talk about my personal experience with this book with a 2-4 year old.

The first thing this book does is categorize three different parenting approaches:

1) The Punitive Parent: Punitive parents are often caught yelling things like: "Do that one more time and I'll...[insert threat here]," or "How many times do I have to tell you..." Punitive parents yell and threaten. They can be found in grocery stores around nap time and in the Target toy aisle. Punitive parents present themselves as frustrated, mean and exhausted. More than likely, we've all been a punitive parent at one time or another. I know I have! Although this isn't my typical parenting approach, I have definitely been known to raise my voice and use false threats: "Stop that right now you're going to bed!" (it's 5pm, and that would be nearly impossible). It mostly happens when I am exhausted or stress gets the best of me. For many parents, however, threats are the only way they know how to "parent."

2) The Permissive Parent: Permissive parents permeate the upper middle class. These types of parents are often overly-concerned about their child's feelings...never wanting them to be upset, hurt or disappointed. Permissive parents often end their sentences with"OK." "Spencer, stop banging your brother's head against the wall, OK?" Permissive parents tend to over-explain, and want to parent their children as "equals" instead of clearly establishing themselves as the person in charge. Permissive parents are always trying to bargain, plead, lecture and negotiate with their children. Children of permissive parents rule their households. They have learned that their parents never follow through on any sort of "limits" they set and they also have learned the art of negotiating their way out of undesired things such as going to bed.

3) The Setting Limits Parent: This is the approach endorsed by Dr. MacKenzie and I'm sure in our minds, what we all strive to be. The Setting Limits parent is fair, yet firm. These parents are clearly in charge, without being a dictator. The allow their children freedom, but with limits. This parenting approach requires that you set fair and firm limits and FOLLOW through each time. As with sleep training your infant, it is not always the easiest parenting approach emotionally-speaking, but this is a long term parenting approach, not a short term fix to get your kid to stop throwing a fit in the grocery store.

Imagine this: You're grocery shopping with your 2 year old. You are almost done when your toddler decides he wants a box of Captain Crunch. You say no. Toddler starts whining. You hold firm and try to explain--"No, sweetie, that type of cereal will rot your teeth and then you'll have to go to the dentist and...blah, blah, blah." [The Permissive Parent] Toddler throws a fit, starts screaming. People start looking at. Yes, you are worst parent ever! :-) In frustration, you say, "OK just this once. But next time, we're getting Special K." Toddler is happy.

Now as educated, common sense parents, you know exactly what this person did wrong. But admit it--it IS easier to just quiet a screaming child and save yourself embarrassment, isn't it? Just like it's easier to nurse your baby to sleep for 12 months than hearing her cry every time you lay her down to bed. Easier in the short term, that is. Don't forget, my friends, parenting isn't about the short term. You're in it for the long haul.

I'll go into more detail on how Dr. MacKenzie recommends becoming a Setting Limits parent in future posts.

No comments:

Post a Comment