Monday, February 14, 2011

Give 'Em An Inch

I adore well-written, identifiable, and knowledgeable parenting blogs.

One of my favorites is Avant Garde Parenting.

Who better to dispense advice for handling a preschooler than a smarty-pants PhD in Develepmental Psychology? One who spends time researching and learning at The University of Texas at Dallas? No one I can think of! I asked Jamie over here to share some of her wisdom. Something to apply both to my own life and, hopefully, to help some of you as well.


Give 'Em An Inch...

...and they’ll take a mile, right?

When Julie asked me to guest post, I was 1.Thrilled and 2.Speechless. No, really, I had no idea what I was going to write about. I write a parenting blog. I should have plenty to say! And I do, but I kept thinking, ‘What do people want to read?’ Luckily, Julie gave me an idea- strong-willed kiddos. Sound familiar?!

It made me think of the old saying ‘Give ‘em an inch and they’ll take a mile’ and it got me to thinking – is it true? If you do give kids leeway, control, independence, will they go crazy, taking advantage and acting out of control? My answer: Nope.

I come from the school of sensitive parenting- the idea of responding to kid’s needs in a warm, supportive way. And a big part of that is actually giving them control of their world and letting them make real and important choices in their environment, then supporting them and providing the necessary boundaries for them to be successful. Here’s the thing- it often challenges traditional ideas about parenting and forces you to be flexible and creative. Bad thing? I say no. Difficult? At times, absolutely.

Let me give you an example. Let’s say your very strong-willed kiddo absolutely will not, under any circumstances wear socks with her shoes (I’ve had personal experience with this one). You’ve begged, pleaded, rewarded, punished, nothing works. Here’s an instance where I say get creative. No socks=no problem. So it’s too cold to go without socks? Go to the store together and find some boots with fur lining that will function the same with or without socks. Find some slippers with tough enough soles for use outside. Doing so will show your child that you can be flexible. You can even say it: “I can be flexible on this!”

My point is that giving your child freedom in as many areas as possible will only help him feel more in control of his world. When it comes time for an important issue (tooth brushing, bathing, etc.) where you can’t be flexible, it won’t be as traumatic because your child will have a grasp on what he can control.

So how do you handle the issues you absolutely cannot flex on? Here’s my 1, 2, 3 that will guide you to a (hopefully) tear free bath, doctor’s appointment, or what have you:

1. Hear the feelings- Try something like: “Sweetie, I hear that you are very upset about going to the doctor’s office.”

2. Calmly state what needs to happen next- “Our appointment is soon so we need to leave in five minutes.”

3. Give control wherever you can- “Would you like ride piggy back to the car, race, or walk to the car? Your choice.” OR “Which toy would you like to take along with us?”

Thank you Julie for letting me guest post. Thank you for sharing your own parenting stories and for letting us watch your precious Amelia grow up!

--Jamie Hurst DeLuna, PhD
Avant Garde Parenting
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