method of lizzy

preservations… for posterity

Making the “Terrible” Twos Terrific!

Note: After writing this review, I decided to look up more information about the author. I was disappointed to find out that in a later book, he slammed attachment parenting, saying that it was for the benefit of the parent, not for the child. Those familiar with AP know that this makes absolutely no sense. I find it disappointing that the author would say such a thing, but I imagine that he equates AP with permissive parenting. While there are APers who are extremely permissive, there are also APers who disciple their children very well. Despite this, I will go ahead and post this review, as overall I liked much of the book.

I found this book to be a nice change of pace: though it’s not 100% AP, it’s definitely not 100% mainstream modern parent, either. It’s the “truth somewhere in the middle” version that I sometimes find myself subscribing to. APers will mostly take issue with Rosemond’s mocking attitude towards the family bed. Some APers that border on the consensual living side of the spectrum will take issue with his use of time-out and his stress of the importance of the parent as the authoritative figure. There are a few other non-AP stances, but for the most part this book is about using gentle discipline during the “terrible twos”, the period of time from 18 months to 36 months.

Since I mention the non-AP parts of the book, let me mention the parts that are AP. Rosemond discusses the importance of attachment during a child’s formative years. He talks about how when a child has a need and is demonstrating it by being clingy, for example, the right thing to do is to meet that need and give the child the assurance that he needs. He goes over developmentally appropriate behavior. He states that only a child who is secure in his parent’s ability to care for him can someday move on towards an autonomous state. He speaks about the importance of trust in the parent-child relationship and how this trust forms early and must continue to endure. Sounds pretty good for a book that is marketed to the mainstream parent, right?

I mentioned that after reading Alfie Kohn’s “Unconditional Parenting” I didn’t know how I would reconcile my traditional upbringing with all the research on various discipline techniques. Kohn demonstrates the many problems with traditional or authoritarian-style discipline, but I was left feeling overwhelmed. I know myself, and I know my husband. We try hard but frankly there is no way that we can be the unconditional parent that Kohn describes. Rosemond’s book helped me see that there was a practical solution. I can rely on gentle discipline techniques, and they can be just as (or more) effective than so-called traditional techniques such as spanking.

Rosemond’s steps to “creative” discipline are:

  • First, manage the child’s environment properly
  • Second, communicate properly
  • Third, be proactive as opposed to reactive concerning problems

That sounds just a little bit like what Kohn says, doesn’t it? The difference is that Rosemond talks about how children need limits, because “a child who does not know where his parents stand must test ad infinitum.” Testing raises the level of stress in the parent-child relationship, so the parent must communicate to the child that “I know where I stand, and I know where I want you to stand.” Kohn talks about how children need unconditional love, and I agree with much of what he says… I just fail to see how providing a framework for the child can ever equate to conditional love. I think that equating a time-out to a “love withdrawal” is just a little over the top.

I appreciated the real-life examples and the practical advice that Rosemond gives. Just a few of my favorites:

  • Don’t use the word “don’t.” This word is extremely abstract and children are extremely concrete thinkers (I had never thought of that before, but how true!)
  • The most effective time for dealing with misbehavior is before it occurs (proactive vs. reactive). Rosemond repeats the adage “strike while the iron is cold” several times. Anticipate the problem, plan a way to deal with the problem, communicate it to the child, and when the problem finally does occur, implement your strategy until the problem is solved.
  • With two-year olds it’s not always possible to correct behavior, sometimes you can only contain it.

I liked it. It will rub some APers the wrong way, and it will probably rub some traditional-style parents (the “spare the rod” crowd) the wrong way. But if you want some practical advice, this book might help. He also has a great chapter on potty learning. (I might as well mention…  previous to reading this book, I thought that “potty learning” was one of the stupider terms I had seen on mothering.com.  From now on, I’ll use it.)

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September 20, 2009 - Posted by | parenting

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