Parenting is a job. It’s a job that doesn’t come with a manual and, often, especially during children’s 0-5 years, a job that can be exhausting and challenging. Without extended family for support and guidance, it’s no wonder Moms and Dads look elsewhere for parenting advice. Parenting isn’t something everyone just knows how to do.
Pediatricians Offer Parenting Advice…
Parents of my Mom’s generation often looked to Dr Spock for parenting advice. His book, The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care, was seen as the how-to manual. By the time I became a parent, another doctor was offering sage advice. Pediatrician T Berry Brazelton connected with parents via his many books as well as through his show “What Every Baby Knows.” Dr. Brazelton recognized infants’ personalities, their temperaments and promoted a child-centered style* of parenting.
Everybody’s Offering Parenting Advice…
Fast forward to the Digital Age and with it numerous Mommy blogs or parenting websites espousing all types of parenting strategies. In theory, you’d think every parent would have, at their fingertips, the latest, most up-to-date, backed-up-with-research parenting techniques. So I was quite surprised reading in my morning paper and seeing a parenting question sent in to Ask Amy (the columnist that took over for Dear Abby).
Identified as ‘Frazzled Shopper’ the writer’s main complaint centered on the fact she couldn’t get the family grocery shopping done. She had 2 sons, aged 5 and 3, and a husband who apparently worked a lot. The problem? Her 2nd born son did not cooperate during these shopping trips. He’d scream, kick, and even bite if Mom put him in the cart. The situation wasn’t any better if she let him out of the cart. She reported he’d run away and hide from her. Amy deferred the answer to Claire Zulkey. Ms Zulkey is a journalist, mother of 2 and author of a parenting newsletter.
Do you see anything related to child development in her credentials? No, neither do I. I’m sure she’s a very experienced writer. Her niche, or schtick, is writing entertaining stories about motherhood and making family-life struggles relatable.
The Blogger’s Advice…
So her advice, then, given in order of importance I guess:
1. Get out of shopping with the kids, or at least with the youngest by:
—–a. paying: ordering online, hiring a babysitter
—–b. having her husband do it on his way home from work
—–c. swapping errands time with a friend
2. Go shopping early in the day. This is beneficial because
—–a. kids haven’t started to have their ‘meltdowns’ yet
—–b. less distractions in stores
3. Do whatever is necessary—bribes, snacks, distractions Mom should bring including devices that only come out at the store.
Ms Zulkey cautions to mete out the treats carefully, to make them last, but if you’re really in a bad way head straight to the snack aisle. She ends with a “Hang in there Mom. You’re not alone.”
Well no, with advice like that I’m sure she isn’t alone! With her
Do whatever is necessary
and acting like she isn’t able to cope would only reinforce negative behavior!
I believe children want to please; they want to do what they’ve been asked to do.
When they don’t there’s usually some reason for their resulting behavior.
●What was going on at home before heading off for the store?
●Was shopping time too close to lunch and/or nap time?
●Before being asked to get into the car was there enough heads-up time given?
●Was there a choice offered of being in the cart or walking?
Young children need a predictable environment with realistic, parental expectations. Additionally, some children’s temperaments require more lead-in and prep time to transition from one setting to the next. That may require more work for their parents initially. But that’s what parenting’s about right? Surely it’s what compassionate parenting is all about.
A Different Approach…
Why didn’t it ever occur to Ms Zulkey to suggest Mom talk with her child at home when he was well-rested, fed and calm? Explaining to her son:
•What errands need to be done for the family;
•Where they’ll be going; and
•How long they’d be gone
would be helpful for him in understanding what’s going on.
Engaging him by asking him to:
•Describe some of things they could see or
•Reminding him he could (big)helper by putting items in the cart
would make him feel part of the experience and, more importantly, useful.
Good Parents Are Like CEOs…
Parenting is a job. Parents are the CEOs. The best CEOs understand they get the most out of their employees when:
● they’re respectful of each individual
● understanding of each individual’s needs
● express clear expectations or goals
● have good communication skills and
● mentor or teach effectively.
Incorporate these techniques into your parenting style; it’s no parenting manual, but it can go a long way in making your day-to-day Life run much smoother.
And sometimes, when a child IS too hungry, tired, overstimulated or sick whatever errand you’re trying to do just needs to be put on the back burner. The best thing for all concerned then is to stay calm, pick your kiddo up and go home. Tomorrow is always another day.
Yours in Play!
*NO Helicopters In Child-centered Parenting…
NOTE: Child-centered parenting should not to be confused with helicopter parenting. I think helicopter parenting would better be described as child-fearing vs child-centered. Fearing the child may:
●make a mistake
●not make a good impression or some other perceived shortcoming or potential injury, the parent inserts themselves. IMHO, it is not because parents are trying to ‘protect’ their child, but rather:
·protect their pride,
because they do not have belief in their parenting abilities and/or their child’s capabilities.