Parenting is a job. Unfortunately it’s a job that doesn’t come with a manual and it’s a job that, during the years 0-5 especially, 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…
With the Digital Age came 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 my morning paper and seeing a parenting question sent in to Ask Amy (the column that took over for Dear Abby).
The writer identified herself as ‘Frazzled Shopper.’ Her main complaint center on the fact she couldn’t get the family grocery shopping done because of her 2nd son. She had 2 sons, aged 5 and 3, also a husband that worked a lot. Her problem? Her 2nd born son did not cooperate during these shopping trips—screaming, kicking, evening biting Mom if in the cart; running away and hiding from her if she lets him out. Amy deferred the answer to Claire Zulkey. She is a journalist, mother of 2 and author of a parenting newsletter.
Do you see anything that has child development specialist in her credentials? No, neither did I. She’s a very experienced writer who makes motherhood and family life struggles entertaining and relatable.
Her advice given in order of importance:
1. Get out of shopping with the kids, or at least with the youngest by
—–a. paying: ordering online, hiring a babysitter
—–b. husband needs to do it on his way home from work
—–c. swap errands time with a friend
2. Go early in the day. This is beneficial because
—–a. kids having started to have their ‘meltdowns’ yet
—–b. less distractions in stores
3. Do whatever is necessary—bribes, snacks, distractions including devices that only come out at the store.
Ms Zulkey cautions to mete out the treats to make it 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! 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.
●Has Mom noticed what was going on at home before heading off for the store?
●Is shopping time too close to lunch and/or nap time?
●Was there enough lead in time before packing into the car?
●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 to transition from one setting to the next. That may require more work for their parents initially. But isn’t that what parenting is? 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; 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 the things they could see or reminding him he could help put items in the cart would make him feel part of the experience and 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 their needs
● have 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 or too tired or too 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 is to stay calm, pick your kiddo up and go home. Tomorrow is 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
●might get hurt
●may 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,
●reputation or ego
because they do not have belief in their parenting abilities and/or their child’s capabilities.