Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The books that saved my life--or my children's lives.

Often I read blogs by moms who have babies and toddlers. Being well out of that stage myself, the posts on the frustration of sleeplessness, the terrible twos, potty training always brings back memories. Ah, such lovely memories. Believe that if you want to, I've been thinking I would like to share my favorite books on parenting. I've read many and there are some that really resonated with my style of parenting (Nurture by Nature) or reinforced the values I believe to be important for my children (Nurturing Good Children Now); however, if I could only pick one series of books to ever use as a parent, it would be these.

Louise Bates Ames wrote this collection of child development books sponsored by the Gesell Institute of Human Development. Each book covers one year in your child's life. A few of the titles are: Your Two-Year-Old: Terrible or Tender; Your Three-Year-Old: Friend or Enemy; Your Four-Year-Old: Wild and Wonderful. With titles like these, you can see she understands the puzzling contradictions that our children can be.

The important thing to note about these books is their emphasis on child development not parenting philosophy. While there are definitely some views expressed in certain areas, the overall aim is to help you understand the developmental steps your child is taking and how it leads to certain behavior. If we understand the pendulum swinging between equilibrium and disequilibrium we will be prepared to make better choices as we parent.

The books were written many years ago so you will need to get past discipline being described as punishment and dated descriptions of what kinds of amusements children enjoy such as a phonograph record. If you look past this though, you will find an excellent tool in understanding why the love of your life has suddenly started having tantrums, insists on doing everything alone, always has to win every game or always wants mommy instead of daddy.

The past few months the six-year old version has been my lifesaver. Swinging between loving and defiant, the book describes a six-year-old as "a paradoxical little person, and bipolarity is the name of his game." This book describes my Marley to a 'T'. Stubborn? Check. Indecisive? Check. Loves Mommy? Check. Hates Mommy? Check. Oppositional? Checkity, check, check, check! The disequilibrium stage occurs during the first six months of six and we are getting close to the equilibrium stage. Oh, I cannot wait. I've been counting down the days and if you had passed by me at a restaurant the last 5 months, you might have heard me muttering under my breath: "Just six more months" over and over again. But I know that equilibrium is coming and so I can be more patient, avoid certain hot button six-year-old issues and keep my sanity. And I owe it all to Louise Bate Ames. Thanks Louise!

Having said that, we all have days, no matter how many parenting books we've read, classes we've taken or how large our trusted pool of parenting advisors is, where we just throw up our hands. My friend, chickenone, of ky coop cast recently had such a day. She turned that frustration into a post called Book Smart? and it is sheer brilliance. I encourage you to go read it. It will make you laugh. I promise.

With a wild thing like this, I need all the help I can get!


bubandpie said...

I'll have to check my library for those. I read an article once about brain development and the specific tasks that can and cannot be performed by certain ages (like understanding that what OTHER people know is different from what I know - a breakthrough autistic children find especially difficult). Interesting stuff.

sunshine scribe said...

I have never read these books but they sound right up my ally and you also described my 5 year old.

Thanks for sharing these ... off to the library to find them next week!

V-Grrrl said...

I have all the Louise Ames books up to age 14. They've been especially helpful with my son who seems to move in and out of equilibrium on the precise calendar she describes.

Of course, knowing difficult stages are "normal" in his development doesn't always keep me sane but it helps.