20 September 2007

Practical Wisdom for Parents


Practical Wisdom for Parentsis a parenting book devoted to the preschool years and early childhood education. I have not read this book cover to cover, as it is rare to read a parenting book in this fashion, but it strikes me as the first book I have seen solely about "demystifying the preschool years". Written by two preschool directors, Practical Wisdom for Parentsis full of practical information.

Many children today are simply "overscheduled". Nancy Schulman and Ellen Birnbaum write, "Many well-meaning parents have fallen into the trap of imagining that by signing their children up for multiple activities they are being better parents and therefore will "produce" better children...We cannot stress this strongly enough: It is counterproductive for your preschool-age child to be doing too much. Children who do too much too soon tend to be stressed, anxious, and susceptible to feelings of low self-esteem." I have witnessed this overscheduling phenomena with my friends. Their children are tired and stressed, and the parents feel likewise from all the running around. One fortunate consequence of living in the middle of nowhere like my family does, is it is virtually impossible for my children to be overscheduled.

Practical Wisdom for Parentshas a section on discipline, an area I have definite opinions about. For the most part, I agree with the advice in Practical Wisdom for Parents;however, there is a lot of research that no longer supports the use of time outs, thus I have to disagree wit the authors' advice. Time outs are for adults, as young children are not able to use this time to reflect and learn from their misdeeds. Simply having a child sit quietly for misbehavior does nothing to correct and teach appropriate behavior, yet it does remove a child from a situation and give parents a chance to calm down. No matter how you slice it, time outs are a form of punishment, which can be harmful to children if overused.

Other advice from Practical Wisdom for Parentsregarding behavior guidance includes:

  • Establishing routines
  • Anticipating and preempting problem behavior (my favorite as a teacher!)
  • Breaking it down
  • Working alongside child
  • Giving a warning
  • Giving either/or choices
  • Using distraction or humor
  • Getting your child on your side
  • Reinforcing good behavior
  • Avoiding overpraise
There is so much information in Practical Wisdom for Parents,that is impossible to list all of it here. This book gives information in a straightforward, simple manner, that is accessible for most parents. Whether you are expecting a new addition to the family or wanting to support your child's independence, you will find some useful information in Practical Wisdom for Parents. The only thing missing is how to make your life greener with children!

"Play is the highest form of research." -Albert Einstein