Today is Tuesday so no knitting here, but instead chapter 2 of Wayne Dyer's What do you really want for your children, our selection for the parenting book blog along. This week, Krista's provided some talking points. So here goes.
I loved reading this chapter. I found it really enlightening and helpful at the same time. I felt the author did a good job at describing the traps we can fall into as parents that lower our children's self-esteem and self-confidence.
My little guy is 10 months old so I don't have that much parenting experience yet but was pleasantly surprised that somehow, naturally, both my husband and I have managed to do lots of things right in this regard. This chapter also helped me understand and forgive myself for my own lack of self-esteem and self-confidence at times and motivated me to change those things by using tangible tools and strategies. To me, this chapter alone was worth the price of the book because though everything he says is common sense, he was able to describe it in a way that is tangible and meaningful and relatable. The relatability made all the difference for me.
Okay, so what are we doing right? We never deny Julian attention. We relentlessly hold and squish and hug him and we encourage him to try new things (like the kazoo) and praise him for trying. We tell him we love him everytime the thought crosses our mind (which is all the time) and also say things like "good job", "what a smart boy you are," "you are so clever," "you are beautiful to me," "you are a special little boy," etc. So lots of positive reinforcement. We also believe that a baby cannot be spoiled and have been quick to respond to his cries. But there are many other things that we could be doing better.
I found the tools for building self-confidence really useful. I like that he gives specific examples of what to say in certain circumstances. I have to be careful of falling into the "bad boy" trap. I've read and heard this one lots of times before so I've never told him he was a "bad boy" because it is not he who is bad, but rather the bahaviour.
The other thing I catch myself doing is speaking for him. Granted he can't speak for himself yet, but when we meet new people and he is unsure, I always feel band and make excuses for him saying things like "he's tired" or "he just woke up" to explain his lack of enthusiam when strangers come up to him and coo. I'll have to be careful of that as he gets older.
To sum up, I already do many little things that lower self-confidence and self-esteem and am motivated to changing those. I think I'll need to come back to this chapter often as he gets older because I know I will fall into some of these traps and just won't know how to get out of them. Luckily there are great strategies for avoiding them altogether.
Now for the hard part. Stephen and I need to work on becoming better role models of healthy living and a more active lifestyle. I think we need to do a better job at being positive and enjoying life more. We've both caught ourselves "coasting" at different times in our lives and I want Julian to have a greater lust for life than that. I know that we have to be those things so that he can learn to adopt these attitudes himself.
Krista asked if there was anything the author said that we disagree with and indeed there is. He talked a little about children not being apprentice people in the intro and touched on it a little in the first chapter. I didn't really get it then and though he went into more details in this chapter (p. 60) I still don't really understand this. They are apprentice people. Aren't they? Isn't that why they need parents? To teach them and help them fulfill their potential? I agree with him that we shouldn't expect our children to act as adults or reprimand them for doing things that are age appropriate. No arguments here.
So love and appreciate them as they are (I get that part) but I disagree when he says they are fully developed people. They're not. Julian is a complete 10 month old. But I don't think of him as a complete person. There are still many things to learn and much psycho social development to occur before I can begin to think of him in those terms. In the meantime. He's an infant that needs our care and guidance to grow and learn and I see all this learning and development as a means to a very necessary end of becoming a fully functioning adult who is successful, loves God, and serves humanity. I feel he is our apprentice in that sense. So what am I missing?
Maybe it is just me!