I couldn't help but fire back, "Oh yeah? Which studies? Can you show them to me?"
Moreover, I felt like "the movement" -- that is, the "experts" that preach it seemed to criticize us non-believers.
I sleep trained my daughter. I did it. And I put her on a feeding schedule at eight weeks of age. And my daughter grew happier with each change I institutionalized. She started to sleep through the night immediately, and to be the happiest baby around. As long as I kept her on her schedule.
I don't insist that everyone adapt my methods. Though admittedly, I do suggest babies down to sleep much sooner than most parents do, simply because my daughter's infant evening fussiness immediately disappeared when I made these changes. Still, if your parenting style works for you, rock on.
But please don't insist that my methods are practically child abuse. That's disrespectful.
So as a result of all this meanness, I tend to write off all AP ideas.
But a reader of this blog suggested I check out this blog, and not realizing what it was, I did.
And you know, a lot of the suggestions made sense. And so I started trying them out.
The biggest thing I've learned, partly from this website, is that, duh, kids' feelings matter.
This sounds so obvious, but how often do you hear well intentioned parents' mocking their children's feelings? Saying things like, "I know, I'm SO mean!" Or, "yeah, you had SUCH a hard day, playing at daycare all day. You should try going to work all day!" Or even, my friend telling me that she laughed as her toddler melted down about some small toddler-sized problem.
The thing is, their problems feel very big to them. Just as big as our problems do to us.
And so, what does this jeering teach our children? That their feelings aren't real, that their problems don't "count"? That they don't deserve empathy?
And most importantly, how would I feel if someone treated me that way?
Like crap, is how I would feel.
And you can bet that it wouldn't make me more empathetic towards others.
So I've been working on this. I've stopped giving time outs. (Though I don't promise I'll never give one again.) I've started giving "time ins" instead.
When Calliope, rather predictably, starts to spin out of control and misbehave when I first get home from work, I try to catch hold of her hands or her shoulders and say, "You seem like you are having a hard time. Do you need a hug?"
Most of the time, she says yes, and melts into my arms. If she says no and keeps swatting, I restrain her in my arms anyway and just say, "I can't let you hit."
So far that has worked. I'm sure I'll have to up my game but so far, it's remarkable how well it's working.
I'm trying to remember my motto of "she's not giving me a hard time, she's having a hard time."
It's helps me to think of her actions not as misbehavior but as dysregulation. She's two. She can't always get her impulses under control. When her emotions become to strong, she lashes out as a way to release the tension. Punishing her doesn't teach her how to regulate herself, just shows her the negative consequences for doing so. But at those times, she's not necessarily logical enough to think back to previous consequences and make better choices for reasons other than fear. Showing her that I can help her curtail her actions when her impulses are too strong for her shows her that I'm on her side and I won't let her hurt someone else. I can see that she doesn't really want to hit me, she is just overwhelmed by emotion.
I guess she thought that Susie was in danger of misbehaving yesterday Calliope walked up to her and asked seriously, "Do you need a hug?"
Susie answered back, very seriously, "Yes, yes I do need a hug."