Parenting … A Work in Progress

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Parenting … A Work in Progress
Is it possible to raise well-adjusted children without losing your mind?

Parenting . . . A Work in Progress offers insightful strategies and humorous stories to guide seasoned, as well as new parents of children, newborn to adolescent.

Parenting has always been a trying job. Crypts found from the 11th century contain prayers from parents asking for help with their children. It’s the parents’ job to guide their children along the rocky road toward adulthood. Parenting . . . A Work in Progress can help you get there.

The five sections within this book cover elements of physical, cognitive, and social-emotional growth. In addition, each section contains chapters especially pertinent to that particular age group.

• The Infants and Toddlers section discusses potty training, temperament and attachment, prenatal drug use, and sleep disorders.

• The Early Childhood section covers play, discovery learning, behavior in public, nutrition, and teaching children about death.

• The Middle Childhood section includes self-esteem, parenting styles, love and friendship, and bullying.

• The Adolescence section covers organized thought, dreaming, peer pressure, eating disorders, and social media.

The information in the fifth section containing two chapters, “Divorce” and “Siblings,” pertains to all age groups. Many references for further reading are found within the body of the eBook and at the end of each section in print.

Join me in the adventure that is Parenting . . . A Work in Progress.
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About the Book

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The Art of Sharing

Young children are often firm about their belongings or those items they believe belong to them. Recall the childhood cheers, “It’s Mine!” or “Everything is mine unless it’s broken. Then it’s yours.”

Although self-assertion is a good thing, children also need to learn the fine arts of redirection and compromise.

  • “It’s your friend’s turn to use the toy in five minutes.”

Children of this age have no conceptual understanding of time, so they require adult help. Use either a timer or a verbal reminder to switch. Beware hourglass toy timers. A savvy child may turn the timer upside down when no one is looking to get more playtime.

  • “Here is a different toy. See if your friend will trade.”

Trades frequently work well. However, sometimes the trade is not enticing, and different trade may be attempted. If this method fails, it is time to find a different play option.

These methods encourage cooperation rather than insist upon immediate sharing, which is a supreme difficulty for young children. The toys, for the time they are in hand, are extensions of the self. Instead of insisting a child share or physically removing a toy from one child to give to another, use of these two techniques will teach children good compromising strategies.

Self-Esteem

Preschool aged children usually have high self-esteem. They believe they can do anything well, even if they haven’t tried it yet. Kindergarten-aged children believe that feelings are emotional expression. If a friend is smiling, he is happy. When a friend is not smiling she is not happy (Nanis & Cowen, 1987).

Suggestions for maintaining healthy self-esteem:

  • Listen. Give your full attention when children want to talk. If you listen to your children now, they will return the favor and listen to you later. Young children have little problems. Older children have bigger problems. They need to be assured you will be available for them when they need you.
  • Promote self-motivation. Notice the positive in the child’s behavior and accomplishments above and beyond, saying “Good job.” Display their work.
  • Accept the child’s emotions. Let the child know it is okay to be angry, but it’s not okay to treat other people badly because of that anger. Try saying, “Smart girls or boys find a way to fix problems.” Help the child calm down so he can think of a constructive way to handle the situation. If he can’t think of a solution, offer suggestions so the child feels supported.
  • Pick your battles. Children need to feel they have some control over their lives. This will help them learn to make their own decisions—a necessary life-skill.

Daughter Julia had a unique sense of fashion.

“Thank goodness her school required uniforms,” her father stated, after Julia walked past him wearing a white and purple striped shirt and pants with large printed flowers.

Outside of school, Julia was allowed to wear what she wished, as long as it was weather appropriate—no shorts in the dead of winter. No matter how extreme the clash of the clothing, we let it go. Clothing choice would not be a battle. She was expressing her creativity.

On days when Julia was required to dress for a more formal outing, I chose two outfits. Julia chose one and wore that outfit. She was always given a choice.

Now an adult, Julia has no difficulties making decisions in her technical position at work. She designs and constructs purses and clothing for fun.

Listen, promote self-motivation, accept emotions, and choose your battles. If you parent well now, your children will not need you to continue parenting them into their adult years. Children who never learn to make their own decisions have difficulty making decisions as an adult.

 

Endorsements
This book is a smorgasbord of information new or veteran parents might find useful. Being an experienced child care provider for nearly two decades, I was already knowledgeable about most of the information concerning the developmental process and milestones for infants and toddlers, but I did glean a wealth of information about dealing with younger school-aged children and teens, thankfully, because that happens to be my stage of life at the moment.

As well, there were several funny anecdotes offered in this title. I mean, sometimes you just have to laugh at the crazy things kids say and do, or else you'll go crazy. (See "Sage Advice from Children" about three-fourths of the way through the book. Trust me :) )

The author also delved into a sensitive but important subject that many parents, in my opinion, don't put enough time and thought into - allowing children to stay home alone. I agree with her that it should not be based on age but maturity. It was also impressive that she offered a readiness quiz that I think many parents will find helpful.

This book offered several admirable tips on parenting, but one of my favorite passages in the entire book was titled "Build a Better Mattress." You can find this about 60% of the way through the book. I would love to share it but this passage alone makes this book worth reading, and I don't like to share spoilers.

And if all of these things weren't enough to make this a GOLD-rated read, this title is impeccably edited. For this and many other reasons, I highly recommend this book to any parent or caregiver of children of any age. You may just learn something new.
Are you a new parent, wanting to do your best for your child? Are you overwhelmed by fatigue, insecurity, and all the new situations, from “How do I snap these onesies?” to “Why is Baby throwing her pureed carrots on the floor?” Or are you the parent of a six-year old, who has just returned from your first “Meet the Parent” night- school and homework seems so different now! Maybe you are wondering what the rules are for your puzzling teenagers. If you can relate to these descriptions, then Parenting…A Work in Progress will be a calm and reassuring read for you.

You may also be a new grandparent or an aunt or uncle and you want an overview of what to expect and how you can help the young family. Ms. Buikema is here to encourage you. This is a short book, with basic information presented in a reassuring and entertaining way. You may want to read it all at first, and then reread the sections that pertain to you and your child.

This book gives its readers a clear and simple guide to raising children. The Author presents the developmental milestones and characteristics of children by age: Infant, Toddler, Early Childhood, Middle Childhood, and Adolescence. These five sections cover the essential elements of physical, cognitive, and social-emotional growth. She also includes special chapters on the topics of School Performance, Siblings, Divorce, Bullying and helpful References.

The Author frequently gives short examples of real life stories to illustrate her points. I was touched by the section written by children, “What I Need from My Mom and Dad.” Kids also share some tips for dealing with parents. I liked this advice, “Never tell your Mom her diet’s not working. -- Joel, age 14.

I loved this summary of how to parent, “Guess what? Children don’t require perfection. They need to learn how to share, pay attention, communicate and express love.”

“Breathe deeply, slowly. Smile often.

Enjoy the children. Time passes quickly.”

“When all else fails, maintain a sense of humor.”

Ms. Buikema is a professional with thirty-years experience and solid educational credentials. She is also a helpful and caring guide. I highly recommend this well-written book.
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