I think we get a lot of pressure to parent our children a certain way. There is no shortage of parenting advice both solicited and unsolicited. With the Internet, books and ebooks, the number of disciplinary techniques can be overwhelming. There is no doubt that I read too much with my eldest (now six) and followed advice that didn’t feel right to me. I thought parenting decisions were black and white, but learned the hard way that they are not.
1. Taking Away Bottles and Pacifiers
With my oldest, his bottle was his comfort item. He would drink it, rub the bottle against his face, and fall asleep for his nap all curled up with it. So many people told me that he had to switch to the sippy cup at age one or it would keep him little and be hard to take away later. I swear I felt like people were looking at him with it in public and giving me dirty looks for allowing him to have it. Once I took it away, parenting him was so much harder. He was sad and unruly for several months as he adjusted and he never did find another comfort item. Looking back, I think I suffered more than he did by taking it away before he was ready.
With my second child he loved the pacifier and I decided he would have it until he could understand that he needed to give it up himself. When he was a little over two, the dentist took a peek in his mouth for me and said he needed to give it up within the next month or so (which isn’t true for every kid). I took him to the toy store and I told him if he would throw away his pacifier he could have a new toy, skipping the aisles with things like electric cars, of course. We went around the store until he found a toy that he loved. I said when he was ready to throw away his pacifier we would come back and get it. In the morning he said he was ready so we went to the store where he tossed it in the trash and got his toy. Occasionally he would ask for it back and I would remind him about the toy and he would accept it. I felt this was a much better outcome to letting go of a comfort item than we had with the bottle.
2. Cry It Out
We did the “cry-it-out” method for sleeping through the night with my oldest. It was heartbreaking and I remembering listening to him cry and wanting to cry myself. But again, I was firm in the belief that it was the only way we would be able to get some sleep and had read so many books and heard so many people say it’s hard but you have to do it.
In between kids I finally found an article that said the cry-it-out method was the first time in your child’s life that he would feel abandoned and instead you should comfort him when he cries and then leave the room. This method of comforting was supposed to instill more confidence to help him sleep through. So we did that. It took the same number of nights as crying it out and but I felt much better about the decision. Many people are proponents of crying it out, and I am not saying they are wrong, I am saying that for me it did not feel right and I was happy I decided to explore other methods of sleep training.
3. Avoiding Standoffs
We had A LOT of hour-long standoffs with my eldest. I really thought if you said “do this” they should do it–No matter what. As if! As much as I wish you could just say “go get dressed” or “eat your veggies” to a toddler and have them obey every single day, I don’t think it works that way. Otherwise parenting would be the easiest job ever! I remember when my son was about 18 months we told him he had to try a piece of corn. He cried and cried and we would not let him out of the highchair until he tried it. I think the end result was that after an hour he ate it, choked, and threw it up. Finally we had a friend tell us that you always give a choice. Do you want to wear this shirt or that one? Do you want broccoli or green beans? It works almost every time. And really, the world isn’t going to end if they go to the grocery store in their pajamas like I thought it would.
How about you? Did you have different style of parenting in the beginning than you do now? Did any of your decisions come from listening to others instead of yourself?
Nicole created HoldtheOffice.com–a blog where people connect to talk about crafts, recipes, books, parenting, and life in general. It’s office conversation, without the commute!