I have met my parenting guru. O.k., so I haven’t actually met her in person, but I have been introduced to her work and have now become a disciple to her way of parenting. The person is Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, and I want her to come live next door so that I can have her at my beck and call.
I have already mentioned one of her books, Sleepless in America, which was pretty life-changing and helped me to understand a bit better why Finn has such a difficult time falling asleep. This last book that I read, Raising Your Spirited Child, was equally illuminating. Midway through the book, I turned to Mr. F. and insisted that he take time to read it. “This is the way I want to parent. This is what I want our parenting philosophy to be.” Yes, it is geared towards children who are “more intense, persistent, sensitive, perceptive, and uncomfortable with change than normal children” which seems to apply to Finn, however, I think that anyone who read this book and applied it’s principles would be better parents.
The overwhelming impression I got from her methods was one of respect. Respect your child and his temperament. It is not pandering to set your child up for success. She also encourages parents to work with their children to come to solutions that work out for both parent and child.
How can you work out a solution with a 20 month old? It is possible. I read this in the book and got to try it out with Finn the next day. Up to this point, I usually sat Finn on my lap to put shoes and socks on before heading outside. However, recently he had been fighting me on this. Had I not read this section, I might have just powered through. “I am the parent; we are putting socks on; I will forcibly place you and keep you on my lap because I don’t have time for this.” However, I decided to try a different approach. For whatever reason, Finn likes to sit on steps. Perhaps it makes him feel like a big kid. So, I asked him if I could put his shoes and socks on while he sat on the step. Worked like a charm. He thoroughly enjoyed siting down and having me put his shoes and sock on. This is a win/win for both of us. He retains some independence, and I get his shoes and socks on in a fairly timely manner.
Basically, Kurcinka asks you to disengage from the power struggle and to evaluate what the real issue is in any given situation. Also, she asks you as a parent to be aware of your child’s temperament and to work with it. If your child is an extrovert, make sure he has lots of interactions with other children. If an introvert, make sure he has a break where he can recharge. If he is uncomfortable with change, brainstorm ideas that might make the transition easier. By being aware of your child’s temperament not only do you help them be successful, but you teach them how to appropriately respond and behave when placed in trying circumstances.
Like I said, I am in love. Her methods really resonated with me, especially as I am discovering that conventional parenting techniques just do not work with Finn. The copy of the book I read I had checked out from the library. However, I am definitely going to purchase one to have as a constant reference.