It’s not uncommon for a mom with a seven and five year old to recommend my book to a friend with younger children. The reason a parent of older kids recommends my book or encourages a parent with young children to attend a 6 week class I am teaching is because they know something the parent of the younger children does not.
And that is:
“You can do it now, or you can do it later, but you are going to have to do it – the earlier you start the easier it is – so start now.”
No matter how old your children are when you are introduced to this Less is More Approach to parenting, the concepts and strategies are there to support you as you teach your kids about healthy relationships and support their drive towards independence. This approach is flexible and can be adapted to meet any special circumstances in your family. This short blog is intended to inform those with younger kids who may be wondering – “But really – will it work for kids who are only a year old?” The answer is yes and I hope the following summary helps answer any questions you may have.
This is not really a parenting program. It is an approach to parenting that you can continue to use throughout your children’s lives, no matter how old they are.
At it’s core, this approach is about two things:
1. Helping your children learn what constitutes a healthy relationship through the relationship they have with you, their parent, so that they can enter into healthy relationships with people beyond their immediate family.. This means that the go-to, in-the-moment, not-sure-what-else-to-do strategies, which include nagging, reminding, lecturing, saving, bribing, coaxing, or punishing are replaced with strategies that build cooperative and respectful relationships which makes it possible to limit power struggles and enjoy life with a toddler or a teen.
The relationship strategies I teach are a far cry from the quick fix strategies many parents use to “get” their kids to do what they want or to stop doing something they disapprove of. What I know, is that if a parent begins incorporating these relationship strategies into their life when their children are very young, they will be among the many parents who have not found it necessary to spend exorbitant amounts of time nagging, reminding, counting, time-outing, threatening or bribing their kids just to get through the day. Will you get the hairy eyeball from some busybody watching you in the store – you bet, but you will also raise a child who is capable, competent, happy, respectful and responsible so it’s worth a few snarky comments when you consider the reward.
2. Providing as many opportunities as we can for our children to become more independent and self-reliant by helping them develop the skills necessary to navigate their fast past, ever changing world with confidence and enthusiasm. And this begins by allowing them a chance to make simple choices, share in decision making, learning how to self soothe and overcome momentary frustrations and disappointments.
For parents with very young children, it’s important to allow them a chance to struggle, fuss, even cry before we rush to their sides and try and make them happy and content again. The ability to overcome a bit of frustration or waiting helps them build confidence and is in fact a basic skill that they will continue to develop for many, many years.
If all you do, is take your cues from your child when he shows interest in feeding himself, or getting in the car-seat with help, or putting on a t-shirt, or making toast, you will go along way in laying the groundwork necessary for raising a remarkably capable and responsible young person.