The other day I was taking comfort in remembering the old Doris Day movies, the ones where her kids were running wild and tying up the babysitters (“Please Don’t Eat the Daisies“, “With Six You Get Egg Rolls” and “The Thrill of It All” are the films that come to mind). I was sitting my two rambunctious and adorable grandsons, aged 6 and 4, and they were, well…out of hand, but they hadn’t yet tied me up. My instincts are old school when it comes to discipline, so my ways are terribly out of fashion today. No threats, no bribes, no demanding raised voice, and, above all, no swats on the bottom. I admit it, these were the tools my friends and I used in the 1960’s.
I’m happy to report that in spite of these methods my grown children, all four of them, are productive, responsible, law-abiding citizens who make me proud today. In addition, they have given me eleven beautiful grandchildren! And the “new” methods of child rearing and child psychology seem to be working, as my grandchildren are growing into positive, interesting, self-assured and self-aware youngsters. Parents today (as opposed to the “olden days”) have so many tools to help with the overwhelming job of raising children, besides the support systems of after school care, pre-schools, classes of every description, they have a plethora of parenting books. My favorites are the following:
You’re Not the Boss of Me! and Just Tell Me What to Say both by Betsy Brown Braun. What I like about Braun’s style is that she tells you exactly what to do in a few concise pages. Her format is simple and easy to refer to again and again. The advice is solid and sensible (if one can only remember to apply it) and my daughters find it as helpful as I do.
Siblings Without Rivalry by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. This book is phenomenal– it’s illustrated, has humor, and is packed with solutions to turn quarreling siblings into more peaceful beings and keep parents from wanting to run away from home.
Of course, my grandchildren have all been read to from infancy on and I’m a firm believer that it not only encourages reading later in life, but it’s also the essential thing for calming a child for a nap or bedtime. What could be more fun than:
Binky by Leslie Patricelli. For ages one to three, it must be read with great drama and acting on the reader’s part.
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. Wonderful for making up your own story to go with it.
My older (ages 3 to 10) grandchildren love the classic Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein and The Cat on the Mat is Flat by Andy Griffiths — nothing like rhymes to keep their attention.
At my own house I keep all the fabulous Sabuda (click there to make your own pop-ups!) pop-up books on a high shelf so they don’t get yanked apart. The favorite for the granddaughters is Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland while the boys seem to like The Wonderful Wizard of Oz better. It’s their decisions, I swear I’m not giving them gender specific ideas!
Read to your children and grandchildren and they will remember the experience with fondness, and you have a shot at turning them into adults who will read for the rest of their lives.