Friday, March 13, 2009

Out of the Mouths of Babes

I am always interested in quality parenting advice, so when MotherTalk offered me the opportunity to review Dyan Eybergen's book Out of the Mouths of Babes: Parenting from a Child's Perspective, I jumped on the chance.

I was even more intrigued after hearing that there was a section on self-esteem, which is something I am very interested in, especially having an autistic child, who will probably have to deal with some self-esteem issues in his not too far away future.

Eybergen is a pediatric psychiatric nurse, and has spent many years working as a therapist and parent educator. And she has three boys, so you see where I might be interested in what she has to say. (I also have three boys. And I spent many years in therapy.)

Her main premise is that what will work for one child will not necessarily work for another and that you need to tailor your parenting to the personality of each individual child. Considering each of my children is wildly different from his two brothers, I fully ascribe to this theory.

She breaks the book down into chapters on bedtime/sleeping, toilet training, fears, eating, sibling rivalry/conflict, sexuality, discipline, and self-esteem. Thankfully, I have passed some of these subjects in my parenting journey. I hope to never need advice on potty training ever again, thank you very much!

I didn't necessarily agree with everything in this book, but I think Eybergen has a lot of good ideas.

For instance, she talks about children who have nightmares. For some kids a "monster spray" might work, but for one of her children, she just had to allow him to sleep on the top bunk because his monster couldn't reach him up there. It was his monster, she reasoned, so it followed his rules. I think this is a wonderful example of using the child's own individual perspective to solve a common problem.

She gives many concrete examples of the creative ways she has dealt with some of the challenges she has faced raising her kids. In deciding how to deal with these challenges, she looks at the child's temperment and personality to help her decide how to deal with the situation.

I liked the chapter on self-esteem, which notes that children are not born with innate self-esteem—they have to learn it. And I agree with her wholeheartedly when she states, "Instilling a healthy self-esteem in our children is the crux of all parenting."

Out of the Mouths of Babes won't give you the answers to all your parenting quandries, but it will give you some ideas for how to come up with your own.

Out of the Mouths of Babes by Dyan Eybergen retails for $14.95.