I’m currently reading Calm Parents, happy kids by Dr. Laura Markham and thought I’d share ten of my favorite quotes from the book.
1. “The most important Parenting skill: Manage yourself”
I believe a happy Mother creates a happy home. When all is good with the Mother, most of the time all is good with the family. When your cup is empty and you have not been looking after yourself, your energy becomes low and so does the ability to harness your emotions. Look after yourself and show them how to manage yourself. When you are falling apart, how are your kids supposed to stay afloat?
2. “What kids need that no one tells you: a safe place to express feelings while you listen”
Sometimes its hard to REALLY listen when your toddler throws himself on the floor for the millionth time. What he really wants is for you to stop and listen to him. Hear him out… hear that he needs YOU! Dr Markham says children can only manage behavior when they learn to manage the emotions that drives that behavior. Sometimes kids needs a safe place to allow those emotions to flow free, where they won’t get in trouble for feeling what they don’t even know they are feeling.
3. “What your child wishes you understood: Shes just a kid, trying as hard as she can. Expect age appropriate behaviour, not perfection, and keep your priorities straight.”
Sometimes I find myself all of a sudden stop myself midst scolding my 2 year olds and think, “Wait a bit… they are only 2 years old!!” When kids are linguistically advanced and talk like a three year old even though they are only 2 years old you tend to think that they should be able to listen and obey you like a three year old. Well, they’re not!
They are a year behind a three year old which means the three year old has had a whole year more of emotional “coaching” and a whole year more of getting to understand this strange thing called life.
If you are an imperfect being, how can you expect them to be perfect? If you make mistakes all the time and loose battles with yourself daily, wether its about chocolate, swearing or smoking, how can you expect your toddler to sit down every time you ask her to?
4. “The most useful mantra: Don’t take it personally”
Yawza, this one is one of the most difficult ones for me. I take everything personally. Everything! Dr Laura encourages to avoid power struggles by cultivating a sense of humour. I have been trying this more and more and I must say, making jokes has saved many a battle with my kids. Whenever I want my kids to do something these days I just pretend to bite their bum…
Let me explain… they absolutely LOVE dinosaurs and they love it when I chase them so when, for instance, they don’t want to get out of the bath and its starting to get a whining-crying-business, I just hold my hand like a puppet dinosaur and say, “Oh dear, you’ll have to come out or the dinosaur is going to bite your BUTT!” and when I say “bite your butt” I grab a chunk of bum and squeeze softly and they break out in laughter and get their buts out of the bath!
5. “All misbehaviour comes from basic needs that aren’t met.”
I have experienced, from observing kids in the past, that “naughty” kids usually are in need. They need love or attention of an example of a healthy relationship between parents for instance. Sometimes its just an immediate need, like you cant expect your child to sit still in a trolley for two hours at the grocery store when they are hungry. They don’t neccessarily know they are hungry or realise they are thirsty but act out because they feel something is not feeling good.
Make sure they get enough sleep, are fed, have enough free play time, cuddle them, talk to them and make them feel safe. Dr Markham believes children want to be successful and when they don’t, they have a relationship problem, not a behaviour problem!
6. “Because no matter how bad your child’s behaviour, it’s a cry for help. Sometimes the behaviour requires a firm limit, but it never requires us to be mean.”
I have been mean so many times, only for me to realise later that there really was something in her shoe or he really did want to pee AGAIN. Sometimes I have just not been taking care of myself so my threshold would be VERY low and then I’d expect too much of them.
Theres never an excuse for bad behaviour and discipline is very important to me but its NEVER ok to fight their behaviour by being mean. By doing that we teach them how to handle things by being mean, just causing more bad behaviour on their side.
7. “The best parenting expert? Your child.”
This is my favorite quote! We learn from our children from the day we are born. When we observe them and meet their constant needs, we learn from them. They are basically giving it to us, we just have to learn to listen without having to hear!
8. “One generation full of deeply loving parents would change the brain of the next generation, and with that, the world. – Charles Raison”
Theres a saying that goes. “All you need is love and a place to call home.” In Afrikaans the saying is more true because it translates to “All you need is love and a little water.” Children that are neglected and never touched have found to be very far behind developmentally. This shows how important love and physical touch is for human beings, we can not function without it.
Song of Solomon 8:7 says, “Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away. If one were to give all the wealth of one’s house for love, it would be utterly scorned.” How powerful love is!!
9. “Parenting is not about what our child does, but about how we respond.”
Much too often I find myself thinking a behavior my child portrayed, shows what kind of parent I am. I have responded in a bad way so, so many times… My only comfort is in God and the fact that He has grace for me and therefore my child will also have grace for me, through Him! My mistakes can not be undone and I am making them as I go, but God is guiding me every step of the way and will never fail to show me the way. I know Its going to be OK because thankfully God has made kids adaptable and He has given us the strength and courage to change.
Dr Laura says “you’ll have to manage your own triggers and emotions to effectively coach and connect with your child” man is it difficult to manage my triggers when the kids find all of them within a 5 minute frame. I have issues, I know that by now, and much too often they come out in situations where I am trying to coach my children. They learn to regulate their emotions and behaviour by watching us do it. We have to be OK for them to be OK. That’s a scary thought!
10. “Our children need to know that we take joy in them or they don’t see themselves as worth loving. In fact, your ability to enjoy your child may be the most important factor in his development.”
Life can distract us so much from whats happening right under our noses. How sad is that when theres children happening right under our noses! Was it not important for us to know our parents took joy in us, or very sad when we knew they didn’t? Isn’t it important for us to know our spouse takes joy in us, or sad for us when we know they don’t?
Our children are not as emotionally developed as we are. Imagine how badly affected they are when they don’t experience us having joy in them. They are our worlds, let’s make them know they are!