This book had been sitting on my bookcase shelf for about two years, just gathering dust and taking up space. It didn’t cry out to me, “Stop watching Real Housewives. Read me! Read me!” So it just sat there. Until one day, my four year old went from angel to… not-so-angel.
Tantrums, attitude and defiance began to permeate our everyday lives. I was desperate. So, I went over to my bookcase and pulled it out.
And I read. And I read. And I read.
And then I read some more.
I could not get enough of this book. I’ve since learned that’s it’s been dubbed “The Parenting Bible,” by many people and I completely understand why. The techniques I learned in this book were life-transforming.
According to its authors, Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish, we help our children to feel better by validating their feelings and giving them information. A simple concept – but, upon contemplation, I was shocked at the realization of how frequently I was attempting to deny my child’s feelings and, instead, telling her how to feel. My statements like, “You’re not hungry – you just had a sandwich” and “You shouldn’t be sad – that little girl was not trying to steal your toy” were really problematic. This is true even though I was often unintentionally denying my child her feelings because I was trying to help her feel better. Such dismissal only acted to create conflict and even downright hostility between us.
Through step-by-step instructions, helpful illustrations and hypothetical exercises, this book gave me the practical skills that I needed to better communicate and discipline more effectively.
For example, one suggestion is to give your child what they want in “fantasy.” If your child says, “I don’t want mac and cheese for dinner, I want a chocolate sandwich!” (yes, this statement has been made in my house many times), you can excitedly say, “I wish I had a magic button that would bring a chocolate sandwich right to your plate!” Then, the child often gets lost in the fun fantasy, which you can make bigger and bigger: “I wish an airplane would fly over the house and drop a chocolate sandwich down in a parachute!” This type of imaginative fun amazingly distracts the child from whatever they were fretting about and can diffuse even the most epic (and ridiculous) of tantrums.
This book has helped me to understand my child’s BIG emotions and gave me tools to deal with them in a constructive and productive way.
It’s no wonder this book has been a massive bestseller. It’s a real gem. I just wish I pulled it from the shelf sooner.