Discipline and the Perplexed Grandparent

“Whoever spares the rod hates their children,
    but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.”  Proverbs 13:24

When I was dealing with grandchildren under the age of two, I was knowledgeable, competent, and successful. Feeding, burping, diaper changing… all second hand to this mother of three children.

Regrettably, I am humbled and disappointed in myself after a weekend with my six-year-old grandson. Also, surprisingly, I am bewildered. I mostly remember my children at six. I found them to be calm yet exuberant, happy but not labile, active but able to concentrate, chatty but not nasty. Not so much with my grandson.

My generation was raised on Dr. Spock and The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Carepublished in 1946 and widely tested on Baby Boomers.  His philosophy emphasized the parents’ role in trusting themselves in child rearing, retreating from rigid schedules for feeding, toilet training, and most of all encouraging affection and treating each child as an individual.  By the end of the tumult of the 60s, his practices were criticized for condoning overly permissive parenting practices encouraging rebellion, feminism, the sexual revolution, and lack of respect for authority.

By the time I was beginning to teach young children, Barry Brazelton and his Infants and Mothers book in 1969 and his Emmy-Award winning TV show “What Every Baby Knows” were encouraging parents to value their child’s feelings as well as their own intuition.  He spent his life assessing the development of children and helping parents to make use of the information to intervene and assist in their children’s lives.  He supported the notion that parents should enjoy their children and not worry so much.  Have fun!  His philosophy recommended permissiveness in parenting, allowing children to control many of their developmental milestones in their own time.

By the time I had my own children in the mid to late 80s, Penelope Leach and her book Your Baby and Child: From Birth to Age Five, published in 1977 and revised in 1988, had offered a philosophy suited for new moms and the pace of the “new” world, emphasizing the successive tasks of development, the reactions of the parent and the child, especially in the home.  While criticized for her emphasis on mothers over fathers and the home environment rather than child care, she was embraced for her support of the mother and emphasis on the happy relationship between happy mom – happy baby.

Getting back to my current life, I am perplexed by my reaction to what I view as a difficult child. He is sweet and naughty and happy and angry.  I found I was at a loss so back to the books I went.  This is the 21stcentury.  Of course No Drama Disciplineis The Whole-Brain Way to Calm Chaos and Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind by Daniel Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson, is the new handbook for intervening in the child and the Id. Effective discipline is broken down to two goals: get children to cooperate and do the right thing and concomitantly develop skills and the capacity to handle challenging situations, frustrations, and emotional storms that may cause them to lose control.

I will have to get back to you AFTER I finish reading this book and try it out on the newest generation.

 

 

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