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Entries in books (12)

Wednesday
Jan232013

Raising Boys

 

A friend recommended Raising Cain: Protecting The Emotional Life of Boys. I am about one third through.

I can't stop wondering at how our society is simultaneously patriarchal and yet unfriendly to men. The authors are therapists who have worked with troubled boys in public schools. They paint a picture of small but consistent subtleties that isolate boys from learning, punishing them for their natural instincts to play faster and learn slower than girls. These boys learn to think of themselves as unsuccessful in organized institutions and behave as the "problem kid" that they have been labeled for the remainder of their educational career. 

Is this not also an important step towards preventing school violence? Understanding the "emotional miseducation" of young male students? 

The authors point out that toddler girls are more likely to understand their own feelings and acknowledge them, using words like "love," "sad," and "scared." Young boys feel the same things but are seldom given an explanation for these feelings. They are taught to mistrust and ignore those feelings, to the detriment of themselves and anyone who will ever love them. 

This is an important read and I'm glad it was recommended to me. I intend to bring it up on this week's MommyBeta podcast but in the meantime, here are a few more poignant excerpts that stuck with me:  

  • "Stereotypical notions of masculine toughness deny a boy his emotions and rob him of the chance to develop the full range of emotional resources. We call this process, in which a boy is steered away from his inner world, the emotional miseducation of boys. It is a training away from healthful attachment and emotional understanding and expression, and it affects even the youngest boy, who learns quickly, for instance, that he must hide his feelings and silence his fears." 
  • "If a boy this age were unable to decipher the alphabet or read any better than this, every adult in his life would recognize that he needed help. But emotional illiteracy is so pervasive among boys that no one notices until something drastic happens. It takes a schoolyard shooting, a hole kicked in a wall, a drunk driving arrest, or a suicide for a boy’s emotional needs to get anyone’s attention." 
  • "Many men readily acknowledge that the generalization is true: they do prefer to avoid emotional people and situations. That doesn’t mean, however, that men lack the “wiring” for expressing or understanding emotion. Newborn boys, on average, are actually more emotionally reactive than girls. For example, studies show that baby boys cry more than baby girls when they are frustrated or upset." 
  • "As much as she would like the school environment to be just a place where instruction and expectations present both boys and girls with the same opportunity for success, the fact that it’s clearly easier for girls to adapt to it means that, in some unseen way, the expectations reflect girls’ abilities and sensibilities. This is the reason that David Trower, the headmaster of the all-boys Allen Stevenson School in New York City, says, 'If boys need the protection of the single-sex environment at all, they need it most in elementary school because of the developmental disparity.'"
  • "Studies that track children’s development through the school years suggest that, by the third grade, a child has established a pattern of learning that shapes the course of his or her entire school career.1 We see this clearly with boys: the first two years in school are a critical moment of entry into that world of learning, but boys’ relative immaturity and the lack of fit they so often experience in school set them up to fail. Many boys who are turned off to school at a young age never refind the motivation to become successful learners." 

More to come as I finish this book. 

Monday
Sep242012

Bedtime Story: There's An App For That

My husband found this super cute bedtime story app for iPad that our 2 year-old absolutely loves! It is called Goodnight Safari and it's free! 

It tells the tale of various safari animals getting ready for bed and lets your little one help the animals in their nighttime rituatls. It's very sweet.

For more children's app suggestions, be sure to follow our app Pinterest Board

Tuesday
Aug212012

New Book Time

 

I have been reading How To Talk So Your Kids Will Listen for my parenting book club but I think I'm going to quit before I complete it. This book is not for me. I posted a discussion in the Copia parenting group explaining why.

I am moving on to this book: Raising An Emotionally Intelligent Child by John Gottman. 

Here is the synopsis of the book: 

Every parent knows the importance of equipping children with the intellectual skills they need to succeed in school and life. But children also need to master their emotions. Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child is a guide to teaching children to understand and regulate their emotional world. And as acclaimed psychologist and researcher John Gottman shows, once they master this important life skill, emotionally intelligent children will enjoy increased self-confidence, greater physical health, better performance in school, and healthier social relationships. Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child will equip parents with a five-step "emotion coaching" process that teaches how to:

* Be aware of a child's emotions

* Recognize emotional expression as an opportunity for intimacy and teaching

* Listen empathetically and validate a child's feelings

* Label emotions in words a child can understand

* Help a child come up with an appropriate way to solve a problem or deal with an upsetting issue or situation

Written for parents of children of all ages, Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child will enrich the bonds between parent and child and contribute immeasurably to the development of a generation of emotionally healthy adults.

Care to join me in reading this book? Join my bookclub here

Wednesday
Aug012012

Is It Time To Give The 'Time-Out' A Time-Out? 

 

Maybe the "time-out" isn't the more humane form of punishment. Child psychologist Lawrence J. Cohen, author of Playful Parenting, doesn't think so. I am finishing his book for my parenting book club and this part struck me: 

"The main problem with time-outs is that they enforce isolation on children who are probably already feeling isolated and disconnected." 

Cohen says that when children misbehave they are trying to tell you something. I'm tired. I'm bored. I'm lonely. I'm jealous. He thinks that a better way to deal with this is to try to speak their language and address the problem, not send them away. He says that when we send them away, they feel even more tired, bored, lonely, jealous, and so the problem is not being addressed or solved.

I've been one of those parents who thought that the "time-out" was a compassionate alternative to spanking. But now I'm beginning to reconsider.

When Miles acts out, if I stop to really analyze the situation I can figure out what is upsetting him. Most of the time it is about a disconnection, as Cohen asserts. If I can reconnect with him in some way, I can usually dissipate the situation and explain to him how he can better handle his frustration without hitting, whining, or tantruming. 

This doesn't mean you have to be ready to address your child's needs at any given moment. It just means that you have to be willing to listen. If you can't address the situation right then and there, you can try to ask them to wait until you can. At least they know you have their attention. 

Miles entered the "terrible twos" last week and while it really isn't so terrible, we are in a stage where we have to learn to discipline him effectively. So if he is feeling jealous of his baby sister and chucks a toy at the wall, sending him away will only make him feel MORE jealous, not less. He won't think, "Wow, I really should learn to control my rage and refrain from throwing objects at finished surfaces. This is a good lesson in causality." No! Of course not! He will think, "I wanted her attention and I tried to tell her that and now I have even less of my mommy than I had before I started. This sucks!" 

Cohen's alternative to the time-out is to use a family meeting on the couch. When there is a disconnection, they all meet on the couch and take responsibility for what has gone wrong. Sometimes they don't even speak but often it is a time to cool off and address the issue. The point is to connect and address rather than reinforce and banish. I'm going to try to implement some of this. What do you think? 

Tuesday
Jul242012

Parenting Book Club! 

 

Hey, want to join a parenting book club? Do it! Click here right now and do it! 

Copia is an eReader site with a social aspect. It lets you read books, make notes and highlights, and discuss the books with other people in a virtual book club. You can read the books on Copia's desktop application or on your mobile device through Android or iOS

I was asked to be one of the leaders for the parenting book club since I am an avid reader of parenting literature. My poor children don't hit any milestone in their lives without Mommy having to read four books about it first. Time to start solids? Mommy buys babyfood recipe books! Potty training? There are books for that too! Pregnancy? Delivery? Infancy? Toddler stage? Communication? You name it, I've read up on it. And I will keep doing so because my children are worth it! 

Often I bring up parental research and people shrug their shoulders and say, "Eh! You don't need books! Just raise your kids by instinct." I reject that.

Sure, a lot of parenting is innate but there is a lot that is not. My instinct didn't really know how to approach potty training and I'm not sure what it will tell me if my child starts sexting. Each generation has unique challenges and I want to be well equipped with knowledge to handle them - coupled with my instinct. 

I learn a lot from science. Research has always been one of my strong points so why wouldn't I apply this to my children? I brought them into this world. I owe it to them to try my hardest at steering them in the right direction. 

This month I am reading Playful Parenting by Lawrence J Cohen. I'm nearly done with it. It isn't my favorite parenting book but I have taken away a lot of interesting points from it and have changed the way I approach Miles when he is trying to communicate through frustration. 

Join me in reading this book and next month we will read How To Talk So Your Kids Will Listen. Come on! You don't even have to wear any pants to these book club meetings!