The book Oh Crap! I Have a Toddler: Tackling These Crazy Awesome Years – No time-outs Needed by Jamie Glowacki is blunt and funny. If you are searching for a polite book, then this is not your book, but if you seek practicality – and language you can easily understand, then you want might to give it a try.
Jamie started her book by explaining to parent that their children from 0-6 years old are in the process called individuation – that is they are coming to a conscious that they are a separate human being from their parent, capable of making their own choice. But as they have literally inadequate experience in this world, they needed their parent to survive.
If you read a lot of parenting book, you will notice one trend – they tended to contradict each other. If you read book by Faber & Mazlish for example, they advocate for giving choices to children. In some area, there are some sense if we are to use Faber & Mazlish’s approach, for example choosing a pajama, but if could be dangerous in other situation such as crossing a street. Jamie contended that 0-6 are the years of governing, not guiding, as children brain is not yet capable of making complex and long-term choices, but for simple situation, of course they can, and we should give them.
She contended that it is the child job to push your limit and testing things. They are learning every day, even if we are not talking, they learn by observing and feeling. That is why, the first important thing in her book, is set up rules and boundaries, so that the children can be creative in a safe environment. They can explore within safe boundaries. You should strive to be authoritative but not authoritarian. Because they are very new to the world, everything is an exploration for them, and we the adult might mistakenly seem them as a bad behavior. In reality they were just curious how the floor would look like if they were all covered with talcum powder!
Parenting is also about the parent!
Jamie also stress out that parenting is not just about your child, it’s also about you, your partner, and your marriage. I personally loved this advice. Some parent devout their whole life to the child, they become the center of their universe, at the cost of their personal well-being and the health of their relationship with their partner in their marriage. This is wrong. When they crash and burn, they will pull down their children together with them, all parties stand to lose. That is why caring for your partner and marriage must be on the agenda, when this is healthy, it will become an umbrella protecting your child and enable them to grow and flourish.
How we connect with our children, was one of my favorite themes in the book. The need for us to be there 100 percent with our children. If we watch movie together, and wanted it to be a connection time, we should watch with them 100 percent with attention without scrolling our phone. But if we gave them screen time for us to take a break, we should say so, so that he will not expect us to sit with them. Jamie stressed out that short 100 percent connection time is much more valuable and productive, then spending time together without our thought never actually “be there”.
Phone is really a gap that create disconnection between parent and their children. While many advise us to put it away, Jamie understood that parenting can sometimes make us lonely and isolated. Being with a child all day is not the same as spending time with adults where you can understand each other’s. But we had a choice to make, whether we want to connect with a child or the world, it can’t be both at the same time. Its better for us to put 100 percent attention to a child until their emotional tank full, then we can spend time on the phone 100 percent. Dividing the attention will not work.
The other point that I think was an important one raised by Jamie, is the issue of parent’s self-care. Especially the first 5 years when the kid entered your life. In these crucial times, self-care is brutal, sleep deprivation and emotional stress slowly creeps in. There’s always a push and pull between partners on whose turn to take the time and look after the kids. This issue is an important one, because there is no family without parent, so a healthy parent, both physically and relationshiply are important for the kid’s development.
You dont have all the time!
Then there is the issue of time management, yes, we were told that busy is good, so we always keep ourselves and our kids busy! But that is not the case, you need a time to not being busy. There is no problem of letting your kids being bored, Jamie rightly pointed out that boredom is the gateway where we find creativity, when we did not plan anything for our kids, they have time to think for themselves what they want to do, what they want to play. If we keep planning their day up to minutes-detail, then there is no room for them to get creative and work their wonders.
Although different parenting books might give you different opinion, different approach, some contradicting each other, but what I found useful in it is that all of them always been a good reminder. A reminder that you are new to child rearing, you can’t master it without experiencing yourself. Jamie made a good reminder that, whatsoever our expectation was about parenting, we don’t know anything about it until we have our own child to take care of. Until we go through that sleepless night, all that tantrums, all that screaming and shouting, that is when we understand what is parenting actually is.
One unconventional thing I found in the book is that Jamie freely recommend TED talks for parent to further explore their conquest for parenting knowledge, I find talk by Gever Tulley on letting our children do dangerous things very enlightening. The book also gave a broader range meaning of creativity, especially what it means for little children.
The topic on sleep window do ring a bell. I for instant felt very sleepy at 10 pm that is my sleep window, and if I missed it, I will only be sleepy again at 2 am. Jamie make it as an utmost important points about sleeping, how sleep help your child and their behavior, you should let them sleep more, not less! She also talks about being firm, being firm means that you mean what you said. If you said something, you had to do it to mean it, this is related on setting boundaries, so that children understand where things stand.
You got this!
In conclusion, what I get from this book is that, your parenting needs to have a flexibility, if something is not working, you should change it, don’t be afraid of straying from your original parenting philosophy. Jamie ended the book by saying “you got this!”.
Author of several books including Berfikir Tentang Pemikiran. Fathi write from his home at Sungai Petani, Kedah. He like to read and sleep.