Thursday, February 7, 2008

Adventures in Gentle Discipline

I've meant to write a bit about some of the books I've been reading this year.

One of my goals this year (it wasn't one my main New Year's resolutions, but it was one of my goals for personal growth) was to read a lot more. I didn't attach a number of books to it, but I promised myself I would always have a book I was reading, and also always have one picked out to read when finished with the current one.

So far this year I've read 4 books completely and am working on my fifth and sixth (simultaneously).

My second book of the year was "Adventures in Gentle Discipline" by Heather Flowers. I borrowed it from the LLL lending library and read it all in just a few days. I was... a little disappointed. Not disappointed in the book, really. The book was nice to read, a good resource. But disappointed because I didn't really learn anything from it. Everything I read in the book I already knew. Now this probably should be a good thing, but I was really excited to read it and come away with some new knowledge. Since becoming a SAHM I am thirsty for new knowledge. I feel that without reading and without learning new things I may one day just, in between reading "The Foot Book" and the Spanish picture dictionary for the twenty-seventh billionth times, melt into a puddle of mindless goo.

So I was eager to read "Adventures in Gentle Discipline" and come away with some new insight into parenting and some new discipline tools in my toolbelt... I finished the book and my husband asked me what I thought about it. I just told him exactly what I was thinking... That's it?

Now before you start thinking I am either a) a know-it-all egomaniac, or b) a genius who really is that smart... I don't know everything, and I know that. I just knew already about these few things in this one book. And I only knew those things because I was taught them, over the course of several years, professionally. I knew these things because of my training as an early childhood educator with one of the largest Head Start programs in the nation. Normally I would say that most early childhood educators (and educators in general) are pretty ignorant when it comes to gentle discipline, but the program I worked for had wonderful philosophies about teaching and disciplining the children in our care. In the three years I taught with this program I learned more about child development and parenting and patience and unconditional love and discipline and natural consequences and teaching than I had all through college and working in various other programs. I love the experience I gained from my career there. I really am grateful to have learned so many wonderful philosophies and practices, both through our inservices and conferences and just through everyday experience putting them to use. I am so glad I was able to learn and do those things before becoming a parent, because now they are an innate part of me as a parent. When I first started teaching, I had to think before speaking, to rephrase my questions, my requests, my corrections. I had to think of how to positively phrase things and take the words "No" and "Don't" out of my repertoire: How to make "don't throw the sand" become "keep the sand in the bucket, please" and how to make "don't hit" become "use gentle hands." I had to think of how to give choices rather than demands, how to make consequences natural and logical reactions. It was hard at first. I would catch myself midsentence, and I lost my patience a lot more than I care to admit. And now? Well after years of practice, I won't say it's always easy or that I am perfect, but it is almost second-nature to me now. Mostly, the words and phrases that come out of my mouth instinctually now are the ones I used to have to work so hard to produce. And I am so glad. I am so glad that my son (and future children) get the benefit of my experience and practice in my career over the years. My only regret? That those poor children I worked with in the beginning didn't...

One more very big reason I am glad I went to college, finished my degree, and worked for several years before having a child. This is not to say that those who didn't do things in this order have it wrong...just to say that it's worked for me so far.

Other big reasons I am glad to have had the opportunity to get a University education: my husband, whom I met while in college. Some very dear friends I met and lived with in college. The opportunity I had to move away from home, make it on my own, and grow up. The work ethic and appreciation that come from working your way through college, studying, and having a life all at the same time. The chance to be irresponsible, and then learning that sometimes there is such a thing as too much fun, and finding the balance between work and play. The wonderful career I secured because of my college degree. The life experiences I gained along the way. The immense opportunity for learning and growth, the class discussions and debates, the intellectual conversations, something I miss everyday. An understanding of the value of education and a love for learning that I hope to pass on to my children.

Well this started out as a book review and ended as a testimonial to becoming educated... How did that happen? I am sorry but there really is no way to explain the inner workings of this girl's mind!

1 comment:

-A said...

Your post may have changed topics, but at least you still posted it . . . I likely would have started another post to discuss the topic that my brain jumped to and then left both unfinished for a month before starting a completely new, unrelated post.

In regards to reading more though, one of my brothers-in-law mentioned a reading goal he had read/found online of reading 52 books in 52 weeks. My first thought was along the lines of "how can anyone find time to read a book a week?" But in the back of my mind I was thinking that maybe I'd try. So far, I've been able to keep up. One beauty of a nursing baby . . . lots of reading time.

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