Thursday, April 12, 2012

Loving the Little Years {Book Review}

On a day when I was feeling run down and less than successful in life, a friend posted on FB about this little book and how much she liked it. It has been some time since reading a parenting book so I went ahead and asked my library if they could get it for me. A few weeks went by and now I have the book in my hands.
I LOVE love LoVe LOVE love love LOVE ♥ love this book.
It's a different kind of parenting book- for one thing it is very short. Each chapter takes about 5 minutes to read and is a little gem. The general theme is about attitude- ours and our children's attitudes. It's not a book that will make you feel like you and/or your children will never match up and be like the author and their children.
I repeat: This book will not beat you up.
I am only one third of the way through and I feel so ENCOURAGED.
If I could buy this book for every friend of mine with small children, I seriously would. I literally considered that for a moment. It's a thought that I've never before contemplated but I want all my mommy friends to feel the encouragement that I feel right now.
And it's not encouraging the way of "your kids are bad because that's what kids are so just accept that and life will be a lot easier". It's encouraging in the way of "God has given us a tremendous job to do and by His grace, we CAN do it."
A quote from the author, a mother of 5 children, ages 5 and under: "I didn't write this book because mothering is easy for me. I wrote it because it isn't."
I am reading this book in small pockets of time here and there, which is not how I prefer to read. I'm afraid I don't retain as much without sitting down and digesting a book from beginning to end, so I have stuck a piece of paper in as my book mark and am jotting down phrases to help me remember some key thoughts. These are the things that have spoken to me, and addressed issues we have in our family, so I'd really encourage you to get the book for yourself, because I'm not giving a thorough review here. And as I said, I'm only 1/3 the way through.
- Attitude is everything. An organized mental state goes farther than an organized pantry (or whatever)
- Celebrate the progress.
        This was big to me. So often our children struggle with some bad habit that we deal with over and over and over again and when they finally do gain victory in that area, we've already moved on to fixing the next problem area. They go from one issue to the next without any break so we forget to say 'hey, You no longer color on the walls at every chance! That's awesome! We made PROGRESS!'
- Repetition is normal.
        She didn't exactly say it that way... her point was that everything from Bible verses to math facts to tying our shoes is learned through repetition. I don't know why I ever got this crazy idea in my head, but I used to actually be under the impression that if I gave a clear rule and consequence, enforced it 100% and followed through 100% of the time, my children would only need to be trained to do or not do something a couple times at most. It was a huge source of frustration for me, especially with my first toddler. The fact is, we ALL have to learn through repetition. It's not a sign of failure on my part or my child's. Some children or some lessons need more repetition than others. It's not permission to slack off and just let them get away with bad behavior and maybe my tactics need stepping up if it's really not getting through, but I'm not going to be shocked and discouraged when they need to learn the same lesson again and again. I had learned that the key to learning is repitition in college when getting my education degree but had failed to transfer that principle to the obedience and character traits I want my chidren to have.
- Use stories for explanation.
       This is one of those things I know but wasn't putting into practice! Children love stories and if you use a story to illustrate good or bad behavior, they can almost finish the ending for you! One example the author used was with likening horses with emotions. I'll try to explain:
With 3 daughters, there are emotions galore in our house, and they are still young!! When people start talking to me about when these girls are all teenagers at the same time I want to stick my fingers in my ears and sing the alphabet. The all go into hysterics on occasion, especially when overly tired, but one of my little girls is extra prone to emotional meltdowns. And once she gets going, it's sooooo hard to put the breaks on. 
Rachel Jankovic, the author whose 5 children include 4 girls and 1 boy, told her daughters a story about some lovely ladies who were given beautiful horses to ride. They wanted to ride their horses to the wonderful castle with flowers and rainbows and all that girlie girl stuff. But sometimes, the horses would decide they wanted to go to the yucky muddy swamp with bugs in it! The lovely ladies had to learn how to steer their horses to go to the right place. The horses, of course, are our feelings, and sometimes they want to get carried away and take us somewhere we don't want go. The horses (feelings/emotions) aren't bad.... they just need to be controlled.
I thought this made perfect sense to me, and for Heaven's sake I do not want to see my daughters grow up to be women with no control over their emotions. Those women, whom we are all thinking of someone like that right now, are miserable and so is everyone around them. I was skeptical that my young daughter could follow a metaphor but gave it a try at the next emotional episode about to happen. (I didn't have to wait long to test it out!)
Just as I could see the tears forming and the corners of her mouth getting heavier, I told her the story of the horses. Not only did she follow along but added to the story, with bits and pieces from Beauty and the Beast where the horse in that story takes them to the dark scary castle. Did it instantly shut the hysterics off? Well, we had to really work on getting that horse to go where we wanted but I could see her actually trying and actually feeling a little bit successful about not getting into the depths of despair where there is no turning back. She enjoyed having control. And it surely worked better than the standard "Stop. Crying. Right. Now!" So I'm hooked and will be utilizing stories as often as I can.
- Thanksters and Cranksters
     A fun way of consciously choosing to be thankful instead of cranky- and it's not a game for just the kids. Ahem. Pointing to myself right now.
I feel like I stumbled on this book at just the right time. I needed it's encouragement and practical little tid bits.

1 comment:

♥ Amy said...

I have this book, too. I really liked the analogy of the horses and our emotions, too.
Isn't it encouraging to find a book that really ministers to your heart?