Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Parenting from a child's perspective

When Chip was around 2, we started to play a game. Role reversal. He would be Aie and I would be Chip. I would whine and ask silly questions and make demands and he would, well, imitate my reponses. What started as a way to pass time on long car rides and hot summer afternoons, soon turned to be much more than a game. It became a tool of insight for my parenting skills. Through his accurate portrayal of Aie on all occasions – everyday demands for candy and juice and other junk food, excuses for not going to a certain place/doing certain things, explanation for beyond-his-age questions, it all became an appraisal of sorts. How was I doing as a mother? We played the game every week and Chip’s imitation stayed true to my parenting in that week. Harried weeks were more of a “do-as-I say” while the relaxed ones were full of explanations and consolations.

This little game of role reversal came to my mind when I read this book recently. Called “Out of the mouth of babes” it is written by Dyan Eybergen – a pediatric psych nurse, a therapist and a parent educator and a mother to three sons. In one of the chapters, she advocates playing a role-reversal game to gain insight. I was thrilled to see it.

Chip is a spirited child, and sometimes he challenges me to rise above my comfort level and seek solutions that will work for me and for him. This book offers an approach that is tailored to each child’s unique personality. It shows us how to understand our children. There are no formulas here in this book – because there really can’t be any formulas for raising children. It puts us in our children’s shoes and shows us the world from their side. Through anecdotes of 3 and 4 years olds while their parents tried to get them to sleep in their own beds, to fussy eating habits to toilet training to sibling rivalry and discipline it reminds us of how perceptive and sensitive these little boys and girls can be.

The book was a pleasant surprise. If you believe in attachment parenting like I do and are wondering how exactly to fit those values with your toddlers and pre-schoolers, this book will be valuable. My only problem with the book was that it was too short (124 pages). There is enough material in this book for a 100 more pages easily. I do hope Eybergen continues to write more and give us her insights into parenting. Parenting can feel like such a daunting task at times, books like these help in keeping those worries at bay.

19 comments:

Mahendra said...

Very interesting, thank you. I will look out for this book!

While we have already started this role reversal game to some extent, it is all the more interesting when our 2-yr old becomes the parent to her toys. She admonishes Minnie for not listening to her, instructs her doggies on how to sleep with a quilt, and so on! :-)

Rohini said...

I like the idea of role reversals. I am going to try it.

DotThoughts said...

Mahendra: 2 is such a fantastic age. Their imaginations soar and their thought process become rational (well somewhat). Enjoy this phase.. they turn three very fast and start backtalking ;-)

Ro: Its a fun game and it shows you what's going on in their little heads!

Girl Next Door (gnd) said...

I love it that this book has no formulas! Cos my own two are so different from each other and need totally different tactics...
Can only imagine how there cannot be a set formula for raising children :)
There are guidelines of course, but they have to completely tweaked to suit each kid's personality! Totally agree with you on that!

Chip is growing to be such an adorable darling and kudos to you! You guys are doing an awesome job!

Subhashree said...

It is a great idea, Dottie. Thanks. I'm going to try it.

Mom Gone Mad said...

Sounds like a great exercise in building empathy.

We're all better people for these perspectives. Its good to feel like a palatable Mom:-) LOL

Penguin said...

Whenever I do end up having a baby (which is going to be a while), I'm going to come back to your blog and read everything you've recommended!

Preethi said...

What wonderful parenting :) I am not sure if I will be any good at it.. given my short fuse :P but worth a try :) Thanks for sharing

Munchkin said...

Thats a great idea. Am making note of it for future use.

DotThoughts said...

gnd: I can lend the book to you. I have a copy!Thanks for the Chippy compliments and DITTO:)

Subha: And let us know how it went!

MGM:lol@ palatable mm. yess!

Penguin: awwww. hope you make lesser mistakes!

Preethi: Try it when you are feeling charitable :)

Munchkin: Thanks!

Mamma mia! Me a mamma? said...

This sounds like a great book! I will definitely pick it up...thanks for letting us in the know!

DotThoughts said...

M4: Quite helpful. Liked the tone of the author.

Artnavy said...

I am going to buy me this book

DotThoughts said...

art: you will like it!

Mystic Margarita said...

I like the idea of role reversal and role play. I have popol pretending to be a dor or a cat, but this sounds very interesting. Will give it a try.

DotThoughts said...

mystic: and let us know!

dyan eybergen said...

Dear Karma Calling,
thank you so much for the insightful review of my book Out of the Mouths of Babes. I was delighted to hear that you thought it was too short! What an incentive for me to keep writing! I love your role reversal game - that is intuition working at it's best.
Kind Regards,
Dyan Eybergen
Author: Out of the Mouths of Babes

DotThoughts said...

Dyan Eybergen: Thank you so much for posting a comment! I loved your book. Looking forward to your new one!!

Nagesh.MVS said...

I am going to try it.

Work From Home