One of the best pieces of advice I’ve read on parenting is this: start as you mean to go on.
The wisdom comes from Tracy Hogg, author of several parenting books. The two I’ve read (and loved!) are Secrets of the Baby Whisperer: How to Calm, Connect and Communicate with Your Baby and Secrets of the Baby Whisperer for Toddlers.
Here’s the theory: it’s much easier to start good habits than break bad ones. I know this is certainly true for me! How many times have I tried to consume less sugar only to fail when a package of Oreos is set on the table? Oops.
Accidental parenting, as Hogg puts it, is when parents realize after the fact that something isn’t working rather than deciding how they want to raise their kids from the beginning.
For instance, even though it was super adorable when Anna discovered she could drop Cheerios from her high chair, (the look on her face was priceless!) I know that cleaning up Cheerios every day is not something I want to do. More importantly, no one is going to find that behavior cute when she’s 2, or 5, or 15 years old. So, after letting her try Cheerio dropping once, we put a stop to her new discovery. Hogg would say that the Cheerio dropping indicates Anna is experimenting with cause and effect. (A good thing!) But, instead of experimenting in our kitchen, let’s take her to the sandbox where she can drop sand into a bucket.
This theory can be applied for a lot of areas, from sleep training to eating habits to climbing to bath time behavior. Right now I’m struggling with knowing when to let Anna shriek. She’s discovered her vocal chords can be used for all kinds of LOUD noises. We find it adorable, but not on an airplane or in a restaurant or when we’re trying to have a conversation. We’re starting to say “NO” when shrieking happens, while also encouraging her to experiment with her voice when we’re on walks or at the park.
Obviously, we’re too new at this parenting gig to report on long term efforts, but I will say that Anna has responded well to us telling her “NO.” (Addendum: by “well” I mean: she understands!) Some areas have taken more time than others, but we’re amazed out how much a young baby gets what we’re saying. She might not always obey, but over time we believe she will.
What are things your kids do that you find heart melting, but wonder if it’s a good long term habit?