This book may not apply to many of my fellow Cannonballers’ lives, but if it does, wow. Run, do not walk, to Amazon and buy it.
My fifteen month old daughter is not like a lot of other toddlers her age. I’ve always felt strongly about applying negative labels to her. The best way I can really describe her is that she’s a lot. She’s just…a lot. Not always in a bad way. But she’s a lot more sensitive, a lot more stubborn, a lot more intense, a lot more energetic than the rest of her peer group. There are a lot of ways to describe this. High needs. Spirited. The temperament definitely has a lot of overlap with the autistic spectrum and sensory processing issues, but it’s not exactly that. It’s hard but rewarding to parent a child like that. You second guess yourself constantly. Am I being too harsh? Am I being too soft? Did I make her this way? Even when you know that she’s been like this since the minute she left your uterus, and even the hospital nurses had no idea what to do with her.
Dr. Sears wrote a book on kids like this, and it was okay, but lacking, for me. This one is awesome. It starts with a chapter on labels and how we think about our kids. Then it spends a lot of time on how to work with individual personality traits. Then it has some chapters on specific problem areas (mealtime, holidays, travel, sleep). It is awesome. I started it at the end of a day exhausted by parenting this girl all day, and after a few chapters I felt so energized and excited to try some of this stuff the next day. It meshes well with my own instinctive parenting style (attachment parenting with the crazy turned down several notches) but definitely added some practical solutions and gave specific language to how to put things. A lot of it won’t get through a toddler’s head, but some of it does, and approaching things this way is a great way to form a habit and clarify your own parenting intentions in the trenches.
An unexpected bonus was that I really noticed a difference in how I related to others (and even myself) after reading this. It’s absolutely improved by interpersonal skills with my husband and family members, and I’ve found myself instinctively viewing conflict as two sets of needs that might be able to be met in an outside the box way if we define them and go from there. I avoided a spat with my mother in law today entirely using skills from this book. I wasn’t expecting that, but it’s a great side benefit!
I believe I read the 1998 version, and the language did feel really dated. It’s been updated in 2015, and I’d like to read that one and see if that’s changed. Otherwise, I wholeheartedly recommend this book.
[No content warning needed.]