We read a lot of parenting books. I am desperate to give my boys the best childhoods possible, desperate to prepare them well for their adult lives. Sometimes, just desperate to get through the day!
I thought it might be fun to start a series of posts recording how we get on using the techniques from various books. I’m going to start with Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting by Noël Janis-Norton. This book can (obviously) be picked up online or in shops, but there is also a course and all sorts of other stuff, which you can find out about on Janis-Norton’s website here.
This book doesn’t target adopted children in particular, though the author has been a foster carer and does claim to have had success with ‘children with more extreme temperaments or with diagnosed special needs’.
It is quite a long book, with an informal style and very clear examples.
Janis-Norton asks readers to begin by spending several weeks implementing her plan of Descriptive Praise before using other techniques. So I’ll talk about those later.
First Descriptive Praise. It sounds rather like Positive Parenting, which is pretty ubiquitous at the moment, you can get a good summary of that from the NSPCC. The idea is to ‘catch children being good’ and say what you see e.g. I see that you waited in the line until it was your turn to go on the slide, that was considerate.
To be honest, I feel we use this sort of thing quite a bit already. E.g. our star chart has a little explanation by each sticker:
But, Janis-Norton does add something I hadn’t tried before. She suggests that, even if a child isn’t doing quite what you want, you comment on how close they are getting. For example, when the boys are tantrumming, I could wait for a pause and say (very fast, maybe) ‘you’ve stopped hitting, you are controlling yourself’.
I am not going to recap the entire book here, that seems rather unfair. Obviously, I am very much in favour of buying books! But, you might want to see how we get on first!
We have been trying for only one weekend so far. Like most new techniques, we are taking a bit of time to get used to it. We forget sometimes and use our usual techniques. Also, Janis-Norton doesn’t suggest that this is the only thing you say to your children, so – obviously – a lot of stuff is just going on as usual.
But, so far, I am reasonably hopeful. I haven’t noticed any change in the children. And, as I would expect (and, to be fair to Janis-Norton, she does acknowledge), a lot of the time the boys respond to my descriptive praise by instantly doing the exact opposite. Yet, I am feeling a bit more cheerful. Saying positive things makes me feel positive. And a lot of the time parental attitude is a bigger factor in how the day goes than child behaviour is.
We have selected one particular problem to try and solve with thus technique. The book does suggest this as a possible approach, so I feel it is fair. I will post again in a fortnight and let you know how effective we have been.
Of course if this book solves all my parenting problems then this won’t turn into a series at all. 😉