I read an article this morning on French parenting and how it’s in general different from American parenting. I’m going to have to read it once or twice more to make sure the main points get in my head. It definitely made me think a lot.
What I took from the article on my first reading is that in general, American parents seem to be less authority figures for our children and instead cater to them more, and end up running around more and being a bit more frantic, and also having children who don’t have patience and who don’t listen to us as much. In comparison, French parents set parameters for their children, expect their children to stay within the parameters set for them, encourage self-play, and teach their children delayed gratification through daily life so they don’t throw temper tantrums when they don’t get something that want immediately. And a little note – the article made it clear that French parents are not super authoritative while doing this, they are gentle and loving and play with their children and read to them and are very involved, but just don’t let the children rule the household – instead they keep their place at the head of the household while being loving parents. Also, French parents don’t use the term disciplining as we do, but instead call it educating.
As I was laying in bed reading the article, I heard Elsa making little impatient yelling sounds while hubby was getting breakfast ready for her.
Elsa has found her voice over the last month and now she will let out yells and high-pitched protestations when she’s not happy – which is usually when I’m in the kitchen and she’s blocked off, or when I put her in her high chair and don’t immediately give her food, or when she’s frustrated with something. It’s something that I don’t want to encourage, since next it will morph into full temper tantrums. But in analyzing my own behavior, I do one of three things. Either I say more sternly “Elsa, you’re okay” or something similar and try to ignore the yelling, or I redirect her by asking her to go get a book or her cups or some toy, or I go pick her up or give her something to make her stop fussing. I definitely realize that there is a difference between fussing and being impatient or demanding, and being genuinely upset or frustrated. When she is genuinely upset by something, like when she’s tired and a little cry goes into a bigger cry, I will always go pick her up, she’s still my baby. But I know there are times in the middle, when she is fussing and unhappy and being loud, when I give in too easily.
I don’t want to raise a little girl who has no patience, who doesn’t know how to wait for things, who wants what she wants immediately, and who reacts if she doesn’t get her way. And who doesn’t listen to me. I want to give her the best chance ever in life, and to teach her good qualities that will last her into adulthood. So I need to figure out how to better teach her patience and delayed gratification.
I’m not sure how to do this yet. I’m going read the article again a few times, and maybe even look into that woman’s book. Now that Elsa is 15 1/2 months old I realize I have really dropped the ball in not reading at all about various parenting topics and I need to start that asap. I kind of was thinking in my mind, quite egotistically, that since my husband and I are good people that we’ll do a good job, but I’m starting to think now about all the many issues that will be coming up in the next year and beyond that I don’t know exactly how I’ll handle, and I want to be better prepared – not crazily prepared but just more aware. And I want to make a list of basic things I want to teach Elsa that will help her become a good person and will help her throughout her life – and I’ll put those on it’s own separate page on this blog so I can look back frequently to remind myself.
And one of the things on that list will be to teach her patience and delayed gratification – now I need to think about it more and figure out how to start doing this.
And for a cute photo, here is Elsa on Friday, we were having tickle time on the guest room bed!