Good day! Thank you for giving this a read, I appreciate your stopping by! This is a short write up on an awesome “parenting strategy” book called Love and Limits: Guidance Tools for Creative Parenting by Elizabeth Crary. This write up is by no means a substitute for the actual book, it’s really more of a companion. You’ll notice some of the concepts are not thoroughly explained and it is important to reference the book throughout. Again, my intention of writing this is NOT to be a substitute for the book, it’s a companion. I hope you find this both helpful and informational.
“Parenting is the most wonderful job you can do and probably the most frustrating”
Everyone is different, one parenting tool that works for one family may not work well for yours. Parenting requires an “arsenal” of tools, an entire toolbox even; no single tool works all of the time. Remember, It is OK if one tool doesn’t work!! Actually, it is expected for one tool to not work! That’s why you have a whole toolbox, try another tool until you find one that works for you and your child. Implementing tools that work with you and your child will help you both feel better about each other.
The guidance tools offered throughout the book are grouped into five points or sets of tools, Crary uses a star to illustrate these tools. Each point in the star focuses on different aspects of parenting. I’ll be providing short example of each point, but, as a reminder, the book is much more detailed with every topic mentioned in this article.
Look for good behavior and reward cooperation
The behavior you notice and comment on is, essentially, the behavior you get. Reinforce positive behaviors like cooperation and, most importantly, avoid focusing on negative, “problem” behaviors. When you notice good behavior pay attention to it, praise it, and reward it.
Children must know that their feelings are accepted and not judged. They also must know that their feelings are not something that you want to change. Acknowledging one’s feelings
(in both children and adults) often reduces negative behavior. Remember, feelings are not good nor bad. Feelings exist inside of you, behavior is what you do with those feelings. Help children learn about feelings by accepting their feelings and modeling healthy ways of expressing your own feelings.
It is essential to provide clear, reasonable rules. Follow through with these rules is important,, consistency is key.
“Normal children test limits. Persistent children test limits many times. Remember that persistence is an excellent adult trait. You want to guide it, not crush it.”
Teach new skills
Sometimes parents expect children to have skills they simply do not possess. Teach skills such as sharing, cleaning a room, managing anger, dividing tasks into small pieces, and by asking the child to re-do the activity the correct way.
Many problems can be avoided by reducing stress, changing things (like the schedule), or by giving choices. Problems are avoided through prevention, not by ignoring them. Here are a few tips to help avoid problems: make expectations clear ahead of time, give children two yeses for each no, and change the situation.
After this introduction and summary of her star points and tools, Crary goes on to explain the Problem-Solving Process. This four step process is an acronym based on the letter STAR.
Stop and focus on yourself, your child, and the problem
Where are you and where do you want to go?
Stop before you do something that may may things more difficult for you and your child. (I really like to think about parenting as a mutually beneficial relationship, what works best for me and my child?)
Think of ideas. Lots and lots and lots of ideas. Remember, it’s all about the number of tools, use all of them if you have to!
Use the “star tool” as a starting point
Pick your battles
Choose your timing
Get the support you need to carry out the awesome, amazing, super effective plan you have already made!
Review, revise, reward
Don’t be afraid to tweak your plan
Learn from your mistakes - It is OK! The more you beat yourself up about a mistake, the harder it is to move forward from your mistake.
Reward yourself (in a healthy way) - you’re awesome and you deserve it - this is HARD WORK!
A very important thing to remember, it is easier (and more effective) to guide children’s behavior when you have realistic expectation.
Crary provided a great chart that covered some developmental appropriate tasks and behaviors for children at various ages.
This can help with our normal parent confusion around developmental typical behavior vs. defiance.
“Tools and a plan will only be successful if you know what you want. Otherwise, the day-to-day frustration and pressures will tempt you to make decisions that will work against you in the long run. Take time to look at what you want for your child”
Love and Limits: Guidance Tools for Creative Parenting by Elizabeth Crary