I attended a lecture at the American Academy of Pediatrics national convention by two of the country’s leading authorities on child behavior. It was billed as something covering basic behavioral problems in the office setting. Both speakers came from prestigious children’s hospitals – pediatric blue bloods with good lineage.
This is what I expected: Statistics, jargon and out-of-touch advice.
Here’s what I got: Practical, grounded information from two parents who happen to be behavior experts.
It was comforting to learn that even ivory tower experts have their pet tricks on what to do when a child refuses to sit on the toilet or throws a tantrum in the grocery store checkout line. Surprisingly little of what was discussed was backed up with studies or statistics. As I discovered, experience, an understanding of the toddler mind, and a confident approach will get you further than a graph.
A couple of take-away points:
• While child behavior can’t be described as simple, most issues come down to simple behavioral conditioning.
• Parental limits and consistent responses to behavior will serve our kids best.
• Absolute right and wrong is a matter of opinion. Every child is different, every parent is different and no two situations are ever quite alike.
Sometimes the best parenting advice comes with the “permission” to trust our own intuition. I think it was Benjamin Spock who said, “Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.”