This book was my introduction to Janet Lansbury and the world of respectful parenting. I’ve seen blogs and articles on respectful parenting, but the flow of this book really helped me to understand how to implement this way of parenting into my own life.
I’m excited to share this because, while it totally changed the mood of my home and family, I’ve found that the practices I’ve learned have helped me to take on the whole world with a new perspective. Yes, I truly believe it’s helped me to be a better mom, but also a better wife, friend, and all around person. The patience and intention you need to effectively handle a toddler are amazing tools for treating everyone around you with more respect and a calmer demeanor to make anyone you meet feel more understood.
ABOUT THE BOOK
So, what is this book all about anyway?
It’s about handling toddlers. It’s the idea that the negative reactions and emotions our toddlers feel are not the result of a bad kid. It’s helping you to realize that toddlerhood is not your sweet baby suddenly turning into a demon child. That bad behaviors are not a sign that you’re doing everything wrong.
In No Bad Kids, Lansbury takes real life situations and guides you through a respectful solution with encouraging words to help you navigate the intense world and emotions that your toddler experiences. With letters that have been sent to her from parents in need along side Landbury’s experiences in her many years of being a parent and coaching parents, you get to not only see the practices played out in everyday moments, but you also see that you are not alone in the struggles of being a parent.
This book is not about creating perfect children or eliminating tantrums and limit-pushing. It’s about understanding our children so we can better guide them to reaching their full potential.
MY KEY TAKEAWAYS
Basically, I have taken every word of this book to heart. I didn’t find a single aspect that I didn’t agree with. I learned so much and will forever be grateful for the impact Lansbury’s lessons will have on me and my family.
So, for the sake of not giving too much away or making this post a book in and of itself, here are my top five take aways from the wonderful words of No Bad Kids:
DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY
There are a few reasons why this may be the most important thing I learned. Even in the book it states that this is rule #1. It’s a dangerous road to go down, believing your child’s actions are intentional schemes against you. Even if they are subconsciously acting out because we aren’t giving them something they need, they still have no idea what they’re doing or why they’re doing it.
“When a toddler feels understood, he senses the empathy behind our limits and corrections. He still resists, cries, and complains, but at the end of the day, he knows we are with him, always in his corner.”
I would say there are two top reasons why it’s important to never take our children’s actions personally.
Our feelings are not our kid’s responsibility. | They should not be able to control our happiness. They shouldn’t ever be given the idea that they are the keepers of our emotions. It’s a big responsibility to be in charge of, not only your own happiness, but also the happiness of others. While we as the parents should be aware of our effects on our child’s happiness and well being, they should never be given the responsibility of ours. When they feel responsible for such a major thing, it may actually encourage them to act out more just to push us to take that responsibility away from them (subconsciously, of course).
It makes it difficult to stay “unruffled.” | This is a word Lansbury uses a lot: unruffled. It’s basically frazzled, out of control, frustrated, etc. It is the state we can find ourselves in when we haven’t set proper boundaries. The thing about taking things personally is, it ignites an instinctive response to protect yourself. It will prevent you from being as patient as you could be if you realized your child is just attempting to express something they may not fully understand. When you take their extreme behavior personally, you’re limiting your ability to be the rational adult they need you to be.
NO, KIDS ARE NOT IN CHARGE
I’d say one of the biggest misconceptions about respectful parenting is who is truly in charge. If I’m being honest, in the beginning of the book, I was a little weary because at times I felt like I had to let my toddler walk all over me in order to show that he is in a safe, respectful environment.
As I kept reading, I realized that is not the case.
Respectful parenting is not about letting your kids do whatever they want. It’s about learning to respond in an appropriate and respectful manner. It’s about understanding their abilities and making sure they know they are heard, even if it won’t change your mind.
“Children do not feel hurt when the adults they desperately need establish behavioral boundaries. It is easier for a parent to indulge a child than it is to be firm and consistent, and children know that. A child may cry, complain or even throw a tantrum when limits are set. In their hearts, however, children sense when a parent is working ardently to provide a safe nest and real love.”
And that’s what it’s all about. It’s not about saying, “it’s okay to misbehave.” In fact, a big part of respectful parenting is making sure you set clear boundaries, especially ones that will keep you from getting unruffled, and correcting behavior before you feel an unruffled feeling coming on. It is saying that it’s okay to be upset when you correct them, but that you are still there to correct them when needed. They’re not in charge, but they have a right to feel. They have a right to tell you when they don’t like your rules.
BOUDARIES ARE CRUCIAL
Boundaries are everything for kids. In fact, I was talking to a friend of mine about boundaries and she shared a story about kids on a playground. It stated that when kids we on a playground with no fence, the stayed close to the play structure, never venturing too far beyond. Where as the kids who had a fence around their play area were more likely to venture all the way to the fence, exploring freely within their clearly defined boundaries.
The world is a scary and exciting place, especially when you’re brand new to it all. As much as kids want to explore, they also want to be sure they have someone looking out for them, keeping them safe from harm.
That’s where boundaries come in. Whether they are able to understand the boundary outright or try to fight you on it, in the end we know and they know that it’s for the best. They’ll fight you on it because that’s their job. But boundaries are our way of saying we care and that we want to help them. It’s our way of letting them know they have security and something they can rely on as they discover the wide world of unknowns.
“Imagine driving over a bridge in the dark. If the bridge has no railings, we will drive across it slowly and tentatively. But if we see railings on either side of us, we can drive over the bridge with ease and confidence. This is how a young child feels in regard to limits in his environment.”
LANGUAGE IS IMPORTANT
I would say this is something I needed a wake up call on: The way that I talk to my son.
I’ve heard the bits about talking to kids normally without a baby voice. But being direct is something I definitely needed to work on. The “mommy says” and “we can’t” etc. just doesn’t cut it for kids. It gives them an out. It creates a disconnect where you’re no longer having a conversation between the two of you, but instead you’re telling a story about two characters.
“Babies are whole people – sentient, aware, intuitive and communicative. They are natural learners, explorers, and scientists able to test hypotheses, solve problems, and understand language and abstract ideas.”
I think the motivation behind “baby talk” is the idea that are kids only understand as much as they can express. After practicing some of the lessons I learned in this book, I’ve found that my 1.5 year old understands so much more than I thought. He knows what more things are than he can say, he understand more abstract concepts than I have given him credit for. He gets it and now that I talk to him like he gets it, he wants to listen more. By no means does he do everything I say, he definitely still gives push back. But I’ve found that talking to him the same way I’d talk to any other human has not only helped us in understanding each other, but has helped him develop his communication skills as well.
PUNISHMENTS ARE NOT THE ANSWER
I love this. I love it so much. I am definitely an anti-punishment parent. And I think this is the part where people want to ask, “Then doesn’t that put the kids in charge?”
I feel like I have even more to learn on this before I could give any real insight on why this is amazing, but I’ll just share a few lessons from Janet because, if I haven’t already mentioned, she’s my queen now.
This may seem a little too new-agey on the outside, but when seeing the thought process for the argument against punishments, it all makes a lot of sense. In No Bad Kids, Lansbury mentions the correlation between the concepts of punishments and discipline. She then offers another perspective given by her queen, Magda Gerber. Gerber redefines the modern idea of discipline by pulling from the latin root, disciplina, meaning “instruction, knowledge.” So with this in mind, discipline goes from, “the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience” to, “educating our children to understand appropriate behavior, values, and how to control their impulses.”
With this mindset shift on our role in our children’s lives, things like spanking and timeout become unproductive. It is a parent-given consequence that you wouldn’t, and really shouldn’t, see in the real world. These actions aren’t seizing a teaching moment, they are hindering your ability to not only become closer to your child by showing them you understand them, but to teach them through example; which is really where they’re learning everything in the long run.
“So the question is never ‘Are the learning?’ It’s ‘What are they learning?”
In all of my actions around my son, I wonder what he is learning. Is he learning to be respectful of other people and their feelings? Is he learning to be respectful of his own feelings?
The scary thing about punishments is that they can instill fear in our children. They can make them afraid of us and themselves. Punishments teach our kids that their feelings, something they have no control over, are wrong. When you hurt, belittle, or shame your kids for simply being kids, for going against us or acting out (things they are SUPPOSED to be doing), you’re not teaching them that their actions are inappropriate. Instead, you’re teaching them that they are bad. And some kids may carry that label with them throughout their days, always choosing the path the “bad kid” would take simply because they were taught that that is who they are.
Parenting is a big deal. We all know this. We’re all at least somewhat aware of the impact we have on our children. That is why books like this are important. It’s important to have a reminder of what we’re really teaching our kids. It’s important to get a new perspective from someone who has studied and practiced all the things they preach.
Books like No Bad Kids help us to remember that, not only are our kids inherently good, but that we were born good too. We all grew up with certain standards and were taught lessons that may have not been fair to us. No matter what we learned growing up, no matter what labels were put on us or standards shown to us, we have the ability to be good and to teach goodness to our kids.
Also, for a chance to receive your own Book Club book in the future, keep up with my instagram stories where I giveaway a book to one lucky follower!