It’s hard to believe I’ve reached my deadline, the three months I set myself to discover which expert could tame my kids are up. Time flies when you’re having fun!
It’s been a rollercoaster ride, as those of you following my blog will know.
I started off my challenge by following the advice of 1940’s childcare guru, Dr Spock whose book, Baby and Childcare revolutionised established ideas about raising children. Since I was brought up on the back of his advice, it seemed like a good place to begin. Would the old ways prove best or be outdated?
I found Spock refreshing because unlike so many childcare ‘experts’ he doesn’t talk to his readers as though they don’t know what they’re doing. In fact, under-pinning all his ideas is the belief that as parents we know more than we think we do and we should trust our instincts. This approach gave me the confidence I needed to follow his advice and apply it to my kids, often with successful results.
I liked that rather than giving me step by step recommendations, he provided broad brush concepts which I could interpret for my children as needed. This fits with his philosophy that parents ultimately know best because each child is unique, therefore advice should be tailor-able rather than ‘one size fits all’.
Although this resonates well with me, I can understand why some people might think Spock doesn’t set clear guidelines. In this respect Supernanny is Spock’s modern day antithesis. Her approach is to give well defined bullet point guidelines for parents to follow and unlike Spock, she clearly thinks she, not we, knows best.
In some cases her suggestions worked well, like the Speaking Clock where I had to give the boys a countdown before starting and ending each activity, and also her ideas on establishing boundaries and routines. The trouble is, she makes no allowance for individuality and her advice leaves no room for interpretation. Plus I felt her failure to explore the underlying causes of bad behaviour and her preference to simply impose order, wasn’t particularly helpful.
I also have to admit that I found some of her suggestions a little gimmicky. I can understand that brightly coloureds reward charts and pretty schedules look good on TV, but she uses them so much that they actually become meaningless- we’ve got wallpaper on our fridge-Harry said the other day pointing at all the charts I’d stuck up.
So what’s the answer? Is there a magic button? Was there a clear winner?
I hate to sit on the fence but the truthful answer is that both experts were helpful in different ways. Thanks to Dr Spock I now trust my instincts more and tend to look at the root causes of bad behaviour so I can discipline my children more effectively, and they’ve responded well to that. On the other hand, Supernanny has given me some useful tools to apply to everyday situations. There hasn’t been a magic button but hopefully if I continue to remember the things that have worked well over the last three months, my little monkeys might eventually turn into angels- well a girl can dream can’t she?