Helping Young Children Flourish
a book by Aletha J. Solter
(our site's book review)
Aware Parenting is a type of attachment parenting which carries the usual recommendations—closeness day and night through baby carrying and co-sleeping, breast-feeding when baby is hungry, and sensitive care to all of a baby’s needs. But Aware Parenting and other attachment parenting styles have some dissimilar perceptions of some baby behaviors, (including sleeping and waking) which lead to different parental responses.
Aware Parenting recommends closeness day and night, baby carrying, co-sleeping, breast-feeding when baby is hungry
This method produces results seen as very effective. So kids are less stressed, smarter, more moral, non-violent, drug-free, and better behaved. Regular Attachment parenting produces this result, but Aware Parenting has better advice regarding tantrums, crying, and facilitating needed emotional releases in babies and young children.
Aware Parenting has great advice regarding tantrums, crying, and facilitating needed emotional releases
Her method believes in natural consequences only, no logical consequences. It employs win-win conflict resolution and Active Listening.
Solter has big, wonderful dreams, and she is doing her part to actualize them. In her words: “Our challenge as parents is not to bring up children who will accept the status quo and continue the same mistakes of previous generations, but to produce a new generation of caring, confident, and smart people who will have the motivation, determination, courage, and skills to make this world a better place. It is time to question many of the currently accepted standards for treating children and do something different.”
Solter has big, wonderful dreams, and she is doing her part to actualize them
This is the goal of MCs (Microcommunities) as well. See Why Register for an MC?. The MC movement is questioning many of the currently accepted standards for treating children and doing something different. Additionally, they are questioning the idea that parents decide who the caregiver will be rather than the children themselves. Allowing a kid to choose is the ultimate empowerment. Finally, they are questioning the nature of the childcare environment with its limited personnel and choicelessness context. Kids know their own feelings and know who they'd like to be with the most and they would act on this if allowed to. Many times childcare situations involve a caregiver too tired to care or too frazzled or too upset and the child feels this disconnection, and the child would choose a different caregiver if allowed. Why should a baby be stuck with being held by a frazzled, upset mother when a calm, happy, alternate caregiver is available?
Registering for MC search and match
Why should a baby be stuck with being held by a frazzled, upset mother when a calm, happy, alternate caregiver is available?
Solter is on the same page, generally. She says: “One way to make the job of parenting easier is to find other people to help you. You do not need to do the job alone. If you cannot afford to pay someone, perhaps you can trade help with other parents. If you are tired or sick, ask a friend or neighbor to come over. Do not wait until you are totally exhausted. You owe it to yourself and your children to take good care of yourself.” As you can see, a friend or neighbor may be good to simply watch the child in a maintenance capacity, but may be a poor need filler. MCs are the cure for this resourceless situation of hit-or-miss need filling. Her insights on how to deal with and support crying and raging are a wonderfully respectful way of responding to children’s emotional needs. She is apparently the world’s best expert on this aspect of parenting.
If you are tired or sick, ask a friend or neighbor to come over. Do not wait until you are totally exhausted. You owe it to yourself and your children to take good care of yourself
Praise is a bad way of instilling self-esteem—it produces not self-esteem but dependency; verbally encouraging is bad for kids if it is done with You statements but good for kids if it is done with I statements ("I'm wondering how you felt when you drew that" or "I appreciate it when you help with dishes")
She believes that kids need a foundation on which to build a positive concept about human nature. They need to have a certain number of good experiences, to be treated with gentleness, love, and respect, and to see others treated that way. Once they have established faith in the goodness of humanity, they can then be told gradually about violence and war. We also believe that you firmly establish faith in people and security in people before showing that there are other types of people in the world as well that aren’t so nice. Why make sure their first apple—so sweet and tasty—has a worm in it?
Why make sure kids' first apple—so sweet and tasty—has a worm in it?
She believes in encouragement and the acknowledgement of accomplishments but warns that praise is not a good idea because it usually involves judgment.
She believes that kids with attention deficit disorder (ADD) are overwhelmed by unexpressed emotions and if they got the space to express these, they wouldn’t be distracted by these emotions anymore and could function fine. This sure would beat all the child drugging currently going on! We hope research funding appears that will back research into comparing the Solter method to the Big Pharma method. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see that these types of child problems need only a change in parenting practices and not drugging of children?!
This is your child's brain. This is your child's brain on Big Pharma's drugs. Any questions?
Big Pharma spreading "good health via medicine" across the land
More pills for kids means more cash for Big Pharma—let's stop drugging kids!
The author contends that parents feel the need for time away from their children. Don’t feel bad if you have to work at an outside job, rather than spending every day with your child, she advises. “Many people find that they are actually better parents with more attention for their children when they are not constantly with them.”
In MCs, this is realized as well. Anyone constantly with their kids, not really addressing their own needs, is going to do subpar caregiving and end up needy, depressed, psychologically suffering, etc. MCs realize that parents NEED to take care of BOTH themselves AND their kids in a win-win manner where EVERYONE’S needs are respected and addressed. Far better childcare results, and kids are happier and healthier and so are the parents.
She’s exquisitely clear about her distaste for the ugly punishment/guilt cycle that drives most parenting and thoughts about parenting: “Parents are urged to punish children who ‘misbehave’ so that the children will feel bad and guilty. Guilt is considered to be the great motivating force behind socially acceptable behavior . . . This belief has done more harm than any other belief invented by humanity.” We concur. The problem, as we see it, is that guilt is one of the main tools of churches. Without it, tithing and offerings in collection plates would dry up. Churches need it to financially survive. It would be interesting to find out how many preachers would be willing to drop this harmful idea if it was demonstrated that it is harming their “flocks”!
Parents are urged to punish children who ‘misbehave’ so the children will feel bad and guilty—but this is very bad advice!
The main reason that parents are so ready to use punishment on kids is NOT that they “feel it is a wise parenting strategy.” It’s that they have unresolved anger and pain and stored up emotions about this happening to them when they were small children. Acting on these emotions is extremely unwise. Instead, adopt Solter’s Aware Parenting method.
Her formula for preventing most unwanted behavior is to give plenty of closeness and love, encourage the child to release feelings regularly by crying and raging (much unacceptable behavior will simply not occur if painful feelings have a frequent outlet), and create a child-proof and child-friendly environment.
Additionally, she says to use prohibitions instead of commands. Instead of telling a child she has to play in her room for an hour, tell her that you are going to be working in your own room for an hour, and request that she not bother you. She can play elsewhere.
Finally, she says to remember to give choices as often as possible. “Would you like to wear the blue pants or the green pants today?” “Do you want a story before or after tooth brushing?” Kids love choices—they make kids feel respected.
Kids love choices—ask if they want story or teeth brushing to happen first
When there's a conflict, try to determine what unfilled need is occurring and fill it. It may be a need to say feelings and/or cry, there may be hunger, or fear or pain or confusion or loneliness. In the process of need filling, make the solution win-win. He may want to engage in a noisy activity while you are trying to watch a DVD. A win-win solution is when he does his noisy activity in his room with the door closed.
She says that in an ideal world, no parent would ever be required to care for a child when she herself is ill, tired, or emotionally drained. Ample human resources would exist to call on when the need arose. MCs are as close as our world will ever get to “ideal.” Ample human resources is the DEFINITION of MCs. Solter points out that during the hunter-gatherer stage of history, aunts, uncles, and grandparents would live in close proximity to each other, which provided ample—or at least enhanced—human resources.
But today’s families are not like that, so we have to make adjustments in our parenting strategies—which is what MCs do. Whether the ample resources are relatives or not is not important. What’s important is that the kids receive care from people who care deeply for them, not just daycare workers, babysitters, senile people who hardly know what they're doing anymore, etc. And what's also important is that kids get to choose who will care for them as much as possible. MCs are set up to empower this possibility, which is a wonderful autonomy aid.
To sum up, Solter’s Aware Parenting method is one of the best parenting methods ever invented, even including some unique, insightful ideas and practices that other methods lack. We can heartily recommend it.