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Parenting Book Suggestions for my husband and our 4 year old

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Background: I am about 8 months pregnant and I realise that when the new baby turns up, my husband will need to be taking on more of the care of our 4 year old. I am also counting on (and so is he) on easing the transition from only child to sibling for our 4 year old with special time.

My husband is a great guy but lately he and our daughter are really clashing. When I am responsible for her, things generally go smoothly. She eats her food, gets dressed, gets ready to go and gets ready for bed with minimal prodding and very rare meltdowns. When my husband takes her, there are almost always screaming fits over exactly the same things. FWIW, my husband has been an involved parent since day 1 and I believe that we are co-parents and he should have his own way of dealing with things. It's just that it has gotten worse recently and I will need him to do more.

From my view (often while I am studying in the bedroom and can overhear) my husband is too lenient and too strict and doesn't plan around the kid. Example: In the morning, I get up and immediately put a plate of food on the table. (eg sliced pears and cheese) Then I ask my daughter if she would also like raspberries (but don't care what the answer is). She sometimes whines a bit at this point but she starts eating the other food and then becomes a much happier child. As she eats we chat and I make coffee and do morning stuff. Then we get her dressed. I also keep a verbal discussion going of what is happening next and give lots of warning so if takes her two minutes to put on her boots before we leave it isn't a big deal.

My husband in the morning will ask her what she wants to so and she will often chose getting dressed, but then she is super fussy and then screaming over the lack of a certain clothing item will occur. Or he will ask her what cereal she wants for breakfast (not so bad, but when I do that, I take two boxes and show them to her as I get the bowl ready so that there are limited choices and a fast turn around) and not do anything to make her breakfast until she chooses the cereal. Sometimes he even asks if she wants food (which is a dreadful, dreadful question). And then he putters around and reads the news and suddenly realises he needs to leave in 5 minutes (which is plenty of time for him) and starts speaking sharply to the kid to get ready NOW! and then yelling or getting very, very impatient when she doesn't jump up from her drawing to get ready.

In the evening, it is kinda similiar. I will make sure that treats or TV or a special activity are generally contingent on previous behaviour or activities. My husband doesn't. (It's not bribery, just the order of events)

For example, tonight and last night she got 15 minutes of television in evening. Tonight was with me. She got into pajamas first and had a snack as she watched TV. She knew when it was over, it was bedtime. I told her how well she had behaved today (true-not a single fit) and then we brushed teeth (I did have to count to 2 of 1-2-3 to get her in the bathroom) and did stories. Super peaceful.

Last night, my husband was in charge and watched tv, then rough housed with her and then went to do pajamas and then there was screaming anguish over some dust mote behaving badly. Honestly he has a hard time saying no and then gets upset when she doesn't respond to non-verbal cues.

OK that is really, really long.

Short Version: When my husband is in charge of our 4 year old, he gets upset and so does she.

Other things: My husband takes things very seriously, so if he decides to adopt a certain approach he will do it with great gusto and exacting precision. He is just inconsistant right now and I don't think he realises quite how inconsistant. I know that if he decides to change something he will.

I need a book that is fairly laid back but gives some guidelines and ideas for parenting. I don't want to "correct" him because I refuse to be the parenting expert in the family. I have discussed my general philosophy and techniques with him, but I won't tell him what to do.

So I want a book for parenting preschoolers. If it has bonus ideas on bringing in a new baby that is even better.

Fire Away!

I think you should be telling him what to do, our deciding together in advance on a routine and write it on the fridge, the bathroom mirror, a note card, something. Your dd deserves a consistent routine you should since you are the one who can avoids the screaming fits, you should take the lead in outlining the routine.
I also suggest trying to find some old books by Dr t. Berry Brazelton and read over them about child temperament. Old stuff, but great.
Children thrive on routine. Your dh and you should come up with an outline of the routine she respond s best to, before the baby comes.

Babybartfast is 4 1/2 and Bittybartfast is 7 months right now, so we're right where you are  :)  Honestly, I don't think a book will help - even if you were to find the perfect book that says exactly what you want to say, if your DH doesn't want to hear your criticism he won't want it from a book either.  The best thing for you right now is to sit down and talk about your concerns:

* he's inconsistent with punishments and rewards
* he ends up rushing your DD and then both of them get stressed out and upset
* there are often simple solutions to help your DD behave (e.g. giving her food when she's hungry and cranky) which aren't being used
* your DD is getting inconsistent parenting between one parent and the other
* this is all going to get harder once the baby gets here (and, honestly, once you're pregnant enough to be less mobile).
Don't approach it as a lecture where you have all the answers and he's doing all the wrong things - approach it as a set of problems you both need to find the solutions for.  (For example, while it may be obvious to you that he needs to get your DD going earlier in the mornings, he may find a different solution easier for him to implement.  Or he may feel strongly that your DD needs to learn to ask politely for her food before she gets it, and he's willing to let her go through her food tantrum phase to learn it.)

What really helped me and DH was to divide up kid-related chores early on.  As in, before Bittybartfast arrived.  We got into the routine of "mommy gets Babybartfast upstairs to the potty and helps her brush her teeth, then daddy reads her a story and sings her a song and tucks her into bed."  Then once the baby got here, we already had our roles - no worrying about who does what tonight, and maybe if I ignore the whining kid long enough the other parent will deal with it, or I can't do two things at once cuss it all to tarnation can't you tell the baby's crying, etc. etc. etc.  When it's his mornings to get Babybartfast up and off to school, I just stay out of it.  Yes, they're always late, which drives me nuts.  And yes, she often gets a pop-tart or a cereal bar for breakfast, when I'd rather she got real food.  But part of co-parenting is respecting DH's parenting decisions too, and in the long run a few pop-tarts won't kill her  :)

There are also some family habits you can install that won't require any stepping-on-of-parental-toes, but would streamline a few things, such as:

The night before (perhaps as everyone is cleaning up after supper), assemble the breakfast plate, and store it covered in the fridge. Then, no matter who is up with the 4yo, it's as simple as "open fridge, remove breakfast."

Help 4yo get into a habit of Up, Eat, Dress, Teeth, Play. It'll be less to do if Dad does have an abrupt transition from "getting ready" to "out the door."

Likewise, make it a habit to have shoes/coat/bag packed and ready to go by the exit the night before. Less abrupt transition.

I wholeheartedly support having both parents parent equally, as you're doing, and I love that you're not wanting to dictate how everything ought to go all the time. But, individual personalities have different strengths, and pointing out how best to use his strengths in parenting (for instance, I'll bet he's fantastic at spontaneous fun outing or play stuff!), while meeting the basic needs of the little one, is not dictating. It's making sure they don't freak out at one another. :)

I've a dear SIL who has an early-riser son. Seriously EARLY-riser, 5am every morning. And he wakes up STARVING. And he's crabby until he has eaten, every single time. But she's not always quite up to Being the Mom at 5am. And she's  never hungry right off the bat. So he just starves and starves and get crankier and crankier, until there are Major Explosions in the household, and being barely 6, he has a hard time getting past that and into his day.

Enter: staying over at Auntie Liz's house in the summer. I do NOT get up at 5am. I also am not able to eat first thing (I usually need to be up for a few hours before I can handle anything solid.) But, I've seen  him melt down, and I do know it's because he's hungry--he lets everyone know.

But, I don't want to be bossy about my SIL's parenting, because she's really doing a good job overall, and loves her kids tremendously.

So instead of announcing any Grand New Routines, etc, I just sent him out to the tent with the other kids as dusk descended, and handed him a little airtight container as he went past.

"What's this, Auntie Liz?"

"That, my dear little man (okay, actually I call him Stink-Face, very affectionately), is your morning food kit. There's some fruit, and an applesauce muffin, and some granola with seeds, and half a peanut-butter sandwich, cut into triangles. So when you wake up and are hungry, just eat some of it until you feel good, and have some water, and then you can read books until the other kids wake up."

And my goodness! What peaceful mornings we had! He's a clever, delightful kiddo... but he NEEDS a routine that makes immediate-food possible and under his own control (at 6, he can do this; at 4, I would have gotten up and set food out for him in the AM, then snoozed on the couch.) SIL hasn't made it a habit just yet, but she is seeing a difference in  him on the days she does this, and it's working... without me ever having to feel bossy or intrusive or rude.

For books, the two I got the most from are "How to Talk so Kids will Listen and How to Listen so Kids Will Talk" and books by Dr. Sears.

FWIW,  I could have written your post a few years ago.  What you describe is very much like me and my husband. 

For us, I made an active choice to not say much.  Once in a while, I may have said "Looks like you're having a rough time in the mornings.... Do you want to hear what works for me?"  Sometimes DH wanted to hear it, sometimes not.  I figured that at the end of the day, I just didn't want to put myself in the role of telling him how to parent.  He's really different from me and in the long run I think our kids benefit from that. 

--- Quote from: Deetee on January 15, 2013, 10:38:17 PM ---Background:

Short Version: When my husband is in charge of our 4 year old, he gets upset and so does she.

I need a book that is fairly laid back but gives some guidelines and ideas for parenting. I don't want to "correct" him because I refuse to be the parenting expert in the family. I have discussed my general philosophy and techniques with him, but I won't tell him what to do.

So I want a book for parenting preschoolers. If it has bonus ideas on bringing in a new baby that is even better.

Fire Away!

--- End quote ---


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