Eybergen is a pediatric psychiatric nurse who, along with her husband, is raising three sons. The book was advertised as being child-centered, specifically acknowledging the fact that each child's temperament is different, thus they will respond differently to situations and to parenting techniques.
As my boys couldn't be more different, I was interested to hear anything enlightening on how to fairly treat children differently. It's quite an issue for us. Especially since our older boy is very concerned with fairness. If he sees us treating his brother differently discipline-wise, for example, he feels very hurt. Yet they are so different and require such different strategies and even language, sometimes. I think I need to find some different words to describe different!
Enough about me! On with the book!
I enjoyed the book for the most part. However, I found it to sort of glance over issues and not give specific enough instruction on how to actually speak to your different children, or how to talk to yourself when your child does something that pushes your buttons. She does give personal anecdotes that help illustrate a point she is making -- for example, in the toilet-training chapter, she divulges the very personal story of peeing her own knickers while a young woman, laughing with a friend, of course. I appreciated that one, because I've been there, myself. Her point being that no one humiliated her for wetting her pants, so that a parent shouldn't make his/her child feel badly for having an accident, either.
She emphasizes respecting your children and their differences, being patient with their different temperaments and allowing them the time they need to decide that they are ready to sleep alone in their beds, try a new food, or use the potty. She is very child-centered in her presentation, which is good, of course, and the way it should be. And she does discuss her own frailties as a parent, which I appreciated. However, she does tend to be a bit judgemental, especially when it comes to rewards and behavior systems. Each chapter traces a child's journey from infant to preschool/early elementary age, with the parent's role at each stage discussed in relation to the subject at hand -- sexuality, discipline, sleep-training, etc.
Having not been there for my sons' babyhood, I found the chapter discussing discipline and sibling rivalry the most interesting, but again, her lack of flexibility regarding reward systems felt judgemental to me. Probably because we use them with our older son, I may be a bit defensive. Her discussions seemed to be suited to children whose behavior falls between "normal" ranges, and does not take into account children with histories of trauma, children who have been adopted, etc. Not that some of the information wasn't helpful. I just think that children with the histories I've described are so very individual, that a parent can use much more specific strategies and words to help find his/her way with that child. Books that have served that purpose for me have been Beyond Consequences, Logic and Control (also against using behavior systems); Nurturing Adoptions (which utilizes behavior systems for extreme behaviors); and Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves .
The title is meant to illustrate that we are to look to the child, to her words, to help us figure out how to treat and talk to her. She also wishes to have us, the parents, put ourselves back into our children's places and try to imagine how they are feeling. She includes actual quotes from children in her life -- her own, I believe, as well as the children of family and friends. They are very cute quotes, as you can imagine, and give the book a more poetic feel, rather than a parenting-y feel, which is a nice change.
I guess I was expecting something with more concrete examples of how to treat different children differently while still being loving and fair. I don't think it's necessarily as helpful for parents whose children who have experienced trauma, as I mentioned above, but there are other books out there like that, which I also mentioned previously. An easy read, short and pleasant, but not necessarily memorable.