experts share what they’ve learned, offering strategies that go beyond
what most parents have been able to think of. Before you follow advice,
consider whether it addresses your particular situation, fits with your
belief system, and works with what you know about your children,
yourself and your shared parenting beliefs with your spouse.
so much advice available, and we often don’t feel it addresses our
specific issues, or we aren’t confident that it will help. When it
works out, we’re pleased. When it doesn’t, we feel let down and
frustrated. We may wonder how these people can call themselves experts
when they don’t seem to know what they’re talking about.
the parenting advice can head off your wasted efforts and your
disappointment with guidance that doesn’t fit. Here are some guidelines:
- Look at the writer’s education and experience. Look for a background in pediatrics, mental health, or education.
- Make sure the writer is also a parent – with children older than yours.
- See if most of their examples specifically address your child’s age. Advice aimed at a wide range, such as ages two to 12, is less likely to be helpful because children change so much with age. An expert who addresses preschoolers or elementary school children or teenagers can advise you better.
around to see if your friends or your child’s pediatrician or teachers
have found this expert’s advice especially valuable. Find out why.
whether the advice fits with your beliefs. For example, you may not
agree with the advice that a child should be rewarded for doing basic
tasks such as dressing or tooth-brushing. If the advice doesn’t
make sense to you and the expert’s explanation doesn’t change your mind, then don’t even try to follow the advice -- unless
you have already discovered that your parenting approach is extreme in
many ways compared to those of most families in your community and at
your child’s school. That means you may need to talk to your
pediatrician or a mental-health professional about your parenting goals
and methods so you don’t go so far that your approach will come back to
- You can be more
prepared to evaluate parenting advice if you put some time and thought
into understanding your child’s individuality. A wonderful way to do
that is to start writing down the many things you know about him and
keep adding to the list. Ask your spouse to do the same, and then talk
about who your child is at this time in his life. Think about his
personality, sense of humor, activity level, ability to focus,
outgoingness, emotionality, the kinds of things he likes to learn, the
extent of his willfulness, etc. This conversation naturally leads to
discussing areas you feel he may need some help with and helps you to
be better observers of your child. Then you can start generating your
own ideas for problem-solving in regard to your child’s issues.
As you strengthen these parenting skills, you’ll be able to see what areas you need parenting advice in and
judge the value of the parenting advice you’re hearing, rather than
being at the mercy of the expert. This type of approach between you and
your spouse makes you more of a parenting team.
advice, however, will not work if you and your spouse have child
rearing beliefs very different from each other or from the experts.
Sometimes parents with continuing major parenting disagreements need
else to remember: Since most parenting advice is meant to be helpful
for typical kids and parents, you may find it doesn’t apply if your
child is exceptionally strong-willed, angry, distractible,
non-communicative, very reserved and/or worried by nature, or otherwise
unusual among his peers. In that case, you should seek out advice
focusing on children like yours.
Annye Rothenberg, Ph.D., author, has been a child/parent
psychologist and a specialist in childrearing and child development for more than 25 years. Her parenting psychology practice is
in Emerald Hills, California. She is also on the adjunct faculty in
pediatrics at Stanford University School of Medicine. Dr. Rothenberg
was the founder/director of the Child Rearing parenting program in Palo
Alto, California, and is the author of the award-winning books Mommy and Daddy are Always Supposed to Say Yes … Aren’t They?, Why Do I Have To?, I Like To Eat Treats, I Don't Want to Go to the Toilet, I Want To Make Friends and I'm Getting Ready For Kindergarten. These are all-in-one books with a story for preschoolers and a manual
for parents. Her new series is for elementary school childen and their parents. The first book is Why Can't I Be the Boss of Me? (2015). For more information about her books and to read her
articles, visit www.PerfectingParentingPress.com. To find out about her counseling practice and her speaker presentations, go to AnnyeRothenberg.com.