Babe: 3 years and 4 months
Babeling: 7 weeks

So far the babe has not been parented by babyfather and I so much as by a committee of self-help books. This is because I have no idea what I’m doing, the grandparents live elsewhere, there are no NVQs available in the subject and I don’t trust my instincts for a second.

For her routine since infancy the babe has to thank a combination of Gina Ford, The Contented Little Baby Book*, and a life-saving little number called On Becoming Babywise. How we settle her off to sleep comes out of Dr Green’s Toddler Taming. Discipline and taking responsiblity, Boundaries for Kids by Cloud and Townsend. Keeping her emotionally healthy, How to Really Love your Child by Ross Campbell. And now for the next stage! Siblings without Rivalry by Faber and Mazlish. I am READY.

This book has the same approach as their other book, How to Talk so Kids will Listen and Listen so Kids will Talk, which is excellent. When I say excellent I mean I haven’t actually had much chance to put it into practice but the theory is beautiful. And I’ve now had a go of a few techniques with spectacular results.

Part of their advice is to describe a problem to the child and let him/her find a solution by themselves, rather than telling them what to do, or indeed thumping them.

Exhibit A:

The babe is in her bath. I am trying to rinse her hair.

Babymother: Close your eyes and put your head back so I can rinse your hair please.

Babe: Don’t want to!

Babymother: Babe – we need to rinse your hair…

B: *sob wail* No! Don’t want to!

[This could be related to me losing my temper during previous bathtime when babeling was screaming and I did end up getting shampoo in her eyes. Ahem.]

Babymother: (about to lose temper again but remembers Book) Are you afraid that I’m going to get shampoo in your eyes again?

B: *sob wail* Yes!

BM: Oh dear. I wonder what we’re going to do then, cos you can’t go to bed with shampoo in your hair.

B: *wail sob*

*pause*

B: I’m going to cry and THEN I’ll put my head back. *sob wail*

BM: OK. How long do you need to cry for? What shall I count to?

B: *sob wail* 79! *wail sob*

BM: Nope. That’s too long.

B: *wail sob* 15!

BM: OK! *counts to 15*

B: *sob wail* I’m ready now *closes eyes and puts head back*.

Exhibit B:

Playing with two friends – one has her bike and the other has the ride-on car.

Babe: Mummy! William won’t let me ride on the car!

BM: Oh dear! Three children and only two toys with wheels on! What are we going to…

B: No, mummy! There’s three! There’s my scooter! *disappears to fetch scooter and at least 5 minutes’ peaceful play ensues*

Of course, it’s possible this works because the babe has more emotional intelligence than babyfather and I put together, and we can’t take credit for it because she was born that way. And anyway this approach only works if I ignore my instinct to shout until blue in the face. Now to work out how to calmly discourage her from biting the babeling’s nose.

* I think few people can stomach an undiluted Gina Ford: ‘6.45am: remove baby’s covers and open blinds. Baby must be up and feeding by no later than 7.00am. Switch to right breast at 7.13..’ etc. OK I exaggerate – slightly. But please don’t shut my blog down Gina!

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