We talk to Richmond-based Elizabeth Vantre, the co-author — with fellow child psychologist Samantha Dawson — of recently published parenting guide Ready, Set, Parent
Who is Ready, Set, Parent for?
The book is a resource for all caregivers — parents, grandparents, child-care professionals and teachers — of children from infancy to age 12 and is designed to be used as a reference at specific developmental stages.
What specific guidance does it offer?
Ready, Set, Parent will help parents address challenging behavior. It also covers temperament, discipline and knowing when to get professional help, and some hot topics such as potty training, separation anxiety, spanking and when to send children to kindergarten.
What makes your book different from the other parenting guides out there?
Many books tend to present a singular approach to solving problems and seem to assume that all kids are the same. We recognize the importance of temperament, and the match — or mismatch — of a parent and child's temperament. Parents also say they love how "real" the book is, with its examples and humorous anecdotes throughout.
Could you give an example of how temperament can affect parenting styles?
Knowing your child and your parenting style is key. All four of my kids are strong-willed. My one son insisted on wearing his pants backward for a year. Structure and consistency work best with their temperaments. It took [co-author] Sam's son years before he slept through the night. After trying every trick out there, she found following his cues worked best. He was not a kid who would respond to a rigid routine.
If there were only one piece of advice you could give parents, what would it be?
Be proactive. Thinking ahead goes a long way to promoting a positive household and minimizing conflicts. Give children suggestions as to what they should do instead of jumping on them about what not to do. Saying "walk on your tippy toes" instead of "no running" works like a charm. After experiencing a few nasty stares in stores as my children knocked things off shelves, I came up with the "one finger rule." I remind my kids that if they have to touch something, they should only use one finger. They follow the rule because they have been given direction and focus and not just told "no."