I had been a frequent visitor to Janet's Facebook group, and always felt a connection to the type of parenting she describes. Through blogging, I have been trying the past couple years to come up with a type of parenting that encourages critical thinking an emotional intelligence. I strongly believe that teaching a child to think for himself/herself is the best gift we can give them. And Janet's philosophy hit the nail on the head for many aspects I was just stumped on how to approach.
While I had read many of the relevant articles on her Website, Janet suggested that I read this book because it gives an overview of RIE parenting (I love how personal and engaged she is on Facebook!) even though I have a 3-year-old. Most of the book is geared more toward young infants, but the second half of the book is more about toddler discipline. While yes, you can just read the articles on Janet's Website, I still strongly recommend the book because it moves in a very linear fashion and makes a lot more sense than reading a hodgepodge of articles in no particular order (or just the ones you think are relevant to your situation). I feel anybody would be missing out on the whole picture by skipping this book.
The biggest benefit my son and I have gotten from this book is a better and more present relationship- I enjoy his company so much more and when I am with him I am much more focused on the moment. When he was 2 and much easier to distract and keep busy by exploring the house, I had everything under control- dishes were always done, clothes were always washed, dried and put away, and his 7 p.m. bedtime gave me plenty of "me time" to recharge my batteries at the end of the day. Once he turned 3, however, I had almost no time to myself. I was drained every day, he needed constant attention and wanted me to play with him rather than keeping himself busy for a few minutes while I cooked dinner. Bedtime had somehow become 9:30pm instead of 7, and by the time he was finally in bed, I myself went to sleep shortly thereafter. I was unhappy, distracted, and I was having a hard time enjoying his presence much of the time (don't get me wrong, I do love him dearly!). We were both unhappy as a result of all of this, actually.
One of the last chapters in the book talked about self-care and setting/enforcing boundaries. Something just clicked in my head and I realized this was the reason we were both so unhappy. My son needed me to be present - even if it was for short but intense periods of time - and I needed time to recharge on my own. That night, I told him my expectations ahead of time (as Janet suggests throughout the book) and guided him through our bedtime routine. Of course, he resisted and wanted to keep playing with his toys. Whereas I would have usually waited until he as "ready" to avoid a meltdown right before bedtime, I repeated myself once and when he resisted again, I walked to him and took his hand saying "You're having a hard time with putting your toys down to get ready for bed, so I am going to help you." He wasn't too happy at first, but about 10 seconds into the walk to the bathroom he stopped his fussing and actually opened his mouth for me to help brush his teeth. We followed the same procedure for bedtime, and though there were a few hiccups, everything just seemed so much more peaceful. He was in bed by 7:30 that night, and I had plenty of time to myself. We both woke up refreshed and it was probably the best, smoothest morning we'd ever had.
I know this is just the beginning of a journey for us, but Janet has changed my entire outlook on parenting my son and has given me so much hope for the future. I definitely recommend it - and it's such a quick read that even those with only a few short minutes between tantrums can finish it!