Children Are People Too!

Cvr_Children are people tooTitle: Children Are People Too: A Parent's Guide To Young Children's Behaviour
Author: Louise Porter
Publisher: East Street Publications
First Published: 2006
Price: S$36
Available: Major bookstores
Reviewer: Mabel Lim

AFTER researching behaviour management in childcare centres, Dr Porter concluded that the prevailing reward and punishment approach does not work, that it's not in children's, or parents', interests to overtly attempt to control children's behaviour.

In a radio interview some years ago, she noted that more crimes against humanity have been committed in the name of obedience than in the name of anarchy.

But she acknowledges parents are often left confused about what their rights are. In this regard, the ultimate goal of her 'guidance parenting' is for children to learn considerate behaviour.

In a radio interview a few years ago, she said, "We need to remember that these children at two and a half or even four and a half, to them actions speak louder than words. If you say it over and over and over again, it's not as meaningful than (1) if you say it once, (2) give them a reminder that ‘you will need to sit with me until you can remember what I have said'. That will actually calm them right down and they'll learn to take you seriously. I haven't known it to fail."

Dr Porter's approach recognises that mistakes are inevitable when learning any new skill, be it spelling or learning to act thoughtfully. To punish these sorts of mistakes would be to punish children for being children.

Her guidance approach aims to safeguard children's self-esteem and to honour their need to be in command of themselves. A critical dividend to this approach is an enriched and enduring relationship with our children for a lifetime.

My take is that we have to peruse the book with an open mind. With the stresses of daily parenting, there's the danger we may take it out on our children with lasting psychological damage to their self-esteem.

Dr Porter's approach puts children as valued individuals in their own right and forces us to reflect on what we do...that it is what we would want to be done to us if the positions were reversed.