While reading this book, I've taken down some notes of the things I wanted to remember and then post about for future reference. Honestly, overall the principles that she is discussing are pretty common sense and I'm not quite convinced of their "french"-ness as opposed to just good parenting. Maybe the French culture just has more self control and drive to follow through with these principles as opposed to us American moms.
Sometimes the things that are common sense just get overlooked because of their obviousness. We know this from many aspects of our lives. One aspect is health, we all know we SHOULD exercise, eat right, sleep well, and we will look and feel great. Another aspect is spirituality, we all know we SHOULD pray, read our scriptures, go to church, but they are just so simple that we constantly need reminders to do so.
Here are some of my notes of my reading so far so that I can remind myself and maybe it could help someone else :)
Principle 1: The Pause (for parents)
I started reading this when Addie was about one month old and I wish that I would have read it sooner. Everyone always tells you not to pick up your baby right when they wake up or start to fuss. Advice just seems like advice, and I always welcome it but hardly follow it. I like to just see how things play out and work in my circumstances as opposed to how someone else's circumstances turned out. Like with child birth. I didn't take any classes on how to prepare. I watched "A Baby Story" and saw how every single delivery was totally different. How can you prepare for something that you have no clue what is going to arise and how you're going to deal with it at the time? You can't. Some things are just plain unpredictable.
So, when in the book she described that babies move around and make noises when they are sleeping because of their sleep cycles, it slowly started to make more sense. Baby sleep cycles are only about 2 hours, and babies have to learn to connect the previous cycle onto the next. So the little noises, faint cries, and quick movements aren't baby waking up. These actions just come from a break between cycles. (when you hear it from a biological perspective, advice makes more sense!)
"The Pause" as the author calls it, is for the parents to pause before disturbing this break. The best way to learn your baby's needs are to pause and observe their behavior. Look to see if they are in a break between cycles or if they in fact are waking and need to be held or fed. Also, that if they do wake up and don't cry there's no need to pick them up immediately. It's important for them to start learning self reliance by spending time or playing by themselves. Just like adults, babies like to have alone time too.
Principle 2: Patience (for the child)
The author says that the French are all about teaching patience to their children. Well....duh. I don't think any of us out there are saying, "my child definitely does NOT need to have patience". I when I think about American vs French social culture, I can see how the French as a whole might have similar standards and expectations as to how children should behave. As opposed to American culture which is so vast, purely due to the size of our country. Not only are we huge but we have pockets and mixtures of different cultures with different social behaviors. It's the difference of a mostly pure cultural country (I know there are other cultures and immigrants to France as well) and the melting pot of culture that America is.
I pulled three main points of the to-do's of patience:
- Deny Instant Gratification
- Explain Why They are Waiting
- Self Distract
Denying instant gratification helps children to not only have patience but also to not have "tiny Emperor" syndrome. The other two points teach how to prevent this, she says you must explain to a child why they are waiting. This helps them to realize they are not the only person in the world that has needs such as, "I can't hold you right now I am helping your sister". It can also teach them timelines and help them gage time better such as, "I can't hold you right now because I am making dinner because I know that you're hungry. When I'm finished we can all eat." The child can then realize that he can be held when mom is done helping or cooking.
Learning to self distract seems to be a crucial ingredient in patience. It helps them become occupied and unfocused on their needs or wants. She referred to a study that I learned about in one of my child development courses in school. The study left a toddler in a room with a marshmellow. It was explained to them that they could have the marshmellow now, or wait ten minutes and then they could have two marshmellows. The results showed that that toddlers that were able to put off the instant gratification and get the second marshmellow where the ones that distracted themselves by playing with toys or singing to themselves.
I want to be able to remember this lesson. Maybe while I am preoccupied I can have my children coloring or doing some other singular activity.
Principle 3: Eating Schedule (for the family)
In reference to eating behaviors, she states these guidelines that should be observed; baby's usually eat roughly the same time everyday; they should have a few big feeds instead of a lot of small ones; and they should fit the rhythm of the family. Generally, the french adults and babies end up sharing the same eating schedule in order to comply with the rhythm of the family unit. I think that somewhere between the 3-6 month range is when they institute this schedule. Again, she suggests to distract the baby in order to gradually lengthen the time between feedings.
French Proposed Eating Schedule
When Baby Wakes Up
This wraps up the first section of my notes, now maybe I'll read the other half of the book reasonably soon!