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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Been doing a little reading lately now that dd is moving from babyhood to toddlerhood (she's 15 mo now). I haven't read the Non-Violent Communication book yet, but did read all the articles related to parenting on their website. I also recently read The Continuum Concept.

Here's my confusion. NVC seems to say that children have needs (say for autonomy) and parents have needs, and compassionate communication, not coercion, is the way to get all those needs met. "You need this, I need this. How do we meet both our needs?" TCC seems to say that children need parents to know what to do, they're looking to us to see how to behave. The author seems to poke fun at the parent who asks the child "do you want toast or cereal or a waffle for breakfast". The child is thinking, "I'm just a child! How am I supposed to know? I need mama to fix me breakfast." I'm seeing a conflict between these two philosophies.

Here's a scenario. Me and dd are upstairs after dressing post shower. She asks to eat (or potty, or bike ride, or swing, or whatever). For this, we need to go downstairs. I say "Let's go." and head over to the top of the stairs. She follows. Then stops and heads back to the bedroom. Then looks to me. I say "C'mon. Let's go downstairs and get something to eat." That's me wanting to give her autonomy - let her walk to the stairs and go down by herself instead of me scooping her up. Back and forth we go. OK, now I say "Mama's hungry" or "mama's ready" or "mama's all done waiting" and scoop her up and carry her downstairs. Tantrum ensues.

What does she need? Does she really need me, the adult in her life, to just take charge. Or does she need me to have a little more patience and wait til she's ready? This waiting til she's ready seems to work very well if I need her to put something back before we leave a playspace or store or friend's house. Something we can't take home. Instead of grabbing it out of her hand, I can talk her into putting it back of her own accord. It just doesn't seem to be working for anything else.

How do I balance these two "philosophies"? Does anyone else see the contradiction?
 

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I really liked the ideas of the Continuum Concept when I read about it online. (I got the link from here.) But did you know, the woman who wrote it is neither a parent nor a trained anthropologist? Please don't feel bad if her ideas don't work for you. Why should they? She is describing a totally different culture. Are there staircases in the homes of the people whose parenting she wants you to emulate?

If you feel like offering your dc choices, and it's working, why shouldn't you do that? The only thing I know is, the more you talk with her, the more language she will learn and the better she will be at acquiring language later. (I posted here about this research, it really grabbed my attention.) So don't feel bad about talking with her about going downstairs. Maybe she can't yet express why it's taking her so long to go down the stairs, but you can ask her. If it doesn't create perfect discipline, at least you are interacting with her at a crucial time and giving her the chance to attempt to express herself.

The book Becoming the Parent You Want to Be says that you should offer her the choice in a way that isn't too open-ended: "Would you like to go down the stairs on your tushie, or backwards?" I don't have a toddler, only a baby, so I don't know how well that works. Just my book report!
 

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yes!!

I am totally with you on this conflict of ideologies. I have to discount a lot of TCC stuff. My anthropologist friends just rip her to shreds in terms of methodology, etc.

We're going to do a book chat, I think in "media" forum, about NVC. Please join!

xo pam
 

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My philosophy is to take bits and pieces from different books or sources in a way that works for you--patchwork parenting. First and foremost, you have to remember that you are the expert on your child, and you should trust your instincts. Then, when you read different parenting philosophies, you might fing yourself embracing one idea a particular author may have, but shunning the next idea. I tend to follow parts of TCC, like not making the child the constant center of attention, and letting her explore the house in her own way. But I also follow parts of AP, like I would never let dd play with sharp knives like Jean Liedloff discribes the Yequana babies doing, and instead feel that some minimal childproofing is necessary. Even within AP, I find that I agree with some Sears concepts, but not all, and find some other AP authors I agree with on points I disagree with Sears on.

So take what works for you and leave the rest. That's what we always say at our LLL meetings. In general I love TCC, but there are some things I adamatly disagree with the author on, such as her harsh, judgemental "psychoanalysis" of homosexuality. But that doesn't mean I can't take the good parts of the book and incorporate them into my parenting philosophy. Trust your instincts and let them be your guide, and don't worry whose exact concepts you are following. The result will be your own unique quilt.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
All thoughtful replies, thank you, and I agree that it is best to take bits and pieces from books, discussions, workshops, etc. whatever works for me and my family, and leave the rest.

I guess what I'm struggling with is that I actually don't know what to do even though I'm supposed to know my child best, and certainly better than any author of a book who's never met her. What I don't know how to handle is the instances where she tells me one thing and does another.

It's one thing for her to sign "potty" or "eat" or "car" when it's 8:30 and I'm putting her to bed. I know that she's figured out that she has power in her signs, she can get the adults in her life to do things for her when she communicates a need. If she's just had dinner, just nursed on both sides (twice!), and just peed, I know she's just trying to put off the inevitable of settling down to sleep. It's when it's mid-morning and she signs "potty" so we go to the potty, take off her pants and diaper, sit her down, and she gets back up again. I encouragingly coax her back on the potty, and she gets up again, and saunters over to the doorway and out into the hall. So I let her run around naked and try five-ten minutes later. It's the same thing again, so we run around naked some more, and then she pees on the oriental rug - aargh! It's almost as if she's daring me to forcibly hold her on the potty. "mama, you know I need to pee. make me sit here, please"

The thing is that those are the pieces I want to take away from these philosophies. I want her to trust that I'm going to take care of her, that I know what's best, that she can learn how to behave in the world by watching me, AND I want her to feel autonomy, that I feel confident she can make good choices. I just don't know how to do both at the same time, and I can't bring myself to believe that it's either or.
 

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Well, that is a conundrum. I think sometimes they don't always know exactly what they need/want. Especially if she's only 15 months, it's rather early for her to *always* know for sure if she really has to pee or not, for instance, unless she's used to EC. My dd's 17 months and knows *most* of the time when she needs to pee (although she'll just say "pee" as a warning and then go in her diaper; she won't go on the potty yet), but sometimes she doesn't, like when she was naked today and peed right on my leg like a dog.
I guess all I can say is take it case by case. Sometimes your dd may need for you to take a strong stand and direct her on what to do, and other times she may want to make a choice herself. As she gains more control over her bodily functions and her language, and as she becomes more able to be in tune with what she really desires, I would think it will become easier... I know that's not really very detailed advice, but HTH...
 

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I started a lengthly reply earlier, but it got lost in cyberdom....

It looks from your later posts that right now you are feeling confused because you need an effective way to communicate with your daughter, and you are frustrated because the resources you are turning to are giving you conflicting information?

In the end, when I'm conflicted, I try to meditate to clear my mind of clutter and advice that I have read and try to tune into my own natural instincts as a mother.

Now, for the technical stuff....

I have read in their entirety both TCC and NVC, and I'm not seeing the "opposites" you described. I also -ahem- happen to know that pamalama has not read the TCC yet! I feel (gently) frustrated (hugs to you Pam) in light of this because I need people to have opinions on stuff based on first-hand knowledge.

TCC is very one-sided, and I have to discount a lot of what is in there. It is a very interesting read, however. I don't believe that baby-wearing, for instance, is the end-all to societal ills. There are plenty of societies that wear babies that are pretty violent. I believe that a lot of the ways of the Yaquina are learned though cultural absorption rather than mother-chid interaction alone. Liedloff herself recommends a change in culture and society in order for the TCC to work.

In TCC, for instance, the Yaquina have a certain way that they go about things. I dont think that it carries over to this culture. For instance, I'm sure that they don't have a myriad of breakfast choices like we do here. If you were to be "Yaquina-in-the-modern-world" you would, i suppose, get up every morning and make a breakfast of your choosing without any discussion that other choices would ever even be available.

This doesn't necessarily go against NVC. NVC isn't about providing choices; it's about compassionate communication that takes everyone's needs into consdieration. If you had always done breakfast that way, I'm guessing that kids wouldn't have the idea until a later age that they could request something different. If they did request something different, then you could handle it with NVC.

In the Yaquina culture, many customs seem very NVC to me. For instance, everyone's needs are considered without resentment. If one member of a group is going more slowly than the others, then the entire group just slows down their pace. If your dc is not ready to go down the stairs, I suppose the Yaquina way would be to sit around up there until she's ready, or else to go down the stairs on your own and figure that she will get there as soon as she is ready.

The NVC approach to this would be similar to: "Are you needing to play up here for a while before breafast? I'm a little frustrated because I need to eat some breakfast soon. Would you be willing to play for another 5-10 minutes and then we'll go downstairs?" in which case, you would just lag behind for her benefit. Or alternately, "Would you be willing to play by yourself up here (not possible without safety gates, I know) while I go downstairs and fix breastfast?"

I don't see these two reactions as opposite, but in fact, quite similar.

I think the main difference is that in the TCC, these recognizing of others needs are implied and not verbally expressed like they are in NVC.

Also, TCC & NVC are similar in that they dont' believe in rewards/praise/punishment. No "center of attention" look what a beautiful picture Johnny drew!!!! Good job! type stuff.

So where do they diverge? It's hard for me to pinpoint, because I see NVC as a verbal tool for communication and TCC as an alternative illustration of how a society and family life could function.

Hmm...I'll have to keep thinking about this.....
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by sylviamama

The thing is that those are the pieces I want to take away from these philosophies. I want her to trust that I'm going to take care of her, that I know what's best, that she can learn how to behave in the world by watching me, AND I want her to feel autonomy, that I feel confident she can make good choices. I just don't know how to do both at the same time, and I can't bring myself to believe that it's either or.
Parenting!!! How difficult for us to walk that delicate fence. Hugs to you Sylvia in your struggle. I'm impressed that you are both recognizing this and seeking a way to provide balance.

In re-reading your last post, NOW I am seeing the divergence.

TCC: just live and your kids will do what you do and learn what's best.
NVC: provide kids with as much freedom and autonomy as they need, while keeping your own needs in check.

I hope I'm not repeating myself from my last post, but the Yaquina live a very simple life; extraordinarily more simple than we do today. The potty issue would never really arise, because kids can just pee in the ground. Bed-times don't really matter, becauase according to Liedloff, the entire tribe wakes up several times a night to tell jokes and laugh, and there's no clocks and no concept of "it's 10:00 already! And she's still not asleep!" If the mama was very tired, then I suppose she would go to sleep in her hammock while aunt/gramma/sibling/etc. played with baby until he got tired. Not quite possible here! I think it's pretty unrealistic of anyone to expect their families to run like idyllic south american villages.

Because our society is vastly more rigid, I think kids here ingeniously come up wiht these "diversion" tactics like potty time, hungry, etc. to get their needs for play and extra time met. The Yaquina as Liedloff presents them are able to meet all of the needs of children and allow them to be autonomous when they need their autonomoy, without imposing on the needs of the parents. BECAUSE THERE IS A WHOLE TRIBE SUPPORTING THE MOTHER/CHILD PAIR!

I suppose here is where we have to decide as parents what works best for us. Liedloff did not have children, and was never able to put her theories into practice in American culture herself. So, I agree with other posters here, she is definitely NOT an authority. I see the book as simply a presentation of interesting ideas.

I'm sorry that I don't have any suggestions for you for helping your dd get to sleep, or helping her with the potty. My turn will come soon....then I'll post here and see if you can dig into your experience and gather some advice for me!
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by mocha09
I also -ahem- happen to know that pamalama has not read the TCC yet! I feel (gently) frustrated (hugs to you Pam) in light of this because I need people to have opinions on stuff based on first-hand knowledge.


Not entirely correct, Michelle... I did read it but not in it's entirety! (Had to return it to the LLL library!) However, I did discuss it in my mama's book club, so I did spend a good amount of time with the text. Does that make you feel less or more frustrated?
I do admit there are times I make stuff up. But this was not one of those times.


I agree with Michelle that the Yaquina's culture is very different than ours, and we cannot always translate their strategies into our lives successfully.

I'll try to write more later when the kids are in bed.

Enjoying this thread very much.

xo pam
 

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wow. i really like what mocha09 had to say on all this.

i have not read either book, although i am interested especially in the NVC concept. so with that caveat, here's a bunch of probably nonsensical ramblings.

my dd is 2.5. i think a lot of the answers to your dilemma of autonomy vs "mama will take care of you" just lie in your child's personality and the specific situations you and she find yourselves in. my dd for example, would want me to pick her up to take her downstairs and would be happy if i scooped her up, but she's a very very very much in arms kid. by that i mean, she still wants very much to be in our arms at 2.5 -- much more so than her peers who are off running around checking everything out. she's much more cautious and in need of mama and daddy there to help her feel safe and sound than most other 2.5 yr olds i know.

on the other hand, she has very strong opinions and is not shy about letting us know her feelings when she wants to stay and play a little bit more with whatever toy has captured her imagination. (she has an extremely long attention span and will play for a long time making up imaginary meals and other scenarios for her toys.) she has always wanted to make her own decisions about things like waffles or eggs for breakfast or what kind of shoes or clothes to wear, but she has always needed me close to feel secure. she was picking out her own shoes at the shoe store at about 20 months or so and would have none other than what she wanted. all that is to say that we all have needs to make our own choices and to feel safe and cared for. our job as parents is to do our best to fulfill both those needs and to guide our kids to adulthood and show them the ropes of life.

i started talking to my dd about things and feelings early on, so i don't think it's too early to do the NVC with a 15 mo old and just let her know how you're feeling, like mocha09 said, "mama's ready to go downstairs now. do you need to play a few more minutes up here first? i'll wait a few minutes and then we'll go down and get some breakfast." she might not want to be scooped up if she's not warned about it in advance. that could set my dd off.

i don't think my dd ever needed me to make her do anything, but again it's a personality thing, really. certainly there are times when i'm pretty sure she needs to pee and she's having fun playing or she wants something else and doesn't want to sit on the potty, but i view those situations like i would changing her dirty diaper. i wouldn't let her sit in her own poop for very long even if she didn't want her diaper changed and if she doesn't want to pee, but i'm pretty sure she needs to i definitely will put her on the potty and see if anything comes out. sometimes it does right away. sometimes we need to read a book and make some pee-pee sounds and sometimes mama's just wrong and she tells me "wanna get off" and i don't keep her up there, but let her off. i usually tell her that i thought she needed to go and she should just let me know when she's ready and i'll come back with her.

i wondered after i read this thread about the personalities of the tribe leidloff studied. i mean, most of us here in the US have ancestors somewhere back there that left their country of origin and came all the way over here, so they must have had pretty adventurous personalities -- maybe more so than the other folks they left behind. if personality is at all inherited maybe that has to do with our adventurous kids and the different experience we have here vs the tribes people. just a theory and i'm not sure i buy it myself...

gosh, i've rambled and i'm not sure any of this is at all helpful or makes any sense. i do think that it doesn't sound like TCC and NVC are at odds. i do think that we all have needs to be held close and taken care of as kids and as adults, too, but we also have needs for autonomy. i read a post not too long ago where a mom said she thought too much choice was just too hard on two year olds. made me think -- maybe your two year old, but mine would pitch a fit if she didn't get to choose things. if my dd doesn't seem to have an immediate preference i'll often say, "well let's have waffles then." if that's okay, there's no protest, if not i'll hear about it. it's just personality/temperment/whatever you want to call it. we're all different.

i hate it when books and people make these blanket statements about "babies" and "toddlers" and "kids" like we weren't all babies and toddlers and kids at one time. i try to tell my dd that "when mama was a little kid blah blah blah" and explain to her that she'll be grown up one day and i used to be little. just a pet peeve of mine -- when people refer to kids like their aliens.

anyway, i have completely rambled on here and i'm not sure you'll find any of this interesting or helpful, but i better quit typing now or i'll keep running off at the keyboard. you'll do fine, mama, just think about how you'd like to be treated and act with compassion and empathy. (for pee accidents it helps me to remember the hard times i had with pee troubles when i was pg and postpartum. )

shutting up now, really...

p.s. and i bet we can rest assured that the yaquina didn't read parenting books and agonize over their parenting choices.
 

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> What I don't know how to handle is the instances where she
> tells me one thing and does another.

>It's one thing for her to sign "potty" or "eat" or "car" when it's
> 8:30 and I'm putting her to bed. I know that she's figured out
> that she has power in her signs, she can get the adults in her
> life to do things for her when she communicates a need. If
> she's just had dinner, just nursed on both sides (twice!), and
> just peed, I know she's just trying to put off the inevitable of
> settling down to sleep. It's when it's mid-morning and she
> signs "potty" so we go to the potty, take off her pants and
> diaper, sit her down, and she gets back up again.

I wonder if some of these instances could be attempts to commucate something that she doesn't yet have the vocabulary for? Direct & indirect communication not matching could soemtimes be a case of doing one's best at communication something by coming at it different ways - or having a need/desire that isn't entirely understood yet - it feels sort of like needing to pee, but not exactly, so sitting on the potty doesn't really help.

Christina Cat
 

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LOL! I have read parts of both books and both have been frustrating to me. I'm of the "take the chicken and leave the bones" camp, so I've taken what works for us. I agree about the CC stuff - I was just reading some yesterday about how they "house train" a child or when the baby pees on the mom it's dealt with like a joke - I'm sure it IS funny and not a big deal if you have dirt floors and not wall-to-wall carpeting. I HATE carpet. But I still would rather have my dd pee in the toilet and not on the floor. I really like the CC ideas of the child being part of the day to day stuff as an observer and not to have "child care" per se. Also, I like a lot of the NVC ideas about needs, but I need to learn more. It didn't seem like it would work w/o people being on the same page as far as wanting to work it out. I'm going to try to join the book group so I'm excited to learn more....
 

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I am going to read the NVC book with the group - but my parenting philosophy is this:

If I were on a desert island with my child and had no books and no "advice", how would I parent my child?

When I look at it that way it's pretty simple; I meet the need of my child on the level of my child. it gets me in touch with my instincts. Some children are more independent, other children are more needing of their mother/father.

Why do you think there are 50 million parenting books out there? Everyone raises their child and writes a book about the "right" way to do it. LOL.

There should just be one very short one that says this:

Be in tune with your child. Be present with your child. Be respectful of your child as a fellow human being - they are not your possession to control. Your job as a parent is to cultivate, not to prune or mold. Respond with love and patience and compassion. Your child will see this and feel this on a deeper level - connected.
 

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Quote:
If you were to be "Yaquina-in-the-modern-world" you would, i suppose, get up every morning and make a breakfast of your choosing without any discussion that other choices would ever even be available.
Hmm, that's not what I got from TCC at all! I thought the point was that the parent should not ask the child to make a lot of decisions, especially not in an open-ended way. And that's advice I've seen in many places, including several of the semi-mainstream 1970s parenting books my parents have: Don't say, "What would you like for breakfast?" or "Would you like toast or cereal or a waffle or eggs or fruit?"; say, "Would you like jelly or honey on your toast?" or "Today we're having waffles!" The open-ended question opens the door for the child to demand something that isn't an option (e.g. you have no eggs in the house). The offering of too many options is just confusing. A more decisive approach still allows for the possibility that the child will ask for something different than what you've planned, and if that happens you can talk about it.

The way you've phrased it sounds like you think it's selfish and severe. But this is how I see it: You're the breakfast-maker. It's appropriate for you to decide what you're going to make. (This may seem a little more clear if you think about making dinner. In our culture, breakfast foods tend to be ones that require minimal preparation. At dinnertime, do you ask each family member what he wants and prepare a bunch of separate meals?) If anyone objects to your decision, she can tell you, and you'll take that into consideration. TCC is not about being harsh or domineering at all. It's about comfortably demonstrating that you know what to do. There's nothing wrong with making "a breakfast of your choosing" if it's reasonably healthy and isn't something that you KNOW the other family members hate.

What I'd do in Sylviamama's scenario is say, "To eat, we need to go downstairs." and go, expecting that the child will follow when she's ready. If she wants me to do something for her upstairs, or if she wants me to carry her, she'll communicate that, and I'll respond. But I wouldn't hang around trying to coax her to show "autonomy" by following me. It's not clear why she's not heading downstairs--unfinished business upstairs? wants to try being alone for a moment to see how it feels? changed her mind about wanting to eat?--so I'd just go about my business until it becomes clear.
 

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Captain Optimism wrote:

Quote:
I really liked the ideas of the Continuum Concept when I read about it online. (I got the link from here.) But did you know, the woman who wrote it is neither a parent nor a trained anthropologist? Please don't feel bad if her ideas don't work for you. Why should they? She is describing a totally different culture. Are there staircases in the homes of the people whose parenting she wants you to emulate?
I keep seeing on these boards the idea that TCC is unrealistic and/or written by someone who has no business writing a parenting book. But it seems to me that it's NOT a book about how to parent; it's a book about how to LIVE. There's a lot in it about infancy and childhood because early experiences are so influential, but there's also a lot about adult attitudes toward adult life. It's a book about big ideas, illustrated with examples that happen to be from a different culture. Figuring out how to adapt them to your own real life requires some imagination.

About staircases, for instance: In this interview Jean Liedloff talks about an American baby at a swimming pool and a Yequana baby at a pit--similar situations. Is it really so hard to extrapolate what she would say about a staircase in your home?
:

As for not being a trained anthropologist...my partner and I were talking about that criticism this morning, and he pointed out that training in anthropology teaches a person a whole gigantic set of assumptions about how people operate. Trying to force observations of people into a standardized framework tends to cause distortions that prevent really original insights. So, in some ways it may be BETTER that Liedloff is not an anthropologist!

Many posters on these boards tend to distrust "experts" (like medical doctors), often with good reason. So why is it that in every discussion of TCC, somebody says, "Well, Liedloff is no expert!"?
: I'm not saying that her ideas are sheer genius and will work for everyone in all situations and you should feel bad if they don't work for you.... I just think that, because it's a book of big ideas rather than specific advice, it's easy to misunderstand and think it's not working.
 
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