I was inspired to check out the book Duct Tape Parenting by Vicki Hoefle after reading this blog post about why one family loves Music Together’s non-interventionist teaching style. Music Together teachers are trained to “accept and include” ALL children’s behavior, whether it is wandering, hiding, observing, or participating. Adults in class are encouraged to model participation while allowing children to interact on their own terms, as long as there are no safety issues (running, hitting, etc.)
The book suggests a similar approach to managing children’s behavior in day-to-day life. It intrigued me from the start, because I could definitely see myself in all the perfectionist-Type-A mothers described in Chapter One! Duct Tape Parenting is basically the opposite of Helicopter Parenting: the author uses the image of parents restraining themselves (not the kids!) with duct tape to keep from constantly giving reminders and jumping in to help children do things “The Right Way.” It was a good read, and definitely gave me some ideas for making things run more smoothly in my family life. Some big takeaways:
- Kids can do more than you think they can.
- Having responsibility and choice gives kids a sense of control and self-worth.
- Most conflicts are rooted in either lack of training (no routines to help life run smoothly; i.e. Morning Launch) or fractured relationships.
- Up-front investment=Downline payoff. Taking the time to teach kids to do for themselves (and being willing to let them fail) will make things easier in the long run. This might mean initially building in 15 more minutes to let them put on their own coat and buckle their own carseat buckle, but that will get shorter and shorter the more they practice!
- Parents need to let go of perfectionism (perfectly clean house, kids perfectly dressed in matching outfits, playing the drum with correct technique, etc) to allow kids to learn.
It was great to get some new ideas for streamlining our routines at home, and for giving my kids some more responsibility. My daughter is now learning to fold washcloths, and my son is excited about the new cabinet that allows him to make his own breakfast by making the dishes/cereal/granola bars accessible to little people. =)
I definitely recommend the book if you are interested in helping your family work together to make life run smoothly! And remember, if your child is the one hiding in the corner while others are sitting in a circle singing, duct tape yourself down, continue to model, and let them participate on their own terms!