Here is number six in a series of blog posts based on Pamela Druckerman’s “Bébé Day by Day.” The following excerpts are taken directly from Chapter 6:
One reason why French family life often feels calm is that parents emphasize patience. French parents aim to teach their kids patience, the same way they will later teach them how to ride a bicycle.
Also, they find the alternative intolerable. French parents can imagine a world in which they could never finish a phone call or a cup of coffee, and where kids collapse each time they’re denied a candy bar. They don’t want to live in that world or think it’s inevitable to do so. And they don’t think that living there would make children happy either.
53. Give kids lots of chances to practice waiting: The secret to patience isn’t expecting a child to be a stoic who freezes and silently waits. Scientists have found that kids become good at waiting once they learn how to distract themselves.
54. Slow down your response times: When you’re busy scrambling eggs and your daughter asks you to inspect her tower of toilet paper rolls, explain nicely that you’ll be there in a few minutes. This doesn’t just make life calmer. It’s also what the French call an obligatory passage for the child, when she learns that she’s not the center of the universe. Parents believe that a child who doesn’t realize this won’t see any reason to grow up.
55. Treat kids as if they can control themselves: Play to the top of a child’s intelligence. Expect her not to grab things, and to be able to put all her Legos back in their box. A child needs to learn the limits, but she also needs love. If you give the child just love without limits, she’ll soon become a little tyrant.
56. Don’t let your child interrupt you: When a child interrupts, French parents believe that you should calmly say some version of “I’m in the middle of speaking to someone. Please wait and I’ll be with you in a moment.” Remember that you’re not just trying to enjoy the simple pleasure of completing a thought. You’re also teaching your child to respect others and to be aware of what’s happening around her.
57. Don’t interrupt your child: When a child is happily caught up in an activity, parents should try not to come charging over with a question or a change of plans. When people aren’t bursting in on one another, the whole pace of family life slows down a notch.
60. View coping with frustration as a crucial life skill: The French believe that kids get pride and pleasure from being able to choose how they respond to things. Teaching kids to handle frustration also makes them more resilient later on. Consider it a French paradox: Trying to make kids happy all the time will make them less happy later on.
61. Cope calmly with tantrums: French parents are just as flummoxed and distressed by tantrums as the rest of us. What they generally agree on is: you shouldn’t concede to an unreasonable demand. Tantrums don’t change the rules. This doesn’t mean you should be cold. Sometimes, giving an upset child more autonomy can change the mood and calm her down.
*Due to length, I trimmed down each point and excluded some points entirely.