(Disclosure: I received a copy of this book through the Blogging for Books program in exchange for an honest review. The links in this post may be affiliate links. If you choose to make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. See full disclosure here.)
I have been spending a lot of time reading and studying about Positive Discipline parenting techniques over the past year or so. I’ve read several books on the topic already, so I was excited to come across the book Positive Discipline: The First Three Years, (From Infant to Toddler–Laying the Foundation for Raising a Capable, Confident) by Jane Nelson, Cheryl Erwin, and Roslyn and Duffy. This book is a part of a large series of Positive Discipline books, each geared for a different audience (Teenagers, Preschoolers, Single Parents, etc).
This book provides a lot of basic information for new parents to learn about general child development as well as normal milestones and human development. The information provided could be really helpful for new and inexperienced parents to recognize how children grow and develop and therefore how we can expect them to behave. I feel that so often children are punished for simply being children. They haven’t reached the cognitive levels required to behave in the “appropriate” ways that we would like them to in each situation simply. Understanding normal childhood development is critical to positive discipline and parenting so that our expectations of our children are fair.
I also appreciated that this book included the basic tenets of positive discipline which include things like connection, empathy, modeling, and personal autonomy. If most parents could master these concepts alone I think it would solve most of our parenting problems. The book does a good job of not only explaining these concepts but also providing research and brain science to back up why things like connection and personal autonomy are so important for kids to experience.
I think this is a good book for new parents to introduce them to the concepts of positive discipline and positive parenting. However, I expected a little more of a manual, something like “when this happens, do this”. This book doesn’t necessarily provide specific advice like that, but does provide a lot of general information regarding children, their development, and best practices.
There are several suggestions in the book that I strongly disagree with though. I was actually very surprised to see them mentioned in a book called “Positive Discipline”. One of my biggest disappointments with the book was the section on sleep. There was some general advice given like establishing a good bedtime routine with your child, but much of the chapter discussed a watered down method of “cry it out”. I have never found someone connected with the positive parenting/positive discipline world who suggested anything similar to the cry it out method for getting kids to sleep. I was shocked to see that in this book. While I think that the cry it out method can work for some people, this approach is not recommended for a gentle/positive parenting approach. There are many other options when it comes to infant/child sleeping that are much more positive but they are not mentioned at all in this book.
The book also has some different advice regarding nursing and weaning that you wouldn’t normally find from a positive parenting and attachment parenting expert. There is mention that babies should be weaned from both nursing and bottles between 10-12 months of age and if this small window of opportunity is missed then the process of weaning will be difficult for both mother and baby. There is a sentence in the book that says “Weaning…is vital to helping children develop their full potential.” To which my thought was “duh, but how many kids go to college who are still nursing?” Yes, you will need to wean your child off of bottles and/or breasts at some point, but I don’t believe there is a magical window at 10-12 months of age and I definitely don’t think that weaning is all that difficult of a process if done peacefully and gradually based on the child’s cues. Neither of my kids were weaned by 12 months of age. But I didn’t do anything to encourage them to wean when they were ready, they just gradually realized that there is more to life than breastmilk!
I think this book has both good points and not so good points. If you are looking for another resource to add to a long list of parenting books, then this might be a good one to consider. However, if you have limited time to devote to learning good parenting strategies than I think there are many other books that are more helpful (and more accurately explain positive parenting techniques). You can find my (growing) list of recommended books on positive parenting here.