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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

About Dr. Cohen

I'm afraid I misrepresented Dr. Cohen in yesterday's post. He does take a laissez faire approach in many areas, but that's more about relaxing, trusting yourself, and not worrying about every little thing. For instance, his take on potty training is that 1) your kid will do it when he/she is ready, and not a minute sooner, so don't make yourself crazy trying to make it happen perfectly at 2 1/2 and 2) the best approach is to take the kid's pants off for a while so he/she can understand what it's all about. He is not crazy about vitamin supplements and doesn't think you should run for the medicine cabinet for every ailment.

However, Dr. Cohen does take discipline seriously. Under the "Discipline and Boundaries" heading he writes, "I use the term laissez faire often in this book, but you won't see it in this section. Discipline is hard work, and it's one area of child care that will not take care of itself, much as you might like it to." His approach is to keep it simple, be consistent, start at the toddler stage, and no lectures. ("Someone's going to be the despot, so it might as well be you.") I've actually found his advice on discipline very helpful.

For we take discipline seriously, too. I know you don't believe me, what with all the joking and the anecdotes, but we do. We just pick our battles. Don't harm other people. Whining/screaming will get you nothing but an annoyed parent. No running or jumping after 8:00 p.m. Say please, thank you, I'm sorry, excuse me. Don't touch the art. Have at least one bite of everything on your plate. No ice cream for breakfast. We're not perfect at it, by we really try.

Where we're more flexible is in letting him explore his world and just be a kid. I let him take a lot of minor physical risks that make my fellow neurotic New Yorkers nervous. This is partly because he has an excellent sense of balance and never tries anything too crazy. But I also think it's good to learn how to get back up after you fall. And it's good to learn about cause and effect. It's made Jasper very sensible in his risk-taking. He's not going to go running into the street or try to jump off the roof.

I also allow him to be joyfully loud in public; not in quiet, indoor spaces (key word here being quiet), but on the street, on the subway, even at the Coop. As long as that voice is joyful -- if he's laughing loudly, not crying -- I'll let him. He's a happy kid. I mean, that kind of exuberant joy is so rare in life I'm not going to stand in its way. Hate the sound of childen laughing? Move to the country or check into a retirement home.

Anyway, the star factor of Dr. Cohen is kind of annoying, but I really like his don't-worry-be-happy approach to parenting. And I love Jasper's own pediatrician for taking a very similar approach, too.


Luisa Perkins said...

Dr. Cohen sounds like my kind of guy. That's exactly our philosophy on discipline. I absolutely LOVE the 'despot' quote. Your rules make perfect sense.

Lindsey said...

I like this approach, too.

Writermama said...

We took Zoe to Dr. Cohen for the first 18 months of his life. While I loved his outfits and glasses (and found him handsome), and was wowed by his office aesthetics and his kindly office staff, he often regarded me, a new mom, very prefunctorily, but he LOVED my baby, which was all that mattered, I guess.

We left when Z got a too high lead reading in her 18 month blood test. I kind of freaked out (in a very worried way), and his flippant response did not soothe me.

I needed a little hand-holding was all. He's not a hand holder, and I really don't think he likes parents all that much, but maybe I wouldn't either if I had so many neurotic parents in my practice.

I'm still not sure what I think about him, but I do know his info on breastfeeding (in his book) is crap for the most part.

Writermama said...

I meant "for the first 18 months of HER life." zoe is a girl, after all.