Positive Parenting: Raising Healthy Children from Birth to Three Years
by Alvin N. Eden, MD, Long Island City, NY, Hatherleigh Press, 2007, 288 pp, Paperback, $15.95
The first 3 years of life are marked by critical changes in the child's physical, social, emotional, and cognitive development. Parents and caregivers, Dr. Alvin N. Eden argues, are, by nature, of their position afforded with the unique opportunity to optimize their child's physical, socioemotional, and intellectual capacities. Each child, Dr. Eden further emphasizes, is “unique in his potential” and has an innate right to be provided with the means necessary to achieve it. The ways in which parents can help their child grow into a healthy, vivacious, and confident individual are outlined in Dr. Eden's Positive Parenting: Raising Healthy Children from Birth to Three Years. A quick and easy read, Positive Parenting is a compendium of clearly presented advice that can serve as a reference for both new and experienced parents interested in expanding their knowledge on such topics as sleep, nutrition, safety, sudden infant death syndrome, shaken baby syndrome, obesity, language, socialization, parent-child relationships, and many more.
The book is divided into 7 chapters. In 3-month increments, the first 4 chapters delineate the infant's development over the first year of life: birth to 3 years, 3 to 6 months, 6 to 9 months, and 9 to 12 months. Chapters 5 and 6 introduce parents to some of the physical, emotional, and cognitive changes that they can anticipate their inquisitive and vigilant 2-year-old child to experience—from developing better dexterity and beginning to form 2-word phrases to exhibiting negative behaviors (i.e., teasing and temper tantrums) that demand effective management. Although Dr. Eden's recommendations on behavior management are not circumstantial, they are practical in nature and likely to amend a child's behavior. Specific suggestions include using positive reinforcement and praise, explaining the antecedents and consequences of behavior, scene removal, and time out. The final chapter discusses cornerstones of the child's development from age 2 to 3 years, emphasizing the significance of assessing for visual and auditory problems, modifying the toddler's diet to accommodate changes in his physical development, revisiting the issue of childhood obesity, toilet training, anger, body image, and birth of another child.
Each chapter is structured into sections on age- and developmentally appropriate nutrition, safety, play, and exercise, which are supplemented with personal vignettes and examples from Dr. Eden's pediatric practice. Although beneficial in enhancing parents' conceptual understanding and normalizing behaviors parents may have witnessed their own children exhibiting, these vignettes may also distract parents who are seeking to elicit more evidence-based information from the text. Vague statements such as “many studies show” may unintentionally deter a population of parents who may prefer to know Dr. Eden's claims are not only anecdotal in nature but also substantiated by clinical research. Supplementing generalizations with references to the scientific literature may have made Positive Parenting even more balanced and unequivocal.
Dispersed throughout each chapter are well-developed and detailed charts elucidating the physical, emotional, and cognitive milestones parents can expect their typically developing child to achieve at each stage of their early development. Not only do the charts effectively condense a wealth of information but also serve as quick reference guides that can assist parents in setting realistic expectations about their child's abilities and behaviors. Accompanying the charts are also sections in each chapter addressing various myths and misconceptions regarding such topics as breast feeding, iron-fortified formulas, teething, pacifier usage, and the relationship between early or delayed language development and intelligence. These sections along with Dr. Eden's pragmatic recommendations (e.g., encouraging talking and reading aloud to foster language development) are likely to mitigate parental anxiety and reassure parents that they are fully capable of providing their children with the care, attention, and love that they need to “grow up healthier, happier, and smarter.”
Although not comprehensive, Positive Parenting succeeds in equipping parents with the tools necessary to transform the art of parenting from an intricate and abstract process to a pragmatic skill that can be learned.
Anna M. Hus, BS
Department of General and Community Pediatrics, Department of Children's Health Services Research
Indiana University School of Medicine
Terre Haute, IN