TO LISTEN TO A CHILD: Understanding the Normal Problems of Growing Up by T. Berry Brazelton
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TO LISTEN TO A CHILD: Understanding the Normal Problems of Growing Up

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Sensitive to trends in parenting, Brazelton (Infants and Mothers, On Becoming a Family) now addresses himself to the normal developmental problems--from infant fears to toddler tantrums to school-age maladies--that overanxious parents may unconsciously reinforce. ""For the child, this deviant behavior and these periods of testing are necessary and important""; for the parents, Brazelton points out and illustrates (from his practice, and his work at Boston Children's Hospital), such ""problem"" behavior may not only seem a symptom of failure, but call up threatening memories. Brazelton does not counsel complacency: periodic fears and periods of sadness are, each in their own way, calls for help. (Aggression, masking fear, requires acceptable outlets; prolonged sadness may be assuaged by retrospective sharing.) Mindful of societal pressures on infants and small children, Brazelton is for, not against, thumbsucking and cuddling a ""lovey"" (blanket, stuffed animal), as a form of comforting, self-controlling behavior. He is firm on the matter of discipline, of limits-setting (especially in the turbulent second year), and on the related issues of feeding and sleeping--with specific points on establishing meal-times as ""sacred"" without discouraging independence (tiny portions for messers and throwers, egg-in-milk instead of between-meal snacks), specific arguments against ""the family bed"" solution (as fostering daytime dependence, making later separation more difficult). In the final section, ""Psychosomatic Problems,"" Brazelton notes that each child has an ""Achilles heel""--""an organ which responds to stress and creates symptoms which become the outlet for any unusual or usual pressures."" He explains the mechanisms of little girls' stomach aches and little boys' headaches (the sex-linkage is still a mystery), how to handle croup emergencies or asthma attacks, so as to avoid a chronic problem. He also takes up bedwetting--offering a preventive toilet-training program, emphasizing the father's supportive role--and ""positive"" hospitalization. Once again: fluent, variegated (a bow to Selma Fraiberg, an observation of Margaret Mead's, reports of collegial research and reaction to his Redbook articles), and consistently sustaining.

Pub Date: Sept. 14th, 1984
ISBN: 0201632705
Publisher: Addison-Wesley