Nov 262009

One of the unforeseen advantages of having an Amazon affiliate account is the positive loop it introduces. In this particular case, I reviewed books about raising children, people clicked on the links, they bought other books from Amazon that showed up in my reports, I looked at those books, etc. I call it a multi-level recommendation service; I’m sure there are more “official” names for it.

Anyway, in this particular case someone bought Parenting the Strong-Willed Child: The Clinically Proven Five-Week Program for Parents of Two- to Six-Year-Olds, and since my daughter is strong-willed (much more so than her brother at that age), I thought I’d take a look. I also ordered When Your Child Has a Strong-Willed Personality from the library and read both the books at more or less the same time.

Parenthetical note: are there ever a lot of books out there on how to cope with strong-willed children!

Both the books have anecdotal/illustrative examples, which mostly served to make me grateful for my child. After that, the books have the same basic ideas at the core, but go about the message in different ways.

The “clinical program” book has an actual program in it that you’re meant to follow, which consists of spending 10 minutes each day doing the program for that week, before starting the next week on the next phase. This would probably be useful if there is a serious problem; condensing the program and combining steps worked out fine for us. The first step is simply paying attention to what the child is doing for those 10 minutes: no questions, no orders, just saying “now you’re stacking the red blocks” “now you’re colouring with blue crayon”. The “do you want to try…” etc comes later, after you and the child have got used to the idea of your paying attention to what the child is actually doing rather than what you think they should be doing, for that small amount of time. Personally I think this is the most important step – it’s so easy as a parent to get into the “now we have to do this”, even if it’s under the guise of encouraging the child to do things “properly”, and fail to take the time to pay attention to what’s really happening. The other steps in the program are also reasonable, nothing stupendously different to what other books say.

The “strong-willed personality” book is more general and does not come with a 5-week program, so is likely less reassuring if you have a serious problem. It points out strongly that the worst problems come with a strong-willed child and a strong-willed parent battling and advocates the parent to not quibble over small issues, but to seek ways to defuse potential situations, and let everyone save face.

Both books counsel kindness and respect for the child’s point of view as ways to defuse conflict, and give methods or tips to help. Variations on some of the techniques would probably also help with dealing with co-workers.

Nov 202009

The XML Summer School in Oxford at the end of September was the usual mix of interesting presentations, punting, good discussions in the pubs, and wandering around old buildings. The photos I took have none of the first, little of the last, and an over-proportional number of punting and pubs, mostly because that’s when the camera did its job best. These are all part of the XML Summer School 2009 group on Flickr, if you want more photos of that week in Oxford.

Nov 192009

Here are some of the photos I took in Hong Kong, in February 2009. I was planning on writing more about it, describing the photos, but somehow life got in the way. So here they are, without much in the way of embellishment. The things that caught my eye: mostly contrasts. I was fascinated by the contrast between the old and the new, old buildings reflected in shiny new windows, cats sitting in stores calmly watching the bustle in the street outside, the rickety old ferry in the reclaimed harbour, palm trees and gardens overshadowed by skyscrapers whose tops are lost in the clouds. A fascinating city, I’d like to go back some time.

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