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Elevating Child Care: A Guide to Respectful Parenting

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Janet Lansbury’s advice on respectful parenting is quoted and shared by millions of readers worldwide. Inspired by the pioneering parenting philosophy of her friend and mentor, Magda Gerber, Janet’s influential voice encourages parents and child care professionals to perceive babies as unique, capable human beings with natural abilities to learn without being taught; to develop motor and cognitive skills; communicate; face age appropriate struggles; initiate and direct independent play for extended periods; and much more. Once we are able to view our children in this light, even the most common daily parenting experiences become stimulating opportunities to learn, discover, and to connect with our child. “Elevating Child Care” is a collection of 30 popular and widely read articles from Janet’s website that focus on some of the most common infant/toddler issues: eating, sleeping, diaper changes, communication, separation, focus and attention span, creativity, boundaries, and more.

150 pages, Paperback

First published May 1, 2014

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Janet Lansbury

6 books159 followers

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5 stars
1,519 (48%)
4 stars
1,134 (36%)
3 stars
414 (13%)
2 stars
63 (2%)
1 star
16 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 231 reviews
Profile Image for Katherine.
739 reviews30 followers
November 2, 2017
This is a collection of 30 of Lansbury's blog posts whose titles I've transcribed below, so get this book if you prefer to read a paper copy. My understanding is that Lansbury's blog really helped spread the word on Gerber's RIE philosophy, but after reading Your Self-Confident Baby: How to Encourage Your Child's Natural Abilities -- From the Very Start, I would recommend going to that when you want to get more in-depth.

The blog is good as an introduction but there's something about the tone that bugs me--another review here noted that it feels like any undesirable situations with kids are definitely entirely the parents' fault, and the proposed wording often feels quite awkward. Or maybe it's, as the author admits herself, that she's on the side of needing to be encouraged to impose limits on her kids rather than a more authoritarian instinct like I've got. I also probably just find advice easier to accept from a grandmotherly type like Gerber. So, just not really for me, but probably works fine for others.

1. What Your Baby Can't Tell You
2. Connecting With Your Kids
3. The Key to Your Child's Heart
4. How to Love a Diaper Change
5. Good Grief
6. Babies and Sleep
7. Sitting Babies Up: The Downside
8. How to Build Your Child's Focus and Attention Span
9. Infant Play - Great Minds at Work
10. Doctors, Dentists, Haircuts
11. Calming Your Clingy Child
12. A Magic Word for Parenting
13. Allowing Your Toddler to Succeed
14. The Therapeutic Power of Play
15. 7 Myths That Discourage Independent Play
16. Nourishing our Babies' Healthy Eating Habits
17. Best Ways to Encourage Toddlers to Talk
18. Nurturing Creativity: How I Learned to Shut Up
19. 'Sportscasting' Your Child's Struggles
20. Toddlers and Sharing (The S Word)
21. The Trouble With Potty Training
22. No Bad Kids - Toddler Discipline Without Shame
23. Struggling With Boundaries (3 Common Reasons)
24. What Your Toddler Thinks of Discipline
25. Toddler Discipline That Works
26. Let Your Kids Be Mad At You
27. An Easily Forgotten Gift
28. I Think I Know Why You're Yelling
29. Never Too Late for Respectful Parenting
30. The Parent I Might Have Been
Profile Image for Jennifer.
180 reviews1 follower
December 23, 2014
Like most parenting books, this one has a pamphlet's worth of advice sprinkled into a novel's worth of dogmatic repetition, condescending anecdotes, and quotes from other parenting experts. It's long on theory and short on examples of how to apply the principles in real life. Lansbury comes across like a zealot, so ardent in her following of Magda Gerber that I was put off by her religious fervor. Still, the principles themselves seem to jibe with common sense, so that's a plus.
Profile Image for Erin Collins.
435 reviews
January 21, 2021
I am very torn about this book. On one hand, I do think the book has some very solid advice. I have tried to stop saying "it's ok" when my child is crying. I don't know if that actually does anything, but it kind of makes sense not to undermine their feelings. I have also started trying to be less active and more supportive in play time. I do think that helps kids show more creativity and take charge of their fun. We even started having a set amount of 'independent play' each day.

On the other hand... this was so judgmental! Wow! If there is anything wrong with your child it's all your fault! The author says, "I don't pretend to be a PhD, but common sense and experience tells me that a home environment conducive to focus and attention can have a positive impact on - and maybe even prevent - some attention deficit disorders." She also somehow equates potty training your child, with creating a "relationship of resistance" that continues into adulthood.

In many of her anecdotes I inwardly cringed because of how self righteous she was. For one story she went in depth on how you should let kids do things on their own without helping. She guilted a bunch of parents into not helping a child, then SHE HELPED THE KID AND FELT SMUG ABOUT HOW SHE DID IT SNEAKILY. what??

Also is was a complete love letter to dear old Magda. Was any of this the author's own ideas?
Profile Image for Barrie.
498 reviews4 followers
May 12, 2015
Coming off the high of How to talk to your kids so they listen and listen so your kids will talk, this was quite the disappointment. While I LOVE the RIE way and do my best to impart this way to my kid--her style of writing is too abrupt and quite frankly, a bit boring. I find the same issue with her blog. I get all excited to read her posts and then I do and I'm bored. I can't put my finger onto why this is the case. But there was something to Faber's book that was so quick and easy to read--that this one felt forced and quick, but in a rushed way and not an easy way. I didn't retain any of the info. It just felt like list after list of to-dos. I really did want to like this book because I truly admire what she preaches, but just couldn't like it the way others do.
Profile Image for Katy W.
71 reviews1 follower
November 10, 2015
I really struggled with how to rate this. I really love some of her ideas but some are laughably ridiculous. It also just reads as opinion, with little reference to real research to back up her points. For the good, it seems as if it was taken wholesale from other books (Magda Gerber, "How To Talk So Kids Will Listen...", etc) so might as well just read those instead. Meh.
Profile Image for Mélanie Ross.
34 reviews1 follower
August 24, 2016
I struggled with rating this book. Though it is very helpful, and I'm thankful I fell upon this book, the ideas discussed here are not her own. That being said, the ideas discussed resonated with my husband and I. We've applied some of the concepts and it's made parenting a lot simpler & more fun. I feel like our daughter is already flourishing. All and all very helpful parenting book.
Profile Image for India.
164 reviews
May 29, 2021
Lots of Janet Lansbury's advice (from blog posts and podcasts) has already been influential on me, in particular around how to respond when my son is upset: calmly getting close to him and cuddling him if he wants it but not swooping him up; acknowledging his feelings instead of dismissing them or telling him he's OK; letting the feelings play out instead of trying to distract him; talking through what happened ("You bumped into this table and it hurt your head" or “you’re trying to open the cupboard and it’s stuck”).
In general, I love Lansbury's emphasis on treating infants and toddlers as unique, capable human beings who deserve respect, honesty and communication. I thought I was doing a pretty good job of putting her ideas into practice, but reading this book brought home how much more I could do – or, rather, how much less. Less interrupting, less distracting, less redirecting, less helping, less teaching, less showing, less commentating, less assuming what my son wants, less intervening (and, specifically, less following him around when he's playing!).
There are a couple of places where her philosophy doesn't resonate so much with me. First, where it's at odds with attachment parenting. She puts a huge emphasis on independent play, right from newborn, and she seems to be either negative or ambivalent about many of the AP practices that I embraced and loved: co-sleeping, breastfeeding on demand, babywearing, no sleep training, and anticipating baby's needs wherever possible so they don't get to the point of crying.
Second, where it’s at odds with my personal god, Alfie Kohn: mainly around discipline and whether kids need more and firmer boundaries (Lansbury) or need us to say “yes” more (Kohn). I’m sure my view will keep evolving as my son gets older, but at the moment the latter feels more right to me.
Profile Image for Karen.
123 reviews26 followers
February 24, 2019
A nice introduction to RIE for this new parent. I don’t agree with everything (RIE advises against tummy time, for example), but a lot of principles do appeal to me (not using distraction to get through unpleasant tasks or emotions, letting babies play independently from the beginning instead of feeling like you have to entertain them). I’ll keep reading Lansbury and Gerber as we go along.
Profile Image for Abby.
1,396 reviews178 followers
August 14, 2020
“Lack of discipline is not kindness; it is neglect.” — Magda Gerber


3.5 stars, for the shape of the book itself, not for Lansbury’s good advice. The wisdom here is all sound, but copying and pasting a bunch of blog posts and calling it a “book” is kind of lame. I don’t think that practice ever makes a meaningful, readable book; a lot is lost in translation and form. All that Lansbury has to say about parenting is smart, but I think you’d be better off to subscribe to her newsletter and read her blog posts in their proper context. I also found the self-publishing-style typography (or lack thereof) maddening. (It looks like someone “justified” the whole “book” in Microsoft Word and then added some page numbers.) Made it hard to read.
Profile Image for Lauren Beckett.
67 reviews9 followers
April 13, 2020
The stars are for Janet Lansbury herself and the RIE philosophy rather than this book. I’m eternally grateful to her for helping me become a more respectful, caring and mindful parent and I can’t help feeling that if everyone used this philosophy to raise their kids the world would be a very different place.

If I ever find I’m slipping into losing my patience I often realise it’s because I haven’t listened to an Unruffled podcast that week. The podcasts are such a source of wisdom and calm. They always help me tune back into respectful parenting.

The things that have been particularly beneficial are: the importance of play and not interfering by trying to teach (and how this develops their creativity), how to handle hitting (JL’s ideas for this worked instantly), meal times and validation of feelings.

I’m also amazed by how well my daughter is able to articulate her own feelings undoubtedly because we parent in this way. She’s sensitive and empathetic beyond her years. When she was two she said at a party post-meltdown: ‘I feel angry because that girl knocked my drink over and didn’t say sorry! Why didn’t she!?’ I can hear Janet’s teaching in her little voice; she has understood her own emotions from a very young age.

I just really hope Janet delves into the teenage years for in the future!
Profile Image for Morgan Kern.
41 reviews
April 26, 2022
I really like the idea of respectful parenting and found a few valuable nuggets in this book that I want to use in my own parenting journey. However, I wish I had just read one of Magda Gerber’s books. This book isn’t about any of the author’s original research/ideas but rather about her experiences working with Gerber.
Profile Image for Jordan.
79 reviews5 followers
January 31, 2022
A lovely, affirming, calm-inducing book. We’ll see how it works in practice but it sure makes me less nervous about becoming a dad.
November 21, 2018
I listen to Janet Lansbury’s podcast and generally like her parenting approach and solutions so I decided to read her books. Unfortunately the advice in the book and tone did not resonate with me. I would rate her advice as 2 stars, but the book is quick, can read in an hour or so with easy to find chapters, scenarios and examples, but minimal research to back her philosophy so I’ll give the book 3 stars for usability.

Lansbury writes about always informing a child of what you are doing to their body at diaper changes, baths, etc and giving them full attention and care during those “intimate” times. That makes sense to me. But that is where the good advice stopped.

Lansbury states that using distraction for toddler is completely unacceptable and that you should empathize with them and respond. So I did that for
3 days and it was miserable. Example- I’m driving home from the park and my 2.5 year old wants more goldfish. He ate them all. Normally I would say they are all gone let’s sing songs. Instead I used Lansbury’s advice and said “it sounds like you want more goldfish, you like them so much. We don’t have any more so we will have to wait til we are home to eat more”. The whole 30 minute drive was literally variations of these two statements on repeat. Distraction works well for toddlers and some adults too. Why harp on the negative. This happened every time I tried this advice. It just dragged the painful conversation on and on and on.

Next, Lansbury says we should never quiz children. Don’t ask, “what letter does your name start with?” Wait for them to learn naturally. She even criticized a caregiver for playing with a car stereotypically rather than letting the child show her how to play. So I wonder if you literally never ask your child a question about letters, animals, numbers and they arrive at preschool or kindergarten only for that to happen...what’s the point?

The overarching theme of her style seems to be that a child should guide herself from her own inner motivation. I see some benefits, but really feel like the world doesn’t always work that way.
Profile Image for Jess.
182 reviews19 followers
September 4, 2019
Very interesting book! Donny started reading bits of it too. We both thought there was a lot of food for thought in the book we imagine we'll be coming back to it once we have kiddos in our life. It's based on the RIE model of parenting, created by Magda Gerber. Some of the main concepts are treating your baby, toddler, or older child as a real person (e.g. no baby talk, explaining what's happening with their body before you move them / change them / etc.), communicating authentically instead of trying to distract or manipulate, encouraging the expression of emotions (including crying), allowing children to learn things instead of trying to teach them, creating a good balance of quality time and attention and allowing the child independent (not unsupervised, but not directed) play, and setting and keeping strong and consistent boundaries.

Much of what's shared wasn't totally intuitive to me (explaining to baby that you're going to pick them up and why before you do), and didn't match what I've witnessed from other parents (except some who I know or suspect to be RIE adherents), but much resonated. The most challenging part seems to be, though, that so much of the success of this method relies on the parent (e.g. me and Donny one day) being able to be patient, authentic, consistent, clear. How easy is that when you have sleep deprivation, crazy hormones, busy life, and general human nature involved?! Thankfully Lansbury offers a few moments of reprieve in the book for the not-perfect parent (all of us?!) reminding at least once in the book that we can never be perfect and that kids tend to be very forgiving.
Profile Image for Katrina Dombrowsky.
78 reviews4 followers
February 6, 2019
I found this to be really common sense, but at the same time I learned so much! It has me rethinking how I interact with kids and planning for a respectful approach to my own parenthood journey. My only criticism (if you can call it that) is that raising children doesn't happen in isolation, and the book doesn't address this. What I mean by that is, while it would be relatively simple to employ these strategies at home or in an RIE class surrounded by supportive parents who are using those same strategies, I imagine it's much more difficult to practice some of these strategies while navigating a variety of other parenting styles and personalities. I think it will be well worth the effort to try, though!
57 reviews3 followers
June 27, 2020
Changed the way I parent forever. Simple, paradigm shifting concepts explained in just enough scenarios that I understood the gist but not too many - I never got bored. Lansbury has a great way of framing things so even if I decided a particular technique wasn’t for me (eg not using high chairs), I didn’t feel guilt.

Only downside is that it is a combination of articles/essays and it can feel that way as you read - there’s occasional repetition in concepts, lots of “lists” that feel made for online, etc.
Profile Image for Katy.
77 reviews21 followers
May 5, 2019
I am so grateful to have this framework and parenting philosophy in mind as we venture into the toddler years. I only wish I had known of Magda Gerber/Janet Lansbury's work from day one of motherhood. I was in tears by the end. It all just makes so much sense. Parenting is the most amazing and challenging thing I've ever done, and this approach honors both mine and my baby's full humanity. I feel such a tremendous sense of calm and confidence after reading this guide and applying its teachings.
Profile Image for Victoria.
224 reviews3 followers
December 17, 2020
Very quick read. I really liked the basic concept here of seeing infants and toddlers as whole people and speaking to and treating them as such. The tone of the book was a little off-putting at times and it felt a little white privilege-y with the assumptions she made about families and caregiving situations. I found myself rolling my eyes...a lot. BUT, it's still a book I would recommend to friends with some added caveats. Take some, leave some, as with all parenting books.
17 reviews
February 14, 2021
While I don't agree with 100% of the philosophy, I found this book to be a very refreshing and different approach from the commonly practiced parenting gimmicks that don't work. I really appreciate heart behind Gerber and Lansbury's approach to parenting. The premise of theor philosophy is to respect babies/toddlers as whole people and communicate with them as such, trust their intrinsically motivated development, and encourage self-directed free play.

"Loving our child does not mean keeping him happy all the time and avoiding power struggles. Often it is doing what feels hardest for us to do: saying "no" and meaning it.

Our children deserve our direct, honest responses so they can internalize right and wrong and develop the authentic self-discipline needed to respect and be respected by others. As Magda wrote in Dear Parent - Caring for Infants With Respect: 'The goal is innerdiscipline, self-confidence, and joy in the act of cooperation.'"

"Boundaries and discipline, when offered non-punitively and in the context of empathy and respect, are gifts we should feel proud of and one of the highest forms of love."
Profile Image for Michelle Zeigert .
20 reviews1 follower
August 12, 2019
So much to learn from Magda Gerber’s work. Absolutely fantastic read to get you and your partner thinking and talking about the kind of parents you want to be and the kind of child you want to raise. I truly think this is one we will be returning to over and over with this kiddo and any potential future kiddos as well. Also, this was a good reminder as a kindergarten teacher of how I have strived to run my classroom and how I can always improve.
Profile Image for Ira.
15 reviews
March 1, 2020
While I don’t agree and follow ALL of the lessons within the RIE parenting approach, the vast majority of it really resonates with me (and my husband) and it is how we choose to raise our daughter. This book and Magda Gerber’s “Your Self-Confident Baby” are both great reads for someone interested in learning about RIE’s philosophy and it’s many benefits in child rearing. I’m glad I have them both in my kindle as I’m sure I’ll be referring to my highlights from years to come.
Profile Image for Michelle Kuhn.
154 reviews3 followers
July 16, 2022
Good principles to think about. I found the audiobook soothing to listen to as I cared for my newborn. Although Lansbury seems a little idealistic about children’s behavior, I will take away the main idea that infants are people and should be treated with the same respect and dignity as any person deserves. She encourages parents to connect with children through their struggles and difficult emotions, especially anger towards us. I liked her accounts of learning from her mentor, Gerber. She explains how important focused attention from parents and the tiny moments of connection in the midst of everyday routines are for babies and children. Nothing groundbreaking but a necessary reminder because it’s difficult in practice!
Profile Image for Alexis.
59 reviews8 followers
September 29, 2021
The content is actually really good and, if anything, lead to some good conversations about how Blaine and I want to raise our kids. But I really struggled with the format and got a little annoyed by the constant mention of Magda Gerber. If I hadn't read in another review that this book is really a compilation of blog posts then I definitely would have given it an even lower score. I still think she could have taken the blog posts and written a real book instead of just copy/pasting her posts (which is what I'm assuming happened because it's just an awkward read).
Profile Image for Cory.
170 reviews1 follower
November 20, 2021
This stuff makes so much sense when you read it – so simple it must be correct, right? Tell the kid what's happening to them. Treat them as you'd want to be treated if you were a stroke victim and couldn't communicate. Don't interfere if they're absorbed in something. Let them lead. (If only this were as easy as it sounds...)
Profile Image for Danielle Van Huysen .
85 reviews2 followers
July 12, 2022
I think it’s really hard to find a parenting book that is 5 stars and you love everything about it. I enjoyed the latter part of the book. And took nuggets from each chapter but I wish she would’ve gone into more of examples for what to do when things go wrong or are hard.
Profile Image for Aline.
3 reviews
September 25, 2019
Every parent, grandparents and caregiver should read this book. Also teachers.
Profile Image for Teresa.
228 reviews22 followers
March 23, 2018
Interesante. Algunas cosas las veo aplicables pero otras no acabo de verlas como la autora las presenta. Desde luego no puedo comparar su trayectoria como educadora de educadores y mi casi total ignorancia en esos campos.
Profile Image for Connie.
2 reviews
September 5, 2018
This is a compilation of her blog. Reading it in book form helps keep me from having my face in my phone while trying to parent. It's a major bonus.
Profile Image for Ariel Jensen.
537 reviews
March 23, 2022
Definitely good. But very similar to other RIE information out there—especially Magda Gerber’s books.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 231 reviews

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