After reading descriptions and reviews of this book, I thought I would love it. I prefer “gentle” parenting strategies. I oppose corporal punishment, yelling, humiliation, etc. But while I appreciated many of the strategies and examples in the book, I couldn’t get behind its philosophy as a whole.
1. Lots of creative ways and examples to engage with your young kids when they are misbehaving or when you need to talk to them about their feelings.
1. Soooo much talking. Talking talking talking. These are young kids. At some point during your oral thesis “Why We Don’t Hit Our Sister,” your child will stop listening and their eyes will roll back into their heads, or worse, they’ll argue with you or have a tantrum. Is there a time and place for long talks about feelings? Of course. But it’s not when your son has just smacked his sister.
2. On that note—I really tried to get behind the “no punishment” philosophy because I don’t LIKE punishing my kids. I don’t enjoy it. I hate it. But, using the previous example, if my child, who is old enough to know better, and has been told not to before, is violent—I’m going to be honest here—I have very little desire to coddle him with a “oh, are you feeling frustrated, honey?” conversation. There are some naturally well behaved children who will not require punishment and will feel bad just having upset someone. There are others who will take advantage and continue the behavior until action is taken. Children are not little adults. Psychologically speaking they don’t yet have the ability to reason. They respond to consequences. I don’t believe I’m going to scar my child for life with a few minutes of time out or having a toy taken away temporarily. I don’t like overdoing these punishments and only do them for serious bad behavior. But they have their place.
3. The authors argue that acknowledging a child’s feelings has great effect and sometimes that alone can ease a tantrum. I believe this to be true...sometimes. I think they overstate their case. I go back to what I said before—children are not little adults. As an adult I feel much better when someone acknowledges my feelings. I find this to be less effective with children, who have less ability to reason, practice empathy, and regulate their emotions. Often kids just want what they want and don’t care about anything else. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing—it’s a normal developmental stage. But it makes some of the authors’ strategies less helpful.
4. I really liked some of the authors’ strategies. But they are time consuming and require constant spontaneous creativity and variety. It’s a lot to ask.
There’s a lot of good stuff in this book, but overall I think it expects too much of kids, and sometimes of their parents.