Saturday, June 6, 2009

Books: Child Behavior

I consider myself very lucky. My kids are pretty good and well behaved. What I mean is: no tantrums in public places ever, do what they are told 95% of the time, polite and respectful in others' homes (no running, screaming or jumping on furniture), rarely talk back to me, and have good grades in school. I think it's because they know who is in charge of this household and it's not them.

I have seen children who are not well behaved. I don't just mean a temper tantrum from a stranger's child, I mean I see the same child every day for months or I've heard the parent complain about how their child behaves. While many times all it takes is for a phase to pass, sometimes I start to wonder what the child will be like when they get older.

I have a friend who was having a really hard time with her child. Temper tantrums, blatant refusal to follow directions, disrespect, and physically striking out at her any time she asked her child to do something that was within reason. She found a book, Beyond Time Out: From Chaos to Calm by Dr. Beth Grosshans. Now my friend says she has a brand new child.

Her child is extremely bright and one of the things she noticed that she was doing was reasoning with the child as if the child was a peer. She made a list for me, because I was very interested, of the things she needed to remember when dealing with her child.

Over-explaining, reasoning, and negotiating
Apologizing too often
Seeking the child's permission and approval
Not owning parental decisions and directions
Manipulating with too many bribes and threats
Repeating the same diresction over and over
Blaming the child and looking to him/her for answers

Before I go on, let me point out that I have not read this book. I don't want anyone thinking I endorse it. With one friend who has changed her life and another who wants to, I thought it warranted a little consideration in one blog post.

I read the reviews for the book and out of 29, 4 were very negative. But I found that the people who didn't like the book complained that it was too controlling. They believed Grosshans' methods did not allow for child freedom. First, why are they reading the book? They are obviously having issues with their children as a result of how they are raising them now. If they aren't open to the idea that there is something wrong with the way they are handling things then why bother to look for a better way. Second, the people in need of this book are those who give their children too much freedom. Again, it's a discipline book on behavior, not a book on self-esteem.

I think the list is on target. When one has a bright child, there is a tendency to treat the child as if he/she is an equal. The child seems to understand so much about daily life. But I think parents forget that the child IS a child and not an adult. As such, the child does not deserve all the rights and privileges an adult has.

Of course one book cannot be a panecia for misbehaving children. There are other books out there. One, 1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12 by Thomas W. Whelan, Ph.D., has some of the same philosophies as the book above(child not in charge). Again, I have not read his book, but one of his others (there is 1-2-3 Magic for Kids, 1-2-3 Magic for Teachers, 1-2-3 Magic for Christian Parents,...).

The point of this post? I just see too many out of control kids, and I worry about how they will turn out later without intervention of some kind. I just want people to remember that books are great resources. Rather than buy one, check one out from the library (It's summer reading program time!)

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