For the last nine years, I have immersed myself in the world of gentle parenting, and LR Knost's books represent some of the best info I have ever found. The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline not only covers the background of why gentle parenting is so important for healthy families, but it also includes the how. How do you make this work? What does it look like in a busy family with several kidlets and many needs?
Some of the things that I loved about the book: (Does it sound too schoolgirly to shriek, "Everything!"? OK, well, here are some of the things that I super-de-doopery loved about it.)
* Bite sized chapters. The 30 chapters are informative, but also short and easy to read, which is especially helpful when your reading time some days is just a few minutes on the toilet.
* Chapters for all ages. So many gentle parenting books focus on babyhood, which is--admit it--relatively easy. No matter how curious, a one year old doesn't push nearly as many buttons as a sassy four year old or a six year old in the throes of disequilibrium. The Gentle Parent gives specific chapters for toddlers and preschoolers while still devoting a full third of the book to middle childhood, the teens and beyond.
* It's truly gentle. I have been disappointed in several books that talk about positive parenting but are really just punishement lite--more sophisticated ways to shame and punish our children than brute physical force. We recognize that childish bullying can take many forms, whether through punching a child on the playground, shunning them at the lunch table or humiliating them online. Parenting bullying is still bullying whether through spanking, forced isolation or shaming. The techniques here are focused on the three Cs: Connection, Communication and Cooperation.
* It's truly practical. Many books focus on vague rainbow-flower-sparkly-unicorn principles that sound good (and maybe even are) but in the moment of dealing with a child who bites or hits or is melting down, most of us don't need lofty sounding ideas--we need targeted, rational and compassionate steps. This book has individual chapters on tantrums, hitting/kicking/throwing/biting, lying, backtalk, parenting in public and strong-willed, highly sensitive children. Over and over I found new ideas and tools to improve my relationship with my children and ways to help them cope.
* It's fun. The chapter Sandbox Soapbox: Toddler Insights had me laughing out loud. It was so insightful and so entertaining. Ideas like the Calm Me jars and the scripts for silliness were great, because those things just don't come naturally to me. And even when dealing with parental hurts and establishing firm boundaries for how parents need to act, LR Knost is never belittling or discouraging. Chapters like Hurting Parents, Hurting Children, The Butterfly Effect and The Color of Change, and All the 'Right' Parenting Moves shower parents with the same loving wisdom that she approaches children.
* It's effective. I have applied many of the concepts that The Gentle Parent covers with my own four kidlets. LR Knost has used them with her own six children, two of whom have sensory issues, one with Sensory Processing Disorder, two with ADD, one with Auditory Processing Disorder and two who are very intense/high-needs, as well as with the other families she has helped. I can always tell a difference when I have been spending some time reading her books--I am more patient and centered, my children are more connected and cooperative, and there is more harmony in our lives. With my review of Two Thousand Kisses a Day, I described it as love waves that keep splashing on my family the whole day, where we all experienced more peace, joy, patience, kindness and self control. That has been true of all of her books and is why they are one of my treasured resources.
Seriously, y'all. I used a highlighter to go over my favorite quotes and ideas, and nearly every page has lemon-scented yellow on it.
One final note--as a Jesus-lover, my parenting and my faith are very much intertwined. Although this book is not religious in tone, I know that this also reflects the author's deep relationship with God and the love that fills their home. I highly recommend her posts on Christian parenting and her interview with Gentle Christian Mothers. I am so grateful for LR Knost's lovely, strong voice in the parenting world!
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy for review. My opinions are always honestly expressed and fully my own.