Top critical review
46 people found this helpful
Interesting approach but VERY QUESTIONABLE as to whether it works.
on 25 June 2013
I have been on a bit of a roller coaster since reading this book. and have managed to bring my opinion round in a full circle!
I was at a bit of a loss as to how to deal with my 3 year olds daily acts of defiance and felt a bit lacking in control. Up until quite recently, we actually hadn't needed an awful lot of "discipline" so to speak, our daughter has been fairly amenable and laid back. But NOT NOW!
So i got this book on suggestion from a forum, and at first i wanted to throw it straight in the bin! It seemed pretty irritating in its idealised view of parenting and i wasn't really agreeing with it. BUT then i read a bit more and it really started to open my eyes as to just how punishment can (perhaps) be perceived by the child....it sprung up loads of questions for me as to whether harsh punishments actually work in TEACHING a child a moral lesson or what is deemed "acceptable behaviour"
The part about rewards i totally agree with, as to say to a child "if your are really well behaved, we will get you an ice cream!" i just think this encourages the wrong kind of self motivation and makes the child think of selfish gains he can get by "behaving" in a certain way. Id rather just treat my girl to something every now and again just because i love her and its a nice thing to do.
The general concept of this approach, is that punishment and consequences are not affective in teaching a child how to BE a nice/compassionate/caring/sharing person. The alternative generally, is to talk to your child, explaining just why its bad to hit (for example) but not to punish them as this could lead to a child feeling that they are not "acceptable" when they are behaving in a negative way. and that in turn, leads to an adult who also, doesn't accept themselves and doesn't deal we;l with negative emotions. To condense the concept, we need to "work with" instead of "Do to"
SO.....i tried this approach with my daughter. I hoped that if i showed her respect, gave her lots of choices to empower her, and instead of punishing, i explained in a (sometimes stern voice) why it wasn't ok to do x,y or z.
At first, she responded in a really positive way! I found it easier to get her to co-operate in the daily routine of dressing, teeth cleaning etc and she seemed more polite, affectionate and i was really really pleased!
BUT after a few weeks, it really did all seem to go pear shaped. I was going blue in the face trying to coerce her into getting dressed, every response was "in a minute!" and all of a sudden i was facing a very autonomous child who was TOO BIG FOR HER THREE YEAR OLD BOOTS! This is no exaggeration and i was really struggling. and if anyone is wondering if id been TOO permissive and allowed her free reign - i had NOT. I really do have a good head on my shoulders, i approached it with a good balance of everything this book suggests.
The biggest flaw in this approach is that it fails to address just HOW you are supposed to deal with a simple and very regular act of toddler defiance. Im not talking about deep rooted behavioural issues, there is NO OTHER reason my daughter is acting defiantly other than the fact she just doesn't want to do things when i ask! and because i had been "working with", there haven't been any consequences to face. But i have still ended up with a child who is WAY too full of herself and her own assertiveness was getting completely out of hand. She has also been hitting me far more than before, which is just plain worrying.
Since this meltdown moment, i have adopted a balance of having non-negotiable limits on certain things, with plenty of choices, respect and love - wherever possible and appropriate for her age. The hitting results in time out and any aggressive behaviour will have the same limit because its just not ok to vent frustrations in this way. I may encourage her to go hit a pillow if she's angry! and after the time-out, when things have calmed down, i talk to her in a relaxed, non confrontational way about what happened and how we can move forward.
a 3 year old can ONLY deal with so much freedom and also they can only take in a certain amount of talking as their attention span is limited. otherwise, they push and push limits, until you quite literally snap and then what? there HAS to be a consequence at the end of it!
As she gets older, i will adapt and give her more choices etc, but right now, clear boundaries are necessary.
Another flaw is that is suggests things which i find quite ridiculous and totally un called for - when dealing with a young child like mine. it suggested changing your schedule to make daily routines easier for the child. it also said if it causes less friction, let your child sleep in their school uniform! Why on earth should i have to change my schedule to accommodate the drawn out affair of getting my daughter dressed in the morning?! it would just taken even longer if i did! Life really doesn't work like that and although my child IS the most important thing in my life, she also needs to understand that the world doesn't stop just because she desperately wants to read a book when im trying to leave the house and that certain things are expected from her, without negotiation.
So despite all the negatives above, i WOULD recommend reading this book because its very easy to digest, and has some great points to make regarding the psychology of children and how you communicate with them makes a big difference in their development BUT you should really consider finding a balance that works for you, cos at the end of the day do you want a child/adult who walks all over you and is so full of their own autonomy? i imagine not....