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Customer Review

117 of 120 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Guide to Non-Manipulative Parenting, 3 April 2002
This review is from: The Manipulative Child: How to Regain Control and Raise Resilient, Resourceful, and Independent Kids (Paperback)
Don't be put off by the unflattering title of this book, as it teaches value guided parenting and shows the reader what a healthy functional family looks like. The authors study the common traits in families that produce healthy well adapted children, shedding light on the many parenting myths and misconceptions which todays parents are inundated with. There are many different types/styles of families and cultures which consitantly raise successful children, but they all share certain virtues or common qualities. They show why the current tendency of lowering expectations/standards, combined with a "child-centered" approach, is so detrimental to a childs self esteem, encouraging children to under perform like never before.
The book is NOT about any particular type of child as the title suggests, but focuses on teaching parents to become 'manipulation proof' by understanding their own weaknesses and blind spots. These 'hidden agendas' include things such as parental guilt, fear, lack of confidence, inconvenience, conflict between parents etc. Through their normal limit testing, kids quickly discover and can exploit our blind sides without really understanding or comprehending why we tend to react in predictable ways. Parents must first look at themselves and find out what is preventing them from being effective when it comes to discipline. Many books accurately describe discipline problems and give sound situational advice but this one actually explains why some behaviours persist with seemingly no reward or purpose. Why a child will initiate a three hour screaming power struggle when all he/she has to do is pick up one toy or write one sentence of homework. We could not understand why our child was so focused on controlling us with no real purpose or goal and this book explains it very clearly.
This is one of only a few parenting books which give a good explaination of unwanted behavours learned through "negative reinforcement". This is so important because the most challenging behaviours are not positively rewarded, but rooted or acquired through negative reinforcement. These are behaviours which are not always deliberate or conciously guided, with 'avoidance' as the underlying goal. Because they are rooted in avoidance they are much more persistant and enduring than behaviours acquired through positive reinforcement. When most people hear the word "Manipulation" they automatically think of openly planned deception, but that is NOT what this book is about. Many negatively reinforced behaviours appear manipulative on the surface but actually have no real goal or reward other than avoidance. When there is mutual avoidance or 'hidden agendas' with both the parent and child, that's where the problems start. The book teaches parents to recognise these patterns, and interrupt them before they become your childs normal mode of operation.
This is an excellent book and surely a real eye-opener for many parents. It's not your typical "how to" parenting book but gives parents a powerful insight into healthy family dynamics.
If your child is excessively bossy, controlling, always trying to make others compromise (for no apparent reason), expending a disproportionate amount of energy over seemingly trivial issues or objectives, READ THIS BOOK!
Other great discipline/parenting books I highly recommend are: "Setting Limits" by Robert J MacKenzie, "Ain't Misbehavin" by William P Garvey, "Kid Cooperation" by Elizabeth Pantley and "How to Talk so Kids will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk".
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