Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours - Kevin Leman

Sometimes you have to pull the rug out and let the little buzzards tumble.

My mom recommended this book to me and I finally got around to reading it. Leman is a proponent of what he calls Reality Discipline, and this book is largely about explaining how that works and giving some examples about how to use it. He makes a distinction between "discipline" and "punishment" and goes so far as to say we should only discipline and never punish. I'm still not convinced that Reality Discipline is never punishment, but for the most part I found the book to be good advice. It's not entirely different from all of the other parenting books I've read (in particular, there are lots of similarities to Parenting the Heart of Your Child) but does offer a few tips that I think may be helpful.

Reality Discipline is, in short, allowing reality to teach your kids consequences of their behavior, rather than establishing arbitrary punishments. For example, if your child refuses to get up and get ready for school in time, you don't scream and fuss and drag them bodily out of bed, and threaten to take away TV privileges. Instead, you allow them to miss the bus, get to school late, and suffer whatever consequences there are for being tardy. On the one hand, it's supposed to result in less nagging and fuming on the parents' part; on the other hand, it often takes more thought and creativity to figure out exactly what reality-based consequences go with particular behaviors. (My own example: I want my kids to speak Chinese while at home. What reality-based consequence is there, other than allowing them to grow up and discover that it's much harder to pick up a language when you're older?)

The position Leman takes (explaining that he bases it on Biblical teachings, the way he understands God's discipline and Jesus' teachings) is something between authoritarian and permissive parenting. He does include spanking but only in certain cases and feels that it shouldn't be the primary form of discipline. He also argues against a reward-and-punishment system.

The book is a little dated (first published in 1984) and I'm not sure if there's a more recent version available. For the most part I don't think it matters, but occasionally he makes remarks that date the book (Atari, for instance). He also has a weird habit of using names like "Festus" and "Cletus" and "Buford" when he needs a sample kid to talk about.

Overall, a decent book on child-rearing with lots of suggestions I may try on my own kids. Hopefully it will reduce the amount of nagging and arguing, but it will definitely require ingenuity on my part and cooperation with my wife.

Fed to jonathan's brain | September 09, 2008 | Comments (0)


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