There comes a point in raising a child that you realize that you need help in manipulation because, clearly, the child isn't doing what you want them to do. Yes, it's all about you. Or maybe it's not all about you or about manipulation. Still, you don't want your kid throwing a tantrum in the middle of a store and you need to get out of the house in under 3 hours. So what do you do? Even you, who abhors self-help books, turns to self-help books for helping yourself and the entire world endure the emotionally out-of-control 3-year-old you've suddenly found yourself living with.
This book has some good tips, but, like most self-help types of book, they could have been said in a few bullet points or a chart rather than in a nearly 300-paged book (but a bullet pointed list wouldn't have made as much money as a book and webinars do). I first discovered this author in a parenting blog where someone linked to one of her free YouTube videos. I tried a few of her techniques and found that they were semi-magic. And even if they only worked for the short-term, that was enough. Mainly, it gave me some ideas of how to constructively mold my child to be a calmer, happier individual. In the end, it's about respecting each other, offering controlled choices, and not being a tyrant.
Here are my main takeaways from the book for future reference:
1. Set aside at least 10 minutes twice a day to spend with your child, completely focusing on them so that they do get the directed attention that they crave.
2. Quit correcting and directing.
3. Use a calm voice (think Mr. Rogers).
4. Offer choices within your requirements for your child so that the child feels like they have some level of control (such as, the child must brush their teeth, but they can choose which toothbrush and toothpaste they'd like to use).
5. Use when/then statements ("When you finish picking up your toys, then we'll go to the park").
6. Everyone in the household should contribute to the household. Even small children need things to help with doing.
7. Have consistent routines so that the child knows what to expect.
8. Use immediate and consistent punishments which fit the crime (the child runs away and doesn't stop when called, so you leave the park immediately)
9. Allow natural and logical consequences so that the child learns from mistakes (the child doesn't rinse their hands of soap and then finds themselves with a mouth full of soap when they eat)
10. Ask the child to repeat to you what the punishment will be if they do X.
11. Use either/or consequences (either you eat your peas or you get no dessert)
12. Tell your child what you won't pay attention to (whining while you're cooking), ignore any such actions, and train appropriate behavior (talk to me in a normal voice and either help me or play quietly beside me while I cook).
13. Especially schedule your 15 minutes of time with your child right before you need to get something done so that the child has their attention meter filled. And also tell them that you won't be paying attention to them during the time you need to get something done but what they can do during that time.
14. Invite cooperation (ask them to help you clean).
15. Walk away from tantrums.
16. Say I feel ... when you ..., and I wish you would ...
17. Teach a child to not always need external compliments but to be proud of their own accomplishments ("You must have felt so happy when you finally pottied by yourself.")
There's quite a lot here that involves respecting your child, teaching your child to respect themselves as well as you. The author acts as if your child will magically act as they should if you follow all these rules. But it's not magic. One day a when/then statement will work, and another day it may not. But acting calmly and respectfully goes a long way toward having a calm and happy child ... and having a calm and happy parent.