Non-Parent Needs Parenting Book Recomendation.
January 7, 2016 7:51 PM   Subscribe

A family member has recently admitted that his parenting style is bad for the kid he's parenting, and that he isn't sure what to do instead. He liked the idea of finding a book with a set of parenting guidelines he could follow. I (a non-parent) would like to help him find one. Any recommendations?

Some things I'm looking for:

• Something that talks about appropriate development by age. He recently said that he looked up some info on child development, and realized that the expectations he had for the six-year-old in question were more appropriate for the behavior of a twelve-year-old.

• Something that focuses on positive interactions. His style so far has been very fear and punishment based, so a more encouraging way of interacting with kids would be appreciated.

• Something not at all woo. Anything too touchy-freely is going to be a turn off. He's very focused on "making a productive member of society", not particularly with the child's feelings.

I'm finding lots of stuff for babies & toddlers, less so for grade-schoolers. My leading candidate so far is How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk. What else should I be looking at?
posted by Tentacle of Trust to Human Relations (17 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
You're absolutely on the right track. That book helps a parent learn how to speak their language.
posted by heathrowga at 7:56 PM on January 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

The Supernanny books and TV show from Jo Frost are excellent, no-nonsense advice.

Yes, it was TV show and that might feel icky to some. But I'm telling you, the advice is rock-solid, particularly her overall framing that parenting is not negotiating with children.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:59 PM on January 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

Something that focuses on positive interactions. His style so far has been very fear and punishment based, so a more encouraging way of interacting with kids would be appreciated.

As far as this part is concerned, my sister, a preschool teacher, is wild about conscious discipline; here's the parenting book (amazon). She's found it very effective, especially with kids who don't do well with typical discipline styles.
posted by thetortoise at 8:07 PM on January 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: "How to Talk..." is a great start.

Since it seems like one of the things he's lacking is a sense of what's developmentally appropriate, he might like the series of books by Louise Bates Ames and the Gesell Institute. There is a book per year from age one up to age 10 and then one for 10-14. "Your Six Year Old: Loving and Defiant" is the one for age six. The books were originally published in the 80s and 90s so occasionally they can be dated (assuming the mother does all the housework, for example) but they remain in print for a reason: they are nonjudgmental and thorough. They discuss normal development and typical challenges for the age in questions.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 8:10 PM on January 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk is excellent and so is Liberated Parents, Liberated Children: Your Guide to a Happier Family from the same authors.

I wouldn't touch "Supernanny" with somebody else's kid. It is authoritarian, which is correlated with not-so-great outcomes (note not authoritative, which is correlated with positive outcomes). The advice is simplistic, one-size-fits-all. is excellent, and has advice for different stages, and the author has a book out.

He's very focused on "making a productive member of society", not particularly with the child's feelings -- hrm. Ask him how well that's been working for him. Children learn to be happy, empathetic -- and thus productive members of society -- from their happy, empathetic families. He can't expect the child to learn genuine respect without showing respect for the child.
posted by kmennie at 8:17 PM on January 7, 2016 [7 favorites]

Becoming the Parent You Want To Be was a major gamechanger for me.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 8:29 PM on January 7, 2016 [3 favorites]

NutureShock is worth looking at.
posted by ShooBoo at 8:56 PM on January 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

I would caution you to examine whether this request was generated by your relative (not you) and whether it's likely to be well received. I have not done well following the advice in parenting books I chose myself, and especially chafe against unsolicited advice and resources I've gotten from others, especially non-parents.

Having said that, Playful Parenting is a nice contrast to a lot of the harsh stuff out there. The appallingly titled, The Explosive Child has some practical ideas that aren't just for behaviorally challenged kids. Unconditional Parenting drove me up the wall at moments ("Kids' shouldn't have to say Thank You") but even if I didn't take all his advice, I was able to get some useful nuggets from it.
posted by latkes at 9:00 PM on January 7, 2016

Best answer: This entire series:

is amazing and has been spot on for my wildly different kids. Of all the things that I read, classes that I took and people I talked to these were the only ones that set my expectations appropriately. Its by age and are quite slim.

posted by ding-dong at 9:51 PM on January 7, 2016

Best answer: Kids are worth it by Barbara Coloroso specifically examines different parenting style and why authoritarian (or jellyfish) parenting does not lead to a child who can make great choices. Her book on bullying is also excellent.
posted by warriorqueen at 3:02 AM on January 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: My leading candidate so far is How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk.

I can't recommend this book enough. It is so SO good.... a lot of the rules sound simple and even intuitive, but reading it gave me the confidence to trust myself and apply them with my child. I even found that it helps me in conversations with adults! It is a great choice.
posted by barnoley at 5:31 AM on January 8, 2016 [3 favorites]

Best answer: How to Talk is a great book - great choice. It helps with talking to other people, too, not just your kids.

The "Your X-Year-Old" series by Louise Bates Ames is also great. It's nice to just have an authority say, "Yes, your 6-year-old's wacky behavior about [issue] is totally normal and to be expected." If he is treating his 6-year-old like a 12-year-old, this might be especially helpful in cluing him in on what kind of standards are appropriate and what kinds are not.

I don't know if the child in question is a boy, but if so, my husband and I have both flipped through this book for our son and it's been helpful. What is good about it, IMO, for a dad, is that it has you think about how your own father parented, and how that affects you today. It is a good book that encourages parents to show their sons as much affection as they would daughters and to stay away from "man up" kind of talk. Letting boys have feelings and talking about them and letting them cry, basically.

This will be a much harder task than a book suggestion, but if he can find a way to talk to other dads who he respects, that might help even more. I have a lot of friends with kids of all ages and it's valuable to ask my friend with a 10-year-old if this 6-year-old behavior lasts forever. This is harder with men because there don't seem to be a lot of parenting groups that are set up for men (especially men with school-aged children, not babies or something) but he could get involved with the child's life and activities and observe other 6-year-olds and their parents in action, and see what works (and what doesn't). My school district's PTO and surrounding districts' PTOs will often host talks on parenting strategies or classes, and that might be an option, too.
posted by sutel at 6:51 AM on January 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: You guys, I cannot tell you how helpful these answers are. I've marked as best a couple that sound particularly promising for this specific parent/child duo, but I appreciate all of these suggestions, marked or not!
posted by Tentacle of Trust at 9:12 AM on January 8, 2016

the blessing of a skinned knee (whether or not parent is Jewish).
posted by sabh at 6:33 PM on January 8, 2016

This is an amazing book that I find really helpful as a first grade teacher--I think it is also helpful for parents. He could use it as a resource for many years to come as well.

posted by bookworm4125 at 2:42 PM on January 9, 2016

Anything by Kazdin - there is some good stuff online. He explains why harsh discipline does not work at any age. Here is an interview. He has several books too. I have done a lot of reading about discipline and this is one of the few sources that explains in detail how to actually handle actual situations and kids.
posted by yarly at 8:30 AM on January 10, 2016

I loved Kid Cooperation by Elizabeth Pantley. It worked like a charm for both my children - now aged 16 & 11.
posted by TauLepton at 1:59 PM on January 12, 2016

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