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From Barnes & NobleOur Review
The short self-test on the back cover of How to Behave so Your Children Will, Too! is designed to help parents determine whether they need the book. Yet it's hard to imagine any parent not benefiting from this practical, no-nonsense guide to parenting. Sal Severe has spent 25 years working with behavior-disordered children as a teacher, counselor, principal, school psychologist, and director of special education. He puts this vast knowledge and experience to good use in this helpful, hands-on guide to parenting.
Severe bases most of his advice on a simple premise: A child's behavior is often a reflection of a parent's behavior, and both often need to be modified. However, Severe's method of behavior modification is a two-way street -- not only can children learn from their parents, but parents can learn from their children as well. Often, certain patterns of reaction from parents can be as troublesome as the triggering behavior in the child. Getting children to behave better often requires an alteration in the parents' behaviors and ways of thinking. And that's the approach Severe uses for the majority of his advice.
Severe provides some sample situations to demonstrate how parents can react without getting angry, how they can use incentives with their children without resorting to bribery, and how they can punish their children effectively without punishing themselves. Rather than embracing one particular method for handling any given problem, Severe offers several, working from the theory that each child, parent, and relationship is unique and that one size does not fit all. This varied approach makes the book flexible, versatile, and useful for just about any parent-child relationship.
Severe supports his advice with numerous anecdotes from real parents who have struggled with behavioral problems in their children. These illustrations of Severe's techniques are both enlightening and encouraging. They aptly demonstrate that bad behaviors are both common and complex and that good behaviors won't necessarily occur overnight, though through persistence, progress can be made. The end result is an in-the-trenches sense of camaraderie that should hearten even the most harried parent.
Severe discusses methods for reinforcing a child's positive behaviors and attitudes, including the use of charts and contracts. He also devotes a section to the subject of motivating children and understanding their motives when they misbehave -- how they can (and why they often do) push their parents' buttons. Severe also deals with punishments, providing a pros-and-cons analysis of spanking, discussing the proper and creative use of time-outs, and offering guidelines on how to identify degrees of bad behavior and apply appropriate and effective punishments. There is a step-by-step plan for handling a child's misbehavior that includes identifying patterns, determining the purpose behind the misbehavior, and deciding how best to handle it.
Severe also devotes some time to the issues of conflict resolution between siblings, dealing with homework hassles, and how best to handle chores and allowances. For the latter, Severe includes a listing of responsibilities that is broken down into age-appropriate sections. In a section that deals with some special needs situations, Severe discusses how to work with children who suffer from attention deficit disorders and hyperactivity, as well as how divorce affects children. In the wake of modern-day concerns over violence and such tragedies as the Columbine massacre, it's fitting that Severe also talks about techniques for anger management in children, including a discussion on how to improve one's chances of raising a nonviolent child and how to discuss school violence.
Severe's advice and methods are neither new nor startling. They are commonsense ideas that tackle the problem of a child's misbehavior from two angles -- behavior modification in the parent and in the child. Severe's casual writing style and breezy tone make the book easy to read and understand, and the real-life experiences and applications make it useful and enlightening. Whether you're trying to stop your toddler from throwing temper tantrums in the grocery store, teach your daughter the value of money, or handle your teenage son's antisocial behavior, How to Behave so Your Children Will, Too! is as close to a primer on parenting as you're likely to find.