Liking the Child You Love: Build a Better Relationship with Your Kids-Even When They're Driving You Crazy


“I shouldn’t have to tell him that again!”

“She is just so spoiled.”

“They don’t appreciate anything I do for them.”

Do you feel like you’re at the end of your rope? Are you exhausted by your kids arguing over every little thing? Finally there’s a name for your feelings: “Parent Frustration Syndrome” (PFS). No kid is perfect, but parents ...

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Liking the Child You Love: Build a Better Relationship with Your Kids--Even When They're Driving You Crazy

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“I shouldn’t have to tell him that again!”

“She is just so spoiled.”

“They don’t appreciate anything I do for them.”

Do you feel like you’re at the end of your rope? Are you exhausted by your kids arguing over every little thing? Finally there’s a name for your feelings: “Parent Frustration Syndrome” (PFS). No kid is perfect, but parents often don’t realize just how much their own thoughts, rather than their children’s behavior, contribute to being emotionally overwhelmed and discouraged.
In Liking the Child You Love, Renowned psychologist Dr. Jeffrey Bernstein offers proven strategies for taming the 9 most common toxic thought patterns that stop us from parenting effectively:

• The “Always or Never” Trap

• Label Gluing

• Seething Sarcasm

• Smoldering Suspicions

• Detrimental Denial

• Emotional Overheating

• Blame Blasting

• “Should” Slamming

• Dooming Conclusions

As you identify and put a stop to PFS’s negative thought patterns, you’ll be amazed at how your kids’ defiant behavior quickly improves, without having to raise your voice or dole out harsh punishments. Soon you will have a closer, calmer, and more loving relationship with your kids—just by changing your own mindset.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Karen Deerwester, author of The Entitlement-Free Child
“For all those parents who want to run away from home or hide in the bathroom until their child outgrows a difficult stage, I highly recommend this book.”

Judith S. Beck, Ph.D., Director, Beck Institute for Cognitive Therapy and Research, Clinical Associate Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania
“Dr. Bernstein has written a wonderful book, helping parents learn new ways of thinking and behaving in order to solve the problems they have with their children. His strategies are practical and concrete and very useful. I highly recommend this book to parents (and professionals who work with parents). It’s very empowering to learn that “the key to a good relationship with your child rests more with you than your child.”

Jeanne Elium and Don Elium, authors of Raising a Son and Raising a Daughter
“With understanding and kindness, Dr. Jeff helps parents acknowledge what we are all ashamed to admit: that sometimes our children drive us crazy, and we don’t like them very much. Through his own experience as a parent and a licensed psychologist, Dr. Jeff skillfully guides parents to discover how toxic thoughts actually support our children’s frustrating behavior! If you want to improve and deepen your relationship with your children, this book is a must-read!”

Myrna B. Shure, Ph.D., author of Raising a Thinking Child
“Jeffrey Bernstein has given us easy to absorb, insightful tips that will change the way we think about what our kids do, and why they do it. This book will not only make parenting more gratifying; it will help make life more gratifying.”

Dr. Brad Sachs, author of The Good Enough Child and The Good Enough Teen
“The threshold between experiencing parental “love” and parental “like” can be a blurry one indeed, but both processes are essential to engage in if families are to develop in healthy and creative ways. In Liking the Child You Love, Dr. Jeffrey Bernstein gently but skillfully guides parents through the many emotional challenges of childrearing.. Combining illuminating case examples with wise and practical strategies, Liking the Child You Love will be of inestimable value to mothers and fathers alike at every stage of family development.”

Nancy Samalin, M.S., author of Loving Your Child is Not Enough and Love and Anger: The Parental Dilemma
“I wholeheartedly recommend Dr. Jeff’s book because his premise—that although we love our kids—sometimes it can be much harder to like them—is very important. It’s often easier to love our children than to actually like them. The author helps parents keep their cool when their children are at their most challenging and paves the way for increased parental empathy.”

Tamar E. Chansky, Ph.D., author of Freeing Your Child from Negative Thinking and Freeing Your Child from Anxiety
“No parent wants to be put over the edge by their child's negative behavior, and with Jeffrey Bernstein's Liking the Child You Love, you won't have to be. Bernstein provides parents with a creative and accessible roadmap out of the toxic reactions to their children's negative behavior, reactions which only trigger more undesirable behavior. Now parents can stop blaming themselves and their kids when things start to spiral, and instead know exactly what to do and say to be the loving and effective parents they want to be.”

Thomas W. Phelan, Ph.D., author of 1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12
“Dr. Bernstein addresses a huge missing piece of the parenting puzzle: How you feel about your kids is determined to a large extent by how you think—and a parent's thoughts can be pretty screwy sometimes! This book provides an excellent corrective for parents' emotional upsets and a straightforward path toward a happier family.”

Karen Deerwester, author of The Entitlement-Free Child
“Bravo, Dr. Jeff, for helping parents admit that they don’t always like their children. I highly recommend this book for all those parents who want to run away from home or hide in the bathroom until their child outgrows a difficult stage. This book has the cure for Parent Frustration Syndrome. It will help you identify and avoid self-sabotaging thoughts and behaviors that compromise your relationship with the child you deeply love.”

Foster Cline, M.D., Founder and author of Parenting with Love and Logic
“Dr. Jeff recounts the joys and trials he has experienced with his own children. And this openness adds both credence and clarity to his enjoyable and thoughtful book. This is a delightful, check-yourself-out-while-you-learn experience that I recommend to all parents who might occasionally say to themselves, ‘I’m not sure I like this child I love!’”

Susan Newman, Ph.D., author of Little Things Long Remembered: Making Your Children Feel Special Every Day
“Say ‘Goodbye’ to being at your wit’s end with your child’s behavior and feeling guilty about how you react. Liking the Child You Love helps you understand your frustrations and walks you through the emotional struggles of raising children. Say “Hello” to a stronger connection to your child now, not long after he’s grown and out of the house.”

Audrey Penn, author of The Kissing Hand
“As a writer of literature for children and adolescents, I spend a great deal of time trying to get into their heads and hearts. I have had great success with the children I have interviewed over the years. It’s my own brood that has had me stumped. If truth be known, I couldn’t put this book down. Within the first hour, I was taking notes. Liking the child you love is harder than one would think and often hard to admit. But I can’t believe there is a parent anywhere who hasn’t met this dichotomy firsthand. This is an enormously helpful book and easily digestible for those of us whose plates are already too full. I highly recommend this read to all parents and those who want to like the children they love.”

Publishers Weekly, 6/22/09
“Bernstein guides parents down a more ‘mindful’ path, helping them to reduce stress and negative emotions by changing their thoughts. He also suggests ways to use ‘collaborative logical consequences’ instead of empty or damaging threats.”

Library Journal
“Bernstein explains appropriate discipline, natural consequences, and ‘collaborative logical consequences’ within the context of the annoying things kids do to tick off their parents…realistic and helpful.”

Boston Globe, 8/2/09
“Bernstein helps you identify toxic thought patterns with lots of fun charts, and he doles out concrete help.”

San Francisco Book Review and The Sacramento Book Review, October issues
Liking the Child You Love can help you recognize the symptoms and help you cope with and stomp out those negative thoughts, which could inadvertently harm our children.”

Newday, 10/28/09
“Help[s] you find solutions for your toxic, negative thoughts about your difficult child and develop a healthier emotional connection with him or her.”

Chesapeake Family, December 2009
“Bernstein recognizes the harsh realities of child rearing, but focuses on getting parents to recognize their own toxic thinking in dealing with the problems.”

Adolescence, Winter 2010
“Bernstein offers strategies for taming the most common toxic thought patterns that stop [parents] from parenting effectively.”

Publishers Weekly
Author/psychologist Bernstein (10 Days to a Less Defiant Child), aka "Dr. Jeff," delves into "the dark thoughts of anxious parents" who love their kids, but can't figure out how to like them. Bernstein claims millions of parents suffer from an affliction he calls Parent Frustration Syndrome (PFS), characterized by negativity, resentment and frustration regarding one's own child. According to Bernstein, PFS is caused by toxic thinking; to combat this habit, he provides parents with the tools to identify and transform their damaging thoughts. Such toxic thinking patterns as using labels or sarcasm, blaming, emotional "overheating," or employing the words "always," "never" or "should" are among the ways parents contribute to problems with their kids, the author argues. Bernstein guides parents down a more "mindful" path, helping them to reduce stress and alter negative emotions by changing their thoughts. He also suggests ways to use "collaborative logical consequences" instead of empty or damaging threats. Frazzled adults may too often be tempted to blame their discontent on their child's behavior, but Bernstein places responsibility for the relationship squarely in the hands of parents, while simultaneously offering support and practical strategies for reducing parental stress. In a conversational style, he also shares his clients' stories, along with his own challenges as the father of three.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780738212616
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press
  • Publication date: 6/9/2009
  • Edition description: None
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 671,239
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Jeffrey Bernstein, PhD, is a licensed psychologist specializing in child and family therapy in the Philadelphia area. He has appeared on the Today show and Court TV, among other programs.

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Table of Contents

Author's Note ix

Introduction How Can I Be a Good Parent and Have These Bad Thoughts? xi

Chapter 1 Why Liking Your Child Is Much Harder than Loving Him 1

Chapter 2 Sliding Down the Slippery Slope of Toxic Thinking 25

Chapter 3 Recognizing the Nine Toxic Thought-Patterns of Parenting 49

Chapter 4 Kicking the Parenting-Stress Habit 75

Chapter 5 Becoming a More Mindful Parent 99

Chapter 6 Douse "Slow-Burning" Toxic Thoughts 125

Chapter 7 Extinguish "Flaring" Toxic Thoughts 151

Chapter 8 Dependable Discipline: Lessening the Consequences to Gain Control 165

Chapter 9 Keeping the Positive Energy Flowing 189

Chapter 10 Liking the Child You Love over the Long Run 213

Acknowledgements 221

Appendix I The Nine Toxic-Thought Patterns 223

Appendix II The Toxic-Thought Log 225

Resources 227

Recommended Reading 235

Index 239

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