Raising a Self-Disciplined Child: Help Your Child Become More Responsible, Confident, and Resilient


Learn to raise a self-disciplined child who is confident, independent . . . and happy.

Raising a Self-Disciplined Child is the groundbreaking book parents have been waiting for--a remarkably positive approach to a style of discipline that builds children up-from the acclaimed authors of Raising Resilient Children. Filled with realistic, practical strategies and sample ...
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Raising a Self-Disciplined Child: Help Your Child Become More Responsible, Confident, and Resilient

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Learn to raise a self-disciplined child who is confident, independent . . . and happy.

Raising a Self-Disciplined Child is the groundbreaking book parents have been waiting for--a remarkably positive approach to a style of discipline that builds children up-from the acclaimed authors of Raising Resilient Children. Filled with realistic, practical strategies and sample scenarios, it shows you ways to teach children of any age, from preschool to adolescence, the value of self-control, self-reliance, and self-assurance--the all-important skills that will last a lifetime.

Praise for Raising Resilient Children

“Practical and clear in its suggestions, direct and supportive in its tone, Raising Resilient Children is the perfect book for parents searching for a caring method to help their children grow into healthy, loving, and mature adults.”

--William Pollack, Ph.D., author of Real Boys

“Brooks and Goldstein help mothers and fathers focus on their child's strengths, not on his or her weaknesses. The result is a happier, more resilient child.”

--Michael Thompson, Ph.D., author of Raising Cain

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

Resilient people can cope with what life throws their way; parents can help children develop a resilient mindset, an important aspect of which is self-discipline. Brooks and Goldstein (coauthors, Raising Resilient Children) write and speak often about resilience. Here, they advise parents on teaching children self-discipline, an ability to control oneself and understand the effects of actions. Like many parent educators, the authors emphasize that discipline is teaching, not punishing, and is most effective in an environment of empathy and unconditional love. Furthermore, recognizing a child's strengths, or "islands of competence," encourages success and therefore results in better behavior. They illustrate their suggestions with numerous case studies of families they have helped, right down to the details on helpful phrases to use with children in certain situations. Nothing here is groundbreaking (e.g., authoritative parenting works best, children need to learn from mistakes), but the examples of families who achieve success could reassure frustrated parents. Recommended for larger parenting collections.
—Janet Clapp

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780071627115
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing
  • Publication date: 7/9/2009
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 574,469
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Brooks, Ph.D., is a psychologist on

the faculty at Harvard Medical School. He is an award-winning

speaker, author, and educator.

Sam Goldstein, Ph.D., is a psychologist

on the faculties of the University of Utah Medical School and

George Mason University. Drs. Brooks and Goldstein have

coauthored ten books, including Raising Resilient Children, The

Power of Resilience, and Nurturing Resilience in Our Children.

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Read an Excerpt

Raising A Self-Disciplined Child

Help Your Child Become More Responsible, Confident, and Resilient


The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

Copyright © 2007Robert Brooks and Sam Goldstein
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-07-143598-7



Developing Self-Discipline in Our Children

Recently, while dining at a popular restaurant, we were confronted by the powerful role children play in shaping the world around them. A few moments after we arrived, a young couple with an eleven-month-old boy entered and sat down two tables away. We soon learned that this boy was their first child. Within a few moments, this child had managed to engage everyone around him. Waitresses were stopping to pat him on the head. If you looked in his direction, he was sure to make eye contact and smile before looking away. His level of engagement, pleasant temperament, and mood were infectious. For his first-time parents, parenting (as they told us upon learning of our work) wasn't very difficult. In fact, they proudly reported that they were planning on having many more children.

About halfway through our meal, another young couple came in with a child of about the same age and sat nearby. Perhaps this child was having a difficult day or struggled with a difficult temperament in general. Even while the family was waiting to be seated, this young boy was squirming and kicking in his mother's arms. As she turned, his outstretched foot knocked over a glass of water on an adjacent table. The mother admonished him to stop wiggling, and the family's dining experience went rapidly downhill from that point. The child's irritable behavior quickly annoyed the other diners. This child showed no interest in engaging others in a positive way, and if he hadn't been so young, we might have guessed that he had an agenda to disturb his parents. Perhaps this would remain a one-child family!

We suspect that if we had investigated, we would have found little in the parenting strategies and personalities of these two young couples that could predict the significant difference in the children's self-control at such an early age. While we have long advocated that biology is not destiny, it does significantly affect probability. In other words, parents can influence how their child turns out, but only within limits determined by their child's genetic makeup. In the restaurant, the first child seemed to have a strong genetic endowment for good self-control and likable demeanor, so his early interpersonal experiences were positive. In contrast, the second child's lack of self-control had already triggered in his parents a chain of ineffective efforts to manage what may have been his biological vulnerability. Even at this young age, differences in self-discipline produced significant consequences.

The Power of Self-Discipline

The need to develop and harness self-discipline at an early age, while critical in any culture, may take on greater importance in a society filled with complex demands, challenges, and stresses. Having self-discipline and using it effectively pave a successful road into adulthood. In our fast-paced, seemingly chaotic world, children who can exercise self-discipline at young ages appear to negotiate the maze of family, school, friends, and community more successfully than those who struggle to control themselves. A child with self-discipline has internalized a set of rules so that even when no parent or caregiver is around, the child will act in a thoughtful, reflective manner.

Self-discipline is a vital component of a person's sense of responsibility for his or her behavior. A large body of research has demonstrated that children who can resist temptation (a simple application of self-discipline at all ages) fare significantly better than their more impulsive peers when they enter their adolescent years. For example, one research team measured preschool children's ability to resist an attractive snack when requested to do so. Those who resisted better as preschoolers were significantly more likely to do better as adolescents in terms of measures such as school success, mental health, and avoiding the juvenile justice system. The power of self-discipline to affect the course of a child's and adult's life should never be underestimated. Self- discipline is so significant because it helps us develop qualities that together form resilience.

Children who can exercise self-discipline at young ages appear to negotiate the maze of family, school, friends, and community more successfully than those who struggle to control themselves.

Several of our previous books have focused on helping children develop resilience by teaching parents and educators the components of a resilient mindset in children. A mindset consists of assumptions or attitudes we possess about ourselves that shape our behaviors and the skills we develop. Parents who raise resilient youngsters understand—explicitly or intuitively—what they can do to nurture a resilient mindset and behaviors in their children. These parents follow a blueprint of important principles, ideas, and actions in their day-to-day interactions with their children. They help their children learn to communicate, experience empathy, be accepted, feel appreciated, learn to solve problems, make decisions, and develop a social conscience. These lessons and experiences determine the steps necessary for parents to reinforce resilience, as well as the obstacles that often prevent parents from helping their children develop resilience.

Among the most important of the obstacles to developing resilience is a lack of effective self-discipline. Many parents have limited ideas of how to instill self-discipline in their children. Yet all the qualities associated with resilience mean little if children lack the necessary self-discipline to put them into effective practice. Knowing what to do (for example, possessing empathy) does not guarantee that children will do what they know (act on their feeling of empathy). To do what they should, children—like adults—need self-discipline.

Knowing what to do does not guarantee that children will do what they know. To do what they should, children need self-discipline.

The Role of Parents

To nurture the development of self-discipline in their children, parents have a key ingredient to contribute: discipline. One of the most important roles that parents play is that of a disciplinarian, regardless of the nature of a child's inborn temperament. However, parents fulfill this role in vastly different ways, as the following examples illustrate.

Among the participants in a parenting workshop we offered were two couples: Bill and Samantha Ewing and Tom and Jennifer Franklin. Each of the couples had three children, and in both families, the oldest child was a twelve-year-old boy. As these parents described their twelve-year-olds, we suspected that both boys had been born with more challenging or "difficult" temperaments. Compared with their younger siblings, they were harder to soothe, more irritable and argumentative, and less likely to be cooperative, especially when they felt frustrated.

A lively discussion ensued when the topic turned to disciplinary practices. Bill Ewing stated, "The only thing that Jim responds to is a spanking. You can try to reason with him for hours, and he will wear you down. He never does what you ask. There's always an argument. When I spank him on his rear, it gets him to do what I want. I don't have to spank my other kids, because they do what Samantha and I ask them to do. I guess the only way some kids learn is if you spank them. To be honest, my parents spanked me, and I turned out OK." As Bill said this, we couldn't help but notice the anger in his voice.

His wife, Samantha, added, "While Bill grew up in a home where his parents spanked him, my parents never spanked me. Before we had kids, I would have sworn that I would never yell or spank my ki

Excerpted from Raising A Self-Disciplined Child by ROBERT BROOKS. Copyright © 2007 by Robert Brooks and Sam Goldstein. Excerpted by permission of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Developing Self-Discipline in Our Children
Chapter 2: The Mindset for Effective Discipline
Chapter 3: Helping Your Child Take Control
Chapter 4: Teaching Your Child to Solve Problems
Chapter 5: Showing your Child That He or She is Competent
Chapter 6: Teaching Your Child How to React to Mistakes
Chapter 7: Helping Your Child Cope with Doubts and Disappointments
Chapter 8: Responding Constructively When Life Seems Unfair
Chapter 9: Encouraging Your Child to Make a Difference
Chapter 10: The Lessons and Power of Self-Discipline

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