The Difficult Child

The Difficult Child

by Stanley Turecki, Leslie Tonner


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780553380361
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/14/2000
Edition description: REVISED
Pages: 302
Sales rank: 219,401
Product dimensions: 5.25(w) x 8.26(h) x 0.83(d)

About the Author

Stanley Turecki, M.D., is a child and family psychiatrist and the father of a once difficult child.  He is a diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, holds appointments at two New York hospitals, and is the physician-in-charge of the Difficult Child Center in New York City.  

Leslie Tonner is the author of two previous works of non-fiction and four novels.

Read an Excerpt

Do You Have a Difficult Child?


1. Do you find your child hard to raise?

2. Do you find the child's behavior hard to understand?

3. Are you often battling the child?

4. Do you feel inadequate or guilty as a parent?

5. Is your marriage or family life being affected by the child?


The headings below identify possibly difficult areas of your child's temperament (his or her innate makeup). Rate your child, in an overall way, on each item, using this scale:

0 = No problem (never present or just a little)
1 = Moderate problem (sometimes present)
2 = Definite problem (often present)
3 = Extreme problem (nearly always or always)

HIGH ACTIVITY LEVEL: Restless, squirmy, fidgety; always into things, "hyper," makes you tired; "ran before he walked"; easily overstimulated; trouble sitting still or playing quietly; "motormouth"; hates to be confined; easily gets wild or "revved up."

IMPULSIVITY: Acts without thinking; quick hot temper, easily frustrated; impatient, excitable; interrupts, calls out, doesn't await turn; grabs or pushes; can lose control and become aggressive; can suddenly take off.

DISTRACTIBILITY: Has problems focusing and paying attention, especially if not really interested; trouble following instructions; doesn't "listen," tunes you out, daydreams; disorganized, forgetful.

HIGH INTENSITY: Loud voice; forceful, overwhelming; strong emotions whether miserable, angry, or happy.

IRREGULARITY: Unpredictable body rhythms; can't tell when he'll be hungry or tired, resulting in conflicts over meals and bedtime; wakes up at night; erratic toilet habits.

NEGATIVE PERSISTENCE: Very strong-willed, stubborn; goes on and on nagging, whining, or negotiating if wants something; relentless, won't give up, wears you down; gets "locked in"; may have long tantrums.

LOW SENSORY THRESHOLD: Physically, not emotionally sensitive; highly aware of color, light, appearance, texture, sound, smell, taste, or temperature (not necessarily all of these); "creative," but with strong and sometimes unusual preferences that can be embarrassing; bothered by bright lights and loud noises; particular, picky; clothes have to feel or look right; doesn't like the way many foods look, smell, or taste; feels too cold (or too hot) when no one else does.

INITIAL WITHDRAWAL: Shy and reserved with new adults and/or children; doesn't like new situations and unfamiliar settings; holds back or protests by crying, clinging, or tantruming if forced to go forward.

POOR ADAPTABILITY: Has trouble with transition and change of activity or routine; inflexible, notices minor details; gets used to things and won't give them up; can want the same clothes or foods over and over; "creature of habit"; even after initial response takes a long time to adapt.

NEGATIVE MOOD: Serious or cranky, doesn't show pleasure openly; not a "sunny" disposition.



0-1          + 4-7 points          = Some difficult features

2-3          + 8-14 points         = Difficult child

4-5          + 15 or more points   = Very difficult child

If you recognize your child in this questionnaire, or suspect for other reasons that your child is indeed "difficult", then you need to know these basic facts:

Difficult children are normal. They are not emotionally disturbed, mentally ill, or brain damaged. Well-meaning relatives or other parents may have suggested that "something must be wrong with him." You may have worried a lot about this yourself. So let's get a new perspective. "Difficult" is very different from "abnormal." In today's climate, with ever-increasing numbers of children being "diagnosed," this is a very important distinction for parents to keep in mind.

Difficult children are like this because of their innate makeup. And that makeup is their inborn temperament. They are not like this because of something you as parents have done to them. It's not your fault. And it's not the child's fault, either. He didn't ask to be born difficult.

Difficult children are hard to raise. Of course, you know this already. But if you think of it as a basic fact of existence, it will help you cope better. This is the way your child is, but by understanding him better and learning about his temperament you will be able to manage him successfully. He will then be a great deal easier to raise.

Difficult children are not all the same. The picture differs depending on which areas of temperament come into play. Difficult children also range from the basically easy child with some difficult features, to the extreme of the very difficult, perhaps even impossible, child.

Difficult children make their parents feel angry, inadequate, or guilty. And these parental feelings can lead to one of the biggest problems with difficult children, a loss of parental authority. Parents feel their child no longer "listens" to them, that she is the one in control. Inconsistency and excessive punishment follow. "Nothing works" is the most common statement parents make about their efforts to discipline the child.

Difficult children can create marital strain, family discord, problems with siblings, and end up with emotional problems of their own


Difficult children can become positive, enthusiastic, perhaps even especially creative individuals if they are well managed when young. And teaching you how to do this is the goal of this book.

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The Difficult Child 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am the mother of a two year old boy and was at my wits end over my 'difficult' child. I read every book out there, spoke to my pediatrician as well as other professionals. Most of the advise I got just didn't work (and I really tried their advise). I was angry, felt I was doing something really wrong and feeling guilty that I didn't like being around my child. I learned that your child's temperament (which CANNOT be changed) is a completely different thing than bad or difficult behavior. Once I realized which characteristics were part of my son's temperament, it was easier to try to 'go with them' or diffuse them rather than try discipline them. Then when I had to actually discipline 'bad BEHAVIOR', it wasn't such a battle. Also, when you have to discipline, take the emotion out of it. The less upset you are, the shorter your child will carry on (I hope). Secondly, I learned that my 'difficult' child, wasn't really that difficult. I was difficult to him because I was trying to change the tough, independent, persistent, little person that he was. Bottom line - it worked for me in a very short time period! GOOD LUCK!!
Teri99577 More than 1 year ago
I have an autistic child who I was butting heads with since he was also strong willed. The book described me and my feelings to a T and validated all my struggles. I taught me how to more effectively manage my son in a positive way wihtout labeling my child or me. I loved it. I would love to buy this for all teachers that are ever involved with children. Perhaps one day when I am rich. I think other readers will get a lot out of this.
dkenaff More than 1 year ago
This book was recommended to me by a friend. My 2 1/2 year old son was more than a handful but after an mortifing situation I borrowed a copy from the library and read it from cover to cover in one night. I needed help and I needed suggestions fast. I put the suggestions into play immediately and they WORKED!!! I was completely amazed. This book was very easy to read. Does not degrade mom's in anyway. I bought a copy to keep close by so I could go back to it if a new situtation came up. I would highly recommend this book if you enjoy reading self help books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Prior to receiving this book as a gift, my life was hell.  My son was strong willed and difficult, and challenged me daily.  Sadly to say, he almost always won.  This book changed our lives.  Not only did it give specific examples of how to deal with specific behaviors, but after reading it, it makes so much sense that you become able to anticipate and troubleshoot other behaviors on your own.  I am happy to say that my son recently celebrated his 18th birthday.  I am sorry to say that as the years have passed, I have come to believe that our real issue was that my son is mildly autistic, and that he was not diagnosed due to the fact that nearly 20 years ago, no one in the general populations spoke much about autism.  However, this book helped me to raise a happy, cooperative, emotionally stable child, who aside from having a few issues  with friendships due to missed social cues, leads a satisfying and productive life.  I am convinced that without this book, that would not be the case.  I cannot recommend it strongly enough and others are right in their assessment.  It not only helps with the difficult kids., but truly makes you a better parent overall.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have found this book to be helpful in managing my son's behavior. It has many different ways to try to modify his behavior.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was disappointed in this book because it doesn't really address all of the difficulties a parent endures with a difficult child. I had hoped for a more comprohensive treatment of the subject.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is an excellent book for ALL parents, not just parents of 'difficult children.' The title might scare or offend some parents who are in denial, thinking that their child is not difficult. But ALL kids are difficult from time to time. This book give great, real-life examples - extremely helpful tips telling us what to do. And all this is to be done under a firm, but very loving manner. This definitely is one of the best parenting books out there. A must-read for ALL parents.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was simple too use due too the insight of how too deal with a stronged willed child and how you can improve your discipline approach.