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Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids [Hardcover]

Kim John Payne , Lisa M. Ross
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids 4.8 out of 5 stars (12)
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Book Description

Aug. 25 2009
Today’s busier, faster, supersized society is waging an undeclared war . . . on childhood. As the pace of life accelerates to hyperspeed–with too much stuff, too many choices, and too little time–children feel the pressure. They can become anxious, have trouble with friends and school, or even be diagnosed with behavioral problems. Now, in defense of the extraordinary power of less, internationally renowned family consultant Kim John Payne helps parents reclaim for their children the space and freedom that all kids need, allowing their children’s attention to focus and their individuality to flourish.

Based on Payne’s twenty year’s experience successfully counseling busy families, Simplicity Parenting teaches parents how to worry and hover less–and how to enjoy more. For those who want to slow their children’s lives down but don’t know where to start, Payne offers both inspiration and a blueprint for change.

• Streamline your home environment. The average child has more than 150 toys. Here are tips for reducing the amount of toys, books, and clutter–as well as the lights, sounds, and general sensory overload that crowd the space young imaginations need in order to grow.

• Establish rhythms and rituals. Predictability (routines) and transparency (knowing the day’s plan) are soothing pressure valves for children. Here are ways to ease daily tensions, create battle-free mealtimes and bedtimes, and tell if your child is overwhelmed.

• Schedule a break in the schedule. Too many activities may limit children’s ability to motivate and direct themselves. Learn how to establish intervals of calm in your child’s daily torrent of constant doing–and familiarize yourself with the pros and cons of organized sports and other “enrichment” activities.

• Scale back on media and parental involvement. Back out of hyperparenting by managing your children’s “screen time” to limit the endless and sometimes scary deluge of information and stimulation.

Parental hovering is really about anxiety; by doing less and trusting more, parents can create a sanctuary that nurtures children’s identity, well-being, and resiliency as they grow–slowly–into themselves. A manifesto for protecting the grace of childhood, Simplicity Parenting is an eloquent guide to bringing new rhythms to bear on the lifelong art of parenting.

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“This book is a wake-call for all of us who have misjudged what children need and can handle, and who have wandered so far from the best practices that we are raising neurologically damaged and emotionally stunted human beings as a result. Simplicity Parenting arises from dialogues with real people, from their questions and their needs. Kim John Payne is sharp, funny, and wise, and–best of all–he has something shattering but positive to say to an America that is struggling to know how to live.” —Steve Biddulph, author of The Secret of Happy Children

“If you are raising children in these anxious times, you need this book. It will inspire you, reassure you, and, most important of all, it will remind you that less is more, that simplicity trumps complication, that rhythm and routine bring peace to the soul. In this profound and practical guide, Kim John Payne offers parents a doable, step-by-step approach to simplifying everyday family life, from the toy box to the dinner table. In the process, he reveals to us the rewards to be found in slowing down, savoring our children’s childhoods, and more fully enjoying our own adult lives.”—Katrina Kenison, author of Mitten Strings for God

Simplicity Parenting takes the unusual and unusually wise stance that sometimes less can be more. Less as in less frenetic activity, less racing around, less clutter. Payne provides practical strategies for turning down the volume and creating a pace that fosters calmness, mindfulness, reflection, and individuality in children. Simplicity Parenting should be on every parent’s (indeed, every person’s) reading list.”—Kathleen A. Brehony, Ph.D., author of Awakening at Midlife

“Brilliant, wise, informative, innovative, entertaining, and urgently needed, this timely book is a godsend for all who love children, and for children themselves. It provides a doable plan for providing the kind of childhood kids desperately need today!” —Edward Hallowell, M.D., author of The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness

“Kim John Payne helps parents better understand one of the most challenging issues of our time–the hurried, materialistic, competitive, highly pressured nature of today’s childhood. After reading Simplicity Parenting, parents’ new mantra will be ‘less builds security, sanity, and connection.’ And they will have the tools they need for implementing this mantra in their families.”—Diane E. Levin, Ph.D., co-author of So Sexy So Soon

About the Author

A consultant and trainer to more than sixty U.S. independent and public schools, Kim John Payne, M.Ed., has been a school counselor for eighteen years and a private family counselor-therapist for fifteen. Payne has worked extensively with the North American and U.K. Waldorf movements. He is currently project director of the Waldorf Collaborative Counseling Program at Antioch University New England, the director of a large research program on a drug-free approach to attention priority issues disorders, and a Partner of the Alliance for Childhood in Washington, D.C. He lives with his wife and two children in Harlemville, New York.

Lisa M. Ross has been involved with books for more than twenty years, as an editor and literary agent, and now exclusively as a writer. She lives with her husband and two children in Stuyvesant, New York.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some useful ideas...some areas for improvement June 21 2012
Format:Hardcover
This was an overall pleasant and encouraging read. Some of the suggestions seem obvious...At the same time it is very accessible and not dogmatic, which I appreciated. I especially liked Payne's suggestions for reducing the number of toys and stuff; his suggestions were not unlike those I've heard anecdotally over the years - simpler toys w less noise, buttons, single-purpose features are better. I also found his suggestions for getting children involved in meal preparation interesting especially from an inspiring creativity and ownership in eating and household participation perspective. These types of practical suggestions were helpful.

I did find that although he claimed to be speaking to the issues of affluent, middle class, and poorer families alike, his examples really reflected the experiences of the normative centre families: heterosexual, middle-class-to-affluent, able-bodied, American families. It would have been nice to speak to some of the potentially particular experiences of families that don't conform to these dominant norms. While I myself fit w in the normative centre (except for not being American), I am sensitive to advice that might not be practical to those who don't. What about families who are poor and cannot afford (money and time-wise) some of the suggestions Payne makes? Many times parents are working multiple jobs to make ends meet, for e.g., and some suggestions may incite further guilt among already overburdened parents. The concerns of poorer families may not be with overscheduled lives w many extracurricular activities but putting food on the table, making rent, and having any time to spend with kids and other family and friends. I also felt some of the suggestions around activities for children were gender stereotyped (e.g.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More Bookish Thoughts... Nov. 13 2013
By Reader Writer Runner TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Less is more. The cliche sums up Kim John Payne’s philosophy but he astutely and engagingly expands upon it in "Simplicity Parenting." Examining four key areas - environment, rhythm, schedules and filtering out the adult world - the book gives concrete examples of how simplicity parenting will benefit family dynamics. Most importantly, it does so with a supportive, easy going, non-preaching tone.

Payne first examines the importance of decluttering one’s physical surroundings in order to calm both mind and body. He also argues that children develop stronger connections, creative impulses and patience when they have fewer things to choose from. He then explains why children need rhythmic, predictable routines and discusses the dangers of over-scheduling.

Simplicity parenting does not support lying to children but it does suggest that adults need to filter certain things from our kids' eyes and ears. Of course, this has only become harder as technology has rapidly advanced but parents need an awareness that young ones will pick up alarming, anxiety causing tidbits from the car radio, the TV news on in the background and adult dinner conversation.

Though some of Payne's recommendations seem intuitive, he provides a resonant, adaptable philosophy. An insightful read if you feel overwhelmed by activities, emotions and growing collections of noisy toy cars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for every parent Jan. 5 2014
By Heidi
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This was exactly the type of book I was looking for when I started my search. it was written in plain english (no big doctor words or studies to try and understand) has plenty of examples of how and why this works. Teaches us how to start simplifying a cluttered house in steps so that we, as parents, can better assist our children by providing them with quality over quantity and a heavy does of our own time and respect.

I would put it in my basket of books that every parent should read!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simplicity parenting May 3 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Sérieusement une lecture précieuse. Je l'ai lu assidument tous les soirs et je pense que le ménage que j'ai fait dans ma maison et ma nouvelle gestion de mon temps à franchement simplifié ma vie et celle de ma fille et de ma famille. Je le recommande chaleureusement.
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Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Excellent philosophy! Simplicity with children is the best and this book explains how to keep things simple. All new parents should read it!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful June 2 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Although I was already doing most of what the author suggests, like unplugging as much as possible and limiting toys, it was a boost to see what I'm trying to do in print. His recommendations made me feel less crazy for not participating in the wider culture...following along with the myriad activities, mountain of character driven toys, all sorts of tv and screen time etc. It's not easy doing it differently from the majority, but this book is giving me the confidence to continue.
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