Some parts were very helpful, but I had issues with some parts. It was difficult to come up with a rating. I guess if I took the helpful parts and ignored the problem areas I would still say I learned things from the book and it was helpful.
I will write about the parts that I disagree with, in no special order:
1. Swearing is considered normal behavior, there are several references, and two are found on page 25 and 34. I disagree that this is normal. I feel the children will act and speak as they are spoken to, but the authors never state this. The recommendation is to ignore such talk completely. I feel this is the first of several areas where the role of the environment (family life, preschool, etc.) are completely ignored. Sometimes it seems as if the children are being evaluated in isolation instead of considering their environment. I'd rather have seen something said to the effect that if the child is exposed to profanity then they might repeat it so parents should not use language that they don't want their children to use.
2. Spanking is mentioned as one option for punishment methods. I feel this is an out of date recommendation as now child psychologists, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and other experts are advising not to spank or use other such pain-inflicting methods as punishment.
3. TV viewing is pushed as a "great new things society has to offer for the preschooler". The authors write in a patronizing manner stating the stay at home mother has too much to do and can't possibly do it all so let the child watch TV. They state on page 32 that "it can be one of the best techniques for filling some of the day and for meeting Four's high demand for excitement, activity, and drama." They then go on to gently guide toward not showing programs that go beyond his comprehension but that shows that "attempts to teach letters and numbers or sizes and shapes, and he responds to this teaching, let his interest be your guide. It won't make him smarter, and it probably won't make him read any earlier than he otherwise would have." I was just surprised at the idea of having the child watch meaningless programs as fine but then to even hint that an educational program won't make him smarter? Huh? Is this really the writing of an M.D. and a PhD? Also these TV recommendations are not in line with the current policy recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics which has strong things to say about limiting TV viewing and to what type of content. Pages 56-7 also discuss using TV as a babysitter and with a patronizing manner toward parents but advocate its use since "it keeps him quiet and entertained".
4. A horrible section states that mothers at home are incapable of providing enough stimulation for their child on pages 22-24. The authors state that preschool and even daycare providers can do a better job at giving the four-year-old adequate stimulation. "Teachers, unlike mothers, are not looking after the child in the midst of other duties." And it goes on from there. I beg to differ, how would a mother with one or more children compare with watching over her own children as compared to a preschool teacher who may have 20 students to watch out for? I feel a child of age four should definitely be able to play alone or with their siblings long enough for their mother to get some things done that she'd prefer to do alone (some cooking, etc.) I disagree with the implication that the child must rely on the parent to constantly engage them and entertain them. I feel that a child can happily do this while mother is doing something else in the same room or even the next room over.
5. I found the section about this age child telling violent stories including death, murder, etc. as strange. I disagree that all children of this age make up their own stories of horrible murder, etc. I feel that if a child is telling such stories they must be seeing them on TV, movies, heard stories in books on the subject, or have some horrible experience in their lives going on to then tell such atrocious stories. I feel that such angry stories must have a root somewhere and just don't appear out of nowhere in a child with a healthy living environment who does not have any kind of abuse inflicted on them, including spanking.
6. The chapter titled "individuality" is based on Dr. William H. Sheldon's theory as written in "Varities of Temperament". I disagree with both the chapter title and the theme here as they mean opposite things. The gist is that there are (only) three different types, endomorph, ectomorph, and mesomorph. Each category is supposed to act a certain way regarding eating, sleeping, emotions, and other issues. My own child is all over the place with regard to these categories so I disagree with the general theory. The author's intent to have a chapter on individuality is smashed by the application of Dr. Sheldon's theory! I don't see any benefit to this entire chapter and feel that some parents may worry that their child is not falling into one proper category as Dr. Sheldon has created.
7. I would like to see more about whining (a behavior my four-year-old suddenly developed out of nowhere). The only mention was on page 114 where a mother wrote a letter asking for help with whining. The reply was to spend time with the child and do less housework when the child was not in preschool, which I agree with. They then suggest getting a babysitter for two afternoons a week since he is less likely to whine to a babysitter. I find the two statements contradictory. If the child needs more attention from mother when not in preschool then he should get it.
Postscript: Immediately after reading this book I read "Playful Parenting" by Lawrence Cohen PhD, a play psychologist. Cohen feels the negative behaviors described in the above book are signs the child is in need of connection and love from his parents. Once given, by playing with the child, these negative behaviors disappear. It sounds too easy to be true but it does work. Check out "Playful Parenting" for solutions!