Most helpful critical review
Worst parenting book ever!
on April 18, 2015
This is THE worst parenting book I've read. The whole book is based on the stated assumptions that (1) children are born with "a criminal mind": they are naturally "lazy", "manipulative", "avoid as much responsibility as they can", don't know what they're capable of, etc. etc. and (2) that parents always know better and are the "boss". The suggestions are for parents to get comfortable to see their child in pain and set limits and boundaries to their problematic children and their problematic behaviors. It sounds right.
However, the truth is that children misbehave rarely because they are born evil and want to play evil. Children model behaviors they learned or have seen from their past experiences, mostly from parents' own behaviors or friend's behaviors at school. If your child is not polite and shouts at you, mostly likely you also shouts at your spouse or your child when you're angry. A lot of times, children misbehave for the purpose of getting attention or because they don't know how to handle the stresses from their lives, such as poor family support, bad parental relationship, bully from school, difficulty with school or friendship, or simply confusions of their own emotional reactions toward things happening in life. Simply setting boundaries with a child's behavior without looking into the underlying reasons why the child behaves this way may give you a seemingly "polite", "compliant" child, but will have long-term negative consequences. I cannot imagine a child can "stay connected" with you in this way, even if you don't give emotional punishment as the authors claims (in fact, the child will often have difficulty distinguishing these two). Of course, if you give, your child will be further apart from you, but even if you don't, your child will still feel not understood and angry, helpless, unsafe within.
There are also many conflicting and "too-vague-to-be-practical" advice in the book. For instance, it says saving punishment only for things that matter most, but it is suggested for basically everything that's mentioned in the book if the child is not compliant. In one chapter, it says" the key is not to need anything from your child, such as appreciation, support, respect, or understanding. Get your needs met from other people in your life and free your child to be totally herself with you." Then the next chapter is about getting the child to respect others. I cannot follow the logic that if you need appreciation, support, respect, and understanding from your child, then she cannot be herself. If fact, everyone needs those things and it is good to teach the child to respect other people's needs. That's empathy, and it's taught mostly through your interactions with the child!
I cannot agree with the underlying assumptions of book and hence it is a pain to read. It has put too much emphasis on correcting the superficial phenomenon: behaviors on the surface, with minimum attention to the profound underlying causes: a hurt soul that needs help or a bad relationship that needs to be worked on.