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Showing 1-10 of 26 reviews(5 star). See all 32 reviews
on March 2, 2002
As a step parent of a very "Spirited" and "Strong-Willed" child, I can acknowledge first hand that the methods and philosophy of this book WILL promote harmony and cooperation. Maybe not initially but certainly in the long term. "Setting Limits" deals with discipline issues associated with the nine temperamental traits: 1.Persistance, 2.Intensity, 3.Regularity, 4. Distractability, 5.Energy and Activity Level, 6.Sensitivity, 7.Adaptability, 8.Reactivity, and 9.Mood.
The author is also the parent of two children, one compliant, easy going, and the other one strong-willed/demanding so he can relate with the parents who scream, "nothing works with this kid!".
This book is NOT about harsh punishement but rather teaches respectful limit setting, which is an essential teaching tool. It teaches parents to give children clear, respectful messages to convey the necessary information for the child to make acceptable choices. To focus on the behaviour in a way that does not belittle, criticize or shame the child. Although parents may genuinely feel that they are giving a clear "Stop" message to their child, they are sometimes unwittingly giving a yellow or even green light to unwanted behaviours. The strong-willed child interprets these vague massages as "Optional requests" or learns only that the behaviour upsets or angers the parent. This may lead to increased limit testing to see where the boundaries really are, especially if they enjoy making us jump and yell. It sometimes seems that Strong-willed children need to learn everything the hard way by agressivly testing all limits or restrictions (much more than compliant children) to see where the bottom line really is. They are aggressive researchers who leave parents little room for ineffective discipline. There is not much to prepare a parent for dealing with a strong-willed child, and unfortunately they tend to bring out the worst qualities in parents. A child that can argue and debate like a courtroom attorney, develop sudden hearing loss, or dawdle until you are late for work. Parents easily fall into ineffectual ruts of predictable reaction based on our own upbringing and parenting assumptions.
The good news is that the solution usually involves doing much less than what the parent is probably doing at present. You must accept and acknowledge that this is part of the childs personality/temperament, and that they will always need a little more structure and consistancy than compliant chidren. It does not mean they can't learn to cooperate and observe family rules. This book shows parents how and "WHEN" to negotiate rules, what behaviours should be ignored, which ones must be corrected and most importantly "How to do it!".
The most impressive part of all the books I've read by Robert J MacKenzie, is the weath of realistic examples. Every point is thoroughly illustrated for clarity, with discipline scenarios which all parents can readily idenetify with. There are sections on motivating your strong-willed child, encouraging independence, teaching skills, and role-modeling
The entire book is aimed at teaching your child self control. Some books on the challenging children seem more focused on avoiding conflict and undulging the child, which might be great for the short-term, but how can it possibly prepare the child for the real world.
I would also highly recommend reading the book "The Manipulative Child: How to Regain Control and Raise Resilient, Resourceful, and Independent Kids" by Swihart and Cotter.
Out of the dozens of parenting books I've read, "Setting Limits" is certainly one of the best written and sound discipline books for strong-willed children.
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on June 13, 2004
I was skeptical, at first, that a book could help me with my out-of-control, 4 year old son. He's an extremely strong-willed boy that had been having screaming, throwing, hitting tantrums since he was 19 monthes old. Some days we'd lose count of how many he had! We tried EVERYTHING from time-outs to spanking and were at our wits end with how to help him, and ourselves. After my husband and I read this book back in December, we were better able to understand my son's temperment and our own. The practical, straight forward approach to discipline in this book is simply amazing. It has been a lifesaver.
The book is chock full of real-life examples and solutions to scenarios you could encounter with your child, at any age. We learned that the methods we were using were either incorrect or used incorrectly and were creating more difficulties with our strong-willed son. This book is an easy, enjoyable read and IT WORKS! Our son is so much better now at listening to us, the first time, without screaming, threatening, bribing, pleading, spanking, etc.-he's such a joy to be around again. While we know that we will always be tested by our strong-willed son, we now have the tool to help us in any scenario!
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on November 27, 2004
As a kindergarten teacher as well as a parent of strong-willed 5-year-old twin boys, I too often found myself yelling louder, reminding more often and searching for stricter punishments to get the children to cooperate...Nothing was working! I needed a new approach...and Dr. MacKenzie has given me the understanding and the tools to set limits effectively without losing my sanity. I learned how I was part of "the dance" of non-compliance and I realized that I would have to change my behavior first before I got a positive change in the behavior from the children. I learned the difference between "soft limits" and "firm limits" and the importance of my actions supporting my words; then, the kids began respecting the rules because they knew I would follow through with consequences. It was an eye-opener to realize that by me constantly reminding...I was actually teaching the children to ignore (at least the first few times because they knew more reminding was coming) giving unclear open-ended directions...I was actually setting the situation up for clarification, testing and conflict...and by bargaining and making deals out of desperation...I was actually giving the kids the opportunity to control the situation as they decided to up the ante the next time! The best part of this book is the real life examples of exactly what to say and not say to the kids. It is as if the author has been looking in my windows as my twins defy me in so many of the exact same situations. I was immediately comforted by the fact that I am not alone in trying to get compliance instead of defiance from my boys.
I also would like to recommend another very helpful A-Z compendium entitled "The Pocket Parent", a convenient pocket-guide with a very similar philosophy that is exclusively written for parents of normal but often challenging 2- to 5-year-olds. If you have toddlers and preschoolers, it is a great practical companion book to "Setting Limits" because you can simply turn to the specific challenging behavior of the moment (like hitting, morning crazies, interrupting, bad words, lying, whining, etc.) and get some quick bulleted suggestions to try. You do not have to read "Pocket Parent" cover to cover...but rather consult each chapter topic as you need it. Both books have great anecdotes and a welcome sense of humor throughout. "Setting Limits" and "The Pocket Parent" have helped me get more cooperation at home and at school and are both worthwhile additions to a home or school reference library!
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on July 6, 2003
I found this book very useful with my highly active, challenging three-year-old daughter. Before reading this book, it seemed like I had to yell before she paid any attention, and even then she usually didn't listen. This book helped me see that the messages I was giving my daughter were inconsistent and overly emotional. Now I can deal with her in a calmer, more effective way. Now I feel much happier with my disciplinary style, and I am getting much better results.
I prefered this book to some other discipline books I have read. It seemed to be more concrete and practical than the Dr. Sears book on discipline. I recently read 1-2-3 Magic, which has a similar theory to Setting Limits (use time-outs, be consistent, don't get emotional) but gives you just one technique and style for every child and every situation. The Setting Limits book gives you more choices and ideas.
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on February 2, 2004
I have a 2-1/2 year old who was getting to be COMPLETELY out of hand, I was ready to SCREAM! Even the daycare couldn't handle her anymore. I bought this book and FINISHED IT all in one night, it was SO INTERESTING! The author makes you realize that its NOT your fault, and that You CAN do something about it, and what i loved mostly is that rather than PREACHING throughout the book, he uses TONS of real life examples about his clients and their situations. I started using some of the methods he descibed and within 2 weeks, teh phone calls from the day care had STOPPED! I recommend this book to all!
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on February 15, 2004
This book was very easy to read and understand and the techniques are actually very simple and easy to implement. We got immediate results with our 3 year old daughter, it was really amazing. I have read other similiar books, but found this one to be the most clear and concise and easy to follow.
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on December 29, 2002
I bought this book after being fustrated with my very strong willed 20 month old. It's not really geared towards toddlers but it applies all the parenting and discipline principals you need to use it on a toddler. It teaches you what parenting style you are and how it will relate to your childs attitude and then how to adjust the two to work together. I truly think this book has saved my life and both my husband and my sanity. We implemented the time out's as the book explains and after 1 week we saw a huge difference in our son. We no longer needed to raise our voice or smack his bottom to get a response from him. He would tune us out if we didn't. After the first week of using these methods he reverted and tested us more but the book says this is normal and by the third week we were finally getting another turn around in his behavior and responses. He no longer kicked and punched or bit when he was having a tantrum and if we asked him to stop playing with something that was off limits he would weight the consequences and 50% of the time test us to see if we would follow through with the time out. After 8 weeks I am proud to say he is an angel child. Temper tantrums are almost non existent and if you ask him to stop doing something he stops because he knows that we will follow through with the consequence (ie. time out or taking something away from him.) I am now telling everyone I know about this book. This book is not just for strong willed children it would work on any child and the chapter on different parenting styles is the key. I learned I was actually fueling a lot of the conflicts with my son. It helped me to see that both my husband and I had as much changing to do as we expected from our son. I also like that you achieve this with no yelling and no hitting. It's all based on consisitency. We hope everyone has as much good luck as we have had with this book.
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on March 27, 2002
I picked up this book at the library yesterday afternoon, read the first four pages and was completely hooked. By the time I went to bed several hours later I had read the book cover to cover and felt pure, unadulterated relief. Why? Because I felt the author knew my son and even our family, personally. There were so many things that related directly to our situation, that I was astounded. That aside, I think one of the biggest things was that someone was telling me that my son is normal and he was not behaving the way he does because he's malicious or is malfunctioning in some way. The other eye-opener was understanding how my husband and I were unintentionally fueling many of the situations with him. He is just so different from our daughter that we were baffled most of the time. In fact in the course of the evening (I was only about 1/2 way through the book) we had a classic showdown with homework. I applied what I had learned only moments before and it worked! I almost broke out in giddy laughter, but figured that would probably be inappropriate, given the moment. This is a great book and I would recommend it to anyone who has a strong-willed child...or an "aggressive researcher" as the author also calls them. It's such a relief to know that my family is not headed for a complete meltdown, we just needed a little guidance. Thank you Dr. MacKenzie!
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on June 11, 2003
I have a strong-willed child. This book has helped me realize that my kid is perfectly normal. That I can change the way we've been relating to each other and make both our lives better. I've been using the methods listed and have been yelling less, and getting upset less. My child is behaving better and is happier. He still tests but that's only to be expected. I would recommend this book to parents with any type of child - not just those with strong-willed children.
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on November 17, 2003
Dr. MacKenzie provides an excellent guide to grow healthy, well-adapted children. I read the book with interest when trying to cope with my strong-willed eight-year-old son. I could see that my discipline methods were not being effective. Resistance was increasing and I could see how difficult it was going to be trying to discipline him when he reached adolescence.
I followed the author's advice not to change your ways until finishing the book. I am glad I did. Please be patient. As you read the book, you will be anxious to try his methods. Please wait and you will get all the tools you need to change the way you communicate with your child.
The book takes you through the different discipline methods people use and explains why they are ineffective. It helps you understand why you use those methods and what you can do to change. It also covers simple ways to correct your message so your child understands it.
In a few words, the book teaches you to be send clear messages, set firm limits, and be consistent.
I started using Dr. MacKenzie's suggestions and my son's responses have changed dramatically. I do not hear "It's a free country!!" anymore. Our relationship has changed from constant tension to a more relaxed and happy environment.
I still slip once in a while and I immediately notice it. I wrote the main points in a couple of 3x5 cards to remember them. It takes practice being a good father. I encourage you to practice Dr. MacKenzie's advice. You will be glad you did.
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