I love Kevin Leman’s parenting books (I reviewed the Birth Order Book a while ago on my blog and highly recommend it). He’s inspiring, practical, funny, and easy-to-read. He believes his way is “the way,” as do most parenting experts, so he does call parents to task for our contributory negligence in parenting matters, but without making us feel as if we’ve done irreparable damage.
In Have a New Kid by Friday he offers a five-step plan to changing the way your children respond to you. Sounds easy, right? Well, yes in theory Leman suggests just a few changes, but if like me you’ve become a broken-record, threat-making sort of parent, you will have some tough work to do.
Basically he gives the reasons that our children don’t listen or respond to us (or respond with disobedience or rebellion) and offers a better way to do things. Each chapter addresses the changes that you will institute that day. The first is an overview of why children act the way they do, and then a few days looking at disarming them, why being “mean” isn’t so bad, and then a big shot of encouragement as Dr. Leman invites you to just wait for them to misbehave so that you can start turning things around.
A few nuggets of wisdom that stand out as he tries to coach you in the art of “how to change your child’s attitude, behavior, and character in 5 days”:
- Use open-ended conversations, not questions, when trying to find out information. Questions put kids on the defensive.
- If you want to earn your children’s respect, don’t repeat yourself.
- Let reality be the teacher
- The crucial difference between praise and encouragement.
I enjoy parenting books, but I generally get stalled in them, because about halfway through I reach my saturation point. However, Have a New Kid by Friday gives just enough information to convince you that changes need to be made and to empower you to do it.
The first half of the book lays out the principles in “the plan,” and the last half of the book addresses specific issues such as messy rooms, helplessness, chores, sleeping in, procrastination — you name it, he addresses it.
If you want to Have a New Kid by Friday (or maybe, like me — make an effort at being a new parent by Friday), I recommend this book.