By Tracy G. Cassels
The newest addition to Little Hearts book is a short handbook on discipline. If you’ve read other Little Hearts books you know the focus is to get right to the heart of the issues in a clear, quick manner and on this note, The Gentle Parent does not disappoint. If you’ve read Two Thousand Kisses a Day or Whispers Through Time, you know that L.R. Knost has a gift not only for writing beautifully, but making ideas so clear that parents in the midst of turmoil can see the wisdom in them.
Until now there hasn’t been a Little Hearts book specifically on discipline. Now we have one. For parents who need a handbook to help them cope with children across the ages (because, yes, the book deals with babies through teens), this one gives clear, concise, and gentle ways for parents to approach the usual “problems” facing parents who have younger children who don’t actually behave as we always want them to. From tantrums to violence against children of all ages to handling strong-willed children and teens, the handbook provides gentle guidance for almost any situation you can imagine.
Indeed, the fact that this book handles the child through the years is one of its greatest strengths as so many books offer us glimpses into the toddler years or the baby years or the child years or the teen years, but having all of them in one book offers two distinct advantages. One, it allows us as parents to have one resource (though obviously many of us collect information from many sources) which is great. But second, and perhaps more importantly, it allows us to see what gentle parenting looks like across the years. How we meld what we’ve done with our children as toddlers to what we do in middle childhood and then into the teen years. It also serves to remind us that we can be as gentle as we want at all ages and still run into behaviours that frustrate us because, well, because kids and kids and they are also their own person. Coming to terms with that and coping with that are things many parents struggle with, internalizing these behaviours as failures on their part instead of seeing the child for who he or she is: a child. This book does a wonderful job of reminding parents of that fact at all age points.
A second major benefit is the brevity. The entire book comes in at 136 pages and not a word is wasted. For many parents who don’t have the time to read longer books, the shorter handbooks are often blessings. However, with that, I will add that if you’re looking for more substance and references, you won’t find that here (though there are a few references, there are fewer scientific articles than an average EP post, most of which are actually other news sources). So it really depends on the type of reading you’re looking to do. I will say though, even if you like the science and research (as I do), this is still a wonderful addition to have because of the to-the-point recommendations and reframing of events that can help all parents see “negative” behaviours in a new light. (On that note, my favourite part has to be the very funny “toddler conversation” in Chapter 7. It is a hilarious way to see how our beliefs and behaviours towards our toddlers may be interpreted by them and how we are modeling many of the behaviours that end up causing us the most frustration and strife later. A must read for all parents.)
Like 99% of books or resources though, I don’t agree with all of it (just as most people don’t agree with everything written on EP). For example, the recommendation that we stay on top of young kids who are hitting is counter to what I believe (and what many societies do) for it doesn’t allow children to learn how to work things out on their own (Chapter 9). I also struggle mightily with the life lessons that are separated for sons and daughters near the end of the book (Chapters 29 and 30). Frankly, those are the two chapters that I had problems stomaching with the very gendered notions in each of the chapters that didn’t need to happen. The focus on beauty and sex for girls and work and honor for boys (though there was sex talk for both) ignores that the messages written are applicable for all children, boy or girl. And of course, there’s the heterosexual assumptions being made in both, something writing lessons for all children would have avoided. For me personally, any time we feel the need to share life lessons separately for girls and boys, I think we must ask ourselves if we really have to or if we’re buying into our culture’s stereotypes and gendered expectations of boys and girls. With the overall message of this book being so positive and focusing on children as a whole, I felt this was out of line with the overall message and certainly not necessary. But, unlike most books, if these are my only complaints, I’m pretty darn happy.
All in all I think this is another wonderful addition to the Little Hearts series of books. I would recommend it for parents of children of all ages and know that most parents could learn something new from it and would hope most would allow themselves to learn from it.
You can view a trailer for the book here:
About R.L. Knost Best-selling parenting and children’s book author and mother of six, L.R.Knost, is an independent child development researcher and founder and director of the advocacy and consulting group, Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources. Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages and Whispers Through Time: Communication Through the Ages and Stages of Childhood are the first in her Little Hearts Handbooks series of parenting guides. The newest book in the series, The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline was just released on November 1, 2013. Other works by this award-winning author include the children’s picture books Petey’s Listening Ears, and the soon-to-be-released Grumpykins series for ages 2 to 6, which are humorous and engaging tools for parents, teachers, and caregivers to use in implementing gentle parenting techniques in their homes and schools.
In lieu of the release of The Gentle Parent, we are pleased to offer a giveaway of another Little Hearts favourite: Two Thousand Kisses A Day. Entry begins November 1, 2013 at midnight and closes November 8, 2013 at midnight. A winner will be drawn on November 11, 2013 (as I will be out of town on the 8th with no internet access).