Review – Confident Parents, Remarkable Kids

Being a new parent, I’ve fallen for the trap of parenting books. I have quickly learned that the best they can do for you is make you feel like you are a bad parent and suggest parenting methods that just don’t seem like they would work anywhere outside of a book. A refreshing change to that trend is Confident Parents, Remarkable Kids by Bonnie Harris, M.S.Ed. Not only do Ms. Harris’ “8 Principles for Raising Kids You’ll Love to Live With” make sense to me, the way she suggests applying seems like they will work in a real situation.

Ms. Harris main points are essentially that kids want to be successful, and that their behaviour provides the clues we need to discover and work through the problems that are holding them back. She talks about listening and asking questions, rather than just jumping in with a solution when your child has a problem to solve. She advocates focusing on what is good about a child’s behaviour, even when they are driving you crazy. (I’m trying to practise this now with Baby C. He is teething and is impossible to comfort. But his behaviour is letting me know what is wrong, and I know that he isn’t being bad, he is just in pain.)

In the first section of the book the eight principles are clearly laid out and explained, each in their own chapter. The second section shows several different scenarios where families have solved difficult behaviours problems by applying the principles. In many books like this, this second application section seems tacked on and unnecessary, but in this case, it really does help to make all the principles gel together. Sometimes I think what she presents is a little too permissive and touchy-feely, but that may have something to do with how I was raised. (Not a strict household by any means, but I didn’t get away with much.) I think the key though, as with all books of this type, is to take out of it what is useful to you and add it to your parenting toolbox. I know that I will definitely be reading this book again when Baby C gets a little older and starts talking back and doing and other annoying things. Using Ms. Harris’ principles, I feel that I will be able to be like a detective and ferret out exactly what the root of his problem is.

As a side note, some of these principles can also be applied to your relationship with other close family members, like spouses.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. And, as I said before, I know I will be turning to it again. I don’t think it has converted me to a parenting book junkie though. But it nice to have at least one book on the bookshelf that presents sane ideas that fit with the type of parent I hope I become.

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