Sunday, December 21, 2008

Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline

I love this book, by Becky Bailey. It just might be my #1 parenting book ever.

That being said, I also hate the title. It makes it sound like A) it will teach you how to be a "discipliner," and B) parenting is tough and no fun. Neither of these are a true reflection of the book's contents, and this frustrates me endlessly! I get upset when books are not accurately titled.

Another criticism of this book is that its layout may be a little daunting--"7 powers for self-control" leading to "7 basic discipline skills" leading to "7 values for living." Seems somewhat regimented if that's all you look at--but it's easy to look beyond the structure and read the very helpful and fascinating content.

Anyway. This book is all about how you can't teach your children values and behaviors that you cannot do yourself--so before you begin to discipline your children, you must learn to discipline yourself. However, what the author means by discipline is really how to learn from your mistakes instead of beating yourself up about them. The book also addresses the fact that you cannot MAKE your children do anything. Think about that for a minute. You can't actually MAKE your children eat vegetables beyond force-feeding them in a specific instance (which could be considered child abuse at a certain point). You can't MAKE them "be nice." All you can do is help them learn how to achieve these things through trial and error, which is what being a kid is all about.

ALSO...this means that other people can't make YOU do anything. If you're mad at traffic, you're choosing to be mad at traffic. If you're having trouble sticking to your new diet, it's because you're choosing to eat a food that's not on your diet plan. Thus, you are free to decide NOT to eat that food or NOT to be irritated by bad drivers. To me this has serious potential to change not only the way we treat our children but the way we treat ourselves and the amount of independence and choice we have in our daily lives.



Charley said...

Lots of 7s. I've also heard 1-2-3 Magic by Thomas Phelan is useful.

Susana la Banana said...

1-2-3 Magic is sort of the antithesis of Easy to Love...In my opinion, and from what I can gather, it focuses on scaring your children into compliance, rather than teaching them a way to think about the world in which compliance is easy when it's good for everyone, but it's a choice rather than a response to a threat.

I've never read 1-2-3 Magic, however, so I can't definitively recommend against it, but from reviews and from the synopsis of the book, I can pretty confidently say the two books are on opposite ends of the spectrum of parenting ideas.