Monday, July 13, 2009

Book Review: Have a New Kid by Friday

Those of you who know me know that I love a "kick" a "fad" a "trend" or a "gimmick," whether it's dieting, fitness, or raising kids/behavior modification/discipline. I am aware, however, that there is no "manual", no "step by step how-to-raise-a-perfect-child" guide book. Instead, I try to gather information from a variety of sources and incorporate new ideas into my ever-growing "bag of tricks." I also realize, now that I have four children, that every child is different. What works for one child, may not work for another...and what works one day, may backfire another time. Now that all of that is out of the way, here is my "review" of the book, "Have a New Kid by Friday" by Dr. Kevin Leman.
I picked up this book because several friends had raved about it. The title was pretty catchy, and the book wasn't terribly long. I could commiserate with several of the "tales of woe" at the beginning and I was ready to change my children - attitude, behavior and character!!
My positive feelings began to fade when I read the words, "1) Say it once. 2) Turn your back. 3) Walk away." Somehow, that just didn't sit well with me. Saying it once sounds terrific, but turning my back? Walking away? Hmmm. I decided to keep reading, maybe I just didn't understand. Now that I've finished the book, my opinion hasn't changed much: your child needs to tidy the family room. You say it once, turn your back, and walk away. If the child has not complied, you wait until he needs something from you, and then you refuse to do it. You can then explain that when he didn't tidy up when you asked, he was not obeying/showing kindness/respecting you and you, in turn, will not drive him to karate that day. Again, that does not sit well with me. Am I teaching my child he has to behave or he won't get stuff? That if he disobeys, mommy will decide she doesn't feel like doing X, Y, or Z? Maybe I'm missing something, but this is the gist of this book! Also, in the area of "say it once," Leman claims, "If you say it more than once, you're implying, 'I think you're so stupid that you're not going to get it the first time, so let me tell you again.'" I'm not convinced here.
Yes, there are other sections of the book that make more sense to me: understanding the ABCs (attitude, behavior and character...if you don't like your child's attitude, look in the mirror; know the purpose behind your child's behavior; and know how to shape your child's character.) Three helpful strategies: "1) Let reality be the teacher. 2) Learn to respond rather than react. 3) B doesn't happen until A is completed."
Other helpful sections (although not new): 3 types of parenting (permissive, authoritarian, and authoritative/responsible) as well as 3 pillars of self-worth (acceptance, belonging, and competence.) And then the "top 10" list, which includes being consistent, always follow through, respond don't react, never threaten, never get angry, don't give any warnings (this is a tricky one for me - not sure I agree here), ask yourself "whose problem is this", don't think the misbehavior will go away, keep a happy face, even when you want something else.
The remaining 2/3 of the book is "Ask Dr. Leman," an A to Z guide/advice section. Some of this was helpful, some applies to older children (musical influences, cell phones, etc.) but "fighting in the car" jumped right out at me (a recent issue for the Hill Herd!) The advice for this problem was to try turning up the music (so it seems like you can't hear them?!!) If this doesn't work, "calmly pull over the car and stop. Get out of the car, stretch a little, check your tires...when you get back in the car, say something like, 'is it safe for Mom to drive now?'" I liked this one! (I'll let you know if it works...)
A few other points to ponder - "Don't praise them. Encourage them." Leman states that, "Praise links a child's worth to what she does. Encouragement emphasizes the act." I'm still mulling this one over.
My goal is not to bash Dr. Leman. I am just a bit skeptical of the "five-day" plan. There are several items from this book that I will add to my own bag of tricks, but I don't think "say it once, turn your back, walk away" is right for our family at this time.

1 comment:

  1. thanks for the review. i bought this book also at the recommendation of a friend. she had some success with "say it once," but her son is 15!! I doubt this will work for my 6yr old! LOL
    but there are some good points and many that we have heard again and again. but like you said, every child is an individual and we as parents need to treat them as such.
    I think if we treat our children like people instead of pets, we will get more respect out of them! JMO!
    also, i think i'm going to try that "fighting in the car" trick--pull over and stretch! as long as i am not going to be late! LOL


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