Sunday, October 2, 2011

When Your Child is 6 to 12 - John M. Drescher

Synopsis from B&N: We've been over-run with child-rearing manuals for infants. We've been swamped with advice for relating to teens. But little has been offered to parents whose children are in middle childhood! John. M. Drescher, a wise voice in the field of parenting literature whose books have sold more than 400,000 copies.

I don’t quite know how I feel about this book. I have two dear step-daughters who both fall smack in the middle of that age range at eight and ten.

Maybe I’m too hard-core. Or maybe I’m too old school. I don’t know. However, while this book mentioned in passing that you should discipline them, it doesn’t go into how to do so effectively. Instead it focuses more heavily on the warm fuzzies of self-esteem, encouragement, praise, etc. It goes so far as to say that you shouldn’t tell this age child what to do; instead you should simply model it.

While I believe that you should model the behavior you expect, I think you have to say it too. They are just not observing you enough (especially as they get to the older end of the range) to pick up everything they need. That’s why children at this age are cognitively and emotionally self-absorbed. Instruction needs to be more explicit at times.

I have issues with the whole “need to preserve their self-esteem” mantra in general. I don’t give my students grades that will best support their self-esteem (despite what some parents would prefer). I give them the grades their work earns them. I believe there should be sports for fun. However, I also believe if you play competitively, there have to be winners and losers. That’s a life lesson and when better to learn it?

I also fully support encouragement and praise. But there are also times when correction and redirection are needed. Sometimes your kid really screws up and there just isn’t anything to praise in that situation. You shouldn’t make something up – that is modeling dishonesty.

So while there were some good things in the book, I think some balance is called for.

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