by A. Karen Davis
How good it is to find a book that offers practical strategies for helping parents love, lead, and enjoy the strong-willed, sometimes angry, spirited child in their family. Claudia and David Arp have written over twenty-five books on parenting and marriage.
Eight demands express the needs of the spirited child.
1. "Look at me," means: "Please understand me."
2. "Did I do good?" means: "Encourage me. Look for the positive."
3. "You're not listening!" means: "Listen to me; talk to me."
4. "I want to do it my way!" means, "Teach me how to cooperate."
5. "You can't make me!" means: "Give me boundaries; discipline me."
6. "I hate you!" means: "Help me deal with my anger and frustration."
7. "I don't want to!" means: "Give me the opportunity to develop responsibility."
8. "I am a big kid already!" means: "Guide me to maturity."
To develop a parenting strategy, the adult needs to hear the underlying meaning, deal with the current problem, and build toward a better future. Here are samples of these three topics from the chapter on listening.
To listen means more than hearing words. It means understanding the emotion felt by the speaker. This may mean responding to a son's complaint about an unfair biology test with, "You must really be frustrated."
One way to deal with a current problem is this: Avoid knee jerk reactions. Situation: Your child will not do his or her chores. Knee jerk response: "When are you going to learn how to be more responsible?" Instead: "We can't eat dinner until the table is set."
Certainly at least one of the eight workable steps toward a better future will work with your child. For example, write notes: "I desperately need a walk! (signed) Your dog."
Breathe a sigh of relief and try the suggestions offered in the conclusion: Seven Guidelines for Maintaining Parental Sanity. Three appendices help you learn: 1. the age-specific characteristics of children, 2. your parenting style, and 3. how to survive parent-teacher conferences.
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