Dec 9, 2012

Picking Your Battles

by Bonnie Maslin

I find it difficult to write about self-help books without feeling like I'm exposing something of my flaws and failures. I also find it hard to know which books in this area are more credible than others. What makes one author's advice more solid than another's? And I often wonder if I am just liking a self-help book because its views already agree with my own; but what if my views are wrong? maybe a book that I didn't agree with but that taught me to do different would be more useful...

Anyway, I found this book helpful enough that right after finishing I wanted to turn to the front page and read it all over again, but I've already renewed it twice from the library. So I bought myself a copy. That in itself says a lot. I feel like the real test of the book's veracity will be how well its suggestions work when put into practice. I am trying, but still fall far short of where I should be as a parent. Here's some of the things that really stuck with me from Picking Your Battles.

The book describes methods of implementing discipline, being firm and sticking to the rules and standards you have made for your family, without caving into arguments. It helps you discern between what kinds of infractions are merely irritating to you and better ignored, which are impolite misconduct that should be corrected, and which are serious infractions that need to be acted on immediately. It tells you how to teach your child to be responsible, to recognize consequences, to understand the impact of their actions on others. Shows you strategies for managing anger, whether it be at your children, or anger they feel towards you. Points out that anger can be useful, as long as it is not expressed with aggression. Helps you recognize your own discipline strategy and realize if it is effective or not. And so on. Grounded in an understanding of child psychology, the author also tells you how to recognize when your kid is acting the way he does because of a developmental stage, not just because they're trying to be difficult or get under your skin. This is another thing I often need to remember. There's a lot more that I'm not even touching on here, but I don't really know how to describe it properly.

Well, I'm trying to implement some of the ideas from the book: to listen more, guide and direct more than demand and punish, give positive reinforcement instead of negative reprimands, and stem my irritation (I tend to nag a lot). But I think I'm going to read this book over again many times before I am done.

rating: 4/5 ......... 352 pages, 2004

more opinions:
Jesse's Girl


Caspette said...

There is nothing more, whats the word? demoralising? then being a paren. All of sudden you think and rethink everything you know and believe. There are give and takes (i said never feed chicken nuggets for dinner and guess what I have done more then once but not all the time lol). Sometimes you need a "self help" book to remind you or even help focus you better. THis book sounds very good, I have read something similar before but never acted on it myself. Which I think I need too.

Be commended for realising you need help or guidance and you are trying. It is all we can ask for. We may not get it right but we are trying.

Holly (2 Kids and Tired) said...

I think this book could be a great starting point. Parenting is as much us learning as it is about teaching and our children! There is no more difficult or important job, but boy is it hard sometimes.
2 Kids and Tired Books

Literary Feline said...

I think what matters most with self-help books is whether you get something out of it and are able to make it work for you.

From your description, it sounds like a book I could benefit from. I think the title is very telling!

I've never been a big fan of self-help books, but I tell you, Jeane, since becoming a parent, I need all the help I can get! Self-help books have become my friends!

Jeane said...

Thanks. You've all made me feel better! I guess you never get really good at being a parent until it's all done since it seems to be one of those things you learn by doing...