Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Between Parent and Child - Book Review

 Published in 1965
I checked out Between Parent and Child by Dr. Haim G. Ginott, from my local library about 7 weeks ago and I haven't been able to put it down. Two book renewals later and I'm still re-reading some of the best stuff. I've used a lot of what the book outlines (and details with examples) and I must say I have found that I am communicating much more patiently and effectively with both my 6 and 2 1/2 year old. 

To be clear, I am not being compensated for this review. I am reviewing solely because of the impact reading it has had in my home, but be full-warned, the ideas outlined in this book don't fit every parenting style and I encourage a debate in the comment section of this blog post.

So now that you've been warned... here's the gist (or at least a few key points to ponder):

1. Tell your kids when you're angry: Show the appropriate expression of feelings by expressing your own and be open to children expressing theirs. Now this doesn't mean to yell at them or act angrily, but to simply state when you feel upset and why. Calmly expressing your feelings teaches so much more than preaching about how your children should calmly communicate theirs. Also, sometimes parents might think we're not suppose to express feelings and just be perfect and all-together. Wrong! 

2. Careful how you praise children: May sound crazy but overly praising a child as the "best" at anything might be debilitating for them because children become addicted to approval instead of feeling internally fulfilled and self-confident. Naturally, kids can't always be the best, at everything, but boy do us parents say they are. I mean it's hard not to, I get that. According to Dr. Ginott, there's a place for praise, but a parent should aim to praise hard work and effort because everyone can always control how hard they work. In fact, the book talks about how to lead children to praise themselves i.e. instead of saying "I am proud of you" say "I see how excited you are, you must be so proud of YOURSELF?" Kids begin to hear that and think about their own self-worth and not the opinion of others (even their parents). For me, this is critical in a day in age where kids will look to peers for acceptance. I don't want my daughter to seek praise from a middle-school crush, but to understand her own self-worth internally.  

3. Stop helping kids with their homework in 1st grade: Wow, here's a radical idea. Of course I still plan to sit with my son and help him when needed, but Dr. Ginott suggests backing off at 1st grade. Seems maybe crazy, but I swear I get it. And again, this may not be for every parent. In my case, my son does his own homework every week. All I do is sign it after thoroughly reviewing it by mid-to-late week. Sure he has questions here and there, but he is truly independent. He comes home from school Monday well before I arrive home and is eager to get to his weekly packet. He's usually over with a pretty extensive (writing, reading, & math) packet by Wednesday and when I review it, I find he's done quite well all on his own. The point of this is that children are seeking independence and can usually be much more self-efficient than we realize. This is the same idea that kids should and can do their own laundry by age 7. I'm trying that next.

In a nutshell, Between Parent and Child discusses not new tactics per-say, I mean it was published over 40 years ago, but definitely not commonly used tactics. Some of these concepts might be hard to fathom since we were raised differently or are simply used to a different idea of child-rearing  I wish I could go on and on about the communication strategies outlined in this book, but instead I'd say buy or borrow this book today.

What do you think about telling kids you're angry, limiting praise and not helping with homework after 1st grade... Makes sense? Completely disagree? 
Comment below...


  1. Makes me wanna pick the book up. I do agree with some of this. We are raising the next generation and if they can not be self sufficient how can they function in the real world?

    1. Very true! The book also talks about how much value there is in raising independent children. Value in the sense of increasing self-worth, increasing self-confidence and so on. I also love the whole idea that kids contribute, period. They learn early on to play team (everyone in the family pitches in) and also lead (they pitch in with their own responsibilities). Great stuff for the real world working world!


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