RESPECTFUL KIDS: The Complete Guide to Bringing Out the Best in Your Child
Dr. Todd Cartmell
Family coach and child psychologist Dr. Todd Cartmell, author of THE PARENT SURVIVAL GUIDE and KEEP THE SIBLINGS, LOSE THE RIVALRY, now offers a guide on raising respectful kids. With great parental involvement, some focused pre-planning, and lots and lots of role-playing practice, Cartmell demonstrates simple ways for moms and dads to lead their families in a healthier (happier) direction.
Cartmell opens with a discussion of the meaning of R-E-S-P-E-C-T, which the author says reveals itself in common everyday home life scenarios. Kids show respect when they respond quickly and politely to parents' instructions; speak in both a thoughtful and self-controlled manner when replying and asking questions; express feelings without denigrating others; and learn to adapt to life's ever-changing situations by being graciously flexible.
Cartmell offers numerous case scenarios from his professional experience where readers can study verbal interchanges among the author, parents and children. This is especially helpful, as weary parents don't always have the mental energy to "see" how a particular plan of discipline or instruction might play out in real life. From the outset, Cartmell makes it clear that he sees biblical parenting as much wider in scope than merely disciplining children to obey. Rather, he cites Proverbs 22:6, "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it," noting that Solomon emphasized the "training" aspect of parenting, not simply disciplining.
This text is laid out in a three-part format outlining key strategies for growing respectful kids. Strategy One: teach respectful behavior by expecting children to "listen and respond appropriately the first time; be flexible and respectful even in the face of disappointment; and find a solution instead of just arguing about the problem." These responses, writes Cartmell, require consistency and practice, practice, practice on the part of both the children and the parents.
Strategy Two: turn on respectful behavior by helping kids see the connection between their respectful behavioral choices and the resulting positive consequences. Some of the specifics for reinforcing such positive responses include parents deliberately looking for the "gold" in their children, recognizing that even troubled kids make some good decisions each day and then commending them on this. Cartmell also suggests using the pour-it-on technique where moms and dads really seek to be consistently offering positive feedback and encouragement daily...even hourly, so that after a while, children are wowed and impacted by the "good stuff" they're getting from their folks. The author says that behavioral contracts are also effective tools for changing poor behavior and reinforcing good responses and choices.
Finally, Strategy Three: turn off disrespectful behavior by instilling the certainty that it always results in "bad, fast, and every time." In other words, when a kid decides to disobey then the consequences will be "bad" for him: lost privileges, etc. There are immediate outcomes issued by the parent "fast" and consistently, and "every time" the child can expect to suffer for his poor choices.
Truly, this is a guidebook for altering children's behavior, and Cartmell provides countless examples, or tricks of the trade, to get kids to comply.
--- Reviewed by Michele Howe
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