This book is an excellent resource for adults interested in helping the kids in their lives cultivate resiliency and feel empowered. It is full of great advice for caregivers, or any adult who works with children (coaches, teachers, grandparents). Each chapter of the book addresses one of thirteen common mistakes Amy (the author) has noticed well-intentioned parents make. These common parenting patterns, if not corrected, often lead to frustration and heartache. Amy shares relevant and interesting anecdotes from her years of experience as a therapist. She works with parents and children of all ages struggling with a variety of issues.
The title had me concerned that this might be a book that only addresses what not to do. I was glad to discover this is not the case. Each chapter has a section called What to do instead where she gives great tips on how to address challenges in a constructive, helpful way. This section is broken up into three age-specific headings; one for preschoolers, one for school age, and one for teens, to give support for the developmental stage of your child. Each chapter is concluded with two brief bullet point lists titled What’s Helpful and What’s Not Helpful that serves as a quick summary of the chapter. With there being 13 principles, not all parents will relate to all of them, but I imagine all parents can identify with at least one area where they struggle at times. And there will probably be a few of the principles that leave you feeling like you should pat yourself on the back because you’ve got those nailed. Even so, the book is helpful in explaining why your parenting decision was so effective.
The reasoning behind addressing what not to do, according to the author, is that we are bombarded with lists of things we should be doing, but often don’t realize the things we neglect to do that may be undermining progress.
I loved that this book was easy to read. It is packed full of useful information, including pertinent references, but Amy avoids getting too technical or academic. As a therapist who believes and uses CBT principles with clients of all ages, I love that Amy focuses on the powerful connection between our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. I agree with her quote, “The belief that (a child) can’t succeed will hold him back more than any obstacle, disability, or lack of talent.” She weaves throughout the book the idea that we really do a disservice to our kids when we try to prevent them from experiencing discomfort. We don’t just wake up one day and realize we can do hard things. That confidence can only come from experience. We must allow our kids to face difficulties and discover that they are tough enough to get through it. This is how we help them to grow into strong, happy, well-adjusted adults.
Written by Laura Gengler