By Dr. Louise Porter
#2675 This book for parents describes how to guide children and adolescents. The approach is based on the belief that humans are not controlled by consequences (otherwise our prisons would be empty) but, instead, that we all act to meet our needs. This belief changes everything: it moves the focus from who has the power in a parenting relationship, to who has the need. And its core value is that adults and children have equal rights to get their needs met.
When we guide our children, we are trying to teach them to behave considerately – that is, to think about what happens to others when they act in a particular way. In contrast, rewards and punishments cause children to think about what happens to them when they perform a behavior: will they get into trouble, get bawled out, be rewarded with extra computer time…and so on. Therefore, Parental Guidance Recommended teaches parents alternatives to the rewards-and-punishments approach.
The book also focuses on the three equally vital emotional needs of all children:
- how to give them a deep sense of their worth
- how to meet their need to belong
- how to give children autonomy (or opportunities to be self-governing)
When parents use rewards and punishments to try to control those children who have a strong need for autonomy (whom the author calls ‘spirited’), they get into a dance of escalating defiance and anger on the children’s part and escalating coercion and anger on theirs. Instead, the guidance approach involves listening to children, being assertive, solving problems collaboratively and supporting children to regain self-control when they have a meltdown. On the grounds that when a person is drowning, that is not the time to give swimming lessons, support involves saying very little but instead guiding children to soothe themselves.
This book details these skills and offers suggestions for solving persistent behavioral difficulties in children and young people. It also reminds us to be compassionate towards ourselves as parents and as individuals, because we each have our own frailties and needs.
296 pages. Softcover. 2014. $14.95.