This book is my new go-to recommendation for parents with kids between the ages of 2 and 6. It’s a quick, easy read packed full of useful advice for this age group that will help parents not only improve their day-to-day life with their kids, but also improve their relationship and long term connection.
Title: Parenting with Purpose: How to Raise Well-Behaved Children and Build a Strong Parent-Child Relationship
Author: Nina V. Garcia
Publication Year: 2015
Website: Sleeping Should Be Easy
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Note: For a limited time, you can get a FREE Kindle version of this book. Offer ends October 22, 2015. Don’t miss it!
Note 2: I was given a free pre-release copy of this book in electronic format in exchange for an honest review. See the note above to get a free copy too!
Review: At 130 pages, this book is a bit shorter than most parenting books. However, it really takes the best parenting advice from all of my favorite books, such as Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids and How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk and distills them down to this compact guide filled with the best wisdom applied to young kids. And honestly, what parent of toddlers and preschoolers has time to read super long books? (…besides me, but I’m a weirdo…)
The author supports the gentle, respectful parenting techniques that I personally strive to implement with my own kids. However, I don’t always succeed. Laura Markham, in Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids, uses a tough love writing style that frequently makes me feel guilty when I lose my temper and yell at my children. I still love that book, because it motivates me to do better. Nina Garcia, in this book, Parenting with Purpose, supports the same connection-based parenting philosophy, but is MUCH more understanding and forgiving when it comes to parents failing to follow through with these techniques in the heat of the moment. Her friendly, conversational writing style and understanding tone make this book easy and enjoyable to read.
Even though the author provides a lot of similar advice in this book as can be found in other connection-based parenting books, she also has several original ideas and interpretations that I found refreshing, interesting, and useful. For example, she describes the difference between distraction and redirection. I’ve always been a little uncomfortable distracting my kids during outbursts, because I sort of feel like it’s both a cop out and disrespectful to their feeling to change the subject completely when they are upset about something specific. However, the author’s redirection technique makes a lot of sense and not only respects their feelings, but uses the child’s misbehavior or meltdowns to help teach the child a better behavior.
I also appreciated the subtle distinctions the author made between concepts such as guilt and shame and her explanation of how praising for traits or qualities that require effort (such as intelligence) which is well-documented as a bad idea, is completely different than praising for inherent traits (like kindness or honesty). The author has a clear, concise writing style that is very effective and a unique perspective on many parenting topics.
Another aspect of this book which I found extremely helpful was that the author did not neglect to discuss incidences between siblings since many parenting books simply discuss how to respond to a single child during an incident. As the parent of 3 young children, 2 of which are twins, the author has plenty of experience handling these sorts of conflicts. As I am also the parent of 3 young kids, there were times reading this book when I honestly felt like the author was describing my life. She has a deep understanding of how young kids react in certain situations and is wonderful at motivating parents to see these events from the child’s perspective. (She describes an event involving a happy face sticker on page 59 that I swear happens to me at least once a month. From now on, I’ll respond better.)
Overall, this is the best parenting book I’ve found for families that have a child between the ages of 2 and 6. I’d recommend this book even more strongly to parents who have more than one child in this age range. If you support a gentle, respectful, understanding parenting philosophy which emphasizes your long-term relationship with your child over immediate results, then you will greatly enjoy and appreciate the wisdom contained in this book. (Personal Rating: 9/10)