Saturday, May 29, 2010

You're Not the Boss of Me: Brat-Proofing Your 4- to 12-Year-Old Child

There are tremendous numbers of parenting books on the market. They range from the ultra-specific to the incredibly general. You're Not the Boss of Me: Brat-Proofing Your 4- to 12-Year-Old Child is a new book by Betsy Brown Braun that falls into the general category, but has enough specifics within it to be incredibly useful to almost any parent.

As a parent, one of the things I want to do most in life is to raise a caring, thoughtful, grateful, giving, independent-thinking child. In other words, the opposite of a brat. Naturally, the title of this book grabbed me right off.

Looking at the table of contents was honestly like looking at a laundry list of the traits I want to teach my children. The author is spot on with identifying the characteristics that contribute to quality individuals.

She covers empathy, independence, responsibility, respect, honesty, self-reliance, gratitude, eliminating spoilage, and how to bring humor into your child's life. Each chapter starts with a general discussion of each trait and then breaks down into bullet points of ways you can concretely help your child (and yourself) learn to acquire these traits.

Furthermore, she doesn't just discuss how to to solve character problems with your child, she talks about the root of the problems, so you can understand where your child is coming from and learn that your family doesn't have these issues because you have a faulty child, but because you have a child.

Braun's book is valuable, I believe, largely because of how she intends you to use it. Too often, a parent will read a parenting book full of great ideas, then be overwhelmed by how to implement them. There are too many topics, too many behaviors to deal with all at once. We get overwhelmed and end up not implementing any of them.

Braun helps with this problem by telling us how she intends for us to use the book. Pick a chapter and spend a month working on just the ideas in that chapter until they are second nature. Then move on to another quality you want to instill in your children.

It's not a quick fix, but what is with children? Maybe that should be another chapter: turns out you have to actually work at raising children. Who knew?

I personally did a quick read of the entire book and plan to return to each chapter in detail, just as Braun suggests. I'm torn between starting with the gratitude and respect chapters. I definitely saw myself and my children in what she wrote in those chapters. Furthermore, her ideas are easy to implement and so common sense.

That common sense quality is one of the strengths of this book. You'll find yourself recognizing things you already naturally do and you'll also recognize things that are so obvious that you'll wonder why you haven't already implemented them.

Nothing in this book is earth shattering, but it is very useful to have it broken down in such easy to read and implement passages. Of all the parenting books I've acquired, read, and had the best intentions of implementing, I think this one will stick with me as one of my top reads.

Honesty Clause: I was given a free review copy of this book by Mom Central on behalf of HarperCollins. I was also given $20 to write the review. The opinions expressed are mine. List price for this book is $15.99.