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309 of 314 people found the following review helpful
Reading parenting books is practically a secret addiction of mine -- I read about one a month, sometimes more, and have read dozens since my son was born. Barbara Coloroso's Kids Are Worth It!(a great book) has held first place on my favorites list for the last three years, but Mary Kurcinka just knocked her off with Kids, Parents and Power Struggles. This is the best parenting book I've ever read and I highly, highly recommend it. I think the title was a little misleading -- the book wasn't as much about power struggles as it was about learning how to help your kids handle their emotions appropriately. It's also heavily oriented (not surprisingly, from the author of Raising Your Spirited Child) toward understanding your individual child -- his or her needs, temperament,and personality and how those factors affect behavior. The content is great. And the delivery is also wonderful. Kurcinka's writing style is clear, informative, thoughtful -- and fun!

***
I first reviewed this book nine years ago. I said at the time that I was addicted to parenting books. After this book, my addiction ended. I think it was because I felt like I had the tools I needed. I haven't read a parenting book in years.

So my son is a teenager now. He's not an adult, so I can't really say that I'm done raising him--who knows what the next few years might bring? But as I look around me at the other teenagers we know and at their relationships with their parents and their behaviors, and then look at my son, I am beyond grateful for Ms. Kurcinka and what she taught me about being a parent.

My teenager is--a teenager. He has his moments when the hormones take control and he's rude or hostile. But then he apologizes. He understands his emotions, he knows when he's behaved badly, he knows how to communicate about his feelings, how to express his limits politely and acknowledge when he was wrong. He needs reminders to do his chores, but then he does them without complaint, without even the eye-rolling that every other teenager seems to have mastered. He gets loud and boisterous, because hey, he's a teenage boy, and they do that--but I can literally just widen my eyes at him and he knows that I want him to take it down a notch. He is amazing with his younger cousins, responsible and careful and tolerant and attentive, and really, the best babysitter that anyone could want--and how many people can say that about their teenage boys? I said to his grandmother one day recently, I wonder what he'll be like as an adult? and she said one word, AWESOME. I don't think that's 100% this book--Kids Are Worth It! was great, too, and certainly it took a lot of work on my part to become the parent that KPPS suggests it's worth being...but having made the journey, I am grateful every day that I learned what I did from this book. And if you're looking for help, give it a try.
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209 of 211 people found the following review helpful
This book has more descriptions, information and tips that "resonate" with me than any other book I've read. You'll find yourself thinking "Yes! That's EXACTLY what MY child says (or does)!" Then Mary helps you see the reaction you're likely to get with each potential response... based on your child's temperament (most books overlook the fact that a statement or action that calms one child can enrage one with a different temperament).
My favorite sections are the tips about temperaments (especially teaching children and parents how to say or do things differently to avoid upsetting others) and helping children change their "bulldozing statements" (often button-pushing ones for parents, such as "You're not my boss!" or "Shut up!") into statements that persuade others to listen ("I'd like a choice" or "I didn't like what you said").
Have you read a lot of books and wonder if you'll really learn something new in this one? Absolutely. With two spirited children of my own, I've enjoyed the following (plus many others), but now recommend "Kids, Parents, & Power Struggles" instead: Parenting with Love & Logic; Raising your Spirited Child (an excellent supplement); How to Behave so Your Children Will Too; Magic 1-2-3; Setting Limits; How to talk so kids will listen... (and others in their series- great supplements, though); Children are from Heaven; Children the Challenge; plus others from Dr. Sears, Leach, & Brazelton.
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63 of 66 people found the following review helpful
on February 24, 2001
Based on Daniel Goleman's book, Emotional Intelligence, and the author's own research in her practice, this book's basic premise is that conflicts in families can be resolved by understanding, recongnizing, and dealing with emotions effectively. Since these are skills wanting in many of us, the author suggests we teach our children and ourselves at the same time. Good advice.
Carefully, patiently, she leads us through the basics: empathy, self calming, recongnizing feelings, listening, recognizing different temperaments and personality styles. Then she gives us the tools for coaching our children to become more effective in handling their feelings: to recognize them, name them, express them and seek a satisfactory resolution without being destructive to others.
Nothing here is so revolutionary, but the approach of thinking about your child's difficult behavior as a cry for help in dealing with underlying emotions is incredibly helpful. Once you have tuned into this idea, it short-circuits your tendency to react to such behavior with knee-jerk, authoritarian stuff you are reading these books to avoid. You end up working with your child, not against him, and isn't that the point?
Different parenting books work for different people. This might be the one for you. One caveat: the paper on this not inexpensive hardcover edition is cheap, cheap, and the type small and gray. You'd expect more from HarperCollins.
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52 of 55 people found the following review helpful
on April 9, 2000
I learned more in the first two chapters than my six years (so far) of experience parenting. It is that incredibly eye-opening and insightful. I read real life situations and solutions. I learned how to better communicate with my child in a matter of days and the stress level around my home has drastically been reduced. I can even appreciate my children in a new light. Where was this book before? I wish they'd hand this out at the hospital as you leave with your baby because it's the best advice I've ever read. I know how to diffuse a situation, stay in charge and no one feels like the "loser".
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on January 17, 2003
Although I found Kurcinka's first parenting book very helpful because of its child-friendly, logical approach to bettering your child's behavior (even though my son is not a "spirited" child) this one is much, much better. I love that she starts by positing the question, what sort of relationship do you want with your child when he's a teenager? Because if you want connection and trust instead of disconnection and distrust to be the defining qualities of that relationship, those authoritarian "do as I say not as I do", "I'm the parent so you WILL obey me" approaches are only effective in the short term. Kurcinka's is a much more sensible, reasonable, and compassionate approach, but be forewarned, it takes time, patience, consistency, and creativity.
Also, a big bonus for those of us with children who have sensory issues is that between her first and second books Kurcinka learned about sensory issues and sensory integration dysfunction. She only devotes three pages to it, but she explains it well. Moreover, this time around her advice to parents with kids who have this neurological problem isn't off-base, it's dead on. A child stressed by SI issues needs some of his stressors and pressures lessened or he will just be overwhelmed and unable to behave well. She talks the importance of sensory diet activities, which of course is crucial if you want your SID child to be able to behave well. Brava to Ms. Kurcinka for a fantastic guide to discipline!
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50 of 57 people found the following review helpful
on December 15, 2003
The messages in this book cannot be faulted: treat your child with respect and teach self control. The prequel, "Raising Your Spirited Child", teaches parents to first adjust to their child's temperament and is quite good. Much of content is repeated in this book. The disadvantage of this book is that the messages get lost in the overly abundant stories used to humanize and illustrate behavioral points. And all have simple causes and neat conclusions. Reading was slow and not particularly beneficial. For a parenting book that better addresses common problems, common responses and better responses, read "How to Talk to Your Child". However, there's still the need for a book that addresses how to handle situations where time doesn't allow diplomacy or diplomacy doesn't yield results.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on July 26, 2002
This book has really helped me learn better methods of dealing with and understanding my 3 year old son. The book provides some questionaires that help you identify strong parts of a child's temperment and then supplies strategies for dealing with those temperments. They work too! It really helped me take a step back from what was becoming a very negative, constantly yelling, stressful relationship and move towards making it positive and enjoyable. The ideas discussed are not about new ways to punish but methods to use to teach your child self discipline and stress management. It also keyed me in to differences in personality that were starting to be points of contention in our relationship. I would recommend this book to anyone who would like to build a more positive relationship with their child.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on July 14, 2001
I felt like going into therapy to get help: all of the advice I got from other parents, teachers, and books helped only to a point. And reverting to the way I was brought up (yelling, spanking, and intimidating) only helped to increase the distance i felt growing between my son and I. This book was very easy to read and made sense to me. I now look at power struggles with a different perspective. The difficult part is reacting to my son in this new way - in the heat of the moment i sometimes still get drawn into the struggle. The times I have managed to approach power struggles as outlined in this book, I found my son cooperating with me and have felt a sense of hope that I am moving in the right direction.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on September 3, 2001
I am trained as a family therapist, am a long-time meditator and am raising both my girls in the attachment parenting style. This book added tremendously to my parenting abilities. Kurcinka answers my two most difficult questions: how do I stay connected to my child while discipling her? and how do I discipline without crushing my child's spirit and will? Her answers are straight-forward, detailed, and she adds loads of real life examples. Most basically she advocates honoring your child's (and your own) underlying emotional needs while remaining absolutely consisent with respect to standards. She gives us concrete tools to be both firm and kind, to raise assertive, respectful kids, and to build a strong relationship with them to rely on when we can no longer just put them in their room. This book has overhauled my relationship with my 3 year old within a week, and I will refer to it until my girls are past their teenage years. A must-read!
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on April 4, 2002
This book is brilliant! It teaches you to empathize rather than chastize your children, and in doing so, they learn to respect you more. I'm not big on self-help books, but this is one that I can whole-heartedly recommend. A friend told me about it and I read it so I wouldn't insult her. And I am so glad I did. I passed it on to my husband, and he really learned a lot from it too. In fact, we learned a lot about each other in the book. I have already ordered The Spirited Child, Mary Kurcinka's other book, and am looking forward to reading it.
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