Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: Parenting Young Children : Systematic Training for Effective Parenting (Step) of Children Under Six (#14302)
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One of my assignments as a new family therapist in the late 70s was to attend a good parenting class. I chose Don Dinkmeyer and Gary McKay's three-day workshop called Systematic Training for Effective Parenting (STEP). Since I had not been a parent but I had been a child I wondered what else there was besides punishment, reward, spanking, lectures and threats.
I was surprised to learn that giving a choice such as a natural or a logical consequence is more effective than reward and punishment. That punishment invites resistance and prevents the child from learning to make decisions, makes the parent responsible for their child's behavior and suggests that acceptable behavior is expected only around authority figures.
A memory from my childhood made me think using choices made sense. When my mother took me to the dentist when I was seven I cried and refused to open my mouth. The dentist said sternly, "Niki, you have a choice-if you cooperate your mother can stay otherwise she'll have to wait outside." I immediately stopped crying and opened my mouth.
Other STEP recommendations include:
Provide a logical consequence. For example if the child's shoes are soiling the couch give them a choice between sitting on the couch properly or sitting on the floor.
Provide a natural consequence. For example allow the child to go hungry if they do not eat.
Allow the child to learn from their mistake and be responsible for their actions. This helps the parent avoid the "bad guy" role.
Encourage the child to take responsibility for choices instead of pitying, shaming or overprotecting.
Ask the child what they think is fair. A consequence is more effective if the child sees it as logical and it fits the crime.
Talk less and act more when using natural or logical consequences.
A logical consequence implies no moral judgment. Punishment tells the child they are bad and ignores their natural goodness, desire to cooperate, inherent curiosity and the need to feel a part of the family.
Treat the child with dignity by separating the deed from the doer.
Instead of using praise where the child's worth depends on their ability to perform use encouragement as it focuses on effort not results.
Set realistic standards and focus on strengths instead of demanding perfection.
Stop criticism and encourage positive attempts. Use your feelings and reactions about a child's behavior to point to the purpose of the child's behavior.
Ignore attention-seeking behavior, withdraw from power conflicts, avoid retaliation, and hurt.
Learn to listen to the child's thoughts and feelings. When the child is "heard" they can change how they feel and act. Use "I-messages" not "you-messages" as they express feelings without blame.
When I used STEP's positive approach in individual, family and group counseling the families parenting skills and self esteem improved. The parents were surprised at their children's insight and wisdom. I found that STEP's principles really do provide information and techniques to help parents become more knowledgeable, confident and successful. As Dinkmeyer points out living respectfully with others is more effective than gaining control via a pecking order.
The STEP course not only made me a better therapist but it introduced me to a more positive and respectful way to relate to all people.
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on December 8, 1999
We give this to every prospective new parent without fail because it is THE BEST. No other way to put it. Our 8 yr old is an incredible kid because she can talk to us, we can talk to her, we all understand how to comunicate and understand each other, and what to do when we don't. It has helped us through deaths, moves,toilet training, fears, "bad" friends, school, misbehaviors, social situations, etc. There is a special place in the afterlife for these authors. They have made our family a success. The dialogue will sound contrived and phony to readers at first, but please trust us when we say-IT WORKS! Now it seems as normal as can be, and is the only way I will ever interact with a child (or certain adults!)from now on!
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on October 23, 2003
Parenting Young Children is in a format that even sleep-deprived parents can digest. The book discusses situations that are familiar to almost every parent. It shows ways to be consistent and give your children choices within reasonable limits.
After illustrating a problem the book offers an analysis. It then explores multiple ways of reacting. Each chapter concludes with a little summary which is helpful when putting a strategy into practice.
I like the concept because it works without punishment and does not make the child behave out of fear. Any strategy always keeps in mind to respect the child, help the child build self-esteem and encourage the child to cooperate.

If you agree with these values, this book is for you.
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on December 4, 1998
This book is informative. It is concise, and easy to read. It gives many helpful examples. It also gives great deal of alternatives for difficult situations you find yourself in with your children. It has many ideas which are similar to "Children the Challenge." Another very helpful book. I started using the ideas of this book and saw immediate results in my children and myself.
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on October 4, 2005
When I was a baby, my mom (against the advice of many people who thought they knew it all) took STEP classes. I grew up in a very loving household where discipline was constant and sensible, thanks in part to the skills my mom learned through these classes. Now that I'm grown and bringing up a little girl of my own, my husband and I are turning to these books to help us give her the best start we can toward being a good human.
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on December 30, 1999
This book is an easy to read book that can add some very helpful tools to your parenting "tool belt". I facilitate effective parenting classes and use this book as the text book.
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on February 1, 2016
Okay so this book seems very old fashion because it was written a while ago. However, it offers unique and simple ways to look at parenting differently.

I'm actually an anti-parenting book person (unless there is some type of specific issue in the home going on) because I believe each family is so unique with parent-child relationships. However, this book is great and as a general look at parenting it offers some great points.
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on October 27, 2013
The concepts in this book are the ones that I have seen work across the board. The truth is, children do what they do for reasons that are important to them. It isn't about understanding every little thing, but it is about finding out what children need and rewarding positive behaviors in order to continue to create win-win situations. Highly recommended.
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on June 5, 2014
This STEP Handbook, part of the STEP program (Systematic Training for Effective Parenting,) is an excellent, clear, easy to follow approach to understanding the developmental needs of young children. It gives specific approaches and ways to respond to the various behaviors of children, differentiating between normal behaviors that might seem like misbehavior, yet giving parents ways to respond to irritating or upsetting behaviors in calm, respectful but clear ways themselves. It explains the difference between punishment and authoritative, clear responses....and gives many examples of how to communicate with young children and set clear limits and choices to maintain a calm, respectful home atmosphere. I think it's an invaluable source of information for all parents of young children.
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on March 16, 2006
Purchased this book about two months ago, when my son was five, and learned from it tremendously. Wish I had it before he was born so I could have understood his "misbehaviors" from the beginning. Better late than never! Every page of the book is easy to read and implement. The examples given were exactly what I was experiencing. The book shows you how to change and it's up to you whether you want to become a better parent. I hope you purchase it - it's worth the money.
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