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Smart Love: The Compassionate Alternative to Discipline That Will Make You a Better Parent and Your Child a Better Person Hardcover – May 25, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Parents and experts tend to be divided into two embittered camps: strong discipline and permissiveness. How about another choice? Now comes Smart Love: The Compassionate Alternative to Discipline That Will Make You a Better Parent and Your Child a Better Person, a book exploring Martha Heineman Pieper and William J. Pieper's alternative approach to raising responsible, smart, loving children. The authors are longtime experts in child and family psychology. She's a psychotherapist who works with both children and adults, and he's a child psychologist and psychoanalyst. Together, they've raised five children while professionally researching the roots and keys to children's inner happiness. Their "Smart Love" approach to child rearing will provide a breath of relief for parents uncomfortable with formal methods of discipline, but deeply concerned with providing their kids with strong, safe limits.

Focusing in turn on babies, toddlers, young children, older children, adolescents, and kids with special circumstances (including adoption and learning disabilities), the Piepers argue effectively that "tough love" doesn't work, and that parents will get more cooperation if they focus on their child's inner happiness and "avoid unnecessary confrontations with children about behavior for which they will eventually assume responsibility." While this approach may initially feel radical to some, the Piepers' clear explanations and force of research and practice will win converts to their gentle, strong approach. The Piepers write, "Time-outs, restrictions, punishments, and other forms of discipline are based on the assumption that being too nice to children who are 'misbehaving' will encourage and reward bad behavior." Instead of discipline (or permissiveness), the authors recommend that parents parent by "loving regulation," an alternative approach to out-of-control behavior that stops the behavior immediately but doesn't deprive the child of parental warmth or admiration. Smart Love will help parents raise confident, resourceful, and compassionate children. --Ericka Lutz

From Publishers Weekly

Though the term "smart love" seems strangely incongruous, some parents may find the theory attractive, especially those who have been unsuccessful or uncomfortable with such popular parenting methods as using negative consequences, rewards or time-out periods. The Piepers (she is a psychotherapist, he is a psychiatrist) focus on the parent's understanding of the child's developmental stage and instruct the parent to react to the child's behavior in a manner that is "compassionate rather than coercive." Punishments and rewards are both unadvised. Though the smart love "guidelines" referred to throughout the text never crystallize in a complete list, the main premise involves preserving the child's "inner happiness" by using "loving regulation" (reacting to the child without making her or him feel unhappy or rejected). The Piepers disagree with such practices as letting a baby "cry it out" and claim that time-outs cause kids to feel angry and self-rejecting. Oddly, however, they suggest weaning the baby at 11 months, rather than letting the child take the lead. While many parents may find the Piepers' advice a bit too demanding of their attention and patience, others may happily grasp the advice to "go the extra mile" for their child. 50,000 print run; $75,000 ad/promo; 14-city author tour.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Common Press; 1 edition (May 25, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 155832142X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1558321427
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (86 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #241,757 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 37 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 17, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I LOVED this book. I am so tired of books that tell me how to control my kids' behavior as though they were supposed to respond like trained dogs. THis book shows you how to raise children who will be caring adults who can take their place in a democratic society, not trained puppets who slavishly follow authority. Yet the authors are not permissive. They showed me parenting techniques that work in the short run and that unlike all the other books are also good for the long run. Buy this book -- it is crucial for every parent and for our society!
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 17, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I have three children, and my shelves were filling up with parenting books. They told me "how to" but none of them told me "why." Now comes Smart Love, which tells me Why, When, What AND how to. I now know how to respond to my children today and also where they have been and where they are going developmentally. For the first time, I really understand the meaning of behavior that has puzzled me with each child, for example, why they start clinging to my leg at about a year of age and don't let go for months. Wise and warm hearted and knowledgable, Smart Love is the best book out there. No wonder Ann Landers recommends it.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 12, 2000
Format: Hardcover
No question this is a super parenting book -- and one of the few truly different and original ones I have ever read (and I have a shelf of them). The authors gave me so much to think about, in fact a whole new way of seeing my kids that warmed my heart and snapped me out of feeling like a hasseled traffic cop. They put me back in touch with the everyday joy that can be part of parenting if you take their smart love persepective. See for yourself!
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By chloe on April 13, 2000
Format: Hardcover
My five children range from 8 months to 13 years of age and I often feel the need for expert advice but don't want to buy a book for every child! Not only that, but I have not found the books I have read very helpful because they are either too harsh or too utopian and they are so narrowly applicable. Smart Love offers a coherent understanding of what parenting is all about and what growing up is all about. Smart Love is smart because it offers a game plan for parenting your child from birth through adolescence. The principles and guidelines make sense and carry forward. At the same time the book makes clear how my children's minds are changing and growing and what is reasonable to expect at every age. I have relied on this book for dilemmas I have had with each of my children and each time the advice has been terrific and the problem I was having was completely resolved. If you have children of any age, this is the book for you!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Ethyl Berry on July 25, 2005
Format: Paperback
I am a clinical psychologist with expertise in developmental psychology. I have been impressed with the Piepers' work, both Smart Love and Addicted to Unhappiness, because it is the only approach to child development and self-help that actually draws from current empirical research. For example, Regina Sullivan's work showing that rat pups learn to love odors that are paired with electric shocks supports the Piepers' argument that we are all born to love the care we get. Meltzoff's work on imitation in newborns as well as the cutting edge research on "Motor Neurons" supports the Piepers' discovery that all babies learn to treat themselves as they are treated, which is why conventional discipline is harmful. There is an enormous amount of research showing that babies (and other primates) who are treated with consistent kindness are less vulnerable to stress and better learners. I could go on and on if space alllowed to illustrate that current thinking in child development solidly supports the Piepers' work. In addition, they make clear that they base their work on their own clinical work, which is also both scientific and widely published. The assertion that the Piepers' work is not empirically based is either motivated by ill-will or is very ill-infomred. Take a look yourself to see how well-reasoned their arguments are.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 28, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book has really helped me stop and get into my child's mind and be concerned about his long term happiness not whether he is embarrassing me at the moment or making me late. Although time out seems to be universally accepted as a discipline tool I felt like it was abandoning my toddler when he was already distressed. This book validated that feeling and many others. The basic idea of the book (which is repeated often) is that children see their parents as perfect during the first few years and so if your discipine methods involve some form of punishment to make them unhappy - yell, time out, spank etc. they will think that is the right way to feel and will seek unhappiness later in life. This doesn't mean that you cannot correct behaviours and they demonstrate how to do so in a more loving, cooperative manner. This book has helped me be more patient and understanding when I keep in mind my child's point of view and my goals for his long term happiness and self esteem. I have read many parenting books and this one is my favorite!! I think the world would be a happier and more peaceful place if we all took Smart Love to heart.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By alice f on January 13, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I'm a working mother who chooses to work but I also care deeply about my children's emotional development. I can see how much my children miss me when I'm at work, but the books I've bought don't help me help them with their feelings. Smart Love both showed me parenting pitfalls to avoid and how to respond to my children's feelings so to safeguard their emotional development. My two year old, who was crying every morning about going to day care is now going happily. His teachers report that he has stopped having tantrums at school and is enjoying the paints and toys. I am so grateful to have this book, which doesn't whitewash the problems of combining work and parenting but shows parents how to solve them! Don't go off to work without reading it.
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