67 of 68 people found the following review helpful
on November 19, 2009
John Rosemond's language is strong, and for good reason. After reading several reviews, it is quite apparent that people either love or hate John Rosemond and/or his books. For those that dislike him intensely, the running themes seem to be a problem with the phrase "because I said so," and punishment for misbehavior.
To clear things up, let's start with "because I said so." Rosemond makes it very clear that giving reasons to children is fine. In fact, he states that there are only about six reasons for why a parent ever denies a request. They're good reasons to US (and offer them if you want to), but the child won't like them anyway, so don't waste your breath. Ultimately, the reason a child needs to take "no" for an answer is because you said so. Anyone who denies this reality would much rather spend time and energy trying to get a little child to see things the way Mommy and Daddy do, so that he or she will be happier about hearing the word "no". Trying to convince the child that your reasons have MERIT (and therefore, should be appreciated by the child) is NOT FINE. This is called establishing a "power struggle" between parent and child. Not a formula for happiness or family harmony, but an excellent formula for creating rude, argumentative, and manipulative behavior... in children as young as three years old.
As for punishment, Rosemond also states that it is rarely needed --- IF you come across as someone who means and does what they say, is calm and confident about your position of authority, and you communicate with an expectation of obedience. If you haven't been that kind of a person as a parent or teacher, then you likely have an out-of-control situation --- or one that, at the very least, needs fixing. The punishments that he mentions are far more humane than the hideously discordant and disrespectful atmospheres that preceded the necessity for Rosemond's outrageous consequences. For those who are complaining about his farty, old-school methods, I have these two questions for you. Have you ever "lowered the boom" on an outrageous kid and held firm for months on end? Or "nipped it in the bud" with an outrageous consequence the FIRST time a reasonably well-behaved child did something totally ridiculous? Before you knock these techniques, why don't you TRY THEM some time? You won't be disappointed, but your kid sure will be. Stand firm, though. Later on, he'll thank you. Your kid deserves to know that he was bad and wrong from YOU FIRST, because YOU are the one who will love him anyway and see him through it. When he's an adult, the rest of the world will simply fire him, divorce him, break friendships with him, or lock him away.
Folks, this is an excellent book. I don't think Mr. Rosemond wants to be liked. Rather, I think he wants to help people steer the right course during this most important job. Thank you, Mr. Rosemond, for bringing common sense and an unsentimental viewpoint to the God-given responsibility of training, teaching, and loving children.
76 of 79 people found the following review helpful
The Well-Behaved Child is an entertaining step into "old style" discipline. After discounting ADD, ADHD, and basically any other psychological behavioral disorder, the author reminds parents that they are in charge of their household; their kids are kids. The chapter on "Alpha" speech is phenomenal. I have two daughters, currently ages 9 and 4. They are generally well-behaved, polite, lovely kids, but the older has had trouble keeping her room uncluttered, and the younger has had a tendency to get frustrated easily and cry about things that are really not "cry-worthy" (gloves not fitting right, not getting to eat candy for breakfast, etc.) After reading the book, I let my older daughter know that she would be missing a friend's upcoming birthday party if her room was not adequate by the morning of the party, and she would be missing any other such party in the future if it didn't stay that way. That was 3 weeks ago, and her room has been amazingly much better...bed made, no toys on the floor, clothes in the hamper and not on the floor, etc. ever since. Her comment after I told her was "the worst part about that is I can tell you are serious." Go "Alpha speech"! The younger got 3 tickets, which are on papers with little angels, and told that if she screamed because she didn't like something 3 times in a day, she would lose her night-time story privilege. She must also sit in the "chair of wisdom" for 15 minutes after an offense to think about why she should use her words instead. I think she has lost 3 angels in 3 weeks. Not bad, considering we used to have several of these fits a day. So, at least read the chapter on how to convince your kids you mean what you say when you say it.
One of the main techniques for discipline is to put kids to bed early. For some kids, this may just improve their behavior because tired kids behave badly (tired adults too). So, not a bad technique, but it could definitely be overused. I think his primary goal of raising kids who are responsible for their own actions is highly worthwhile. He is right that kids are "bad" = selfish, inconsiderate, disorderly, etc. until they are trained not to be...ask any new mother. Most children will learn to be considerate early if people are considerate of them. My 4-year-old has learned to ask "can you do _____ when you finish ______", and you can fill in the blanks with whatever. The "because I said so" approach works fine occasionally, but if you want a thinking child, you must give explanations. Of course, you give them AFTER your child has already obediently done what you wanted him/her to do. The definition of obedience in Shepherding a Child's Heart is what you really want, and you want it because your child loves you.
The "doctor" technique mentioned is just bad...you are the parent, you can tell your kids that the reason you think they are having a problem is they need more sleep, less tv, or whatever. Inventing an imaginary authority undermines your own.
So, overall, some techniques in this book work well. Some of the language is unnecessarily nasty (name calling doesn't belong in a professional work). The "Alpha speech" and "you are in charge" chapters are worth reading if you are uncomfortable in the leadership role of parent. I do recommend this book, but use wisdom in applying what is said (as one usually must when dealing with children).
32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on November 23, 2009
The Well Behaved Child by John Rosemond is, as the title suggests, a parenting book. In it the author enthusiastically challenges parents to return to the philosophy of their parents and grandparents, before the "psychobabble" of the sixties took over the culture.
Rosemond starts with a shocking premise: Children are bad. Of course this will only be shocking to those who have never had a two-year-old, or, if they have, it was so long ago they have forgotten what it was like. With this premise firmly on place, he proceeds to offer seven "fundamentals of effective discipline". Highlighted among these are the "agony principle" and the "godfather principle".
The Agony Principle
Parents should not agonize over anything a child does or fails to do if the child is perfectly capable of agonizing over it himself.
The Godfather Principle
To activate the Agony Principle, you simply make the misbehaving, irresponsible child an offer he can't refuse.
After laying down the basic principles the author provides specific tools and methods (charts, tickets, etc) to help implement the principles. The book is chock full of anecdotal accounts, mostly of parents who implemented the principles with impressive results. Rosemond's style is witty, conversational, and especially biting--especially when he touches on the prevailing "psychobabble".
Before receiving this book via the Thomas Nelson Book Review Bloggers program I had never heard of John Rosemond. Before I was halfway through the book I had decided to add every book he had written to my wishlist. As the father of an eight-year-old and a three-year-old, I began to see areas where my parenting skills needed honing. Of special interest to me was the section where he describes how to get your child to do his homework without a parent at his side. Others may find interesting the sections about potty training, tantrums and other, more bizarre behavior.
It was refreshing to read Rosemond's rejection of medicated treatments for behavioral problems. He is merciless in his criticisms of those who perpetrate this travesty on American families.
There are times when Rosemond seems to exaggerate in order to make his point. But his point--that American families need desperately to return to common-sense, biblical parenting methods--is well worth making.
If you have kids, or know someone who does, you owe it to yourself to read The Well-Behaved Child.
This review was written in participation with the Thomas Nelson Book Review Bloggers program. Though I do receive a free book for my participation, I am under absolutely no pressure to write a positive review.
43 of 53 people found the following review helpful
on September 28, 2009
Typically when I read a review of a child discipline book, I either agree strongly or totally disagree with the methods suggested. For the first time, I am riding the fence. The Well-Behaved Child: Discipline that Really Works! is a book that introduced me to some ideas that I will using but several that I will not be.
The jest of the book is for all discipline you either take a child's electronics and toys away, send them to their room (with the room cleared of all extras), or send them to bed early. I think that there is a place for all of these methods. My concern is that these are deemed the only methods (for the most part). That is all fine and dandy but what do you do when a child refuses to stay in their room for hours? Unless I missed this, it is never covered. Also, I do believe, unlike the author, that punishments should fit the crime when possible. Creative parenting can be very effective.
The discipline described in this book is "authoritarian". "Because I said so" is the motto. There is a time and place for this. But, there is also a time and place for a child to learn why Mommy said so. When a parent steps down and explains to a toddler that the fire is hot, the toddler will be less likely to continue trying to get close to it if he has actually felt the warmth under the guidance of an adult.
As I stated, I have pulled some much needed and useful tips from Dr. Rosemond. I do intend to pass this book along to a few parents as there is wisdom to glean. But, with this book, as with every book, just because it is written down doesn't mean that it is absolute. Talk to parents of older kids who have been there. Go to God in prayer. Seek wisdom to know how you should raise you child to be a godly son or daughter of Christ.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Any parent of a child older than 12 months old knows that children have a mind of their own and many times, that mind tells them to rebel against all social mores known to the civilized world. It is the goal of most, if not all parents to be able to train their child in a way that teaches the child obedience, respect, and self-confidence. Unfortunately, many parents are simply at their wit's end in knowing how to effectively train their children.
Family psychologist and syndicated columnist John Rosemond all but guarantees phenomenal results in even the most devilish of children in his newest book, The Well-Behaved Child. His basic premise is that, contrary to modern-day "psychobabble" (he uses this and other similar terms throughout the book), children are, in a word, bad. And it is solely the parents' responsibility to "exorcise those demons that can be pried loose and help their child learn to control those that refuse to let go" (p.5). To this end, Rosemond outlines "seven fundamentals of effective discipline" and "seven discipline tools you can't do without."
Rosemond's fundamentals of effective discipline rest entirely on the assertion that parents have ultimate authority in the family and until they learn to talk ("Alpha Speech") and act like it, their children simply won't be bothered to listen or obey. Parents should use phrases like "Because I said so" frequently and with gusto. Closely following this is the need to nip disobedience in the bud by requiring first time obedience and administering punishment that more severe than the crime warrants in order to prevent the crime from occurring again.
Some of the discipline tools include "tickets," "strikes," or "charts." Each of these follow a similar theme in that the child is given a set number of chances in a given time period to obey before punishment is administered. The first two or three are allowed to pass without punishment, but once those are gone, the child then begins losing privileges for a set period of time. Punishments include things like taking away toys, video games, and privileges. The harshest punishment that Rosemond seems to consider is a child being confined to his room for the rest of the day no matter what time the punishment is administered. At the end of the period, the child will supposedly either be reformed or in need of another hearty dose of one or another of these discipline tools.
Anyone familiar with Rosemond's column on parenting will know exactly what to expect. For those unfamiliar with him, Rosemond is his usual sarcastic, sometimes-humorous, caustic, condescending self who insists that previous generations all had enough common sense to know exactly how to deal with these "Demon Spawn[s] of Satan." Many of today's parenting problems would not exist if only today's parents took advice from their grandparents. From the start, Rosemond is quite clear that he has no tolerance for modern-day "psychobabble" that labels misbehaving children with some psychological ailment of one stripe or another. According to Rosemond, most if not all "ailments" are curable by implementing strict discipline.
While Rosemond is careful to insist that his methods are not guaranteed to change a child, it seems like he is only trying to add a disclaimer after repeatedly using language that shows he thinks otherwise. For example, he states that "one does not accomplish the successful discipline of a child by manipulating the consequences" (p.22), yet every disciplinary tool he recommends incorporates some consequence as a result of a child's misbehavior.
There are several good things that Rosemond discusses in his book. I believe he is absolutely correct when he says that children are born bad and that it is the parents' responsibility to train their children. This lines up with the Biblical teaching of the depravity of man and the authority of the parents. First time obedience should indeed be expected of and trained in our children. Some of the tools and principles he suggests seem to be at least worth trying.
At the same time, there are several issues that I have with what Rosemond has written. First, Rosemond has an extremely authoritarian view of parenting. Children are not to be reasoned with or given explanations, but are to simply obey what has been told them. As Rosemond says, "When a child is old enough to be successfully reasoned with, he is no longer a child. He's ready to leave home--and he should" (p.6). This kind of thinking leaves me scratching my head and wondering why Rosemond would not see the wisdom in giving explanations to their children in order to help the children understand what has been told them. I'm not talking about arguing with a toddler, but simply explaining things to a child who has developed the ability to understand things. This kind of discipline seems to only tend toward making a person completely dependent on the parents' beliefs, only to have the child rebel at the first possible opportunity.
Additionally, the one "tool" I disagree with the most is what Rosemond refers to as "the Doctor." Essentially, the parents convince a child that, according to "the Doctor" his or her obedience issues aren't the child's fault because the child is simply too tired, too over-stimulated, etc. and simply needs more rest. The child can't really argue with the parents since it's not their call, but rather "the Doctor's." Rosemond attempts to justify this lie by saying it isn't really a lie since it is in the child's best interest. What perplexes me the most about this "tool" is that it seems to contradict what Rosemond has just spent pages trying to establish - that every issue of disobedience IS the child's problem and that final authority rests on the parents. Instead, the fictitious "Doctor" is given final authority and the problem is converted into one that the child supposedly has no control over except to rest more.
Lastly, Rosemond constantly refers to research that has been done that proves without a doubt his point of view. For example, he says "Research into parenting outcomes is clear that the best-behaved children are also the happiest, most well-adjusted children" (p.148). However, this research is never cited in the endnotes section. I realize that this isn't necessarily a professional psychological paper, but if he's going to have an endnotes section (in which he cites himself in 7 out of 11 endnotes), it wouldn't be too much of a stretch to include some reference as to where this research comes from. Or maybe Rosemond is simply pulling his own version of "the Doctor" on his readers.
Overall, the Rosemond has some good principles to give concerning parenting and even some helpful tools. But the reader should take everything with a grain of salt and more than just a little discernment.
(Thanks to Thomas Nelson for providing a review copy of this book.)
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on August 24, 2010
My 5 year old's teacher recommended this book to all the parents of her kindergarten class during orientation. She mentioned some issues the book addressed and a couple of the topics peaked my interest so I ordered the book. Our daughter is what I would consider a very well behaved child and gets along well with her peers and listens to adults. She does though have some trouble with bedtime fears (resulting in getting up and coming to our room in the middle of the night) and is a very picky eater.
I read the book through in 5 days and was very impressed with Dr. Rosemond's approach. Many of the ideas are not ground breaking but he provides simple ideas and suggestions that are easy to follow. We decided to deal exclusively with the sleeping problems first and within 2 nights the problem has been solved. We are still being diligent as to prevent a relapse.
I read some of the reviews and I wonder if some of these people even read the book because what the complain about is exactly what Dr. Rosemond describes as the problem and politely mocks these people. His approach is not authoritarian but simply the idea that parents need to be parents, not friends, not buddies, but good parents. By doing this you will have happier children in the long run and may EARN the right to be their friend. Something that I cherish having with my parents as an adult. He bashes modern psychology but deservedly so. The answer for all child problems these days is "drug the child" and all that does is reduce the symptoms (in some cases) but doesn't deal with the issues.
I also appreciate Dr. Rosemond's candid assessment that parenting takes effort and even with the best efforts kids may not turn out great (or may still be evil) because of their personal choices.
I agree with some reviews about the "Doctor" concept. I don't lying to my child and this is no exception.
Overall a very good book that I have already recommended and will continue to do so.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on October 24, 2009
The well-behaved child; is it a fantasy? A concoction of some sadist's mind to torment guilt ridden mothers while we sleep? Is the best a parent can hope for is to get by until the kids are grown and gone, or can we enjoy them now? I mean, who wants to argue, politely or otherwise, all the time? Who wants every directive they give to be a discussion? Who wants to break up fights between the sibs with every waking hour? Who wants to fall into bed every night feeling guilty for not enjoying their kids like they meant to?
So when they opportunity presented itself to review John Rosemond's The Well-Behaved Child, I jumped at it. And, OK, I admit it, I expected a dry treatise on everything I had done wrong and how if I was consistent and spanked more--and for everything--my children would magically grow halos.
Obviously, it has been a while since I last read one of his books.
I laughed. And laughed. And LAUGHED.
At least he's funny when he's pointing out your failures. And once you acknowledge that, yes, your child is a normal, naughty kid, and it isn't ALL your fault, you can really listen to his thoughts on correcting the problem.
He gave me permission to say "because I said so." Can you imagine? Ah, enlightenment.
Some things, like authoritative speech, you can implement right off the bat and others will take some processing time. Oh, and no, he isn't a spank-at-all-times-for-all-reasons guy. Maybe that's why I like him. But take my advice, and his, and focus on chapters 1, 2, and 6 instead of caving to the temptations of skipping to the middle pages. Without the foundation, the rest just sounds like the same old solution.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on November 24, 2009
I have put off reviewing this for weeks because I went up and down on how I felt about the book. After reading the introduction and first chapter, I thought the author, Rosemond, was just insufferable and arrogant as he summarily dismisses several other approaches and even states that ADHD and other disorders are generally overdiagnosed and not really affecting most kids. (And boy does he have it in for T. Brazelton! If you like Brazelton's stuff, do not get this book!)
I skipped to read some of the cases in the back and decided to at least try reading his strategies since several parents were impressed by how well they worked. Having read it, I can't say I fully agree with the extreme approach that he goes straight to. I do agree that the parent should be in control and be consistent and that helps the child learn what to expect and want to behave to avoid privileges being removed. I can't say though that one should go straight to stripping a child's room down to just clothing and a place to sleep, sending them to their room to spend hours on end, or removing the door from the room unless there is an extreme behavioral issue.
I think if you read this and add some of the tips to your parenting it is useful. If you have a child who is having real behavioral difficulty and you've tried the soft approach and the nurturing approach and they haven't worked, this would be worth the read. I will add that this is applicable to kids 5 and up. He mentions his other book for use with disciplining younger kids.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on January 16, 2010
Rosemond is described as "America's Most Widely Read Parenting Expert" on his latest book's dust jacket and part of the title is "Discipline that REALLY works!" Lately, we've been experiencing some growning pains with our 3.5 year old, as she begins to stretch her limits. So I was hoping for a lot of good information in his book that is described as a parenting workshop in a book.
In the end I had very mixed feeling about Rosemond's theories. The only way I know how to describe them is "old school", with most of the book written in a clinical and textbok manner. I thought he was very critical to anyone who might not agree with him and extremely sarcastic, which I did not really respond to well.
Rosemond supports a very stern, strict, and no nonsense way of things with the parent doing all the directing. Pretty much, it's my way or the highway kiddo. I do think parents should have strong hand in rearing their child, set the standards, and provide corrective feedback. However I also believe that children should be given the opportunity to learn through the natural consequences of their behavior, when appropriate. Furthermore, I think a softer more nuturing approach should be used, I would not feel comfortable doing several of the interventions he suggests. Nor would I suggest this book to anyone I know.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 10, 2012
This was exactly the book I needed to help us get back on track with our daughter.
We implemented the "ticket system" Rosemond writes about. Since our daughter is 4, I thought of making ticket necklaces (colorful construction paper and yarn). Every day she gets a new necklace with 5 tickets on it. We no longer give any warnings- we just calmly take away a ticket when she breaks one of our 3 house rules. The first two tickets are freebies, 3rd ticket means no t.v. that day, 4th- no stories at night, 5th- she spends the rest of the day in her room without toys. It immediately took away the need for me to get angry with her or to nag her or use negative language. I made the misbehavior HER problem!
Rosemond's philosophy made so much sense to me and reminded me of how I was raised. It empowered me that I do not have to barter or argue with or manipulate my child into behaving. I am not required to entertain her all day, or tiptoe around her emotions and tantrums. After about 3 weeks on the ticket system, she still misbehaves some, but the whole tone of our household has changed. She is so much more respectful, I am so much calmer, my husband and I have better conversations because we don't have her constantly talking OVER us, she is becoming more self-sufficient and she entertains herself more!
Since reading this book, I have read some of his other books, Parenting by the Book, A Family of Value, and New Parent Power. This book was the most useful of the lot. If you want to raise a self-reliant child, this is the book for you. Don't get caught up in the trap that this is somehow emotionally damaging to a child. Providing clear expectations and following through with consequences is a lot healthier than asking your child nicely to behave, then asking again, then begging, then bartering, then getting angry, then yelling, then shaming, you get the picture...