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How to Behave So Your Children Will Too! Hardcover – July 17, 2000

4.3 out of 5 stars 55 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Every parent has nightmares about that moment when their child is refused a request (I want a candy bar, Mommy! Not today, Johnny.) and in response, he falls to the ground, screams, and thrashes about--all in a very public place. Mortified by this tantrum, Mommy might be tempted to give in, buy the candy bar, end the embarrassing moment, and ultimately behave in a way that tells Johnny tantrums work. There's a better way, says Sal Severe, author of How to Behave So Your Children Will, Too!. His commonsense advice has been culled from his years as an educator working with children with behavior disorders. Many of the anecdotal stories that pepper How to Behave were gathered during parenting workshops that have reached more than 20,000 parents.

Solidly putting the responsibility for a child's behavior on the parents, How to Behave addresses a wide range of issues, such as how children learn to push their parents' buttons, why children misbehave, and how to motivate kids to behave using simple rules and consequences. Push aside all the nitty-gritty advice, however, and several themes emerge. Over and over, Severe emphasizes that raising a child requires total parental consistency, that it takes awhile to get results from new parenting techniques, and that overall, parenting is a very tough job.

While this book (honored and recommended by the Parent Council, Parents' Choice Foundation, and the National Parenting Center) doesn't break any new ground, it does reinforce many tried and true parenting techniques. As Severe says, "This book provides hundreds of ideas. Not all of them will work all the time. You need to select the ideas that make sense to you." While some veteran parents might find his advice too basic, this is an invaluable book for mothers and fathers beginning the parenting journey. And even long-time parents are sure to find some valuable gems that will be useful as their children grow, change, and offer new behavioral challenges. --Virginia Smyth


"The book gives parents the confidence they need to practice self-discipline, patience, and consistency in order to raise well-behaved children." —New York Daily News

"This book speaks to the heart of the family system—the parents. Parents must behave so their children will, too! —John Bradshaw

"I found this to be a very valuable book. It has helped me immensely with my own children." —Jack Canfield

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult; 1st edition (July 17, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670891533
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670891535
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,054,587 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAME on July 18, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The author points out that we mostly learn our parenting styles from our own parents. Since almost everyone is critical of some things that their own parents did, that can leave you without a lot of role models. Ah, but this book can more than fill the breach.
Basically, any relationship is improved by first improving yourself. As the author points out, if you provide a bad example to your child, you can expect your child to copy you. If you allow harmful influences into your child's life, those will be copied too in many cases.
The good news is that children will normally only misbehave about 5-10 percent of the time, unless we train them to do so more often as the primary way to get attention, rewards, and satisfaction. If you are having more trouble than that, this book will definitely help you.
There's a wonderful self-help quiz to assess whether or not you need this book. Here are my two favorite questions: "Does your baby sitter give you a discount for coming home early?" "Do your children spend hours in front of the TV and only minutes doing homework?"
The reference to B.F. Skinner is an allusion to his behavioral modification theories, which he applied to one of his own children by keeping the child in a box, and using the kind of training that you use with pets. This book puts that inappropriate method out of the way by seeking thinking cooperation from, not control, of the child.
The author has 25 years of experience as a school psychiatrist dealing with "behavior-disabled children." He's seen it all. I liked his stories though about his own family best, starting with the one about his 3 year old relieving himself in the refrigerator after the new baby came home. Sibling rivalry strikes again!
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By A Customer on December 3, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I own lots of books for parents and this one covers information I've seen everywhere else. It does have some good ideas, but there are also some rigid suggestions that made me uncomfortable. The author's been on Oprah, so I think the book has gotten more press than it deserves.
Also recommended: Hidden Messages: What Our Words and Actions are Really Telling Our Children -- Kid Cooperation: How to Stop Yelling, Nagging and Pleading -- Positive Discipline for Teenagers -- The 10 Greatest Gifts I Give My Children
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book hoping for some insight on dealing with our three year old and her normal "three year old misbehavior".
I really enjoyed the first couple of chapters and I definitely support the idea that parents should "be" what they want their children to "become". I liked his admonition to focus on the positive behavior and not the negative. I also gleaned some other good advice here and there throughout the book.
However, once I got into the book, it became obvious that his "method" is based heavily on an elaborate bribery system [including numerous detailed tables of rewards for different age groups]. There is actually a chapter called "Never Give Away The Ice Cream" in which the author chastizes a family for taking their children out for ice cream. He says that *nothing* should ever be given to children unless it is tied to their behavior as an award. Forget unconditional love; quality family time for the sake of family time; or teaching children to do the right thing BECAUSE it is the right thing - this method is a sure fire way to teach your kids that nothing is worth doing unless they are being PAID to do it.
In my opinion, following the advice in this book is a great way to raise superficial, materialistic, self-serving brats who are guided not by their conscience, but by an external reward system.
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Format: Hardcover
The thought that kept occurring to me as I read this book was "I'm glad I wasn't raised in that kind of bootcamp." Some of the advice is good -- focus on good behavior, provide guidelines, be consistent. But good behavior is the only focus, with no attention paid to understanding, communication, or improving relationships. The assumption is that children misbehave only because they lack motivation. (There are many other reasons.) He advises escalating punishment until the child cracks -- to the point of holding a door shut on a child in time-out while he screams. (I hope nobody takes that advice.) I also feel that the constant stickers and charts are demeaning and communicate a lack of confidence in the child. Dr. Severe even advocates withholding special treats and outings unless they're a reward for good behavior -- which I think may make a child feel that the parent loves the behavior, not the child. This advice may improve the child's behavior -- but at what cost? If you have a "difficult" child, try "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene, for a more understanding approach.
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Format: Hardcover
In all honesty before I got this book I was a depressed and irritable parent. I did not look forward to waking up in the morning and did not enjoy being a mother.
I bought this book 5 days ago and I read it in 2 days. I am please to announce that I have not raised my voice or yelled at my two children (1 preschooler, 1 toddler) since I read this book! I have already started implementing the techniques that Severe talks of and they WORK. They work because my dedicated determination of following the book to the exact letter. I am determined to have a positive climate family and it is working because my tone of voice is mature and happy. When I discipline I speak in direct tone and not yelling at all. I don't get angry anymore! My kids are LISTENING and they are SHARING and they are NOT fighting! They are being sweet adorable little boys now and I have Sal Severe to thank for it.
What a wonderful book! I think hospitals should give this book out when you are discharged with your first born for the first time!
Simply NEEDED for EVERY family! What a difference! I LOVE BEING a MOMMY NOW! :) :) :)
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