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Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles: Winning for a Lifetime Paperback – February 20, 2001
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About the Author
Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, Ed.D., is the director of ParentChildHelp. She is an award-winning lecturer and parent educator. Dr. Kurcinka provides private consultations and workshops nationally and internationally for parents and for professionals serving families and children. She is also the bestselling author of Raising Your Spirited Child Workbook, Sleepless in America, and Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles.
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My child did not respond well to ignoring. He escalated instead of giving in whether it was a tantrum or any version of crying it out. My child did not improve with logical consequences that were implemented immediately and consistently. (i.,e. Throw your food one time, food goes back in the kitchen, tell child he must have been done eating, since he was throwing) That just ticked him off, and more than half our day was spent with him mad and me frustrated. My son got worse when I tried Dobson's Strong-Willed Child approach. Rather a bit worse, in fact. I had resorted to asking near strangers for advice when someone recommended this book.
It is not an over-statement to say this book gave me back my family. I am now able to enjoy my son and my home, instead of living in a state of frustration and chaos. As the title of my rating states, I can't say enough good things about this book.
First of all, the information here has a strong philosophical position, but is also directly tied to empirical research more than any other parenting book I've read. They review the dimensions of temperament, which a lot of books are doing now. They also give you Gardner's new research on developing emotional intelligence in a very parent-friendly way. In addition, they tell the truth about punishment. People use punishment. You'll almost certainly use punishment (even if only time-out for your kids' toys), but it's one of the least effective ways of shaping behavior, especially when used outside of a laboratory. So you need a system that allows you to move beyond punishment to teaching the correct behavior in a positive way, most of the time. Kurchinka gives you that in this book..
Kurchinka writes with an amazing respect for parents. Unlike the Positive Discipline series (among others), she doesn't tell you what your rules should be. She encourages us to think hard about our own values and desires for our children's character and to then guides the parent in making rules (and enforcing them) that reflect those goals.
She also writes with an amazing respect for children. Reprogramming yourself to offer the same respect to children we want for ourselves (although NOT the same autonomy or authority) isn't easy. And it isn't easy to challenge myself to be consistent in my values, either. If the rule at my house is, 'We don't hit, no matter how mad we are.' then I don't get to hit, either. No matter how frustrated I am. But if I want my kid to grow up to be an adult who values justice and treating others fairly even when they can't protest and to solve problems nonviolently.... Well, I need to be a parent who just figures something else out even when a smack seems like the only feasible solution. Otherwise, I probably won't get those other things I wanted - and I want them a lot more than I want my kid to hold still while I clean him up and change his diaper. Long term, anyways.
Kurcinka does not advocate giving in to your child once you have good rules that reflect your values and long term goals in place. Or negotiating with the child until the child agrees to the rule. If the rule is, We hold hands or get carried in the parking lot, your child has a reminder and a count to 3 to decide to hold hands. Then, carry it is. Even if the little darling changes his mind. He can decide to walk next time. If the rule is, we play with blocks on the floor, but your sweetie is throwing them, she gets a reminder/warning. The next airborne block sends the block bucket into time out, and your child can try again later.
There's no question, it's more work than more traditional parenting. Honestly, if my son responded to all the free and store-bought advice I'd tried, I probably wouldn't have bothered. And the tantrums and behaviors don't magically go away in the first 2 days. Although I felt better equipped to handle them within the first week, and they had improved by week 2. Bottom line, you don't control your kid's tantrums anyway. They get sick, or off routine, and it's a tougher day, just like any other kid. Of course, there's tough and then there's tough at my house, lol. And sometimes you get a more challenging couple of days just because. And that's not easy to handle, especially when you've been working your butt off. But, overall, huge, huge improvement. And because of the work I'm doing and the research Gardener has done (and Kurcinka has distilled) I know I'm working toward a great future for my kid, not just surviving the terrible twos.
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.