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Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids Hardcover – August 25, 2009

4.6 out of 5 stars 239 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Waldorf educator and consultant Payne teams up with writer Ross to present an antidote for children who are overscheduled and overwhelmed by too much information and a fast-paced consumer culture that threatens the pace and playful essence of childhood. Payne claims that a protective filter should surround childhood, rather than the competitive, stressful adult world that has encroached on childhood's boundaries, preventing kids from developing resiliency with a sense of ease and well-being. But Payne is not a doomsayer: he presents a wealth of practical ideas for reclaiming childhood and establishing family harmony. In chapters covering four levels of simplification—environment, rhythm, schedules and Filtering Out the Adult World—Payne explains how parents can tackle extraneous stuff and stimulation by reducing the mountain of toys, limiting scheduled activities, providing valuable downtime and employing such pressure valves as storytelling and periods of quiet. According to the authors, limiting choices and activities will lead to kids who are more secure and less stressed, and to parents whose days are calmer. With fewer choices, Payne explains, families have the freedom to appreciate things—and one another—more deeply. Though simplicity parenting may seem a stretch for some, others will find that Payne's program for restoring creative play, order and balance is long overdue. (Sept.)
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“This book is a wake-call for all of us who have misjudged what children need and can handle, and who have wandered so far from the best practices that we are raising neurologically damaged and emotionally stunted human beings as a result. Simplicity Parenting arises from dialogues with real people, from their questions and their needs. Kim John Payne is sharp, funny, and wise, and–best of all–he has something shattering but positive to say to an America that is struggling to know how to live.” —Steve Biddulph, author of The Secret of Happy Children

“If you are raising children in these anxious times, you need this book. It will inspire you, reassure you, and, most important of all, it will remind you that less is more, that simplicity trumps complication, that rhythm and routine bring peace to the soul. In this profound and practical guide, Kim John Payne offers parents a doable, step-by-step approach to simplifying everyday family life, from the toy box to the dinner table. In the process, he reveals to us the rewards to be found in slowing down, savoring our children’s childhoods, and more fully enjoying our own adult lives.”—Katrina Kenison, author of Mitten Strings for God

Simplicity Parenting takes the unusual and unusually wise stance that sometimes less can be more. Less as in less frenetic activity, less racing around, less clutter. Payne provides practical strategies for turning down the volume and creating a pace that fosters calmness, mindfulness, reflection, and individuality in children. Simplicity Parenting should be on every parent’s (indeed, every person’s) reading list.”—Kathleen A. Brehony, Ph.D., author of Awakening at Midlife

“Brilliant, wise, informative, innovative, entertaining, and urgently needed, this timely book is a godsend for all who love children, and for children themselves. It provides a doable plan for providing the kind of childhood kids desperately need today!” —Edward Hallowell, M.D., author of The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness

“Kim John Payne helps parents better understand one of the most challenging issues of our time–the hurried, materialistic, competitive, highly pressured nature of today’s childhood. After reading Simplicity Parenting, parents’ new mantra will be ‘less builds security, sanity, and connection.’ And they will have the tools they need for implementing this mantra in their families.”—Diane E. Levin, Ph.D., co-author of So Sexy So Soon

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; First Edition edition (August 25, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345507975
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345507976
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.9 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (239 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #354,420 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a clinical psychologist, and mother to an 18-month old, I cannot say enough wonderful things about this book. Since becoming pregnant, I have felt this certain 'pressure' to do do do for my child. Intuitively, I felt that it was too much, both for me and my child.This book helped me see how it was too much. My favorite part of course, as with everyone else, is the chapter on toys. I got rid of (put away) all toys that did not sustain my daughter's attention or were just plain annoying! I am trying to minimize the amount of toys, keep an open space, and buy only toys that stimulate her imagination. What I am finding is that I am a lot more interested in her world because of this (what adult can really stand Elmo for too long). I have backed off from feeling that I need to play with her, and as a result, am more calm and aware of her. We also started integrating a day of the week (sundays) where my husband and I do not use the internet or tv. We found ourselves feeling calmer and feeling more bonded as a family. There are probably a million more things that I could say about this book, but the bottom line: do not hyperparent (or your child will end up in my office with anxiety or related concern), keep things calm, get rid of ugly or loud plastic toys, and get out into nature! Read this book:-)
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Format: Paperback
The book is a testament to how easy it is to over complicate very simple things. It takes chapters for Payne to express a simple philosophy. This book would make an excellent essay. As a book, it's bloated, repetitive and plain infuriating to read.

That said, there are some good common sense ideas.

-Limit the number of toys your children have. They will enjoy what they have more.
-Have routines whenever possible, in terms of how the day is organized, what's for dinner on what night, etc.
-Keep things simple. That goes for food and toys (a plain doll is better than a Dora doll, for example).
-Get rid of clutter.

The idea is to save your time and energy for the good stuff: imagination, play, relaxation and family time.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a terrific, thoughtful book that all parents should read. It is so easy to fall into the trap of "more stuff" when you are a parent. There are just so many toys, books, gears and gadgets that before you know it, your house is overflowing with stuff. This book is a wonderful response to that problem. It's a great blend of theory and practicality as they combine discussions of "soul fever" with clear strategies for decluttering your home and your life.

I thought that the section on "environment," which deals with the overabundance of toys, was a useful refresher. It motivated me to take a good hard look at my daughter's mounds of stuffed animals and start paring it down.

The sections on "rhythm" and "schedule" were also great. I was particularly struck by her examples of the noticeable impact it made on kids' behavior when more routine and predictability was introduced into their lives.

And finally, the section on shielding your kids from some of the realities of the "adults world" absolutely blew me away. I grew up very much in the thick of parental discussions and it never occured to me that this might not be the environment I should aspire to create for my child.

All in all a great read. Highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is so valuable. I wish I had had it when I first became a parent. I savored each chapter slowly, like a delicious chocolate. Every paragraph was so true, and made me think deeply. How great is that? I mean, honestly, you moms out there, when was the last time a book allowed you to slow down and stop multitasking? Sometimes my life has seemed so scattered, running after the kids all the time, but when I read this I felt like here was some wisdom I could calm down with.

When I started to declutter I actually included the kids in the process, counter to the author's advice. But they loved it! "Can we throw out this, too, Mom?" "This is broken, let's get rid of it, Mom." They were nearly as ruthless as I was. And after we had finished my 5yr old said, "Ooo, I like this room now!" I like it, too. I no longer step on tiny plastic stamps all the time (ouch! ...all thrown out now!), and my daughter can find her favorite hair accessories without a frantic and ultimately fruitless search each morning.

The only thing I even slightly disagreed with was the author's disapproval of parents talking constantly to their children, like newscasters narrating events. I agree that it is easy to overdo this. I also agree that silent pauses are needed frequently, and that kids need a chance to get a word in edgewise. But I disagree when he implies that it is *always* bad. Actually, narrating the actions you and your child are engaging in can be a powerful tool to teach language skills to children whose communication skills are delayed or disordered. It's important to talk about events that the child is actively attending to, and to model vocabulary that the child can then use later.
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