Wednesday reading: toddler discipline books

So I’ve just read “Parent Effectiveness Training,” by Thomas Gordon, and “The Happiest Toddler on the Block,” by Harvey Karp, and I’m 2/3 done with “Raising Your Spirited Child,” by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka.

Thumbs up on “P.E.T.”–not so useful at Mary’s only-partly-verbal stage, but interesting. And so far it’s great in the classroom and in student conferences! I recommend it for anyone with kids, although you may also need another book or two for toddler ideas.

That book should not be “The Happiest Toddler on the Block.”

It’s not that it’s an awful book (that would be “ToddlerWise,” no doubt). It’s just not the kind of thing that I am comfortable with. It advocates a lot of techniques that I find manipulative, unfair, and authoritarian, although I should make immediately clear that it is not promoting anything abusive or even heavy-handed. I’m just not happy with ideas like bribing my kid with soda to get them to take medicine. Perhaps more to the point, Karp is probably great with toddlers…because he treats his readers like they’re toddlers. I have never felt so patronized since I was in Catholic marriage classes. And his jargon–all of it made up by him–is insufferable.

“Raising Your Spirited Child,” which is also aimed at kids somewhat older than Mary (although it starts with toddlerhood, it’s really based on dealing with more verbal children), is quite good so far. I have gotten a lot out of it in terms of improving transitions between activities and that sort of thing. I think it’s going to be very useful. This is the one I’m going to suggest that Conor should read. (I vet these kinds of books because I read faster than he does.)

A special bonus Wednesday movie review: “Lars and the Real Girl.” Thumbs down! This movie is too saccharine and unrealistic to be realism, but not magical enough to be fantasy. I thought it was lame. And too long.

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