The subtitle “The Wisdom and Science of Happy Families and Thriving Children” is definitely appropriate!
Filled with TONS of links between Psychology and Buddhism, this book was a must read for me. I do not have kids, I wanted to read this for the sole purpose of those two links.
The approach of speaking to children as children was well explained as far as their development and their mode of understanding at certain ages. (I was a Psych major in college, but had not taken any child development classes. I feel as if a lot of what this book covered hit upon many points I would have already encountered had that been part of my curriculum.) I was familiar with many of the experiments mentioned-the marshmallow test and the successful student test for example-but some things were new to me.
A few of the ways of relating to children seemed to me to already come natural-getting down on their level and making eye contact to list one example-but the way to phrase things to get a good response were new to me. Asking a child “Would you like to take your bath before or after dinner” being the better option then asking “When would you like your bath” works better because it is making the child feel like they have made a decision and chosen the bath instead of the latter when they may push back against a bath. I was fascinated by the way Willard incorporated Buddhist principles into dealing with kids.
I worked as a kindergarten teacher assistant a few years ago and many of the ideas presented in this book I remember coming across with those kids. I have nieces and nephews and it was nice to get to read a bit about using certain feeling terms to help them express their emotions. “I’m having the thought that I’m sad” is better as a phrase because it illustrates that sadness is a passing emotion, it is not a consistent one.
A lot of what was gone over probably was more a reminder than an outright new concept for me, I am Buddhist so I was familiar with all of the Buddha stories/precepts, however I really enjoyed the no nonsense approach to tying them together. This is the first book I have read linking Buddhism and Psychology and since I love both subjects I was hooked throughout the entire thing.
The way that consumerism was brought in and how children are overstimulated now resonated because it is something I myself have witnessed. Kids need time to master a toy and having repetition is very good for them.
Showing and not telling also was a big concept discussed. Kids pick up on and watch all that you do and the part about the parents arguing and the child reaching out for a hug literally had me going “Oh, that’s so sweet” and relating this to my husband. It is true. It made me think back to my own childhood and it does stress kids out to see/hear arguing.
The shiny part of this book is that it is highly optimistic. If you want to raise (or babysit or hang out with little family members) healthy kids you just have to be able to realize that they aren’t mini adults. They don’t have logic yet. They have to learn it. Responding certain ways just reinforces certain behaviors and you can change the way you react.
Parenting is a skill that takes practice. No one is going to be perfect at it and that’s okay. The biggest takeaway here can be, I feel, summed up in this quote:
“After all, nature has wired us to be parents, and listening deeply to ourselves and our own nature is more likely to reveal an answer than any book you read.”
I read this one in short snippets. I didn’t sit down and devour it all at once. I read a lot of books in between because I feel like that helped to reinforce what I had just gone over. The reflections sections in and at the end of the chapter would probably be very helpful to parents and I would recommend this one to anyone who is new to parenting or who perhaps, like me, wants to dive into a wonderful read on the Psychology of children and how that links to Buddhism.
Publisher: Sounds True Publishing
Expected Publication Date: October 1, 2017
Genre: Parenting & Families, NonFiction, Psychology, Buddhist Principles