Behavioral Book Review: Discipline without Shouting or Spanking: Practical Solutions to the Most Common Preschool Behavior Problems

This book, written by Jerry Wyckoff and Barbara Unell, is a good primer for new parents Discipline without Shouting or Spankingon how to manage the behavioral problems of their 1-5 year old. Its strength lies in the format; the authors self-describe the format as “First-Aid” and it describes a problem behavior, how to prevent it, manage it, possible pitfalls in management, and then illustrates the problem with a “case history.” The case-histories are brief and good. The format allows for rapid referencing; it is amazing how similar the advice is compared to the first edition of the book. For example, they were telling parents to ignore tantrums back in 1984!

For the most part, the message of the book is:
-To model good behavior
-Use lots of praise
-Be consistent with boundaries
-Use lots of preventive techniques.

The pitfalls, labeled “What not to do,” are also very helpful:
-Avoid being a historian
-Do not reflect bad behavior
-Do not label
-Avoid being too negative
-Avoid corporal punishment

The advice generally is very good and I would recommend this to any family of a preschooler as a good behavior/parenting book. I think it helps that the book is written by a psychologist with a lot of experience as many of these parenting books seem to be written by people who have not done any research into this field.

Some of the advice seemed a little unrealistic: “wearing the word out” instructs parents to have their child say an offending word/statement repeatedly, one minute per year of life, to make the child “tired of using the word.”
There are hundreds of parenting books out there, and I wonder: How many of them are actually saying anything new?

-Daniel Weissbluth

Weissbluth Pediatrics

 

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