Reviewed by the Davidson Institute for Talent Development.
How to Parent So Children Will Learn by Dr. Sylvia Rimm is a practical tool that addresses the many different situations that often arise with parenting. This book discusses topics such as how to get your child to cooperate, setting and following routines, boredom, achievement, homework minus the battle, the V of love, sibling relationships, power struggles, and much more. In addition to being an easy read, it is also easy to relate to as Dr. Rimm answers real questions by parents who are going through challenging experiences. Dr. Rimm also provides parental pointers that are clearly identifiable throughout the book.
One of my favorite sections pertains to the V of love. According to Dr. Rimm, “When your children are very young, they begin at the bottom of the V with moderate praise, limited freedom and power, and few choices. As they grow in maturity and are able to handle more responsibility, the limiting walls of the V spread out, giving them gradually increasing freedom and power while still providing parental limits.” She further states that for some families, the V looks inverted /\. “Children who start at the base of this figure are given too much freedom, too much praise, too many choices, and indefinite wide limits. They become accustomed to having power and making decisions before they have the maturity and the wisdom to handle their freedom responsibly” (p. 1). Does this sound familiar? As a parent, taking the necessary steps to prevent the development of the inverted V can be challenging, especially if you don’t know what to do or how to avoid it, and if your resources are limited. However, if you have started at the wrong end of the V, reversal is an option. Dr. Rimm provides practical suggestions on how to get back your parental power.
Chapter one of this book jumps right into power struggles and communicating with your child. As a parent, there are times when arguing with your child occurs. When this happens, you must stop, step outside of yourself, look into the situation, and realize what’s going on. It’s critical to be cognizant of the fact that when you argue, you lose your power. If you have a child who has too much power, you’ll likely find the specific suggestions on how to turn a request into an expectation to be very beneficial. While children should have choices early on, limiting those choices are the parents’, educators’, baby sitters’, and grandparents’ responsibility. In addition, Dr. Rimm discusses different temperaments of children, including those of dominant children. By the end of this chapter, you will have learned practical strategies on how to regain power and strengthen your relationship with your child.
In addition to power struggles and temperaments, Dr. Rimm addresses homework and study habits in chapter 3. With the increased amount of homework being assigned in classrooms today, homework is a challenge for students as well as parents. How do you encourage your child to complete his or her homework in a timely manner without initiating a battle? While this is a challenging question, Dr. Rimm shares examples and answers throughout this chapter. Readers will learn useful tips and will be reminded of the importance for setting clear expectations and clear consequences. Ideas on how to help your child learn the best way that he or she can, as well as how to make better use of his or her time and yours, are also discussed. Valuable insight on how to study for specific subjects and how to utilize learning methods that involve all five senses are described in this chapter. Memorization, note taking, studying from a textbook, and other study skills are presented as well.
As a professional working with students, I hear the word “boredom” quite a bit. According to Dr. Rimm, “Boredom may mean lack of challenge or too much challenge. It may mean sitting still too long or having too little activity. It may include too much written work or too much reading. For some children, boredom means that schoolwork lacks action or humor or a creative outlet. It may mean drill work intended for overlearning” (p. 268). Chapter four of How to Parent So Children Will Learn teaches strategies on how to talk with your children about boredom, and most important, how to conquer it.
Overall, I enjoyed reading How to Parent So Children Will Learn. This book is full of useful tips, questions, answers, and realistic feedback on how to tackle the tough job of being a parent. As we know, there are millions of children and parents in this world, all of whom are different in their own unique ways. How to Parent So Children Will Learn is a resource that will be helpful for many families as it attempts to teach communication skills and strategies on how to work together as a team while appreciating and capitalizing on each individual’s differences. The intended goal is to educate readers on how to make better use of everyone’s time so that enjoyment can be found in the things people enjoy doing as a family or by themselves.
This article is provided as a service of the Davidson Institute for Talent Development, a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to supporting profoundly gifted young people 18 and under. To learn more about the Davidson Institute’s programs, please visit www.DavidsonGifted.org.
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