Reader book review! ScreamFree Parenting Works

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When I started this blog back in November 2006, I had little sense of what it would yield me, career-wise. Yeah, yeah, a blog is about building a community and all that. But what kind of community could a daily jot about the workplace beget?

In the shadow of my colleagues blogging about presidential politics and American Idol, my wee little corner of the TIME.com blogorama went little noticed. Over the course of a few months, though, I began to notice some repeat readers. One was LaDawn Clare-Panton, a working mom and transplanted Yank living in England (her readership gives me trans-Atlantic diversity on my Sitemeter map). Her comments were sometimes thoughtful, sometimes bitchy, sometimes LOL funny, always regular. If she worked in your office, she’d be your favorite colleague, the one to whom you gripe about your boss, after which she’d help you dream up some ballsy and hysterical way to kill him.

Seriously, LaDawn posts regularly in her own blog from the POV of a working mom and broad abroad. In between raising her two kids, managing a household and holding down an executive job, she’s whipped up this (crotchety and hilarious) book review exclusively for WiP. Ain’t we lucky. Read on.

ScreamFree Parenting
Raising Your Kids by Keeping Your Cool

By Hal Edward Runkel

Reviewed by LaDawn Clare-Panton

When I agreed to review this book, it was only because the book I really wanted to read was already spoken for. And I have 2 children (6 and 3.5 years old). And I find myself screaming at them far too often. If I could find a way to eliminate screaming from our household this would be a good thing so I was game.

After reading the book, have I been able to eliminate screaming from the house? Sort of. I’ve certainly reduced my screaming. I’m not sure how much of this is because of the book or because I’m just consciously focusing on how much I scream and thus doing it less.

I hate books that start with “How to Read this Book” introductions. I know how to read. Learned that at age 5, thank you very much. So, let’s just say we didn’t get off to a great start.

During the first chapter, the author kept repeating himself. And telling you he was repeating himself, like we couldn’t figure that out for ourselves. I’m sure he was doing it to emphasise a certain point he was trying to make, but I’m not that stupid that I wouldn’t get it if you didn’t say it to me twice.

Finally, I kept reading about all the things this book was going to tell me. Top tip here: just get on and tell me. I’m a busy person. Don’t waste my time (and trees) bulking up the book by telling me all the things you are going to tell me and then tell me. Just tell me.

And the acknowledgements are 7 pages long. Are you kidding me?

If I hadn’t promised to write a review of this book I probably would have abandoned the book at this point.

I’m glad I didn’t. If you can look beyond the aforementioned annoying bits, there are some good techniques. The book is aligned with the general parenting philosophies that my husband and I believe. We disagree on a lot but we both agree that we are raising adults. We don’t want our children living with us beyond their 18th birthday. We want them to be responsible, compassionate, contributing, and content citizens of the world. This book seems to have the same goal.

There is an excellent visualisation exercise about the future and what you want their life, your life, and your relationship with your children to look like. It was a good thing to do. I wrote it down and it will be interesting to revisit this as they grown older.
Ultimately, most of the advice parents of toddlers will find difficult to implement. Action and consequence just isn’t a big motivator yet. The techniques discussed should work really well for the 5-12 year age group.

The challenges facing the 13 and older group are many, and if you haven’t already instilled some of these principles it will be difficult to suddenly change course. I agree though that yelling at this age group isn’t going to work either, so you might as well give these suggestions a shot.

Everything Runkel suggests is focused on changing the behaviour of the parents. We all know you can’t change someone else. You can only change yourself. This book emphasizes this point and puts the responsibility for not yelling well and squarely on the shoulders of the parents.

It’s been about a week since I’ve finished the book. I’m trying to convince my husband that he needs to read it too. I’m finding the fact that I focus on not yelling is in and of itself enough to stop the yelling. And my children are grasping the consequences of their actions more. If you find too much yelling going on in your home I recommend you read it as well. It doesn’t take long to get through. I think it took me all of about 6 hours in total. And that includes reading the annoying bits.

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