Discipline Without Shouting or Spanking–book review

Discipline without Shouting or Spanking: Practical Solutions to the Most Common Preschool Behavior Problems by Jerry L. Wyckoff Ph.D.and Barbara C. Undell

Click here to purchase Discipline without Shouting or Spanking: Practical Solutions to the Most Common Preschool Behavior Problems

This is a really helpful and insightful book for stressed-out parents of pre-schoolers! It begins with introductions about parenting, why shouting and spanking don’t work, and how to change yourself to be a better parent, among other ideas. I like that they offer scientific studies and research to explain the consequences of spanking, but also research that emphasizes the benefits of more empathetic parenting. They don’t get too far into detail, but they give the basics that a normal person needs to know, and they name where they got the information.

Beyond the introductions, they have a series of chapters on problem issues such as dawdling, talking back, getting out of bed at night, etc…. Each chapter is short and easy to follow, so you can reference it for specific problems. For each issue, they explain ways to prevent the problem and solve the problem, as well as telling what you shouldn’t do. Many of the chapters also end with examples of how other parents solved the same problems. You could read this book all the way through, or if you just want to review certain areas, it doesn’t take long to read a chapter. Personally, I would recommend at least reading all of the introductions that explain the authors’ reasoning, then using the single “problem” chapters as needed, although it wouldn’t hurt to read all the way through just to get more ideas.

The solutions in this book focus on showing and modeling responsible behavior for kids, and explaining why and how they should behave in life. The tips are reasonable, and the authors describe them in ways that make sense and are very convincing. The authors want to develop emotionally intelligent kids and they state that “children who believe they are the masters of their fate, who feel they belong, and who feel competent are more likely to become strong, resilient children and adults.” I like that idea! They aren’t about forcing a child into submission; they are teaching us how to mold a child into a productive, healthy adult. I think they have an excellent point with this quote as well: “In the hierarchy of moral development, as defined by Lawrence Kohlberg, the lowest level is “following rules only to avoid punishment.” The highest level is “following rules because they are right and good.” When parents spank their children for misbehavior, they stop their children at the lowest level of moral development. The children are interested in avoiding the punishment, not in doing what is good or right. ”

Here is the partial list of chapters:

  • Parenthood Is Naturally Problematic
  • The ABCs of Disciplined Parenting
  • Shouting and Spanking Are Counterproductive
  • The Role of Self-Talk
  • The Differences between Boys and Girls
  • The Transition to Elementary School for You and Your Child
  • Milestones of Development
  • Discipline Dictionary
  • Using This Book

After this is an alphabetical list of all the parenting topics–including: messiness, “hyper” activity, name-calling, not wanting to eat and temper tantrums.

The authors emphasize ideas such as: praising your child’s good behavior so it encourages them to repeat it, making clear rules and enforcing the rules consistently. For example, if you don’t set consequences for breaking rules, your kids will learn that they can break the rules, so it is important to follow through. The authors also offer some creative ideas for dealing with power struggles. There is a lot of good, emotionally healthy information in this book! It has me excited and motivated to try some of the ideas with my toddlers 🙂

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