Book Review: The Discipline Book

Posted by  | Sunday, May 3, 2009  at 8:00 AM  
Nothing will prick the interest to read up on discipline than a temper tantrum from your two year old. And the fact that I am presently 23 weeks pregnant and due this summer, I am all the more eager to try to discern what is our preferred method of discipline and/or how to refine our discipline even more so before the blessed arrival of our second sweet bundle of joy.

I have read two books by Dr. Sears that I have really enjoyed and from which I learned a lot: The Successful Child and The Vaccine Book. Since we want to become experts in different means/methods to discipline our children, I thought I'd try reading another one of his books: The Discipline Book. Unfortunately, I am no where near completing the book, but I can reflect on what I've read thus far.

The thrust of this book makes the correlation between how you tenderly care for your child during the first two years of your child's life and how that care directly impacts the way your child responds to your instruction, direction and guidance (discipline). The term he constantly uses is "connected," being connected with your child. That connection in turn builds trust in you from your child and when there is complete trust, obedience is likely to follow easily. "The deeper the parent-child connection, the easier discipline will be." (The Discipline Book, p. 15).He elaborates on exactly how to build that firm foundation and "connection" with your child, and I will say, that it's the complete opposite of what most of the baby/child-rearing books that are popular these days. He's a big fan of attachment parenting and to be quite honest with you, since I haven't finished the book and haven't read up on the nitty gritty of attachment parenting, I cannot elaborate in detail at this time on that topic. (But if any of you would like to enlighten us, I know I'd enjoy hearing from you.) I will, however, be reading up on it in the months to come before my baby arrives, since Dr. Sears has pricked my curiosity. I feel like I am a fan of attachment parenting to a certain degree. However, there is a part of me that likes having a loose-schedule to my days and from what I know so far about A.P., it does not endorse "scheduling".

1.) I like this book. What makes me like this book so much is that it gives information and instruction in areas that just don't seem to be "popular" these days or at least in my area and amongst all the younger parents that I know.
2.) As with every book, I don't 100% agree with everything he says, but I do agree with and will try out most of the things he suggests.
3.) He describes the three styles of discipline and the pros and cons to each style. Read these excerpts and discern which style describes your family best. Again, I'm only including an excerpt, the description of each style, not the pros and cons to each.
  • The Authoritarian Style: "The traditional way of disciplining, authoritarianism, focuses on parents as authority figures whom children must obey or face the consequences. This style regards discipline as something you do to a child, not a learning process you go through with a child." (The Discipline Book, p.2)
  • The Communication Approach: "This philosophy teaches that communicative rather than punitive parenting is the way to discipline. Dissatisfaction with the authoritarian/punishment approach to discipline spawned several schools of discipline based on teaching parents how to better communicate with their children. Most of today's discipline books and classes are based on this approach. This philosophy suggests there are no bad children, just bad communication; and that children are basically good; parents juts have to learn how to listen and talk to them." (The Discipline Book, p.4)
  • The Behavior Modification Approach: "Behavior "mod," as it is known, teaches that children's behavior can be influenced positively and negatively according to how parents structure their child's environment. If the child continues to hit other children even after you've given him all of the psychologically correct communication you can provide, you simply remove him from the group. Most children respond well to behavior modification; some regard the techniques as contrived. Although somewhat mechanistic in its approach (it's strikingly similar to training pets), behavior modification gives parents techniques, such as time-out, positive reinforcement, and the teaching of natural consequences, that can be called on when the authoritarian and communication approaches are not working. Behavior mod may be especially useful for children with emotional problems or difficult temperaments who don't respond to other methods. The trainer focuses on shaping behavior, conditioning the child without judging her. (The Discipline Book, p.4)
  • The Attachment Approach: "Parents who rely on any of the three approaches to solve a discipline problem may find that their child's behavior improves, but only temporarily. Without a secure grounding in parent-child attachment, the other discipline approaches are merely borrowed skills, communication gimmicks, techniques that are grabbed from the rack and tried on in hopes of a good fit. None of these approaches incorporates the idea that discipline must be custom-tailored to the age and temperament of the child and to the personalities of the parents. Every family, every child, every situation is different, and parents must take all these things into account when they are working to correct their child's behavior. To do this, they must know themselves and know their child. We use the best from all of the three approaches outlined above, but only after going much deeper to construct a firm foundation: Discipline depends on building the right relationship with a child. " (The Discipline Book, p.5)
Interesting, isn't it? After I read these descriptions of these styles of discipline, I was excited to read what he had to say about the little things you do within the first two years of your child's life to build that "connection." Believe it or not, most of it happens from birth to one year, when most just think they their child is just "sleeping all the time." "How a mother and infant spend the first year together makes a difference, probably for the rest of their lives" (The Discipline Book, p. 16). Some of the things he touches on during that first year are: responding to your baby's cries (no CIO), breastfeeding, baby-wearing, sleep-sharing..etc.. Being a Pediatrician for almost thirty years, he instantly tell if a child was connected or not as soon as he walked into the door of the patient's room. He also goes on to compare the behaviors and competencies of a connected and unconnected child: "Infant/toddler behaviors, obedience, getting along with peers, in preschool setting, empathy/caring, problem-solving capabilities, self-worth/confidence, show of emotions, sense of right and wrong, adult outcome" (The Discipline Approach, p. 31).

Regretfully, I haven't finished this book, but I do hope that I was able to shine some light onto thrust of this book, so as to create some curiosity in you. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this!


Book a Day said...

My in laws arrive I don't have time to write what I would like. I'll be back mid-May!

Mrs Yelle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
KC said...

I am afraid this book would just make me feel bad as I have recently done CIO with my 6 month old. I really debated and debated, but in the end, he was still getting up 5-6 times a night and not napping at all during the day and that is not healthy. Now he sleeps MUCH better and I am a better mom because I have more patience, energy, time..

I would, however, love this book if it is really practical in giving a strategy for discipline. It sounds like I agree with his philosophy about how discipline won't work if it isn't coming from a foundation of a loving relationship and that mere behavior change isn't have to look at the heart issues!

I wonder if I should torture myself with reading about how I shouldn't have done CIO to get to the other stuff.

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