Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Book Review: What Great Parents Do, 75 Simple Strategies for Raising Kids Who Thrive by Erica Reisher, PhD

Disclosure / Disclaimer: I received this book free of charge,from TarcherPerigee , for review purposes on this blog. No other compensation, monetary or in kind, has been received or implied for this post. Nor was I told how to post about it,  all opinions are my own.

back to school button

Continuing our biweekly review of the latest parenting books,
I have a new book that offers simple methods and gets you to rethink parenting!
What Great Parents Do, 75 Simple Strategies for Raising Kids Who Thrive cover


A golden rule book to parenting best practices, What Great Parents Do concisely presents key strategies to help parents reshape kids' challenging behaviors, create strong family bonds, and guide children toward becoming happy, kind, responsible adults.

What Great Parents Do is an everything-you-need-to-know road map for parenting that you will consult again and again. Psychologist Erica Reischer draws on research in child development and cognitive science to distill the best information about parenting today into bite-size pieces with real examples, useful tips, and tools and techniques that parents can apply right away. This book will show you how to do what great parents do so well, including:

- Great parents start with empathy
- Great parents accept their kids just as they are
- Great parents avoid power struggles
- Great parents see the goal of discipline as learning, not punishment
- Great parents know they aren't perfect

A toolbox of the most effective parenting strategies, What Great Parents Do is accessible, actionable, and easy to follow.


Two common frustrations of parents, especially parents of young children, is how loooong everything takes, and how much repetition and reminding seems to be required. 

Before becoming a parent, getting out the door in the morning used to be a breeze and now it seems to take at least twice as long. Ask your toddler to put on her shoes and ten minutes later you may find her playing intently with her blocks instead, the shoes having been long forgotten. Ask your first-grader to hang up his coat when he comes home from school and you may find the coat on the floor most afternoons. Having kids is a time-intensive and repetitive project

True, and for good reason: Children’s brains are different from adult brains. In contrast to adults, who are generally able to undertake a task and stay focused, children get distracted (as we adults often perceive it). This “ distractibility” causes much frustration for parents: Parents often feelthey are always reminding their children to stay focused and are constantly repeating themselves. When you notice your kids getting “ distracted,” remember this: Children’s brains are wired for discovery and learning. Their prefrontal cortex (the seat of executive functioning, including the ability to plan and focus) is not yet fully developed. This characteristic enables them to have an exploratory and flexible brain that researchers believe is crucial

Children also have less ability than adults to pay attention to their surroundings when they are focused elsewhere, an ability often referred to as peripheral awareness and commonly known as “ hearing but not listening.” This is the phenomenon parents experience when they ask a question of their child—who may be standing right next to them—but get no response

Parents may think they are being ignored (and therefore feel angry or frustrated) in this scenario, but in fact their child is likely experiencing “ inattentional blindness”—a lack of awareness of what is happening outside of his immediate focus of attention. So give kids the benefit of the doubt when they are distracted or seem to be ignoring you, and try the tips below. TRY THIS: Change your perspective to see your children’s “ distractibility” as a critical part of their growth and development. Remind yourself that, for young children in particular, they really can’t help themselves: Their brains are not yet fully wired for focused and efficient action

Similarly, when we feel ignored by our children because we just asked them to do something and they’re still sitting on the floor playing (or whatever the case may be), don’t assume they registered what you said, even if they are just inches away. Instead, to ensure they are both hearing and listening:

1. Walk over to them.

2. Make gentle physical contact (e.g., a hand on their arm).

3. Get eye contact before you speak to them. For young kids, it’s also helpful to crouch down at their eye level. (For better or worse, this rules out shouting up or down the stairs as an effective communication strategy.)


Many of the 75 tsrategies are common sense, when you stop to think about them, and others, like the excerpt above, are ones to make you stop, rethink and go 'that makes sense' and then change your behavior. The book is a must for new parents, and I would definitely include it in your baby shower present list!

Some of the standout strategies:
Do what you say you are going to do- 1) Don’t make rules you can’t, or won’t, enforce consistently; and 2) Keep your commitments. It’s important for kids to know that you mean what you say; this builds trust and respect. This is a huge pet peeve for kids and falls back into the land of be the parent, not your kids best friend territory. Kids need set rules.

Catch kids being good, and tell them specifically what you liked: Kids really do want to please their parents and they thrive on constructive, positive feedback. Undirected praise is not what she means. 
"Thanks for folding the clothes when I didn't ask you do, that gave me 1 less chore and I appreciate it" lets kids know their actions are not only appreciated, but noticed. As adults we like to hear when we are doing well, and so do kids.

 Directed feedback falls to not overpraising kids to, but to the 3 P's-practice, perseverance and patience. For example, like "that spin was gorgeous, you've been working on it, I can tell', tells kids that their effort is being seen and appreciated, and leading them toward their goal. I've noticed with Miss Grace that doing this really makes her concentrate on her dancing more, and help her to refocus. 

Harness the power of natural consequences: Let kids experience the natural consequences of their actions or choices (unless health or safety is at risk). This is essential to learning. Especially as kids get older, consequences are huge in our house. Adults have to deal with this, and the way adults have learned, is from their experience. 

This is a really great book to make you rethink your strategies with your kids, before the craziness fo back to school starts, and to reassess, why your kids act the way they do, and change behaviors for you and them!

About the Author: 

Erica Reischer, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist and parent educator based in Oakland, CA. She holds a doctorate from the University of Chicago in psychology and human development, and is an honors graduate of Princeton University. A former consultant with McKinsey & Company, Dr. Reischer sits on the advisory board for HappyHealthKids.com and leads popular parenting classes and workshops at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, Habitot Children’s Museum, and the University of California. Her writing about children and families appears in Psychology Today, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Atlantic. Learn more at http://www.drericar.com/.

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