You can always expect clear, very practical advice from Kevin Leman.
Sometimes psychologists’ theories are so speculative, they lack any practical value. And because they are so dependent on theories about childhood trauma or other intangible factors, they are impossible to test. The advice in this book isn’t like that. You really will know by Friday whether the techniques work.
I wish I’d had this book when I was raising my kids. I think I would have done a better job in many respects. Based on my experience raising three kids and now helping with 8 grandkids, I believe the advice is outstanding.
The core of his approach is to say things only once to a child and let consequences take over from there. At several points, the reader might think, “That would never work with my kid.” But as you keep reading, the ideas seem more and more plausible.
I especially like the advice about allowance. Failing to give my kids an allowance is one of my big regrets. Learning how to use money properly and deal with a regular income can and should be learned long before the teenage years, when you can be in control of the income. Leman points out that you’re going to spend money on your kids anyway, why not make it an allowance and let them buy the things you would have bought?
Another great comment in the book was about shyness. “Being shy is when you are thinking of yourself and not others.” That’s a concept kids can understand, yet many adults don’t.
My biggest point of disagreement with the book has to do with the role of professional psychologist. The advice in the book is designed for common problems. But for especially severe problems he refers the reader to psychologists rather than biblical counselors. This assumes that the more serious the problem, the more important it is to seek human wisdom instead of divine wisdom. I believe the opposite is true.
Thankfully, it’s only once or twice that he says this.
There were a couple rare moments where the author drifted into psychological speculation. One was in the discussion of procrastination. He suggests kids who procrastinate do so because they learned perfectionism from a parent, and they fear that if they begin a project, it will end up being inadequate, so they don’t even want to start. It seems to me a simpler explanation might just be plain old laziness.
He made a similar comment about tardiness. He said children who are always late are trying to stack the deck against themselves because they don’t feel they are worth anything. This is caused by an overcritical parent.
That seems like a lot to assume. A simpler explanation might be that the child simply doesn’t want to stop what he’s doing to go somewhere else.
Another minor point of disagreement is with what seems to me to be an over-reliance on schools for teaching his children. One example is the section on homework where he says if a child struggles with homework, don’t help the child. Contact the teacher and request help. I believe it is the parents who have the primary responsibility for teaching their children. And in my judgment, our culture places far too much influence in the hands of teachers.
There was also a strange moment in the book in the discussion about smoking where Leman references Freud’s theory about oral fixation stemming from inadequate breastfeeding. Thankfully, this goofy theory plays no role in his advice on how to handle a child who smokes. Like the rest of the book, his advice regarding smoking is very practical.
These portions I disagree with represent about 1% of the book. The other 99 is excellent. Extremely helpful, and I highly recommend it.