Books for Parents: Stop Reacting and Start Responding

I’ve been having a lot of trouble with Hercules lately and it is obvious that my current arsenal of disciplinary tactics aren’t working for me because all I ever seem to do is yell even though I know I shouldn’t and even though it is not effective at all. So I figured it was time to get some new discipline ideas – or perhaps have the old ones re-presented to me  in a way that I can implement them effectively – when I stumbled upon Stop Reacting and Start Responding.

About the Book

“108 Ways to Discipline Consciously and Become the Parent You Want to Be”

A long time ago, I decided that corporal punishment was going to be a “no go” for me and since yelling is as bad as smacking, there had to be another way. Stop Reacting and Start Responding is a positive approach to discipline (i.e. no yelling, no smacking). Unfortunately, we are sometimes slaves to our passions (even the bad ones) and the temporary insanity prevents us from thinking clearly so we react rather than respond to our children’s misbehaviours. Stop Reacting and Start Responding helps us to understand our children’s behaviours which in turn helps us control our own negative reactions to them.

The word “discipline” means “to teach”, therefore any “method of discipline” that encourages our children to behave because they fear the punishment rather than to behave because they know it’s the right response is – technically speaking – not discipline. The disciplinary methods from Stop Reacting and Start Responding are designed to educate our children on how to behave better rather than punishing them for misbehaviour. Discipline is only effective if our children internalise the lesson. What we want is the realisation – “If I do ‘xyz’ then my brother will be hurt and that is not nice”, as opposed to “If I do ‘xyz’ then Mummy is going to punish me by putting me in timeout”. In the latter, our child has not really learned why doing “xyz” is bad, therefore if he knows no punishment is likely, he may be tempted to do “xyz” again.

As parents, we’re always busy and it’s hard to learn new tricks that will help us handle our children’s misbehaviours. Stop Reacting and Start Responding makes it easy with short, concise and to the point explanations that can be read on the go. It also summarises each point further in bullet points at the end of each chapter so we can refresh ourselves on the salient points highlighted. The easy read and quick reminders make it easy to go back to and implement a new tactic each day.

Probably the best take home message from this book is that changing our disciplinary methods takes time and persistence. Our children tend to resist the change (even if it is for the better) because they like the old and familiar (even if it means yelling and smacking) because there is a certain comfort that can be derived from the routine. Just like everything else, a change in behaviours takes time. For instance, when you start exercising again, it takes a bit of time before you start to see “results”. It’s hard going at first and you feel like skipping your exercise sessions until the new routine sticks. After that, you start to feel uncomfortable when you haven’t had your regular workout. Changing your disciplinary approach is exactly the same.

If you hate yelling and are tired of going through the same ineffective cycle, I really recommend this book.