Book Review: Beyond Time-Out: From Chaos to Calm
I went to see Beth Grosshans speak about discipline at my daughter's preschool a couple of months ago. I enjoyed her talk. She made a lot of sense to me, and I bought her book, Beyond Time-Out: From Chaos to Calm. It's taken me a while, but I finally finished it.
Dr. Grosshans' main point is that a lot of the emotional and behavioral challenges that our children present to us today are due to an imbalance of family power. Basically, the kids have the power instead of the parents. How does this happen?
Dr. Grosshans feels that the parenting advice we've all been following that emphasizes talking, catering to feelings, and exalting a child's self-esteem makes parents feel intimidated and uncertain with regards to discipline. Children with too much power can become unruly & anxious. Parents need to lead their children, not over-accomodate them. If there is discord in your family more than 30% of the time, you might have a problem with an imbalance of family power.
Effective parenting requires power & authority, as well as love. Parents do too much explaining, begging, pleading, negotiating, bribing, threatening, and screaming. The author has a 5-step system called the Ladder, which protects kids from having too much power and helps parents correct an existing power imbalance. Parents need to be calm, confident, and strong, without being controlling, punitive, or critical, in order to teach their children to be self-controlled, respectful, and cooperative.
Very briefly, in the Ladder, the first step is a friendly request for cooperation. Give up to a minute for the child to respond. If the child doesn't cooperate, Step 2 is a firm request and a warning that the child will be sent to his room if another reminder is necessary. If the child doesn't cooperate, Step 3 is taking the child to his room. The child must stay there until you return in a few minutes. If the child is too loud, Step 4 is to close the door. If the child runs out of the room, bring him back to his room and close the door. If the child doesn't cooperate, Step 5 is to hold the child in your lap until he has calmed down. Please check the book for more detailed instructions on this method. The author provides specific words and actions to use throughout this process.
Dr. Grosshans also provides tips for disciplining on the road or in a restaurant, dealing with anxiety, separation anxiety, social anxiety, sleep issues, toileting, and food issues.
Overall, I think the book does a good job of explaining what is going wrong with parenting these days. The logic is sound. To consistently put the author's method into practice, however, is the hard part.
*Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.