A wise and realistic program for instilling genuine self-esteem in children.

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KID CONFIDENCE

HELP YOUR CHILD MAKE FRIENDS, BUILD RESILIENCE, AND DEVELOP REAL SELF-ESTEEM

A guide to increasing children’s confidence and helping them realize their full potential.

In this book, clinical psychologist Kennedy-Moore (What’s My Child Thinking?, 2019, etc.) promises readers a wide range of practical and effective parenting strategies. But first, the author takes pains to debunk some key concepts of contemporary child-rearing philosophy—the worst of which, she says, is the idea that one must compulsively and universally offer kids uninterrupted affirmation in order to build up their self-esteem. Kennedy-Moore cites recent studies that hint at the problems of such an approach, and her tone is refreshingly blunt as she does so: “self-help gurus and inspirational articles often promote the idea that we have to love ourselves to have a happy, fulfilling life,” she writes. “This is nonsense.” In the place of this concept, she lays out a comprehensive set of guidance tips, designed to help parents to understand their kids’ needs and encourage them with direct communication and honest assessment—not blanket assurances that everything that they do is perfect in every way. Each of the book’s sections offers helpful subheadings, and a separate “Take-Home Points” graphic is designed to summarize key items from the text as a whole. Kennedy-Moore addresses the topics of making parental connections, assessing and building children’s competencies, and helping kids to become more decisive and deal with bullying. Throughout, she employs a clear, concise prose style and an unfailing directness, typified in lines such as “As parents, we can’t protect our children from having bad things happen to them.” Kennedy-Moore has written many books on the subject of parenting and is on the advisory board of Parents magazine, and her expertise is obvious on every highly detailed page of this smart and assured manual. She buttresses each of the book’s subsections, and all of its points of contention, with ready citations as well as a comprehensive 19-page bibliography. On every topic, from sibling rivalry to cyberbullying to proper hygiene, the author’s tone is always staunchly realist (“Winning feels good, but it’s unrealistic for any of us to believe that we will win every contest”) and specifically practical (“To avoid [a] no-win battle, reach for the feelings behind the complaints, and try to tie them to a particular situation or a specific time”). Along the way, she always maintains the tone of quiet compassion that animates the book throughout. The author’s focus returns again and again to her conception of children’s self-esteem, which aims to anchor their sense of self-worth more solidly that other parenting guides tend to do. As a result, crucial insights abound in these pages. For instance, Kennedy-Moore acknowledges the extensive research into what many parents already know—that children have the potential to be incredibly mean—and she offers several helpful tips on countering bullying. At the same time, however, she stresses that children can also bully themselves with a pattern of self-criticism and that parents can help them to counter this tendency.

A wise and realistic program for instilling genuine self-esteem in children.

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68403-049-1

Page Count: 240

Publisher: New Harbinger Publications

Review Posted Online: March 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

STILLNESS IS THE KEY

An exploration of the importance of clarity through calmness in an increasingly fast-paced world.

Austin-based speaker and strategist Holiday (Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue, 2018, etc.) believes in downshifting one’s life and activities in order to fully grasp the wonder of stillness. He bolsters this theory with a wide array of perspectives—some based on ancient wisdom (one of the author’s specialties), others more modern—all with the intent to direct readers toward the essential importance of stillness and its “attainable path to enlightenment and excellence, greatness and happiness, performance as well as presence.” Readers will be encouraged by Holiday’s insistence that his methods are within anyone’s grasp. He acknowledges that this rare and coveted calm is already inside each of us, but it’s been worn down by the hustle of busy lives and distractions. Recognizing that this goal requires immense personal discipline, the author draws on the representational histories of John F. Kennedy, Buddha, Tiger Woods, Fred Rogers, Leonardo da Vinci, and many other creative thinkers and scholarly, scientific texts. These examples demonstrate how others have evolved past the noise of modern life and into the solitude of productive thought and cleansing tranquility. Holiday splits his accessible, empowering, and sporadically meandering narrative into a three-part “timeless trinity of mind, body, soul—the head, the heart, the human body.” He juxtaposes Stoic philosopher Seneca’s internal reflection and wisdom against Donald Trump’s egocentric existence, with much of his time spent “in his bathrobe, ranting about the news.” Holiday stresses that while contemporary life is filled with a dizzying variety of “competing priorities and beliefs,” the frenzy can be quelled and serenity maintained through a deliberative calming of the mind and body. The author shows how “stillness is what aims the arrow,” fostering focus, internal harmony, and the kind of holistic self-examination necessary for optimal contentment and mind-body centeredness. Throughout the narrative, he promotes that concept mindfully and convincingly.

A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-53858-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Portfolio

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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