A debut manual addresses many problems in parenting with a dash of fun and plenty of advice.
“He started it.” “Can you read one more story?” “I’ll do it later.” From early toddlerhood on, it seems to many a harried parent that the child-rearing path is littered with a litany of endless complaints followed by seat-of-the-pants deal-making. Tired moms and dads just might give in to expert cajoling from young ones or, worse, bribe them for more desirable outcomes. As Shiller (Child Study Center/Yale Univ.) shows in her book, there’s a savvier method of approaching standard-issue parenting troubles: the rewards plan. While many readers may have seen a generalized version of “sticker charts,” Shiller, ably assisted by Schneider, delves deeply into the subject, first by assuring the worried parent that a rewards plan is not a bribe and that kids who follow such strategies do not grow up expecting prizes for every task when they get older. The volume, with illustrations by Matthews, discusses various probable situations in detail and with good humor. What if daily hygiene is a battle? A kid who loves gymnastics could earn stickers toward lessons, for example. To encourage a child to follow bedtime rules, his mother could offer a trip to an amusement park if he earns 55 check marks on the Keeping Track charts in the next month. The key is to bargain during downtime and not when everyone’s nerves are frayed (“Wait for a calm moment. Don’t offer a reward while the hysteria is in full flower”). Although Shiller encourages dialogue, she points out that there are ways to make sure that kids don’t ask for Nintendo systems every week they make their beds. How? Negotiate. Parents of older children should especially appreciate how the same system can be used for their situations—say, when sleepovers become difficult to execute. The book includes a variety of pullout charts (Zoo, Treasure Hunt, Dinosaur Land) that can be colored in right away and examples of stickers to use when a kid slips up and makes a mistake. A cleareyed and informative look at the trials of parenting, this readable book presents one solution customized for a bevy of situations, providing a template to tackle practically every challenge through this new lens.
An engaging guide that offers a valuable rewards solution for frazzled moms and dads.