Reading Review: Less Talk More Action

Discipline That Lasts a Lifetime by Dr. Ray Guarendi

A couple years ago Mike and I attended a conference for families of children with Williams Syndrome. One of the presenters was Dr. Ray Guarendi – a psychologist specializing in all things parenting. He and his wife have ten children, many of which (not sure how many) are adopted. Shrink or not, anyone with 10 kids knows a thing or two about parenting.

We liked him as a speaker – he seemed to be legit and he was very no-nonsense in his parenting advice. So, I bought his book on discipline. It has since sat on the bookshelf and I’m just now getting around to reading it.

The style of the book is very easy to read and he offers very simple, easy to remember “tactics” for dealing with a wide array of disciplinary problems. Like his speech at the conference, the book is very no-nonsense. A child does wrong according to the families rules/morals and the parent enforces consequences. Like I said, simple and easy.

The thing I liked most is that Dr. Ray doesn’t really try to explain children or give excuse for the things they do. He more or less says kids misbehave because it’s what they do – they have to be taught to behave correctly and that usually isn’t until they’re married (or later). Regardless of your child’s temperament, development, emotional/mental/physical challenges – the fact remains that they will do wrong and it is the parents job to teach them to do right. Some children have to be taught a lot more often or for a lot longer than others, but it’s still the parents responsibility.

Discipline doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated. Discipline will never be perfect or completely consistent because the people administering it are often human. Parents will make mistakes along the way. But if we persist (for as long as it takes) to discipline with love then eventually children will learn that their actions have consequences (good or bad) AND they will have learned it from the most loving teachers they’ll ever have. That, or they’ll move out.

The chapter that seemed to apply to me at the moment was the chapter on words. Wordy discipline isn’t really discipline. Words aren’t a consequence. I’ve told a few of my friends recently that I feel like Mikayla completely ignores me until I’m speaking loudly (aka – yelling). Jokingly, I said I’ll just start yelling from the get go so I don’t have to repeat myself four times before she acknowledges me. Obviously, I don’t want to yell at her. She’s not even four – I don’t want to start the habit of having to yell to be heard. So the idea that words aren’t discipline (obvious, right) caught my attention.

Dr. Ray’s advice? Less talk, more action. To start with, speak close to a child’s ear, preferably looking in their eyes. Speak once. Then enforce consequences. Sooner or later, kiddos will pick up on the fact that ignoring mom results in an age-appropriate consequence that’s a lot worse than hearing her yell.

Some of the books examples were a bit outdated – he refers to a phone with a cord attached to a wall (do these still exist?) and makes no mention of Facebook or texting. But overall, a good book with practical parenting advice. I’d recommend it, especially to parents with elementary age or younger children. For more on Dr. Ray, visit his website. Or, check out the book on Amazon.

Question: What’s something obvious you had to read an entire book to learn? Or am I the only one?


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