Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Journey of a Strong-Willed Child

by Kendra Smiley with Dr. Aaron Smiley and John Smiley
Author Website: http://www.kendrasmiley.com/

Available in paperback. Moody Publishers, 2009; ISBN: 0802443532; 130 pages.

Journey of a Strong-Willed Child is not an exhaustive study of temperaments and strong-willed children or how to parent them. (If you want something like that, I recommend Raising Your Spirited Child by Mary Kurcinka.) Rather, it’s more of an introduction, an affirmation that we’re not alone and, yes, some kids are more difficult to parent than others. I think it’s a fabulous tool for getting others “on board.” At just 130 pages, the book can be read in an afternoon. (Okay, not a regular afternoon with kids, but maybe a Sunday afternoon when the kids are watching sports with Daddy.) Conversational in nature, the text offers excellent, but simple explanations of what makes a strong-willed child different from more compliant children and how parents can work with their child to mold and accentuate the positive aspects of this character trait. (And it IS a positive trait! All of these characteristics that drive me crazy about Zach — his intense passion, his will of iron, his absolute conviction — these are attributes. We admire them in adults, but struggle to deal with them in a preschooler.) Quotes and stories from other parents and experts are sprinkled throughout the book. Scripture references flood the pages.

I especially appreciate the organization of the chapters. The author alternates between developmental stages and specific aspects of parenting a strong-willed child. For example, the book starts with “Birth to Pre-Kindergarten” then offers a chapter on discipline. A chapter on “Kindergarten to Grade Six” is followed by a chapter debunking assumptions about strong-willed kids (like the belief that strong-willed kids are mean and insensitive or that they are “out to get you”). Other chapters cover junior high, high school, college and beyond. Each is filled with personal strories and great advice including parts written by Aaron (self-proclaimed strong-willed child turned functional adult) and John (Kendra’s husband and Aaron’s dad).

Final Thoughts: Definitely recommended. This volume would be a great resource for helping friends and family members understand better the struggles of parenting a strong-willed child and, hopefully, garner their support for your efforts.

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