Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers

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This week she received an award for her volunteer service over the past year. Also, on a daily basis, I have people tell me what a remarkable and intelligent child I have. Last year, she was depressed and aloof, people were concerned about her. Reading this book led me to make a very difficult decision that I thought was absolutely beyond my capacity as a mother.

I believe if I hadn't put her first and done everything I could to get her away from her unhealthy friendships that I would've lost her forever and her academic possibilities and life possibilities would have suffered severely. No one agreed that I was doing the right thing! The school, her father, my mother, no one understood why I needed to this.

This book gives practical step-by-step instructions to get your kids back from unhealthy destructive behaviors that are becoming more and more prevalent as a result of our current culture. If you are losing your child people act fast and be brave.

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It was the best decision I ever made. Format: Paperback Verified Purchase. For the first few chapters of this book, it's a page turner with many valuable insights. This may be one of the most critically important books a parent can read and I've read many. In my degree, we had to study the human mind, behavior, and the subconscious, so I have basic knowledge. This book offers something important most other books overlook. My copy is dog-eared on almost every page - each page contains a gem. Intuitively, we understand the concepts Neufeld outlines - about children, peers, and the harm that comes from inappropriate attachments to peers and from weak parental attachments.

But society thrusts upon us the notion that peer relationships are so necessary and healthy, kids must be "socialized" from infancy on, and children naturally stop being close to their parents in grade school and it's normal for them to rebel completely and want nothing to do with their parents by - or before - adolescence. I grew up in the big city public schools and saw firsthand the negative behaviors and saw how girls were taken advantage of. I saw how kids sell their true inner selves out just to fit in with a bunch of equally clueless kids.

I saw how everyone desperately tried to "fit in" with a false image sold to them by the media. I watched as they lost their self esteem. Many kids became absolute nightmares to their parents. Others were outwardly respectful, but led double lives and were up to no good. I noticed some negative reviews said Neufeld is too cynical and kids really need strong friendships. I think those people are misguided - or maybe they haven't witnessed what really goes on with kids these days.

Maybe they believe it's normal or don't realize that - throughout the history of mankind, this was not the case, and this behavior and societal structure is completely unprecedented. Which is not to say kids don't need friends. But Neufeld's book suggests they need to "follow the leader" and it needs to be a trustworthy, solid adult leader. Not other kids. Kids shouldn't "lead" other kids. Who better to learn manhood and womanhood from, but from grown adults?

Traditionally, men and women taught their sons and daughters to become men and women by being with them, children would work with or help out their parents. Relatives and neighbors helped, peers were more peripheral as they would be likewise busy with their own families. Which is not to say human life throughout history was nirvana! But school simply didn't exist as it does today.

Young humans didn't spend all their time with same-age companions, largely unsupervised. So, I think Neufeld's book is very insightful. And yes, as some negative reviews noted, he sounds a bit melodramatic. But as a therapist in the trenches for decades, hearing families discuss the battlefields in their homes, can you blame him? When kids are peer-attached, it is often extremely dramatic - and traumatic. The reasons I didn't give 5 stars: The author thinks it's not that parents are any less loving, competent or devoted than always, it's just kids are peer-attached due to modern social structure.

Hold On to Your Kids

I partially disagree. While the modern social and economic structure doesn't help matters, I believe many parents are distracted by electronic devices, careers, personal interests, or other things. In that void, kids find attachments to fill the void, and many parents are at least until the behavior problems start relieved when their children busy themselves with gaming, peer attachment, or whatever else keeps kids busy and out of their hair.

Parents could examine their own behaviors and ensure they don't drive children to peers for their own convenience. A second reason is, the book would benefit from better editing. The first few chapters are fascinating but it becomes repetitive and - as another reviewer noted - sometimes wordy which made it a bit tedious, but didn't lessen the value of the work. I've seen the author speak on youtube, he's brilliant but rambles a bit.

The third reason is, at the end, things are worded oddly. It sounds rather manipulative the way he advises us to get our children back if they're peer-attached. I actually get what he's saying, but some passages come off wrong, they make it sound like he's advising sneaky emotional manipulation. He probably doesn't mean it that way Or maybe he does feel "all's fair in love and war" if children are strongly peer-attached and out of hand. Still, it is worded in a way that could put some people off if they take it wrong. In any event, Gordon's concise, intelligent, insightful explanations of child attachment, of behavioral issues, of the dynamics leading to this situation are worth reading.

It could prevent many problems experienced by parents, prevent the sad disintegration of emotionally healthy childhoods, the tearing apart of families. Most parenting books contain helpful tips but they're - at worst - misguided, and mostly teach about putting a band-aid on the parent-child relationship wound. This book is about preventing the relationship wound, or - if it's already been inflicted however innocently - cleaning it out, healing it, and preventing further injury. His ideas may seem quaint and old fashioned to some, but that doesn't make them any less valuable.

Worth reading. Until this book. I'm a physician. I've raised 3 children, ages 33, 30, and I've struggled through multiple drug abuse with one child, and gross insecurity in 2 others. Although I have been a believer for several years in unconditional love, I struggled with the application in my relationships. A parenting book that explains unconditional acceptance. With the book half-finished, convicted of its truth, and with tears in my eyes, I began practicing unconditional acceptance with my children several months ago as i slowly digested the remainder of the book.

The rewards, especially with my child who was a drug addict for 14 years, have been nothing short of miraculous. If you buy only one book on parenting in your life buy this one. It is not an exaggeration to say that this book is changing my life and therefore the lives and trajectory of my children. I keep telling people it is like a giant permission slip to parent as your heart initially tells you to! We give birth to these precious humans and we just want to protect them, shower them in affection, and delight in them. This book lays out in easy-to-understand terms why we should focus on maintaining a close relationship with our kids instead of fretting over behaviors we don't like.

It hands back the responsibility and onus to parents in creating and keeping close, secure attachments with our children and making sure we are there for them as they move through developmental stages. And as my husband and I have been shifting our perspective in alignment with the ideas discussed in this book and implemented some of the advice, we have noticed a marked difference in our home.

In the long term, of course, the positive effects on learning of reduced anxiety and disorientation will gradually be canceled by the negative effects of peer orientation. Thus follows the research evidence that early advantages of preschool education are not sustainable over time. Do you? Being home does not mean not interacting with neighbors, it does not preclude being involved with your place of worship, your extended family, etc. It does mean that by age 7, most children can operate in a small group setting without falling apart, even the boys that could not do this before.

Social skills do have value! If you have a very socially anxious child, I think this is a great thing to work on in the six year old kindergarten year, starting small, being steady and fully present and structuring things. The world needs to open up a bit around six if it has not already. Friendships become increasingly important headed into the nine year change and I feel parents who have not worked on this at all, ie, no social opportunieis for their children at all, are doing their children a disservice.

By the preschool age, arranging peer contacts for our children has often become an obsession. There is no evidence to support such an assumption despite its popularity. A very interesting section! How do we get a child to do something she does not want to do? How do we stop a child from attacking a sibling?

How do we handle a child who resists our directions?

After all, discipline itself is about teaching, self-control, rules not just punishment. The authors say we must start with ourselves as parents. However, I wish the authors had also pointed out right here that children are developmentally immature and children do pull out things that parents do not demonstrate. The discipline for parents is to work only in the context of connection. The authors go on to list seven principles of natural discipline that the authors outline in this chapter:. Use connection, not separation, to bring a child into line.

You all know how much I hate time-out, so this section is right up my alley. Connect before you correct. Breathe before you connect would be what I would add here. Take a moment and pull yourself together before you react. When problems occur, work the relationship, not the incident. I think this is true, that a sideways approach can work but again, I wish there more examples for parents here of what needs to be handled right away and directly and what could use a sideways approach. Understanding developmental phases is really important, but boundaries are still there whether the behavior is associated with development or not.


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What development gives you is the right tools to use in conjunction with connection and your own inner work as a parent. Not sure I really liked the wording of this section, but I guess it does underscore the important place that sadness and anger does have and how it is not beneficial to shield our children from being sad or angry by over-explaining and not enforcing any boundaries at all.

Solicit good intentions instead of demanding good behavior. Provide something for the child to hang on to that gets them going in the direction you want — ask for their help, redirect, garner cooperation, with older children share your own values. What do you think?

Are you willing to work on it? Draw out the mixed feelings instead of trying to stop impulsive behavior. Which is what I have said time and time again in this space! See the back post on defiance, it is ever popular!

Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers

The authors talk about how to use mixed feelings to bring order out. When dealing with an impulsive child, try scripting the desired behavior instead of demanding maturity. They are incapable of thinking twice before acting or of appreciating how their actions affect other people. The authors give some great examples, but also provide the caution that some parents use this technique to extreme lengths and remind us that this should never be used to the exclusion of the other six discipline methods mentioned.

Good structures do not draw attention to themselves or the underlying agenda, they minimize bossing and coercion. I love some of the opening sentences in this chapter:. They experience what we manifest in tone and behavior. On this blog I have talked time and time again about creating a Family Mission Statement, knowing what your values are and living them. Your personal life, the life between you and your spouse, the relationship between you and your family members must reflect good morals, dignity and respect if you want your children to possess these qualities. There is no disconnect in parenting.

If you say your children are the top priority, then make your time with them a priority. Take a view of what it means to raise children long-term, which is really hard when your oldest is a baby, toddler or even preschooler. You may feel as if the normal developmental things they do will go on forever. One thing I see frequently over and over in the attachment community is mothers who have two, three and early four year olds as their oldest child banding together and being together.

There is nothing wrong with that at all, but they have no examples to draw from in parenting older children and when discipline needs to contain not just the connection and re-direction a two year old needs for boundaries and when that style of discipline really needs to shift and include stronger boundaries and different tools. In fact, I have seen some mothers with more dynamic five, six and seven year olds really be judged in the attachment community by mothers whose oldest children are only two or three years old.

So, do have some friends with older children so you can see what is coming, what connection and boundaries for that age look like and how things look when there are no boundaries. We can hardly expect a child to hold on to a connection that, in his eyes, we do not value. The authors mention on page that most parents are not perfect and that we may go into reactions that are uncontrolled emotions — but how after this happens we must re-group and re-collect our children.

They also talk about the importance of attachment and how many children need to have a sense that they truly matter. Structure matters. The most obvious restrictions that need to be put in place are those that govern peer interaction, especially the free-style interaction that is not orchestrated by the adults in charge.

Unless parents put some restrictions in place, the demand for play dates, get-togethers, sleepovers, and instant messaging soon gets out of hand. Many more interesting ideas regarding setting up connection with parents that can replace peer attachment, but I will stop there. I am interested to hear what you all thought of this chapter! Are you excited to get here? This was actually a very exciting post to write because I think it will really help you put all the pieces of parenting together!

We can no longer assume, as parents in older days could, that a strong early bond between ourselves and our children will endure for as long as we need it.

Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers by Gordon Neufeld

No matter how great our love or how well intentioned our parenting, under present circumstances we have less margin for error than parents ever had before. We face too much competition. This fits in so well with Waldorf parenting due to our extensive use of rhythm in parenting. Evoke smiles, look into their eyes.

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