No: Why Kids – of All Ages – Need to Hear It and Ways Parents can Say It

Walsh, David.  No: Why Kids – of All Ages – Need to Hear It and Ways Parents can Say It.  Free Press.  January, 2007.  288 pp.  ISBN: 0-7432-8917-X.  Trade cloth.  $23.00.

By noting that American culture has shifted in the past two generations to incline parents to say ‘yes,’ to themselves and their children, Walsh brings us to an important distinction – parenting exists outside the larger culture, and that is as it should be.  That children are more and more inclined to not know how to modulate their own behavior, to limit themselves, to tell themselves ‘no,’ is a cultural, not a parental, failing.  Be that as it may, we parents have much to work to do I we want to raise successful children.

Well written; clear and engaging.

One nit to pick is that he covers a lot of ground, some perhaps needlessly.  There are 2 ways to read the book- as a how-to (excellent), and as a critique of parenthood in America (good).  One does not necessarily invite the other.

Walsh’s list of do’s and don’ts at chapter ends are phenomenal (like, worthy of ripping out of the book worthy), a toolbox that every parent will find helpful; good advice often comes in the form of real-life examples drawn from many stages of kid lives.

While statements such as “self esteem does not boost academic achievement” (59) may seem contrarian, Walsh backs up his assertions with data as well as a bounty of real-life examples.  “True self esteem, he notes, comes from achievement” (60).  There are many lessons clearly set out in plain language; “kids need to figure things out for themselves,” (63), not hovering or micromanaging parents.  “Kids need some stress to develop their psychological muscles of resilience, stamina, determination, commitment, confidence, diligence, and perserverence” (68).

We also have to “teach them to be resilient” (70).

Thus, ‘no’ is about setting limits, about letting kids experience frustration, strong emotions, failure, and about not doing the work for your kids.  In this way, the kids grow and can become successful.  They can self-achieve, and they have balance.  The book examines ‘no’ in many different arenas, like with the brain, re: self-esteem, America’s ‘yes’ culture, dips into special needs a bit.  Excellent backup with many, varied illustrations from real life.

“The word ‘no’ itself is not important.  The concept of no is.  You can say no in many positive ways.

Not Rosemond exactly, but it is a form of palatable Rosemond.  Greenspan, Stanley I., M.D. The Secure Child: Helping Children Feel Safe and Confident in a Changing World – Walsh’s is the more practical, how-to filtered through Greenspan and Rosemond.  Somehow also reminiscent of Paul R. Stricker’s Sports Success Rx!: Your Child’s Prescription for the Best Experience: How To Maximize Potential and Minimize Pressure.

Those who most need it won’t read it?

I can’t locate where this review appeared, though I’m sure it did, in Library Journal. I *can* tell you that I shredded the galley on June 21, 2012.

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