Don’t miss this post today. These five books have make my life richer, and I want to tell you all about them. There’s Smart Parenting for Smart Kids, my newest favorite parenting book, 15 Minutes Outside, a quick daily outside ideas book, The Family Dinner, a cookbook of inspiration, Where Children Sleep, forced reflection on the meaning of our lives, and The Power of Your Child’s Imagination, a book with new ideas for helping children cope with stress and anxiety. I’ve found these books illuminating and I hope you will, too.
Books for Your Nightstand
Want to be viscerally affected by art? Read / view this book. The photographs capture children’s bedrooms around the world, from poverty and privilege.
The photographer / author, James Mollison writes, “I didn’t want it just to be about ‘needy children’ in the developing world, but rather something more inclusive, about children from all types of situations. It seemed to make sense to photograph the children themselves, too, but separately from their bedrooms, using a neutral background. My thinking was that the bedroom pictures would be inscribed with the children’s material and cultural circumstances ‘ the details that inevitably mark people apart from each other ‘ while the children themselves would appear in the set of portraits as individuals, as equals ‘ just as children.” You can view some photographs on Yahoo’s Where Children Sleep photo essay. What else can I say about this stunning book? It’s one that will make you think, and inspire many conversations with your children. (For some reason, this book isn’t available for a reasonable price so keep it on your radar for later . . . )
You MUST own this book. You can flip through the months of the year, and get quick ideas that are easy to do. I love this book! In August, when we had friends over with their kids, I flipped around and found how to make made homemade ice cream in plastic sandwich bags – and we so we did it. Last month my kids weren’t wanting to go outside so I choose making a stick tunnel for fairies. I’m telling you, it’s the best book. Watch Cohen on FOX 31 Denver and read what Psychology Today says about 15 mintes outside.
The Family Dinner by Laurie David and Kirstin Uhrenholdt
You’re going to love not just the recipes but the wisdom for family meals — like ways to talk about poetry and explore ideas, conversations starters, games to play, and traditions for divorced families — all from a variety of interesting people such as Maya Angelou and Michael Pollan. Yes, it’s a cookbook with 75 recipes from Kirstin Uhrenholdt, but it’s unique in that it’s much more. I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of this book and I’ve had it for months! It’s unique and a great way to improve upon family dinners.
Of all the parenting books I’ve read, this one stands out as truly exceptional. (And, P.S. I generally dislike parenting books for being irritating, guilt-inducing, and over-generalizing.) But, this book? I could read a chapter, easily understand the research and strategies, and immediately apply what I learned moments later. There was so much I needed, and this book really helped me!
In the “Tempering Perfectectionism” section I’m applying what the authors call “reflect” and “resist the temptation to offer pointers.” So hard! That means, I’m not arguing when AJ says, “I can’t do math,” but reflecting her words by saying “You’re feeling frustrated about math.” (Kind of reminds me of marriage counseling, what’s called paraphrasing . . .) In this same chapter, I’m applying the “no excuses, only plans” strategy. This means, I don’t argue with her statement that she can’t do math, reflectively listen, and then I ask her, “What do you think you could do that might help?” (Get extra help, ask more questions in class, etc.) This chapter alone is helping things are improving with AJ’s belief in her own efficacy.
The second chapter, “Building Connections,” spoke to me about helping my introverted daughter, AJ, who misses social cues with her friendships. (What is an introvert? It’s not shyness, it’s about energy.) The authors suggest setting up an activity-based play date to make it easier to interact, and then “go over host ettiquete,” how to offer sincere complements, how to seek common ground, and how to avoid monologues. It also shows how to help an introvert observe then blend in, looking for a single person to play with, not a group of three. Tonight we practiced another section from this chapter, a simple conversation formula. We practiced before going to a party, and hello, IT WORKED!
I could write a book about this book so I better skip to chapter six on developing motivation, which is “a state, not a trait.” The authors break motivation into what we already know –extrinsic and intrinsic — but take it further and show that extrinsic motivation is three kinds – situation-based, approval-based, and value-based. Value-based motivation is the most “robust form” say the authors and stems from “children’s consciously chosen and personally meaningful ideals.” Who knew? I didn’t and while I’m all for intrinsic motivation as much as possible, it’s not always going to happen when you have to memorize multiplication tables, or go into the hospital for mandatory tests like we had to last week. So, this section is a must read — and more realistic than other books that demand only intrinsic motivation. That simply doesn’t work for all situations and all children all the time.
Other chapters in Smart Parenting for Smart Kids include Managing Sensitivity, Handling Cooperation and Competition, Dealing with Authority, Finding Joy, and the Conclusion talks about the pressure to perform versus the power to grow.
Do these sound like topics your child or children are dealing with and you’re wanting to understand more? I can’t say enough good things about this book, it’s absolutely one of the best books on parenting I’ve ever read.
Did I ever tell you about trying hypnotherapy for AJ? Our pediatrician is trained to use hypnotherapy with kids so I figured we’d try it for her anxiety. While it didn’t work since the patient needs to be slightly interested, I thought it had LOTS of potential. The book, The Power of Your Child’s Imagination, very much reminds me of those hypnotherapy sessions with Dr. Kono. Dr. Reznick writes about children using mental imagery to cope with stress, overcome fears, handle loss and hurt, feel peaceful, and achieve success socially and academically.
Reznick, a child and educational Psychologist and Associate Clinical Professor of Psychology at UCLA, gives us nine tools that we (can use ourselves!?) can use with our kids. They are:
- The Balloon Breath
- Discovering Your Special Place
- Meeting a Wise Animal Friend
- Encountering a Personal Wizard
- Receiving Gifts from Inner Guides
- Checking in with Heart and Belly
- Talking to Toes and Other Body Parts
- Using Color for Healing
- Tapping into Energy
You’ll also want to read:
Download my "Can't Put 'Em Down" book lists for your kids ages 3 - 13.
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