Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline: The 7 Basic Skills for Turning Conflict into Cooperation by Becky A. Bailey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is seriously the best parenting book I’ve ever read. It has taken me almost a year to work through this relatively slim book, but I found I needed to take time with each chapter to fully absorb it. (I took notes and made flash cards for myself — I’m a nerd, I know). It also has taken me that amount of time to actually put into practice these parenting techniques.
I should also say that this is probably one of the best mental health/counseling books I’ve ever read too. Another reason I chose to read it slowly is because one of the very first quotes of the book is “You cannot teach what you do not know.” So if I don’t know how to deal with my feelings or accept disappointment in a healthy way, how can I expect my child to not throw a fit about leaving the park early?
Maybe everyone else already understands this, but it took this book for me to realize that children misbehave because they don’t know the appropriate way to deal with something, not because they are disrespectful. The first thing the author teaches is to accept the moment as it is and to look at this tantrum (or “bad” behavior or whining) as a moment to teach our children a better way. There are many times I whine or throw a tantrum as an adult, but we seem to expect children not to do these things and to be punished for them. Bialey has us focus less on punishment, and focus more on what we actually want our children to learn. Basically, this book is about changing our mindset about parenting, starting with changing our mindset about ourselves.
This might sound philosophical, but Bailey also has specific actions to take, to the point of “here are the words you could say” kind of thing. She gives tons of examples of what to do and compares that with what we might already be doing, which I appreciate. I think one of my biggest takeaways was from The Power of Attention: what you focus on, you will get more of. This might be obvious, but it is something I had never really practiced in a parenting context. I usually found myself saying, “Don’t do this,” “no, not that,” etc. Bailey suggests that we focus on what our kids are doing well and also giving a suggestion of what to do rather than what not to do. This is simply just reframing how we say things. For example, I should say, “Put your feet on the floor,” rather than “Don’t put your feet on the table.” Little things like this actually matter and make a difference.
I have become a more compassionate, centered parent because of this book. I still make mistakes, of course, but I have found this way of teaching rather than punishing helpful for my kids and me.