Elegant Parenting
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Elegant Parenting—
How To Do It Right The First Time

A Seminar with Beth and John Gall
Illustrated by Christine Lux

This interesting book was written to help parents learn the skills they need to influence the behaviour and attitudes of their children: to learn "Parenting as a Performing Art." Techniques from many sources are given credit in a detailed Appendix, which would be especially useful for those teaching parenting skills.

The authors reinforce that if a particular parenting technique doesn't work, the parent should switch to another. Being equipped with many effective techniques and ready to change strategies anytime is the key to effective parenting. Emphasis is given to watching and understanding the child's and parent's behavior. The unhappy topic of child abuse is defined as "what happens when parents lack the resources for elegant and effective communication with their own offspring" (p. 41).

Positive parenting is emphasized. Negation, forbid ding, and spanking are persuasively put down as methods used by parents with no other parenting skills at their disposal. Over 60 wonderful techniques are discussed, such as changing the child's environment, discouraging the use of "no," doing nothing, and using nonverbal more than verbal methods. Concerns, such as a child who will not eat peas, are treated for what they are truly worth: "no big deal."

Many comments and fragments of phrases may some times be difficult for the reader to decipher due to the "seminar" style in which the book is written. Also, the lists of parenting techniques have such unique names, usually related to the examples given, that the reader may have difficulty finding something in the table of contents.

Although breastfeeding is mentioned several times and treated as the normal baby feeding method, physical separation of the jealous older sibling from the baby is recommended: "the older sib shouldn't have to watch that [breastfeeding]. That's rubbing it in." (p. 241) This is sad advice as most children love to help Mother nurse "their" baby. Mothers simply need more strategies to help this situation also.

Overall, this book is an excellent tool for parents and parenting educators to promote gentle, effective parenting.

J Hum Lact 11(4), 1995

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