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4. Book Review -- Bringing Up Kids Without Tearing Them Down

Book Title: Bringing Up Kids Without Tearing Them Down

Author: Dr. Kevin Leman

Year of Publication1995

PublisherThomas Nelson Publishers


Author’s Web-site

Full Book Available inEnglish

You should read this book if you…

Want to learn how to give your children a good self-image in order to help raise confident, capable and responsible young adults.

“In a nut shell”…

Dr. Leman explains how important it is to give your children a good self-image. He describes it as giving your children self-esteem insurance. He gives examples on how to develop a positive relationship with your kids while handling discipline, responsibility, praise and many other parenting skills.

Key Ideas…

A healthy self-image doesn’t breed selfishness or arrogance. In fact, it prevents it. A healthy self-image breeds confident, self-respecting children that are not conceited or arrogant. As parents, it is our responsibility to find a way to give our children a good self-image by the way we encourage, discipline, listen, respect and respond to our children. We must find a discipline system that is neither authoritarian nor permissive.

Most children have two basic needs: I am lovable and I am worthwhile.

Children’s self-images have a direct effect on their behavior, good or bad. All behavior has a purpose and when children misbehave they have one of four goals in mind:

gaining attention

using power to control

avoiding pressure and expectations by appearing to be inadequate

seeking revenge

All children are born as attention-getters. How you respond to their attempts to get attention has a direct correlation on whether their attention-getting behavior will be negative or positive. Don’t overreact to what your child says or does, and try to show interest without putting on pressure.

Action Steps…

The aspects of a healthy self-image are acceptance and affirmation, belonging and competence. Children who feel accepted and affirmed know that they are lovable and that mom and dad care about them. This is done through encouraging, hugging, and spending time with your children. A feeling of belonging is one of the earliest building blocks in anyone’s self-image. The best way to develop this feeling for your children is to make them feel like they belong to your family. When a child feels he belongs, he tells himself, “I am worth something. I’m important. I fit in.” This will also help your child deal with the inevitable rejection he will face at some point out in the world. Children with a good self-image are capable and they tell themselves, “I can do it!” Being able to do something and achieve something, no matter how small, makes you feel worthwhile.

Six Basic Rules for a Functional Family:

Be firm but fair

Ask – and give – respect

Learn from mistakes

What you see is what you get

Real love includes limits

Walk, don’t just talk, your values

The Golden Rule of Parenting: Treat your kids as you would want to be treated.

There must be a balance between love and limits. Loving your children does not mean giving them everything they want or doing everything for them.

Six Principles of Reality Discipline:

You are in healthy authority over your kids

Hold children accountable for their actions

Let reality be the teacher

Use action, not words

Stick to your guns

Relationships come before rules

You can’t teach your children to be responsible; you give your children responsibility and let them learn how to handle it.


Dr. Dinkmeyer says, “A child who sees himself as worthwhile and useful has no need to develop destructive patterns. He does not turn to drugs and rebellion. He possesses a cooperative spirit, a sense of responsibility, and positive attitudes towards his family. His relationship with his parents is one of mutual trust and respect.” Pg 5

When you begin to determine your system of disciple, the firm but fair approach allows for a lot of flexibility and the freedom to fail. Children have the freedom to think, ask questions and disagree with parents. They have the freedom to feel angry, frustrated, sad, afraid and can express their feelings in an appropriate way. For example, the firm but fair approach acknowledges the child’s anger and then works out a way for them to express that anger in a nondestructive or nonabusive way. “If you want to scream, you’ll just have to do it in your room. When you calm down, you can rejoin the rest of us and we can talk about it.” Pg 54

To raise children without sound values, beliefs, and morals is to raise children who don’t know what they believe or who they are – both of which are vital parts of a good self-image. Pg 63

There is no better builder of self-image and a sense of self-worth than to know that you are the handiwork of an all-powerful Creator – that you are somebody, not an “it” or an accident. Pg 66

If parents are not willing to take a stand and teach their children such eternal values as morality, where will our children learn them?

How this has changed my parenting…

It is so easy to get wrapped up in the daily tasks of raising children, that I find myself simply going through the motions many days. This book has helped me realize that I have to make a conscious effort to give my kids a positive self-esteem through the way I parent each of them. I am much more mindful about encouraging my children to complete tasks themselves so they can experience the feeling of accomplishment. I spend more time just hugging and loving my children unconditionally. I think about other specific ways that I can improve my children’s self-image throughout the day.

 © 2011 The Family Project

Related Topics: Parent Resources, Christian Home, Fathers, Mothers, Parenting

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