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Book Review -- To Respect and Be Respected

Book Title: Respektovat a byt respektován (To Respect and Be Respected)

Author: Pavel Kopriva, Tatjana Koprivová, Jana Nová␣ková, Dobromila Nevolová

Year of Publication: 2008

Publisher: Spirála, Kromeriz

Pages: 286

Author’s Web-site: www.zkola.cz/respektovat

Full Book Available in: Czech

You should read this book if you…

Don’t want to bring up your children in the same way you were brought up by your parents but you don’t know another way. You will learn what is not effective and how to correct ineffective ways of parenting. In addition to theory, the book gives specific guidelines for communicating with your children (and adults also).

“In a nut shell”…

The goal of this book is to convey some very valuable ideas on raising children – regardless of their age. The writers believe that in addition to love there is another necessary condition for successful parenting, which is to respect your children. If we want our children to respect other people they must first experience what it means to be respected.

Key Ideas…

  • Punishment transfers the power model to different relationships and draws others into an exhausting “power game”.
  • Whenever we demand obedience from our children (act as authoritarians), we are actually teaching them to not take responsibility for their actions. We don’t give them the opportunity for natural consequences.
  • It isn’t possible to raise children authoritatively and then expect them to behave democratically.
  • The real test of our parenting is how our children behave when we are not around.
  • The correct opposite to authoritarian obedience is not disobedience or “I’ll do whatever I want”. It is responsibility, that is, not submission to another person (an authority figure), but being led by internal values. There is a big difference between “being led by what is right” and “submitting to someone just because they said so”.
  • An obedient child can be a parent’s pride and joy. But when such a child, for example, becomes part of a gang, his unhappy parents say, “He/she was so nice and obedient…” Nothing has changed; the child is still obedient, but now he or she is listening to somebody else.
  • An alternative to rewards in discipline is to manage the conditions for children’s actions and behavior such that they experience positive and natural consequences of their actions and behavior.
  • The same principles that apply in the home can create success in a school setting. Teachers that focus on developing relationships with students, creating an emotionally safe environment and give students a voice in creating rules will achieve greater cooperation and collaboration.

Action Steps…

  • Treat your children in a way that doesn’t hurt their human dignity…do not do anything to them that you would not want them to do to you.
  • Try to avoid using words such as always, never, still. Avoid blaming and accusing. Be careful about how you teach, explain and moralize: You should realize that… Do not criticize or focus on mistakes: You did that wrong! When we say things like, “You’re going to send me to an early grave”, we emotionally manipulate our children. Insults and irony have a similar effect, “You’ve really made a name for yourself now!” Do not compare your child with somebody who does something better (e.g., riding a bicycle).
  • Instead, take a more positive approach. Observe: I see that you . . .; explain or inform: It will help if you . . .; express expectation: I need you to . . .; give a choice: you may choose this or that . . .; encourage responsibility: what shall we do about . . .
  • Do not shout. Shouting is an expression of anger and exasperation, as well as helplessness.
  • When you explain a problem to your child, you can ask, “What can you/we do about it?
  • What are your suggestions? What do you think? What would help you?”
  • Offer more alternatives to your child. (Shall we try to make it together or shall each of us do his part?)
  • Before you start to solve problems reasonably – i.e., effectively – try to calm your emotions.
  • Listen to your children actively: name the emotions, intentions and expectations of the other person, express support.
  • Teach your children that emotions are okay.
  • Instead of ordering punishment, let the consequences of incorrect behavior fall on the child.
  • Instead of praise and compliments, use feedback and appreciation.

Miscellaneous

Rewards and praise. This is the chapter which divides parents into two camps. The theory is to recognize a task rather than giving a ‘value’ such as good, bad, etc. You apply praise/rewards or consequence based on the action. (For example, “You worked hard to get a good grade,” instead of “You’re a smart boy.”) Most of my female friends disagree with the theory written in this chapter. As for me, I am somewhere in the middle. These are new ideas for me and I am still processing the theory.

How this has changed my parenting…

For example, we have stopped calling some of our four-year old son’s behavior “naughtiness” and have started to work with it, with patience and an effort to understand. Instead of punishing and especially instead of threatening we are trying to find different ways that don’t degrade our son. Results started coming after a while (it’s important to be patient!), and we were motivated by the results.

When we are tired or just not in a good mood, it is very difficult not to slide back into demands for automatic obedience, which are in us from our childhood. I am beginning to sense, however, that the wisdom of this book is not only applicable in my role as a parent, but communication in other relationships as well. As stated by one of the authors: “If we treat the others with respect and expect respect from them…we will better value ourselves and avoid being dependent on the sentiments of others.”

© 2011 The Family Project

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