Friday, July 19, 2013

Setting Limits with your Strong-Willed Child by Robert J. MacKenzie, Ed.D.

I have three strong-willed children, which isn’t too surprising as they have two strong-willed parents. I liked the subtitle of this book which is “eliminating conflict by establishing clear, firm, and respectful boundaries.” I hate conflict so eliminating it sounded great to me.

The book explains the “family dance” which is when your kids discover that you are going to tell them a million times to do something, so they don’t do it, which enrages you, and things quickly go downhill. MacKenzie gave many examples on how to avoid this. Basically this book gives you great examples of a giving a firm limit, and then following it up by a “natural consequence” or a time-out immediately. This is great advice for both me and my husband. It’s hard when you are busy to try to be direct and not get into the “kids put away your shoes.” Five minutes later while you are cooking dinner, “kids put away your shoes.” And so on. Instead, “kids put your shoes away, or some consequence.” If they don’t do it, they get the consequence immediately. The book also has you use timers, which we already do to great effect.

We had been using 1-2-3 Magic with the kids (counting them for misbehavior) and it doesn’t really work that well for our testers. We’ve been trying the methods in this book, which are mostly the same as 1-2-3 magic without the counting and it works better with our strong-willed children. Giving them a choice with a consequence if they don’t make the correct choice and then having the consequence directly follow has been working much better. I also liked the Saturday bin idea where I’ve been putting toys that aren’t picked up into a bin that they can’t use until Saturday. It has been a great motivator for the kids to pick up.

Overall, Setting Limits with Your Strong-Willed Child is another good set of tools to use in my parenting basket.

Book Source: Purchased from

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