Nowadays bookstores and libraries provide a lot of literature for inexperienced parents who look for help both practical and theoretical advice. Published in 2008, Superpowers for Parents: The Psychology of Great Parenting and Happy Children by Stephen Briers serves as a good example of parental guide literature that deeply investigates psychological and social aspects of parenting. Despite the fact the book is not based on some specific practical research, it provides useful hints for parents on how to handle children’s bad behavior, manage their negative emotions, teach children to find inner strength. What’s more important, the book reveals the causes that underlie children’s bad behavior and helps parents find strengths to raise children with “superpowers”.
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The author of the book is a renowned British clinical psychologist, Ph.D., Stephen Briers. The book handles the most emotional aspect of the process of child upbringing and is based on many previous publications of Behaviorists and Positive Psychology followers, as well as the latest researches in this field, that the author either supports or disapproves of.
The definition of discipline
First, the author defines what discipline should mean. From Briers’ point of view, discipline should include not only “correction and punishment” relations but parents’ ability to teach children to understand and cope with different emotions and feelings (Briers 14). This conviction is based on the results of clinical work with children of many years.
Second, the author expresses his discord with the ideas of Behaviorism that underrated small children’s intelligence. To support his idea, the author provides the findings of Jean Piaget who made a great contribution to the understanding of the stages of children’s intelligence development.
The researches aimed at understanding the reasons for bad children’s behavior
Besides, the author gives several examples that can help realize the reasons for bad behavior and look at the problem from a child’s point of view. Thus, in one of the chapters of Mary Poppins a small boy Michael behaves naughty under the influence of some inner feeling he can’t control that upsets him. Briers derives his suggestions from this story: “If we want our children to master antisocial impulses we need to give them the skills to be able to do this” (Briers 26).
In other words, the techniques of self-control can and should be taught. Moreover, Briers is convinced that the technique of “counter-transference” can be applied to the child-rearing process (Briers 16). This technique is based on the assumption that parents should not only notice the change in children’s behavior but realize what makes this change make them feel. This means that when a child misbehaves and demands something, parents feel uncomfortable and embarrassed with their rage trying to give way to their negative emotions. In this respect, Briers mentions that it is necessary to control parents’ emotions and in this way show children how to manage their own.
The technique of “counter-transference” applied to naughty children
In addition, Briers cites several types of research which indicate that children not only imitate their parents’ behavior, they share the same experience as they watch their mom or dad do something, i.e. the neurons in their heads get involved as if performing the same action. Moreover, some researchers found out that not only actions but emotions can be transmitted in this way. Briers provides the example of a mother with a child standing on a platform at night waiting for a train to support this suggestion (Briers 17).
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The connection between parents and children’s emotions
In case of some dangerous situation, the psychologist states that a child can not perceive a situation objectively and he reads the emotions on the mother’s face. That is why it is so important to control the feelings of anxiety and rage in front of children in terms of facial expressions and body language: “Show the change you want to see in your child. There is no point in telling a child to calm down if you are agitated yourself. You need to calm down first so your child can see how it is done” (Briers 22).
Important child-rearing strategies
Briers goes on by suggesting some general rules that help parents to develop children’s self-control and problem-solving skills, to overcome the feelings of stress and tension. One of the most important factors in child-rearing, according to the author, is to teach children to associate their emotions with vocabulary available to them: “Children need to learn words for what they are feeling” (Briers 24). Another crucial detail is “to tell the child how you feel to help her put a name to her emotions” (Briers 28). One more objective that parents should strive for is to set a child’s mind to a positive experience to avoid a depressed mindset where bad events are perceived as permanent and have a far-reaching effect (Briers 93).
Thus, the main idea of the book is that happy parents have happy children and it is all in the hands of parents to master their self-control techniques so that their children could learn from them how to manage negative emotions, control rage, and overcome stress.
From my perspective, the book presents an excellent example of literature for parents. Nicely written, embracing various child-rearing techniques, with a lot of examples, the book is very easy to read. There is no unnecessary information, the narration is very light and up to a point. Divided into 7 chapters, the book provides a clearly and logically paragraphed reading matter. Besides, a lot of figures, pictures, bullet points, and summaries at the end of every chapter enhance the appeal of this book. The book is not very long, which I consider being an asset. Moreover, theory and practical examples are presented in a very readily interesting and convenient way. I would recommend this book to any parent who is looking for helpful hints and is concerned with their child’s future.
Briers, Stephen. Superpowers for Parents: The Psychology of Great Parenting and Happy Children. UK: Pearson Education, 2008.