QUINCY -- A new book compiles advice honed at Chaddock to help parents build better relationships with their children.
"Raising the Challenging Child: How to Minimize Meltdowns, Reduce Conflict and Increase Cooperation" by Karen Doyle Buckwalter and Debbie Reed of Chaddock and Wendy Lyons Sunshine hits store shelves Tuesday with 30 lessons focused on the parent, the child and the parent and child together.
"Even the best kids have challenging moments," said Reed, Chaddock's president and CEO, and the book "gives some tools to parents so they could respond in the most helpful way when their children were being challenging."
Key is the relationship between parent and child.
"Some of the common practices we apply to other relationships, we're simply saying think about it with children, too," said Buckwalter, director of program strategy at Chaddock. "If you think about a marriage, a couple or a friendship, we often think there has to be a give and take, but for some reason, when it comes to children, all that seems to go out the window in our thinking. They just need to obey. We're the grown-ups."
Instead, the authors liken the necessary give and take to making deposits and withdrawals in the "relationship bank" between parent and child.
"When we spend time with them, when we recognize something special or unique about them, when we thank them, even for a chore that's an expectation, all of those things make deposits so that when you have to set limits, say no or ask them to change their behavior, you can make a withdrawal without undermining that relationship," Reed said. "If all you do is tell your child no, you need to do that differently, you can't wear that outfit to school today, you're going to get overdrawn with your relationship bank and that's going to make everything harder with more resistance, more pushback."
Offering thoughtful choices -- even as simple as choosing between the red cup and the blue cup -- can spur cooperation without undermining a parent's authority or the relationship.
"We're just suggesting giving choices that you would be happy with both as a way of empowering children, to share power to gain power rather than usurp all the power and try to force the issue," Buckwalter said.
Work on the book began more than four years ago, spurred by the realization that what Chaddock does to care for and help children would be good for any child – and that parents can benefit from what staff have learned over the years. The finished product, published by Revell, provides practical, not clinical, strategies designed to be effective for people with different personalities and life experiences.
Suggestions range from Reed's top advice to look at what's going on underneath the behavior, which can be a cover for being sad or scared, to Buckwalter's emphasis for parents to look at themselves, their history and what they bring to the relationship and each chapter's take on "perhaps you've done this … instead, try this."
"We're just so excited to take all we've learned and offer it to parents, grandparents, teachers, anyone working with kids. We've seen it work. So many times, we give a parent a strategy and they say that would never work with my child right up until it does," Reed said.
"I don't think most of the authors of parenting books have worked with hundreds of some of the most challenging kids in the country," Buckwalter said. "Just about any problem you can think of, we have dealt with. We've worked with kids that all the other parenting books failed for, or they wouldn't be at Chaddock."
Parent can refer to the book for general information or help with one specific situation.
"We hope you will eventually read it cover to cover, but you can also pick it up and grab an idea or grab a concept to work on one week," Buckwalter said. "We want it be something you didn't have to read cover-to-cover to understand it."
The 272-page hardcover "Raising the Challenging Child: How to Minimize Meltdowns, Reduce Conflict, and Increase Cooperation" sells for $19.999 and is available and wherever books and ebooks are sold including Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
A companion study guide for Christian parents and caregivers in small groups that correspond with the book's 30 lessons is available for free download from the book's website, raisingthechallengingchild.com.
Authors Karen Doyle Buckwalter and Debbie Reed plan several book signings including 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 4 at Vermont Street United Methodist, 818 Vermont, and 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 13 at St. Peter Church, 2600 Maine.