Here's what the book is all about (at least as far as I've gotten):
- Choices: In any situation that doesn't really matter to you, giving your kid two acceptable choices and letting her decide. "Would you like to wear your red shirt or your blue shirt?" "Should we go inside now or in five minutes." The premise is that you teach your children to make decisions and then, when something does matter and there shouldn't be a choice, you are more likely to not have a fight if the child has felt like they've had some control over other decisions.
- Making Mistakes and Learning Consequences: The book talks about asking your child questions and letting them think through the answer. For example, instead of saying, "don't go into the road, you'll get hit by a car," asking the child "what do you think might happen if you went into the road without holding my hand?" Obviously you'd never let your child go into the road by herself, but this helps them learn about consequences. There is an emphasis on the importance of letting kids at an early age make mistakes, because the consequences of mistakes at the age of two are usually much less severe than the consequences at the age of 16 (wrecking a tricycle versus wrecking a car). The book says that you should look forward to having your toddler screw up because that provides teachable moments.
- Enforcing: The book teaches you to sing the "Uh-Oh" song when a child does not obey the first time. The Uh-oh signals that something went wrong and that discipline is about to come. And the emphasis is on discipline with empathy. "Uh-oh, it's very sad that you wasted your carrots and threw them all on the ground, you need a little rest in your room." Then doing a time-out in the room until the child has settled down. At the end of the timeout, you give the child a big hug and move on.
- Enforceable statements: I really like this one. For example, besides using physical force, you can't make your kids pick up their toys or stop fighting. But you can say "feel free to keep all the toys that you pick-up" and whatever doesn't get picked up, you put away where the child can't get to until they earn them back. In the instance of the kids fighting, you can say "I charge $2 to listen to you fight, would you like to pay me with money or by doing chores." I think this is so clever!
I've been reading the book for just a few days - it's a quick read - and I've already seen some of the methods work. For example, last night, Emma was playing on her swingset outside and we wanted her to come in because Kate needed to go to bed. Obviously she didn't want to come in. But we asked her if she wanted to come in to read a book or play in the playroom. She came in with no fight!
Or instead of asking her if she wants a banana for her fruit - where she'll often just say "no" - we ask her if she'd like grapes or a banana. It takes away the option of saying "no."
Instead of asking her to put on her coat, we gave her a choice of which one to wear. And she put it on without saying a word.
And it's fun trying to figure out choices you can give her - even silly ones - like "do you want me to tickle your belly or your feet." The book definitely emphasizes the importance of having fun with your kids, which builds up a cycle of trust. Trust you're gonna need when the child becomes a teenager!
I'm sure there are a lot of different methods out there - for example, I also just finished reading 1-2-3 Magic, which I think has some good ideas, too - but I'm really digging this one. Highly recommend!