Renowned child psychologist and New York Times bestselling author of Lost at School and The Explosive Child explains how to cultivate a better parent-child relationship while also nurturing empathy, honesty, resilience, and independence.
Parents have an important task: figure out who their child is—his or her skills, preferences, beliefs, values, personality traits, goals, and direction—get comfortable with it, and then help them pursue and live a life according to it. Yet parents also want their kids to be independent, but not if they are going to make bad choices. They want to avoid being too overbearing, but not if an apathetic kid is what they have to show for it. They want to have a good relationship with their kids, but not if that means being a pushover. They don’t want to scream, but they do want to be heard. Good parenting is about striking the balance between a child’s characteristics and a parent’s desire to have influence.
Dr. Ross Greene “makes a powerful case for rethinking typical approaches to parenting and disciplining children” (The Atlantic). Through his well-known model of solving problems collaboratively, parents can forgo timeout and sticker charts; stop badgering, berating, threatening, and punishing; allow their kids to feel heard and validated; and have influence.
From homework to hygiene, curfews, to screen time, Dr. Greene “arms parents with guidelines that are clear, doable, and sure to empower both parents and their children” (Adele Faber, coauthor of How to Talk So Kids Will Listen). Raising Human Beings is “inspirational…a game-changer for parents, teachers, and other caregivers. Its advice is reasonable and empathetic, and readers will feel ready to start creating a better relationship with the children in their lives” (Publishers Weekly, starred review).
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This reading group guide for Raising Human Beingsincludes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
In Raising Human Beings: Creating a Collaborative Partnership with Your Child, renowned child psychologist Dr. Ross Greene helps parents maintain the balance between helping kids figure out who they are—their skills, preferences, beliefs, values, personality traits, goals, and direction—and ensuring that kids benefit from parents’ experience, wisdom, and values. His collaborative, nonpunitive, nonadversarial approach helps parents reduce conflict, enhance parent-child communication, and forge a partnership with their kids. With extensive real-life scenarios, Q & A’s, and step-by-step instructions, Dr. Greene has written an essential and practical guide that arms parents with all the tools they need to raise kids who are confident, self-aware, empathic, and humane.
Topics and Questions for Discussion
1. In the very beginning of the book, Dr. Greene writes, “These days, the guidance on how to raise kids is so ubiquitous and so incongruous” (page xi). What does he mean? Do you agree? What are some examples to support his statement?
2. Do you agree that the most crucial task of your child’s development is discovering who he or she is (skills, preferences, beliefs, values, personality traits, goals, and direction)? If so, why? If not, what then is the most crucial task?
3. Dr. Greene argues that there are not significant differences between the typical child and the behaviorally challenged child. Why does he make this assertion? Was it surprising to you? Do you agree? Why?
4. What does Dr. Greene mean when he writes about role confusion? Do you think it is as prevalent as Dr. Greene says? How do you see role confusion in your own household?
5. What are the Dictatorial Kingdom and the Pushover Provinces? Do you see your parenting style falling into either category? What are the flaws of each category? How is making these distinctions helpful for parents?
6. Incompatibility is used to describe moments when a child cannot meet the demands and expectations placed upon him. When is incompatibility a good thing? What is the role of the helper when dealing with this concern? How can you recognize when incompatibility may arise?
7. Why does Dr. Greene suggest that tantrums can be a good sign on page 15? In what manner should you respond to incompatibility?
Business as Usual
8. In Chapter 3, Dr. Greene takes parents through a few traditional exhorting and extorting scenarios. Why aren’t they effective? How can punishment interfere with helping kids find their inner voice?
9. Discuss the four goals for solving problems collaboratively: identify unmet expectations, evaluate your child’s ability to meet expectations, prioritize, and solve the problem. What are the differences between Plans A, B, and C in the problem-solving goal? What is appealing about this framework? How can you incorporate it into your own parenting?
Solving Problems Together
10. What is the Empathy step of Plan B? How important is empathy when solving problems collaboratively? How can you teach empathy to children?
11. What are some things you should avoid doing to keep Plan B from going off the rails? Are these things that you often find yourself resorting to? Are there any other things you would add to the list? How can you avoid doing them?
12. What are the signs that your parental anxiety is over the top? What are your most common sources of anxiety? How can you reduce it?
An Enduring Partnership
13. Discuss the different expectations kids struggle with at various age points. How does this breakdown of expectations help you prepare for an enduring partnership with your child? Were there any major expectations you didn’t see listed? If so, discuss where they might best fit and how you can approach them.
The Big Picture
14. Throughout the book, you met three different families struggling with various problems. How were these families helpful when trying to figure out how to use collaboration? What did you learn from the different families? In what ways were they similar to your family?
Enhance your Book Club
1. Practice Plan B in your group. Take turns role-playing situations you are currently dealing with at home and apply Plan B to solving these problems.
2. How can you apply Dr. Greene’s Collaborative & Proactive Solutions (CPS) method to problems outside the realm of parenting? Discuss ways in which this method can be used with friends, coworkers, and other adults in your life.
Dr. Ross W. Greene is the author of Raising Human Beings, Lost and Found, Lost at School, and The Explosive Child. Dr. Greene was on the faculty at Harvard Medical School for over twenty years, and is now founding director of the nonprofit organization Lives in the Balance (LivesintheBalance.org), through which he disseminates the model of care—now called Collaborative & Proactive Solutions—described in his books. Dr. Greene’s research has been funded by the US Department of Education, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the Stanley Medical Research Institute, and the Maine Juvenile Justice Advisory Group. He speaks widely throughout the world.
"This practical guide is a powerful tool to support the development of mindsight—how we know our own mind, connect with others, and respect differences. Collaborating with our children and teens is an important skill Ross Greene inspires us to acquire to help our kids learn the lifelong capacity to problem solve, be empathic, and become more insightful. Filled with captivating stories and clear steps, Raising Human Beings will help you raise thoughtful and resilient individuals."—Daniel J. Siegel, M.D. New York Times bestselling author of Brainstorm and co-author of The Whole-Brain Child and No-Drama Discipline
"Ross Greene takes a deep dive into the complexities of raising a human being and emerges with guidelines that are clear, doable, and sure to empower both parents and their children."--Adele Faber, co-author of How To Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk
"Want to know how to prepare your child for the innovation era? How to raise a child who knows who he or she is and can collaborate and solve problems creatively? Ross Greene will show you how in this book. Practice the parenting approach he describes, and your child will thrive!"—Tony Wagner, author of The Global Achievement Gap and Creating Innovators
"Parents and children everywhere will benefit from Dr. Greene’s insights into everyday parent-child interactions. His empathic understanding of families’ daily struggles shines through the entire book. He provides realistic, concrete, and effective guidance for turning those struggles from confrontation to collaboration. Bravo!"--Joan E. Durrant, PhD, author of Positive Discipline in Everyday Parenting, Associate Professor of Family Social Sciences, University of Manitoba
"A brilliant, practical guide on how to raise children in such a way that they will become the people we all want our children to become. Brimming with specific tips and how-to details, as well as encouragement and optimism rooted in decades of experience, this book can quickly become any parent's go-to resource day in and day out, especially in those moments when you feel at wit's end. Bravo, Dr. Greene!"--Ned Hallowell, New York Times bestselling author and ADHD expert
“Inspirational . . . This book is a game changer for parents, teachers, and other caregivers. Its advice is reasonable and empathetic, and readers will feel ready to start creating a better relationship with the children in their lives.”--Publishers Weekly STARRED review
"Not only does Dr. Greene teach us how to be collaborative partners in our children’s development, but how to both raise and to rise up as better human beings."--GeekDad
“Easy to follow...stuffed with examples and mock adult-child conversations...makes a powerful case for rethinking typical approaches to parenting and disciplining children. "--The Atlantic
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