Sunday, July 15, 2018

Book Review: 'Small Steps to Great Parenting: An Essential Guide for Busy Families' by Dr. Kalanit Ben-Ari

Author Dr. Kalanit Ben-Ari earned her doctorate in psychology from Birkbeck University (University of London), and has worked as a family and couples therapist with a private clinic in Hampstead, London. She is a parenting expert and served as a board director at Imago Relationship International.

In her inimitable friendly manner Kalanit opens by stating, ‘Most parenting books on the market focus on problems that need ‘fixing’, usually to do with functions – problems with sleeping, eating, behaviour or toilet training. Of course, many parents are on the lookout for a ‘quick fix’ – some magic solution – but unfortunately there is no such thing! The key ingredients for successful parenting are deeper than that. They include thoughtfulness, planning and strategy, and consideration of your own values. As Harville Hendrix, the founder of Imago Relationship Therapy, once said: ‘You cannot fix a relationship, but you can transform it’. The content of Small Steps is broken down into easily digestible concepts, with chapters which focus on specific areas that parents find challenging. It offers practical and easy-to-use tips which they can implement every day. All the suggestions relate to small changes that can make a big difference. Using just one tip a day can foster a joyful connection between you and your children. This book is not about telling you a single ‘right’ way to deal with behaviour issues (which is what many parents believe the case to be) but gives a range of ideas. My aim is to support you to expand your options. I will help you tap into your own creativity in your parenting, so that you can discover which options are right for you.’

One of the most rewarding aspects of this book is the simplicity of approach; an overview of her chapters reveals why this is so -
Positive words create positive realities, The beauty of belonging, Your smile can change your child’s brain!, Kindness goes a long way, What you see from here, you do not see from there, Encourage conversation – not interrogation, Teach your children to trust their instincts, The downside of praise, Beyond play: Creating confidence, Parenting visions for challenging times, Self-disclosure time, The echo of your words, Transitions: Change from the child’s perspective, Routine rules, Sibling relationships, Parental authority, and Parents as a team. If a topic about parenting is not included on this list then it most surely is included in the content of each chapter.

Kalanit closes with this – ‘creating a real and stable change requires self-reflection, awareness, energy and new skills and understanding to recognise that challenge represents a growth opportunity for your children, you and your relationship. Your children look at you, but they don’t see only you. In your eyes, they see their own reflection as well. They see what you see in them and what you think about them. By looking at you, they also have a sense of their capacity to cope with a challenge, and their strengths and weaknesses, and your belief in them.’ This is an accessible, wise, practical book on how to be a great parent! Grady Harp, July 18

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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