Book Review: ‘Between Parent and Child’ by Dr. Haim G. Ginott

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Of late my wife has been reprimanding me for being hypercritical and harsh with my daughter. Not wanting to get into my way versus your way debate with my wife, I decided to check for myself if my wife’s comments are actually true. Where else would I turn to counsel than my new-found best friends, books? I turned to Amazon search engine to shortlist a book to read on the subject and after a few clicks, I had found ‘Between Parent and Child’ by Dr. Haim G. Ginott, a book first published in 1965 and considered a classic on this subject.

Forget the content of the book, the book could easily called a classic for the number of high impact one-liners in it. Mid-way through the book I completely lost count of the number of one-liners that made me sit up and say wow! The book is concise but thorough and the chapters are short but effective. Most importantly at the end of each chapter I was motivated to read the next chapter. The book proceeds at a rapid pace in dispelling many myths about parenting and parent-child interactions. Overall it’s a very good and delightful book to read and could be an important source to refer back to, from time to time.

Some of my favorite pointers/ observations from the book are:

  1. Don’t be a parent, be a human being who is a parent
  2. Good parents need skill
  3. Communication for connection: Respond to children’s feelings, not their behavior
  4. Behind many childhood questions is the desire for reassurance
  5. Fish swim, birds fly, and people feel
  6. Praise, like penicillin, must not be administered haphazardly
  7. Abusive adjectives, like poisonous arrows, are not to be used against children
  8. Anger, like the common cold, is a recurrent problem. We may not like it, but we cannot ignore it.
  9. The niceties of the art of living cannot be a conveyed with a sledgehammer
  10. Emotions, like rivers, cannot be stopped, only directed
  11. Parents can initiate favorable changes in their child by listening with sensitivity
  12. Discipline, like surgery, requires precision – no random cuts, no careless attacks
  13. Discipline: Permissive of feelings but strict with behavior
  14. When children are punished they resolve to be more careful, not more obedient or responsible
  15. Effective upbringing is based on mutual respect between parent and child without the parent’s abdicating the adult role
  16. It’s desirable that a parent or other caring adult be home to greet children upon their return from school
  17. It hurts to share a parent’s or a spouse’s love
  18. Children do not yearn for equal shares of love: They need to be loved uniquely, not uniformly
  19. Efficiency is the enemy of infancy: Children need opportunities to experiment, struggle, and learn without being rushed or insulted
  20. Children need a clear definition of what is acceptable and what is unacceptable behavior
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