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Reviewed by Karri Compton
Have A New Kid by Friday by
"Dr. Leman makes a persuasive argument, one that has motivated me to make changes in my own household."
What parent doesn’t want their children to act decently? Is there anything worse than a bratty kid--one who gets his way all the time and lacks respect?
In Have a New Kid by Friday, Dr. Kevin Leman, (author of The Birth Order Book and Making Children Mind without Losing Yours), claims that in a week your household can change dramatically.
Leman focuses on how to change a child’s attitude, behavior, and character. Basically, he charges parents to stop rewarding negative behavior and punish it. He also encourages parents to give the child an instruction, turn their back, and walk away. If the child complains or does not complete a task, then next time the child wants something, she doesn’t get it. The parent should explain in a calm and matter-of-fact manner, “Remember when you chose not to obey me? I don’t like the way that disrespects me. So now I choose not to (fill in the blank here).” If the parent means business, the child will think twice before blowing off instructions or exhibiting behavior she knows you will not tolerate.
Sound simple? Perhaps it is. Perhaps it is not.
Another thing Leman stresses is that the parent, before expecting the child to change, must first change himself. Yelling, screaming, and threatening does not set a good example for young Johnny or Susie. As it is said, behavior is caught, not taught. The parent must set the standard with his own behavior. Consistency and follow through are key, Leman says. Anger is not productive, and rules without relationship are not effective.
Most of the principles stated in this book are ones I have heard before. But knowing and doing are two different things. Dr. Leman makes a persuasive argument, one that has motivated me to make changes in my own household.
If a parent wants somewhat superficial change (outward behavior) then this process sounds like it will do the trick. However, if parents are Christians and want to build their child’s character on biblical principals, they will find little to help them here. I believe that kids need to obey not because the parent will make it uncomfortable for them if they don’t, but to obey God in response to his greatness, love, and blessing in our lives. Obeying parents and respecting each other is, indeed, part of God’s plan as revealed in Scripture, but obedience for selfish reasons is not the goal.
I will say that Dr. Leman’s emphasis on parental change is very important. We cannot expect our children to be thankful, obedient, and well-behaved if we as parents do not model that behavior. “Do as I say and not as I do” is a deadly creed and the reason many children go astray in life, no doubt.
While Dr. Leman did not completely sell me, I found some of his suggestions extremely practical and effective. I suggest parents who struggle with disobedient children take Dr. Leman’s challenge and give him a week to change their homes.
Compton, wife and mother of three teens, two cats, and a beagle, devours Christian
fiction whenever possible. Her favorite genre is suspense/thriller, especially
Ted Dekker and Steven James novels. Since promoting biblical worldview fiction
is dear to her heart, she reviews on her blog, Fiction
Fanatics Only! and is
a staff reviewer for such sites as The Christian Suspense Zone and Fiction Addict.
Her stab at writing a novel confirmed what a tough job it is, and so the work
is shelved for now, allowing the pros to do what they do best. When she isn't
reading and reviewing, Karri stays busy at church and performing in various community