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Saturday, May 1, 2010

Veteran Reviewer Likes Book on Parenting

Title: The Power of Your Child’s Imagination: How to Transform Stress and Anxiety into Joy and Success
Author: Charlotte Reznick, PhD
Category: Parenting
ISBN: 978-0399535079
Reviewer: Stephanie Ward
Publisher: Perigee Trade

Review by Stephanie Ward originally for Barnes and Nobel,Amazon and her Laughing Stars blog.

Adults often forget that children experience tremendous anxiety. They are beginning to absorb everything going on around them and starting to understand that loss and death are part of life. They’re also developing expectations for themselves, personally or academically, and worrying that they don’t measure up. The Power of Your Child’s Imagination offers strategies for helping kids use their own inner strength to cope with stress. I think other parents, especially those who – like me – have sensitive, intense kids, will find this book to be a gem.

Dr. Reznick points out that each of us, including young children, has an internal compass that seems to know more than we do. She offers imagination techniques we can teach our children to help them tap into that internal wisdom.

In the first section, she starts by suggesting simple ways we can encourage our children to use their imagination to “see” things in their minds and envision their lives changing for the better. She offers tips for setting goals with our kids. Sometimes they don’t share our goals for them, so it’s important to find common ground. Then she describes nine guided imagery tools to use with children. Some of these strategies draw on the power of archetypes, like a wise wizard, that have deep roots in our psyche. For each tool, she provides a script, possible variations, a real-life example of the technique in action, and troubleshooting tips. She corroborates these techniques with evidence from neurological and physiological research. She also explores ways to incorporate art and music, and she encourages parents to mix and match these methods to fit our children’s individual needs.

In the second section, she discusses how to apply the nine tools in more depth, using brief case studies. She offers guidance on molding these tools to address specific issues, such helping a child with low self esteem, building an appropriate sense of responsibility, and coping with fear of abandonment or death. She delves into sleep problems and bed wetting. She addresses aggressive behavior, sibling rivalry, and peer issues. She also looks at helping kids with academic problems, whether they stem from learning disabilities or an environment that does fit a child’s developmental needs and learning style.

As an educator-type, I appreciated her thoughts on learning issues. Some of you know that I’m a bit of an evangelist for delayed academics and honoring children’s developmental needs and learning styles. This is one of the reasons we homeschool. Dr. Reznick touches on the fact that many children are academically pushed much too early and that traditional classroom methods don’t fit some students.

One of the things I appreciated most about this book was Dr. Reznick’s warm, empathetic attitude toward parents and her acknowledgment that no “expert” can offer a “perfect” way to parent. “Caring parents … want to get it “right” But there is no such animal. Not here.” She also acknowledges that we have regrets as parents, and urges us to have compassion for ourselves.

This fits well with her articulate, approachable writing style. While there is some scholarly information woven into this book, it flows smoothly and is easy to read. It’s like sitting down with a compassionate friend — the type of person who has a lot of positive energy and intuitive wisdom — and having a chat over coffee.

I recommend this book to parents, teachers, counselors, and other caregivers and to any adults who want to incorporate stress management techniques into their own lives. The guidance Dr. Reznick offers is clear and supported with a wealth of specific examples, and readers will appreciate her nurturing, compassionate approach to guiding parents.

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