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How to Unspoil Your Child Fast

Are our children indulged and spoiled?

Check out the numbers. According to a 2007 survey conducted by AOL and the family magazine Cookie, 94 percent of parents say their children are spoiled, up from the 80 percent measured by a 1991 Time and CNN poll. This percentage may sound high, but to me the question is, who are these other 6 percent, and who are they kidding?

For thirty years now, as a psychologist working with children and families, I have heard and seen the stress, misery, annoyance, and inconvenience of spoiled children. More so, I have been called in when the fallout of that indulgence has begun to surface or take hold, when children have become impossible to live with or have grown constantly unhappy and insatiable. Frequently, I've entered the scene after many years or even a decade of overindulgence, when parents bring in their malcontented teens who are unable to manage the trials and tasks of growing up toward adulthood. And often I've found that, whatever the child's and the family's issues, parents' straightening out their indulgent parenting has helped to improve everything.

Traditional books on parenting are long, dense, and require parents to read through many substantive chapters of background and theory before getting to the punch line, a final chapter of advice. As a parent of grown children, I recall the exhaustion, confusion, and frustration. The parents of young children I know are overworked and overextended. A majority of the single parents I know are even more overworked and overextended. The parents who need this kind of book have the least time, energy, and attention to read books about parenting or anything else.

And so I have aspired to write a book that presents what's important in a format that goes down fast and easy. The strategies of this book are clear and doable-they are based on a solid and deep understanding of children and parents. While the method works quickly, it in no way represents fast-food-style parenting. In addition to improving home life, the methods herein can transform children's insides, promoting their capability and resilience in handling life today and tomorrow.

The book itself consists of twenty-seven chapters that, step by step, help parents build "unspoiling" attitudes and behaviors. Each chapter centers on a short anecdote, case study, or idea that aims to make its points vivid, tangible, and memorable. Chapters include tips and strategies that translate these points to real life and real unspoiling. Early chapters offer a process to quickly reestablish and extend parents' place in the family and at home. Later chapters focus on the best parenting practices to handle common issues that arise during unspoiling, like discipline, unspoiling in public, and unspoiling yourself. The sum of these chapters will, I hope and trust, remind mothers and fathers of their own powers, thereby transforming their parenting from spoiling to its opposite. Each and every chapter, from the get-go, is designed to move you closer to unspoiling parenting and an unspoiled child.

As the adage goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. A few lucky parents will read this before they have gone down a harder road. They will have little to retrace and amend. The book will be a guide to continuing their constructive ways.

The good news is that, for the rest of you, those who've already slipped into a spoiling routine, there is plenty of time to make it right. It's not too late. Start this book and its methods today, and before you know it, your child and family will be looking more like you'd once imagined them. And soon enough, when you peek in the mirror, you'll be looking a little more like the parent you want to be.

“Terrific: logical, concrete, and easy to read.”
The Boston Globe

"A snappy read, so you can't claim you don't have time. And the method's simple so you can't pretend you aren't qualified to use it."

“There has been a wealth of good titles on discipline in the last year and this joins the ranks. The accessible style makes it highly recommended.”
Library Journal

“Offers lots of practical advice with great empathy and wit, and shows parents how they can drastically improve their family life."
–Rochelle Sharpe, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist

“It's a lively, engaging, helpful book that offers a look at our generation of parents and why we're tempted to indulge our children."
Cookie Magazine

“The book, which I easily read over two days in between working and parenting, offers a seven-day strategy to recognize how we spoil our children and how to stop it.”
The Dallas Morning News

“Describes helpful, pertinent, and loving ways to correct spoiled behavior before it becomes a serious problem. A must read for today’s over-indulgent parents.”