cover image Secret of Parenting

Secret of Parenting

Anthony E. Wolf. Farrar Straus Giroux, $14 (256pp) ISBN 978-0-374-52708-2

In this eminently practical and often humorous volume, Wolf outlines a system for putting the brakes on such unpleasant behavior as whining, temper tantrums and sibling rivalry. Beginning with a firm stance against harsh punishment (""Parents have great power with their children, separate from any leverage based on fear. They just need to learn how to use what they have""), he explains the difference between what he terms the ""baby self"" and the ""mature self"" and demonstrates how to deal with ""baby self"" behavior calmly, firmly and consistently. Using an abundance of realistically scripted examples, he covers a laundry list of topics, such as ""No--How to Say It,"" ""Picking Up Rooms"" and ""I Won't/You Can't Make Me."" His commonsensical, non-reactive approach to discipline will resonate with any parent struggling to curb misbehavior in their children. Peppered throughout with the author's own whimsical cartoons and wry asides (after describing a theoretical child's angelic response to a disciplinary tactic, for instance, he notes ""there is an unconfirmed story that on March 18, 1977, a child from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, responded in this manner""), this book distills Wolf's 30 years of wisdom and experience as a clinical psychologist. It could easily be subtitled Parenting 101. (Sept.)