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Smart Discipline    by Larry J. Koenig order for
Smart Discipline
by Larry J. Koenig
Order:  USA  Can
HarperCollins, 2004 (2003)
Hardcover, Softcover

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Most parents work out a system of discipline as needed, occasionally referring to a child development book for help, or consulting friends whose kids have already gone through the same phases. Reading Smart Discipline reassured me about the techniques that I apply - consistent consequences, contracts agreed in advance etc. - but I also jotted down many new ideas.

Dr. Larry Koenig's 'Smart Discipline System' involves identifying misbehaviors that need change, establishing rules and consequences, and charting them (sample charts are included). He provides suggestions for different age ranges to get you started and recommends working on a small number of behaviors at a time with kids who are attention deficit. His approach essentially involves clear communication and sticking to consequences. Guidelines include 'Leave off the lecture' and to refrain from second chances - both mistakes most of us are prone to make.

Dr. Koenig then moves on to the important topic of 'Instilling Positive Beliefs'. I found the discussion of how the 'Belief Process' develops interesting, and appreciated his ideas for bringing out the best in children. He talks of identifying kids' 'centers of brilliance', which he relates to Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences (questionnaires are included to help determine your kids' and your own areas of strength). Part 3 of the book addresses homework and school problems, and Part 4 covers mistakes to avoid (like leaving teenagers alone in the house when out of town).

I found specific advice on effective listening very useful, and agree with the importance of keeping kids involved in activities, especially in the teen years. A final section on questions from parents highlights how to deal with both common and unusual situations. Life would certainly have been easier if I'd had a copy of Smart Discipline when my kids were younger, and I recommend it to you to help make the parenting years more harmonious for the entire family.

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