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Book Review: Beyond Behavior Management

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The Bottom Line

By Jenna Bilmes; 258 pages. Subtitle: The Six Life Skills Children Need to Thrive in Today's World

This is a book written for early childhood teachers, and not intended as anything but. While teacher books are often of interest and service to parents, too, this one is pretty well tied to the classroom. It's interesting, hopeful reading, but without a lot of practical application for parents. The rating's purely a parent's perspective on a non-parenting book.

About the Guide Rating

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Pros

  • Upbeat and positive approach toward all types of children
  • Appropriate for teachers with special-needs kids in their classrooms
  • Focuses on behavior skills as part of larger life skills
  • Lots of concrete examples and dialogs
  • Astonishing variety of children's names used in examples

Cons

  • Teacher strategies not easily applied to parenting situations
  • Kids with serious behavior problems may not respond to these strategies
  • Not much help for kids beyond kindergarten
  • Parents and teachers who've struggled may find text a little idealistic
  • Some of the names are so unusual as to be distracting

Description

  • Chapter 1: The Six Life Skills
  • Chapter 2: Effective Teaching Strategies
  • Chapter 3: Attachment
  • Chapter 4: Affiliation
  • Chapter 5: Self-Regulation
  • Chapter 6: Initiative
  • Chapter 7: Problem Solving and Conflict Resolution
  • Chapter 8: Respect

Guide Review - Book Review: Beyond Behavior Management

I got all excited when I saw this title at a bookstore while on vacation. I grabbed it in a hurry without looking at it too hard, convinced I would love it because I'm all about the behavior management. And indeed, you couldn't want a more upbeat and encouraging view of handling badly behaved kids in ways that improve their self-esteem and relatedness than this one. Unfortunately for parents, the book is intended for early childhood teachers and addresses classroom situations exclusively, making it a wishful read but not a really useful one for moms and dads. That's not the book's fault -- it was never intended to be judged by that criteria -- but it's still a bit of a disappointment for this harried reader.

Working from experience with young children, Bilmes presents strategies for addressing problem behaviors while strengthening six life skills: attachment; affiliation; self-regulation; initiative; problem solving and conflict resolution; and respect. There's a welcome lack of blame and shame, and very specific dialogs to demonstrate the way teachers can help kids improve their ways of reacting and relating. If some of it seems a little too good to be true, well, it's a nice dream.

Creative parents can pick up good ideas from anything, and there are some fun activities here that might be applicable to home use. In the end, though, this is best for passing on to your child's pre-K or K teacher, or combing for suggestions to write up and send in.

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