The Bottom Line
By Michael Thompson, Ph.D., with Teresa Barker; 257 pages. From the book jacket: "How to listen for the truth of our children's experience -- and how to trust, love, and ultimately let go of a child."
Do you remember what school was like? Not just the highs and lows, but the everyday boredom, the disinterested teachers, the meaningless homework? It’s not a place many adults want to revisit. But Thompson suggests that reconnecting with that experience is essential to helping our kids with their own school days.
- Engaging storytelling style makes book fun to read.
- Good information about children's often uneven developmental levels.
- Includes stories of children with learning disabilities.
- Parents need to be reminded that all children struggle in one way or another.
- Offers needed criticism of current hyper-competitive trends in education.
- No really practical suggestions other than "understand more and stress less."
- Case studies may not directly apply to your child's situation
- Author is generally critical of parents and the way they handle their children's schooling.
- Puts perhaps too much weight on kids' opinions.
- Remembering what school is really like can be a pretty depressing experience.
- Chapter One: If You Believe What Children Say
- Chapter Two: A Place of Truth: A Day in the (School) Life of Helena
- Chapter Three: Children in Charge: The Miracle of Development
- Chapter Four: Finding Success: Passion, Politics, and Perseverance
- Chapter Five: Devastation and Renaissance: Journeys Defined by Struggle
- Chapter Six: Hell, No!: Journeys Defined by Defiance and Despair
- Chapter Seven: Transitions and Turnarounds
- Chapter Eight: "If Only They Could Remember"
- Chapter Nine: College Craziness: Reclaiming Senior Year
- Chapter Ten: Best Wisdom
Guide Review - Book Review: The Pressured Child
Early in “The Pressured Child,” the author talks about how rarely parents actually seek to know what school is really like for their children. They only want to hear the good news, and that may be why kids are so reluctant to answer the question, “How was school?” Intrigued by that idea, I went to where my 14-year-old daughter was sitting calmly in front of the TV and asked her, “What is school really like for you? What is your experience of school?” She looked at me, and then she burst into tears.
My daughter hates school and she loves school, is afraid of other kids and loves being with other kids, loves being the one who always turns in her homework and hates doing her homework. For her and so many others, school is a jumble of emotion and trauma and triumph and failure and humor and boredom. It’s easy for parents to forget how life-consuming school is, to insist it’s all about academics and the rest is just excuses. “The Pressured Child” reminds us of what school is really like, and that kids need less stress, more understanding.
It’s clear that Thompson, a child psychologist, loves working with kids and is excited by their perspective. He’s less sympathetic to parents, although in fairness he second-guesses his own parenting decisions, too. It would have been nice if this book had offered advice more detailed than “give your kid a break.” After all, parenting’s a big jumble of emotion and trauma and triumph and failure and humor and boredom, too.