H. Stephen Glenn, Stephen Glenn, Jane Nelsen - Raising Self-Reliant Children in a Self-Indulgent World: Seven Building Blocks for Developing Capable Young People

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Great guide to raising children

Jun 2, 2003
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:a lot of good examples, good parenting ideas

Cons:none

The Bottom Line: An excellent book on how to raise children who will be self-reliant capable adults. It is great for any parent or teacher.


Although I have no children of my own, this book provided great suggestions for future child rearing as well as presenting ideas I can use in everyday interactions with anyone.

The first part of the book describes how our culture has changed significantly from a farm based lifestyle to one full of technology. Children no longer feel they make a difference in the world. Before, if a child didn't milk the cow for a few days the cow would stop giving milk and the family would not have any more milk until the cow had another calf. The consequences for not following through on their chores were significant and very real. Today children get more of a feeling that it doesn't matter what they do, life will go on anyways. This book emphasizes that letting your children know they make an impact is one of the most important things parents need to do to help their children be self-reliant.

The book has a chapter each for the seven building blocks for raising capable young people. They are:
perception of personal capabilities, perception of personal significance, perception of personal influence, intrapersonal skills, interpersonal skills, systemic skills, and judgment skills. Each chapter explains what each building block is, how to help a child realize these, and identifies some of the common barriers one will face.

The authors give many examples of how to let your child feel like they have significance in the world. When your child decides to set the table for the first time but puts the silverware in the wrong spots and everything is crooked you shouldn't admonish him for doing it wrong, but rather encourage him for trying and thank him for his effort to help you. The authors suggest that one should never underestimate the capabilities of children. Don't tell a child repeatedly he can't do something (unless it is something that would endanger himself or others) because you're not letting a child decide and discover for himself what he is capable of.

Most of the examples were for dealing with older children. Such things as mutually figuring out what guidelines the children need to follow(such as returning home by a curfew) and deciding as a team (family meetings were encouraged) what the consequences are. One example was when a daughter came home past curfew the father's response was merely that he was sorry she had decided to lose her car privileges for the next month, as she had helped decided the consequence of her actions she was the one who made the choice to stay out late. I am not sure how effective it would be and how difficult it would be to stay so calm at a daughter arriving home late, but it seems like a good plan in theory.

The book gave many many parenting suggestions that I found very interesting. It suggested that when a child gets angry never say they shouldn't get angry, but punish them for their actions. Noone has a right to control anyone else's feelings, how they act out their feelings is a different story. The authors emphasized following that rule for yourself. If when you're angry you yell or say something rash you should take the time to apologize to your child and say why it was wrong for you to act that way.

The authors suggest never saying anything you don't mean, like never say "You scared me to death" because in essence that is a lie, because if you were really scared to death you would be dead and would not be around to say a statement like that. Little things like that, according to the authors, give false messages to children about what you really mean.

Overall I found a lot of very useful information about how to help raise children to feel significant in the world. I'd recommend this book to any parent or teacher or really to anyone, for good ideas in general on how to interact with people. The writing style has an easy to read flow and I enjoyed all the examples very much.


Recommend this product? Yes


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