Raising the Challenging Child

How to Minimize Meltdowns, Reduce Conflict, and Increase Cooperation

By Karen Doyle Buckwalter, Debbie Reed, and Wendy Lyons Sunshine

Revell, 2019, ISBN: 978-0-8007-3756-6, 268 pages, $19.99

While the title — “Raising the Challenging Child” — makes it clear who this book is written for, it’s also a great tool for people raising any child. Authors Karen Doyle Buckwalter and Debbie Reed lean on their many collective years working with kin, foster and adoptive families who are struggling with raising children with difficult behaviors and challenging backgrounds. Their work at Chaddock, a nonprofit organization focused on treatment of children suffering from the psychological, emotional and spiritual effects of significant abuse, neglect and trauma has uniquely prepared them to write this book. Their co-author, Wendy Lyons Sunshine, is an award-winning journalist who has co-written other books for the adoption and foster care community, including “The Connected Child.” The authors weave together stories of firsthand experience of struggling families with advice and direction for addressing the challenges.

Divided into three sections — be a leader, dig deeper and prepare for success — the book breaks down parenting issues from the child’s and parent’s perspectives. Each section is further divided into simple phrases that parents can easily draw from when they’re in a heated moment with their child. For example, “Let Everyone Calm Down” reminds parents that emotions need to be in check for all parties before they address the behaviors. The chapter then goes on to explain what happens in the brain when emotions are off the charts, ways to help yourself and the child calm down, and even provides key phrases to use in the moment.

“Raising the Challenging Child” is a great guidebook for any parent, but especially for those navigating some challenging behaviors and situations. Each chapter’s simple format of giving an example of a behavior or issue that needs to be addressed, detailed explanation of why the child may be acting that way and tips for how to better handle the situation makes it easy for parents to visualize and have the words and tools they need to address the problem. This book is a rare gem in that it breaks down some very big challenges into bite size tips and advice that are easy for parents to understand and implement.

— Reviewed by Kim Phagan-Hansel


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