The Secret of Parenting: How to Be in Charge of Today's Kids--from Toddlers to Preteens--Without Threats or Punishment by Anthony E. Wolf
I just finished reading this book (from the list above) and would like to comment on it.
It is true that this book does not advocate corporal punishment. However, emotional withdrawal and disengagement that it advocates is an equivalent to time-outs. What is worse, is that Wolf suggests emotional withdrawal to be used on a regular basis, and does not call it a punishment, thus creating an illusion of punishment-free parenting (while time-out advocates at least admit that time out is a punishment).
Wolf talks about 'baby-self', or what I would call 'trusting self'. This is when we feel free and comfortable to express our emotions, no matter how negative. We let our trusting self go when we trust that the other person loves us and cares about us, when we feel safe - with our parents, with our partners.
This is the self that wants help, that whines, that throws tantrums, that wants total and unconditional attention.
The way to deal with this self - to disengage, Wolf says. You might give a hug, you might briefly empathize, but the most important thing is to make your decision quickly, and disengage in the first moments of any behaviour which is deemed unacceptable.
The reasoning behind, Wolf says, is that the attachment of your child to you is so strong, the child will want to re-establish it, when the attachment is threatened. No (other) punishment is needed.
This is what I call emotional blackmail in its best. Yes, it can be effective, until the child detaches completely and does not care anymore about parental guidance. (One might want to read an excellent book by Gordon Neufeld, "Hold on to your Kids, why parents matter". He comes from a humane GD perspective that threatening this attachment eventually destroys the relationship between parents and children, and that nothing, absolutely nothing, should ever threaten the attachment between parent and child.
Wolf spends the entire book talking about how not to listen. He spends 2 pages talking about active listening. Active listening, for him is saying "Gosh, that's a problem" ('your problem, not mine', he adds). And "I don't know what to say".
His advice on nighttime parenting, for example? To disengage completely for the night time. He actually says that the parent should become a 'robot' parent, repeating 'good night now' no matter what the child says or does. Children must learn that the night is for being alone in their room, he says.
In fact he suggests that parents should train their children that when their emotions are overwhelming and uncontrollable, the parent is not there to help them out. No wonder children 'respond' - they learn that they don't matter, unless they are 'good', of course.
Reading this book was nauseating, but I made sure I finished it, and there are several valuable points. In the chapter called "how to make them do things" (the title alone is a red flag for GD parents) he talks about disengagement when children blatantly disobey or refuse to do a certain thing. This, I believe, is an appropriate way not to engage in the power struggle.
He also says that morality is taught by modeling (agree).
The overall message, however, is 'when you are exhibiting your baby-trusting-self, you are not worth paying attention too'. You cannot deal with your emotions - too bad, the parent is not of any help. To quote Wolf again: "Gosh, that's a problem." (Yours, not mine)'".
I am coming from the perspective that a child misbehaves only to the extent that the child is hurting inside, is frustrated and confused, and overwhelmed by emotions. To disengage in this kind of a situation is emotional blackmail, and is the worst form of time out.