The New 6 Point Plan for Raising Happy, Healthy Children, by John Rosemond PhD (Book Review Pedcast)

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Here we go again with another edition of DocSmo.com, the pediatric blog that brings parents portable, practical pediatrics on their schedules. For those listeners who are new to my blog, I am Dr. Paul Smolen, a board certified pediatrician with 32 years of practice experience.  Today I am going to continue my book review series with my thoughts on a new parenting book by the (sometimes controversial) psychologist Dr. John Rosemond. I must admit, I never read the old Six Point Plan for Raising Happy, Healthy, Children by Dr. Rosemond. I assume that the “points” are the same as in the original edition, but that the newer book has more supporting research and anecdotes to validate his recommendations. So, first the basics: this “new” edition is well written with clear, approachable language; it is practical in layout, with part of each chapter including a question and answer format; it is not full of psychological jargon, thank goodness; and even though Dr. Rosemond does not provide footnotes, I have to assume that he is accurately summarizing and paraphrasing the research which he references.

Now to some of the solutions to parenting problems that he stresses in the book. Dr. Rosemond provides what he sees as easy answers to many behavior problems parents may encounter. If you have children who don’t listen and are prone to whining, he thinks it is likely that your discipline is failing and that your child is getting too much attention. If you have a child with ADHD, he believes that the TV and video games are likely the culprit; he recommends getting rid of them and the problem may be solved. If your child is self-centered, Dr. Rosemond thinks you are giving them too many “things.”  He contends that if a child can’t entertain himself, he probably has too many toys and outlets for amusement. All these circumstances may be true for certain children, but certainly not all.

Readers need to be for warned that this book is full of Dr. Rosemond’s own opinions, replete with “in your face” classic Dr.Rosemond style. I am sure his blunt advice will rub many readers the wrong way. I think the reason for this is Dr. Rosemond’s insistence on only paying attention to the limit-setting side of the successful parenting formula and ignoring the leadership-love side. Yes, limits need to be set, I totally agree, and a child needs to provide labor for his or her family, and TV and video games are undoubtedly a negative force in some children’s lives, but equally important to a child’s healthy psychological development are a parents’ ability to provide consistent love and acceptance, making children feel needed, creating an atmosphere where children want to please their parents, and setting a good example for children to model.  I am sure Dr. Rosemond understands how important leadership is to parenting, but I think he needs to articulate it more as he gives parenting advice. Maybe he will do exactly that in the New-New Six Point Guide to Raising Happy, Healthy Children… the next edition?  In my opinion, that would make a good book into a great one. I give him four Doc Smo stars on this edition. Until next time.

1 Comment

  1. Annie Beth Brown Danahue says:

    Wow. That was exactly what I would have to day about pretty much any of Dr. Rosemond’s writings. I’ve been reading his columns on and off since before I had children, and while I’ve always found nuggets of good advice (turn off the TV and built a cushion fort), he usually rubs me the wrong way. It’s a writing style I’ve found present with several different “child experts”, which I call the “us verses them” mentality. The essence of that mentality is that it is assumed there is some kind of conflict between the parents and children, and the parents must “win” against the children. If my child has a bad attitude and incurs a consequence, I did not *win* against my child by showing him who is boss. We both *win* because, hopefully, as a parent, I thoughtfully considered the situation and applied discipline and leadership in an appropriate manner that serves the child by teaching them a life lesson they will retain later on. Consequences should obviously be something that affect that particular child’s “currency” in a way that motivates them to choose good behavior, but in applying those consequences, I feel neither victorious or smug- I did not *win*, I lead and taught. If we’re not in this together as a family, then there’s a problem. Also, I dislike his habit of calling children names, such as “Little Miss Bossy Pants”. I playfully call my own children silly names within the safety of a loving relationship, and it can be humorous. We also have a joke in our house about a “naughty fly” that occasionally lands on people, which often works to direct the child’s attention to their undesirable behavior in a lighthearted way, so they have a chance to consider what they were doing and rectify the situation before it goes too far. I do not find it amusing for adults, who are not emotionally invested in a child (who probably have never met them) to give the children rude nick names because it is 1)unkind and 2)does not actually do anything constructive to solve the “problem”. It just furthers the “us against them” mentality and allows the adult to feel good about themselves in the same way a school yard bully boosts his own self esteem by name calling. Every child is different, and Dr. Rosemond makes the assumption all children are the same exact lump of clay, just waiting for their incompetent parents to employ his strategies on them so they will turn out to be good citizens. It would be nice if life were that simple. It would be easier If every child were a typically developing, non-nondescript blob, just waiting for us to turn them into whatever we wish with our powerful parenting skills. Reality is that we are shaping future adults, that were born with their own personalities and potential for giftings, some with special needs that may even include mental health problems or disabilities. So, while I love a lot of Dr. Rosemond’s ideas, I feel they are implemented with an attitude that is imbalanced and sometimes full of hubris.

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