New Parenting Book Flips the Old Model of Discipline on its Head

Pacifica author Heather Criswell with co-author Taryn Voget present a refreshing new model for parenting in 'How to Raise a Happy Child (and Be Happy Too).'

Are you burned out on time-outs? Have you found that punishments and rewards are just not working for your child and you?

If you need a refreshing approach to parenting perhaps "How to Raise a Happy Child (and Be Happy Too)," co-authored by Pacifica resident Heather Criswell, is just for you.

"How to Raise a Happy Child (and Be Happy Too)" presents a refreshing new model for parenting that flips the old model of discipline, punishment, and rewards on its head.

“Most other parenting books or advice focus on how to use control, discipline, punishments and rewards to get the desired behavior,” said Criswell, a “kid whisperer” who has spent 25 years working with more than 30,000 kids. “The techniques presented in our book offer an inspiring, different new approach for parents who want to raise children who thrive, and have fun doing it.”

Criswell, also a parent coach and a keynote speaker, co-authored the book with Taryn Voget, cofounder of the Everyday Genius Institute.

“Taryn started interviewing me on parenting strategies a year and half ago,” said Criswell. “We came up with so much material, we knew it had to be in a book for the world to read.”

From her experience, Criswell says she felt called to present something that works and feels better than the current obedience model. She should know. She owned a pre-school in Las Vegas, Nevada, for more than seven years and also owned a Wellness Center in Las Vegas for four years, and has had the opportunity "to practice over and over and over again different strategies with children that work,” she said. “I noticed parents were struggling to connect and communicate with their children so I created WiseInside, a company that supports parents with products and coaching. I created a game, WiseTalk for Families, to help families have meaningful, heartfelt moments in minutes. All of these experiences led me to launching this book.”

"How to Raise a Happy Child (and Be Happy Too)" provides step-by-step techniques for getting what you want without using the word "no," time-outs, or rewards. It also offers simple strategies to bring out the best in you and your child every day and tools for creating a stress-free environment.

So how does this approach exactly work? Take this example. Your child is begging you for something at the store — yet again. This time it’s a toy car. Telling him “no” isn’t getting the message across that you are not buying him that car. So what do you do? Instead of telling him “no,” simply tell him that you want him to have that car, said Criswell.

“My focus is always in the direction of the child and the caregiver getting their needs, wants, and desires met in as many experiences and as often as possible,” said Criswell. “I want my child to get everything he wants in life. I want him to dream big. I want him to have every success possible. My job is not to tell him what he can't have. It's to help him figure out how he can get what he wants in this life and share his experiences and wisdom with the world.”

In this example, Criswell says that by agreeing with your child, you completely detour the tantrum and empower the child as the creator of his own experience.

“He knows I am on his side, rooting for his success,” said Criswell. “Then ask, ‘Did you bring money to buy it?’ If he says, ‘No, I want you to buy it for me,’ simply and calmly reply with: ‘I was not planning on buying you the car. I have a list of items I am buying and that's not on it.’ Immediately follow with, ‘I know that you can come up with some ideas to get the car. You have before. What can you do to get the car?’"  

If the child truly can't come up with any ideas, offer some ideas of what you’ve done, like a yard sale, asking grandma for it for his birthday, working around the house to earn extra money. The shift in thought with this scenario is that parents often refer to old tapes in their minds, explains Criswell, such as "He can't always get what he wants," "He will be a spoiled brat," "I'm not made out of money.”

“That is simply not true. He just wants a car, and honestly, I want to have a new car, too!” said Criswell. “So the goal is to be on my child's team. I want him to know I believe in him, and I know if he really wants the toy, he will create a way to make it happen without my money.”

Criswell explains that when we open the door to possibility, the child will let go of the car altogether.  

“When my child knows I honor his desires and believe in him, he will find success in the scenario,” she said. “I am also modeling for him how to honor my own feelings by not buying the car for him. There is no need for the word ‘no,’ just a shift in thought and focus. We both get what we want in this scenario. We both feel heard, valued, and know that we matter.”

Scenarios like this with the exact words to use in common situations are outlined in the book as well as eight how-to videos so you can see the body language, words, and voice tone that get results.

‘”How to Raise a Happy Child (and Be Happy Too)’ is a game changing book for parents,” said Ruth Beauchamp, a Pacifica parent and founder of Oranda, a company that provideds teaching and learning resources for parents and teachers. “Time and time again I found myself saying, ‘Wow, I never really thought of it that way before!’ It's completely eye opening, funny, inspiring, uplifting, and immensely practical. It's the go-to resource for today's parents.”

The authors are hoping that parents and caregivers gain insights and gather tools to have an inspired experience with their children. They are also hoping to help parents remind their child of their greatness and inner light.

“We know when parents see their child's light, it will help them embrace and ignite their own light to shine bright,” said Criswell. “We hope that parents and children around the world feel good about their experience and time together.”


www.raiseahappychild.com (buy it by Feb. 5 and receive a signed copy)


San Mateo at Dove and Olive Works. Reading for the California Writers Club Feb. 20 at 7:30 p.m.

Check Florey’s in Pacifica. Will be carrying it soon.


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