German-Style Parenting, Mindfulness for Teens, Veggies for Kids, Creative Families | Parenting Reviews

Eat your veggies! You’re enough! Take risks! Create! Such are the admonitions of the upcoming parenting releases as chosen by our new columnist Julia M. Reffner, replacing Julianne Smith, a longtime LJ reviewer and the parenting columnist for 11 years. Thank you, Julianne. Welcome, Julia! For overstretched parents, Sheryl Ziegler’s Mommy Burnout offers strategies to bring health and healing. Yet moms aren’t the only ones who struggle with feeling they aren’t enough. Rachel Simmons addresses the challenges teen girls face in Enough As She Is. In the spirit of Pamela ­Druckerman’s Bringing Up Bébé, Sara Zaske’s Achtung Baby explores the German approach to child rearing, designed to foster independence and self-reliance, in stark contrast to the American “helicopter” method. Other notable titles this season include William Stixrud’s The Self-Driven Child (Viking, Feb.) and Thomas Phelan and Chris Webb’s 1-2-3 Parenting with Heart (Sourcebooks, Jan.), a simple plan that is sure to be popular with fans of Phelan’s previous books in the “1-2-3” series.

Bernstein, Jeffrey. Mindfulness for Teen Worry: Quick & Easy Strategies To Let Go of Anxiety, Worry & Stress. New Harbinger. (Instant Help Solutions). Jan. 2018. 240p. ISBN 9781626259812. pap. $16.95; ebk. ISBN 9781626259836. CHILD REARING

Stress is an epidemic, spreading viciously among teens. School demands, social pressures, the physical changes of puberty, and shifting family dynamics all compound to create anxiety, the fast-paced digital age a whirring centrifuge multiplying the intensity. PhD Bernstein (10 Days to a Less Defiant Child; Why Can’t You Read My Mind?) advocates mindfulness techniques that enable teens to notice what’s going on in their mind, body, and the world around them. According to the author, the average person has nearly 70,000 thoughts per day, or a dizzying 48.6 thoughts per minute. Simple -­to-learn activities offer the antidote. Getting stuck in one’s own head is a process that upends teens as well as adults. Bernstein suggests young people use their five senses to stay grounded in the present, being mindful of breath, thoughts, and feelings. He explores common causes of teen worry and shares specific strategies for each. Walking meditation is a tool to help with body-image struggles. VERDICT Including “in their own words” sections and practical exercises, this resource will be useful to parents and teachers to inoculate teens against the onslaught of anxiety plaguing the current culture.

Gallagher, Richard & others. The Organized Child: An Effective Program To Maximize Your Kid’s Potential—in School and in Life. Guilford. Jan. 2018. 206p. index. ISBN 9781462525911. pap. $14.95; ebk. ISBN 9781462533213. CHILD REARING

According to child psychologists Gallagher, Elana G. Spira, and Jennifer L. Rosenblatt, creators of the Organizational Skills Training (OST) program at New York University’s Langone Medical Center, 15 to 20 percent of children struggle with deficits in organization, time management, and planning behaviors. Help is at hand for parents of children who forget to write down homework assignments, misplace their backpacks, and cram for tests at the last minute in this step-by-step guide to tackling some of the most common challenges. Offering strategies that were successful for students with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in the OST program, the authors assert that age seven to 13 is a crucial period in a child’s life, when parents can help prevent bad habits from becoming ingrained. They promote a coaching-role approach for parents, which involves first looking in the mirror at their own example (and correcting). Each chapter provides forms to help parent and child organize, as well as prompts for constructive conversations. VERDICT Chock-full of extras (such as a downloadable appendix), this guide will be valuable for parents who need support in this area.

Potock, Melanie. Adventures in Veggieland: Help Your Kids Learn To Love Vegetables with 100 Easy Activities and Recipes. Experiment. Feb. 2018. 288p. photos. notes. index. ISBN 9781615194063. pap. $19.95; ebk. ISBN 9781615194179. COOKING

With more than 20 years’ experience treating babies, toddlers, and school-age children who struggle with eating, feeding therapist Potock (coauthor, Raising a Healthy, Happy Eater) aims to help families gather round the table for healthful food and delightful conversation. Focusing on vegetables, perhaps the most contested food group, the author uses a farm-to-table approach by organizing veggies by season of harvest. Beets, parsnips, asparagus, spinach, bell peppers, kale, and pumpkin are just a few of the favorites that receive their own chapter. Potock starts each section with ways to “expose” or introduce new foods that don’t actually involve eating. Examples include creating beet “tattoos” that come off in the bathtub and playing tic-tac-toe with green beans, giving new meaning to playing with one’s food. The “explore” section features exciting recipes to experience vegetables in a variety of forms, while the “expand” content can be used to build a more adventurous palate once the introduction has been successful. VERDICT Children will enjoy the full-color pictures of young people in the kitchen, and parents will discover fresh ideas for meals with even the pickiest eaters.

Santomero, Angela. Preschool Clues: Raising Smart, Inspired, and Engaged Kids in a Screen-Filled World. Touchstone. Mar. 2018. 320p. ISBN 9781501174339. pap. $16.99; ebk. ISBN 9781501174346. CHILD REARING

In Santomero’s first book, the cocreator of the award-winning PBS program Blue’s Clues, Super Why, and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, shares the inspiration behind her educational, live-action, animated series, which incorporates both child development and early education principles. Admitting her major influence was Fred Rogers, Santomero gives readers “clues” to help preschoolers thrive academically, socially, and emotionally. She begins with the controversial question of whether screen time should be allowed for preschoolers and argues that, like the best children’s media, parent time with kids should include play, thinking, learning to help others, and laughing, all elements she believes led to the hit success of her programs. Each chapter concludes with “Angela’s clues,” a succinct section that provides suggestions for implementing the author’s tips. VERDICT Fans of Blue’s Clues and Santomero’s other popular children’s shows will enjoy her practical advice and conversational tone. Educators and parents will likely find a takeaway or two in this breezy, informative read.

Simmons, Rachel. Enough As She Is: How To Help Girls Move Beyond Impossible Standards of Success To Live Healthy, Happy, and Fulfilling Lives. Harper. Feb. 2018. 288p. ISBN 9780062438393. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062438409. CHILD REARING

According to Simmons (Odd Girl Out; The Curse of the Good Girl), founder of the nonprofit Girls Leadership, toxic messages about success and a burning drive to achieve no matter the cost have resulted in a 25 percent increase in already skyrocketing teen depression rates. The author describes how society pushes a “develop confidence” message to young women, which becomes code for yet another area to work on, in an era in which Supergirl is the baseline. At the same time, social media has contributed to teens disconnecting from parents and friendships, those relationships that are the most vital to their growth and resiliency. Meanwhile, parents themselves struggle with myths that tarnish their relationships with their teenager as they come up against a culture that advocates hyperattentive control of all aspects of their child’s life. Here, Simmons interviews 96 girls from a variety of backgrounds to analyze the damaging messages they received (“what you accomplish matters more than what you learn,” “everyone is doing better than you”) and the often destructive results. She encourages strategies to help steady your daughter and propel her forward with new messages, while correcting harmful core beliefs along the way. ­VERDICT A fascinating read that provides ideas for combatting the “not enough” ­ideals that are devastating young girls.

Soule, Amanda Blake. The Creative Family Manifesto. Roost. 2017. 147p. ISBN 9781611805031. pap. $14.95. CHILD REARING

Music, baking, knitting, piano, chess, painting, and sewing are just a few of the skills the Soule family weaves into the warp and weft of their daily life. In 2005, the author started the blog SouleMama.com, describing the adventures of raising three small children in a coastal community while thoughtfully attempting to craft an imaginative life. The goal was not to raise the next Mozart or Picasso but to help children gain the tools of “curiosity, problem solving, compassion, and joy.” According to Soule, creativity gives one power “to craft a life of your choosing or to make better the world directly in the hands of our young people.” She focuses on four elements of the creative family: self (it is necessary to nurture your own passions while raising children), child (creating comes naturally to children), family (bonds are formed as we work together), and community (we can connect to others through our talents). A variety of projects both whimsical and simple include using everyday items from nature or the pantry to produce art, embellishing clothing, designing on-the-go art bags, planning a garden, and building a fairy house. VERDICT A delightful book for all readers with an artistic bent.

redstarZaske, Sara. Achtung Baby: An American Mom on the German Art of Raising Self-Reliant Children. Picador. Jan. 2018. 256p. ISBN 9781250160171. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781250160188. CHILD REARING

Channeling readers of Pamela ­Druckerman’s Bringing Up Bébé and Alison Gopnik’s The Gardener and the Carpenter, Zaske’s work describes how the author moved from Oregon to Berlin after the birth of her son and, in the midst of the transition, found herself expecting her second child. In comic tones, Zaske shares the thrill and tumult of adjusting to a new culture, vastly different from her expectations. As opposed to the stereotype of strict, overbearing German parent, Zaske found “free-range” was the norm for childhood. In Germany today, children are encouraged to walk to school on their own and talk honestly about the Holocaust and other painful moments in the past. The priority is raising children who are self-reliant, independent, and responsible; a stark contrast, says Zaske, to the results some experts see from American children in the “helicopter” parenting era. From the birth process (in which midwives are the most common attendants) to early childhood (child care is considered a right, and “kita” schools provide playtime instead of the more rigorous American-style education) to elementary school (where topics such as sex, death, and nudity are a part of everyday conversations and outdoor time is enforced daily), Zaske compares American and German parenting culture and gives the U.S. reader inspiration to explore new methods. VERDICT A compelling cultural study that will interest all those who wish to learn about German culture, as well as American parents and educators.

Ziegler, Sheryl. Mommy Burnout: How To Reclaim Your Life and Raise Healthier Children in the Process. Dey St: HarperCollins. Feb. 2018. 320p. bibliog. ISBN 9780062683687. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062683700. CHILD REARING

Born to a teenage single immigrant mother in New York City and then raised in a blended family in upstate New York, Ziegler, a child psychologist and mother of three, brings a variety of perspectives to the table on the issue of the stresses of modern parenting. The author points out that parents feel more pressure than ever owing to busyness and its resulting isolation, the lack of support networks in a world where extended family is often across state lines instead of next door, social media, and the need to find perfect options for everything from preschool to cloth diapering. Throw in career demands and the constant mobility of the current culture and results can range from emotional to physical maladies that put marriages, health, and children themselves at risk. Ziegler shares case studies from her practice in the beginning of each chapter and includes a fun quiz parents can use to gauge their stress in varying areas. Each chapter also includes a prescription plan designed to fight mommy burnout, including strategies such as compartmentalizing your life, creating emotional boundaries, and adding unstructured time to both your own and your child’s day. VERDICT Mommy burnout is a common buzzphrase, and Ziegler’s book provides a sound resource for anyone struggling in the trenches of parenthood.

Richmond, VA–based freelance writer Julia M. Reffner has reviewed books and DVDs in a variety of genres for LJ. She has judged several book awards and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Word Weavers

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