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Your Competent Child: Toward New Basic Values for the Family

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A compelling and revolutionary approach to parenting and family dynamics. In this important book, Jesper Juul argues that today's families are at an exciting crossroads. The destructive values that governed traditional hierarchical, authoritarian families are being transformed. Instead we can choose to embrace a new set of values based on the assumption that families must A compelling and revolutionary approach to parenting and family dynamics. In this important book, Jesper Juul argues that today's families are at an exciting crossroads. The destructive values that governed traditional hierarchical, authoritarian families are being transformed. Instead we can choose to embrace a new set of values based on the assumption that families must be built not on authoritarian force or democratic tyranny but on dignity and reciprocity between parent and child. Children are emotionally competent -- that is, they always tell the truth about how they are feeling. Parents must begin to listen to and learn from the honest feedback they receive from their children. When we feel unhappy or dissatisfied with a situation in the family, it is almost always because we were unable to convert our loving feelings into loving behavior. To do so, we need to become fluent in what Juul calls personal language -- a language less concerned with shoulds than with our own emotional honesty. Using examples from families in many different countries, Juul has written a book that challenges parents to see the years with their children as an exciting time of growth and development for the whole family.


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A compelling and revolutionary approach to parenting and family dynamics. In this important book, Jesper Juul argues that today's families are at an exciting crossroads. The destructive values that governed traditional hierarchical, authoritarian families are being transformed. Instead we can choose to embrace a new set of values based on the assumption that families must A compelling and revolutionary approach to parenting and family dynamics. In this important book, Jesper Juul argues that today's families are at an exciting crossroads. The destructive values that governed traditional hierarchical, authoritarian families are being transformed. Instead we can choose to embrace a new set of values based on the assumption that families must be built not on authoritarian force or democratic tyranny but on dignity and reciprocity between parent and child. Children are emotionally competent -- that is, they always tell the truth about how they are feeling. Parents must begin to listen to and learn from the honest feedback they receive from their children. When we feel unhappy or dissatisfied with a situation in the family, it is almost always because we were unable to convert our loving feelings into loving behavior. To do so, we need to become fluent in what Juul calls personal language -- a language less concerned with shoulds than with our own emotional honesty. Using examples from families in many different countries, Juul has written a book that challenges parents to see the years with their children as an exciting time of growth and development for the whole family.

30 review for Your Competent Child: Toward New Basic Values for the Family

  1. 4 out of 5

    Pontus Liljeblad

    Having recently (two years ago) become a first time parent and being an academic and theoretician by birth and unimpeded habit I "read up" on how to parent by reading mostly everything without (much) prejudice. I would like to recommend parents to avoid this. I would also like to recommend parents to avoid recommendations. Read if you must, but vary the sources of your advice, draw your own and as few conclusions as possible and apply what feels natural in your new parental role toward your typic Having recently (two years ago) become a first time parent and being an academic and theoretician by birth and unimpeded habit I "read up" on how to parent by reading mostly everything without (much) prejudice. I would like to recommend parents to avoid this. I would also like to recommend parents to avoid recommendations. Read if you must, but vary the sources of your advice, draw your own and as few conclusions as possible and apply what feels natural in your new parental role toward your typical though very unique child. My mum told me not to fret: "small children are excellent at teaching adults how to become good parents". Jesper Juul says much the same. In a charming and light manner he preaches that children will tell us how to parent if we relax and listen and observe their utterly innocent brutally honest and to-the-point analysis of their world - us - instead of forcing preconceptions at them, reminding us of some important truths about how children work that adults have forgot and in the process reminding us (or at least me) of how much we ourselves have lost since in that innocent competent age. While we became sophisticated we lost honesty. The child senses with crystal clarity and honesty, but lacks sophistication and guile. Unfortunately, we don't, Juul reminds us, and reminds us that the discrepancy might be confusing. Read Juul. He will tell you much you will need to recall in being a parent. In the process you may be reminded of some important things you need to review about yourself and your other relationships. Don't make a bible of it or any other parenting books. If you're going to prepare parenting by reading, vary your sources and kill your preconceptions, if not your darlings. But keep Juul in mind, his book is worth it.

  2. 4 out of 5

    DanniElla

    What I love about this book is that is not written as a practical guide, like the most family/parenting books. It doesn’t tell us how to raise our children, but how to see them, get to know them and understand them. It gives us the choice to embrace the great new values and helps the growth of not just the child but the whole family.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jean

    This book is sometimes simplistic or maybe just...foreign...as you struggle a bit to get what the Danish author is saying. But somewhere along the line it grabbed me and drew me into its premise -- seeing the damage wrought by parental control over children, at the expense of good relationship. I found myself really interested in understanding and trying to put into use the better ways Juuls suggests of being in relationship with children. "Children Cooperate" is one of this book's main points, This book is sometimes simplistic or maybe just...foreign...as you struggle a bit to get what the Danish author is saying. But somewhere along the line it grabbed me and drew me into its premise -- seeing the damage wrought by parental control over children, at the expense of good relationship. I found myself really interested in understanding and trying to put into use the better ways Juuls suggests of being in relationship with children. "Children Cooperate" is one of this book's main points, and it's way more scary than it sounds. "Competence" takes on a lot deeper meaning as well once you've read this thoughtful little book. Shelve it near Alice Miller, Alfie Kohn, Thomas Gordon, Haim Ginott, Jon Kabat-Zinn and a few other parenting books that truly may cause you to question and change some of your parenting assumptions.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Nicklas

    I wish this was compulsory reading for any person that are involved with children, but it is really a good read for anyone in an authoritative position. Communicating well and learning to understand and respect other people can only help you become a better person.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Roman

    A must for every child and parent. This book explains how we screw up with good intentions. Then the book gives clear advice on how to be a better person to yourself, to your children, to partners and parents. The feelings do not hurt, the words and actions do.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Elly (Schrody)

    Recommend every parent, kindergarden (pre-school)teacher, and teacher in general. This book was an eye opener for me.

  7. 4 out of 5

    John J. Camilleri

    I'm a bit sceptical of psychology in general and as such this book did nothing to change that. Defining the different kinds of "integrity" and "responsibility" as if our personalities can be so easily dissected does not really convince me. There are numerous example dialogues where we are told that changing a few words will make all the difference between good parenting and bad parenting. That being said, I did appreciate the overall message of the book, which is that we need to respect the integ I'm a bit sceptical of psychology in general and as such this book did nothing to change that. Defining the different kinds of "integrity" and "responsibility" as if our personalities can be so easily dissected does not really convince me. There are numerous example dialogues where we are told that changing a few words will make all the difference between good parenting and bad parenting. That being said, I did appreciate the overall message of the book, which is that we need to respect the integrity of our children and be careful to nurture it rather than destroy it. I think the kind of upbringing that the reader has had will play a big role in whether this stance seems obvious or radical. Finally, this edition is littered with spelling and typographical errors. There is literally something wrong on every single page and I found it extremely distracting. It was clearly typeset in a hurry.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Siniša Hajnal

    After only two weeks of using some of the advice from the books, my kids and I work more easily together. Highly recommended for all parents even those have everything under control. You might be surprised and recognize yourself in one of the chapters.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jelena

    If you are a parent, or going to be, or a brother/sister, or a teacher, you should read this.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    I read it in German: Dein kompetentes Kind. It was an interesting journey to read all his thoughts and gave me personally a lot of new ideas how to raise my children. But not only for my family life. I work in a crèche and many of his ideas also work there - especially all about how you talk to a child and how you interact with it. I really like many of his ideas and what I like best: you can use them in your daily life, it is not just a theory. I will now go for his new book I guess...

  11. 5 out of 5

    Babak

    What does it mean to be a parent? This book summarizes the Scandinavian way of raising children (or at least what is supposed to be Scandinavian correct way of raising children). It is a punch in the face of "command and control" way of raising kids that most of the people of my generation are raised under. Children are not stupid, and they are not mini versions of grown-ups neither. What does it mean to be a parent? This book summarizes the Scandinavian way of raising children (or at least what is supposed to be Scandinavian correct way of raising children). It is a punch in the face of "command and control" way of raising kids that most of the people of my generation are raised under. Children are not stupid, and they are not mini versions of grown-ups neither.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Yuliya

    This books reaches far beyond relationship with children. It has definitely helped me understand myself much better and improve my relationship with the loved ones. Jesper Juul breaks it down for you using situations from everyday family life that you can't but recognize yourself. This book helped me become more authentic and made my family much happier. This books reaches far beyond relationship with children. It has definitely helped me understand myself much better and improve my relationship with the loved ones. Jesper Juul breaks it down for you using situations from everyday family life that you can't but recognize yourself. This book helped me become more authentic and made my family much happier.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sally Tsang

    Really opened my eyes to a different way of thinking about parenting. Not that revolutionary in some ways perhaps, but a subtle shift in attitude and perspective, that has already changed the way I parent. Of course like all parenting books, don't agree with 100% - but what I have gotten out of it has been extremely valuable. Highly recommended. Really opened my eyes to a different way of thinking about parenting. Not that revolutionary in some ways perhaps, but a subtle shift in attitude and perspective, that has already changed the way I parent. Of course like all parenting books, don't agree with 100% - but what I have gotten out of it has been extremely valuable. Highly recommended.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Val Mullally

    Juul's book articulates the paradigm shift that occurred in my own understanding of what it means to be a Parent. At times the English translation doesn't make for easy reading, however I still give this book 5 stars because it brings a message I wish every parent (and every person concerned about creating happy, healthy society) would reflect upon. Juul's book articulates the paradigm shift that occurred in my own understanding of what it means to be a Parent. At times the English translation doesn't make for easy reading, however I still give this book 5 stars because it brings a message I wish every parent (and every person concerned about creating happy, healthy society) would reflect upon.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Frank Calberg

    Takeaways from reading the book: What can children do themselves? - Page 96: As children continuously challenge beliefs, boundaries, values and emotions of people, they help everyone around them grow. - Page 107: A child is responsible herself / himself for what she or he senses. For example, a child is reponsible for what she or he thinks tastes / smells / sounds / looks good or bad. - Page 107: A child is responsible for emotions, which he or she feels. - Page 107: When children grow older, they Takeaways from reading the book: What can children do themselves? - Page 96: As children continuously challenge beliefs, boundaries, values and emotions of people, they help everyone around them grow. - Page 107: A child is responsible herself / himself for what she or he senses. For example, a child is reponsible for what she or he thinks tastes / smells / sounds / looks good or bad. - Page 107: A child is responsible for emotions, which he or she feels. - Page 107: When children grow older, they will take responsibility for more and more areas of their life, for example what clothes they want to wear, what they do in their spare time and what they want to study. - Page 107: A child is responsible for her or his needs. For example, a child is responsible for expressing whether he or she is hungry or not, or whether he or she is tired or not. - Page 154: It is the responsibility of children, who are older than five years, to wake themselves up in the morning. A mother or a father can offer to help the child get up in the morning. - Page 158: It is the responsibility of children themselves to do their homework. What do children need their parents to do? - Page 44: Children know what they want. However, they do not know what they need. When parents are afraid of being authoritarian, children get too much if what they want and too little of what they need. - Page 52: Instead of blaming children, adults need to accept responsibility for mistakes adults make themselves. - Page 68: When a child does something, which is fun and also a little risky, establish eye contact with the child and say "hi". Thereby, the child knows that you have seen the child's experience. This satisfies the child's need to feel loved. - Page 71: If a child is having problems with her or his homework, ask, for example: Do you need help with your homework? Then the child will feel that she / he has been seen. - Page 72: To strengthen a child's self-esteem, acknowledge / recognize the child. Example: If a child gives his or her mother or father a drawing, the parent can acknowledge the gift by saying "Thank you Larry, I am happy to have this drawing." Acknowledgement / recognition originates from the German word "Anerkennung." - Page 75: The more we allow children to give us, the healthier their self esteem becomes. - Page 118: When a mother and/or a father has / have an important issue to discuss with her / his / their child, she / he / they need to agree on a time and place to have a conversation with the child about that issue. - Page 160: Children need to feel safe to express their emotions when communicating with their parents. - Page 168: Parents can define and communicate their personal limits, which they think will make lives of their children better. Examples: "I want you to clean up your room before you go to bed." - Page 175: When a child asks for permission to stay over at a friend's place tonight, ask back: What do you think? Thereby, children learn to consult themselves instead of focusing all their attention on their parents. Accordingly, their self esteem and self responsibility grow. The same applies to decisions about other social activities of the children. - Page 178: When children express their emotions, for example when they are upset about something, do not interrupt them. Meet them with sympathetic silence. - Page 180: To create a family, in which all members thrive and develop in healthy ways, focus on dialogue - not on getting and giving permission. - Page 183: Children need parents who support the attempts of children to discover who they are. - Page 193: Parents need to negotiate household chores with their children. For example, a mother or a father can say: Your mother / father and I want you to take responsibility for one or more household chores. What chores do you prefer? What do you think about, for example, taking responsibility for taking out the garbage, when that is needed? Or would you rather do chores related to buying groceries, cooking, cleaning or washing clothes? - Page 198: During their transformation to adults, some teenagers start to do destructive and self-destructive things. When parents take an active, personal share of the responsibility, teenagers can slowly begin to rebuild their self-esteem. And ultimately, they will treat themselves better. - Page 203: The more determined parents are to develop aspects of their own personalities, the less self destructive their children will become. - Page 213: To be as valuable to children as parents want to be, listen to children, recognize them as competent and learn from them. What are examples of emotions children may feel in different situations? - Page 23: When children stop cooperating, it is either because they have cooperated too much for too long, or because they feel that their integrity has been harmed. It is never because they are uncooperative. - Page 29: Before expressing themselves, children watch facial expressions of their parents to learn about emotions they feel. The children then adapt their behavior. Example: If a child sees that his or her mother is nervous about having guests, the child will start to cry or turn his or her face away from the visitors. - Page 40: When parents disagree and become angry with each other, it makes children afraid and unhappy. - Page 136: Children feel guilty, when their parents have personal or marital problems or when parents treat them badly. - Page 142: When children spend the first 5, 10 or 13 years of their lives giving priority to their parents' needs and feelings, children will feel over responsible, as over-responsibility has become a central part of their identity and the only way they have learned how to be of value to other people. - Page 172: The more parents criticize children, the more children feel they are wrong. The more children feel they are wrong, the more difficult it will be for children to do something right. Other research from the book: - Page 4: Some adults behave in unloving ways towards their children, because they have learned to regard unloving acts as loving - and regard loving acts as irresponsible. Example: At a bus stop, a grandmother and her two grandchildren are waiting for the bus. The boy says to the grandmother that he has to go to the toilet. The grandmother responds, "You can't go now. We have got to get home. Look at your big sister how big and sensible she is." - Page 25: When children have to choose between preserving their integrity and cooperating, they choose cooperating 9 times out of 10. - Pages 30 - 33: Children copy their parents. Examples: A child, who is cared for, cares about others. A child, who is criticized, criticizes others or himself/herself. Children, who are brought up in non-expressive families, become either silent or talkative. - Page 100: A generation ago, we needed to "behave" ourselves as precisely as actors delivering monologues. Who we were and what we felt about ourselves were not important. The goal of raising children was to make them conform to an external ideal. To be continued.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Karsten W.

    1) Childrens cooperate, even when they cra or when they are aggressive. 2) There is an inner quality "self-esteem", which is nutured by being seen and by being experienced/witnessed as precious the way we are, and there is an outer, acquired quality "self-confidence", which is nutured by praise and critique. The difference between both is the difference between existence and performance. 3) Successfully setting limits typically requires a passive part, where we describe the situation and our feeli 1) Childrens cooperate, even when they cra or when they are aggressive. 2) There is an inner quality "self-esteem", which is nutured by being seen and by being experienced/witnessed as precious the way we are, and there is an outer, acquired quality "self-confidence", which is nutured by praise and critique. The difference between both is the difference between existence and performance. 3) Successfully setting limits typically requires a passive part, where we describe the situation and our feelings, and an active part, where we take responsibility for us and our well-being. This active part can start with "I want that you..." The are three ideas I took from the book. They help me rethink my interaction with my partner's kids. And I could not stop thinking what all this means when dealing with my inner child as well. The detailled descriptions and interpretation of small moments in life show that Juul is really an expert in his field.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Maciek Wilczyński

    If you're a parent, future parent, plan to become a parent in some time - read it. Full stop. Written in 1995 (sic!) and still so little things have changed: beating and drilling children, undermining their self-esteem, ensuring they do everything to please others and not themselves. In general, book describes what you should do and shouldn't do as a parent. It is also very mind-bending when it comes to thinking about children. Loved the real-life examples from the author's practice. One of the If you're a parent, future parent, plan to become a parent in some time - read it. Full stop. Written in 1995 (sic!) and still so little things have changed: beating and drilling children, undermining their self-esteem, ensuring they do everything to please others and not themselves. In general, book describes what you should do and shouldn't do as a parent. It is also very mind-bending when it comes to thinking about children. Loved the real-life examples from the author's practice. One of the best books I've read on the topic; although some things might be hard to implement it's still worth to try.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Joanna

    Learning points for each leading (instead of controlling) parent: * " don't be worry when children are doing bad, be scared that they are observing (and learning from) you" * evolution of bringing-up the children (now I know how it comes to a lot of millennials in our society, why a child can gain depression, etc) * what's necessary to bring-up a life-prepared-adult * respectful, loving, positive parenting - why and how to do it Thank you Jesper Juul for this so many handful lessons! Learning points for each leading (instead of controlling) parent: * " don't be worry when children are doing bad, be scared that they are observing (and learning from) you" * evolution of bringing-up the children (now I know how it comes to a lot of millennials in our society, why a child can gain depression, etc) * what's necessary to bring-up a life-prepared-adult * respectful, loving, positive parenting - why and how to do it Thank you Jesper Juul for this so many handful lessons!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Stanislav

    This book is a precedent. It's the first time I give up on a book and put it down before finishing it. As well as first time I ever reward a single star. I've read some poor works before, but at least they had enough value to finish them, while ignoring an undercurrent of disappointment. Maybe it was just the translation in Bulgarian that sucked. This book is a precedent. It's the first time I give up on a book and put it down before finishing it. As well as first time I ever reward a single star. I've read some poor works before, but at least they had enough value to finish them, while ignoring an undercurrent of disappointment. Maybe it was just the translation in Bulgarian that sucked.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Eva Ziaka

    A book that for sure I will read again and see things from a different point of view while my child grows up. Very interesting, to the point and written in a very simple way. I wasn't lost at all in theories. Reading this book really makes you understand some things, unnoticed since then, for your children. A book that for sure I will read again and see things from a different point of view while my child grows up. Very interesting, to the point and written in a very simple way. I wasn't lost at all in theories. Reading this book really makes you understand some things, unnoticed since then, for your children.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Monica Sheldon

    Lots of really good advice for moving towards a respectful way of relating to children: communicating, setting and enforcing limits, gaining respect and cooperation without violating their personal integrity. Especially helpful if you were raised in an externally controlled, authoritarian environment where you weren't able to develop these attitudes and skills. Lots of really good advice for moving towards a respectful way of relating to children: communicating, setting and enforcing limits, gaining respect and cooperation without violating their personal integrity. Especially helpful if you were raised in an externally controlled, authoritarian environment where you weren't able to develop these attitudes and skills.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Adriana

    The author's thesis is that children, contrary to adults' conviction, are naturally collaborative and competent. After reading this book, as a mother I feel that being truly respectful to children shall permit us to assume a less stressfull and opressive parenthood. The author's thesis is that children, contrary to adults' conviction, are naturally collaborative and competent. After reading this book, as a mother I feel that being truly respectful to children shall permit us to assume a less stressfull and opressive parenthood.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Balint Erdi

    It's a good book that I'd recommend to other parents, too. I'm happy I've read it because it did contain great pieces of advice. Some highlights were the concept of "equal dignity" within the family, why giving everything to the child is bad for them and the concept of assigning personal responsibility to the child (areas where he can make decisions on his own but should also bear the consequences) as a way to grow. I only gave it three stars because the first half of the book wasn't really tell It's a good book that I'd recommend to other parents, too. I'm happy I've read it because it did contain great pieces of advice. Some highlights were the concept of "equal dignity" within the family, why giving everything to the child is bad for them and the concept of assigning personal responsibility to the child (areas where he can make decisions on his own but should also bear the consequences) as a way to grow. I only gave it three stars because the first half of the book wasn't really telling me anything new (although it could be because I've already integrated those concepts) and because the book has an unusually high number of typos and just plain faulty phrases. This is surprising in a book that is, I think, very popular and went through several editions.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Iva Pirincheva

    I would much prefer if a book would state an idea once instead of tedious repetition. Other than that I find the book very helpful for my interaction with children and adults. As a matter of fact it helped me realize reasons for my behavior as well.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ieva Andersone

    I have read many parenting books. This probably is one is the best. It does not teach, does not preach, just invites to be true and open to yourself and your child. To take your child as equally competent and valuable human being. Very inspiring and encouraging approach.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Deraendi

    I have to admit, this book is one of the best I read in this context. It helped me to re-think my parenting style a lot and improved my awareness to respect the integrity of my kids. This book reflected patterns I got from my parents as well.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mia Gutkovas

    I really like and agree about Juuls ideas about parenting, and the message of the book is really good. However, I found the examples a bit simplistic and random. Also, it annoyed me quite a bit that there were typos on basically every single page.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ivana

    I'm sure this is basically a really good and worthy book, but to me, I just couldn't get into it, and I would be lying if I said I found it interesting, sorry ... I'm sure this is basically a really good and worthy book, but to me, I just couldn't get into it, and I would be lying if I said I found it interesting, sorry ...

  29. 5 out of 5

    Mirela

    This may be the most important book I have ever read!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Piotr Piotrowski

    Excellent book which shows us a lot about life and children. Worth to be reread again and again.

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