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Predictive Parenting: What to Say When You Talk to Your Kids

a book by Shad Helmstetter

(our site's book review)

Shad Helmstetter has written some good books about self-talk. One of them, Predictive Parenting, is about parents realizing how their words to their kids actually program them to have a strong tendency to turn out a certain way. The ramifications of this are that parents can learn, in this book, how to change their communications to their kids—which most parents inadvertently do in a way that limits or even cripples their kids’ futures—so that they tend to enhance their kids futures.

The book shows how to: help kids avoid substance abuse pitfalls; help kids develop self-esteem, self-confidence, and personal responsibility; improve communication quality; engender at-cause children; and teach by example and logical consequences. The books of Dr. Louise Hart and Dr. Thomas Gordon are much better sources for learning about teaching kids consequences and self-responsibility, but Helmstetter does a good job with explaining the implications of good and bad self-talk. He does an inadequate job of dealing with personal space and avoiding manipulating kids, and he doesn’t stress letting kids help evolve responsibilities lists, or avoiding the pitfalls of praise*. But his stressing that kids be given constant choices and reminded of their ability to choose in all situations, along with his self-talk advice, certainly goes in the right direction, even if it does need revamping with the more sophisticated, authoritative wisdom of people like Hart. Helmstetter is a self-talk expert, but Hart is expert at parenting, self-esteem, communication, effective lifeskills and self-talk.

Praise is a bad way of instilling self-esteem—it  produces not self-esteem but dependency; verbally encouraging is bad for kids if it is done with You statements but good for kids if it is done with I statements ('I'm wondering how you felt when you drew that' or 'I appreciate it when you help with dishes')
*Praise is a bad way of instilling self-esteem—it produces not self-esteem but dependency; verbally encouraging is bad for kids if it is done with You statements but good for kids if it is done with I statements ("I'm wondering how you felt when you drew that" or "I appreciate it when you help with dishes")