Today’s busier, faster, supersized society is waging an undeclared war . . . on childhood. As the pace of life accelerates to hyperspeed–with too much stuff, too many choices, and too little time–children feel the pressure. They can become anxious, have trouble with friends and school, or even be diagnosed with behavioral problems. Now, in defense of the extraordinary power of less, internationally renowned family consultant Kim John Payne helps parents reclaim for their children the space and freedom that all kids need, allowing their children’s attention to focus and their individuality to flourish.
Based on Payne’s twenty year’s experience successfully counseling busy families, Simplicity Parenting teaches parents how to worry and hover less–and how to enjoy more. For those who want to slow their children’s lives down but don’t know where to start, Payne offers both inspiration and a blueprint for change.
• Streamline your home environment. The average child has more than 150 toys. Here are tips for reducing the amount of toys, books, and clutter–as well as the lights, sounds, and general sensory overload that crowd the space young imaginations need in order to grow.
• Establish rhythms and rituals. Predictability (routines) and transparency (knowing the day’s plan) are soothing pressure valves for children. Here are ways to ease daily tensions, create battle-free mealtimes and bedtimes, and tell if your child is overwhelmed.
• Schedule a break in the schedule. Too many activities may limit children’s ability to motivate and direct themselves. Learn how to establish intervals of calm in your child’s daily torrent of constant doing–and familiarize yourself with the pros and cons of organized sports and other “enrichment” activities.
• Scale back on media and parental involvement. Back out of hyperparenting by managing your children’s “screen time” to limit the endless and sometimes scary deluge of information and stimulation.
Parental hovering is really about anxiety; by doing less and trusting more, parents can create a sanctuary that nurtures children’s identity, well-being, and resiliency as they grow–slowly–into themselves. A manifesto for protecting the grace of childhood, Simplicity Parenting is an eloquent guide to bringing new rhythms to bear on the lifelong art of parenting.
A consultant and trainer to more than sixty U.S. independent and public schools, Kim John Payne, M.Ed., has been a school counselor for eighteen years and a private family counselor-therapist for fifteen. Payne has worked extensively with the North American and U.K. Waldorf movements. He is currently project director of the Waldorf Collaborative Counseling Program at Antioch University New England, the director of a large research program on a drug-free approach to attention priority issues disorders, and a Partner of the Alliance for Childhood in Washington, D.C. He lives with his wife and two children in Harlemville, New York.
Lisa M. Ross has been involved with books for more than twenty years, as an editor and literary agent, and now exclusively as a writer. She lives with her husband and two children in Stuyvesant, New York.
“This book is a wake-call for all of us who have misjudged what children need and can handle, and who have wandered so far from the best practices that we are raising neurologically damaged and emotionally stunted human beings as a result. Simplicity Parenting arises from dialogues with real people, from their questions and their needs. Kim John Payne is sharp, funny, and wise, and–best of all–he has something shattering but positive to say to an America that is struggling to know how to live.” —Steve Biddulph, author of The Secret of Happy Children
“If you are raising children in these anxious times, you need this book. It will inspire you, reassure you, and, most important of all, it will remind you that less is more, that simplicity trumps complication, that rhythm and routine bring peace to the soul. In this profound and practical guide, Kim John Payne offers parents a doable, step-by-step approach to simplifying everyday family life, from the toy box to the dinner table. In the process, he reveals to us the rewards to be found in slowing down, savoring our children’s childhoods, and more fully enjoying our own adult lives.”—Katrina Kenison, author of Mitten Strings for God
“Simplicity Parenting takes the unusual and unusually wise stance that sometimes less can be more. Less as in less frenetic activity, less racing around, less clutter. Payne provides practical strategies for turning down the volume and creating a pace that fosters calmness, mindfulness, reflection, and individuality in children. Simplicity Parenting should be on every parent’s (indeed, every person’s) reading list.”—Kathleen A. Brehony, Ph.D., author of Awakening at Midlife
“Brilliant, wise, informative, innovative, entertaining, and urgently needed, this timely book is a godsend for all who love children, and for children themselves. It provides a doable plan for providing the kind of childhood kids desperately need today!” —Edward Hallowell, M.D., author of The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness
“Kim John Payne helps parents better understand one of the most challenging issues of our time–the hurried, materialistic, competitive, highly pressured nature of today’s childhood. After reading Simplicity Parenting, parents’ new mantra will be ‘less builds security, sanity, and connection.’ And they will have the tools they need for implementing this mantra in their families.”—Diane E. Levin, Ph.D., co-author of So Sexy So Soon