Dr. Margaret O’Connor Griffiths explains the underpinnings of child development in this informative parenting primer.
Griffiths boasts a 54-year career as a practicing clinical psychologist dealing with families. Now retired, she draws upon that background—and her life as a mother and grandmother— to present information about child rearing from birth to adolescence. By outlining behavioral theories and research, she aims to increase parents’ confidence so they can raise children into emotionally healthy, thriving adults.
Griffiths organizes the material into five main sections: brain development, personality development theories, personality development “pillars” (e.g., learning responsibility, building self-esteem, etc.), age-based developmental stages, and appendices that touch on physical punishment perspectives and child-rearing concepts in other cultures. Chapters often conclude with helpful summaries.
Griffiths succinctly relates relevant scientific and social science concepts. As she acknowledges, however, the book “is not an easy read.” Despite attempts to lighten the dense material with occasional cheerful anecdotes, early chapters rife with information about neurological processes can be slow going.
When addressing typical parenting issues, Griffiths offers familiar tips. To build a child’s self-esteem, for example, she advises “Parents are to keep things real for their child(ren). They should praise and criticize appropriately.” Most parents are also already familiar with behavior charts, a tool she recommends to track progress toward a goal. To her credit, Griffiths is not dogmatic and encourages parents to make individualized decisions that best foster their particular child’s development, such as deciding how to put an infant to sleep and whether to maintain the Santa Claus myth.
While the biological and conceptual theories contextualize the parenting tips, some busy parents might find the book daunting and would be better off with more basic child rearing guides. But for those looking to enrich their understanding of childhood development, this book sets forth foundational underpinnings, while offering common sense guidance.
As such, it will appeal to parents seeking evidence-based research to frame their child rearing.
Also available as an ebook.