Book Review: Have a New Kid by Friday

I read this book about a month ago for my MOPS group book club and enjoyed it and the discussion that accompanied it. The title follows current book naming trends with a good subtitle = How to Change Your Child’s Attitude, Behavior & Character in 5 Days. Dr. Kevin Leman is a retired psychologist who has written gobs of books including The Birth Order Book that I really loved and found to be an accurate description of my family growing up. His style is witty, but unapologetic. He thinks his way of doing the parenting thing is the only way and that really turns me off. I agree with most of his ideas and techniques, which really focus on being consistent, loving, and logical.

In this book, he starts out by assuming that you must have totally screwed up and need him to set you straight so that’s why you are reading the book, which may be true for lots of his readers. He says that his strategies will work for anyone, anywhere, at any stage/age. I just don’t buy that. So, the basic plan in the book is this: Say it once. Turn your back. Walk away. I could see this working great with older kids, but my 3 year old, who may or may not be typical in his behavior, is not afraid of being left in the grocery store or at the park and will happily wave goodbye and return to his play – glad to be rid of me and my plan to tear him away from good times.

There were also several other points in the book and these are the ones that I use and will continue to use. It’s always nice to have a reminder of good ideas and new ways to implement them. These are really hard for me to do in everyday life when I get tired and bogged down in the details of mothering.
1. Let reality be the teacher.
2. Learn to respond rather than react.
3. B doesn’t happen until A is complete.
4. Be consistent and follow through on what you say.
5. Don’t threaten or get angry. (My friend, Janet, had a great post summarizing this as I was really struggling with the difference between threatening and giving honest choices while reading this book)
6. Keep my attitude and behavior ones to be modeled!

Along with the above, there are several questions that Dr. Leman recommends asking and have really helped me to evaluate and decide how to proceed.
1. What’s the purpose of the behavior?
2. How do I feel about it?
3. Is it really a big deal?

The second part of the book is an A-Z listing of normal parenting dilemmas and his ideas on how to handle them. Some things were good, but my real struggle is currently bedtime (and naptime) and he says in essence: don’t sweat it; kids sleep when they’re tired. Again, maybe they do, but Josiah does not. Instead, he destroys things and people (not an exaggeration) when he is tired and whines a LOT, so it is problem for everyone not just him, not something we can just wait out until he falls asleep.

If you haven’t read a lot of parenting books, you may find the ideas new and helpful especially if your kids are crazy, but I’d get it from the library if it were me. But, I know some people found the practicality of the book priceless.


  1. Kristen said,

    September 24, 2009 @ 12:30 pm

    Just looked up the info on Love and Logic from Janet. The closest library to me that has the DVD series is in Plymouth Michigan… not very close to me.

    I’m struggling with discipline issues as well. I’m finding that if I am there instead of doing stuff, I can hold them off, but if I am doing stuff, then I don’t notice as quickly when I need to stop the kids.

    I think I may try to find a class in the area that is at a church. I want something that is love and logic meets Dut. 6:6 with training your kids.

  2. Cary Chugh said,

    October 4, 2009 @ 6:04 pm

    Hi Shannon,

    I was reading your review of Have a New Kid by Friday and I thought you might be interested in some new ideas on working with challenging kids. I am a clinical child psychologist and I just released my first (and hopefully only) book that re-interprets the basic behavioral research in such a way as to enhance the types of rewards and punishments most parents, teachers, and professionals use. It’s called Don’t Swear with Your Mouth Full! When conventional discipline fails unconventional children and it explains why the typical strategies used in most settings are technically flawed (and are especially ineffective for kids with ADHD). I then spell out an easier method of discipline called “behavior-limited discipline” that has not been written about before and has been receiving great reviews so far. It takes Leman’s ideas to a whole new level and I think you’ll like it.

    Anyway, I’ve got enough academics on board and I’m starting research on it this fall (with the book as the treatment manual). I am now trying to get actual parents, clinicians, and school personnel to read it (and write about it if they are so inclined) to help get the word out by reviewing it on their sites. Let me know if you you’re interested and I’ll send out a review copy tomorrow.



  3. Amber said,

    October 12, 2009 @ 3:21 pm

    I just saw this book in the bookstore today. How fun that you read it! Also, how fun that you write book reviews! You are a prolific reader and writer. What an inspiration! Truly.

    I am reading Thomas Merton and loving it.

    Love ya,

    P.S. I actually got on your blog to try to figure out your email address. I can never remember it or get it right. Oh man.

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