Book Review: Don’t Swear With Your Mouth Full

Here’s another parenting book that I found useful in many ways. First, and maybe most importantly, I was delighted and encouraged to find out that I am doing something right. The punishment that I use most often is the approach advocated by Dr. Cary Chugh in this book for “when conventional discipline fails unconventional kids.” He calls it “behavior-limited discipline” and I call it “taking a break until you are ready to do/make it right.” I don’t know that I have unconventional children, but I do know that I prefer unconventional methods of parenting, namely gentle (in Christian circles, grace-based) discipline.

I would’ve liked this book a lot more if it hadn’t started with a whole chapter devoted to telling me what the book was going to say (and detailing what each chapter would cover again at the beginning of said chapter). I have lots of idiosyncrasies and one of my very biggest pet peeves is when authors tell you what they are going to tell you instead of just telling you! So, skip the introduction and get right into the research about punishments and what works in “normal” families and with most kids, but doesn’t work for the “difficult” children or if you are really short on time and think that you have a good grasp of what constitutes regular punishments in most families, skip all the way to chapter 5.

This book is great in its design for parents to use as a tool. It has neat summaries of the main points for each chapter in gray boxes along with important arguments and conclusions throughout the chapters. I will definitely be able to pull the book out again and quickly refresh on any ideas presented here, which is essential in parenting books. The final chapter has several gray boxes with all the pertinent info in one handy place along with a wonderful “cheat sheet” questionnaire so parents are ready for whatever disciplinary action might be required.

Another feature of this book is that it is a quick read and easily organized. I could’ve (and would’ve if I weren’t reviewing the book) the chapter on school-related problems and solutions since I don’t have school-aged kids. I found that chapters 5, 6, 8 and 9 would’ve been sufficient for me especially with the summary points at the end of each chapter. The author integrates a bit of light humor and keeps a the book somewhat playful despite the serious nature of the topic. However, for me, this was a bit confusing/annoying as I didn’t understand all of the jokes and alternate chapter titles and I found that they took away from the general air of authority and know-how that Dr. Chugh establishes.

I really appreciated the practical examples and ideas throughout the book. Dr. Chugh presents several dialogues where he further explains how to implement behavior-limited discipline as well as verbal rehearsal or planning or priming (basically all the same things), which in essence are discussions with kids about how to behave reminding them that their choices have consequences and they have the power to choose.

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