“The New Strong-Willed Child” by James Dobson

In Dobson's frightening book “The New Strong-Willed Child” he recommends beating both children and dogs into submission.  It begins with a hair-raising story of how Dobson whipped his little dog with a belt for “defiance”: see pages 2 & 3   Whipping a dog is illegal in most US states!
 
Dobson believes most children are “strong-willed” and "defiant", and includes these bogus charts about his opinions: see page 7   He believes a child's will should be "conquered" and parents must "win" (p.50 & 53).
 
Dobson calls children many insulting names in this book:  brat, bratty, pugnacious, spitfires, defiant, confirmed anarchists, hot lava, Goody Two-Shoes, sneaky, horrid, little revolutionaries, defiant, contentious, double trouble, hardheaded as mules, tough-minded, little fat-fingers, defiant, toughie, irritating, pack of adolescent wolves, confirmed revolutionary, Hurricane Hannah, little chameleon, negative, sour, sullen, ill-tempered, prissy, stick of dynamite, flighty, spoiled brat, goof-off, obnoxious, fireball, snippy, defiant, rambunctious, difficult, testy, groaning lump, nasty, all legs, all nose and ears, cantankerous, rude, unruly, stubborn, defiant, hostile, mischievous, gangly legs, foolish, selfish, insane.  Did I mention “defiant”?  On p. 6 he makes the bizarre claim that some children have “crooked wheels” and that’s why they are “defiant”!
 
Dobson has some particularly disturbing ideas about infants, claiming that some are “defiant upon exit from the womb” (p.x) “They come into the world smoking a cigar and yelling about the temperature in the delivery room” (back cover).  Dobson also says “A healthy baby can keep her mother or father hopping around her nursery twelve hours a day (or night) by simply forcing air past her sandpaper larynx” and  “Don’t be afraid to let her cry.” (p.94)
 
Dobson says children cause “constant battles” (p.xii) they “pull stunts” and “they just love to go toe-to-toe with their parents.  They get their kicks by playing power games.” (p.17).  Dobson claims “most children seem to have a need to take on those in authority.” (p.39)  He says “children are naturally inclined toward rebellion, selfishness, dishonesty, aggression, exploitation, and greed.” (p.45)
 
So what does Dobson recommend parents do about all these defiant, rebellious children?  Hit them, of course!  On p.15 Dobson tells the story of a mother who spanks her 5 year old daughter and locks her in the garage for throwing some stones at cars.  On p.18 he tells the story of a mother who slaps her 18 month old 9 separate times for reaching for a candy dish.  On p.20 he tells the story of a mother who counts to three “and if the kids had not minded by then, they would have to face the wooden spoon.”
 
On p.61 Dobson says to spank a 6 year old for calling his parents “hot dog” or “moose” and on p.63 Dobson says to spank a 7 year old for lying. 
 
On p.120 Dobson quotes an anonymous poem “Grandpop seized a slipper and yanked Junior ‘cross his knee. Grandpop hasn’t read a book since 1923.”  Then Dobson says “Dear ol’ Grandpop.  He may have been a little old-fashioned in his ideas, but he certainly knew how to handle Junior.”
 
On p.123 Dobson states his beliefs about corporal punishment: “Many children desperately need this resolution to their disobedience” and says spanking actually prevents child abuse because when parents spank they don’t “get more and more frustrated” and “blow up”.  However, research by Dr. Murray Straus and others show that 70% of child abuse cases start out as spanking!
 
On p. 125-130 Dobson inserts an article that claims the research on corporal punishment is mostly “opinion-driven” and “flawed” and “spanking is not abuse” if done “appropriately and not in anger”.  This article also recommends hitting a toddler who hits, or the toddler’s “hitting will persist or even escalate.” 
 
On p. 135 Dobson is asked this question: “Q: How long do you think a child should be allowed to cry after being punished or spanked?  Is there a limit?  A: Yes, I believe there should be a limit.  As long as the tears represent a genuine release of emotion, they should be permitted to fall.  But crying can quickly change from inner sobbing to an expression of protest aimed at punishing the enemy.  Real crying usually lasts two minutes or less but may continue for five.  After that point, the child is merely complaining, and the change can be recognized in the tone and intensity of his voice.  I would require him to stop the protest crying, usually by offering him a little more of whatever caused the original tears.”
 
On p.136 Dobson recommends using a switch or paddle to beat children: click here to read page 136
 
On p.137 Dobson says “The spanking may be too gentle.  If it doesn’t hurt, it doesn’t motivate a child to avoid the consequence next time.  A slap with the hand on the bottom of a diapered two-year-old is not a deterrent to anything.  Be sure the child gets the message.”
 
On p.138 Dobson makes this incredible statement: “If corporal punishment is banned, it will be a sad day for families, and especially for children!”
 
For the record, Dobson calls positive discipline “repackaged permissive claptrap” “ridiculous advice” “horse manure” and “wimp parenting” (p.37-39).  Dobson has a psychology degree received in the 60’s.  His training was before all the research that has been done showing the many harms of corporal punishment of children.  Dobson is not a doctor, and he’s not ordained in any religion.  The American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Medical Association all disagree with Dobson’s views on discipline.
 
 
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For Barnes & Noble go to  BN-book-page  ( Barnes & Noble requests that you leave out personal attacks on Dobson and keep the review to 500 words or less).
 
Thank you for helping to protect children from Dobson’s dangerous advice!