The Child Whisperer: The Ultimate Handbook For Raising Happy, Successful, Cooperative Children, by Carol Tuttle
This book is one of a set of books about personality theory relating to children that I was recommended by a friend of mine. Being a childless bachelor myself, albeit one with a strong interest in personality theory , this book is not exactly aimed at me, except as a potential future parent. Even so, despite the fact that I am not in the target audience of this book, I would like to comment as an outsider on the fundamental assumption this book makes when it comes to dealing with children, given that at a length of nearly 400 pages it has a lot to say about our approach to childhood within the rubric of essentially humanistic psychology. Specifically, this book looks at raising children the point of view that parents have a solemn obligation to find out what sort of little people their kiddos are and tailor their parenting to the personality and abilities and worldview of their children to build up reserves of goodwill, avoid decades-long battles of wills, and avoid causing harm to children over painful and unpleasant childhoods. The author also repeatedly vocalizes the sentiment that it is never too late for parents to apologize for past misdeeds and seek to build a relationship even with an adult child on a basis of respect and understanding.
The contents of this book are straightforward, even if the subject matter of the book itself comes out of left field in being another awkward aspect of the “whisperer” phenomenon by which human beings use empathy and understanding to bridge the gap in potentially exploitative relationships with simpler beings of somewhat sensitive moods and temperaments–horses, dogs, and children. Tuttle begins this book with a discussion about the reason for this book, the unconscious wounds that parents give children through not understanding and encouraging them, a discussion on the goals of parenting, what it means to be a child whisperer, and the importance of energy profiling. The author then looks at four types of children, numbering them from 1 to 4, and explaining their essential natures: type 1 as the fun-loving child, type 2 as the sensitive and emotionally intuitive child, type 3 as the determined and energetic child, and type 4 as the more serious and reflective child. This profiling takes up the majority of the book, and the rest of the book follows in profiling toddlers and parents, identifying the secondary energy types of children, understanding the roots of rebellion in disrespect, and looking at parental disciplinary approaches that do not work well for all children or most children (like spanking). The author spends some time looking at ways that family culture, the public education system, and religious culture may wound children as well and encourage parents to avoid negatively labeling their children and use their new-found knowledge to be more compassionate with their children and with children in general.
Reading this book, as can be imagined, was a somewhat complicated experience. As the author does not approach children from a point of view that includes a robust understanding of the native inclination of children towards folly and wickedness, the author’s humanistic view is a tad too optimistic. That caveat and criticism aside, there is a lot of material within this book that I looked at which a substantial amount of personal dissatisfaction given the rather harsh and abusive childhood on multiple levels I was subjected to. The approach of this book is like day compared to the night under which I was brought up. Looking at my own types within the author’s rubric, I would say that I am primarily a serious-minded type 4 with fairly strong secondary type 2 sensitive child and type 3 determined child elements, and a somewhat naturally undeveloped type 1 sense of fun and lightheartedness. Like all personality theory books, this book takes the wholeness and balance of humanity and shows the roles and parts each type plays, the characteristic qualities of different types, the different energies and insights that different approaches bring. This book is one that reminds us that children come in different types and have different needs and different ways of seeing the world, and different worldviews and approaches. Parents and other adults would do well to seek to understand the kiddos around them and to redirect their occasionally irritating native inclinations to positive ends, a task that never ceases to be a challenge throughout the course of life.
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