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How to Hug a Porcupine: Negotiating the Prickly Points of the Tween Years

3.71  ·  Rating Details ·  335 Ratings  ·  70 Reviews
"You never listen to anything I say!"

Yesterday, your child was a sweet, well-adjusted eight-year-old. Today, a moody, disrespectful twelve-year-old. What happened? And more important, how do you handle it? How you respond to these whirlwind changes will not only affect your child's behavior now but will determine how he or she turns out later. Julie A. Ross, executive dire
Paperback, 210 pages
Published July 23rd 2008 by McGraw-Hill (first published 2008)
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Community Reviews

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Jan 24, 2012 Stef rated it liked it
I used to read parenting books when my kids were little.m I picked this book up at the library because the title looked interesting. It is very easy to read and broken down into easy to manage topics. It makes you realize your kids are normal. Also, so far, my kids are easier than the problems that arise in this book. The book's strength is its reminder that the goal is to have a respectful relationship with your kids, rather than total control. I am up to the "Computer addiction" chapter. This ...more
Aug 31, 2012 Kim rated it liked it
very good description of what's in a tween's head. The solutions as always sound like they'd be comfortable for a psychologist but not so much for the average parent! Definitely worth a read though. Now to get my husband to read it...
Apr 14, 2011 JaNel rated it really liked it
Shelves: parenting
Control is an illusion. During the preteen years, parents can give up control for influence by focusing on their relationship, so that in the teen and young adult years, teens will trust and come to their parents for advice; they may even follow it.

p. 13 Reciprocity--my teen has needs that must be met and so do I. Decide how best to meet each rather than get into a power struggle
-a preteen's needs:independence and to be different from parents

Be respectful: would I talk/treat my best friend
Oct 30, 2009 Mindy rated it it was amazing
I haven't cried this hard while reading a book in a long time! I cried for two reasons, one is that everything I'm currently experiencing with Sierra was written about in this book and it was such a relief that if it's written down, it's because other people have experienced the same thing which means there will be help for me to know what to do! The second reason I cried is because it really was a confirmation that my little girl is no longer little. She's growing up and most of our problems ar ...more
Feb 01, 2013 Jenine rated it liked it
Not a rave but there are certainly a lot of good approaches here. I argued with the book most of the way through. One of her tenets is that the parent should set all their emotional reactions aside in order to interact with their highly emotional tween child. I agree that it's important to set reactions aside when making good decisions. But the level of personal suppress that's called for is too much. The parent is a person too. It's also quite creepy if the parent is making all interactions so ...more
Jonathan Appleton
Jun 28, 2014 Jonathan Appleton rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2014
When I read the first couple chapters I thought the author much be with the NSA and had access to our house. The first two chapters were dead on.
I think there is a lot of good material here. More so on retraining the parent to deal rather than change the child (or maybe mine is too stubborn).
If the techniques fail at least there can be some commiseration.
If that doesn't work there is always alcohol.
Lee Anne
Mar 15, 2015 Lee Anne rated it liked it
It's always good to refresh my skills. While this book has some cheesy dialogue and scenarios, it's mostly filled with good, practical advice about parenting your tween. Especially helpful, for me, is the concept of moving from controlling to monitoring. It's hard to let go of the constant "Did you wash your hands?" "Is your homework in your bag?" etc. micro-managing, but only when you do can you help your child move to the next level. That's good advice.
Jenny K
May 06, 2014 Jenny K rated it it was amazing
I am a mother of tween triplets and I really enjoyed this book. I liked being able to flip through to topics I really wanted to research. It included some great tips for helping guide tweens through these crazy years.
Feb 18, 2015 Debb rated it really liked it
Some very thoughtful and common sense information and advice for parents. A reminder that the parents need to be aware of what a teen is going through physically and emotionally, and not to take a lot of the attitude too personally!
Jun 21, 2014 Karen rated it liked it
I tend to parent this way, encouraging kids to work things out by using their words and talking about good decision-making a lot. Probably nothing revelational in this book, but I found it encouraging. Then again, this book is aimed at middle-schoolers and my kid is not in that stage yet;)
Nov 14, 2010 Laura rated it really liked it
When it comes to parenting, I’ve always got something to learn.
Apr 22, 2014 Candace rated it really liked it
Great resource for parents of Tweens. Will be an annual read to refresh as long as I have Tweens in the house.
Jan 29, 2015 Terri rated it liked it
Offers good advice ... I just have to remember to use it.
Jul 25, 2009 Charityjane is currently reading it
so far i'm wondering where they hid the cameras in my house..
Mar 26, 2017 Marisa rated it really liked it
As with any advice book, I absorb and learn from some of it and disregard some of it. If you're at a complete loss when dealing with your adolescent's changing behavior, this will give you some good guidance. If you have almost everything figured out, you'll still pick up a few helpful tips and phrases.

Worth the read.
Oct 30, 2011 Jean rated it really liked it
I bought this book on recommendation of a friend. When I first got the book in the mail, I was intrigued by the claims on the back cover:

* Find out how other parents survived nightmarish tween behavior — and still raised great kids
* Break the "nagging cycle," give your kids the right balance of responsibilities, and get results
* Talk about sex, drugs, and alcohol so your kid will listen
* Discover the secret that will help your child disregard peer pressure and make smart choices — for life

I foun
Deirdre Keating
Oct 15, 2014 Deirdre Keating rated it it was amazing
I requested this read after a particular bewildering week with my tween. Now that feels eons away, but these are the roller-coaster years so perhaps we'll be riding that wave again soon. Meanwhile I'm reading this in bits and pieces. I like her overall really positive attitude about this age.

Finally finished it, though it isn't a long read. At the end I wondered, why didn't she address this or that conflict, but then I realized her title is perfect. It isn't a book that is attempting to off
Jul 18, 2014 Amy rated it really liked it
Shelves: parenting
Concise and well-presented material on how to shift the parent-child relationship during the middle school years. Ross' point of view is that it sets the stage for healthy parenting of teenagers if parents use these middle years to gradually move from directive parenting to a more collaborative style, and her ideas make sense in the scenarios she presents.

She explains many familiar behavior challenges with which parents of the 9-13 set are familiar: sullenness, belligerence, defiance, procrastin
Feb 23, 2016 Tina rated it liked it
I picked this one up because I thought the title was clever. Little did I know that the author was serious in her label. I actually got defensive at some of the introductory descriptions of "normal" tweens because, in complete honesty, my kids would never speak that way to me, their dad or to their siblings. It just set a negative tone for me-if you start out thinking of your child as prickly, I'm pretty sure you're going to interact with them as such. But I pressed on and did find some helpful ...more
Feb 29, 2016 Kimberly rated it liked it
I thought this was good insight into what is going on in my middle-school-aged daughters' heads. I thought some of the examples and dialogue were eye-rollingly cheesy, but I put that aside and tried to focus on the greater message she was trying to convey. I also thought - at times - this was advocating for a bit more coddling than I like to do. There is an example somewhere early on about a girl who tosses her uneaten breakfast in the trash in a fit because her mom wasn't being sympathetic enou ...more
Mar 02, 2015 Jennifer rated it really liked it
If you read this book, try to keep an open mind past the first few chapters. At first glance, this book seems to be preaching a very soft parental style that allows kids to treat their parents badly. But after a few chapters, it becomes evident that the author is trying to help parents to get to know their kids and to understand WHY grouchy/touchy tween behaviour happens.

I plan to take much of the author's advice into account including:
- listening with 'heart'
- choosing proper timing for diffi
Penny McGill
Jan 19, 2014 Penny McGill rated it it was amazing
This is a great resource for parents. Each chapter outlines the stresses of raising a tween or teen with suggestions of how to cope with common problems. Better still, Julie A. Ross also provides some background on 'why' kids are acting the way they do at this age and it reassures the reader that all kids develop this way and that it is perfectly normal for a 12 year old girl to come home cheerful and filled with enthusiasm about her band instrument and then fall into tears when she is reminded ...more
Nov 25, 2009 Alison rated it really liked it
I accidentally got this book from the library (meant to check out the How to Hug a Porcupine original book) but I thought I'd read a few chapters because one of my dd's is approaching the tween years. I was pleasantly surprised to find this book was so well written with lots of great ideas about how to communicate with your children (spouse too, I think). There were a few major lightbulb moments for me that have changed the way I think about some important things. Chapters on a lot of the things ...more
Ruth Ann
Jun 26, 2010 Ruth Ann rated it really liked it
Shelves: parenting
If all you did was read the chapter titles, you'd quickly be reassured that your child's behavior is "normal". After that reassurance, you'll have to admit that your child is indeed a porcupine and learn to look beyond the behavior to what find out what exactly is going on with your child. Ross's suggestions are wise and I wish I had read this book when my own children were in their tween years. Neverthless, several of the points are still applicable for my teens. As parents we need to remember ...more
Aug 13, 2014 Kelly rated it really liked it
I liked this book a lot. It was almost completely in line with my ideas about non-punitive, non-rewarding, relationship-focused parenting. It gave me a lot of tips for dealing with specific pre-teen issues, and it helped me see and understand the changes that are happening at our house (and will keep happening). It reinforced for me that I need to be a good listenter so Livy will keep talking.

Two things I didn't love: There is a lot of talk about logical consequences, which I think is often puni
Jan 22, 2014 Eric rated it liked it
We don't have any kids in the "tween" years (on both sides, though), but someone recommended this book at some point, so Shannon and I read it together. Really, a lot of the advice is somewhat age-independent, but the author wanted to keep to her theme, so tweens are mentioned all the time.

I liked some of the advice about how to help your kids settle disputes between themselves rather than expecting mom and dad to solve their problems.

Family meetings was another big topic -- I kind of feel like
Feb 21, 2013 Corinne rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
I probably read about 45% of it because I skimmed alot. I don't know what prevented me from reading it cover to cover. I felt it was very wordy. It used a lot of examples to help you understand or follow along. I'm sure the examples and wordiness were important to get to the idea she was explaining but I couldn't appreciate it. Maybe I couldn't "get into it" because I'm optimisitc that I'm doing alright as a parent and don't feel like I really need to digest all of this. I learned a few things l ...more
Jun 24, 2014 Aviva rated it really liked it
Not everything applies (of course -- when does everything in a self-help book actually apply to a single person?), but I found a number of useful tips that I've put into practice. One note: I consider "tween" years to be the 8-12 age range, the book is aimed at parents of middle schoolers through 9th or 10th grade. My kid is currently in 4th grade so technically younger than the book is aimed at. But I considered it helpful to get a peek at what to expect and what kinds of things we should put i ...more
Gayla Bassham
Nov 12, 2010 Gayla Bassham rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010-reads
I reserve the right to change the star rating if these techniques don't work! But Ross did make me think about some of our conflicts in a different way, and I do think using some of her ideas could improve the household communication. And maybe limit the number of sibling fights, which has been skyrocketing lately.

But I don't see us having weekly family meetings. Does anyone else do that? Ross is a big proponent, but it sounds a little bit corny to me. I'm not sure I could even get my husband on
Sep 02, 2010 Sheridan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: parenting
I have a tween, well actually he is almost a teen. I maybe should have read this a year ago when he was 11. :)

This was a great book, giving useful and easy to apply tips for this interesting stage of parenthood.

I am more on the fearful end of being a parent, trying not to worry, etc.

I loved this quote: "When we're fearful, it can pay to ask ourselves, "Is it possible for something bad to happen, or is it probable that something bad will happen?"

That may help me let go a bit more. :)
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“Our preteens need for us to remain emotionally connected and stable, because they're so unstable during this period. They need to know that we may not love their behavior but that, despite the fact that they're uncomfortable during their metamorphosis, we aren't going anywhere, and we will continue to love them, confident that, in due time, they will get through this.” 0 likes
“Looking ahead to the time when our children will be independent from us can help us decide how we can be the most effective during the middle school years. This requires asking ourselves not only, "Is what I'm doing working?" but also, "What am I teaching my child?" Think of it as taking the long view of parenting.” 0 likes
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