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The Kazdin Method for Parenting the Defiant Child: With No Pills, No Therapy, No Contest of Wills

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  518 ratings  ·  74 reviews
A lifesaving handbook for parents of children who are occasionally, or too often, for very young children, adolescents, and even beyond.
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published January 8th 2008 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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3.89  · 
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 ·  518 ratings  ·  74 reviews

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Mar 29, 2010 rated it liked it
Thoughts so far (about 1/4 in): This book should have been called "Parenting Children," not parenting defiant children. I would not have picked it up if it hadn't been recommended by someone else, because as obnoxious as my kids can be, I don't think of them as defiant. But so far, the approach seems sensible and backed up with data, and workable for all sorts of children and parents.

Update - thoughts after finishing/skimming before returning to the library. Am intrigued by the approach and thin
When I read this a few years ago, it seemed like a good plan. And it probably is, if you can be dedicated and stick to the plan for behavior modification: tackling one problem at a time, maintaining a reward chart, consistency, etc. But I live in the real world with three highly active kids (who are either strong-willed or too smart for their own good!), so this just didn't work. I have found much more success in tapping into my child's emotions and understanding them, then choosing an action. I ...more
Jul 02, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: parenting
I like the points about the ineffectiveness of punishment, and I think if you're looking to modify a discrete behavior -- getting ready in the mornings-- then the point-system method will work (think: sticker chart). I admit it's exhilirating that he keeps saying the program is temporary-- like if you just do it for a month, boom. Also, it'd be better for younger kids, I think. The problem with this system for my son is that he WOULD view not earning a point/reward as a punishment and it would l ...more
Feb 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I love this approach. I think his positive feedback approach can work with any child, and It is a refreshing change from all the punitive based programs out there. This WORKS with my 4 yr old who has Aspergers. It is so simple, celebrate the behavior you want to encourage. Specific praise. I can't say how much this book has change my sons behaivior, and my whole approach to parenting.
Aug 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Joy by: Parenting Magazine
Shelves: parenting
Looooove it!!! Especially that it's based on not just his own experience, but on lots of research - other studies. I will definitely buy it to use with Betsy. I like his "program" for dealing with specific behaviors you'd like to change, but also the end which talks about how using traditional values helps kids turn out better.

"Children tend to avoid interacting with a punishing agent - parents, teachers, whoever it might be - and to minimize the time they are obliged to spend with him or
Aug 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
I skimmed the parts about dealing with older children because I was specifically reading for advice for my children's ages. (I'll have to reread as my children get older.) The area I'm really struggling now is parenting my defiant 2 1/2 year-old, so I was bummed that advice started at the age of 4. All of the methods suggested are too advanced for my youngest son as he doesn't comprehend charts or anything like that yet. Despite that, I have found success by applying these methods to my 5 year-o ...more
May 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Wow! What a powerful book! Don't be deceived by the title. This book isn't just for the "defiant child." It's really about how to change behavior period. I even used the principles in this book to help me lose weight. I love how the book emphasizes the power of positive reinforcement and not expecting perfection. When you're teaching a child to walk, you don't wait until he can run before you praise his efforts and you certainly don't punish him when he falls. You help him practice and you teach ...more
Jun 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
This powerful, positive book on parenting is recommended to the patients and families by the doctor I work with in our Child Development clinic (I am a social worker), so I decided to read it. After checking it out of the library, I read most of it. It offers parents of kids of all ages practical ideas on how to increase attention to positive behavior choices while decreasing negative attention and punishment. He backs up the method with research across various academic settings where he has wor ...more
Angel Oakley
Sep 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book was exactly what I needed! I have very strong-willed children, and often parenting can be a challenge. Kazdin's advise is based on scientific studies - a method that has proven to work time and time again. While it's not a guarantee, he says the Kazdin Method, has worked for more than 85% of his patients. My children responded immediately, however, we still have more work to develop new long-lasting patterns.
I highly recommend this book.
Dec 20, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: parenting
The therapist recommended this one. It's a method of reinforcing positive behavior, based on science. He explains a system of creating a point chart and addressing a few compliant behaviors at a time for defiant children. We just started, but so far, so good.
Anna French
May 06, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: self-help
There are a couple of key things I learned from this book, specifically, the most effective way to issue a command, and the most effective way to praise. It also changed my perspective on punishment somewhat. There is information on how to set up an effective point system, however, I would have appreciated more example scenarios. The point/reward system is set up briefly within one chapter, leaving me unsure how to handle certain situations. I did try implementing a point system, which has achie ...more
Reg Aubry
Aug 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Points out the errors of punishment, and the benefits of positive shaping of behavior. I'm looking forward to seeing how this helps with classroom management in a middle school. If you like this, you'll like this article from the NYT, ("What Shamu Taught Me About a Happy Marriage") and the subsequent book, What Shamu Taught Me About Life, Love, and Marriage: Lessons for People from Animals and Their Trainers (
May 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A fantastically useful book, even if your children aren't "defiant." Concrete, research-based, and always focused on positive reinforcement of target behaviors. Combines my quest for positive patenting with my love of behavior charts. ;) Will definitely be playing a big role in our summer systems.
Cynthia Varady
Oct 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
So much great advice for struggling parents. We have seen a huge improvement in our child's behavior since implementing positive behavior modification. It's hard to ignore bad behavior, which, let's face it, is mostly irritating behavior. If it's not dangerous or expensive, ignore it. The irritating behavior usually burns itself out if it doesn't get any attention. Instead, focus in on the good stuff and water and feed those behaviors and watch them bloom.

I highly recommend this book to every pe
J Godwin
May 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Had some good content and solutions, but the information was repeated a lot. I got really tired of reading the same thing in every chapter. And although it does have sections for pre-teens and teens, I found that the techniques in the book were not as helpful for those ages, and were only slightly different from the same tactics used with toddlers. My 11-yr old is extremely strong-willed and also may have some anger management issues, and he just doesn't respond well long-term to these practices ...more
R J Waller
Apr 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is the man from whom much of what is known about child behavior has emerged.
Mar 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Excellent, practical, how-to advice. Pairs well with the works of Daniel Siegel.
Oct 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great parenting advice on how to manage your child's behavior in a positive manner!
Christina Mchenry
Jun 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Not a very quick read, but the advice is sound and effective.
Feb 15, 2014 rated it did not like it
This book introduces the Kazdin method of discipline, which I think is an age-old common sense way of raising kids. It is about teaching the parents communicating clearly and consistently with their children and telling them how important it is to follow through with a point reward system, which at some point can be abolished. I was shocked that the whole book is based on this simple idea but then presented with an aura of superiority and a claim about how it works all the time. If it doesn't wo ...more
Feb 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I have to preface this by saying that I have never thought of my four-year-old daughter as a "defiant child," but like all families, we struggle with challenging behavior, and the advice in this book is VERY relevant.

And I am really enjoying it! It is one of the few parenting books I have read where I feel completely in line with the author. He is a psychology professor at Yale and runs Yale's "Parenting Center," and even though he doesn't always cite the specific research, he writes that his me
Apr 25, 2008 rated it liked it
This book is full of great scientific research, followed by practical application. What's more is that I found Kazdin to keep the child's interests at heart. By reading this book, I understood the discipline practices that I grew up with -- that I agree with and those that I don't. My husband & I are now using the point chart, reward system & positive opposites that Kazdin describes... AND our daughter is blooming.

I also like that the book is divided into age-appropriate chapters so tha
Nov 07, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think this is a great book for parents struggling with ideas on how to turn a child's behavior around. Rewards and positive encouragement both verbal and materialistic has really turned my sons behavior around. This is not a cure all, but gives great honest ideas, examples and answers. My only doubt to it all is the "phasing" out of rewards. my kids have had reward charts for putting their dishes away for over 6 months and they both still want those rewards.
Overall I'm glad I read it. It help
Kari Olfert
May 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
When I started The Kazdin method it just seemed like the usual parenting reward/point system but what sets this book apart is that the author talks about abuse and developmental irregularities.

Kazdin takes the complete focus off of the child and spreads out perspective, introducing everyone to 'their part' in the method. He also (completely) guarantees that if you apply this method (outside of erroneous circumstances) you will see the desired behaviour in your child which will indirectly alter
Jan 14, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I didn't finish this book, but plan to in the future. It has some good methods for encouraging good behaviour in children by using specific types of prompting and positive reinforcement while ignoring bad behavior. It is a pretty simple approach that all seems logical to me, helps you encouarage your child to make good choices, and supposedly isn't suppose to require much energy after the initial use of the specific method?!? I'm going to have to check it out from the library again! The little D ...more
Jan 27, 2017 rated it liked it
The introduction to this book was so off-putting and patronizing, I almost didn't read it. But I'm so glad I did. It has made a significant change in my views on discipline and especially punishment. My children were certainly happy to see the end of my Rosewell-inspired rampage (which wasn't fixing anything) and while I haven't stuck with very many of the plans and programs inspired by this book, I have maintained a more positive way of interacting with my kids. Thank you, Jen, for being brave ...more
Teresa Raetz
Jan 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
This excellent book is slightly misnamed. It is a program that Dr. Kazdin and his team at the Yale Parenting and Child Conduct Clinic use with troubled, defiant children with an 80% success rate. I, however, do not have troubled, defiant children. I have kids who are strong willed and who push the limits, within the normal range. This book presents and excellent, relatively easy to implement plan for changing behavior. My husband and I have implemented it and, so far, are having success with it. ...more
Alf Kåre Lefdal
The good parts of this book you find in the free sample of the Kindle edition. The main part of the book there is a lot of talk about "point systems", which I do not envision to be a tool except in extreme situations.

Main take-aways: Keep calm, give lots of praise for positive behaviour, shape behaviour by praising steps along the way.

On the other hand, if your child is really naughty these point systems might be a thing for you...
Elizabeth Trudeau
Jan 13, 2014 rated it liked it
Then method seemed to work like magic at first but the luster faded. After 2 plus weeks of doing the system for bedtime with our 5 year old, we weren't anywhere close to being able to remove the crutch of the points. We eventually felt like the system was feeding his desire for more toys, etc so even if it was working I wasn't comfortable with continuing it. It's certainly a possibility that we were doing it wrong and it was just too complicated/precise for us.
May 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
He has a very positive and empowering method for handling a child or children who are passionate little rascals. The best thing that I got out of it is the need to focus attention significantly more on the positive behavior and less on the negative (although not ignoring it altogether). A very research-intense book, he does make a good argument for why punishment w/o good positive feedback is destined to fail. We will be buying a copy of it for future reference.
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defiant children 1 7 May 03, 2010 09:58AM  

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Alan E. Kazdin, Ph.D., is the John M. Musser Professor of Psychology and Child Psychiatry at Yale University and Director of the Yale Parenting Center. His work on parenting and childrearing has been featured on NPR, PBS, the BBC, and he has appeared on the Today Show, Good Morning America, ABC News, 20/20, and Dr. Phil. He frequently lectures to parents, educators, and business groups interested ...more
“When I explain to parents that the research shows clearly that a one-minute time-out is sufficient for changing behavior and that we gain nothing but problems with much longer durations,” 0 likes
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