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Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids

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Today’s busier, faster, supersized society is waging an undeclared war . . . on childhood. As the pace of life accelerates to hyperspeed–with too much stuff, too many choices, and too little time–children feel the pressure. They can become anxious, have trouble with friends and school, or even be diagnosed with behavioral problems. Now, in defense of the extraordinary power of less, internationally renowned family consultant Kim John Payne helps parents reclaim for their children the space and freedom that all kids need, allowing their children’s attention to focus and their individuality to flourish.

Based on Payne’s twenty year’s experience successfully counseling busy families, Simplicity Parenting teaches parents how to worry and hover less–and how to enjoy more. For those who want to slow their children’s lives down but don’t know where to start, Payne offers both inspiration and a blueprint for change.

• Streamline your home environment. The average child has more than 150 toys. Here are tips for reducing the amount of toys, books, and clutter–as well as the lights, sounds, and general sensory overload that crowd the space young imaginations need in order to grow.

• Establish rhythms and rituals. Predictability (routines) and transparency (knowing the day’s plan) are soothing pressure valves for children. Here are ways to ease daily tensions, create battle-free mealtimes and bedtimes, and tell if your child is overwhelmed.

• Schedule a break in the schedule. Too many activities may limit children’s ability to motivate and direct themselves. Learn how to establish intervals of calm in your child’s daily torrent of constant doing–and familiarize yourself with the pros and cons of organized sports and other “enrichment” activities.

• Scale back on media and parental involvement. Back out of hyperparenting by managing your children’s “screen time” to limit the endless and sometimes scary deluge of information and stimulation.

Parental hovering is really about anxiety; by doing less and trusting more, parents can create a sanctuary that nurtures children’s identity, well-being, and resiliency as they grow–slowly–into themselves. A manifesto for protecting the grace of childhood, Simplicity Parenting is an eloquent guide to bringing new rhythms to bear on the lifelong art of parenting.

256 pages, Hardcover

First published August 25, 2009

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About the author

Kim John Payne

13 books94 followers
A consultant and trainer to 250 U.S. independent and public schools and school districts, Kim John Payne, M.Ed., has been a school and family counselor for more than thirty years. He has also consulted for clinics, training centers, and educational associations in South Africa, Hungary, Israel, Russia, Ireland, Switzerland, Germany, Australia, the United Kingdom, and Canada. He has served as the project director of the Collaborative Counseling Program at Antioch University and the co-director of an extensive research program on a drug-free approach to attention-priority issues. He is the director of the Simplicity Parenting Project and the Center for Social Sustainability and has worked extensively with the American and U.K. Waldorf movements. The author of Games Children Play, Simplicity Parenting, and Beyond Winning, he lives with his wife and two children in Northampton, Massachusetts.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,333 reviews
Profile Image for Katie.
113 reviews32 followers
January 30, 2011
I have mixed feelings about this one. I think overall it deserves the four star rating because it makes many very important points and has a lot of helpful ideas for parents who want to protect their kids' childhood. It is well-written and not at all dry or a difficult read. On the other hand, I'm not sure how to articulate this...I felt smothered by the authors, by the growing list of shalls and shalt nots, by the overwhelming number of things that I ought to be changing and not doing anymore and throwing away and simplifying. That's a bit ironic, to say the least. While in general I think that the ideas are good, and in fact many I have already implemented (some before reading the book), the tone just comes on so strong, it incites a bit of a panicked feeling. The imagery--a child crushed under the pile of toys, for instance--is vivid but perhaps a bit much. I ended up just feeling guilty and inadequate on new and different levels. This is why I almost never read "how to" parenting books.

I have always felt a bit stifled by the Waldorf philosophy when it comes to emotional stuff. It seems like in addition to doing, I don't know, EVERYTHING for them, and having the nature tableau set up, and making sure there's time to dawdle about in the mud and finger paint, I should modulate my personality and emotional life to the hazy pastels of a wet-on-wet Stockmar watercolor painting. I am not a faceless organic wool dolly. I am a messed up human being, with feelings and reactions and biases. As much as this book claims to be about taking pressure off both kids and moms (come on, it's not PARENTS, it's MOMS let's be real here) it seems like just shuffling it around sometimes.
Profile Image for Otis Chandler.
385 reviews112k followers
September 20, 2018
Best parenting book I've read. And really more than a parenting book, this a book about how to live life well in modern times. The author is a family counselor and over his career of helping many families, has developed a particular theory and philosophy about what is challenging so many families. To simplify (which is the theme of the book), we've become too busy, and that busyness is particularly bad for children.

"You’ve heard about how a frog dropped into a pot of boiling water will struggle to get out? Nothing surprising there, but it turns out that if you put a frog in a pot of cold water, and slowly heat it to the boiling point, the frog will remain still, without any signs of struggle. Based on the families I’ve been privileged to work with, the hundreds of parents who’ve shared with me their concerns, and my own experience as a parent, I believe that the pot we’re in today as families is increasingly inhospitable for us all … but especially for our children."

The boiling pot is of course our busy lives, full of activities, work, media, screens, and more. We live in an era where humans have never been so constantly switched on and busy. The solution: to create space in your life, and time. This leads to a deeper connection between your kids and your spouse.

The book is worth reading, but here are some of the basic takeaways:

1. Create space in your life. This means physical and mental clutter, and TIME. Speaking of time, you have to put in the time. If either parent spends more than 10 hours per day at work, their children will suffer - this is not a surprise, and is in line with my intentions, but I have exceeded it.

"Let your kids be bored. Let them be. Sometimes in my lectures I write up a “prescription” for parents: “Boredom. To be allowed three times a day, preferably before meals."

2. When a child (or an adult) is having a tough time (a "soul fever") - just like a real fever, give them a few days off and they will heal. This can mean taking a sick day, something I never do and am going to think seriously about.

3. Meditate. So many books and teachers talk about the benefits of this! Or do the modern alternatives, such as sports, music or deep play - anything that really lets you focus without distraction.

4. Simplify toys. The average kid receives 70 toys per year, and most of them are not played with frequently. Many end up missing parts, or broken. Simplify down to ~5 toys out at a time, and toss half and keep the other half in bins in storage. Keep the toys that inspire imagination - simple toys like blocks of wood, basic wooden boats - complex toys like a princess castle with all the trimmings leave little to the imagination. Avoid toys based on popular movie or tv characters for that reason too.

"We explained that some of their toys were in storage and might come out again. But really, we hardly finished saying that when they started playing. They each found something they hadn’t seen for a long time and started playing."

5. Simplify books. This one was hard for me, but it does make sense to leave out ~5 books the child will read a lot, and even make sure their shelf is full of good books, not just any books.

6. Create rhythm in the daily and weekly family life. Establish this with regular family dinners, family meetings, and other customs. Sundays as family days. Reading time as a family.

7. Avoid screen time, ideally eliminating it or if not severely limiting it. It's not cognitively good for us.

8. Reduce exposure to media for kids. Our media has become increasingly fear based (which I think is a huge problem that needs solving), and kids just simply don't need exposure to it.

9. Create mechanisms to ensure both parents are involved in the childrens lives>. This creates balance for the kids, and for the parents. Do this by balancing regular responsibilities between the parents.

In a nutshell:
"Simplifying a child’s daily life is one of the best ways to restore a sense of balance in parenting. By simplifying their toys and environment, their schedules, and the sense of rhythm and regularity in the home, you allow them the grace to be a child."
Profile Image for Adrienne.
263 reviews16 followers
February 23, 2015
This is probably among my top ten favorite parenting books, which isnt TOO shabby. It's obviously all about simplifying parenting and your kids' lives. I have to admit that I may have gone into this with the dirty motive of confirming my current beliefs regarding parenting and childhood (because, let's be honest, isn't that why most of us read parenting books?). The first several chapters did in fact just reaffirm my beliefs and validate our current lifestyle--we literally have none of the kinds of toys he recommends disposing of and we have all the good ones, we have a very simple and relaxed schedule for our kids that includes predictable routines. But then I got to the section on rhythms, and while I was self-righteously expecting more validation (just being honest here), I realized that our family lacks some rhythms that could really strengthen individuals as well as the entire unit. Same thing with the chapter about filtering adult content--I'm incredibly strict about the media my kids consume, but I never thought to filter the conversation topics that my husband and I engage in with our children present (we love politics and current events).

This book is oozing with Waldorf educational philosophy, which was okay with me because it's only oozing the parts of Waldorf that I love. Just know that this guy is highly influenced by Rudolph Steiner. All in all, it gave me a lot to think about, and that's what I really enjoy when it comes to parenting books--well, that and the validation, of course. ;)
Profile Image for Alison.
184 reviews3 followers
March 12, 2012
I am feeling extremely ambivalent about this book.

On the one hand, I agree with most of his thesis. I think we all could do with simplifying. I think clutter, mental and physical, is distracting, and I can imagine it would be even moreso for children, since they are going through so much growth and development.

That being said, I think the author makes simplifying seem superficial. Like, if you clean up your house, turn off the TV, and do things in a lovely rhythm, your life will just magically improve. I see it as choosing to make changes on the inside, in your relationships, and so forth, that then are reflected in a desire to declutter.

I also have somewhat of a problem with the idea that for our children's childhood, we would have to change our lives so much, in the fear (ugh) that if things aren't simple enough at home, kids will become ADHD, overstimulated, asocial robots. For example, sometimes my husband and I like to cook elaborate meals. It is a hobby. Sometimes we like to have dinner later, sometimes earlier. In their thesis, I feel like this would be a big no-no. I see it as a way to model for our kids what it looks like to have a healthy hobby that is practical and fun. We love to watch cooking shows as well. Well, that is TV. We could find a lot of cooking shows, food programs, and travel programs to watch that would fill up some hours of TV a week, but I think are a fun, social way to spent time as a family. I feel the same way about movies.

It seems like Payne observed how beneficial it could be to simplify, and then started to see EVERYTHING through this lens. And sometimes it is just a bit much, ironically. By the end I was kind of sick of the idea of simplifying.

However, the book was still good in that, I still want to keep the flow of crap out of our house. I want to keep the tide of plastic and brand name toys out, too. I want to make sure video games and TV are not the focal point of the house. These are all goals I had before I read this book, but now I have another reason for why that might be a good philosophy to have.
Profile Image for Matthew.
65 reviews2 followers
April 2, 2014
Can hardly believe I made it through the whole thing. One of the key messages, and it's a good one, is that we can communicate better by saying less, but he takes a bazillion words to say that, explain it, and reiterate it ad nauseum. The irony is overwhelming.

We also don't need a hundred pages on why our kids have too many toys, and how to select which to get rid of. It's just not that hard, dude.

Seriously, this book has a lot of great messages. But it could literally have been a PAMPHLET and it would have been just as useful.
Profile Image for Sanz.
424 reviews
November 10, 2014
November 10, 2014
Just finished this for the second time and I loved it just as much as the first time. I bought my own copy this time so I could highlight, which I did like crazy. Will read again!

September 8, 2012
Outstanding! This book covers four areas for simplifying home and family.

1. Environment.
The average American child receives 70 toys a year. "Kids don't need many toys to play, or any particular one. What they need most of all is unstructured time."

2. Rhythm:
"A ten year study found that the less often a family eats together, the more likely the television will be on during dinner, the less healthy the food, and, as rated by participants, the more meager the talk and less satisfying, overall, the experience is likely to be." The author also talks in detail about the importance of a regular bedtime, bedtime rituals, reading, and eating real food.

3. Schedules:
"The over-scheduled child is like soil that has been constantly and exclusively cropped. Without rest and replenishment, without the deep roots of legumes to aerate and pull nutrients down into the soil, it becomes compacted, a dust bowl."

"The ordinary allows for the exceptional, but not the reverse. Given ordinary opportunities and encouragement, a truly exceptional talent with surface. But interests, even strong interests and abilities often burn out when they're pushed too hard, too fast, too young."

4. Filtering out the adult world:
"Television viewing hurts the development of children under three years old and poses a certain number of risks, encouraging passivity, slow language acquisition, over-excitedness, troubles with sleep and concentration, as well as dependence on screens."

"Multiple studies have now concluded that watching television, even such educational programming as Sesame Street, actually delays rather than promotes language development."

"As distractions fall away, a sense of ease stakes hold and expands. There's more time for connection, room for contemplation and play. Boredom, once feared and banished from the home, will be allowed in again, appreciated for how often it precedes inspiration. Contrary to what you might think, regularity is more liberating than "boring" to most children. Rituals that can be counted on throughout the day and week act as powerful affirmations."
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
694 reviews29.1k followers
September 24, 2018
Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne supplements each recommendation with volumes of research, making it a great choice for the data-driven reader. Some of the advice I had heard before, but it was great to understand the underpinnings behind these proclamations.

Personally, Payne's advice about over-scheduling was a great reminder to cut back with my children. He says things such as, "The 'messiness' of free play, with its many changes and possibilities builds an inner flexibility."

He notes that there is such thing as many books (Sacrilege!). But also spurred me to take a look at the overflowing bookshelves in our home. And it's true, I've noticed that our children perhaps don't value their books as much as they would if I were better at presenting new ones when they've devoured the old completely. We have reduced the number of children's books in our home and I think it's an improvement.

But the most surprising and revelatory item in the book was his advice to not talk too much to kids nine or younger about their feelings.

He says:

"Children under nine certainly have feelings, but much of the time those feelings are unconscious, undifferentiated. In any kind of conflict or upset, if asked how they feel, most kids will say, very honestly, "Bad." They feel bad. To dissect and parse that, to push and push, imagining that they are hiding a much more subtle and nuanced feeling or reply, is invasive."

Lots of great stuff in this book and plenty of ideas for parents to debate!
Profile Image for Cat.
824 reviews134 followers
September 19, 2019
There is a lot of good advice in this book, or at least a lot of advice that has worked well for my family. Since hearing about this book this summer (before I read a page), I was reflecting on how the physical environment of our home could be more serene and also how fewer choices might make toys more navigable. We worked to achieve this vision, and sure enough, my daughter has played more independently, seems happier in her space, and the rest of us also benefit from this renewed sense of organization, light, and calm. Similarly, my daughter's mind is constantly brimming over with images and scenes from the media she consumes; we are finding that if we limit that television watching more, that she enjoys what she watches more, has time to process it, and has fewer problems at bedtime. There are many concrete suggestions in this book that work for me and for my kid whose brain and body are absolutely always on the go.

That being said...Payne's purpose is simply to provide advice for parents, not to contextualize his advice. So while the aspects of parenthood and childhood that he is criticizing here are all related to capitalism--unchecked consumerism, media intensity, parental stress, extracurricular competitiveness--he barely alludes to the structural pressures that they reflect, instead insisting on the power of parental willpower. Once the parent decides THROUGH THE POWER OF THEIR LOVE to do all of these things, simplicity, peace, and calm will follow (ugh).

He points out that he is imagining a fairly privileged and affluent audience here, but I was uncomfortable with the rhetorical of parental dedication he employs in every chapter. (There's also a weirdly masculinist bent to his celebration of taciturn parenting a la Pa in Little House on the Prairie.) I experienced this as a rising tide of expectation from the psychologist who thinks I must do better at creating serenity (while also performing my job and paying my bills) and constantly chilling with my child, regardless of the other demands on my time. In fact, he explicitly criticizes parents for working too many hours, as though that was something that these parents just invented in an effort to mar their children for life (which he swears this does).

Unlike Judith Warner who points out the double-binds that contemporary working parents face in a country without subsidized childcare or flexible work days (not to mention with careers that colonize even at-home moments through the use of digital technologies), Payne promises multiple times that if we make the effort to simplify, our lives will also be simple. The individualist "you" at the center of this book is (to my mind) a lie. Also, he acts as if this could be achieved once and for all--that simplicity breeds simplicity--without recognizing, as my household has already found with our new efforts at keeping things tidy, categorized, not overstimulating, that this requires constant maintenance work that someone is performing.

Often, he sounds chastising ("if you haven't tried establishing a weekly meal menu, you really must because it will improve life for your child") in a way that doubles-down on the "parental imperfection is the source of this mess" tone. This becomes ironic when he identifies parental worry as one of the emotional sources (which he associates with mothers--of course) of the distress that unsettles the child's security. The effect of these proliferating injunctions is...worry.

I'm also deeply uncomfortable that he compares the hyper-stimulated first world kid to children he has worked with in Myanmar with PTSD. I hope I don't have to explain why this conflation of genocide, poverty, and hunger with overscheduling, junk toys, and picky eaters is troubling.

That being said, I do think that less stuff, less media, more chill time are all valuable for adults and children, and I do hope to implement some of his suggestions in our home life. Even if I don't come up with a weekly meal menu as he earnestly enjoins me to do.
442 reviews21 followers
January 22, 2011
OK, I would put this in one of my top parenting books. It can be applied to any age kids. It covers a lot of different areas of parenting.

I have followed a few of his suggestions and made changes in our family over the last few months. I have seen some positive results.

I love it so much I may start making it my gift to my doula clients! I wish I had read it when Thing 1 was a baby.

One of my other favorite parenting books is also Parenting Well in a Media Age. But most people won't take the time to read this. I am happy to see him address this topic in a chapter of the book. So you could skip this one if you read Simplicity Parenting.
Profile Image for Phoebe.
105 reviews
May 19, 2010
I like "Simplicity Parenting" because it gives me a justification for my bohemian cheapskate impulses. When my grown children tell me they need therapy because I denied them television and crappy plastic toys, I'll be able to place the blame squarely on Kim John Payne.

Four stars may have been a bit too heavy praise. "Simplicity Parenting" isn't well-written and could have used a lot of pruning. But I like the concepts, and he makes some really difficult choices seem easy and incremental.
Profile Image for Anne Bogel.
Author 6 books50.6k followers
August 24, 2013
On the whole, I thought this was a solid book. The first half is strongest. In the second half I feel like Ross gets a little preachier and wanders more into the blame game, which is tedious and unhelpful to boot. But all in all a good read--not sure why I put this one off for so long.
Profile Image for Josie.
349 reviews11 followers
February 16, 2012
3.5 stars. In some ways I think this is the best parenting book I've read. I agreed with pretty much all of his ideas and I think a lot of people could really benefit from reading and implementing some of these strategies.
That being said, this book was really long winded! He spent the whole first chapter (35 pages) trying to sell you on the idea of simplifying. I was already sold on it before I picked up the book. However, there was some interesting research in that part that was worth reading, if only you didn't have to pick through all the boring stuff!
The second and third chapters were on de-cluttering your kids toys and basically their lives. The part that jumped out to me in that chapter was that I need to simplify our family meals. It's hard for kids to eat something when it's always a new surprise on their plates and they had no hand in making it or seeing what went into it. He suggested making a weekly rotation like Mon. pasta, Tue. rice, Wed. soup, etc. Other than that I didn't find anything new or interesting in those chapters.
Chapter's four and five I just skimmed over because they were basically about not over scheduling your kids lives with sports and constant entertainment. Also, establishing routines to make their lives more predictable. Trust me. My kids are not over scheduled. We also already have pretty predictable Rhythm's I think.
Chapter six is probably the most controversial chapter and it's called Filtering Out the Adult World. He suggests that you completely do away with your TV and not let kids use the computer until they are 7 or 8. The thing that I found fascinating about this chapter was that he also said you shouldn't talk too much to your kids, and then they will talk more to you. He suggested that before ever saying anything you should think to yourself, Is it honest? Is it kind? Is it necessary? And if it doesn't pass all three criteria, don't say it. I thought that was a nice rule of thumb.
The epilogue was basically about a family with two working parents, Mom is pregnant and they have a misbehaving daughter who is overwhelmed by all the stuff in her house and the lack of routine in her life. The parents are stumped as to what needs to be done to get this girl excited about her new baby sibling. Pretty much that's who this book was written for. People who have too much going on and for some dumb reason think that all this junk won't have any effect on their poor kids. Duh people! It would me much to controversial for the author to suggest that maybe it would be beneficial for kids to have a stay at home parent, at least when they are really young, so instead he has to invent all these ways to try to simplify peoples really complicated lives.
I am glad I read this book because I did get some fresh ideas to incorporate into my parenting. However, it was a bit overwhelming by the end because it felt like he was constantly saying: do this, but don't do that, but make sure you do this, but doing that will ruin your child, etc. That's why when reading these books you just take it with a grain of salt and do what you know is best.
I'll end with some of my favorite quotes from the book:
P. 68: "When we refute the notion that our child's development is a race we have to win, and that their imagination is for sale, we step off a consumer treadmill."
P. 151: definition of addiction by Felicitas Vogt: "an increasing and compulsive tendency to avoid pain or boredom and replace inner development with outer stimulation."
Profile Image for Emily Schatz.
74 reviews7 followers
August 28, 2017
It's a bit of a misnomer to call this a parenting book, if you understand parenting books to be, usually, about discipline, instilling principles or values, or philosophies thereof. This book might better be described as a lifestyle book with a focus on child development.

If you approach the book hoping for comprehensive advice, you'll be disappointed, and you might find the pictures Paine paints to be overly idyllic. But what I think this book does very well is point the way to a mode of life in which one's parenting philosophy can flourish and take root. It's about clearing away weeds so that everyone can focus on what matters and children can have a real childhood.

I found it unspeakably refreshing. Much of what he recommends doing for the sake of children is stuff that adults crave anyway, deep down. He is strong on this point, that a simplified lifestyle benefits everyone--but he's also realistic about the way life ebbs and flows, the way children need to face difficulty both at home and in the world, and that simplification is an ongoing commitment that will sometimes be imperfectly carried out, rather than a one-time project.

His success stories I found inspiring. I particularly appreciated his insight that if you keep your children's things simplified but not your own, they'll be quick to spot your hypocrisy, as well as his insights on how to create a sense of rhythm, predictability, or understanding in the home. But my favorite chapter of all was on filtering out the adult world. I thought he did a good job laying out why parents with strong principles don't need to worry about making their children little warriors for their principles, because children need to understand morality in childish ways before they can understand it in mature ways. The road to strong hearts and virtuous public presence and action is indirect, lying along the way of feeling securely loved, at home in a good world, and free to understand good and evil through the devices of imagination.

Profile Image for Rebecca.
886 reviews
February 17, 2010
Admittedly I didn't read every word (or chapter) in this book. The basic premise being that kids are experiencing stress in small doses often enough that they behave similarly to kids that suffer from one big stress and have post-traumatic stress disorder. And so we simplify. I guess I was already sold on the "simplify" idea and mostly just read looking for a few ideas. We implemented the "half the toys, then half them again" to eliminate superfluous toys, while putting a few more imaginative, creative toys easily accessible (P paints every day now...which isn't a problem, we just had to gear up to deal with the mess more often!). I do admit that P noticed nothing missing, and did pull out a few of the toys she hadn't touched in ages, so we must have done something right. But the big question is...what do you do for gift-giving periods when you are trying to not add more "stuff"??

Some of the other chapters just weren't applicable yet, though some day they might be. Neither of our kids are old enough to be enrolled in tons of activities, so they have ample free play time. We are making an effort to keep the laptops out of the play area since that was impacting play negatively.
Profile Image for Ensiform.
1,337 reviews134 followers
May 1, 2013
A how-to book on relieving stress from families, kids and parents alike. The key to Payne’s approach is simplifying, or filtering: less stuff, fewer toys, limited electronics, limited or no television, less news and adult drama in children’s lives, a greatly reduced schedule (one competitive sport, or one musical instrument, not everything at once). Payne argues that open, unstructured time is best for kids – time for them to be in charge of creative projects, time for them to discover themselves, or time for calm family connections. He posits that when kids have fewer options, they are freed from the stress of always wanting the next big thing, and come to appreciate the connections with the things they do have. He advocates ritual and routine to remove stress: a family dinner plan, for example, so kids know what to expect about food and parents don’t have to prepare at the last minute. Finally, regarding discipline, he advocates less speech – don’t drown your kids in endless narrative, choices, or questions, but offer simple instructions, and be there as a listener in return.

This is a pretty good book for its type. It’s written in a conversational, approachable style that occasionally borders on the meandering. He’s a zealot, but he doesn’t have a hectoring tone. His advice, of course, is good, though it doubtlessly comes as a shock to many parents in our consumerist, competitive culture. I’m reminded of a Buddhist precept: accept what can’t be changed; don’t chase happiness, because once you’ve attained it you’ll just want something else to make you happy. At times, Payne’s zealotry makes him claim some rather implausible things (kids today have PTSD because of their hectic schedules? Just start going to the park, and neighborhood kids will drop their PS3s and follow you as “word gets through the neighborhood grapevine”? Really?), but it is well-intentioned. Sure, as with most of these parenting books, the advice really just boils down to “Stop trying to please your kid, and be a parent!” Stop pleading with your child, and direct him. Why anyone would want to spend an hour every evening arguing with a four year old about eating or going to sleep is beyond me, but a lot of people seem to need to be told not to. So good for Payne for that.
Profile Image for ZuhalAD.
20 reviews4 followers
August 18, 2019
Kitap kapağındaki kısa notta bu kitabın çocuk yetiştirmek üzerine olduğu yazıyor; oysa içinde geçen cümleler her yaştan insana yaşam ve düşünce biçimini sorgulatabilecek kadar derin. İçeriği net, cümleler akıcı, konu başlıkları ve içerikleri uyumlu.
Profile Image for Jessica.
44 reviews3 followers
April 29, 2013
While I agree fundamentally with almost all of the ideas expressed in this book, I cannot get over how poorly it is written. The structure is too loose. The tone is grating. The over use of inverted comas to highlight words or phrases is maddening. Still, I soldiered through because the information contained therein was worth getting.

The only other concern I had about it is it is written for people who are already having problems raising their children. The book is a fix-it book, not a preparation book. My children are still gestating so telling me to whittle down their toy pile, or work on limiting their screen time got a bit difficult to swallow. I can also imagine that for parents who already have children and do have some semblance of balance in their lives that the book might come off as preachy. It may have served the authors better to approach the text as less of a prescription for existing problems and more of an exploration of the potential pitfalls of parenting. Not every parent is going to drown their children in toys, or over schedule their after school time. To be spoken to in the text as though I were already broken was off putting to say the least. Besides, the people who are most likely to pick up a book called "Simplicity Parenting" are likely already headed down a good path and not the type to sit their 18 month old down in front of a TV screen half the day.

Again, it was worth it to have many of my instincts bolstered by the authors, their experience and research. I just wish that those ideas could have been collected and presented in a better book.
Profile Image for Lorilin.
757 reviews243 followers
February 15, 2019
What an amazing book! Author Kim John Payne talks about the effects of too much, too fast, too early--how all the pressure to perform is harming our kids. He encourages parents to simplify children's diet and schedules, as well as decrease the amount of time kids get screen time and the amount of information we share with them.

I loved this book. Some of the advice is a little off and didn't work for me (music practice after breakfast, before school? Nope.), but most of it was so affirming. I live in a very competitive neighborhood, and sometimes I feel bad that my kids aren't doing what a lot of the other kids are doing--mostly because it stresses ME out to have to coordinate schedules and drive this kid here and that kid there. It's too much.

But this book made me feel like it's ok to follow my intuition and just do what works for us. And we've implemented changes to simplify our lives even more that have already helped us live more calmly. I can see the positive impact on my kids, it's great.
Profile Image for Amy.
60 reviews
September 30, 2012
I really enjoyed this book. I liked its focus on simplifying by streamlining environment, creating family rhythm, modifying schedules, and filtering out the adult world. Some techniques we already employ pretty well. Others we could be improved. Content in this book is very common sense. Interesting references to how simplifying provides a calming effect to children's behavior......particularly those with attention/focus issues. In my opinion, a worthwhile read and a good reminder for a family looking for more balance.
Profile Image for Alicia.
50 reviews50 followers
March 31, 2016
I found myself highlighting a lot during this book. I agreed with 98% of what the author touched on and feel like if we all raised our kids the way he explains we'd have some very happy and healthy adults in a few years...
16 reviews2 followers
July 19, 2012
"Somewhere between the dreams and the concerns is the answer . . . the place to bring imagination, the place to start simplifying."

"I do not mean that the home and everything done in it are oriented toward the child, but I absolutely mean that the home and everything in in are not exclusively oriented toward adults. A certain pace or volume of 'stuff' may be tolerable for adults, while it is intolerable, or problematic, for the kids."

"Children are such tactile beings. They live so fully by their senses that if they see something, they will also want to touch it, smell it, possibly eat it, maybe throw it, feel what it feels like on their heads, listen to it, sort it, and probably submerge it in water. This is entirely normal. Strap on their pith helmets; they're exploring the world. But imagine the sensory overload that can happen for a child when every surface , every drawer and closet is filled with stuff? So many choices and so much stimuli rob them of time and attention. To much stuff deprives kids of leisure, and the ability to explore their worlds deeply."

"Imagine your home as a space where time moves a little slower, and as a place where play and exploration are allowed, and honored."

"Soul fever lingers. Years ago it might have been called a growing pain, both inevitable and painful. And while it may not seem like much to us (compared with the stresses of adult life), there is some sense of loss associated with these growing pains. When you imagine the incredible rate at which children change and evolve, you can begin to see how their heart sometimes resists the adjustment. They must let go of comforts and assurances with one hand to have both hands free to reach ahead, to pull toward some new level of maturity."

"Mary Pipher discusses some of the unspoken lessons that advertisements teach us, and particularly our children:
~to be unhappy with what we have
~'I am the center of the universe and I want what I want now'
~products can solve complex human problems, and meet our needs
~buying products is important

"Less is more. No special toys, or quantity of toys, is necessary to develop a child's imagination. Children use and grow their imaginations quite naturally. They only need time to do so. Plenty of open-ended time, and mental ease."

"If you feel pressured as a parent to buy a toy because you fear that without it your child will 'fall behind' or not 'measure up' to other kids his or her age, chances are it is not a toy you want to buy. I'm not suggesting that such a toy might be harmful; I'm suggesting that thinking about toys in this way can be. Not only is it an expensive, slippery slope that can lead to overload, it also derails 'play.' Play is not a race. It is not an advancement opportunity."

"I think it is important, whenever possible, what a child touches be real. A plastic hammer has no solidity, no weight or heft in the hands of a five-year-old. Even small versions of real tools are preferable to such blatantly false imitations. Granted, a child must be taught how to use real tools, and monitored for a time. But with such paly comes the bonus of genuine involvement and mastery."

"Especially as children reach school age, they need opportunitites to be industrious, to build a sense of autonomy and mastery. A wonderful counterbalance to 'entertaining' children is to involve them in a task, in the 'work' of family life. Home is the environment a child will know best, and they need to affect their environment through their own efforts. As small beings they can feel like inferior, passive observers of all that happens around them. A sense of industry - of business and purpose - counteracts feelings of overwhelm. And isn't it easy to feel small and inconsequential in a world so awash in information, so threatened with issues such as global warming? Children who grow up as doers, making Christmas breakfast and participating in the chores of daily life, will already have an inner gesture, a posture toward competency, activity, and autonomy."

"If this seems extreme, it's because we're no longer used to thinking of dinner as a group event. All that is missing is the flashing neon 'Diner' sign over our homes as each person in the family eats what, when, and where they want. The kids eat (something, usually either red or white) in front of the TV, Mom makes a salad, and Dad grabs food on they way home, reading the paper. There are no rules, no need to change in any way for anyone else. No sense that there may be something to gain from coming together."

"Rhythm builds islands of consistency and security throughout the day."

"If you want your child to try a new food (or food group), you need to have them try it at least eight times.

"One more, small point about this deep play, or legume crop. As a parent I try to be mindful of when my children are fully involved in their play. It is something you can make space for and honor, but you can't 'control' it. Trust trumps control. As Dr. Spock said, 'Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.' It doesn't do to 'instigate' deep play. You can't direct it; you can only leave time for it and trust that leisure and activity will nurture your child's creativity. It doesn't work to schedule scores of art classes for your child, to 'boost' and 'enrich' their creative output. Your vision of creativity may not be theirs. Their creativity, as with their identity, is evolving."

"Waiting for something with anticipation builds a child's character. It shows them that they have powers equal to their own desires. It shows them their inner strength, the strength of powerful waiting. Unchecked, our wills are like weeds, threatening to take over our whole spirits; invasive vines of desire for what we want (everything) when we want it (now). Anticipation holds back the will; it counters instant gratification. It informs a child's development and growth and builds their inner life."

"With these elements - some space (a yard, or a park), some kids, and possibly some things to climb on or to hide behind - fun can develop when imaginations are exercised. 'Whattayawannado?' may be the familiar starting point, but things develop from there. Today's progression to fun may be repeated, built on, or changed tomorrow, or it might be 'archived' and resurrected another day. In sport, the picture of what is needed - in terms of equipment, and the nature of the game - is already determined. How the game plays out may vary, but the game itself is defined."

"This multiplicity of outcomes - beyond the win or lose of sports - builds an inner flexibility. In a general sense, kids learn, through the practice of play, not to be too attached to their vision of what to do or of what might happen."

"Michael Gurian, author of The Minds of Boys, has pointed out how the passivity of television is especially worrisome for young boys, whose brain growth is particularly dependent on physical movement."

"Young children don't view violence in the same way adults do: Until the age of six or seven, children are developmentally and psychologically unable to differentiate between reality and fantasy. So when they view brutal acts on television they seem them as 'real'. What's more, by viewing violence - murder, rapes, assaults - from the comfort and safety of their home, snuggled up on the couch with loved ones, while perhaps eating snacks or a meal, children (and adults for that matter) become desensitized to violence, learning to equate it with pleasure."

"The more you say, the less you are listening."

"When we talk over and under and around a child - when we talk too much - there's less space for their thoughts, for what they have to say. A child's curiosity and creativity are stifled when they believe that something is not 'real' unless, or until, you talk about it. It's hard for a child to go down deeply into their play when someone is telecasting their every move. Processed information is like processed food: quick and easy. We often fly into soliloquies, over-explaining, and predigesting every experience for our kids."

"It's a misnomer to think that we are 'sharing' with our children when we include them in adult conversations about adult concerns. Sharing suggests an equal and mutual exchange, one that is impossible for a child to offer and unfair for an adult to expect. The child in the backseat feels a great sense of security partly because they know their mom or dad is not going to turn around and ask them to drive. By accepting responsibilities, and respecting the boundaries of your adult world, you give your children the gift of freedom in their own world. And there is 'sharing' involved: Both worlds thrive in the shared atmosphere of family, and of love. There is one more point. When there are topics that you don't address with your child, they carry an image of you, and of adulthood, retains an element of mysterry. When you have an inner life, your children have a role model of self that is both loving and unique, an individual. They'll come to realize that there are things about you that they don't know, things that they may learn over time."

"Before you say something, ask yourself these three questions: Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? I don't take necessary to mean that everything we say has to be instructive, or have some larger educational or inspirational purpose. Instead, I take necessary to mean 'more important than silence'. What enables us to read a word is the white space all around it, and without some intervening quiet we couldn't hear a thing. Silence is important, especially in a noisy family in a noisy world. And noise is self-perpetuating, so if your kids grow accustomed to a 'noisy norm' they will always try to create and maintain that level of clamor. There, I've scared you. Let's agree to the obvious: that silence is important, wherever and whenever we can find it. Given the importance of silence, the clutter filter, 'Is what I'm going to say necessary?' should clear the air in your home even further."

"For the first nine or ten years children learn mainly through imitation. Your emotions, and the way that you manage them, is the model they 'imprint,' more than what you say or instruct about emotions. One way to back off from parental over-involvement is to allow a child more leeway and privacy with their own feelings. By imposing our emotions on them less, we allow our children to develop their own emotions, and their awareness of them. rather than taking an emotional temperature frequently with probing questions, we can allow our instincts to guide us more when they are quite young. We can be available, and willing, to listen."

Profile Image for Shae.
527 reviews
November 7, 2014
5 stars for ideas, but 3 stars for writing, so a total of 4 stars in the parenting category. The title of this book says it all and by the end of the first chapter (with one exception -- Ch.3) I think I got the meatiest part of what Dr. Payne had to say and could have skipped the rest. Actually, I take that back -- depending on the complexity of your life you may find the chapters on simplifying environment, rhythm, schedules, or filtering out the adult world to be helpful. As an introvert I am already very jealous of my "plate" and tend to keep it cleaner than most people. The chapter that did speak to me the most was about simplifying our environment and it has sent me on a serious "dejunking" of my house quest -- especially when it comes to toys. What an appropriate time right before Christmas to read about discarding/donating/storing toys without "staying power" (i.e. broken toys, conceptually 'fixed' toys, high stimulation toys, toy multipliers, etc.)and what "keeper" toys look like (i.e. things that facilitate pretending/imaginary play, experience, purpose and industry, nature.)

In short, I really liked the ideas of this book (okay, I was slightly offended at the idea of cutting back on the number of children's books available), but it took me a long time to get through it all. Still, I think the content is worth trudging through all the words.
Profile Image for fMh Artemis.
7 reviews2 followers
March 31, 2010
This was such a refreshing read! Payne does a great job of making the case for simplifying our kids' lives in a variety of ways. He's also very careful to come off as a counselor rather than a preacher and suggests that parents regard his ideas as a sort of menu, from which they can choose the things they want to implement in their lives and their kids lives.

Payne is a certified Waldorf teacher, as well as a counselor for parents and kids, and he acknowledges up front that a number of his ideas stem from Waldorf practice. However, without that disclaimer, you'd almost never know it. His suggestions certainly don't seem particularly tied to Waldorf, they're broadly applicable.

In a nutshell: reduce the amount of stuff surrounding your kids (toys, scheduled activities, parental fog) and allow them to be bored so they can get creative and discover themselves and the world around them at their own pace; not only will this not leave them "behind" in the developmental race, it will actually be better suited to their development. Ditch the "more, sooner, faster" call of pop culture and create space to nurture children and childhood. You'll find that you'll be nurturing the rest of the family (including yourself) in the process.
Profile Image for Devin.
15 reviews7 followers
February 5, 2014
I *just* put down Simplicity Parenting--nearly regretting that this remarkably readable and relatively short book was complete and that there wasn't another book by this author. (Where is his TED talk?! Why did I miss his live presentation at a local Waldorf School recently?! I want more!)

From practice micro-steps to create "space and grace" in our homes and relationships, to penetrating meta-insights about our consumer-driven and frenetic-paced culture... Finally an author wove in words something I had been tugging at in strands for two-odd years of parenting.

The back cover description of the book as a "manifesto" about nails it. This is a strong call for reclaiming the wonder of childhood; embracing the rich promise of rhythm and ritual; battling the helicopter parent syndrome; and freeing our spirits of toy-activity-screen clutter.

This book virtually hummed with every page turned...it had me wondering if it came with batteries!
Profile Image for Mary Mulliken.
17 reviews2 followers
May 20, 2011
I know I'm fast becoming a parenting book junkie, but this book was AWESOME! I loved it. So many things about the world of status quo parenting don't work or don't look right to me, on a gut level, but I don't always know why. I just know that I see lots of obedience training and entitlement training going on, and, simultaneously, tons and tons of kids diagnosed with ADHD, etc. This book does a beautiful job of explaining that all [most] kids really need is a simpler life -- less stuff, just a few good quality toys, loads of unstructured [media-free] play time, and plenty of opportunities to connect meaningfully with their parents throughout the day. Children deserve a childhood, in other words. If the book Unconditional Parenting (by Alfie Kohn) is "how to be", then this book is a perfect compliment -- "what to do." I HIGHLY recommend this book to all parents.
Profile Image for Lisa M..
Author 1 book21 followers
September 18, 2009
I wrote this book, with school counselor Kim John Payne. It is about how children are surrounded with TOO MUCH: too many things, options, too much information, and way too much to do. Yet, when you simplify a child’s environment (that room! that toy pile!) and their daily life, they relax; their focus deepens. The book gives plenty of inspiration, and practical ideas for how to strip away the unnecessary, distracting, and overwhelming elements that scatter our children’s attention and burden their spirits.
57 reviews
April 4, 2012
This book appeals to me for a couple of reasons. Paring down the kids' toys is consistent with my overall attempt to declutter my house. Also, my kids seem to need a lot of down time and this serves as a good reminder that that time has an important function at this age. I'm also very committed to open ended free play and this is gives me good fodder for that. As with Last Child in the Woods, this didn't so much change my thinking as give me more of an academic backup for my own inclination.
Profile Image for Gulce8.
36 reviews9 followers
April 7, 2017
Günümüzde çocukların bir dakikalarını bile boş geçirmeden yaşamalarını teşvik eden bir sistem varken, daha sade yaşamanın, rutinlerin, alışkanlıkların gücünü vurgulayan bu kitap çok hoşuma gitti. Özellikle çocukları duyguları hakkında konuşmaya yönlendirmenin ve onlara sürekli seçenek sunmanın da olumsuz tarafları olabileceğini öğrenmek benim için şaşırtıcı oldu.
Profile Image for Sara Hollar.
279 reviews17 followers
July 12, 2021
5 stars for content, 4 stars for the writing. I wish his editor had been more relentless. :)

The content was incredible. Our children need a simpler life. Their routine, their toys, their education, their activities, their access to adult content, all need to be simpler. Fewer choices, less information, slower speed. I found myself nodding along on every page, but there was still so many good nuggets to take away! If your life feels full of rush, stress, anxiety, or chaos, the concepts in this book have the potential to change our lives and our children's childhoods.

Some of my favorite quotes:

"Nothing in the middle of a heap can be truly valued." (Can apply to toys, food, social activities, etc.)

"A childhood full of opportunities and time for exploring nature is a rich childhood indeed."

"Start small, stay close, insist, follow through."

"Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?"
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