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

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  9,522 ratings  ·  1,139 reviews
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 powe ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published August 25th 2009 by Ballantine Books
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jiji No, it's more focused on simplifying and restoring the slow-paced world of childhood back into kids' lives. …moreNo, it's more focused on simplifying and restoring the slow-paced world of childhood back into kids' lives. (less)

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Average rating 4.18  · 
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 ·  9,522 ratings  ·  1,139 reviews

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Jan 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 a ...more
Otis Chandler
Sep 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Otis by: Elizabeth
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
Jun 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Mar 09, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Sep 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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 t
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
Mar 18, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
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.
Oct 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: parenting
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 ti
Anne Bogel
Jul 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
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.
Jan 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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,
Feb 17, 2010 rated it it was ok
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, c ...more
Sep 18, 2019 rated it liked it
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 orga ...more
Jul 11, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: work, non-fiction
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 themselve ...more
Emily Schatz
Aug 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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
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 preparati
Feb 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wellness
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 li
Sep 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 l ...more
Alicia Hutchinson
Feb 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
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... ...more
Jul 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
"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
Aug 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
fMh Artemis
Feb 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Every parent and grandparent, aunt and uncle. Powerful in its call to create margin in family life.
Recommended to Devin by: A NYTimes article touched on it; then a Waldorf School flyer...
Shelves: brookline-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 somethi
Mary Mulliken
May 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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 f ...more
Lisa M.
Sep 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
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 the ...more
Mar 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Aug 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
One of the best parenting books I've read. I was surprised that the writing was actually very good, especially for a parenting book! Most parenting books I've read are infuriatingly redundant. This one may have been a little bit guilty of wordiness, too, but it was so much better than most.

Felt like a blend of Zero Waste Home (which I loved, loved, loved) and Free Range Kids."

Key points I liked:

Get rid of overstimulating toys or "fixed" toys (those that can only do one thing and don't allo
Jan 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is the first parenting book I've read since becoming a mother. I generally avoid parenting books because being a parent is scary enough, and I'm not sure I want even more information and theoretical frameworks from which to approach motherhood; I feel like I’m already absorbing too much inadvertent information and advice as is. But this book has been on my radar for a while, and after one of the bloggers I follow suggested it, I decided to go ahead and borrow if from my public library.

Mar 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The author, a child/family counselor, has a common sense philosophy of simplification geared towards the middle-class to affluent families who essentially, just have too much going on.

His methods appear to have a great deal of efficacy, particularly with regards to reducing ADD behavior so that children can function normally. Specifically, when two separate study groups of families with children with non-functional levels of ADD adhered to his principles for several months, 68% consistently tes
Amy Brown
Dec 22, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: parenting-books
This book was pretty interesting....the topic is one I am trying to embrace, so I was pretty excited to read it. The author is a researcher and has spent many years working with kids in many cultures. He includes lots of interesting facts about why kids need simple lives, and he includes stories of his real life patients. The first half of the book was great, but then it seemed a bit repetitive to me. It is worth it to check it out of the library, but I don't think I'll purchase this one. I did ...more
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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 p ...more

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