Children: The Challenge

Children the Challenge coverChildren: The Challenge

Submitter: I’m weeding the 649s at my public library, and this book still has a Cutter number so that was my first clue that it was old. I also thought the blurb on the back was patronizing and treated children as if they were an alien life form. While skimming the pages inside, I felt like I was reading a book from the set of I Love Lucy. The tone was as condescending to the parents as it was to the children. It almost felt like a guide book aliens wrote after observing life on Earth for a short time….in 1950s movies. It’s still available in Amazon. 1991 edition. And oddly, my library’s copy went out in September 2013. Um..sorry….withdrawn!

Holly: Even the best parenting book ever needs to be updated. I’d expect a new edition if it’s that good. I can’t see much reason to keep a parenting book from the 60s in a public library.


Children the Challenge back cover

Use care in pleasing

Make requests reasonable and sparse

Take it easy


  1. This book was trying too hard. Mom weighing chocolate so the kids get equal portions? I wasn’t even alive in the 60’s and I know they had candy bars.

    1. I read that as being about boxed chocolates–which do vary in size and weight. I don’t think the book is in favor of the weighing strategy–the next page is a little blurry, but it seems to be proposing methods that Mother could use to detach from this issue.

      And if you think it’s unrealistic that a mother might do something that silly in pursuit of the white whale of “fairness”…my personal sister, in 2013*, had a chart in her bathroom keeping track of which daughter’s turn it was, on what day, for incredibly important privileges like being the first one to have toothpaste put on her brush. (There are four or five other things on the chart, but I don’t remember what the others are.) The chart really did cut down on the children getting riled up with meaningless disputes when they were supposed to be winding down for bed, and there are some Issues from our family of origin that make fairness a hot-button issue for sis, but it also tended to encourage the girls’ belief that who gets toothpaste put on her brush first actually is an issue of any significance whatsoever.

      (*I haven’t seen it recently, but it may still be there.)

      1. The book clearly isn’t in favor of it, but even with a box of chocolates, most parents will just say “take one each.” If one kid’s is smaller, well, that’s the one they picked.

        I don’t see most actual parents going to the extreme of breaking out a scale. So, I still think the example is kind of a stretch.

  2. On pg 178 “mother” makes a tactical blunder in caving to Willie’s demands for that toy accordion. Now I’m curious as to what will happen. Will “mother” hide the toy when she can’t take anymore? Will she make alterations to it when he sleeps so it no longer makes that horrible sound? Will Willie abandon the toy in two days for something else even more annoying? Will one of Willie’s siblings smack him over the head with it, breaking it beyond repair? Unfortunately I think the author is just going to leave it on that cliffhanger.

  3. The trouble with Willie’s mom is that she asked him what he wanted to get, then told him he couldn’t have it! If she wanted to limit his choices to quiet toys she needed to ask him if he wanted the car or the… whatever.

    And poor Raymond. He started potty training at 6 months!

    Also, Tommy. “There was no real reason he couldn’t play on the swing.” That is an important thing for parents to remember! I find parents, especially those who have teens, just say “no” because they can. Because they have some misguided idea that saying “yes” too much is too lenient or permissive. Well, if there is no reason to say “no” then let them do it!

  4. “Toys should have a useful purpose or meet a given need.” God forbid we allow our children to engage in frivolous imaginative play or senseless “fun”!

    1. No reason why youngster can’t engage in frivolous imaginative play with toys already in the toybox. I personally am a little sympathetic to the author’s POV here after my kid got a couple nice toys this past christmas but has continued to ignore them in favor of his old favorites. Why are we spending money and time shopping for toys he doesn’t play with? And we’re his parents, who know him best!

  5. I have read this book (multiple times) and although it is definitely dated, Dreikurs provides great scenarios for explaining the behaviors of both adults and children. Someone should revise this. His ideas were based on respect for the child, something our society lacks today. These are some of the same ideas shared by great educators like Maria Montessori. I challenge you to read it.

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