Welcome to our seventh summer book club meeting, a discussion of Raising Happiness prompted by Katy Keim of BookSnob.  We are posting Katy’s review of Raising Happiness chapter by chapter each Thursday. This book club first ran on Motherese, so you might want to check out the comments there, too, or Motherese blogger Kristen’s related posts.

Even if you aren’t reading along, we hope you’ll join the conversation.  What came to mind as you read the chapter being discussed, or Katy’s review?  You can subscribe to the comments thread for each posting and jump in.

Chapter 7: Control Your Impulses.

By Katy Keim

Were in the home stretch now. I feel like I have Christine’s rhythm now, and I am trying to take on more practical advice without being overwhelmed. In Chapter 7, Carter tells us there are two types of control, the external type of rules and the internal type of self-discipline. On the latter, we are governed by the “go” system (the response system from birth, which guards against fear and is essentially our impulsivity) and the “know” system that we develop through childhood and that help us with self-control. Those kids that have a better developed “know system,” who can essentially delay gratification and show greater self-control, are generally happier.

But if Christine points this fact out to us, I must admit, I didn’t find the tips to strengthen kids’ self-discipline to be as practically applicable as I would have liked. They seemed a little squishy to me. The one exception is that Christine mentions that martial arts, dance, music, and storytelling are types of activities that are good for self-discipline. Kids have to hold complex information in their minds and must stay focused while participating in it. That’s practicing self-discipline.

Chapter 7 A-ha Moment: Carter cites that parents say no 50% less than the last generation. I know my Midwestern parents would agree with that statistic!! When I was growing up, there were many things we didn’t do just because we were told not to. Carter gives us permission to go back to being a more authoritative parent. As long as it can be done kindly and consistently, setting limits with our kids shows them what is in bounds and out of bounds. It is basically like laying out a roadmap toward self-control.

Discussion questions:

▪ What A-ha moments, if any, did you have while reading Chapter 7?
▪ Do you set enough boundaries and limits with your kids? Can you say no?

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