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Why Is My Child in Charge?: A Roadmap to End Power Struggles, Increase Cooperation, and Find Joy in Parenting Young Children
Claire Lerner
Rowman & Littlefield (trade) / Hardcover / Sep 2021
9781538149003 (ISBN-10: 1538149001)
Families and Parenting
price: $31.95
176 pages
In Stock (Ships within one business day)

Through stories of her work with families, the author shows parents how making critical mindshifts—seeing their children’s behaviors through a new lens”—empowers them to solve their most vexing childrearing challenges. Claire Lerner offers a roadmap for implementing practical and proven solutions that are based in science and work in real life.


Social worker and child development specialist Lerner was the director of parenting resources at the national organization Zero to Three for nearly two decades, during which she met with many parents who expressed feelings of helplessness or loss of control when in conflict with their toddlers. In this book, Lerner argues that eight “faulty mindsets” can prevent parents from objectively approaching conflict. She addresses ways parents can shift their mindset when facing common concerns of toddler years (tantrums, cooperation, aggression, sleep, potty training, feeding, dealing with children with highly sensitive temperaments). These are accompanied by case studies of parents struggling with a variety of situations. This helpful resource posits that shifting one’s mindset can help parents see conflicts objectively and identify causes; its tactics should equip parents to center their needs and their child’s.
— Library Journal

Child development–specialist Lerner turns her decades of experience into an easy-to-implement guide for navigating common sticking points of early childhood. Her goal is to shift parents’ perspectives so as to accept “that you can’t control your children but you can control the situation,” as that mindset “enables you to focus on changing your reactions in a way that reduces power struggles.” After identifying eight “faulty mindsets” (such as “my child is misbehaving on purpose” and “experiencing failure is harmful for my child”), Lerner tackles thorny issues such as tantrums (parents should view them as a form of “temporary distress” that ultimately leads to resilience), aggression (creating a “cooldown space” can help), and potty training (reframe it as “potty learning,” to start). Lerner bolsters her advice with case studies and real-world anecdotes: to end mealtime battles, for example, Lerner writes of a child who was provided two plates, one for preferred foods and the other a “learning plate,” which encouraged her to try new things. Recap strategy lists round out chapters, providing straightforward steps that will help readers put her advice into practice. Parents of young children in particular will welcome Lerner’s perspective and actionable advice.
— Publishers Weekly

[This book is] a no-nonsense, plain-terms resource for parents of young children. Drawing upon examples from the author's own practice, Why Is My Child in Charge? offers parents practical, experience-tested advice for dealing with tantrums, physical aggression, sleep problems, potty training, mealtime, and much more. Why Is My Child in Charge? is absolutely invaluable for especially for new parents, and highly recommended for both personal and public library collections.
— Midwest Book Review

The roadmap that Ms. Lerner provides to meet the challenges of parenting littles ones is filled with practical examples that will resonate for so many parents. This book is compelling to read, as parents will find their own struggles mirrored in the examples that Ms. Lerner provides, along with clear and practical solutions. From my own perspective as a primary care pediatrician, this book meets the needs of families like so many I’ve seen throughout my years in practice who despaired in gaining control at home with their toddlers. Based on sound principles of child development and years of experience, this volume guides parents by providing clear strategies to finding or regaining the joy in parenting.
— Ellie Hamburger, MD, Medical Director, Children's National Pediatricians and Associates

Claire has mastered communication with young children and provides an excellent, tangible framework for parents. I have used Claire as my go-to parenting resource for over 10 years, and I am thrilled to be able to direct families to Why is My Child in Charge?
— Ellen O'Brien, MD, pediatrician

Claire Lerner has a gift for combining a realistic, compassionate and science-backed approach to parenting young children. This book has so many practical tools and strategies that help parents guide their children through the everyday challenges that can lead both parents and kids in a cycle of feeling disempowered and insecure. This book will change your parenting experience!
— Aliza W. Pressman, PhD, host of Raising Good Humans podcast, cofounder, Mount Sinai Parenting Center, assistant clinical professor, Kravis Children's Hospital, Icahn School of Medicine

Parents of toddlers—your handbook has arrived! Using a combination of relatable anecdotes and concrete strategies to address common toddler conundrums, Claire Lerner helps parents address their own expectation gaps about parenting and provides critical mind shifts to ease frustrations.
— Katie Hurley, LCSW, award-winning author of “No More Mean Girls” and “The Happy Kid Handbook”

A kind and compassionate guide to parenting in a way that you can feel good about—and that works for both you and your child. I love the fact that this book moves beyond the “why” of parenting to really zero in on the “how.” Parents will appreciate this practical and strategy-rich book.
— Ann Douglas, author of “Happy Parents, Happy Kids” and “Parenting Through the Storm”

Claire Lerner’s new book Why is My Child in Charge? is a truly amazing book. Lerner brings her vast clinical experience working with families together with her deep knowledge about child development and brain development to write a book that will help every parent with young children. The brilliance of Lerner’s book lies in its core message: young children communicate with us through their behaviors; if we can understand what their behaviors are telling us, we will be able to give children what they need. Lerner shows parents how to shift their perspective to see their child’s behaviors in the context of their child’s development, temperament, and in the context of their unique family and culture. And she teaches parents how they can use this understanding to develop a new approach that has a plan of action and a plan for assessing whether this new approach is working. With Lerner’s wisdom and advice, parents have the insights and tools to “experience less stress and more joy,” as a family—something that every family with young children needs!
— Helen Egger, MD, cofounder and chief medical and scientific officer at Little Otter, former chair of department of child and adolescent psychiatry at NYU Langone Health, and division director of child and adolescent psychiatry at Duke University Health Center

As both a mother and school counselor, I wish I had this book years ago! Claire Lerner draws on her many years of experience with young children to help parents navigate some of the most common and frustrating challenges, from sleep and mealtime issues to managing transitions and disappointment. Through relatable stories and practical tips, she reframes “discipline” as simply teaching and setting loving limits, and helps parents shed any other faulty mindsets that might be getting in their way. If you want to know what to do when a child melts down because they can’t have a cookie for dinner, makes a million demands to delay bedtime or fears the potty, Why is My Child in Charge is your book! It's the reassuring roadmap that will help you battle your child less and enjoy parenting them more.
— Phyllis L. Fagell, LCPC, school counselor, Sheridan School, Washington, DC, and author of “Middle School Matters”

Exactly the roadmap that parents need! This book clearly outlines common problems parents face while raising young children and uses specific examples to show how to overcome those problems. The author’s combination of practical strategies along with mindset shifts that parents need create a “total package” of change that parents can use today. As a parent coach and speech therapist, I can’t wait to use this book as part primer, part inspiration in my work. Thanks to Claire Lerner for this gift to parents and professionals everywhere!
— Gabriele S. Nicolet, MA, CCC-SLP, owner, cofounder, and

About the Author:

Claire Lerner, MSW, is a licensed clinical social worker and child development specialist. She served as the Director of Parenting Resources at ZERO TO THREE for more than 18 years. Claire has also been a practicing clinician for 33 years, partnering with parents to do the detective work of decoding their children’s behavior to solve their most vexing childrearing challenges. She also provides training to local preschools and pediatric residents. Claire is the author of hundreds of parenting resources, including books, blogs, podcasts and videos. She writes a column for PBS Kids and her work has been published by multiple parenting publications. She has served as a content expert for numerous national daily newspapers. Claire is the mother of two very spirited children, Sam (30) and Jess (28), and two step-children, Justin (30) and Sammy (27). She lives in Bethesda, Maryland with her husband and two, also very spirited, pups.

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