Book Review – Parenting By Kathy Walker (And Give Away!)

Book Review Parenting By Kathy Walker

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Book Review Parenting By Kathy Walker

If you have been reading my blog for a little while, you will know that I am a massive fan of Kathy Walker and reference her frequently in my writing. So I have been eagerly awaiting her latest book Parenting: A practical guide to raising preschool and primary-school children.

Sometimes after reading a parenting book, I can come away feeling slightly despondent, worrying about all the things that I could be doing better. After reading Walker’s book, although I clearly see areas for improvement in my parenting skills, I actually feel encouraged to keep trying to be a proactive parent and to taking the best care I can of myself.

The book is divided into four clear parts, the first talks you through examining your parenting style and the personality of your children. The second part focuses on Proactive Parenting:

Proactive means we don’t wait for things to go wrong before we reflect on our parenting strategies, but we try and set up a calm and predictable home environment that minimises opportunities for things to go wrong in the first place.

At the heart of proactive parenting is the idea of acceptance – an appreciation that children need to be treated as children, that there is no such thing as the perfect child or the perfect parent, and that there will be ups and downs.

Through out the chapters in this part, Walker looks at the areas of daily family life like sibling rivalry, friendships, school, possessions like iPods, mobile phones etc and children’s chores and offers insights in how to be proactive.

With 5 children in our family, I found the chapter on sibling rivalry very insightful. It made me realise that the bickering and antagonising that goes on in my house at times is to be expected and doesn’t mean that I am failing as a parent. What I can improve upon though is to avoid intervening as much and not allowing myself to become the umpire.

It is important to avoid this, as it not only robs the children of the opportunity to learn skills such as negotiation and self calming, but it also makes it hard for you to remain neutral. You can make statements like, ‘I know you want me to sort this out but it is your issue and I believe you two can sort it out yourselves.’

Part three is Troubleshooting and is the section that I will be referring back to again and again. I loved the logical structure of this part. Walker first takes you through her Five-point Positive Parent Preparation Plan. This plan is incredibly helpful in preventing parents from jumping into issues with the kids without first thinking it through.

From there we are then given the Top 10 behavioural strategies that will help parents maintain a calm and safe home life. The detailed explanation of consequences vs punishment is excellent and gives you examples of what to try with your kids and what to give a miss. Walker also collates what she feels are the “most damaging strategies” as a reminder of ones which we should avoid as a parent like hitting, labeling or bribing children.

Troubleshooting also includes case studies of common parenting issues and breaks them down into sections, looking at why the problem may be happening and what you can do to remedy it. The key points that Walker lists at the start of the case studies, sums up the overriding philosophy of the book:

  • All behaviour has meaning.
  • There are very few quick fixes.
  • If you can stay calm, you’re halfway there.
  • Your children don’t have to be perfect.
  • You don’t have to be perfect.

The final part of the book is “Looking After Yourself” and to me highlights the balance that Walker achieves in Parenting. Throughout her advice in the book, her approach to children is respectful, but she also acknowledges the rights and needs of the parents. Walker very much understands that parenting in the 21st century whilst full of love and joy can also be challenging and frustrating. So as parents she strongly advocates that we take good care of ourselves emotionally and physically.

In order to give out to our children – to model the resilience and emotional intelligence we want them to learn – we first need to feel reasonably strong, happy and fulfilled. We have to have something in order to give it.

For me Parenting fills the gap in my parenting books. I have Children Are People Too to reference for my little ones and I have He’ll Be Okay; Growing Gorgeous Boys Into Good Men for my soon to be adolescent, but I really didn’t have any book aimed at my school aged children. Given that we have had some challenging issues with the school aged kids of late, I am glad to now have this book as part of library :).

Give Away

Courtesy of the lovely folk at Penguin, I have one copy of Parenting to give away. The give away is open to Australian residents and entries must be received before midday Friday 26th March 2010 AEDT. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced on the blog later that day.


  1. Caroline E says

    Glad I’ve found your blog. I’ve found and forwarded quite a few helpful posts to friends – 10 things… and menu plans.
    Always happy to be in for a give-away too!


  2. Alison says

    Great review! I had read somewhere else about this book and delighted to read your opinion. Now I’m dying to own my own copy, so please enter me in the give-away!! (or I’ll just have to go shopping!)
    Thanks Alison

  3. Melissa Kelly says

    Wow, this book looks exactly like what I need at the moment.
    Would love to win a copy!!
    Thanks for such a helpful, inspiring blog.

  4. shirley says

    i have seven grandchildren and would love to share this book with my children. please enter me into the competition.

  5. says

    This sounds perfect – my eldest has just started preschool and I’m feeling a bit lost because I no longer know everything that’s going on in her life. Sign me up!

  6. Claire says

    You have me interested in finding out more about Kathy’s new book. Would you please be able to enter me into this giveaway. Thank you

  7. laura says

    With twins nearing kindergarten age, it is tough to know if you are doing all of the right things, especially when you have two completely different individuals going through the same stages at the same time! I would love to win this book for some tips.

  8. Jackie says

    I have 3 kids and another on the way and all under 5 so I’m really starting to get into this age range know and the challenges are coming thick and fast at the moment. Please please please enter me in the comp.

  9. Jo says

    Kathy Walker’s school readiness book was very helpful for us and I would love to get a hold of her new book! It’s great to hear from Australian experts who understand the background and issues challenging parents here.

  10. Laura says

    With my 1st on the way, I’m excited and worried….. and being the 1st Grandchild on myside of the family I need all the help I can get (not those old parenting books my Mum keeps showing me!). I’d love a copy!

  11. Ashleigh says

    I would love to be entered in the competition please and am also a big fan of Kathy Walker. Thanks!

  12. says

    Kathy’s book sounds as though it is on the same wave-length as my parenting philosophy and could really help me out with putting some ideas into practice!
    Thanks for the opportunity!

  13. Deb says

    i have not heard anything about this book yet so thanks for bringing it to my attention. Apart from Children are people too, most of my parenting books are from the States so it is nice to see an Aussie writer. hoping I win, but will check it out regardless.

  14. says

    My new years resolution was trying to stay calm with the boys and to be fair, I think I did really well over the summer holidays! But over the first term – that didn’t go according to plan. Rushing here, there and everywhere made me more impatient, less calm and feeling quite overwhelmed at times. So recently, I’ve tried really hard to get back the calmness that I “owned” … So far so good! I also would like to learn more strategies on not being a referee!

    Thanks for bringing the book to our attention. Sounds like a great read!

  15. says

    Lovely to find your blog- thanks Twitter! I’m a big fan of Kathy Walker too- I attended a school readiness talk she gave & used to read her column regularly in The Age. As a parent of primary aged children, a parenting site owner & a student of early childhood education, I’ve been hanging out to read this-so I’d love to be entered in the draw :)

  16. Kyla says

    Love your blog and have been subscribed for awhile. I would love to be entered into the give-away especially as I’ve got a daughter who just started school and would be great to learn a few things extra about that age group!

  17. says

    Ah I was just lying in bed this morning listening to my girls fight with each other, then turn on their brother and I thought “I need to read a book about sibling rivalry!” Though a book that covers a bit of broader parenting stuff like this one would probably be even better! I’m in!

  18. says

    ahh i havent had a new parenting book for a while and i would love some insight into how to deal with the infighting between my girls :)

  19. Michelle says

    My family and I always need new strategies when dealing with our two girls and this book sounds like it would have heaps of new ways of dealing with a variety of the parenting dilemma’s we all face in this modern world. I’d love a copy!!!

  20. Stitch Sista says

    I would love a copy of that book (and seriously need one so will buy it even if I don’t win lol)

  21. Shirley says

    Thanks for this. I would love to be entered into the giveaway as I have been trying to justify buying this book. Hhmm book or bills?

  22. Violet says

    Just because I have three kids doesnt make me an expert – any additional help is appreciated. Please enter me.

  23. Melinda I says

    I think I’ll get most use of the trouble shooting section and the behavioural strategies….we sure need a calmer approach to dealing with issues for my soon to be 4year old!

  24. Lesley says

    Love your website, especially your menu plan! I think we all need a little extra advice here and there so would love to win a copy of Kathy’s book. Fingers crossed ! Keep up the great work.

  25. Ellen says

    I love reading parenting books – I have just finished “Steady Days” and this one sounds like another must read!

  26. Kim says

    Unfortunately I missed a talk given by Kathy Walker and have been very keen to read one of her books ever since as a girlfriend speaks very highly of her. Would love the chance to read her latest offering.

  27. says

    Oh would love to win this one. I’m a parenting book addict and am always listening out for recommendations from other parents. Thanks for the review. (Wishing me luck!)

  28. Busy Bee says

    As an only child and a Mum of 2 children 14 months apart, this book would be extremely helpful. Thanks for such a positive and helpful blog. xo

  29. says

    I am also a big fan of Kathy Walker, as are my sons kinder teachers and they recommend her to everyone. I have had the chance to be at talks her company gives and I highly recommend her books and her talks.

    I would love to win this giveaway! Thanks for the chance :)

  30. says

    I heard Kathy Walker speak once and came away really impressed so I’m sure I’d love her book as well. Seems we have the same taste in books – I’ve just finished the “He’ll be Okay” book. With an 11 year old boy I thought I’d better get up to date on what kind of adventure we were about to embark upon!

  31. Michelle M says

    I haven’t had the pleasure of hearing Kathy Walker speak yet, so I would love to get my hands on her book. Please count me in!

  32. Nancee Biviano says

    I have heard Kathy speak and she really makes sense. She is wonderful at question time too. I would love a copy of her book to read, digest and pass on to other kinder Mums.

  33. JANE says

    Would love to win this book. Being a single mum to 4yr old twin girls and a 6yr old girl.. things can be a little challenging. :)

  34. Maryanne says

    I’ve heard Kathy speak at a preprep info night and I really respect her views – would love to read her new book!

  35. Lisa Creazzo says

    Please, I have 3 kids under 5! I don’t want a copy, I NEED one! hahaha
    Sounds like a great book and even better if it doesn’t make you feel worse a parent when you have finished reading it! :)

  36. Jaimie Webb says

    This book would come really hany as i have an outta control toddler and a newborn i need some or lots of direction

  37. Sarah Morrison says

    would definetly love to read this book before my little girl starts school to do things right

  38. melissa says

    I go to a bouncing back mothers group and i think this book sounds great to recommend to them. Thanks for the review. Id love a copy for myself. i have 3 young boys that would benefit from me reading this. Great work with the site. I love it.

  39. Brooke says

    Would love to win. I believe it’s easy to get stuck in the everyday and sometimes you need to view your world from the outside just to make sure you are still the parent you want to be.

  40. Shannon says

    As a new Mum I would love, love, love a book like this to be my parenting bible. Please enter me to win.

  41. Chaney says

    This would be great to win as we are starting a family. I hope this is how you enter.

  42. kristy says

    I have five children and admit it is chaos at times. I would love this book, maybe it can restore some calm in the house.

  43. Anne Costello says

    Would love to win. As an infants/primary school teacher, I would find this informative. I would then pass it on to my son & wife who have a one year old.

  44. Deb says

    Our four children have gone into a breeding frenzy! Kathy’s book sounds perfect for this nervous Nanny Deb and a good resource for our whole family to share.