Review: No Bad Kids by Janet Lansbury

Erich Mayer

One of the most challenging, important and undervalued tasks is raising young children.
Review: No Bad Kids by Janet Lansbury

Janet Lansbury's No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame published by JLML Press.

One of the most challenging, important and undervalued tasks is raising young children. It comes as a surprise to new parents that their little darling is capable of biting them, hitting a loving grandparent, kicking the dog and having a screaming tantrum for little apparent reason. Janet Lansbury – through her blog, her lectures, the classes she runs and through this book – has helped many parents and caregivers gain a better understanding of why toddlers do what they do and gives practical advice on how to bring up young children.

Lansbury acknowledges her debt to her mentor, Magda Gerber, and the tenet of RIE (Resources for Infant Educators) which is: 'babies are whole people – sentient, aware, intuitive and communicative. They are natural learners, explorers, and scientists able to test hypotheses, solve problems, and understand language and abstract ideas.'

No Bad Kids is a collection of 31 individual articles, so inevitably there is some repetition although that does not detract from the value of the book. The articles cover many subjects including why toddlers push limits, the key to cooperation, reasons to ditch distractions, letting your child off the hook, setting limits without yelling and common discipline mistakes. Lansbury’s advice is based on many years of experience with her own children and in teaching and helping with the children of others. Her advice is simple and convincing although the subject matter is extraordinarily complex.

The book is enhanced by the inclusion of a number of emails from parents, usually mothers seeking advice, and Lansbury’s replies. This correspondence tends to be about specific issues and illustrates the theories put into successful practice.

In the chapter ‘Don’t Fight the Feelings’, Lansbury makes a strong case for distinguishing feelings from behaviours. She argues that parents and caregivers should delete the words  ‘soothe’, ‘correct’ and ‘control’ from their job description and replace them with ‘accept’, ‘acknowledge’ and ‘support’. 

In the ‘Staying Unruffled’ chapter, she suggests that some parents might find it useful to think of themselves as a successful chief executive who stays calm and collected and gives consistent clear instructions even in difficult circumstances. That is of course easier said than done. Child-raising is exhausting and it is not easy to stay cool, calm and collected when you are very tired. 

People are often confused about how to raise children and there is conflicting information about what to do. Parents and caregivers are also influenced by their own childhoods. Depending on one’s personal disposition, some of Lansbury’s advice may be hard to follow, she herself concedes that some of it is counter-intuitive. However, the reaction from those that have sought and followed her advice is enthusiastic.

There is a cliché that children don't come with an instruction manual. Perhaps this is the missing publication.

4 stars ★★★★

No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame
By Janet Lansbury
ISBN: 978-1499351116
Published by JLML Press 

What the stars mean?
  • Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
  • Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
  • Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
  • Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
  • Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
  • Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
  • Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
  • One star: Awful, to be avoided
  • Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level

About the author

Erich Mayer is a retired company director and former organic walnut farmer. He now edits the blog