Monday, July 23, 2012

Raising Competent Children by Jasper Juul

So although Barefoot magazine has wound down, our interest in all things Barefoot related has not!!

The publishers at Rockpool Publishing were kind enough to share a copy of Raising Competent Children by Jesper Juul with me to review.

I've really enjoyed this book, which doesn't 'dumb down' our roles as parents and carers for our children and certainly encourages us to take more responsibility for the way we listen to and learn from our children. Juul asks that we 'embrace a new set of values, based on the assumption that families can be built of dignity and reciprocity between parent and child'.

While this doesn't feel like a far cry from what I try to achieve in my own parenting and care of my children, I found Juul's discussions on responsibility and power very thought provoking. It certainly made me listen even more closely to the way I talk to my children on a day to day basis.

Raising Competent Children addresses issues such as the conflict between integrity and co-operation, the family as a power structure, self esteem and self confidence, responsiblity and limits. Juul offers practical ways to re-think and re-word some of the common parental fall backs when we are in a position of parental responsiblity - using examples of both respectful and disrespectful ways of talking to our children.

Throughout the book, there are real life examples of families and interactions between children and adults which illustrate how to achieve a different way of speaking with our children; to acknowledge them as our teachers and giving them the opportunities to develop their own personal responsibility. I certainly resonated with Juul's reiteration of the idea that children are of most value to their parents, when they are at their most difficult!! I remember being told this when my children were in the toddler years, and have often thought back to it when having challenging times with my children!

In Raising Competant Children, Juul offers ways to inspire parents and carers to meet our children to 'discover who they really are, rather than defining who and what they should become'. By seeing our children as their own people, rather than extensions of ourselves, parents step out of the authoritarian role and into of role which nurtures dignity and reciprocity between parent and child.

I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in not only developing a new way of relating to their children, but also those who feel they resonate with these ideas already. I certainly felt that the book offered lots of ideas and concepts that further supported the style of parenting that Barefoot supported and recognised. 

Available from bookshops and online at

Anna Foletta


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