31/03/2015 15:27 BST | Updated 31/05/2015 10:12 BST

Kids Don't Come With A Manual

Couple arguing behind their children in the kitchen

When Carole Saad became a mum for the first time, she, like most other parents, believed love and instinct was all she needed to bring up her daughter. As a trained Montessori teacher who'd run her own nursery, she was bound to be a natural parent.

Yet just weeks after her first child, Noor, was born, Carole found motherhood to be far more challenging than she'd ever imagined.


What's more, Carole discovered that although she and her husband, Nadim, had lots in common as people, they shared very little in common when it came to parenting.


Prior to having children, this was something that neither of them could have known. Noor cried continuously and whereas Carole's instinct was to soothe her every time, Nadim believed this only created bad habits and meant the couple would never be able to enjoy a night out again. This turned out to be just the start of their problems.

Carole gave birth to a second daughter, Yasmine. Yet, as their family grew, so too did their differences. Carole describes herself as an ''all-heart parent' who would avoid punishment at all costs and often give in to her daughters' demands. Meanwhile Nadim was a strict authoritarian who insisted on obedience at all times and believed that misbehaviour should be immediately addressed.

Although Carole and Nadim both loved their children deeply, their wildly differing approaches threatened to destroy the happy and stable family home they strived for. Worse still, Carole says the friction between them was having a detrimental effect on their children's happiness and leading to signs of stress.

It was while pregnant with her third child that Carole embarked on some extensive research into child psychology. This led to her running parenting courses for other parents. The turning point came when she invited her husband Nadim on one of the courses, and instead of rejecting the ideas, he embraced them and began employing some of the techniques himself.

By adopting a less confrontational approach and using 'delayed consequences' rather than immediate retribution, he was able to rein in his temper, while still managing to achieve discipline.

''He'd feel so proud and good afterwards for not raising his voice,'' says Carole.

Meanwhile, Carole practised not giving in to her children's whining and acknowledged the importance of boundaries.

It was Nadim who persuaded Carole that the pair of them should write a book based on the research and the success of the parenting courses as well their own experiences. Kids Don't Come With A Manual (Best of Parenting, £12.99) is the result.

The book acknowledges how common it is for two parents to have opposing views on parenting, often where one is too soft and one is too strict. Carole and Nadim highlight the dangers of each style and provide steps towards achieving a more balanced middle ground.

The chapters deal with common parenting issues such as: getting children to listen, developing a child's self-esteem and dealing with behavioural issues from whining and tantrums to lying and disrespecting house rules. Carole also acknowledges the importance of parents being good role models by caring for themselves and taking time out.

There are a series of 'tools' or strategies for dealing with misbehaviour and achieving a more harmonious family life. Carole says it's amazing how simple, yet effective most of the techniques actually are. One such tactic is 'limited choices', for dissolving power struggles. So, instead of ordering children to do something, such as get dressed, which robs them of any control Carole suggests giving limited choices such as getting dressed now, or in five minutes' time.

Carole also advocates 'logical consequences' and 'positive redirection,' whereby instead of just saying ''No, you can't have any cake,'' she suggests saying, ''you can have some cake later, but why not have an apple now?''

There are further sections on the importance of humour, empathy and even the value of sleep. But perhaps what sets this book apart, is that unusually for a parenting manual, it is written by a couple, and even more unusually, a couple who were once at loggerheads when it came to raising their own children.

A few years ago, Carole was unhappy and confused and often thought about leaving her husband. Meanwhile, Nadim felt like the 'bad guy'.' Now with three daughters, the couple are united and strong and their children are happy. Carole believes their own situation is testament to the book's strength.

''It's a lifelong journey, but I do believe it has saved our marriage and our family life,'' she says.
Carole's mission now is for it to make a difference in other people's lives too.

Kids Don't Come with a Manual

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