Book Review: Real Kids in an Unreal World

Real Kids in an Unreal World by Maggie Dent

Reviewed by: Lyn McErlean, teacher & mother of 3!

Real kids in an unreal world by Maggie Dent

‘Real kids in an Unreal world’ is a gem of wisdom, plain and simple. The book would appear to have been published from the ‘tree of knowledge’ and is a very good guidebook to keeping kids normal in today’s fast paced world.  Maggie Dent breaks down the essentials of raising well adjusted children into 10 building blocks. Each chapter greets you with a gorgeous graphic which puts a smile on your face, and as you read you feel like your best friend has written this book just for you.

Each of the chapters explains what the building block is about, example the chapter on  “clear boundaries”, explains what is meant by clear boundaries  for children. It goes on to explain the effects on lack of boundaries for today’s children, which are the key areas that you need to focus on and stay consistent on. The chapter discusses sleep, school, meal times, technology and ‘the I want mentality’.  I enjoyed the section on boundaries between childhood and adulthood; not many books tackle this topic well, and she suggests minimising exposure to inappropriate material and doing our best to be viligent to subjects our children may not be ready for.  There are examples of ways to incorporate more boundaries and help nurture emotional growth. The chapter then discusses the key areas of boundaries and routines for children. Each chapter includes appropriate referenced professional quotes and suggestions for further reading.

This is an excellent resource for parents of all stages. There is enough commonsense information here so that if you were hit with a parenting challenge you could apply the skills and tips to a new situation. Maggie also speaks in a way which is easy to read and not condescending, it feels like she passionately believes in her topic and is willing to share.  Every topic is clearly well researched and is properly referenced, there are some checklists, flowcharts and the little graphics lighten the book into a more readable format.

When reading I certainly found some useful tips and some things to consider when I was dealing with my children. I found that I probably haven’t done enough on educating and modelling nutrition with my children and hence have spent some time now on investigating food pyramids and have ordered another book from the recommended readings to further improve this building block area!

Maggie reminds you that as parents we are the significant influence in raising children and that many of the rules have changed – or just gone, since our parents had a go at parenting. Her relaxed style gives you the feeling that if you take time and are there for your children, hug, smile, play and listen to them you will be supporting their emotional growth and self esteem.

It’s not always easy to gift a book on parenting however, I think I would happily give this book to a friend with a new baby, or a busy toddler – there are tips and guidelines that you can start with from an early age. I would probably recommend it to any parent with a child under the age of about 8, especially if they were having trouble with resilience or emotional issues as they enter primary school.

With the topics and all of the resources suggested when you find a building block you need to do more work on you can easily follow it up with the recommended reading. I really enjoyed the book and it would be a book I would reluctantly lend as I fear I may not see it again!”

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