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  • The Difficult Child
  • Written by Stanley Turecki and Leslie Tonner
  • Format: Trade Paperback | ISBN: 9780553380361
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Expanded and Revised Edition

Written by Stanley TureckiAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Stanley Turecki and Leslie TonnerAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Leslie Tonner


List Price: $11.99


On Sale: February 29, 2012
Pages: 320 | ISBN: 978-0-307-81573-6
Published by : Bantam Bantam Dell
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How to help--and cope with--the difficult child

Expanded and completely revised, the classic and definitive work on parenting hard-to-raise children with new sections on ADHD and the latest medications for childhood disorders.

Temperamentally difficult children can confuse and upset even experienced parents and teachers. They often act defiant, stubborn, loud, aggressive, or hyperactive. They can also be clingy, shy, whiny, picky, and impossible at bedtime, mealtimes, and in public places. This landmark book has been completely revised to include the latest information on ADHD, medications, and a reassuring approach  to all aspects of childhood behavioral disorders.

In this parenting classic, Dr. Stanley Turecki, one of the nation's most respected experts on children and discipline--and himself the father of a once difficult child--offers compassionate and practical advice to parents of hard-to-raise children. Based on his experience with thousands of families in the highly successful Difficult Children Program he developed for Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City, his step-by-step approach shows you how to:

Identify your child's temperament using a ten-point test to pinpoint specific difficulties
Manage common--often "uncontrollable"--conflict situations expertly and gently
Make discipline more effective and get better results with less punishment
Get support from schools, doctors, professionals, and support groups
Understand ADHD and other common diagnoses, and decide if medication is right for your child
Make the most of the tremendous potential and creativity that many "difficult" children have

Drawing on his experience with thousands of families in his highly successful Difficult Child Program, Dr. Turecki shows parents how to:

Identify their child's difficult temperament using a ten-point test to pinpoint specific difficulties

Manage typical conflict situations expertly and kindly

Make discipline more effective and get better results with less punishment

Get support from schools, doctors, and others

Understand ADHD and other common diagnoses, and decide whether medication is right for their child

Make the most of the child's creativity and potential -->


Do You Have a Difficult Child?


1. Do you find your child hard to raise?

2. Do you find the child's behavior hard to understand?

3. Are you often battling the child?

4. Do you feel inadequate or guilty as a parent?

5. Is your marriage or family life being affected by the child?


The headings below identify possibly difficult areas of your child's temperament (his or her innate makeup). Rate your child, in an overall way, on each item, using this scale:

0 = No problem (never present or just a little)
1 = Moderate problem (sometimes present)
2 = Definite problem (often present)
3 = Extreme problem (nearly always or always)

HIGH ACTIVITY LEVEL: Restless, squirmy, fidgety; always into things, "hyper," makes you tired; "ran before he walked"; easily overstimulated; trouble sitting still or playing quietly; "motormouth"; hates to be confined; easily gets wild or "revved up."

IMPULSIVITY: Acts without thinking; quick hot temper, easily frustrated; impatient, excitable; interrupts, calls out, doesn't await turn; grabs or pushes; can lose control and become aggressive; can suddenly take off.

DISTRACTIBILITY: Has problems focusing and paying attention, especially if not really interested; trouble following instructions; doesn't "listen," tunes you out, daydreams; disorganized, forgetful.

HIGH INTENSITY: Loud voice; forceful, overwhelming; strong emotions whether miserable, angry, or happy.

IRREGULARITY: Unpredictable body rhythms; can't tell when he'll be hungry or tired, resulting in conflicts over meals and bedtime; wakes up at night; erratic toilet habits.

NEGATIVE PERSISTENCE: Very strong-willed, stubborn; goes on and on nagging, whining, or negotiating if wants something; relentless, won't give up, wears you down; gets "locked in"; may have long tantrums.

LOW SENSORY THRESHOLD: Physically, not emotionally sensitive; highly aware of color, light, appearance, texture, sound, smell, taste, or temperature (not necessarily all of these); "creative," but with strong and sometimes unusual preferences that can be embarrassing; bothered by bright lights and loud noises; particular, picky; clothes have to feel or look right; doesn't like the way many foods look, smell, or taste; feels too cold (or too hot) when no one else does.

INITIAL WITHDRAWAL: Shy and reserved with new adults and/or children; doesn't like new situations and unfamiliar settings; holds back or protests by crying, clinging, or tantruming if forced to go forward.

POOR ADAPTABILITY: Has trouble with transition and change of activity or routine; inflexible, notices minor details; gets used to things and won't give them up; can want the same clothes or foods over and over; "creature of habit"; even after initial response takes a long time to adapt.

NEGATIVE MOOD: Serious or cranky, doesn't show pleasure openly; not a "sunny" disposition.



0-1          + 4-7 points          = Some difficult features

2-3          + 8-14 points         = Difficult child

4-5          + 15 or more points   = Very difficult child

If you recognize your child in this questionnaire, or suspect for other reasons that your child is indeed "difficult", then you need to know these basic facts:

Difficult children are normal. They are not emotionally disturbed, mentally ill, or brain damaged. Well-meaning relatives or other parents may have suggested that "something must be wrong with him." You may have worried a lot about this yourself. So let's get a new perspective. "Difficult" is very different from "abnormal." In today's climate, with ever-increasing numbers of children being "diagnosed," this is a very important distinction for parents to keep in mind.

Difficult children are like this because of their innate makeup. And that makeup is their inborn temperament. They are not like this because of something you as parents have done to them. It's not your fault. And it's not the child's fault, either. He didn't ask to be born difficult.

Difficult children are hard to raise. Of course, you know this already. But if you think of it as a basic fact of existence, it will help you cope better. This is the way your child is, but by understanding him better and learning about his temperament you will be able to manage him successfully. He will then be a great deal easier to raise.

Difficult children are not all the same. The picture differs depending on which areas of temperament come into play. Difficult children also range from the basically easy child with some difficult features, to the extreme of the very difficult, perhaps even impossible, child.

Difficult children make their parents feel angry, inadequate, or guilty. And these parental feelings can lead to one of the biggest problems with difficult children, a loss of parental authority. Parents feel their child no longer "listens" to them, that she is the one in control. Inconsistency and excessive punishment follow. "Nothing works" is the most common statement parents make about their efforts to discipline the child.

Difficult children can create marital strain, family discord, problems with siblings, and end up with emotional problems of their own


Difficult children can become positive, enthusiastic, perhaps even especially creative individuals if they are well managed when young. And teaching you how to do this is the goal of this book.
Stanley Turecki

About Stanley Turecki

Stanley Turecki - The Difficult Child
Stanley Turecki, M.D., is a child and family psychiatrist and the father of a once difficult child.  He is a diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, holds appointments at two New York hospitals, and is the physician-in-charge of the Difficult Child Center in New York City.  

Leslie Tonner is the author of two previous works of non-fiction and four novels.

From the Trade Paperback edition.



"Dr. Turecki's understanding and knowledge of children with difficult temperaments is astounding."

"The Difficult Child Program taught me to be a better parent to my difficult child and also made me a better parent for my 'easy' child."

"Dr. Turecki's program has taught me the real meaning of motherhood."


"This book is great! The approach to discipline is one of the best I have seen. It is a real contribution to parents."
--T. Berry Brazelton, M.D.

"A clear and lucid prescription of how to deal with a difficult child. The compassionate understanding of the author is evident throughout."
--Irving Phillips, M.D., Past President, American Academy of Child Psychiatry

"A cornucopia of good ideas for assessing and intervening in these often disastrous relationship patterns."
--Donald A. Block, M.D., Past President, The American Family Therapy Academy

"A unique and extremely valuable book. I can recommend it enthusiastically."
--William B. Carey, M.D., Director of Behavioral Pediatrics, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia; author of Understanding Your Child's Temperament

"This volume will sit on my shelf between Spock and Gesell."
--Richard L. Saphir, M.D., Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, The Mount Sinai School of Medicine

"Virtually every teacher has taught a child who is 'difficult' to handle. This book is invaluable in helping teachers and parents understand the roots of this behavior and thus, helping them cope more effectively."
--Ellen Galinsky, co-author of The Preschool Years, President, The National Association for the Education of Young Children

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