The Child Whisperer – A New Way to Parent


I finally got my copy of The Child Whisperer in the mail! It was pretty exciting to be able to read the PDF, but having the hard copy in my hand is even better. Now I need to write a review, but I don’t know where to start.

When my daughter saw the cover, her first response was that it was an insulting knock off of The Dog Whisperer, and that she didn’t want to be treated like a dog. I informed her that the Horse Whisperer came first, and the whole reason that book was successful was that treating creatures with respect and honoring their individuality was a radical idea. You needed to understand and appreciate your dog’s or horse’s nature in order to get the results you wanted; “training” them through one-size-fits all domination just didn’t work.

Ironically, the traditional parenting strategy that most people go with these days bears strong resemblance to outdated and inhumane animal-training techniques. It focuses on the parent, not the child: simply tell them what to do and how to behave, and have the same (high) expectations of all of them. Too often this authoritarian method of parenting relies on force and shame, but we’re too busy parenting to see the real emotions that underlie what we do and how how it harms our children.

We know our children aren’t all the same, but often we don’t really pinpoint why, or think that this naturally means we should parent them differently. Just as often their true natures get lost behind our expectations of them based on birth order, gender, cultural or religious expectations, or our own childhood experiences.

Carol Tuttle’s The Child Whisperer is a thorough guide for how to treat your children with love and respect, whether they’re infants or even adults. It explains the four energy types and how they express themselves, and then gives detailed information on how to deal with these types through the developmental stages leading up to adulthood. It also explains how to honor and understand yourself as a parent, especially if you were not raised in a way that was nurturing or supportive of your own nature.

How has this book helped me? Much of what’s in it I’ve instinctively known about my children (that’s my sensitive secondary type 2), yet I’m often too busy or impatient (can you say Type 3?) to do the right thing. The book, in addition to explaining a lot that I hadn’t quite gotten a handle on and teaching me some new tricks, has been a great wake-up call. Some people argue that “typing” people is reductionist and dehumanizing, but I’m with Carol in thinking the opposite. There’s plenty of room for variation in her system, but the essential truth is that as human beings we name things in order to understand them, and there’s nothing wrong with that if we use this understanding to treat others with respect and care that our previous ignorance would have precluded. The more we understand others, the greater peace there will be in the world.

Another great benefit of this book is that it’s given my kids a language with which to understand each other. It’s helping them to realize that people are different and that relationships will be different because of that. It helps them realize that they each have a nature that exists independently of my opinions or desires, and that this nature comes with both challenges and strengths. And I hope it’s helping them to look at others with a little more kindness and curiosity.

And it sure as heck explains why my sensitive type 2 son runs for the hills when his sister and I (both type 3) are at each other :-)