Raising the Challenging Child

How to Minimize Meltdowns, Reduce Conflict, and Increase Cooperation

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What's the worst you've ever faced as a parent? An all-out tantrum at the mall? A son who won't take out his earbuds to listen to you? A daughter who's failing at school and won't do her homework? A teen who constantly breaks curfew? A call from the police? Whatever you're dealing with, Raising the Challenging Child will help.

Building on their work at Chaddock, a nonprofit organization that has worked with some of the most challenging kids in the nation for more than 150 years, the authors empower frustrated parents with practical tips and real-life examples on how to

- minimize behavioral meltdowns
- reduce conflict
- increase cooperation
- promote healthy attachment
- improve family relationships

The strategies they share work both for the child who is going through a difficult phase brought on by life disruption or trauma, and for the child who faces chronic struggles. Parents, teachers, and those who work with children and youth will find positive, practical steps they can start taking today in order to understand and address the baffling behavior of the child under their care.


"I strongly recommend this book. The authors present a clear and lively guide to parenting based on their many years' experience working with challenging children, along with their extensive understanding of the latest research and thinking in the field of developmental psychology and therapeutic treatment. This book will be welcomed by all parents who struggle to connect with, support, and guide their children through the challenging moments and who hope to create a warm and understanding relationship with their children."

Phyllis Booth, MA, LMFT, LCPC, Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor

"While the tips and tools offered in Raising the Challenging Child are based on the latest brain research and evidence-based practices, the authors translate the theory with real-life examples. Parents will love the practical and proven "If you've tried this . . . do/say this instead" suggestions. The approaches offered in this book are ones that parents will return to again and again."

Amy McCready, founder of Positive Parenting Solutions and author of The "Me, Me, Me" Epidemic: A Step-by-Step Guide to Raising Capable, Grateful Kids in an Over-Entitled World

"Raising the Challenging Child provides parents, caregivers, child advocates, and even pediatricians like myself with practical strategies to help empower children and foster healthy family dynamics. Using Chaddock's proven tools and techniques, the book serves as a helpful resource for those who seek to build a brighter path for children."

Sameer Vohra, MD, JD, MA, FAAP, chair of the Department of Population Science and Policy, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine

"The authors provide a lovely integration of what they've learned from years of experience treating challenging children, the science of experience-based brain development, and practical hands-on advice for handling parental challenges in ways that combine nurturance and guidance. Raising the Challenging Child will be a welcome addition to the growing literature on the power of compassionate, brain-informed parenting to help caregivers avoid the pitfalls of blocked care and stay open and engaged more of the time, giving their kids the gift of their mindful selves."

Jonathan Baylin, PhD, coauthor of Brain-Based Parenting and The Neurobiology of Attachment-Focused Therapy

"This fun, easy-to-read book is much more than your typical child-rearing manual. Reading this guide will give you a window into your child's emotional world, as well as specific strategies and language to turn child behaviors into opportunities for growth. You'll walk away from this book with a pocketful of gems to help your child think, problem-solve, and develop loving relationships for a happier family and a happier life!"

Debra Wesselmann, MS, LIMHP, coauthor of Integrative Parenting: Strategies for Raising Children Affected by Attachment Trauma

"In my many years of clinical practice, I was always hesitant to recommend a parenting guide. Raising the Challenging Child would have been a striking exception. Oh, how I wish it had been available to me--and to the families with whom I worked."

Michael Trout, author of This Hallowed Ground: Four Decades in Infant Mental Health

The Authors

  1. Karen Doyle Buckwalter

    Karen Doyle Buckwalter

    Karen Doyle Buckwalter, MSW, LCSW, is director of program strategy at Chaddock in Quincy, Illinois. She serves on the board of directors' advisory board of the Theraplay® Institute in Chicago and has trained and consulted at family behavioral health...

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  2. Debbie Reed
    Shelly Kraemer © SK Photography

    Debbie Reed

    Debbie Reed is president and CEO of Chaddock. Currently engaged in doctoral studies, she has also played a leadership role in child- and family-serving organizations at the state and national levels, including the Illinois Department of Children and Family...

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  3. Wendy Lyons Sunshine
    Judy Lyons Schneider

    Wendy Lyons Sunshine

    Wendy Lyons Sunshine is an award-winning writer and coauthor of The Connected Child, with more than 200,000 copies sold. She is an editorial consultant for leading nonprofits and has written for media outlets including Health, AARP...

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