Pride and Joy

Title: Pride and Joy: A Guide to Understanding Your Child's Emotions and Solving Family Problems
Published by: Oxford University Press
Pages: 280
ISBN13: 978-0199896240
Buy the Book: AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieBoundBooks-A-Million


In Pride and Joy, I describe lessons I have learned over the course of three decades of talking with children and parents, listening to their concerns, and seeking practical solutions to the daily problems that trouble many contemporary families.  I also discuss lessons learned from colleagues engaged in clinical, developmental, and neuroscience research, and from my experience as a parent of two (now adult) children.

Pride and Joy offers guidance on how we can preserve and strengthen feelings of joyfulness and pride in our relationships with our children; how we can promote our children’s social and moral development; how we can ameliorate the conflicts and arguments that a source of distress to so many thoughtful and caring parents; and how we can foster our children’s optimism and resilience in the face of life’s inevitable disappointments.

For me, this is what being a parent is all about.

I also offer solutions to many common problems of daily family life - rules and limits, doing homework and going to sleep, winning and losing at games, our children’s reluctance to talk to us, their tantrums and lack of motivation, and their addiction to television and video games.  I present recommendations for solving these common, but often difficult, problems – problems that, too often, erode the joyfulness of our children and our own pleasure in being parents.

My starting point is the importance of understanding our children’s emotions.

Parents often ask, “Why does he continue to act this way - to tease or hit his sister, to refuse to do his homework or clean up his room, to lie when we know that he is lying and he knows that he will be punished?” Many parents (and some child therapists) assume that, in these situations, they have not been consistent enough in setting limits or imposing consequences for their child’s bad behavior. But the correct answer is almost always, “He behaves this way because he is caught up in the emotion of the moment.” As we all are, at times.

The importance of children’s emotions may seem self-evident to many parents.  Most advice to parents, however, continues to focus less on understanding children’s emotions and more on how to mange a child’s problematic behavior. In recent years, some cultural critics have argued that we now pay too much attention to our children’s feelings – and not enough attention to their competence and moral actions. The critics believe that we have gone too far - that we focus too much attention on helping our children “feel good” and not enough on helping them become “good people.”

But it is not either/or. We need to encourage our children’s self-expression and also teach them self-restraint. Our responsiveness to our children’s emotions strengthens their resilience and character. When we understand our children’s feelings, we not only help them feel better, we help them do better - in all aspects of their lives.


"We all have fears as we raise our children, and we try so hard to get it right, though we're never quite certain if we are where we should be. Ken Barish, who has been there as a parent and has seen almost everything kids can get into during his years of practice, provides the information you seek and helps you get your bearings. If you are a parent, you will reach for this book like it's the hand of a dear and knowing friend reaching out to offer help. Pride and Joy is a superb book-brilliant, wise, timely, and fun to read. It is heartfelt and full of treasures every parent will store up and use."
Edward (Ned) Hallowell, M.D., Founder of The Hallowell Center for Cognitive and Emotional Health, and author of The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness 

"This is a wonderful book! This practical and very wise book will support parents and guardians thinking about how to best manage the struggles that all children-and all families-have! I wish that I had been able to read this book when I became a father."
Jonathan Cohen, Ph.D., President, Center for Social and Emotional Education and Adjunct Professor in Psychology and Education, Teachers College, Columbia University

"Kenneth Barish, a seasoned child therapist, has written a masterful and wise book. He distills his knowledge of the field and his many years of working with children and parents into practical advice that will be enormously helpful to parents navigating the inevitably rough waters of childhood. Parents will learn how to enlist their children in solving problems and how to help their children get unstuck. Compassionate, respectful, and inspiring, this book stands out from the crowded field of parenting books. It deserves a prominent place on every parent's bookshelf."
Ellen F. Wachtel, Ph.D., author of Treating Troubled Children and Their Families

"Stepping into the national debate over whether parents are too soft, or too worried, or too distracted to raise strong kids, Dr. Barish shares his insights into the emotional lives of children and what kids need from parents to develop resilience, optimism, the capacity for hard work, and the other good things we want for them. Dr. Barish understands that parenting can be child-centered without indulging or catering to children. By acknowledging kids' feelings, we can more effectively help them develop self-discipline. He offers an excellent guide to building the kind of warm, positive relationship with kids that is the key to setting, and enforcing, the limits that they need."
Harold S. Koplewicz, M.D., President, Child Mind Institute

"Pride and Joy is a book overflowing with the unmistakable signs of wisdom that only decades of experience can produce. Ken Barish has written the book that every clinician dreams about being able to write and every parent (and grandparent!) dreams about being there to read. To be sure, solid advice and solutions to parenting problems are here, but even more important is the sense of perspective and equanimity with which Barish reassuringly fills each page. This is a must for every parent's bookshelf. Well done!"
Marshall P. Duke, Ph.D., Charles Howard Candler Professor of Psychology, Emory University and Editor of Journal of Family Life

"Understanding children requires understanding and responding wisely to the emotions that enliven--and sometimes undermine—children's everyday experience. Dr. Barish expertly weaves together the insights of developmental science, a clinician's experience, and the practical knowledge of a father to provide guidance to the challenges of parenthood. This book is wise and smart."
Ross A. Thompson, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor, Department of Psychology, University of California-Davis

"Written in an accessible manner, Dr. Barish offers many nuggets of advice concerning the rearing of children in this confusing, complex society. He emphasizes the need to support children's emotional health through sharing their joys, offering solace when they are sad or disappointed, and by addressing any conflicts that may occur between parent and child. Research is cited throughout the book, but in language that is lucid and free of jargon. Dr. Barish cites many examples that deal with children's problems drawn from his clinical practice, adding to the richness of this book."
Dr. Dorothy G. Singer, Department of Psychology, Yale University

"If you only buy one parenting book in the next ten years, do yourself (and your children) a favor and make it Pride and Joy: A Guide to Understanding Your Child's Emotions and Solving Family Problems by Dr. Kenneth Barish... Pride and Joy will certainly help parents repair and enrich relationships with their children while helping them establish the rules and limits children really do crave. Best Parenting Book of 2012."
Gina Stepp, (Read full review)

"I feel that Barish’s book hits the bull’s eye on its target of helping parents understand the internal workings of children and adolescents. It is a guarantee that parents as well as professionals who work with children/adolescents will learn new insights from Kenneth Barish’s book."
PsychCentral, reviewed by Reviewed by Nicholette Leanza, M.ED, PCC-S (Read rull review)

"An insightful approach to parenting and parent/child dynamics, Pride & Joy is a smart choice for frustrated parents as well as any parent needing a boost or looking for alternate strategies in child rearing. Verdict? Read this. Chances are you’re already employing many of these strategies, but when it comes to your own pride and joy, a refresher never hurts. Your child—and your sanity—may well thank you for it. I know mine will."
theloop, reviewd by Amalie Howard (Read full review)


2013 International Book Award
Winner, Parenting and Family

2013 Eric Hoffer Book Award
Winner, Home Category

Mom’s Choice Awards
Gold Winner

National Parenting Publications Awards
Silver Winner

2012 Book of the Year Award
Bronze Winner, Family and Relationships


I decided to write this book for several reasons.

First, I wanted to present to parents some of the lessons I had learned, over many years of teaching and clinical work, about how to solve common family problems.

I was also dissatisfied with much of the advice that is currently offered to parents. Most parenting advice teaches strategies or “techniques” to help parents manage their child’s difficult behavior. These techniques are undoubtedly helpful to many families, and I make use of them in my clinical work.  But they also have limitations.

Too often, this advice misses the big picture. We need to think not only about how to help children behave better now, but also about how to help them sustain their motivation and effort in the long run, and to become responsible and caring adults.

Last, but not least, I had the support and encouragement of my family – my wife and my two (now adult) children. I began to write the book soon after my daughter said to me, “Dad, why don’t you write a parenting book?”


Michael Dresser, The Michael Dresser Show, Feb. 27, 2013
Dr. Steven Walfish of The Practice Institute, Dec., 2012


There is so much advice offered to parents. How does your book differ from other parenting books?
I have tried to write a book that is different in several ways. First, I present a balanced approach to the problems of raising children.  Extreme parenting methods may get the most attention, but most parents struggle to find a balance – between empathy and firmness; between challenging kids to work harder and letting them be kids; between insisting on rules and limits and (sometimes) giving in. Second, my recommendations are based, whenever possible, on scientific research. I have tried to present to parents the best of recent advances in clinical, developmental, and neuroscience research. Finally, most parenting advice continues to focus less on understanding our children’s emotions and more on how to manage a child’s difficult behavior.  In these programs, parents are taught more effective parenting “skills” and “techniques.” Although this advice is undoubtedly helpful to many families, these methods have limitations.  Understanding and responding to our children’s emotions, creating more moments of encouragement and joy, are more important to being a parent – and to our children’s emotional health – than counting to three when they don’t listen or learning the right words to use when stating a command. Even in the best advice offered, I often find something missing, something that goes to the heart of being a parent.  We do not stop often enough, I believe, to consider how our children look up to us and how we remain, throughout their lives, sources of affirmation and emotional support. This is so important – and so easy to lose sight of, especially when kids are acting badly.

Many parent advisors believe that we have become too permissive, that we are too ready to be our children’s friend rather than an authority. Do you agree?  Do you see this problem in your work with families?
In my experience, more often than we are too permissive or indulgent (which, of course, we sometimes are) parents are too stressed – more burdened and more alone. Young parents now have less support available to them than my parents did when I was growing up. So often, families are stuck – children have become stubborn and defensive, and so have we.  Criticism and punishment lead to anger and defiance, and then to more punishment and more defiance.  These vicious cycles of conflict and argument undermine children’s initiative and confidence as well as their sense of responsibility. In the book, I offer parents a way out.  I offer advice on how to repair family relationships, and replace frequent criticism with encouragement and problem solving.

Can you explain why is it so important for parents to understand and value their child’s emotions?
Among child psychologists, a consensus has emerged. A child’s increasing ability to “regulate” her emotions - to control and channel her expression of emotions, to express her feelings in constructive rather than hurtful ways – is now recognized as a critical factor in children’s psychological health. Improved emotion regulation leads to benefits in all areas of a child’s life – increased attention to tasks, less disruptive behavior, better ability to resolve conflicts with peers, and lower levels of psychological and physical stress. Children who are able to regulate their emotions will also behave well (most of the time). They will more easily make and keep friends, and they will work harder and achieve more in school.

How can we teach our children to be caring and empathic towards others, as you say in the book, to nurture a desire for giving, not just getting?
Several decades of child development research have taught us that children learn caring behavior in a parent-child relationship of shared positive feelings; when they observe admired adults who act with nurturance and compassion; and when they are given responsibilities within their family. We need to teach our children that their feelings are important, but so are the needs and feelings of others. We should also make doing for others a more regular part of our family lives. Children learn important lessons from helping others – they learn how good it feels, to themselves and to others, to do good work.

What is your opinion of Tiger parenting, described in Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother?
My advice to “Tiger parents” is this: There is a better way. Discussions of Amy Chua’s book often overlook one its central lessons – her approach was not working. Although one of Amy’s daughters was doing well, her younger daughter had become angry, sullen, irritable, and withdrawn. We need to understand and respect our children’s individual temperaments. As often as Tiger parenting may encourage exceptional achievement, it may also lead to discouragement and alienation, as it did in Ms. Chua’s own family.