Cover image for Children are from heaven : positive parenting skills for creating cooperative, confident, and compassionate children
Children are from heaven : positive parenting skills for creating cooperative, confident, and compassionate children
Gray, John, 1951-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperCollins, 1999.
Physical Description:
xxxiii, 357 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


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Material Type
Home Location
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HQ755.8 .G724 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
HQ755.8 .G724 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
HQ755.8 .G724 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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In his travels, lectures, and seminars, the book John Gray has been most often asked to write is a parenting book. After years of serious thought, workshops, and practical applications, John Gray has created a brilliantly original and effective system that he calls positive parenting, for children of all ages, from birth though the teenage years. Completing the notion that Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, he adds. . .and Children Are from Heaven.

John Gray has discovered that children today do not need to be motivated by fear of punishment. Instead, they can easily be motivated by reward and the natural, healthy desire to please their parents.

Children Are from Heaven covers the different skills of positive parenting to help improve communication, increase cooperation, and motivate your children. Central to this new approach to parenting are the five positive messages your children need to learn again and again:

It's okay to be different It's okay to make mistakes It's okay to express negative emotions It's okay to want more It's okay to say no, but remember mom and dad are the bosses

When these messages are put into practice -- and John Gray shows you how -- your children will develop the necessary skills for successful living: forgiveness of others and themselves, sharing, delayed gratification, self-esteem, patience, persistence respect for others and themselves, cooperation compassion, confidence, and the ability to be happy. With this new approach, you will be allowing your children to develop fully during each stage of their growth.

John Gray's reassuring message is that children are from heaven and they already have within themselves what they need to grow. Your job as a parent is to support that process. By applying the five messages and different skills of positive parenting, your children will receive what they need to become more cooperative, confident, and compassionate.

Author Notes

Author of the best selling Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus (1992) and its sequels, John Gray is a frequent guest on popular talk and news programs on both radio and television and teaches seminars on relationships and communication. He has written over fifteen books including Why Mars and Venus Collide. His books have been translated into 45 languages.

He lived as a monk for nine years, receiving his bachelors and masters degrees in Creative Intelligence from Maharishi European Research University. He received his Ph.D. in psychology from Columbia Pacific University and is a Certified Family Therapist. He is also a consulting editor of The Family Journal. In 2001, he received the Smart Marriages Impact Award.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

"All children are born innocent and good," asserts Gray, author of Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus. Getting them to cooperate is merely a matter of arousing their natural desire to please their parents, without breaking their fragile will in the process. Five skills of positive parenting induce cooperation, supported by their five underlying messages, one of which is the author's mantra: "It's o.k. to say no, but remember Mom and Dad are the bosses." In a synthesis of old-fashioned authoritarianism and modern psychological sensitivity ("soft love"), parents are urged to view a child's resistance as natural and healthy, and to listen, empathize and finally assert their authority firmly and unemotionally. If this approach sounds unrealistic, it certainly feels right in the context of Gray's penetrating (and often historically minded) psychological explanations. In the hypnotic style of a therapist, Gray gradually replaces parental advice with empathy, and an emphasis on obedience with an emphaisis on cooperation, supplying a new repertoire of one-liners and age-, gender- and temperament-specific suggestions along the way. While placing the entire responsibility for children's behavior on their parents' shoulders, this book essentially simplifies the business of parenting in order to enable children to grow into their strongest, most responsible selves. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



Children Are from Heaven Children Are from Heaven All children are born innocent and good. In this sense our children are from heaven. Each and every child is already unique and special. They enter this world with their own particular destiny. An apple seed naturally becomes an apple tree. It cannot produce pears or oranges. As parents, our most important role is to recognize, honor, and then nurture our child's natural and unique growth process. We are not required in any way to mold them into who we think they should be. Yet we are responsible to support them wisely in ways that draw out their individual gifts and strengths. Our children do not need us to fix them or make them better, but they are dependent on our support to grow. We provide the fertile ground for their seeds of greatness to sprout. They have the power to do the rest. Within an apple seed is the perfect blueprint for its growth and development. Likewise, within the developing mind, heart, and body of every child is the perfect blueprint for that child's development. Instead of thinking that we must do something to make our children good, we must recognize that our children are already good. Within the developing mind, heart, and body of every child is the perfect blueprint for that child's development. As parents we must remember that Mother Nature is always responsible for our children's growth and development. Once, when I asked my mother the secret of her parenting approach, she responded this way: "While raising six boys and one girl, I eventually discovered there was little that I could do to alter them. I realized it was all in God's hands. I did my best and God did the rest." This realization allowed her to trust the natural growth process. It not only made the process easier for her, but also helped her to not get in the way. This insight is important for every parent. If one doesn't believe in God, one can just substitute "genes"'It's all in the genes. By applying positive-parenting skills, parents can learn to support their children's natural growth process and to avoid interfering. Without an understanding of how children naturally develop, parents commonly experience unnecessary frustration, disappointment, worry, and guilt and unknowingly block or inhibit parts of their children's development. For example, when a parent doesn't understand a child's unique sensitivity, not only is the parent more frustrated, but the child gets the message something is wrong with him. This mistaken belief, "something is wrong with me," becomes imprinted in the child and the gifts that come from increased sensitivity are restricted. Every Child Has His or Her Own Unique Problems Besides being born innocent and good, every child comes into this world with his or her own unique problems. As parents, our role is to help children face their unique challenges. I grew up in a family of seven children and, although we had the same parents and the same opportunities, all seven children turned out completely different. I now have three daughters ages twenty-five, twenty-two, and thirteen. Each one is, and has always been, completely different, with a different set of strengths and weaknesses. As parents, we can help our children, but we cannot take away their unique problems and challenges. With this insight, we can worry less, instead of focusing on changing them or solving their problems. Trusting more helps the parent as well as the child. We can let our children be themselves and focus more on helping them grow in reaction to life's challenges. When parents respond to their children from a more relaxed and trusting place, children have a greater opportunity to trust in themselves, their parents, and the unknown future. Each child has his or her own personal destiny. Accepting this reality reassures parents and helps them to relax and not take responsibility for every problem a child has. Too much time and energy is wasted trying to figure out what we could have done wrong or what our children should have done instead of accepting that all children have issues, problems, and challenges. Our job as parents is to help our children face and cope with them successfully. Always remember that our children have their own set of challenges and gifts, and there is nothing we can do to alter who they are. Yet we can make sure that we give them the opportunities to become the best they can be. Children have their own set of challenges and gifts, and there is nothing we can do to alter who they are. At difficult times, when we begin to think something is wrong with our children, we must come back to remembering that they are from heaven. They are perfect the way they are and have their own unique challenges in life. They not only need our compassion and help, but they also need their challenges. Their unique obstacles to overcome are actually necessary for them to become all that they can become. The problems they face will assist them in finding the support they need and in developing their special character. Children need compassion and help, but they also need their unique challenges to grow. For every child, the healthy process of growing up means there will be challenging times. By learning to accept and embrace the limitations imposed by their parents and the world, children can learn such essential life skills as forgiveness, delayed gratification, acceptance, cooperation, creativity, compassion, courage, persistence, self-correction, self-esteem, self-sufficiency, and self-direction. For example: Children cannot learn to be forgiving unless there is someone to forgive. Children cannot develop patience or learn to delay gratification if everything comes their way when they want it. Children cannot learn to accept their own imperfections if everyone around them is perfect. Children cannot learn to cooperate if everything always goes their way. Children cannot learn to be creative if everything is done for them. Children cannot learn compassion and respect unless they also feel pain and loss. Children cannot learn courage and optimism unless they are faced with adversity. Children cannot develop persistence and strength if everything is easy. Children cannot learn to self-correct unless they experience difficulty, failure, or mistakes. Children cannot feel self-esteem or healthy pride unless they overcome obstacles to achieve something. Children cannot develop self-sufficiency unless they experience exclusion or rejection. Children cannot be self-directed unless they have opportunities to resist authority and/or not get what they want. Children Are from Heaven . Copyright © by John Gray. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Children Are from Heaven: Positive Parenting Skills for Raising Cooperative, Confident, and Compassionate Children by John Gray All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. xv
Introductionp. xvii
1 Children Are from Heavenp. 1
Every Child Has His or Her Own Unique Problemsp. 2
The Five Messages of Positive Parentingp. 6
A Vision of Possibilitiesp. 18
2 What Makes the Five Messages Workp. 21
The Pressure of Parentingp. 22
Reinventing Parentingp. 23
A Short History of Parentingp. 25
Violence in, Violence outp. 27
Why Children Become Unruly and Disruptivep. 31
A Global Shift in Consciousnessp. 34
3 New Skills to Create Cooperationp. 38
Ask, but Don't Order or Demandp. 38
Use "Would You" And Not "Could You"p. 39
Give up Rhetorical Questionsp. 43
Be Directp. 45
Give up Explanationsp. 46
Give up Giving Lecturesp. 48
Don't Use Feelings to Manipulatep. 49
The Magic Word to Create Cooperationp. 51
A Short Review and Practicep. 52
What to Do When Children Resistp. 54
4 New Skills to Minimize Resistancep. 55
Four Skills to Minimize Resistancep. 56
The Four Temperamentsp. 57
Sensitive Children Need Listening and Understandingp. 58
Active Children Need Preparation and Structurep. 61
Responsive Children Need Distraction and Directionp. 66
The Gift of Singingp. 68
Making Chores Funp. 69
The Gift of Readingp. 71
Using Distraction to Redirectp. 72
Receptive Children Need Ritual and Rhythmp. 75
Loving Ritualsp. 78
Practical Ritualsp. 81
Giving Our Children What They Needp. 82
5 New Skills for Improving Communicationp. 83
Why Children Resistp. 84
Taking Time to Listenp. 86
The Two Conditionsp. 88
Hard-Love Parentingp. 90
Soft-Love Parentingp. 94
Learning to Delay Gratificationp. 98
Meeting Your Children's Needsp. 100
6 New Skills for Increasing Motivationp. 102
A Short Update on Punishmentp. 103
Why and When Punishment Workedp. 104
The Positive Side of Punishmentp. 106
The Simple Proofp. 108
The Alternative to Punishment Is Rewardp. 110
The Two Reasons a Child Misbehavesp. 112
Why Giving Rewards Worksp. 112
Negative Acknowledgmentsp. 114
Catching Your Child Being Good or Doing the Right Thingp. 117
The Magic of Rewardsp. 119
Why Children Resist Our Directionp. 120
Understanding Rewardsp. 122
Rewards According to Temperamentsp. 125
Sample Rewardsp. 126
Always Have Something up Your Sleevep. 127
A List of Rewardsp. 129
Recurring Patternsp. 131
Rewarding Teenagersp. 132
Dealing with a Demanding Child in Publicp. 133
Rewards Are Like Dessertp. 134
Learning from Natural Consequencesp. 135
The Fear of Rewardsp. 138
7 New Skills for Asserting Leadershipp. 140
Learning How to Commandp. 141
Don't Use Emotions to Commandp. 142
It's Okay to Make Mistakesp. 143
When Emotions Are not Helpfulp. 144
Yelling Doesn't Workp. 145
Make Your Commands Positivep. 146
Command but Don't Explainp. 149
Commanding Teenagersp. 151
Reasons and Resistancep. 153
A Better Way of Commandingp. 155
Increasing Cooperationp. 156
Choosing Your Battlesp. 157
8 New Skills for Maintaining Controlp. 159
The Need for Time Outp. 160
How Negative Feelings Get Releasedp. 163
The Ideal Time Outp. 164
Explaining Time Outsp. 165
Four Common Mistakesp. 167
Too Much Time Outp. 167
Not Enough Time Outp. 168
Adjusting Your Will Versus Caving Inp. 170
Expecting Your Child to Sit Quietlyp. 171
Using Time Out as Punishmentp. 173
Hugging Dadp. 174
When to Give Time Outp. 174
Three Strikes and You Are Outp. 175
When Time Out Doesn't Workp. 176
What Makes the Five Skills Workp. 177
9 It's Okay to Be Differentp. 180
Gender Differencesp. 182
Different Needs for Trust and Caringp. 183
Continuing to Trust and Carep. 185
Boys Are from Mars, Girls Are from Venusp. 188
Mr. Fix-Itp. 190
Mrs. Home Improvementp. 192
When Advice Is Goodp. 194
Boys Forget and Girls Rememberp. 195
Different Generationsp. 197
The Culture of Violencep. 198
Different Temperamentsp. 200
How Temperaments Tranformp. 201
Afternoon Activitiesp. 203
Different Body Typesp. 204
Different Intelligencep. 206
Academic Intelligencep. 207
Emotional Intelligencep. 207
Physical Intelligencep. 208
Creative Intelligencep. 208
Artistic Intelligencep. 209
Common Sense Intelligencep. 210
Intuitive Intelligencep. 210
Gifted Intelligencep. 211
Different Speeds of Learningp. 213
Good Here but Not Good Therep. 214
Comparing Childrenp. 215
10 It's Okay to Make Mistakesp. 217
From Innocence to Responsibilityp. 218
Whose Fault Is it Anyway?p. 223
Learning Responsibilityp. 224
Hardwired to Self-Correctp. 226
Your Child's Learning Curvep. 226
Understanding Repetitionp. 228
Learning from Mistakesp. 229
Learning to Make Amendsp. 231
Don't Punish, Make Adjustmentsp. 234
How to React When Children Make a Mistakep. 236
Doing Your Best Is Good Enoughp. 242
When it Is Not Okay to Make Mistakesp. 246
Hiding Mistakes and Not Telling the Truthp. 247
Children of Divorced Parentsp. 249
Not Setting High Standards or Taking Risksp. 250
Justifying Mistakes or Blaming Othersp. 252
Teens at Riskp. 254
Low Self-Esteem and Self-Punishmentp. 256
Making it Okay to Make Mistakesp. 259
11 It's Okay to Express Negative Emotionsp. 261
The Importance of Managing Feelingsp. 262
Learning to Manage Feelingsp. 264
Coping with Lossp. 266
Why Expressing Emotion Helpsp. 267
The Power of Empathyp. 269
The Five Second Pausep. 271
When Children Resist Empathyp. 274
When Parents Express Negative Emotionsp. 275
The Mistake of Sharing Feelingsp. 278
Asking Children How They Feelp. 280
What You Suppress, Your Children Will Expressp. 281
The Black Sheep of the Familyp. 284
Making Negative Emotions Okayp. 285
12 It's Okay to Want Morep. 286
The Fears About Desirep. 287
The Virtues of Gratitudep. 289
Permission to Negotiatep. 291
Learning to Say Nop. 292
Ten Ways to Say Nop. 294
Asking for Morep. 295
Modeling How to Askp. 296
The Power of Askingp. 297
Giving Too Muchp. 299
Children Will Always Want Morep. 300
Children of Divorced Parentsp. 301
The Longing of the Human Spiritp. 303
13 It's Okay to Say No, but Mom and Dad Are the Bossesp. 304
How Parents Affect Their Childrenp. 306
Coping with Negative Emotionsp. 307
The Development of Cognitive Abilitiesp. 309
Children's Need for Reassurancep. 310
Children Have a Different Memoryp. 312
Coping with Increased Willp. 312
Balancing Freedom and Controlp. 314
Two Problems of Losing Controlp. 316
The Nine-Year Stages of Maturityp. 317
The Development of Responsibilityp. 319
Understanding the Generation Linep. 320
Divorce and the Generation Linep. 323
Controlling Your Preteens and Teensp. 324
Using the Internet to Improve Communicationp. 326
Getting Support from Other Parentsp. 328
14 Putting the Five Messages into Practicep. 330
Mothers and Daughtersp. 331
Fathers and Daughtersp. 331
Mothers and Sonsp. 332
Fathers and Sonsp. 333
Teens Secretly Appreciate Limitsp. 334
What to Do When Your Child Takes Drugsp. 337
Dealing with Disrespectful Languagep. 338
Permission to Speak Freelyp. 340
Making Decisionsp. 342
The Cycles of Sevenp. 344
Why Teens Rebelp. 345
Improving Communication with Teensp. 347
Respect Your Teen's Opinionsp. 348
Sending Your Teen Awayp. 351
Instead of "Don't" Use "I Want"p. 352
Asking Your Children What They Thinkp. 353
The Challenge of Parentingp. 355
The Gifts of Greatnessp. 356