Book Review: Little Kids, Big Dilemmas (by Sarah Kuppen)

I had really high hopes when I started Little Kids, Big Dilemmas by Sarah Kuppen. The book’s sub-title is ‘Your Parenting Problems Solved by Science’ and, as you know, countering fads and fashions with solid evidence-based child development understanding and proven parenting strategies is exactly what I do and what I care about. This, I thought, is the book for me.

And, on many levels, the book does exactly what it says on the tin. Sarah Kuppen is a university lecturer in Developmental Psychology. She sticks firmly to her brief, rolling out the evidence on a range of parenting issues, debunking a few myths and addressing common parental questions. There’s a Q&A format to help keep it real and not too theoretical and some of the issues addressed (like toddler tantrums and supporting children’s learning) are near-universal concerns for modern parents.

But, somehow, the book didn’t quite deliver on my expectations. The proportions are all wrong, with as much weight given to the right age for music lessons as to sibling conflict, and not enough of a narrative thread between the sections. It’s a short book with a lot of space devoted to very specific concerns (eg bilingualism, ADHD) and very little given to the big dilemmas like managing children’s behaviour or tech time. It’s all interesting stuff but it’s hard to imagine a parent for whom all of these issues are equally relevant. And, though the focus on evidence is admirable, the writing has a slightly scholarly style that is a bit clunky.

The real value of this book is less as a good read and more as an accessible reference collection of the current status of research on a range of parenting dilemmas around babies and very young children. I can imagine lots of parents finding it really useful on that front. If you want to know the evidence on the breast vs. bottle debate, there is a great summary here. And some good ideas on ways to help children learn language. But if you are looking for practical day-to-day guidance on behaviour management, or a cohesive approach to parenting, it might leave you feeling a bit disappointed.

PS: If you have read the book or have a different viewpoint, please feel free to comment below. And don’t forget, you’ll find lots more reviews of parenting books in the Book Reviews section!

Little Kids, Big Dilemmas by Sarah Kuppen is published by Routledge.

This is not a sponsored post. I bought this book and read it because it interested me. However, this post contains affiliate links so if you do click through and buy the book from Amazon, I will receive a small fee (see Disclosure Notice for more details).

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