QUICK HIT: While none of Cartmell’s tools are revolutionary, 8 Simple Tools for Raising Great Kids is a solid reminder of how to cultivate any adult-child relationship (child, student, friend’s kid…whatever!). The title might be a bit clickbaity, as there’s no assurance for “great kids,” it’s a systematic resource for the parents of young ones to review.
This book was written with parents in mind. While I don’t have any children at home, I have the honor of serving as a youth pastor to teens, a physical education teacher to preschool through early elementary, and a gymnastics instructor for all ages. I see over a hundred kids a week, all from different parenting styles and beliefs and backgrounds. 8 Simple Tools for Raising Great Kids has helped me tremendously in my approach to teaching and coaching, proving that Cartmell’s tools work even if your influence is only an hour a week.
None of Cartmell’s points are revolutionary. Rather, they are solid, simple points that bear remembrance.
Tool #1: Talking. Communication is relationships. How you communicate (and how you listen, to spoil tool #2) defines the relationship. Cartmell reminds readers to control their volume (an admonition Coach Josh takes to heart), be easy to listen to, ask questions, create conversations, and more.
Tool #2: Listening. This, to me, is even more important than talking. Having worked with so many kids, I know that many of them don’t feel heard…and they have a lot to say! Learning to listen to kids builds the relationship so that you can implement the tools that follow.
While I could easily add a paragraph or five for each of these concepts, you’re really better off just reading the book. The two points I have chosen to elaborate on, I do so because they are foundational to the six that follow. #7, Correcting, is an especially important chapter to read.
Each tool is broken into five subsections, each written as a four page essay. I know this is intentional because every chapter fits the same four page mold. On one hand, it makes a book a bit monotonous and occasionally interrupts the flow. On the other hand, it partitions the books into easily digestible chunks for busy parents. If I had to guess, this structure was created with an 8 week small group study in mind. And if not, I would certainly use it as one.
Overall, 8 Simple Tools for Raising Great Kids may overstep its boundaries with the title (Hey, sometimes you use tools #1-8 and kids still rebel.), but it’s eight excellent building blocks for raising children to be confident, mature, and ready to attack the adult world when the time comes.