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Didier Pleux

From the King Child to the Tyrant Child

More and more parents are faced with what amounts to a “power take-over” by their children. According to Didier Pleux, these children are not simply spoilt or temperamental: they are not the “little emperors and empresses” of the popular press, but real tyrants who put their parents to highly stressful situations, which can sometimes lead to nervous breakdowns. The tyrannical child makes constant demands, uses his parents for his own ends and creates a climate of psychological violence. The parents suffer — without understanding what went wrong for they believed they had been doing their best for their child’s happiness. This book aims to give parents the educational tools they need to bring up their children. Society, writes Pleux, is not to blame for their children’s behaviour. Nor, in the vast majority of cases, is their little tyrant suffering from psychological anguish — so parents should simply stop feeling guilty about not providing their household torturer with enough affection. The solution lies in education — coupled with authority. This, as all parents know, is easier said than done. According to the author, a subtle sense of equilibrium is the key to success: educating children today does not mean letting them do whatever they want (contrary to what a mistaken understanding of contemporary psychology may have led some parents to believe). Nor does it mean going back to the destructive authoritarianism of old-fashioned child rearing. It is possible to allow children to fully develop their potential, and still teach them to live as members of society and to respect others. In order to put an end to their children’s tyrannical behaviour, parents must first become aware of their own biases and difficulties in exercising authority. In many cases, a child’s “coup d’état” is a response to the parents’ fears of conflict and of their inability to say “no”. This is a lively, clear and polemical work which shows parents how to redefine their parental authority and should enable them to feel less anxious. Besides offering practical psychological advice, it also provides an examination of what living in society means.

Didier Pleux is a clinical psychologist and the author of “Peut mieux faire”: remotiver votre enfant à l’école.