You should read this book if you…

Find yourself feeling anxious about your kids and their choices, and emotionally reacting to those choices.

“In a nut shell”…

This book is about learning to create the relationships we’ve always craved, by simply learning to focus on ourselves, calm ourselves down and grow ourselves up.

Key Ideas…

  • Our biggest struggle as parents isn’t with things we most likely think it would be, like negative, uncontrollable outside influences on our kids. No, it is with our own emotional reactivity, whether that be screaming, disengaging, manipulating, avoiding, etc.
  • Become the “cool” parent your kids really need by controlling yourself and growing yourself up.
  • Keeping your cool means creating space for them to make decisions and for us to calm our anxiety about those decisions.
  • Keeping your cool means letting the consequences do the screaming and not giving empty threats.
  • Take time for yourself.

Action Steps…

  • To enjoy the “personal” side of parenting (fun/playful) you must take care of the “business” side first (assert yourself as authority by leading your children to motivate themselves).
  • Your ability to calm yourself down, even when your kids are out of control, is the best way to set their place in the family.
  • Let the consequences do the screaming.
  • Welcome consequences and then you become a life guide for your children; walk alongside them as they struggle and suffer through them.
  • Take care of yourself, or as the book says “love yourself”, so that you are healthy enough to take care of your children
  • Some ways to “love yourself” are to create time for a hobby, have coffee with a friend, go on a retreat, etc.


  • “Emotional reactivity is our worst enemy when it comes to having great relationships.” Pg 11
  • “The only way to retain a position of influence with our children is to regain a position of control over ourselves.” Pg 17
  • “When we need others to accept us or validate us by doing whatever we tell them to do, we make them the caretakers of our [emotions].” Pg. 24
  • “Whenever we give in to our anxiety we create the very outcome we are trying to avoid.” Pg. 31
  • “Your emotional responses are up to you. You always have a choice.” Pg. 40
  • “Without space to make their own mistakes our kids live only borrowed lives.” Pg. 79
  • “Becoming a ScreamFree Parent is about learning to operate out of respect for your highest principles, not in reaction to your deepest fears.” Pg. 85
  • “Your child is testing you to see that you are stable and consistent. And he wants you to pass.” Pg. 97
  • “Your goal is not to stifle their emotions but, rather, to steer them toward productive expression.” Pg. 105
  • “Stability and structure are necessary components in a healthy home.” p. 138
  • “ScreamFree Parenting is not a problem-solving or behavioral modification model; it is a growth model.” Pg. 189
  • “Loving yourself first is the only true way to be ScreamFree, because it is the only way to seek your own calm first.  It is the only way to truly benefit your kids without burdening them with the need to benefit you.” Pg. 195

How this has changed my parenting…

Since reading this book, I have found myself calm when my two-year-old son says “no” or hits in rebellion to my requests. I give him a choice to obey or disobey and suffer a consequence; I allow him to make his choice and enforce the consequence calmly without getting anxious about what he chooses. I now recognize that I can only control myself, and I have been doing more things to take care of myself so that I am more energized and in a healthier mental and emotional state to take care of my son.

Book Information:
Book Title | ScreamFree Parenting: The Revolutionary Approach to Raising Your Kids by Keeping Your Cool
Author | Hal Edward Runkel, LMFT
Year of Publication | 2007
Publisher | Broadway Books, a division of Random House, Inc.
Pages | 218
Author’s Website |

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