In his book about children who are strong-willed, diagnosed with behavior disorders, or otherwise labeled as difficult, Joe Newman does a great job explaining behaviors for parents and educators in a language they can understand.

A self-proclaimed "behavior problem" as a child himself, Newman offers his theory as to why many children today exercise more independent and willful behaviors than in generations past, and puts on paper for parents and teachers explanations about children's omnipotence (the "battle between the child's attempt to assert his will over his parents and the parents' ability to set firm limits and boundaries"), and why most of the problems he sees begin at the stage when children start displaying omnipotence (yes, often during the "terrible two's").

Mr. Newman also believes that an inconsistency in parenting at home, before children ever start school in kindergarten, creates significant behavior problems for many children. He describes the different types of home environments that can lead to children having challenging behaviors.

Not a fan of modern psychological explanations as to why increasing numbers of children are diagnosed with bipolar disorder and oppositional defiant disorder, Newman uses consistent boundaries to come up with plans for children that enforce rules he believes they have the ability to follow, and trains school staff and family members appropriately. He points out, though, that especially for children who are extremely challenging, the boundaries and expectations must be the same for children both at home and in child care and school environments.

In other words, everyone involved with teaching and working with the child must be on the same page.

Among other methods, Newman believes that physically restraining or holding a child is often necessary, and is a better means of control than the use of medications in children. He promotes using holding as a means to help calm a child (such as one who is having an out-of-control tantrum), and as a way to enforce boundaries they will not physically adhere to on their own. He stresses that educators and parents need proper training for physical restraint and holding so they can be sure not to hurt the child.

Raising Lions is one of the most intriguing books I've read on the subject of children who are very strong-willed, display challenging behaviors, and/or are diagnosed with various behavior problems. As an educator, I applaud his emphasis on school staff, parents, and family members all needing the same training on working with a specific child, so that boundaries and expectations are consistent across environments. I also believe he is right to suggest that some children may require physical help (holding) from the adults who love them, and who want to see them meet appropriate expectations for behavior. It is not a popular stance with many experts in education, and is generally not included in teacher training curriculum.

As the parent of a lion, I appreciate the time this author has taken to explain, in his words, the "anatomy of a lion," and the fact that he believes children can rise to meet expectations and be contributing members of a larger group of peers. In doing this, he doesn't belittle the children, but brings to light how smart these kids are, and how their train of thought works in various situations. I was relieved to see — and at least begin to understand — this anatomy in my own little lion.

I also appreciate Newman's encouragement to parents. In one of his chapters, he points out that, "moments of conflict with children are also opportunities for deep connection." The point of his book is to, as his cover states, is to "save children from behavior disorders."

I did finish the book wanting more specifics from the author. He includes a few "Tips for Parents" charts throughout the book, and a chapter ("Coaching Lions"), that lists some excellent rules for adults to follow when in the midst of conflict with a child, such as not letting the conflict get personal, and never using manipulation to try and control a child. However, I think parents and educators could benefit from several pages of possible solutions to real-life, everyday problems that occur with children who are challenging.

I definitely recommend that parents who have challenging children, and educators who work with them, read Raising Lions. I think it is a perspective families and parents won't see anywhere else.

I received a free copy of Raising Lions to review for this post. I received no monetary compensation from the author, and the review is my honest opinion of the book's content.

Mr. Newman was kind enough to take on some questions I asked him. Click here to check out the questions and his answers on the follow-up post.