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The Rules of Parenting, 2nd Edition by Richard Templar

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RULE 42

Focus on the problem, not the person

I used to know a rather worthy, earnest type of person who did a child behaviour course or some such thing. On one occasion she told us that she’d learnt this vital principle: ‘He’s not a naughty boy, he’s a good boy who’s done a naughty thing.’ Well, we thought this was one of the funniest examples of politically correct psychology gone mad that we’d ever heard, and we missed no opportunity to send up this absurdly saccharine piece of advice.

The embarrassing thing, though, is that actually I have to admit she was absolutely right. I’m still not beyond taking the mickey out of the phrase itself (‘It’s not a naughty computer, it’s a good computer that’s done a naughty thing’) but with much pride-swallowing ...

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