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Raising Human Beings

Reading Group Guide

    This reading group guide for Raising Human Beings includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


    In Raising Human Beings: Creating a Collaborative Partnership with Your Child, renowned child psychologist Dr. Ross Greene helps parents maintain the balance between helping kids figure out who they are—their skills, preferences, beliefs, values, personality traits, goals, and direction—and ensuring that kids benefit from parents’ experience, wisdom, and values. His collaborative, nonpunitive, nonadversarial approach helps parents reduce conflict, enhance parent-child communication, and forge a partnership with their kids. With extensive real-life scenarios, Q & A’s, and step-by-step instructions, Dr. Greene has written an essential and practical guide that arms parents with all the tools they need to raise kids who are confident, self-aware, empathic, and humane.

    Topics and Questions for Discussion

    1. In the very beginning of the book, Dr. Greene writes, “These days, the guidance on how to raise kids is so ubiquitous and so incongruous” (page xi). What does he mean? Do you agree? What are some examples to support his statement?

    2. Do you agree that the most crucial task of your child’s development is discovering who he or she is (skills, preferences, beliefs, values, personality traits, goals, and direction)? If so, why? If not, what then is the most crucial task?

    3. Dr. Greene argues that there are not significant differences between the typical child and the behaviorally challenged child. Why does he make this assertion? Was it surprising to you? Do you agree? Why?

    Role Confusion

    4. What does Dr. Greene mean when he writes about role confusion? Do you think it is as prevalent as Dr. Greene says? How do you see role confusion in your own household?

    5. What are the Dictatorial Kingdom and the Pushover Provinces? Do you see your parenting style falling into either category? What are the flaws of each category? How is making these distinctions helpful for parents?


    6. Incompatibility is used to describe moments when a child cannot meet the demands and expectations placed upon him. When is incompatibility a good thing? What is the role of the helper when dealing with this concern? How can you recognize when incompatibility may arise?

    7. Why does Dr. Greene suggest that tantrums can be a good sign on page 15? In what manner should you respond to incompatibility?

    Business as Usual

    8. In Chapter 3, Dr. Greene takes parents through a few traditional exhorting and extorting scenarios. Why aren’t they effective? How can punishment interfere with helping kids find their inner voice?

    Your Options

    9. Discuss the four goals for solving problems collaboratively: identify unmet expectations, evaluate your child’s ability to meet expectations, prioritize, and solve the problem. What are the differences between Plans A, B, and C in the problem-solving goal? What is appealing about this framework? How can you incorporate it into your own parenting?

    Solving Problems Together

    10. What is the Empathy step of Plan B? How important is empathy when solving problems collaboratively? How can you teach empathy to children?

    Technical Support

    11. What are some things you should avoid doing to keep Plan B from going off the rails? Are these things that you often find yourself resorting to? Are there any other things you would add to the list? How can you avoid doing them?

    Parental Angst

    12. What are the signs that your parental anxiety is over the top? What are your most common sources of anxiety? How can you reduce it?

    An Enduring Partnership

    13. Discuss the different expectations kids struggle with at various age points. How does this breakdown of expectations help you prepare for an enduring partnership with your child? Were there any major expectations you didn’t see listed? If so, discuss where they might best fit and how you can approach them.

    The Big Picture

    14. Throughout the book, you met three different families struggling with various problems. How were these families helpful when trying to figure out how to use collaboration? What did you learn from the different families? In what ways were they similar to your family?

    Enhance your Book Club

    1. Practice Plan B in your group. Take turns role-playing situations you are currently dealing with at home and apply Plan B to solving these problems.

    2. How can you apply Dr. Greene’s Collaborative & Proactive Solutions (CPS) method to problems outside the realm of parenting? Discuss ways in which this method can be used with friends, coworkers, and other adults in your life.

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About the Author

Ross W. Greene
Photograph by Jon Sachs

Ross W. Greene

Dr. Ross W. Greene is the author of Raising Human Beings, Lost and Found, Lost at School, and The Explosive Child. Dr. Greene was on the faculty at Harvard Medical School for over twenty years, and is now founding director of the nonprofit organization Lives in the Balance (, through which he disseminates the model of care—now called Collaborative & Proactive Solutions—described in his books. Dr. Greene’s research has been funded by the US Department of Education, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the Stanley Medical Research Institute, and the Maine Juvenile Justice Advisory Group. He speaks widely throughout the world.