Meet Dr. Ken

More Abour Dr. Ken

Dr. Ken Resnick, Educational Psychologist and Founder of the SmartChoiceParenting Programme, established in 2008. The principles of the SCPP are based on social learning, functional analysis and cognitive behavioural principles.

As an Educational psychologist at a co-educational school, Dr. Resnick assessed over several hundred learners of varying ages, over a period of 13 years, often observed that these learners exhibited the following tendencies: low motivation, lack of perseverance, opting out, fear of failure and a lack of will in accepting a challenge.


These outcomes resulted in them forming a strong dependency on learning support, along with an accompanying feeling of low self-esteem. Dr. Resnick found a pattern of ‘learned helplessness’, which was also linked to children diagnosed with ‘barriers to learning’. In Dr. Resnick’s research, these learners came primarily from homes where the parents were either over-involved or over-controlling, where the children had been over-indulged, where there were no consistent rules or consequences, and where they were not shown how to take responsibility for themselves. From questions that Dr. Resnick put to parents, it seemed that clear rules with very consistent consequences were usually not present or understood by the child. This often resulted in inconsistent parenting and insecure and uncooperative children.

Through Dr. Resnicks studies, in evaluating the SmartChoiceParenting Programme for his Doctorate, Dr. Resnick found a strong correlation between parenting styles, and negative behavioural patterns in children, including children diagnosed with ‘barriers to learning’. Dr. Resnick’s evidence based programme has shown that parents play a pivotal role in a child’s life as the adult educator. The SmartChoiceParenting Programme focuses on guiding parents effectively, rather than resort to the majority of other educational or psychological interventions that focus primarily on the child’s behaviour.

Foreword to Parenting Decoded

George D. Yonge
Emeritus professor of Education
University of California at Davis, U.S.A.

I first learned of the SmartChoiceParenting programme (SCPp) when Ken Resnick corresponded with me about using my English translations of some of the writings of members of the Faculty of Education at the University of Pretoria who carried out phenomenological studies of education from the 1960’s and into the 1990’s.  They studied educating as an adult supporting and guiding a child to adulthood and showed that as upbringing, educating is a series of activities that occurs within a special adult-child relationship aimed at helping (and allowing) a child to become an independent, responsible person (adult).

When I looked into the SCPp developed by Dr. Resnick on the basis of years of experience helping children diagnosed with “barriers to learning” and his realization of the important role of parenting in this context, I was impressed by the fact that the basic ideas and the aim of his programme are in such high agreement with the findings of the Pretoria faculty that, in my opinion, the SCPp can serve as a clear example and expression of their thinking and findings as implemented in the context of parenting which is the most basic and fundamental form of education there is.

When Ken recently asked me to write a foreword to this book, I eagerly accepted.  The reader of this little book will be treated to a discussion of the basic ideas on which the SCPp rests and its use in real life situations of parenting that help you with behaviours such as temper tantrums, childhood disorders like bedwetting, and much more.  Often parents want their children to take increasing responsibility for themselves but don’t know how to allow them to do so and consequently their children have few opportunities to learn to make their own choices responsibly.  The SCPp takes this into account in its very structure.  SCPp is based on the ideas that if a child CAN (say dress him/herself) he/she must, that all behaviour is a choice, that every choice has a consequence and a child must learn to own and accept responsibility for his/her choices.  The programme preserves the dignity of everyone involved and allows a child to progressively display the characteristics of normative adulthood such as respecting the human dignity of oneself and others, independently choosing and acting responsibly and identifying with what is highly valued.  This book does contain the programme itself, and the reader is introduced to its basics and how it works.  Ken avoids technical terms and writes in a clear, down to earth style. 

There is no shortage of books on parenting but it is rare to find one like this one with an educational approach that establishes an adult-child educative relationship aimed at supporting and helping a child develop his or her potentialities and to learn to act independently and responsibly.  In contrast, there are many books on parenting that emphasize the psychology of the child while ignoring this adult-child relationship.  Thus, I highly recommend this book and the programme to all parents. 

The parent-child educative relationship at the core of SCPp must be re-created in schools as a more formal and planned teacher-pupil educative relationship.  If this relationship is not established in school, it will likely be a place where children are competently instructed but not educated.  Educative teaching in school requires more than subject matter instruction.  It should have the same aim as parenting—helping a child become a morally responsible and independent adult.  In this light, in addition to parents, I believe teachers, counsellors, school psychologists and others committed to rearing children will also gain valuable insights from reading this book and, if possible, reaping the full impact of this approach by participating in the SmartChoiceParenting programme.

Parenting Decoded

Raising kids in the digital age

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