How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk is a classic parenting book written by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. This book provides parents, teachers, and therapists with useful ideas on how to communicate with children of all ages.
It is based on the child-rearing philosophy of Dr. Haim Ginott and includes additional insights, tips, and exercises which the authors have been using in their workshops over the years.
The book outlines 6 essential skill sets for interacting effectively with children. These include helping children to deal with their feelings, engaging cooperation, using alternatives to punishment, encouraging autonomy, giving descriptive praises, and freeing children from playing roles.
The authors also provide several alternatives to punishment such as pointing out a way to be helpful, expressing strong disapproval without attacking character, stating expectations, showing the child how to make amends, offering a choice, taking action if necessary, and allowing the child to experience the consequences of his misbehavior.
The authors recommend that readers do the exercises in the book, record their responses, and personalize the approach to suit their child’s nature, needs, and relationship.
This book is an extremely easy to read guidebook for parents and each chapter comes with sample dialogues, cartoons, exercises, Q&As, and stories from other parents to help them to personalize their approach.
Help children to deal with their feelings
- Engage cooperation
- Use alternatives to punishment
- Encourage autonomy
- Give descriptive praises
- Free children from playing roles
To engage cooperation –
- Describe. Describe what you see or describe the problem.
- Give information.
- Say it with a word.
- Talk about your feelings.
- Write a note.
Alternatives to punishment –
- Point out a way to be helpful.
- Express strong disapproval without attacking character.
- State your expectations.
- Show the child how to make amends.
- Offer a choice.
- Take action.
- Allow the child to experience the consequences of his misbehavior.
To encourage autonomy –
- Let the children make choices.
- Show respect for a child’s struggle.
- Don’t ask too many questions.
- Don’t rush to answer questions.
- Encourage children to use sources outside the home.
- Don’t take away hope.
Examples to encourage autonomy –
- Making choices – are you in the mood for your gray pants or your red pants?
- She’ll respect – a jar can be hard to open, sometimes it helps if you tap the lid with a spoon.
- Don’t ask too many questions – glad to see you welcome home.
- Don’t rush to answer questions – that’s an interesting question what do you think?
- Encourage children – maybe the pet shop owner would have a suggestion.
- Don’t take away hope – so you’re thinking of trying out for the play! That should be a good experience.
Praise and self-esteem examples –
- Describe what you see – I see a clean floor, a smooth bed, and books neatly lined up on the shelf.
- Describe what you feel – it’s a pleasure to walk into this room!
- Some up the children’s praiseworthy behavior with a word – you sorted out your Legos, cars, and animals, and put them in separate boxes. That is what I call organization.
Free children from playing roles examples –
- Look for opportunities to show the child a new picture of himself or herself – you’ve had that toys that you were three and it almost looks like new!
- Put the children in situations where they can see themselves differently – Sarah would you take the screwdriver and tighten the poles on these drawers?
- I’ll let children over here you say something positive about them. He held his arm steady even though the shot hurt.
- Modeled behavior you’d like to see. It’s hard to lose but I’ll try to be a sport about it. Congratulations!
- be a storehouse for your children’s special moments – I remember the time that you…
- When your child acts according to the old label state your feelings or your expectations – I don’t like that despite your strong feelings, I expect sportsmanship from you.
What I Liked
Must-have parenting book. I loved all the examples, the structure, and the tone. Ironically, most of the strategies apply to all all people, regardless of age. People want to be heard. Listening well is a serious skill that takes a lifetime of constant to learn.
What I Did Not Like
There wasn’t anything that I did not like – it’s a true classic that has been around for a reason.
However, I do think that, for me, the examples and strategies were almost so good that they raised my own expectations about how day to day parenting should go. And here’s the thing. Real life and real people are always messier and more complicated than anything written in a book, described in a speech, or shown on a TV.
The takeaways from the book are amazing for developing a plan and planning your own parenting practice. But…you still gotta do the thing. It’s like learning how to drive from a driver’s manual and YouTube videos. It’s all fine and well until you get behind the wheel…and all of the sudden, everything is faster, more complex, and more weird and unexpected than anything ever described by the best teachers in the world.
The book is an essential starting point, but, for me, there’s still nothing in my life that has knocked me down and shown me that I have no idea what I’m talking about (for better and for worse) than parenting two incredible children. Get this book but remember than you still have to actually practice the strategies in the book over and over, day in and day out – and enjoy the ride remembering that parenting is not a checklist to check off and be done with it.