I’ve been really interested in improving my parenting skills by learning communication techniques as well as gentle discipline (teaching) ideas. I recently took a parenting class through my church and one of the books used was How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk, by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. When I started to see some of the book’s ideas presented in class, I went out and got a copy for myself.
The book is designed to be a step-by-step guide to help parents learn the new communication skills. The information is presented in seven chapters:
- Helping Children Deal With Their Feelings
- Engaging Cooperation
- Alternatives to Punishment
- Encouraging Autonomy
- Freeing Children from Playing Roles
- Putting It All Together
Each chapter is divided into two parts:
- Part 1 discusses the new topic, provides short exercises to help learn and understand the topic, shows cartoons that illustrate “ineffective” and “effective”methods, and ends with a quick reminder page that is perfect for reference.
- Part 2 is filled with common questions, comments, and parents’ stories to help understand the topic further and hear about real situations.
The book starts by addressing how important it is to respect and accept your child’s feelings. Empathy towards another person, especially a child, might be difficult for many people. The authors suggest reading the book slowly so you can practice one aspect at a time.
The book has a great section on problem solving and it focuses on involving your child in the process.
I was surprised to learn how they don’t agree with the common use of time-outs as punishment. Once they explained their reasoning, I agree with them completely.
What I Thought
The book was easy to read and I loved the cartoons they used to help illustrate ideas; the visual aspect really helped me learn the ideas. I did do all the exercises, as they suggest, and it really helped me understand why these ideas work so well. I was also surprised to learn the correct way to give praise; it will definitely take some practice!
This is easily the best parenting book I’ve read! It falls in line exactly with how I wish to parent my child. It will take some time for these new ideas and methods to become more natural, but I’m so glad I have this book to help me.
When Should You Read This Book?
As the authors say, it’s never too early or too late to read this book. I read this book now and my child just turned two. Even if he’s too young for some of the situations discussed, he’s never too young to have a mom that talks to him with respect. I’m glad I read it now; it gives me time to start changing the way I talk – and think.
The book is also great for improving relationships with anyone; it can help improve how you communicate with adult family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors, etc.
Other Books by the Authors
The authors have also written several other books that may be of interest to you:
- Siblings Without Rivalry: How to Help Your Children Live Together So You Can Live Too
- How To Talk So Kids Can Learn
- How to Talk So Teens Will Listen and Listen So Teens Will Talk
- Liberated Parents, Liberated Children: Your Guide to a Happier Family