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How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So…

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk (1980)

by Adele Faber, Elaine Mazlish

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1,784363,936 (4.18)21

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Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
At first glance, I thought this book looked cheesy. I didn't like the color scheme or the design. It talks about how many copy it's sold right there on the cover. And it doesn't have a title. Instead of a title, it has a lengthy description which makes it impractical to name in conversation. Also, my copy was printed on low-quality acid pulp paper [it was severely yellowed even though it's only ten years old]. Inside it, it had all of these exercises, which intimidated me a little bit. I ended up skipping them for reasons of practicality. Well, I read through them, but I didn’t have someone to practice them with.

But my partner asked me to read the book as my birthday present to her. This was back in December. And I’m not yet a black belt in childhood communication, so I read it anyways.

After all that, I’d recommend you not to underestimate the potency of this book. It’s not just a book about communication with children [especially your own children or children that live in your household]. It’s a book about life.

There are some strong parallels to Zen. Living with children is a little like the monastic life: stark, bleak, austere, solitary. It requires a lot of discipline, resolve, vigilance, and steadfastness. This book offers inspiration, reassurance, and a new set of skill to excel in this environment. It could even be called a spiritual handbook.

For the most part, the book avoids the Separationist mentality. It's thesis: that children are a product of their environment. What does it take to be a good communicator with children: listening, empathy, minimalism, openness, realism, adaptability, observation, nonjudgementality.

This book has given me a lot to work with, and I look forward to putting it to practice.


Notes from the Book

Helping Children Deal with Their Feelings:
Listen quietly and attentively
Acknowledge their feelings with a word
Give the feeling a name
Give the child his wishes in fantasy
Engaging Cooperation

Negative tendencies by the parent:
Blaming and Accusing
Lecturing and Moralizing
Martyrdom Statements

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

Hatred, revenge, defiance, guilt, unworthiness, self-pity.

Point out a way to be helpful.
Express strong disapproval (without attacking character).
State your expectations.
Show the child how to make amends.
Give a choice.
Take action.
Allow the child to experience the consequences of his misbehavior.

Problem Solving:
Talk about the child’s feelings and needs.
Talk about your feelings and needs.
Brainstorm together to find a mutually agreeable solution.
Write down all idea–without evaluating.
Decide which suggestions you like, which you don’t like, and which you plan to follow through on.

Encouraging Autonomy
Let 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.

Additional Tactics
Let her own her own body.
Stay out of the minutiae of a child’s life.
Don’t talk about a child in front of him–no matter how young the child.
Let a child answer for himself
Show respect for your child’s eventual “readiness.”
Watch out for too many “no’s.”

Alternatives to no
Give information
Accept feelings
Describe the problem
When possible substitute a “yes” for a “no”
Give yourself time to think

Giving advice
Help her sort out her tangled thoughts and feelings
Restate the problem as a question
Point out resources your child can use outside the home


Side effects:

Describe what you see
Describe what you feel
Sum up the child’s praiseworthy behavior with a word

Make sure your praise is appropriate to your child’s age and level of ability.
Avoid the kind of praise that hints at past weaknesses or past failures.
Be aware that excessive enthusiasm can interfere with a child’s desire to accomplish for herself.
Be prepared for a lot of repetition of the same activity when you describe what a child is doing appreciatively.

Freeing Children from Playing Roles
Look for opportunities to show the child a new picture of himself or herself.
Put children in situations where they can see themselves differently.
Let children overhear you say something positive about them.
Model the behavior you’d like to see.
Be as storehouse for your child’s special moments.
When your child acts according to the old label, state your feelings and/or your expectations.

Read my review here. ( )
  willszal | Jan 3, 2016 |
reading again, as Jamie ages, the relevancy changes!
  stacykurko | Oct 29, 2015 |
This isn't the first re-read of this book for me, but of all the parenting books I've read over the years it's my favourite. The schmaltz is limited, and a lot of it is good common sense that's useful to be reminded of every now and again.

I was conscious that I've not been properly listening to my 8 year old recently, and that I can be quick to respond to things he says with a 'told-you-so' response, or to try and suggest for him how he fixes a problem. He's definitely reaching a new stage of independence, so this book has reminded me to allow him to be more autonomous, and to do his own problem solving.

So, this bit of calibration has already had two successes today. Firstly, I told my son I was going to try really hard to acknowledge his feelings more about things rather than immediately telling him what to do. His immediate response was "Mum - that's what I've been really wanting you to do". OK - point taken.

Secondly, I decided to use his desire for increased autonomy to both our benefits. He normally takes a year to pick his way through his dinner, but tonight I said - "I'm going to allow you to be independent and grown up about how you eat your dinner this evening". And what do you know, he did much better than usual (still at his speed rather than mine, but there was no battle).

4 stars - a useful tool for the most important job you ever get without a handbook. ( )
  AlisonY | Sep 16, 2015 |
definitely one of the better parenting books i've read, with practical solutions or ideas for just about everything. they boil it down to basic communication, and make a lot of sense. this is a newer edition of a book that was written something like 30+ years ago, and i would have thought they'd update some of it. for example there is a lot of assuming that the alternative to the good communication that they're teaching is to hit or spank your child. there is a lot more emphasis on moving away from the physical than i think (hope?) there needs to be.

like in all parenting books some of it seems ridiculous, but putting it into practice is worthwhile, and not always as easy as it sounds. this has great reminders and is worth keeping for reference.

what i know will be hardest for me is to stop trying to problem solve and learn details. this passage reminded me of answering the phone on the rape crisis hotline, where what was important wasn't learning what happened, but showing your support and belief: "The urge to question is so strong. If we find out what the problem is, we feel we have a chance to fix it. But often the fix is simple acceptance. Even if this girl hadn't told me what was wrong, I feel sure that having an adult just sit with her and acknowledge her distress without question would have been the most healing remedy."

and to use: "I'd love to hear about [...] when you're ready to tell about it." or "Come tell me about [...] when you're in the mood."

also, we try hard not to use reward/punishment with our son but don't always succeed. so there were good reminders in here, too, that using punishment isn't helpful in any other relationship dynamic. ("In most of our relationships we don't have the power to punish people..." ( )
  elisa.saphier | Jul 20, 2015 |
Non-stop repetitive easier-said-than-done wishful-thinking nonsense, and brags about it. It doesn't address, for example, things that happen that they don't have advice for. This book is a con. If this is the parenting "bible" then I'm scared about what the rest of scripture looks like. I completed the book because I thought it could help,but it was a waste of my time. The bottom line seems be: be cool, manipulate your children, be creative. It could have said all that in 20 pages.
  MartinBodek | Jun 11, 2015 |
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Adele Faberprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Mazlish, Elainemain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0380811960, Paperback)

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk is an excellent communication tool kit based on a series of workshops developed by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. Faber and Mazlish (coauthors of Siblings Without Rivalry) provide a step-by-step approach to improving relationships in your house. The "Reminder" pages, helpful cartoon illustrations, and excellent exercises will improve your ability as a parent to talk and problem-solve with your children. The book can be used alone or in parenting groups, and the solid tools provided are appropriate for kids of all ages.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:38 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

The twentieth anniversary edition of the best-selling parenting guide includes updated information as well as the practical, sensible advice that made the book a classic to begin with.

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