Monday, April 25, 2011

Book Review: How to talk so kids will listen, and listen so kids will talk

Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish wrote this great book. Really, really great book. Starting here I'm going to review the notes I took on my read-through last month.

The refrigerator reminder section is the condensed version of each chapter, formatted to remind you of the skill to practice.

Today: "Helping Children Deal with Feelings"

We are complex creatures with myriad emotions, motivations, and thought processes. Expecting our children to blindly follow our designated paths when it comes to how they feel and act is about like expecting your spouse to be able to read your mind.

Our goal as parents is to equip our children to deal with what they feel such that they may always act appropriately.

Now, I am often too "wordy" in my verbal exchanges. I also have a bad habit of interrupting. Other adults may call me on it. The children, however, are not in a position to correct me; it is vital that I model appropriate conversation skills to them.

I can give the kids an example of self-control regardless of my emotions. I can also model sympathy, kindness, and understanding where their feelings are concerned.

Faber and Mazlish offer four possible responses when your kids come to you with strong feelings or desires.
REFRIGERATOR REMINDERS: (note these are alternatives, not a 1-2-3-4 step process)
1. Listen quietly and attentively.

2. Acknowledge the feelings with a word. "Hmm." "Oh." "I see."

3. Give the feeling a name. "It sounds like you're feeling courageous."

4. You can give the child his wishes in fantasy.

TAKEAWAY: All feelings can be accepted. Only actions must be limited.


I frequently will tell the kids how they should be feeling, instead of focusing on how they must act. I also act out as a result of my emotions (see previous post here). These actions isolate instead of fostering closeness.

I have been trying this with the older boys. It is not magic. The first times you try it, they may not get it. But there are times when this can help avoid a tantrum, and certainly you will better understand a child by listening than by constantly talking to him.

Has anyone read the book?

1 comment:

  1. I read the first half and had to skim the last to get it back to the library.
    I liked that it promoted kids trying to solve their own problems. I try to "make everything better" too much because I haven't allowed them much time to problem solve. I'm much more aware of that now and I hope it will help with the tattling :)

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