How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk

This is a book by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish.  I came across it from two directions, the first was from getting one of their other books, Siblings Without Rivalry from the library in advance of the arrival of Master Oh Waily and the second was through seeing it in a blog post by Gretchen Rubin.

I love this book.  It is the parenting style I want to embrace and it represents the kind of parent I want to be.  It is a good dose of common sense mixed in with some good examples to help you understand the ideas and put them in to practice.  The book is divided into the following chapters:

1. Helping Children Deal with Their Feelings
2. Engaging Cooperation
3. Alternatives to Punishment
4. Encouraging Autonomy
5. Praise
6. Freeing Children from Playing Roles
7. Putting It All Together

There are great ideas in each chapter, usually summarised into about five or six quick reminders at the end.

As Miss Oh Waily has become more independent she has also become more opinionated and less pliable to her mother’s wishes.  It’s like dealing with a really tiny teenager.  She knows better than Mum.   After having three years of a great little girl listening and then following requests and instructions really well, this has become something of a challenge for me to come to terms with.   On top of this change in personal independence, the dynamics of our relationship are also challenged by the need to divide time with a little brother who stays awake for longer and is demanding more time and attention in his own right.  This makes for interesting and, frankly, damn annoying attention seeking behaviours.

So just as we are going through this changing phase of our lives together, I find that I need to try out better communication and parenting strategies so that we can keep a happy, respectful relationship rather than deteriorating into a dictatorial and bossy finger-wagging type of relationship.  This is all too easy for me as, in all honesty, I am a bossy and finger-wagging type of personality especially when under stress.

The strategies, mostly, can work from toddlers up to teenagers.  And some of them would work really well in general use with adults too.   Some may seem a bit advanced for very little children, but don’t sell the toddlers short before you give them a try.  You may be surprised at their ability to grasp concepts like problem-solving.  It won’t be the same as an adult’s but it may just be right for a kid size issue.

And now I’m off to try and apply (and re-read, re-read & re-read) all the new ideas that I have taken onboard.  Wish me luck on applying all the new knowledge, I’m going to need it.

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