How to Talk So Kills Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish (originally published in 1980) is a classic parenting book for resolving conflicts between parents and children. The authors encourage parents to give children a scaffold with which to approach the world about them. Although it is a dated book, I still found many of the suggested conversation techniques and parenting reminders to be perfectly relevant to my day.
First, I must add that I listened to the unabridged audiobook so I missed the workbook and cartoon aspects referenced throughout the book. I could not always tell when the authors were speaking or the authors were giving examples and stories from the experiences of those shared with them.
Nevertheless, I really liked the reminders in this book. I don’t think most parents that would pick this book up are tempted to smack their kids when they are mad (references to such types of child rearing I certainly hope were only included as a hold-over from when this book was written 35 years ago). But for those who, like me, tend to overreact in the moment, yell, or otherwise get angry at the antics of young children, this book provides some basic reminders and strategies for keeping communication open with children, even when emotions are running high.
The most important reminder I got from this book is that I must remember to acknowledge my children’s feelings, abilities, and right to explain things themselves. When a child comes to me for comfort, my questions or comfort should be non-intrusive as I give him or her time to speak for themselves. Young children may need help finding words. But as older children find their own words the thinking process can help them approach their own solutions to their own problems. My role as parent is not to solve their problems but to help them see the ways they can solve the problems for themselves. I’m grateful for the examples of parent-child interaction because it has helped me see how to better listen to my 7-year-old son and also help my two-year-old toddler understand the ways she may be able to express herself. I’m more determined than ever that I need to help her understand that strong feelings are always okay: it is the resulting behavior that may need tweaking.
As I said, I listened to the audiobook. Some reviewers liked or did not like the cartoons: I never saw them so I don’t know. Overall, I found this book a nice reminder. It does not have earth-shattering ideas, but then again, this was a parenting book from 1980; maybe it was earth-shattering at the time. I am grateful I live in an era where parents can easily be reminded that little ones are people too, with their own emotions and abilities to problem solve. I do recommend this book to parents who would like a little more guidance as they strive to remember that.