Book Review: How To Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk

Communicating with children is an art form, especially when it comes to eliciting desired behaviors.  That’s what the book How To Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk is all about.  The book is written by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish, experts on communication between adults and children who studied under expert child psychologist, Dr. Haim Ginott. They have written other New York Times bestsellers such as Siblings without Rivalry, and have also created several books designed to help children with communication skills. 

How to Talk so Kids will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk is an easy and enjoyable read filled with stories, anecdotes, assignments to help you apply the suggestions, and even comic strips illustrating the principles outlined in the book.  Whether you are a parent, teacher, or therapist, this book provides wonderful ideas on how to communicate with children, divided into sections about how to deal with children’s feelings, engaging cooperation, alternatives to punishment, encouraging autonomy, praise, freeing children from playing roles, and putting it all together.  Each chapter focuses on specific communication situations between adults and children, providing examples of typical exchanges and how those exchanges can be altered to encourage the child to communicate more appropriately or cooperate more fully.

 I really enjoyed the way the authors outlined “instead of…try…” suggestions, which helps us see how we have been communicating, and how we can change the way we communicate to be more successful.  Additionally, each chapter provides comments, questions, and parent stories which are an excellent way to see how the communication strategies can work in real life situations.  One of my favorite aspects of the book were the “quick reminder” pages which provide an overview of the strategies, and can even be copied and kept to help remind ourselves of the things we can be doing throughout the day when communicating with our little ones.  An example of the “quick reminder” page for Engaging Cooperation includes:

  1. Describe what you see, or describe the problem – “There’s a wet towel on the bed”
  2. Give information – “The towel is getting my blanket wet”
  3. Say it with one word – “Towel”
  4. Describe what you feel – “I don’t like sleeping in a wet bed!”
  5. Write a note – (above towel rack) “Please put me back so I can dry”

I personally made copies of these quick reminder pages for myself, to easily reference in the future.  My favorite part of the suggestions and strategies is that they are simple, straightforward, and they make sense.  Children of all abilities need to have their feelings acknowledged, and they need to know they have some autonomy.  By communicating more directly and concisely with children with communication difficulties, we can help lessen frustrations and help them become more successful (and that makes everyone happier!)

 Whether you work with children or have children of your own, this book will resonate and you will find yourself thinking back to the strategies in a variety of situations.  Since reading the book, I have even found myself using some of the communication strategies with other adults! 

In my opinion, this book is 5 stars.  If you want an easy read that will immediately help you gain a new perspective on the way you communicate with children, this is the book for you!

Blog By: Rebekah Greer, MS, CCC-SLP

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