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

For further information contact us at 941-360-0200 or visit us at

Strategies to Encourage Receptive Language


  • Condense your words- It’s great to speak to your child in an adult way, that’s how he/she learns new vocabulary! Some children, especially those with receptive language delays, can benefit from shorter, more concise directions to aid in their comprehension.  Instead of using several longer sentences, provide directions or ask questions using shorter phrases and sentences.  As your child’s comprehension increases, you can add complexity to the direction.  Emphasizing certain key words can also aid in comprehension, such as “Put the ball on the table.”
  •  Use Visual Cues- Provide visual cues to help your child follow directions.  Point directly to objects you are speaking about, or make gestures to match your speech.  Point to pictures in books as you are reading.  Demonstrate what you’re asking your child to do, if needed.  This helps your child connect what you’re saying to the request or action.  Provide a lot of praise when your child completes the action.  Be sure to fade these “cues” as your child’s comprehension increases to increase independent and unprompted use of speech.

  • Photos and Pictures- Use photos or pictures to improve your child’s comprehension.  Have photos of your child doing activities or going places that will be meaningful to them.  When you say to your child “Time to wash hands”, show your child the picture of him/her washing hands to provide the extra cue.  You can also use these photos in a photo album or book.  Look at the photos with your child to help increase both receptive and expressive language.  Include photos of family members to help your child increase his/her knowledge of “who” some of those people are.
  • Hide and Seek- Have your child hide a favorite toy in a specific location – “Put the bear on the table/under the chair/in the box”.  This helps increase your child’s understanding of spatial concepts and prepositions.  You can expand this further by hiding preferred items and asking your child “Where is the bear?”. Initiating them to respond with “I don’t know.”, or “Bear where are you?” etc. and then stating “The bear is on the bookshelf.” types of responses to provide additional cueing for spatial concepts.


  • Ask yes/no questions- During the day, ask your child questions that require a simple yes or no response.  Encourage both nodding and saying “yes”, and do the same for “no”.  Start with basic yes/no questions like “Do you want…”, then move on to questions like “Is this a ball? Are you a boy/girl? Eventually you can move on to more complex questions like “Does a cow bark?”
  • Use as many scenarios as you are able, throughout the day, to increase your child’s communicative interactions. This may encourage further speech development across multiple environments.

    Blog By: Rebekah Greer

    For further information contact us at 360-0200 or visit us at