How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk

by Adele Faber

Other authorsElaine Mazlish, Kimberly Ann Coe (Illustrator)
Paperback, 1991



Local notes

EC Parenting


Avon Books (P) (1991), Paperback, 242 pages


Faber and Mazlish use real-life situations to show how you can respect and respond to your child's feelings and satisfy your own needs.


Original publication date


Physical description

242 p.

Media reviews

“How to Talk” does immediately date itself — in part by referring to spanking as commonplace (although rejecting the practice) and in part through the ineffably no-nonsense prose of an earlier era. But the Book — that’s what I call it now, the Book, as if it is a religious text — made a
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quiet revolution in my home.
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1 more

User reviews

LibraryThing member LLLMontebello
Communication skills for parents based on the work of the late Dr. Haim Ginott which stresses listening to your child, dealing with feelings, finding alternative to punishment, and developing self-esteem. Includes many examples of helpful dialogues and cartoons to brighten your day.
LibraryThing member morningsidefamily
A classic, and for good reason. Helps you get the personal attacks out of your speech so that you can address discipline issues without making your child feel picked on. Has examples in cartoons for quick reference.
LibraryThing member dchaikin
Brilliant and simple parenting ideas, especially for non-confrontational discipline. Well, at least it seems that way, but I'll have to see how it works. So far I've used it quite a bit with my 3-year-old and had significant success, some absolutely startling. It's just amazing what you your child
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will do when you give them a chance to think things through themselves. There have been a few failures. And it feels a bit awkward to strategically think through whole conversations.

What was strange was that while reading this sometimes I would be on brink of tears. I would read the "bad" example and the consequences and realize that's what I've been doing. I've been pounding away at her self-esteem, and I've done it thinking I was teaching a good lesson.
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LibraryThing member satyreyes
Oh dude this book is awesome! It's intended as a guide for parents and educators to help them communicate with kids, but instead I got my hands on it when I was about nine years old, and it helped me refine my own immature communication skills. A life-changing book for me, for all the wrong reasons.
LibraryThing member Cecilturtle
A blameless way of communicating. Concrete tips on how to deal with difficult and ordinary situations; suggestions on how to break negative cycles; and assurances that both children and parents have needs! A definite recommend.
LibraryThing member richardbsmith
I read this book when my son was young. He's 28 now. The book helped me. Its recommendations have application outside of child rearing. Highly recommend this for anyone's reading. Very surprised at the few ratings below 3. This is an excellent and helpful book.
LibraryThing member carterchristian1
I remember when Hazim Ginott showed up regularly on the Today Show demonstrating these practical ideas of talking to children..well, actually LISTENING to children. I love these "before and after", the "wrong way and the right way" cartoon strips giving actual scripts for parents to quit doing or
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follow. My grandchildren will go to college in 2 years, this book may no longer be needed, but I hope it is around when they become parents.
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LibraryThing member R_Tomio
This should be a mandatory read for all parents. It really made me think and start to change the way I interact with my children. I borrowed this book from the library but plan to purchase a copy so I can refer to it as the children go through there phases.
LibraryThing member Drakhir
This had a good, clear, often-repeated central message and technique, which in its way, is good. I get that it is based on the teaching sessions the authors engaged in, but this makes the read fairly swift.
Worth reading for reminders, and I have somewhat adopted the central message, so it does the
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job. I only liked it though - the tone of the writing? The quality? Maybe...
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LibraryThing member librarybrandy
The first chapter, on acknowledging your child's feelings and engaging in the fantasy (Ice cream for dinner WOULD be tasty and I wish we could have some! But ice cream is for AFTER dinner...): pure magic. Whining has dropped precipitously. Later chapters haven't been tried yet--getting the child to
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problem-solve with us, getting them to come up with solutions and cooperate--but I can see them working; I just haven't had need of it yet.

This was a slightly older edition, but even within that I'm a little disturbed at how often the authors assume that, without their wisdom of "say THIS to your child:" my interaction would be more like "do you want a smack?" and other physical threats. Uh, no.

Worth at least a skim, if there's a lot of whining and defiance in your household.
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LibraryThing member HippieLunatic
This was a very helpful book, in getting my kids to focus to important words and directions, and also to get them to share more of their world with me. My 6 year old has responded particularly well to the one-word directions and choices given when needing to get certain tasks accomplished. (Would
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you like to take a bath or a shower? Would you like to put on your coat first or your shoes?)

My 9 yo has taken incredibly well to the theory that by showing him that I am listening, he will take a more active role in coming up with his own solutions. (Oh, I see that you are upset... hmm... I bet that made you angry...")
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LibraryThing member mcelhra
The theme of this book can be summed up thusly: Treat your children like human beings. Sounds simple in theory but if you have kids, you know it’s not as easy as it sounds. It can be hard to treat your children like regular human beings when they don’t always act like regular human beings. Or
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is it just mine that can be irrational monsters at times? I really liked all the practical examples and situations that the authors used throughout the book. My husband listened to this book as well and we’ve been putting a lot of the tips into practice with our three children. So far, it’s working really well.

I enjoyed listening this book in its audio format. The narrator, Susan Bennett, was dynamic and brought a lot of inflection to her reading – it was anything but dry, which non-fiction audio can easily be. I liked this book so much that after listening to it, I bought the paperback so that I will be able to go back and refer to specific parts again and again. That’s the one drawback of wonderful instructional books like this in audio – it’s hard to use an audio book for reference. Also, the paperback version has a lot of cartoons, which of course don’t translate into the audio format. However, I did like that my first reading was in the audio format as I often digest this type of book more easily if I listen to it. And my husband never would have read the printed version as he falls asleep after reading for about 10 minutes, no matter what kind of book it is! He was able to listen to this book on his daily commute, which worked out nicely.

I highly recommend this book to all parents interested in gentle, effective alternative methods to yelling and nagging (and spanking if anyone still does that.) That should be pretty much all of us, right?
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LibraryThing member dms02
This book was well worth the read. There were many great suggestions and ideas to test out....and the best part is when I tried some - they worked like a charm.
LibraryThing member KMClark
This text was so accessible and simple, yet so in depth. The index helps this book remain a constant resource I can refer to and the examples offered more explanatory solutions that I can relate to. I had to laugh at some of the suggestions, not because they were silly but because I had many “Why
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didn’t I think of that?” moments. The most important thing this text has to offer is that it is not about what you say, it is often how you say it. The text didn’t do this in a condescending way either, especially as it used comic like examples that were a great reflection of real life. It is most important to remember that just as our children grow, we, too, will grow with them over the years.
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LibraryThing member Kbernard
This was a great book that I found comical. It addressed some of the in your face issues parents and kids deal with. I personally found it interesting since I will be having my first child soon. It can also be used as a reference in my classroom if I'm faced with a similar situation.
LibraryThing member KRaySaulis
Pretty well-written but a little idealistic. Still good tips one should take to mind, and it makes you think about things from a kid's perspective, something we too often forget to do.
LibraryThing member VincentDarlage
I hope I can put these things into practice.
LibraryThing member MartinBodek
Non-stop repetitive easier-said-than-done wishful-thinking nonsense, and brags about it. It doesn't address, for example, things that happen that they don't have advice for. This book is a con. If this is the parenting "bible" then I'm scared about what the rest of scripture looks like. I completed
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the book because I thought it could help,but it was a waste of my time. The bottom line seems be: be cool, manipulate your children, be creative. It could have said all that in 20 pages.
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LibraryThing member AlisonY
This isn't the first re-read of this book for me, but of all the parenting books I've read over the years it's my favourite. The schmaltz is limited, and a lot of it is good common sense that's useful to be reminded of every now and again.

I was conscious that I've not been properly listening to my
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8 year old recently, and that I can be quick to respond to things he says with a 'told-you-so' response, or to try and suggest for him how he fixes a problem. He's definitely reaching a new stage of independence, so this book has reminded me to allow him to be more autonomous, and to do his own problem solving.

So, this bit of calibration has already had two successes today. Firstly, I told my son I was going to try really hard to acknowledge his feelings more about things rather than immediately telling him what to do. His immediate response was "Mum - that's what I've been really wanting you to do". OK - point taken.

Secondly, I decided to use his desire for increased autonomy to both our benefits. He normally takes a year to pick his way through his dinner, but tonight I said - "I'm going to allow you to be independent and grown up about how you eat your dinner this evening". And what do you know, he did much better than usual (still at his speed rather than mine, but there was no battle).

4 stars - a useful tool for the most important job you ever get without a handbook.
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LibraryThing member SueinCyprus
Wonderful stuff. I read this when my sons were small, and wish I'd had a copy to refer to year by year! The authors explain how the best kind of parenting focuses on mutual respect - neither permissiveness nor strictness - where children are encouraged to talk about their feelings, and parents can
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also explain theirs. This paves the way for discussion, negotiation, and the discovery of solutions to problems which are acceptable to all.

Full of anecdotes, examples, cartoon representations of some of their theories, and responses from parents who have attended their workshops, this book is a goldmine for any parent having difficulty communicating with any of their children. Indeed, it's valuable anyway, even when relationships are good; they can always be improved upon. And while the focus is clearly on parents with children, many of the principles can be used in the workplace, in a marriage, and even amongst friends.

I was delighted to be sent this 30th anniversary edition for review, and read it cover to cover despite having no children at home any more. There's an extra section at the end written by the daughter of one of the authors, now a parent herself, which is both reassuring and encouraging.

Highly, highly recommended. I would give this ten stars if I could!
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LibraryThing member nmarun
This book is thoroughly engaging and I'm glad I bumped into this while browsing for something. It talks about various ways in which you can allow of your kid to talk and open up themselves, while making them better listeners themselves. There are practice questions / exercises throughout the book
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that'll help you ingrain the concepts in your mind.

I found many parts of the book ingenious and easy to implement. The section on alternatives to punishment was absolutely eye-opening. My wife and I have discussed many pointers in this book and are on the way practice them with our 6 yr old.

I thought I was a good (at least decent) parent, but the book said otherwise. Time to improve now!

The best part of the book is that the relationship rules / guidelines mentioned can be applied to any relationship - so technically the title could have been 'How to talk so others will listen...'.
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LibraryThing member willszal
At first glance, I thought this book looked cheesy. I didn't like the color scheme or the design. It talks about how many copy it's sold right there on the cover. And it doesn't have a title. Instead of a title, it has a lengthy description which makes it impractical to name in conversation. Also,
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my copy was printed on low-quality acid pulp paper [it was severely yellowed even though it's only ten years old]. Inside it, it had all of these exercises, which intimidated me a little bit. I ended up skipping them for reasons of practicality. Well, I read through them, but I didn’t have someone to practice them with.

But my partner asked me to read the book as my birthday present to her. This was back in December. And I’m not yet a black belt in childhood communication, so I read it anyways.

After all that, I’d recommend you not to underestimate the potency of this book. It’s not just a book about communication with children [especially your own children or children that live in your household]. It’s a book about life.

There are some strong parallels to Zen. Living with children is a little like the monastic life: stark, bleak, austere, solitary. It requires a lot of discipline, resolve, vigilance, and steadfastness. This book offers inspiration, reassurance, and a new set of skill to excel in this environment. It could even be called a spiritual handbook.

For the most part, the book avoids the Separationist mentality. It's thesis: that children are a product of their environment. What does it take to be a good communicator with children: listening, empathy, minimalism, openness, realism, adaptability, observation, nonjudgementality.

This book has given me a lot to work with, and I look forward to putting it to practice.


Notes from the Book

Helping Children Deal with Their Feelings:
Listen quietly and attentively
Acknowledge their feelings with a word
Give the feeling a name
Give the child his wishes in fantasy
Engaging Cooperation

Negative tendencies by the parent:
Blaming and Accusing
Lecturing and Moralizing
Martyrdom Statements

Describe what you see, or describe the problem.
Give information.
Say it with a word.
Talk about your feelings.
Write a note.

Alternatives to Punishment

Hatred, revenge, defiance, guilt, unworthiness, self-pity.

Point out a way to be helpful.
Express strong disapproval (without attacking character).
State your expectations.
Show the child how to make amends.
Give a choice.
Take action.
Allow the child to experience the consequences of his misbehavior.

Problem Solving:
Talk about the child’s feelings and needs.
Talk about your feelings and needs.
Brainstorm together to find a mutually agreeable solution.
Write down all idea–without evaluating.
Decide which suggestions you like, which you don’t like, and which you plan to follow through on.

Encouraging Autonomy
Let children make choices.
Show respect for a child’s struggle.
Don’t ask too many questions.
Don’t rush to answer questions.
Encourage children to use sources outside the home.
Don’t take away hope.

Additional Tactics
Let her own her own body.
Stay out of the minutiae of a child’s life.
Don’t talk about a child in front of him–no matter how young the child.
Let a child answer for himself
Show respect for your child’s eventual “readiness.”
Watch out for too many “no’s.”

Alternatives to no
Give information
Accept feelings
Describe the problem
When possible substitute a “yes” for a “no”
Give yourself time to think

Giving advice
Help her sort out her tangled thoughts and feelings
Restate the problem as a question
Point out resources your child can use outside the home


Side effects:

Describe what you see
Describe what you feel
Sum up the child’s praiseworthy behavior with a word

Make sure your praise is appropriate to your child’s age and level of ability.
Avoid the kind of praise that hints at past weaknesses or past failures.
Be aware that excessive enthusiasm can interfere with a child’s desire to accomplish for herself.
Be prepared for a lot of repetition of the same activity when you describe what a child is doing appreciatively.

Freeing Children from Playing Roles
Look for opportunities to show the child a new picture of himself or herself.
Put children in situations where they can see themselves differently.
Let children overhear you say something positive about them.
Model the behavior you’d like to see.
Be as storehouse for your child’s special moments.
When your child acts according to the old label, state your feelings and/or your expectations.

Read my review here.
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LibraryThing member daltonlp
Reading this book is like gaining mind control power over children.




(304 ratings; 4.2)
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