Review by STACY DONG
HOW TO TALK SO KIDS WILL LISTEN & LISTEN SO KIDS WILL TALK
By Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish
This is not a new book in the market. It is in fact in its thirtieth anniversary edition and has sold over three million copies. Many regard this as one of the parenting bibles that all parents and caretakers should have and should read.
The authors of this book, Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish, believe there is a different way, a more holistic and effective way in parenting so that we as parents can talk to our kids and also for us to listen so that our kids can talk to us. The best news is all of this can be done with minimum or zero frustration, resentment, tears and emotional outbursts (from both parents and kids)!
This book is about being respectful of each other’s needs; our needs as parents and the needs of our children. It is about creating a win-win situation where both parents and children can communicate effectively, clearly and positively. It is also about being sensitive to each other’s needs.
In order to do so, parents need to rethink how we view and communicate with our children. We need to view our children as individuals who have feelings as real as ours. We also need to recognise that because they are still young, they might not be able to deal with and process their feelings as well as we do.
So, what we need to do is help our children deal with their feelings by listening to what they are saying. We should not jump to conclusions or assume we know what they want as soon as they have something to say. We should listen and from there, help them process what they are really feeling. Do they need us to physically help them out of a situation, or do they just want to vent? Or do they want an understanding and non-judgmental parent to help them through the emotions?
The authors also advocate positive communication between parents and children. Parents need to control their automatic reactions such as blaming, accusing, name-calling, threats, commands, lecturing, warning, comparison and sarcasm when there is a situation or problem. Instead, the parent should describe the problem or the situation (to ascertain that you have the facts right), give information, use a word instead of lengthy sentences and talk about your own feelings (of how the situation made you feel) or simply write a simple note that would be easy to understand. These skills would help encourage positive communication without leaving any residue of bad feelings.
For all parents who are tired of nagging and lecturing the kids about behaviours, tasks, chores and responsibilities, you will be glad to find that the authors also address this and provide clear solutions for both parents and children.
The authors are also strong advocates against using punishment when it comes to disciplinary problems. According to their research, punishment will only yield resentment and distraction to the important inner process of facing the children’s own behaviour. Instead, alternatives to punishment are provided, stressing prevention of a misbehaviour.
Throughout the book, there are a lot of good and solid examples of helpful dialogues so that readers can practise this new way of communication. There are even cartoon illustrations that show the new communication skills in action, so that a parent who might not have time to go through the book word by word is able to just take a glance and find a solution to how to handle a difficult situation with his or her child.
The ideas in this book are not new - I have read other books with similar messages, positive parenting and positive communication. But the ideas and the solutions through positive parenting sound promising. And the authors make this book an easy read through the easy-on-the-eye layout, many examples, illustrations and exercises.
Kids nowadays are more complex than ever, as compared to past generations. Old school authoritarian parenting is not as effective as it once was. Instead of respect, which we all want from our children, we are getting resentment, arguments and scheming ways (by both parents and children). Is that the parent-child relationship that you want for your family?
I like the idea that in order for your family dynamics to change, parents have to lead the way. We need to change for the better so that the kids will follow our example. After all, it’s a two-way street, and we cannot simply expect only the kids to do all the changing, can we?
The lessons in this book are suitable for parents who have kids of all ages, from toddlerhood to those dreaded teenage years.
This is definitely a recommended book for parents who are new to this holistic approach of parenting.