Customer Reviews: How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk
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on March 28, 1998
A therapist recommended this book to me when my son was 4 years old and I was going though a difficult divorce. I read the book and actually photocopied the basic ideas of each chapter and taped them to the refrigerator for easy reference. The ideas are simple and effective. They build self-esteem and keep the avenues of communication open between parent and child. My son is now almost 18, and we still have a terrific relationship. I've been following the practices in this book for 14 years and I can tell you it has made all the difference. Wherever my son goes, I hear from people who tell me how wonderful he is, how well-mannered, pleasant and charming. They all want to know what ever did I do to raise him this way. I tell them about this book. The more I move through life and the business world, however, I am struck how the same techniques enhance communication between adults in all aspects of life. This book should also be listed in the Business/Management section. It says all the same things the high-priced consultants say -- treat people with respect, do not deny their emotions, state the facts (only) and shut up and listen. This book also talks about giving praise and recognition, which makes it another reason to use it in real life, inside the family AND outside in the "real" world.
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on September 4, 2002
As a preschool teacher and parent, I found this book to be the major influence in forming my communication style with children. In fact, this book has given me the skills to communicate more effectively with everyone... my friends, my husband, my boss, and even my mother-in-law! When I changed my approach in how I spoke to them, they often changed their behavior. The logical, respectful strategies really work! My only criticism is that the format of the chapters does not always fascilitate quick 're-read' referral. For example, when I recently wanted to quickly look up a whining, or biting, or mealtime strategy for three of my preschoolers, I became frustrated and confused as to where in the book I had seen the information. These topics were not listed in the index and I began to flip through the pages trying to find the stories and suggestions that I thought I remembered seeing somewhere. Therefore, I would also like to recommend another wonderful new book with the very same philosophy that is organized differently...for quick use on the spot for very busy parents. THE POCKET PARENT is literally a pocket-sized A-Z guide exclusively written for parents and teacher of preschoolers (2's, 3's, 4's, & 5's). It is loaded with hundreds of easy to find quick-read bullet answers (called 'sanity savers') to 40 common behavior problems of 2- to 5-year-olds. I recommend these two books for every mom and dad with a 2- to 5-year-old. Both books are permissive with feelings, but strict with behavior while preserving the dignity of both parent and child. Both books are full of humor and compassion from authors that have 'been there,' too. For help on the spot as well as long term understanding ...keep both books handy!
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on February 1, 2006
My husband bought this book when our oldest child was 10. We realized we weren't communicating well and were frightened that we would lose our relationship altogether when she hit her teenage years. Well, the book was a godsend. The authors basically teach you how to treat your child like a capable and worthy person, when you may be treating them as irresponsible, unimportant, or unlikeable. They first convince you to stop criticizing your children for what they think or feel, and to acknowledge how they might be feeling when they tell things to you. I know this sounds touchy-feely, but acknowledging feelings doesn't mean giving your kids any leeway in their behavior. For example, instead of saying "You shouldn't be mad at your brother, he's only three!" you say "I can see that it makes you angry when he messes up your things. But yelling is not allowed in our house." or, "He's too young to understand how special those are to you, so how can we keep your things safe?" You let your child know you are paying attention to how they feel, BEFORE you focus on solving the problem.

The second thing they emphasize is to make correcting behavior about the behavior, and not about the child. Instead of "Get your homework! You always forget things!" you just say, "Homework needs to go to school with you."

One thing we had a problem with at first is that the authors do not support time-outs. We had always been big believers in consequences for behavior, and had relatively well-behaved children with the time-out method. Well, we gave it a try, and were amazed. We found that we were fully able to correct our children's behaviors without time-out at all. And in fact, they were happier and less disobedient in general when they weren't constantly being sent away from the family in disgrace. We haven't even been tempted to put anyone in time-out for almost a year. Most surprising, our 3-year-old COMPLETELY stopped throwing tantrums within about two days of our stopping time-outs. It was a dramatic change for a child who had always been a little difficult to handle.

Our oldest was slower to respond (age has a lot to do with it, I think) and we found it much harder to implement changes for her. It was difficult to stop lecturing and blaming her. But we have, and we have a fantastic relationship! Other parents of kids the same age are surprised how well we communicate and how fun and friendly our relationship is. We still have the teen years to get through, but I'm much more confident they will be a success, as we know how to treat her like a capable, loveable, valuable person.

Buy this book. End of story.
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on March 2, 2006
Nineteen years ago I had reached the end of my "motherhood rope". The kids were fighting, whining, manipulating, throwing tantrums... just generally being "kids." But one day it just became way too overwhelming, so I left them home with their dad and escaped to the mall. While in the bookstore I couldn't help but notice an enticing book cover: "How To Talk So Kids Will Listen And Listen So Kids Will Talk." "That'll be the day!" I grunted, but walked across the aisle to page through the book... Inside I noticed what an easy read this book was for busy mothers like myself; cartoons showing me skills such as "Instead of nagging, try saying it with a word!" Interesting! I took the book home and that very skill was the first one I tried ----- and the first of many that worked! (Instead of nagging that we didn't own the electric company because I saw the bathroom light had been left on, I simply said "Lights!" and the kids actually jumped up to shut the light!)

Amazing!! I had to share this wonderful book with my friends at the PTA!! The PTA said "We'll sponsor a workshop if you lead it!" I agreed, and have been leading workshops based on the Faber/Mazlish series successfully for the past nineteen years. The only thing missing was help for the parents of teenagers, but thanks to the authors, that problem is now solved. The positive feedback on this book from parents in my classes has been heartwarming. Unruly, sullen teens were now taking the time to have conversations with their parents, agreeing to accompany families on vacations, cleaning their rooms, and getting haircuts!!! There was no end to the good news I was receiving in my classrooms! Is this book a magic bullet? A miracle cure to the teenage "attitude disease?" Wake up! There are no magic bullets, and anyone who has taken my class will tell you that I don't promise miracles, but I do promise calm. Could you use some "calm" in your home? Thanks to Adele and Elaine's revamping of Dr. Haim Ginott's teachings to fit the teenage years, you can breathe a little easier. Pick up a copy of this book and slowly start incorporating the skills into your home life; you won't be disappointed, I promise.

Isn't it time for you to experience the "calm?"
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on February 4, 2006
I had just finished "How to Talk so Your Kids Will Listen..." when someone told me that this book had come out. Putting the lessons of the earlier book to work on the communications with my 8, 10 & 12 year olds was helping a lot. Less yelling, more communicating, actually solving some problems; welcome changes. So when I saw this at the local library I grabbed it.

It starts off with familiar material from the first book, but then goes further with more pertinent examples and sections about friends, and how to talk about sex and drugs.

I'm still the early stages of my journey with this material. But so far it's a much better way.

One more comment. This is unlike so many self-help books that go on and on about the problem before they get to anything practical. This book is 100% practical. From the first chapter there will be challenges and opportunities for you to improve your communication (with your kids or anyone else).
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on May 22, 2001
I just read this book and -- though it it's right on the money in its attitude towards childrearing -- it doesn't describe the mechanics of how the "listening" and "talking" skills work as well as Thomas Gordon's Parent Effectiveness Training (P.E.T.). P.E.T. has a chapter called How to Listen so Children Will Talk and another called How to Talk so Children Will Listen. I wonder how the autors of this book got away with borrowing the title for their book straight out of some chapters in another (the original P.E.T. was published years before -- the one at stores now is a new edition).
Lest it sound like I'm slamming this book, truth is it's not a bad read at all. But for an in-depth explanation of how these skills can be put to daily use, I'd go for P.E.T. Better yet, read both.
Even better yet, first read Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman to get an idea WHY these skills are so important to a child's development, then follow it up with P.E.T. and this book.
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on April 1, 2001
If I could entice every new parent to read just one book, this would be it. Thousands of children's lives have been improved, and in some cases transformed, as a direct result of their parents reading this book and practicing its kid-tested, nonpunitive approaches to discipline. The authors have little time for abstract theorizing, concerning themselves with down to earth practical issues of parenting, using sensitivity, empathy, communication skills, and humor. This book is crammed with invaluable suggestions, techniques and ideas for parents committed to raising great kids without resorting to discredited, harmful, pain-and-fear-based methods of the past.
This book is in its twentieth edition for a reason: these methods WORK. I personally know a mother who formerly used the harsh, punitive methods of James Dobson, only to find that her problems with her daughter became worse and worse over time rather than better. After she read "How To Talk So Kids Will Listen And Listen So Kids Will Talk" and put its suggestions into practice, she literally threw Dobson's volume into the trash. And after a year and a half, she told me her relationship with her daughter had improved so much that she'd previously had no idea that it COULD be that good. The fact that the problems she'd been having had vanished now seemed almost an afterthough compared to the deepening of their parent-child bond. Their communication had improved profoundly, opening up previously unguessed levels of richness in their relationship. "She is such a terrific kid," my friend once told me, and with genuine incredulity added, "I can't believe I actually used to HIT her!!"
Another acquaintance of mine, who is raising two great kids using nonpunitive methods of the sort Faber and Mazlish recommend, summarized her entire philosophy in just one sentence: "I don't want obedient children, I want COOPERATIVE children!" I think the great majority of parents, if they thought about it, would realize that this is what they too would prefer. Faber and Mazlish show the way.
This book appears at first glance to be a collection of nonpunitive discipline techniques, but it is actually much more: a whole new way of thinking about the parent-child relationship which transcends the permissiveness vs strictness continuum with an approach to parenting based on neither punishments nor rewards. Authoritarian methods use coercion to make the child lose and the parent win, while total permissiveness makes the parent lose and the child win. Faber and Mazlish's methods, on the other hand, show the way towards families in which everybody wins.
Christopher Dugan
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on May 29, 2003
It's only a few weeks and my daughter has responded so positively to this method of parenting.
Maybe I shouldn't be so quick to judge since it's been such a short time, but I'm just so excited I feel like I found a pot of gold.
It's not like my daughter was such a problem child before. She is almost five. She has been a little on the hyper side since she was born. As she has gotten older it has been getting more and more difficult to get her to cooperate, participate, or communicate at home or in preschool. I was desparate to find something that might reverse the trend before it became a real problem.
Just as one example... It has always been difficult to get her to clean up after herself. She loves to use scissors and she makes a mess with scraps of paper ending up all over the house and in the baby's mouth. Yesterday, I watched as she cut out a circle from a piece of paper. She put the paper with the hole in it on the table and brought the circle to me to look at. After I admired the circle I said "I noticed you put the piece of paper you cut this from on the table. That was very tidy of you." She smiled and ran back to the table. She noticed there were a few pieces of paper on the floor she had dropped previous to this. She picked them up and put them on the table. She's never done that before without me telling her and usually having to repeat myself over and over! She didn't even look back at me to see if I was watching.
In general she seems more relaxed (i.e. not as hyper), happier, and much more confident. I even noticed this morning when I took her to preschool she at once ran over to play with her friends, rather than hanging back shyly and waiting for one of them to come to her like she always has in the past. That was always painful for me to watch. Today, it was so beautiful, I had a lump in my throat.
It's not that I think that my parenting style before this was so terrible. For example I always tried to be understanding before, but this book explained to me that some things I did that I thought were understanding were actually not.
For example, sometimes my daughter doesn't like some clothes in her closet, even if she helped me pick it out. In the past, I'd say sweetly "You don't like it? It's such a pretty dress. You told me you liked it before. That's why I bought it for you. I don't understand. Tell me why don't you like it now?" I thought I was being very undertanding because I would say it in a sweet pleasant voice and give her the opportunity to explain her side to me. But the end result was always that she would become agitated and she wouldn't wear the dress that day and not for a long time until she forgot she told me she didn't like it. Now I say something like "Oh, you've decided you don't like it anymore. Do you remember when you helped me pick it out? You liked it then, but I see you've changed your mind. Well, I still like it. I think it is so pretty. Maybe you'll change your mind again one day and you'll like it again. So I'll just put it back in the closet just in case." Sometimes the very next day she declares to me that she has changed her mind and she wants to wear the dress that day.
Similarly, I always tried to praise whenever I caught her doing something well, but this book has taught me more effective ways to praise and how not to criticize (which I realize only now how much I was doing).
I'm so excited, I went out and bought a few other books that explain this type of parenting, like "Parent Effectiveness Training." I haven't read them yet, but when I do, I'll try to write a review.
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on May 17, 2007
Do you remember how supportive and understanding your parents were during your teenage years? Do you recall how you could confide in them, how they trusted your judgment and how appreciative they were of your help?

For most, the answer is simple--"no!"

Flash forward: Would your own teenagers consider you loving and understanding? Do they confide in you? Do they feel trusted and appreciated by you? you feel loved, understood, trusted and appreciated by your teens?

What gets in the way in the way of "yes" answers to these questions? In this book Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish explore the teenage years and help parents and teens get closer to "yes" answers. They show what goes wrong (e.g., blaming, name-calling, lecturing, playing martyr) and help both parents and teens develop an attitude of earned respect and appreciation for one another. Impossible? Think again--open the pages and hear the stories of parents who have just about given up on their teens--whether it's dealing with sassing, homework, chores, hanging with the "wrong crowd" ...sexual promiscuity, binge drinking, "experimenting with pot" or discovering that your daughter has plans to meet a strange man she's been hooking up with on the internet-- watch how the right attitude and skills dramatically improve life at home.

Enjoy this quick read that so effectively helps you achieve what you might have written off as impossible--a loving relationship with your teens.
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on May 7, 2005
As the mother of a 4 year old and trying 3 year old I had reached the absolute boiling point. At night as I replayed the day's events, I realized that all I had done was scold and yell all day. It was exhausting and depressing. I know better than that, but somehow I just couldn't figure out how to 'do' better than that. This book is clearly written and very specific in teaching you ways to interact with your child. You can take statements verbatim from the text and use them in real life. My unbearable younger child has been transformed into a sweet, inquisitive child, and I have been transformed into a tolerant, patient mother who ends each day with a smile.

Perhaps, like me, you're sceptical that any resource (let alone a book) could make such a difference. If you feel as worn down and frustrated as I did when I bought it, what do you have to lose?

* One note about using the book for reference later. There are 6 pages that have reminder notes with subject headers and bullet points. The book suggests that you copy them and put them where you can see them. I actually did this. I refer to these cheat sheets constantly when I'm looking for the right thing to say or a refresher on a particular concept.
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