September 8th, 2009

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen

There was a Farside cartoon published years ago that I often remember when speaking to my children.  The cartoon illustrated the difference between what people say to their dogs (“Stay out of the garbage Ginger!  Do you understand me Ginger?”) and what dogs hear (“Blah blah blah Ginger.  Blah blah blah blah blah Ginger!”).   I am sure the similarity between this fictional scenario and the real life conversations I have with my kids are closer than I care to think sometimes. Fortunately, help is always close at hand.

I came across How To Talk So Kids Will Listen (And Listen So Kids Will Talk) after reading another book by the same authors – How To Talk So Kids Will Learn – while working with inner city children in a museum environment.  The philosophy was simple enough; take judgment out of the equation and speak to kids in an explanatory manner.  For example, instead of telling the fidgety child to stop squirming, or punishing them for not listening, one might say “When you fidget it makes it hard for other students to pay attention.”  At the time I had my doubts about the simplicity of the approach, but when I saw it pay off in the classroom, I decided to try it at home.  Now, granted, it’s not always easy to respond or approach my children in a calm, non-judgmental manner.  Like ever.  But when I am able, and I use the techniques that I picked up in this book I see a marked improvement in how much my children take in and respond.  There are examples and approaches for every type of interaction with kids; how to listen and what to do when they complain about teachers or other kids, how to engage them in conversation, how to get them to compromise while still feeling empowered.  

What I find particularly appealing about these books is the style in which they are written.  The text is an easy to digest narrative, with cartoon examples of scenarios.   Yes, cartoons.  Seems simplistic, but the truth is that after a day of chasing, washing, tidying, driving, cooking and cajoling, the last thing I really want to do is read a dense tome on child psychology.   I need simple easy effective strategies that I grasp onto quickly, and How to Talk delivers.  I highly recommend this book not only for the sake of our children, but for the sanity of us parents.

Now if they would only write “How To Talk So Your Husband Will Change the Toilet Paper Roll” my life would be complete.

More from this Author

This Weeks Tip

Even if you don’t have a need for this, try it — it’s way cool! To remove permanent marker from any smooth surface (computer monitor, dry erase board, refrigerator), simply draw over the marks with a dry erase marker. Then wipe away both marks with a cloth or eraser. Really, it works!