Katie's Reviews > How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber
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Feb 27, 2009

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Read in February, 2009

Should be subtitled, "Baby Boomer Parents Backlash Against Harsh Old-School Discipline." If you weren't the kind of parent to call your kids names or whup them one on the rear end in the first place, this book has little to offer you but either validation or frustration. I was looking for a book that would help me communicate better with my very stubborn 2.5 year old, and while the cartoons in this book were pretty entertaining, they didn't do much more but revisit the obvious. Don't live through your child's achievements, don't call names, address the behavior rather than labeling the person, use "I" statements--wait, didn't we all do this in about 1982? I recognized my parents and inlaws in a couple of the "bad" examples, but my own personal shortcomings are more along the lines of being too lenient or unclear or wordy, as with most of my generation of parents, and the book seemed mostly to approve of that.

I started out parenting in the hippie "gentle discipline" camp, where they teach you to redirect instead of saying "no" all the time, and so forth, and have found as time goes by that my daughter and I both require more structure and less touchy-feely talk. I want to be authoritative without crossing the line to the kind of bad old days meanness shown in the bad examples in this book, but the book didn't do much to show me that middle ground. I recommend this book if you're in the habit of boxing your kid's ears, talking like a sitcom dad, or ranting at the drop of a hat about lazy freeloaders. Otherwise, it's probably too basic to help.
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Comments (showing 1-8 of 8) (8 new)

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message 1: by Skylar (last edited Feb 28, 2009 07:55AM) (new)

Skylar Burris In my experience, most of these parenting books aren't much help, and yet I keep reading them! Even the ones that have good advice generally aren't much use until the child is at least four. I have a very stubborn ("spirited" is the word of the day) five year old, and I found that most of the ideas in books didn't start working until about four or five. If you are looking for more of a middle ground and some more specific examples on how to (rather than how not to) talk to kids, I reccomend a book called The Blessings of a Skinned Knee. It is very hard to find and maintain that middle ground, though. Someone once said to me, "Every generation screws up its kids in a completely different way."


Janine Try "Making the Terrible Twos Terrific" by John Rosemond or "123 Magic" by Thomas Phelan. I am a teacher and parent of a 4 year old and a 3 year old and I think you would find both of them very helpful if you are dealing with 2 year old behavior.


Vanessa I'd second the vote for 123 magic and also suggest Setting Limits With Your Strong-Willed Child. They have helped far more with my headstrong (now 8-yr-old) daughter


message 4: by Lin (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lin I did not interpret this book as "touchy-feely" at all. It says nowhere that it is wrong to say no. It actually encourages it. At some point it even tells you that yelling is ok if the crime warrants it. But it is about communication, so it seems obvious to me that it is more suitable for kids who can understand what you're saying and can respond verbally.


Shereen Add autism into the mix and this book is almost useless. Some great ideas, not finding most of them helpful in my world.


Erica Perry I disagree with this review completely. To clarify, the book was indeed originally published in 1980. To me this means that it has staying power, rather than that it's dated.


Havilah I really appreciated this review. You said, so much better then I, exactly how I felt about the book. Now to be clear, maybe this book just didn't address my issues. I don't do a lot of the obvious things they list in the book as wrong. My eldest is 22 and my youngest is 1 so I think I have seen the full spectrum. This book is best for people that might not have had a good example of healthy communication in there lives growing up. If this was the case for you THEN I think this has a valid place in the readers life. It is also most helpful for people with younger children because for an older emotionally healthy child I think the ideas, when implemented, would not work. I know my now 17 year old would hate it.


message 8: by Joe (new) - rated it 5 stars

Joe Sorry you didn't find the book helpful. My parents were not yellers and used this book and its strategies. Still, as a rookie parent I fell into many of the negative spirals that escalate problems rather than empower kids to solve them. I still have much to learn but having strategies I believe in and trust will pay dividends in the long run has made parenting much more enjoyable. Being a parent is still challenging, but I have better tools and it is less often that I find myself reacting in anger because I don't know what else to try.


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