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How to Talk so Little Kids Will Listen: A Survival Guide to Life with Children Ages 2-7

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A must-have resource for anyone who lives or works with young kids, with an introduction by Adele Faber, coauthor of How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk , the international mega-bestseller The Boston Globe dubbed “The Parenting Bible.”

For over thirty-five years, parents have turned to How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk for its respectful and effective solutions to the unending challenges of raising children. Now, in response to growing demand, Adele’s daughter, Joanna Faber, along with Julie King, tailor How to Talk’s powerful communication skills to children ages two to seven.

Faber and King, each a parenting expert in her own right, share their wisdom accumulated over years of conducting How To Talk workshops with parents and a broad variety of professionals. With a lively combination of storytelling, cartoons, and fly-on-the-wall discussions from their workshops, they provide concrete tools and tips that will transform your relationship with the young kids in your life.

What do you do with a little kid who…won’t brush her teeth…screams in his car seat…pinches the baby...refuses to eat vegetables…throws books in the library...runs rampant in the supermarket? Organized according to common challenges and conflicts, this book is an essential emergency first-aid manual of communication strategies, including a chapter that addresses the special needs of children with sensory processing and autism spectrum disorders.

This user-friendly guide will empower parents and caregivers of young children to forge rewarding, joyful relationships with terrible two-year-olds, truculent three-year-olds, ferocious four-year-olds, foolhardy five-year-olds, self-centered six-year-olds, and the occasional semi-civilized seven-year-old. And, it will help little kids grow into self-reliant big kids who are cooperative and connected to their parents, teachers, siblings, and peers.

385 pages, Hardcover

First published January 10, 2017

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Joanna Faber

16 books65 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,646 reviews
Profile Image for Alex.
1,419 reviews4,482 followers
November 30, 2018
The basic idea is to acknowledge and validate your toddler's emotions, instead of correcting them, and what's great about this book is I started using its strategies at work and it's going amazing. So instead of saying "You didn't collect user requirements until the week before the due date so it's on your fuckin' ass when this project doesn't launch on time" - see how that sounds really blamey? That nimrod I work with probably felt defensive, right? Instead, I might say, "Boy, you're frustrated! This project is stressful and it hasn't gone the way you wanted it to!"

There are loads of other tips in this terrific book, which btw represents the strategy the wife and I have decided to go with here, so if our kid grows up to be a total asshole it's these peoples' fault. For instance:

- Offer a choice. Instead of, "Well, you're certainly not getting all this bullshit," maybe like this: "We could probably do either the shopping interface or the credit card integration; which would you like?" This empowers the dingbat who's been fucking off on this project for weeks.

- Express his emotions through fantasy. "I bet you wish these specs would have written themselves!"

- Try not responding with words at all. Just let them talk their emotions out, and respond with little sounds: "Grr!" "Wow!" - I'm almost certain my own boss used this on me last year, it was super weird but it kindof worked.

- Encourage them to draw a picture to describe their feelings, which is what I'm going to try next week with this fucking nincompoop here.

I recommend this book for anyone who regularly engages with either toddlers or the sorts of addlepated khaki fillers one runs into in things like jobs and sidewalks. If I'm being totally honest my kid doesn't seem impressed, but my coworkers have actually mentioned that I seem nicer lately. Fuckin' goldfish.
Profile Image for Rachel.
407 reviews62 followers
September 25, 2021
Before reading this book:

*3 y/o spills milk on the floor intentionally*
Me (pissed): "What are you DOING? We TOLD you to drink your milk at the table. Now look what happened. You made a mess! Go get a towel and clean it up!"
3 y/o: *nonchalantly walks out of the room*
-- 10 minutes of cajoling, threats and tears ensue... --

After reading this book:

*3 y/o spills milk on the floor intentionally*
Me (concerned voice): "Oh. There's milk on the floor."
3 y/o: *silently walks into kitchen, gets towel, starts cleaning up*
Me (to self): "What black magic is this?!?!!!!1!!!"

I already want to re-read this book, or at least copy some of the pages listing tools for parents. I have an almost-4-year-old, and this book really hit home for a lot of the issues we have been dealing with -- bedtime struggles, tantrums, difficulty getting out the door, etc.

One thing I realized from reading this book is how many commands we issue to our son on a daily basis. As an experiment, I tried not using a single command for a day or two. I slipped up here and there, but overall I found that it really encouraged new, more respectful ways for me to communicate with my son. And what I learned is this: Commands don't work!

As a parent I am above all a pragmatist. When it comes to problems and conflicts, I just want to know what works. Yes, of course I want to be a loving parent, and acknowledge my kid's feelings, and all that, but at the end of the day I just want the kid to go tf to sleep! So here's what does work: Truly empathizing. Giving information. Presenting choices. Being playful. Being playful. BEING PLAYFUL!!!

Yes, it feels like work to muster up the energy for silliness sometimes, but IT WORKS. Just tonight my kid was having an epic bedtime tantrum, in and out of bed, sitting up in bed, crying... and I was just trying to get him to put his. freaking. head. on. the. pillow. Finally instead of negotiating, asking, threatening, etc., I remembered how he loves this show where they break everything down into "Three Special Steps." So I said, "Okay. There are three special steps for going to sleep. Step One. Put your head on the pillow. Step two. Pull up the covers. What's step three? Eat ice cream?" He immediately got under the covers with his head on the pillow, and started giggling. It was like a switch had flipped. We spent a minute or two talking about ridiculous suggestions for what Step Three could be: Eating breakfast, walking on the ceiling, going to the library, etc... and then he calmly settled down for bed. Again, MAGIC! Or no, just being playful.

"How to Talk so Little Kids Will Listen" is in the same realm as Laura Markham's "Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids," but has better hands-on examples, spending less time on the "why" and more on the "how." If you have a lot of parenting "baggage" from your own childhood that you're personally working through, Markham's book might be a good place to start, but I preferred this book for its extreme usefulness. My favorite quote from the book -- which I will have to paraphrase because I didn't write it down -- is: We're all exhausted anyway, so rather than being irritated and exhausted, let's be silly and exhausted. Hear, hear.
Profile Image for Isak.
51 reviews3 followers
May 28, 2020
I really DON'T APPRECIATE being shown so reasonably how much of what I thought I knew is actually wrong. I am also VERY ANNOYED to find some of the methods this book teaches working IMMEDIATELY when I tried them. Five stars.
Profile Image for Kaytee Cobb.
1,935 reviews404 followers
December 14, 2016
Oh, man. This might be the most empowering parenting book I've read about the age and stage of parenting that I (and most of my friends) am currently in! This collection first gives you the information and tools (in part one), along with myriad examples of what those tools look like in action. And then, in part two, they dive into specific situations and examples and how to use those tools to deal with tough behaviors. The authors also acknowledge that parents get ANGRY sometimes, and sometimes even yell, but it doesn't have to lead to damaging your relationship with your child when done in the right way. In the six days it took me to read this book, I started using the tools and tips immediately. This morning, when the boys got into a bit of a scuffle, my oldest used his words to identify his feelings instead of lashing out at his younger brother. It was a breakthrough! Not only are they working for my kiddos, they are absorbing the information and it's helping to make their relationship better! I feel like this one will go on my list of "parenting books to recommend to all the friends" from here on out.
Profile Image for Gold Dust.
248 reviews
February 8, 2021
Another book that puts the child in charge (229), which goes against parental instinct and common sense. Includes advice on dealing with special needs kids (163). Most of the advice (for all kids) is just creative ways to distract kids from their bad mood, or creative ways to manipulate kids into doing what you want. It’ll work on younger or dumber kids, but not older or smarter ones who figure out that all the distraction or manipulation in the world is not getting them what they want. One parent admits, “I’d have had to bite my tongue so hard it would bleed. Part of me thinks all this accepting feelings is making her self-centered and spoiled. I wouldn’t have dared talk to my parents that way” (275-276). That’s exactly right; it does exactly that.

Good advice:
1. Instead of giving in to your child’s spur of the moment requests for material possessions, write the item down on a wishlist instead to POSSIBLY buy later (20-21). And the reason why this is good advice is because it’s NOT giving the kid what they want, it’s putting off what they want to some unknown date that may never come.
2. Give the child choices between two pleasant things that you are okay with, both of which have the end result of you getting what you want (53-57). This one worked for me.
3. Use a timer so kids know how much time is left for them to do something (59). A timer can also be helpful to tell kids not to come downstairs or out of their room until a certain time (73).
4. Give kids information so they’ll know consequences, but do it in a kind, non-threatening manner (61).
5. Use less words to remind your kids what to do, rather than lecturing (63). Make sure the word you use is a noun, not a verb. You can also use an observational phrase like “I see a coat on the floor” (66). If the task is only half finished, verbally notice the positive while reminding about what’s left to be done. Authors contradict themselves later by saying this is an ideal thing to say to kids: “Hey, no sliding on the dance floor! I can see it’s really fun. The problem is people are dancing here and they don’t want to be knocked down. You can dance on the dance floor, or slide somewhere else, off the dance floor” (104). Sounds like a lecture to me. Do you think kids are going to be listening to all of that? It’d be better to just say “No sliding on the dance floor,” but I guess that just sounds too mean for the authors’ taste.
6. Tell your kids how you’re feeling. Examples: “I worry that you’ll get hurt,” “I get upset when kids hit each other,” “I don’t like it when...” (69-71). Try not to blame while saying it; avoid saying “you” and strong words like “furious.” I tried it: “I feel sad when kids don’t finish their food.” FAIL. Kid made excuses. Tried it another time: “I worry that you’ll step in poop when running through the grass on your hands and knees.” Kid replied, “I’m not going to step in poop!” FAIL.
7. Enforce limits/boundaries while avoiding blaming/scolding/accusing (75). Example: “I’m taking you home now. I don’t want anyone to get hit by rocks” (74).
8. “Show your child how to make amends. ‘Your sister got scared when she was pushed. Let’s do something to make her feel better’” (93).
9. When praising kids, be specific and describe effort; don’t label the child as good or smart or talented (135-146). Describe positives before negatives (148-149). Avoid praising by comparison (162).
10. Make a list to help kids stay on task and not get distracted (190). Draw pictures on the list for those who can’t read.
11. If you’re in a rush in the morning and struggle to get your kids ready to go in time, put your kids to bed in their next-day clothes instead of pajamas (236).
12. Tactics for handling shy kids: prepare the child for what to expect before meeting with new people; have the new people be playful with the child but not demanding; give the child tasks to do instead of pressuring her to be social; don’t label the kid as shy; say to the new people that the child will talk or play when ready (313-315). If a kid won’t say hi, ask the kid to wave instead (317).
13. When other tactics have failed and you are angry at your kids, going for a run can help (361). You can’t take care of others without taking care of yourself first.
14. Sometimes when kids are upset, the best approach is to say nothing (373).
15. When a kid is sad about something, in addition to acknowledging their feelings, also point out any positives there might be for someone else, or what there is to be thankful for (376-377).

1. Let’s draw how you feel to prevent a tantrum (23). Probably works to distract younger kids and won’t work on older ones. The book provides an example where it doesn’t work so well (25-26): Mom suggests drawing, and 3 year old Benny says “No!” And throws the crayons down. Mom says “You are this mad!” And draws herself, but accidentally rips the paper. Benny rips the paper into little pieces and giggles, “Look how mad I was,” then asks for a snack. So this teaches the kid that when he’s mad, he should destroy things? No wonder we have an epidemic of rioters. “We don’t really worry that they’ll grow up to be violent, loud insomniacs with a penchant for vandalism” (262). Funny, because a lot of young adults today act exactly like that, and it just so happens that more kids are being raised with this positive discipline junk than they were decades ago.
2. Turn a boring routine command into a playful challenge (49). I can see it working the first few times. But if you use it every time you want your kid to do something, the kid will likely tire of your game and stop playing. I tried it with getting my kid to eat: “Your food is saying ‘eat me!’” FAIL. The kid did not eat.
3. Wait for your kid to be calm, then ask the kid to think of some solutions to the problem so it doesn’t happen again (98). I’ve tried this with my kid, and it doesn’t work. My kid just repeats what she wants and doesn’t want to do anything different. I offer suggestions, and she said she doesn’t want to, and she doesn’t care how other kids feel. In an example the authors give, a kid doesn’t like their hair washed, so they come up with the idea to wear goggles in the bath (105-107). It’s a bandaid solution though, because eventually shouldn’t the child learn to take a shower normally without goggles? How are they going to learn if they continue to use this handicap? The kid needs to learn to close their eyes like everyone else.
4. Tell kids what they can do instead of what they can’t. Example: Instead of saying “Don’t throw sand,” say “Sand is for pouring and digging” (195). I think this is good advice, but I think it’s important to include the information about what the kid should not do: “Sand is for pouring and digging, not for throwing.” If you don’t include the “not for throwing,” then the kid might think it’s still okay to do it.
5. Rewarding kids for good behavior/actions is not advised, which I agree with (118). But the book gives the example of a husband offering rewards to a wife for doing as he requests. The problem with this example is that a husband and wife are considered equals in our culture, and equals don’t need to offer rewards or punishments. One merely makes the request, and the other honors it out of love. A boss, on the other hand, rewards their employees with money, and punishes them with firing. The employees won’t work for nothing. The boss is the superior. And a parent is the child’s superior. Kids often won’t do as they’re told out of love for their parents, which is why they need extra motivation. (Bad advice the book gives: If you mistakenly offer a reward to a kid, and the kid fails to satisfy the requirements for the reward, give the kid the reward anyway! [187-188])

Bad advice:

1. Advises empathizing with a kid’s feelings. In the example of waking up from a headache because you didn’t get enough sleep last night, instead of saying “stop complaining” or giving advice for improvement, the authors say it’s better to say, “What we need is a nice snowstorm to shut down the school” (6). But while this may make the moody person feel better, what if the replier is not even being honest in their empathy? Secondly, empathizing is not solving the problem of the headache or lack of sleep. Imagine if a teen said, “I hate the kids in my school!” And the response was, “Me too! What we need is to bring guns to school and shoot them all up!” That would make the first kid feel great, but is it the proper response? I think it’s a problem if we teach kids that whatever their feeling is right, and that we need to agree with them and feel the same way at all times. I tried empathizing with my kid when she got frustrated. FAIL. My kid said nothing in response to me, and nothing changed.

2. The book says that when your kid complains about the food you give him, you should say “Sounds like you’re disappointed and in the mood for something else” (10). So kids should get to choose the meals everyday? Who’s the boss?

3. “When he can wail, ‘I am frustrated!’ Instead of biting, kicking, and hitting, you feel the thrill of triumph” (10)! Ha! My kid wails that AND acts out violently! The child or the parent acknowledging the feeling does NOT stop the meltdown. Empathizing with the kid and not suggesting ways to improve is still trying to protect the kid from sadness and disappointment, which are normal parts of life that kids need to learn to deal with.

What good is it for parents to protect kids from sadness and disappointment with their sugar coated distractions and refusal to say things like “no” or “that’s life,” when kids will inevitably encounter kids at school who do NOT spare their feelings when they say rude things like, “We don’t want to play with you. You’re ugly!” And in the later years, “Fuck off, bitch!”

What good is it for parents to avoid saying “Look what you did!” to prevent kids from feeling blame or shame, when if a kid never blames themselves for anything, how can they say sorry and mean it? Parents who avoid accusation statements to kids and instead place the blame on themselves by saying “I’m too worried someone is going to get hurt here” is telling the kid that the problem is with the parent, not with the kid’s behavior. When kids get older, they’ll learn to think or say, “Well, that’s your problem, Mom. *I* don’t care if someone gets hurt, so I’m going to stay right here and keep doing what I’m doing.” The book’s example: “I’m not taking you to the playground today. I don’t want to end up getting mad and yelling again” (95). So the kid thinks, “Hmph. I can’t go to the park because stupid Mom can’t control herself. She’s so mean. It’s not fair.” The kid is not taught what s/he did to make the mother get mad and yell. The book gives another example, saying when you’re an adult and you send something to someone and it gets returned in poor condition, you don’t punish the person by slapping them or locking them up or stealing from them; you’d say “I get upset when my things come back damaged” (96). NO, the more likely response is, “You can’t borrow my things anymore because you don’t treat them well.” It’s an accusation, and it’s true. Saying “I get upset...” is putting the blame on the lender, when the real blame lies with the borrower.

“Children need us to validate their feelings so they can become grown-ups who know who they are and what they feel” (17). Wrong. Generations of kids did not get their feelings validated, and yet they still became adults who knew who they are and what they feel.

4. Word substitutes: Suggests using “the problem is” instead of “but” after an empathy statement; use “as soon as you do this, we can do that” instead of “if you do this, then i’ll give you that” (18, 120-121). Even if different words are used, the meaning is the same. Using three words that basically mean the same thing as one is just more blah blah blah that the kids won’t listen to. Also, phrasing it like that (“you want the ice cream now. The problem is we have a rule about no ice cream before dinner”), it implies that the problem is the thing preventing the kid from getting what they want, not the child’s desires. But the truth is that the child’s desires are what are wrong. It’s okay to have desires, but it’s not okay to give in to those desires. It’s not good to teach kids that the rules are the problem; it might make kids want to change the rules or get rid of the parents or other authority figures who make the rules. Another bad example this book gives is about a kid who wants to eat more than 2-3 pieces of candy: “It would be nice to have a mother who wasn’t so fussy about food! One of those nice moms who gives you candy for lunch, and it’s all, ‘Oh dear, I must make sure my children are so healthy’” (380-381). This teaches a kid that even if an authority has a good reason for making the rules/laws, if the kid wants what he wants, he is the victim while the authority is to blame as being unfair and mean.

Using “even though you know...” is not any better. A kid who hears this will just reply, “Yeah, that’s how I feel. So give me what I want.”

5. Advises matching your kid’s emotion, including yelling (26-28). So this encourages the kid to yell when they’re upset.

6. Advises saying what you observe. I tried it: “I see you’re doing what I told you not to do.” Kid had the same response as when I gave the command “Stop doing that”: kid stopped doing the action, but minutes later went back to doing it. I said, “I see you haven’t put your PJ pants on yet.” Kid just said “I see you haven’t either.” FAIL.

7. Advises not punishing kids. “Can you remember being punished as a child? Did it inspire you to change your bad behavior” (88)? Yes, it did for me! And it did for many other kids I know! If a punishment doesn’t work, it’s because it isn’t harsh enough for the kid to care.

“Punishment prompts a child to think selfishly” (90). Everyone is selfish already; it’s the nature of humans and animals. That’s why capitalism works. Empathy often doesn’t work because people, especially kids, don’t care enough about other people to change their behavior. Does volunteer work make the world go round? No, it’s paid work that does. Is a boss going to be understanding and just talk to an employee who repeatedly broke the rules? No, the employee will be punished with getting fired. Does having a talk with a criminal get them to stop committing crimes? No, that’s why we have prisons. Prisons don’t work too well either (because prison isn’t a harsh enough punishment), but at least it keeps them locked up so they don’t keep committing crimes.

Joanna only advises punishment if it’s pretend punishment like putting one of her kids in pretend jail for a short amount of time, and the kid enjoys it (289). Oh yeah, like *that’s* going to motivate the kid to not be bad in the future? HA!

8. “Express your feelings . . . Strongly! ‘HEY, I don’t like to see people being pushed” (92)! Common sense thought from a kid: “I don’t care what you like.” Book’s comic book example (129): Instead of Mom saying, “You’re going to your room! And no dessert for you tonight” & Kid saying “I don’t care!”, Mom should say, “I’m upset! I don’t like what I see!” And the authors really think the kid will care more about how mom feels than about missing out on dessert? HA! Imagine being at work and your boss doesn’t like your work. What will you care more about: The boss saying, “I don’t like what I see” or the boss not paying you for the day’s work? The truth is that people are selfish; most will care more about themselves over other people’s feelings. I tried the book’s suggestion anyway: “I don’t like the toys being on the kitchen floor.” Kid ignored me and didn’t clean them up. FAIL.
9. When your kid does something wrong, instead of getting mad or punishing, ask the kid what to do to fix it (102-103). The problem is that kids often enjoy the fixing as well as the destruction/mess. So there is no incentive for them to not cause the destruction/mess in the future.

The problem with giving kids choices and asking them to come up with solutions is that it sends the message to kids that they are equals in the relationship, that parents are not the authority. It may be manageable when the kids are young and the parents can trick the kids into thinking they’re getting their way when they’re secretly making their parents happy. But what about when the kids get to be teenagers, and what they want are things like having sex and doing drugs? Is the parent going to say “I understand you want to have sex and do drugs, but Mom worries about kids when they do those things. What solutions can we come up with?” You really think the kid is going to agree to NOT do those things? No, the kid will be too old at that point to fall for your tricks. The kid won’t fear you either, because you’ve shown them all their life that you are not their authority figure, just a figure to negotiate with. And the kid being unable to obey authority figures isn’t going to help them out when they get a job either.

The book gives an example of a boy who won’t use the potty even though he knows how to (110-112). The boy comes up with the solution to have the statue of liberty tell him to use the potty. It works. So the boy obeys an inanimate object, and not his mother. And this is a good thing? The authors think yes, because it makes the kid use the potty and keeps the peace. But it won’t be so good when that boy is a teenager and isn’t obeying his mom and is too old to obey inanimate objects. The book says “It’s difficult to physically punish a child who is larger and stronger than you are” (128). But the beauty of punishment is that once it’s established, the fear of it is enough to keep kids in line. It’s not like rewards which have to keep coming in order to keep the good behavior going. A good punishment can be done just one time, and the fear of that happening again can be enough to keep kids behaving well for years.

10. Like most other discipline books, this one says no to time outs. Parents can put themselves in time out (122), or sit in time out with their child with the parent’s arm around the child comfortingly (123). The latter rewards the child’s bad behavior with love and attention from the parent.
11. Don’t say “I’m proud of you” because it credits the parent when the child should be the one credited. I disagree that that statement credits the parent; it just shows that the parent is happy with the child. The book advises instead to say “You must be pretty pleased with yourself!” (155) So in addition to these positive discipline books advising parents to not make kids feel any blame or shame, they also don’t want the kids to want to please their parents, only themselves. Sounds like the recipe for a narcissist or a sociopath.
12. If your kid hates going to school, make up excuses to pick him up early everyday! (185)
13. If your kid can’t consistently use the potty, give her a diaper vacation (189). Just hope that she volunteers to wear underwear again and doesn’t regress.
14. If you want your kid to go outside to play, but the kid doesn’t want to, instead of suggesting for him to go outside, stay inside to play with him instead (198). This is completely catering to the kid.
See my comment below for more bad advice this book gives.
Profile Image for Courtney Squire.
145 reviews
May 26, 2019
I WAS BLIND, BUT NOW I SEE!! This book has changed EVERYTHING! Before reading this book, I thought I was a good parent, and maybe I was. But I don’t want to be just a “good” parent. I want to be an amazing one. Ever since picking up this book I feel like my eyes have been opened and my perspective on parenting has completely changed for the better.

This book really is a survival guide. I feel like I can now thrive in life with my child, whereas before this book, it was all just a big struggle.

They describe helpful tools to use for parenting in every chapter. They include cute comics in the chapters to help you remember the tools you were just taught. And I love how much emphasis they put into acknowledging children’s feelings. It is the most important tool to use and it is the most overlooked one.
When your child is upset, they need their feelings acknowledged so they feel heard and understood. “It’s hard having to get out of your comfy bed to go to school in the mornings.” When children’s feelings are acknowledged it will solve a lot of your problems already and it will also build a foundation of trust between you and your child.

From what I’ve experienced so far, I can see the tools working their magic on my own child. One time, my husband was working in his office upstairs and it was vital that he had a few hours of being alone to finish his work. So I was playing with our son downstairs and he really wanted to show Daddy what he made out of his play doh. It looked like a Pokémon and he looked really proud of it. I explained that Daddy had to work but he can show it to him when Daddy was finished. When I turned my back on him for two seconds, he bolted up the stairs towards the office. I yelled his name “HENRY!” And heard him stop in his tracks on the staircase. I caught up to him and I saw that he had tears in his eyes. Normally I would have scolded him. “I told you Daddy was working and you didn’t listen! If you don’t listen, then I’ll have to take something away!” But instead of doing this, I bit my tongue and sympathized with him. “Is it sad that Daddy needs to work?” My son nodded his head feebly and said “Yeah.” My mama heart hurt to see him so sad so I told him that I’d check on Daddy to see if he’s busy. And after that, my son bounded downstairs with hope and fortunately my husband was able to come down for two minutes and see his son’s really cool play doh creation. There was no need to punish my son, or make him feel bad for wanting to show off his creation to his Daddy.

My son ALWAYS takes forever to eat his dinner. It’s a constant battle with him. I’m always telling him “Eat another bite of your food.” “Three more bites.” “Why are you taking so long to eat?” “You can’t just drink juice, you need food too.” It’s gotten exhausting. But I used a tool where I was playful with him. I made dinner into a game and said “I don’t think you can eat your potatoes before me!” So then it was whoever could eat their potatoes first. I let him win of course, which made him absolutely thrilled. He also cleaned off his plate, which NEVER happens! And even more astonishing, he even reached for seconds! I had a proud mama moment.

This book has honestly saved me. I know to acknowledge my child’s feelings, be playful, and problem solve, and so much more.

Reading this book, I’ve felt really guilty. All the things in this book that they’re telling you NOT to do, are exactly what I was doing before. I was using rewards, I was using threats, I was using the timeout corner. I was using all these different methods and still pulling my hair out because they weren’t working. But I love how this book also sympathizes with the parents. The authors are parents as well and have been in your shoes. They tell you that it’s okay to be angry from time to time, it only means you’re human. They reassure you that it’s not too late to instill these new rules to create a more loving and trusting household.

I feel like shouting from the rooftops! “I’VE FOUND IT! I’VE FINALLY FOUND IT! THE SURVIVAL GUIDE TO PARENTING!” I want to tell every single parent I know about this book. I want everyone’s lives to be easier because of this book. I want this book to help change parenting in people’s homes the way it did for mine. I want others to feel the relief of FINALLY having some answers on what you should really do!

Thank you so much Joanna Faber and Julie King. You two are true experts and I will use your parenting methods from now on. Because of you, my child won’t resent me when I put him in the corner. He and I will be problem solving buddies whenever something goes south. I already feel as though I can be more playful and happy and comfortable with him. I truly am grateful.
Profile Image for Dave.
52 reviews15 followers
February 2, 2019
This was extremely useful - highly recommended for parents of small kids.

I found a lot of tips which seemed useful, and was often surprised by how smoothly they worked in real life. A few times after defusing annoying situations surprisingly easily, I turned around to my wife and pointed at myself with a smug look, like "check out the skills on this guy"!

Each section of the book tackles a different problem area, e.g. "food" (when kids refuse to eat etc) or "mornings" (how to get kids out of the house in a somewhat reasonable timeframe - God knows I needed this one). The sections each have their own individual lessons, but there is useful repetition of basic concepts across sections, e.g. acknowledging your child's feelings ("You really wanted to keep watching TV, didn't you?"). This repetition of the basic concepts helps cement the lessons.

The book is full of descriptions of real situations, complete with dialogue - this is very helpful in figuring out how the lessons apply concretely in real life.
Profile Image for Kathleen.
330 reviews13 followers
March 5, 2018
I found the book to be redundant (lots of examples given, and advice was repeated).

I did enjoy the prevailing message: “listen to and acknowledge your children’s feelings”! The book allowed me to shift my perspective outside of myself... why won’t my children listen to me, why are they acting this way, etc.... and see their view of the world, how they don’t have the language to express themselves, how they have trouble remembering my requests, etc. it was a good reminder to be patient with them and with myself. (Although, I feel as though that could’ve been expressed in a book half the size or even an article.)
And I did like the specific example of speaking for your child and saying “she will do that when she feels ready.” This gives your child space and responsibility/control, all while acknowledging her feelings. I’ve found it to be helpful.

As a follower of Christ, I could feel the lack of a Christian worldview. I read the book knowing it wasn’t a Christian book, by it was hard to get over the lack of mentioning sin nature and the grace and redemption for sins of both children and parents that can be found in Christ. Also, I found the book’s goal of not punishing your children and its odd way to praise (ie not saying “I’m proud of you”) to be... unattainable, unrealistic, defeating, etc.? I realize this isn’t the authors’ intent and they do give a lot of “but this doesn’t work all the time” caveats.
Profile Image for alwz.
124 reviews2 followers
April 22, 2017
So this book had good examples of how to actually implement things I've read in other books (Lansbury, et al) but with actual practical steps for implementation, and a real awareness that parenting little kids is damn hard and we there is no magic bullet that will make our kids into angels or give us the patience of saints- but that parenting in a respectful, gentle way can actually be done, with little kids, without me having a personality transplant.
Profile Image for Brittany.
1,050 reviews17 followers
April 18, 2017
This book is a game-changer. It has forced me to stop, think and evaluate why I talk to kids (especially my own) the way I do and how it could be tweaked and made so much better and more effective. It's a dense read, but it's packed with many real-life examples and multiple different scenarios and synopses that while helpful, could also be glossed over. Most importantly, it is a powerful tool in communicating in general and not necessarily just with little kids. Because it's about assuming the positive and acknowledging feelings. It's about being playful and imaginative and offering choices. And it's about problem solving and working together. I think this book is so necessary that after finishing it, I immediately flipped back to the beginning and read the first two chapters over again. The lessons learned are forever embedded in the back of my mind and the positive outcomes are far-reaching.
Profile Image for Anthony Keys.
38 reviews11 followers
February 15, 2017
I gave it three stars, even though some of the tips were really good and effective with my son. Unfortunately, there is no "right" way to parent and emotions do get involved when you are upset. The "no consequences" approach is still hard for this blue collar boy to digest, but I would recommend parsing out pieces from this book. Read it and take what you need when dealing with your kid.
Profile Image for Edd.
130 reviews15 followers
February 28, 2019
كتاب رائع مليء بالأمثلة وتجارب الآباء والأمهات مع اولادهم الصغار. يحتوي على العديد من الادوات التربوية الملهمة، تساعد في تهدئة الصغار وصقل شخصيتهم.
انصح المربيين بإضافته الى مكتبة الكتب التربوية جنباً الى جنب مع كتب التربية الشرعية 🍄
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
233 reviews8 followers
January 17, 2020
I've read about half of How to Talk so Little Kids Will Listen: A Survival Guide to Life with Children Ages 2-7, and have reached the point where it's time to shelf it for reference. It's a helpful book, but after reading so many "stories" of parental success, all written in the same voice ("To my surprise, it worked! And Little Johnny has loved broccoli ever since.") I just needed to give it a rest before I started irrationally hating the authors and parent characters.

The advice seems sounds, although I haven't had much opportunity to put it into action yet. I just can't read it as a book. It's padded out to a completely unnecessary length with all the parenting stories, and I found them horribly grating after awhile.

Profile Image for Laura.
117 reviews
October 22, 2020
This book is kind of a slog. All the advice is based totally on anecdotes. But once again I'm obviously not the target audience lol. (Which seems to be upper middle class whole foods parents) the advice boils down do "acknowledge their feelings" and "give them a choice! Do they want to take a bath with CUPS or BUBBLES" and I can only handle the phrase "that sounds FRUSTRATING!" so much. I feel like if you tried the "reflect their feelings and use the word frustrating a lot" method on anyone over 3 they would start to realize you're being a robot pretty quickly but then again I dropped out of social work school so I'm inherently biased against using the phrase "that sounds FRUSTRATING!" as some kind of therapeutic panacea
Profile Image for Kristen McBee.
318 reviews4 followers
February 27, 2021
Solid examples of ways to connect with your kids. I suggest starting with “No Drama Discipline” to build your foundation and for an abuse-free perspective (to clarify: this book does not advocate for spanking, but I don’t think they were emphatic enough about saying that hitting your children is not okay).
Profile Image for Erkan.
268 reviews43 followers
December 21, 2021
Dört yaşında bir oğlum var ve ona nasıl davranmamız gerektiğini bilemediğimiz türlü olaylar ve durumlar yaşıyoruz. Bu kitabı da kitapçıda gezerken çok az inceleyip büyük ölçüde içgüdüsel olarak iyi olduğunu tahmin edip aldım. Bu kadar iyi çıkmasını beklemiyordum. Benim ufkumu açtı ve bir çok konuda alternatif geliştirmemi sağladı, doğru bildiğim yanlışları da fark etmeme yaradı.
Profile Image for Zara.
625 reviews36 followers
September 4, 2018
This was pretty excellent. The book is organized clearly, the writing is accessible and enjoyable, and the tone is not obnoxiously judgmental, which I've come across in some other parenting books. I actually feel like I'm walking away with useful tools and language to use with my 3 year old.
Profile Image for Anne.
272 reviews8 followers
August 1, 2021
I have no doubt these tools are effective and a great way to teach young kids how to name and navigate tough emotions and problem solve. I DO doubt my ability to have the patience and recall to do any of this effectively. I hope I can remember and utilize them, at least sometimes, as Zoe gets further into toddlerhood.
Profile Image for HWC.
63 reviews
January 1, 2021
Finished my 20th book in the nick of time!!!! Great book with tools on how to handle toddlers - will they work with Char? Only time will tell.... 😬
Profile Image for Michelle.
49 reviews
June 23, 2022
I mean, my little kid doesn't listen, but I have hope.
May 23, 2023
An excellent book! A lot of concrete steps and examples when talking to young children whether it’s discipline, praise, problem solving, etc. Will definitely be buying a hard copy of this book for future reference!
Profile Image for India.
169 reviews
September 7, 2021
5 billion stars. I love this book. I’ve read a lot of parenting books, and this is right up there with the most useful of them (probably first equal with Alfie Kohn’s Unconditional Parenting). Lots of the experts I’ve read pay homage to the How to Talk principles, but none explain it as clearly as this, with useful anecdotes and chapter summaries.
A few things I’ve been doing differently since reading this:
- Making sure my tone matches my son’s feelings when I’m acknowledging them: “That’s so FRUSTRATING!!!” rather than the same words in an irritating sing-song voice (which is probably what I was doing before).
- Giving in fantasy: “I wish you could play outside all day and all night!”
- Erasing “but” from my vocabulary and instead using “the problem is”: “You really feel like throwing that glass! That’s fun for you! The problem is I’m worried about it breaking. I’m going to put it on this shelf to keep it safe. Let’s find something you can throw.”
- Describing progress when the goal hasn’t been fully achieved: “You got the shoe over your toes! Now let’s push it all the way on.”
- Haven’t used it yet but I love the phrasing “Alfie will join you (or whatever) when he’s ready” in social situations where he’s feeling shy.
And just in general it’s encouraged me to be more playful, which always works incredibly well.
Profile Image for Carmen Liffengren.
815 reviews32 followers
September 6, 2018
3.5 Stars

This is the first parenting book that I've read in years. After spending my early years of parenting dutifully reading parenting books, I realized that I was coming away with lots of conflicting and muddled advice. I remember the moment I revolted against more discipline books. I knew that I was going to have to carve out my own path knowing that raising children is more an art than a science. This book has some sage advice in the simple notion that we must show empathy and "acknowledge feelings." However, the book is often repetitive and thus, overly long. My youngest children, seven year-old twins are almost beyond the scope of this book, but I decided to give it a shot. Faber offers a lot of scenarios to try various tactics from the toolbox, but truly, the biggest gem is that first, as parents, is to acknowledge their feelings. Sometimes, that's half the battle and the means to teaching a child that they are heard. That's something I do already, but this book reminded me to be more consistent. It can be so easy to write off a child's feelings about something parents find silly. My lower rating really is more a reflection of the length of the book and it's structure as a more of a workshop.
Profile Image for Mary.
1,407 reviews14 followers
June 15, 2020
"The best way to help a child get over it, is to help him go through it."

If you know me well, you know that I do not. Read. Parenting. Books. I had shelves of parenting books as an early Mom, and in a fit of rage when my kid was around 9 or 10 months, I swept them off my shelf and tossed them, frustrated and angry by how helpless I felt trying to parent a small child who fit none of the molds or ideals presented to me in these books. You guys, this book ACTUALLY includes entire chapters devoted to the extra challenges and quirks that come with parenting neurodivergent children. That alone feels like a miracle. But on top of that, the advice is practical and concrete, and though the book looks long, it's efficient--it so nicely pulls together and encapsulates several of the positive/gentle/respectful parenting strategies I have used and appreciated, such as the collaborative problem solving model developed by Ross Green and the problems with parenting via rewards and sticker charts discussed by Alfie Kohn.

If you are a parent, or hope to be one, or are soon to be one, this is really the only book you need to read. I honestly mean that.
Profile Image for Sarah.
379 reviews28 followers
January 11, 2019
This book was just the kick in the pants I needed. I feel like my parenting was slowly devolving and reading this gave me concrete strategies to implement that are in line with my values. I had read How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk a few years ago and loved it. I appreciate how this one focuses on the younger years, the depths of which I am currently muddling through. Highly recommend!
Profile Image for Radina ☕ Ravenclaw.
68 reviews53 followers
January 21, 2023
Няколко прости инструмента, много примери как да ги използваме. Детето ми е още малко да ги прилагам, затова ще трябва да я препрочета (затова и 5-те звезди) и тепърва ще разбера дали работят.
Profile Image for Lizzie.
86 reviews3 followers
February 11, 2023
So many gems in here, there is a reason these books are classics
Profile Image for Magdalith.
352 reviews108 followers
August 8, 2018
Wszystkiego, co wiem o komunikacji (nie tylko z dziećmi) nauczyłam się z tej książki. I z jej poprzedniczek, których współautorką była matka Joanny - Adele Faber (czytałam i zachwycałam się nimi jeszcze jako nastolatka). "Jak mówić, żeby maluchy nas słuchały" jest ich świetną kontynuacją, skupiającą się na młodszych dzieciach.
Ale wszystko, co zawierają te poradniki, doskonale sprawdza się również przy porozumiewaniu się z ludźmi dorosłymi. Zaakceptuj i potwierdź czyjeś uczucia; nigdy nie neguj i nie pomniejszaj tego, co ktoś czuje; opisuj sytuacje bez oceniania i obwiniania; nazwij problem; wspólnie znajdźcie sposoby jego rozwiązania. Zamiast "Nie płacz, nic takiego się nie stało" - "Widzę, że jesteś bardzo smutny, to musiała być przykra sytuacja". Działa. Dzieci, które czują się rozumiane, zachowują się lepiej, myślą o sobie lepiej, są spokojniejsze i szczęśliwsze, ich więź z opiekunami jest silniejsza i - wbrew pozorom i lękom rodziców, że "zrobimy z nich mazgajów" - mazgają się mniej.
Nie lubię poradników "Jak żyć", "Jak poradzić sobie z agresywnym dzieckiem", "Jak stworzyć szczęśliwą rodzinę" itp, itd, do większości pozycji o wychowaniu dzieci zawsze mam jakieś zastrzeżenia. Ale te książki są inne. Przede wszystkim zawierają minimum porad, a maksimum prawdziwych sytuacji z życia i opowieści rodziców. Przez to są nie tylko wiarygodne, ale też niezwykle wzruszające. No i to wszystko naprawdę działa w praktyce, ręczę swoją kilkunastoletnią praktyką - ja nadal lubię pracę z dziećmi, a myślę, że gdybym nie miała w ręku odpowiednich narzędzi, które mi pomagają, dawno już bym zwariowała ;)
Profile Image for Michael Burnam-Fink.
1,503 reviews227 followers
March 27, 2022
There's some famous veterinary advice about how to treat cats. DON'T FIGHT A CAT. USE YOUR BRAIN. USE DRUGS. It's also decent parenting advice.

The basic premise of How to Talk so Little Kids Will Listen is that your urge to discipline and punish, to control you little chaos monkey, may make you feel like you have a handle on things in that moment, but it won't solve your parenting challenge. Instead, you set up an escalating series of boundary testing challenges, and a little kid has more energy and creativity than you do.

Instead, the axiom of this book is that kids won't act right if they don't feel right, and the first step is to label and validate the bad feelings, because kids lack the skills to do so themselves. And while you can't USE DRUGS, you can use verbal judo technique such as fantasy, offering a choice between options which are fine to you, and pointing to external controls like lists and timers to neutralize hard choices like having to get dressed and go to school.

It's all very touchy-feely, and my own kid is too young for me to give first-hand approval and that last star. But I can say, having witnessed the exact opposite of this book's recommendations first hand, it's not like this can be worse.
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