Parenting Information | Debra A. Hill, MD - Orange County

Summary of How to Talk So Kids Will Listen, and How to Listen so Kids Will Talk:

Based on the book from authors Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

1. Helping Children Deal with Their Feelings There is a direct connection between how kids feel and how they behave. When kids feel right, they behave well. How can we help them feel right? By accepting their feelings!

Problem- Adults usually don’t accept children’s feelings; for example:
“You don’t really feel that way.”
“You’re just saying that because you’re tired.”
“There’s no reason to be upset.”
“You can’t be hot. It’s cold in here.”
CHILD: I’m tired.
ADULT: You can’t be tired, you just napped.
CHILD: (louder) But I’m tired!
ADULT: You’re not tired, you’re just a little sleepy, come on, let’s get moving.
CHILD: (wailing) No, I’m tired!
CHILD: It’s hot in here.
ADULT: It’s cold, keep your sweater on.
CHILD: No, I’m hot.
ADULT: I said, “Keep your sweater on!”
CHILD: I’m hot!
ADULT: Stop whining!

Not only is the conversation turning into an argument, it seems as though over and over again we teach children not to trust their own perceptions. Try tuning in to what children are saying, instead of denying their feelings.

Read the next few examples, and in spaces provided supply your own answers.

CHILD: I don’t like the new baby.
ADULT: What a terrible thing to say. Of course you love your baby sister.
CHILD: I don’t like the new baby.
ADULT: So you feel like you don’t like the new baby?
CHILD: No, the baby cries all of the time.
ADULT: I see. That sounds very frustrating.
CHILD: It is! It keeps me awake at night.
ADULT: Hmm, I seee. Do you think maybe there’s something that we could do to block the noise of the baby crying?
CHILD: Maybe put a fan or some music in my room?
ADULT: Wow, you just had an excellent idea! We’ll get that set up for you.

To Help With Feelings

1. Listen with full attention.
2. Acknowledge their feelings with a word, “Hmm, I see, or oh.”
3. Give their feelings a name.
4. Give them their wishes in fantasy.

All Feeling Can Be Accepted. Certain Actions Must Be Limited

1. Engaging Cooperation
To engage cooperation:
a. Describe. Describe what you see or describe the problem.
b. Give Information
c. Say it with a Word.
d. Talk about your feelings.
e. Write a note.

2. Alternatives to Punishment
Alternative to Punishment:
a. Express your feelings strongly without attacking the child’s character.
b. State your expectations.
c. Give a choice.
d. Take action.
e. Let them experience the consequences- Problem solve together.

3. Encouraging Autonomy
To Encourage Autonomy:
a. Let children make choices
b. Show respect for a child’s struggle
c. Don’t ask too many questions
d. Don’t rush to answer questions
e. Encourage children to use sources outside of the home
f. Don’t take away hope

4. Praise
To Over Praise:
a. Describe what you see:
ie. Instead of “Nice work” try “I see a clean ?oor, a smooth bed, and books neatly on the shelf!”
b. Describe what you feel:
ie. “It’s a pleasure to walk into this room!”
c. Sum up the child’s praiseworthy behavior with a word:
ie. “You sorted your crayons, pencils, and markers. That’s what I call being organized!”

5. Freeing Children from Roles
To Free Children from Roles:
a. Look for opportunites to show the child a new picture of themselves.
b. Put children in situations where they can see themselves di!erently.
c. Let children overhear you saying something positive about them.
d. Model the behavior you’d like to see.
e. Be a storehouse for your children’s special moments
f. When your child acts according to the old label, state your feelings

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