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Monday, August 27, 2012

Book Review: How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk

As a parent, have you ever wondered what could be a better solution to your child's tantrums? Do you frequently come across situations where the child asks for something and you deny it, and this keeps on repeating for 10-15 minutes until either you give in or make the child cry for another good 15 minutes till she gets distracted?

"How to Talk..." is a must read book on parenting; though it's focused more on the parents of 5-10 year olds, the advice is applicable to all sorts of dependents, in my opinion---even 25 year olds who have not started to live independently.

Look at the situation in the picture below, and compare with how the mother deals with it in a later picture in this post.

The book suggests that you deal with the situation of conflicting desires between you and your child by helping children deal with their feelings. The first step is to listen quietly and attentively to your child's concern, and thus, acknowledge their feelings. If a child is feeling hurt, he/ she _is_ hurt; denying this feeling is not a good strategy. In fact, you should give a name to their feeling so that they can understand themselves better. Without utter denial, assure the child that you understand how they feel and then follow up with other strategies.

The book is based around a set of strategies for dealing with 5 different areas: 

1. Helping Children Deal with Their Feelings
2. Engaging a Child's Cooperation
3. What to do Instead of Punishment
4. Encouraging Autonomy
5. Freeing up Children from Playing Roles

It serves you by providing lots of "case-study" sort of situations and a good collection of cartoons to help you absorb the material. Though definitely it's not without flaws, these strategies are better than making up your own--which could be several years from now (and thus, would apply only to your grandchildren).

[1] The book on amazon.com


  1. have you tried these strategies yourself? does it work?

  2. @Umar, no, it takes practice so I can't speak from personal experience. I am still working on some of the skills---it takes time to be creative when a child is driving you crazy :) However, the book itself is highly regarded by others I know who take parenting seriously. Hundreds of customer reviews on amazon cannot be wrong.

    From personal experience, there is one basic skill which is missing from Pakistani (or may be South Asian) parents: consistency. Lack of consistency is very bad for a child. For example, if you want your child to sleep at 8pm on certain days and 12am on other days, it confuses the little mind who cannot reason for himself. Similarly, if you let the child not tidy up his toys after playing sometimes and expect him to be more caring at other times, it doesn't work.

    I can go on and on...this is my favourite topics! :)

  3. Anonymous2:26 PM

    I will try the given example at my kids. Let see will it work or not?

    But it is an important topic. The basic & most important requirement is parent should spent time with their kids.


  4. Hi Sarfaraz,

    Of course, the first and foremost thing is to spend time with kids. Once you do that, you might realize that the behaviour of the child is different from what you would ideally want it to be. The second most important thing, in my opinion, is then to "be consistent" with your kid---don't let them play with your mobile phone one day and shout at them for doing the same the other day.

    Things become pretty challenging once you are able to meet the above mentioned "basics". Rearing a child in an uphill task.

  5. Great yar. Jay u r very right when you say "it takes time to be creative when a child is driving you crazy"

    Imran Salim