“An excellent book that’s applicable to any relationship.” –Washington Post
“Practical, sensible, lucid…the approaches Faber and Mazlish lay out are so logical you wonder why you read them with such a burst of discovery.” –Family Journal
“An exceptional work, not simply just another ‘how to’ book…All parents can use these methods to improve the everyday quality of t heir relationships with their children.” –Fort Worth Star Telegram
From the Publisher
Get your kids' cooperation...without arguing. Morning hassles and bedtime battles disappear when you apply the communication techniques these experts have been teaching parents nationwide. Even if you've felt you had no other alternative than to lecture or criticize, you'll be able to reduce the wear and tear on yourself and your family with this practical program. Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish -- once frustrated mothers themselves -- use real-life situations to show how you can respect and respond to your child's feelings and satisfy your own needs.
You'll learn to: Avoid turning simple conversations into arguments Instruct rather than criticize when correcting your child Choose effective alternatives to punishment Show your child how to make amends Allow him to experience the direct consequences of his actions
See immediate changes in your relationship with your children -- changes that will mean the difference between bad feelings and good ones; between fighting and loving.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
1 Helping Children Deal with Their Feelings
I was a wonderful parent before I had children. I was an expert on why everyone else was having problems with theirs. Then I had three of my own.
Living with real children can be humbling. Every morning I would tell myself, “Today is going to be different,” and every morning was a variation of the one before: “You gave her more than me!” . . . “That’s the pink cup. I want the blue cup.” . . . “This oatmeal looks like throw-up.” . . . “He punched me.” . . . “I never touched him!” . . . “I won’t go to my room. You’re not the boss over me!”
They finally wore me down. And though it was the last thing I ever dreamed I’d be doing, I joined a parent group. The group met at a local child-guidance center and was led by a young psychologist, Dr. Haim Ginott.
The meeting was intriguing. The subject was “children’s feelings,” and the two hours sped by. I came home with a head spinning with new thoughts and a notebook full of undigested ideas:
Direct connection between how kids feel and how they behave.
When kids feel right, they’ll behave right.
How do we help them to feel right?
By accepting their feelings!
Problem—Parents don’t usually accept their 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 so upset.”
Steady denial of feelings can confuse and enrage kids. Also teaches them not to know what their feelings are—not to trust them.
After the session I remember thinking, “Maybe other parents do that. I don’t.” Then I started listening to myself. Here are some sample conversations from my home—just from a single day.
|CHILD:||Mommy, I’m tired.|
|ME:||You couldn’t be tired. You just napped.|
|CHILD:||(louder) But I’m tired.|
|ME:||You’re not tired. You’re just a little sleepy. Let’s get dressed.|
|CHILD:||(wailing) No, I’m tired!|
|CHILD:||Mommy, it’s hot in here.|
|ME:||It’s cold. Keep your sweater on.|
|CHILD:||No, I’m hot.|
|ME:||I said, “Keep your sweater on!”|
|CHILD:||No, I’m hot.|
|CHILD:||That TV show was boring.|
|ME:||No, it wasn’t. It was very interesting.|
|CHILD:||It was stupid.|
|ME:||It was educational.|
|ME:||Don’t talk that way!|
Can you see what was happening? Not only were all our conversations turning into arguments, I was also telling my children over and over again not to trust their own perceptions but to rely on mine instead.
Once I was aware of what I was doing, I was determined to change. But I wasn’t sure how to go about it. What finally helped me most was actually putting myself in my children’s shoes. I asked myself, “Suppose I were a child who was tired, or hot or bored? And suppose I wanted that all-important grown-up in my life to know what I was feeling . . . ?”
Over the next weeks I tried to tune in to what I thought my children might be experiencing, and when I did, my words seemed to follow naturally. I wasn’t just using a technique. I really meant it when I said, “So you’re still feeling tired—even though you just napped.” Or “I’m cold, but for you it’s hot in here.” Or “I can see you didn’t care much for that show.” After all, we were two separate people, capable of having two different sets of feelings. Neither of us was right or wrong. We each felt what we felt.
For a while, my new skill was a big help. There was a noticeable reduction in the number of arguments between the children and me. Then one day my daughter announced, “I hate Grandma,” and it was my mother she was talking about. I never hesitated for a second. “That is a terrible thing to say,” I snapped. “You know you don’t mean it. I don’t ever want to hear that coming out of your mouth again.”
That little exchange taught me something else about myself. I could be very accepting about most of the feelings the children had, but let one of them tell me something that made me angry or anxious and I’d instantly revert to my old way.
I’ve since learned that my reaction was not that unusual. On the following page you’ll find examples of other statements children make that often lead to an automatic denial from their parents. Please read each statement and jot down what you think a parent might say if he were denying his child’s feelings.
Did you find yourself writing things like:
“That’s not so. I know in your heart you really love the baby.”
“What are you talking about? You had a wonderful party—ice cream, birthday cake, balloons. Well, that’s the last party you’ll ever have!”
“Your retainer can’t hurt that much. After all the money we’ve invested in your mouth, you’ll wear that thing whether you like it or not!”
“You have no right to be mad at the coach. It’s your fault. You should have been on time.”
Somehow this kind of talk comes easily to many of us. But how do children feel when they hear it? In order to get a sense of what it’s like to have one’s feelings dismissed, try the following exercise:
Imagine that you’re at work. Your employer asks you to do an extra job for him. He wants it ready by the end of the day. You mean to take care of it immediately, but because of a series of emergencies that come up you completely forget. Things are so hectic, you barely have time for your own lunch.
As you and a few coworkers are getting ready to go home, your boss comes over to you and asks for the finished piece of work. Quickly you try to explain how unusually busy you were today.
He interrupts you. In a loud, angry voice he shouts, “I’m not interested in your excuses! What the hell do you think I’m paying you for—to sit around all day on your butt?” As you open your mouth to speak, he says, “Save it,” and walks off to the elevator.
Your coworkers pretend not to have heard. You finish gathering your things and leave the office. On the way home you meet a friend. You’re still so upset that you find yourself telling him or her what had just taken place.
Your friend tries to “help” you in eight different ways. As you read each response, tune in to your immediate “gut” reaction and then write it down. (There are no right or wrong reactions. Whatever you feel is right for you.)