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on November 13, 2003
My mother-in-law, who is a child psychologist, introduced me to this book. She's been using it for years in her practice. I have been irritated by other books that seem to talk exclusively about how to help children while ignoring parents' needs. This book has great real-life examples and doesn't come down on stressed out parents for getting angry or saying dumb things. Instead, it gives practical exercises and rules for helping your relationship. Some of them are hard to do. Habits are hard to change. But it has made a world of difference between me and my 3-year-old. I'm so glad to have read this book so early in her life. I think it will spare us some of the heartache my mother and I experienced, mostly due to poor communication skills.
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on November 2, 2010
I read chapter one in the morning before my 3-year-old son woke up and most of our problems were solved by lunchtime! I went from wondering why I became a mother to smooth sailing. I didn't realize that I was denying everything he said or thought because in my mind I was the reasonable adult and he was the difficult toddler and if he thinks that vegetables are gross then I'd have to correct him because he is wrong and they are healthy. After I began acknowledging his point of view with the techniques in the book, he seemed to trust me enough to listen to and cooperate with me, instead of resisting everything I told him to do because I was resisting and squashing all of his opinions. Great illustrative examples - it's my favourite parenting book ever.
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on December 29, 2003
As a parent of 3 toddlers, I've read lots and this is by far the most useful, intelligent and common sense approach to communicating with anyone. If you read one book on parenting, this is it. It changed our lives. By practicing the concepts in this book, you will raise children that are self confident, curious and not afraid to communicate their feelings. Childrend want to tell you how they feel, the trick is learning how to respond. Now, of course, I watch our friends make far-reaching mistakes with their kids...but that's another book!
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on March 18, 2004
Although this best selling book was originally written more than 20 years ago, I find the advice and specific suggestions extremely on target in 2004. The main strategy that has made such a positive difference in my life is to acknowlege my child's feelings before I give the direction for compliance. Most of the time, I do try to give well-meaning, honest (not always calm) responses to my 3-year-old that unfortunately sometimes escalate into a raging tantrum or no win power struggle such as in the following example at bedtime...My son announced, "I'm really scared of the big closet monster, Mommy." I responded honestly, "There's nothing to be scared about, there is no such thing as a real monster. Monsters are just make believe."...This conversation was followed by a long screamimg and kicking fit from a very tired, frustrated little boy.
Now I have learned that by calmly talking to my son's feelings first, he knows that his point of view is understood and important to me. Then I have a better chance of getting him to stay in his bed. Because I chose to validate his feelings first, I got the cooperation I was after. I learned to say, "I see how worried you are...I've got a great idea...I'm getting the broom out to sweep the entire floor including every corner of your closet to make sure nothing is hiding in there...OK, it's completely empty, honey...only clothes in here. Hop in bed and I'll rub you back before our special good night kiss." ...It worked like a charm!
I also highly recommend another newer pocket-sized book to accompany this classic tome called "The Pocket Parent." It is based on the very same philosophy of Haim Ginott and is chock full of hundreds of quick read tips and funny, true, short anecdotes from moms and dads relating to the challenging behaviors of 2-5 year olds (anger, bad words, bedtime and mealtime refusals, sibling fights, interrupting, whining and many more). These 2 books have taught me and my husband so many techniques that have worked at least once. We continue to refer to them for specific sensible strategies (including the exact words to try on our son). We appreciate the upbeat tone and great sense of humor of both books. Additionally, FYI...both parenting books have been translated into Spanish and are both available through
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on March 8, 2004
...make it this one.
Effective communication is the foundation of good parenting. This book has practical, easy-to-implement techniques to improve your communication with your kids. The format is such that busy parents can pick it up and read briefly, yet still come away with a couple useful ideas to put into play right away. It is written in themed sections and there are cartoon scenarios to illustrate exchanges between parents and kids. The cartoons show things going poorly and then a better way to approach the exchange. At the end of each section, a one-page box sums up the techniques described, along with a real-life example of each principle.
Authors Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish worked with noted child psychologist Haim Ginott. In running parenting workshops utilizing Ginott's ideas, they accumulated lots of great real-life stories from parents that they use to illustrate their advice in this book. The content of the book is based on the themes that emerged from their parenting workshops, and thus resonates well with parents who want practical, straight-forward advice.
This is a book that we keep handy on the nightstand and each of us picks it up again from time to time for a refresher (it's so easy to fall back into non-productive ways!)
Improving your communication with your children will help you to get them to do what you want them to do; to understand better how they feel about things; to help them become more responsible; and to get them to talk to you--a real key as your child grows older and enters the teen years.
*If you have more than one child, check out Faber and Mazlish's Siblings Without Rivalry: How to Help Your Children Live Together so You Can Live Too, which is really the chapter on sibling rivalry that grew too large to fit into How to Talk!
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on September 18, 2010
Children are like computers - they can do great things but they speak their own language. This book teaches parents how to talk to their kids by first listening and acknowledging children's feelings. This 7-chaptered book is packed with scenarios that parents can relate to, comic strips to keep readers motivated and simple assignments and techniques that deliver results. From the methods you will learn to avoid turning simple conversations into argument, learn how to engage children's willing cooperation, use alternatives to punishment, set firm limits with goodwill, and encourage children's autonomy. Difficult concepts made easy through their effective writing and the recommended exercises make practice art of parenting perfect. A life-saver to many families including my own, HOW TO TALK SO KIDS WILL LISTEN will benefit you and your family greatly. If you have more than one child, Faber and Mazlish's other book, SIBLING WITHOUT RIVALRY is also highly recommended.
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on May 14, 2003
I have read this book from cover to cover several times - it's an easy read. But like chess - easy to learn, difficult to achieve mastery. Many of us need to learn methods to use in communication that were not modeled to us as children - a tough call. But with practice, this positive approach to communication will not only help you with your child, but with your spouse, your friends, co-workers, bosses, etc. As a friend, parent and educator, I've given this book away numerous times (and bought it numerous times!)
As for the first review above concerning the particular feedback "You must be so proud of yourself"... In using those words, you also acknowledge your positive feelings towards the child - a double whammy because children learn how to reflect on their own behaviour and give themselves the kudos they may not get in "real life".
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on November 27, 2002
During my first pregnancy, my husband would have loved for me to write HIM a book about childrearing so that he'd know what to do! He's never worked with kids, doesn't know much about early childhood development, and pretty much wanted me to set the tone for how we would raise and discipline ours.
I didn't think I'd find a book that hit the nail on the head as perfectly as this one, but lo and behold! This book is flawless! It's a light read, but PACKED with truly useful content.
There were several "AHA!" moments in reading it... I would say to myself, "Of COURSE! That's exactly how I felt as a kid!" [helpless, insulted, powerless, resigned, apathetic]. I could look back and admit how much better I would have behaved if I had felt respected, acknowledged, and empowered to help resolve a situation.
The exercises and examples do an excellent job of putting up a mirror to the reader's face. They challenge the parent to experience their own words from the child's perspective. It's difficult to back away from the controlling habit; it's tough for parents to let go of the "I'm the parent, and I'm in charge here" card. But when the book asks point-blank, "How would you feel if someone responded to you in this way...? How about if they responded like this instead...?", there is just no room for argument! It suddenly 'clicks' to the reader just how fruitless these power-struggles really are. And the book replaces these old habits with better tools - ones that will really get results.
I love that the authors stress putting yourself in the child's shoes. Too few "experts" willingly concede that kids are human beings deserving of (and craving) the same respect we want for ourselves. I also love that the case studies show that kids whose feelings are respected are more likely to learn to respect others' feelings. That is such a simple truth, and so many child-rearing books overlook it.
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on December 15, 2014
A must read for any parent! This book offers practical advice on how to talk to your kids right from toddler to teen. Description of techniques is backed up with easy to understand and practical real life examples...and they work! This book should be in every parent's library and referenced often.
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on December 17, 2012
This is definitely a book you want to read prior to having trouble. I identified many, many things that I was doing and saying that would have negative implications later. For example, my loving nicknames (stinky feet, shorty) can quickly turn into "it's okay to call people names" in his little brain. Add five or 6 years and you have me pulling out my hair wondering why on earth my sweet little boy is a name caller and a bully. Oh wait. I taught him that.

Many things are obvious to you when you read it, but if you are like me, you need them pointed out to you.

Read this when your kids are 2 or 3. So you have time to practice before they start understanding EVERYTHING you say.
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