books + reading · parenting

How To Talk So Little Kids Will Listen – Takeaways

A few months ago, I read How To Talk So Little Kids Will Listen by Joanna Faber and Julie King. I liked it a lot. It’s so easy, when you’re in the middle of parenting little kids, to forget your intentions and just lecture or yell or get frustrated.

I have a bunch of takeaways, and I think I’ll often refer

Takeaway # 1: Try it out on yourself. If you were having a lousy day, how would you feel or respond if someone acted the way you are acting toward your kid? How would you feel if someone:

    1. denied your feelings? (It’s not that bad. You love this dinner. You don’t hate school.)
    2. gave you advice or a lecture?
    3. compared you with another kid?
    4. asked a bunch of questions? (Why did you do that when you know you shouldn’t?)

Probably not good, right?  Try it out on yourself and see how it feels. Then check in with  yourself and make sure you’re parenting the way you want to.

Takeaway # 2: Acknowledge feelings with words.

Takeaway # 3: All feelings can be accepted. Some actions must be limited. (I can see you’re angry. I can’t let you hit me.)

Takeaway # 4: Sit on those “buts.” Say, “The problem is…” instead. Saying but indicates, I hear how you feel and now I’ll tell you why that feeling is wrong. The problem is suggests that there’s a problem that can be solved without sweeping away the feeling. Also, you can use, “Even though you know…” (You don’t want to leave the playground. The problem is, it’s almost dinnertime.) (Even though you know you have to wash your hands after you use the potty, you really wish you didn’t have to so that you could get back to playing with trucks.)

Takeaway # 5: Acknowledge feelings with writing or drawing. (Write or draw how they feel.)

Takeaway # 6: Give in fantasy what you can’t give in reality. “Wouldn’t it be nice if we could have candy every day?”

Takeaway # 7: Resist the urge to ask questions of a disturbed child. (I’m really good at this when it comes to my students, but not with my own kids. I constantly ask my three-year-old why he did things. Spoiler alert: usually, he doesn’t know why.)

Takeaway # 8: FOR COOPERATION:

  1. Be playful. (Make inanimate objects talk. Turn a task into a goal (time them) or a game. Talk in funny voices. Freeze like an iceberg. Avoid lava quicksand (when you’re trying to walk somewhere). Give them an energy pill that makes them clean up really fast. Make up different characters – Dress Up Ninja Mommy. Pretend you’re flying. Be an animal – what animal should we be on our way up the stairs today?
  2. Offer a choice. Do you want to skip to the car or take giant steps? Do you want your bath with boats or bubbles? Do you want to put your pajamas on the regular way or inside out? What else could you cut?

That’s all I have for now, but there’s way more. I ended up buying a copy of the book for future reference. Highly recommend.

assorted color sequins
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s