I’m slowly working through “How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen” by Joanna Faber and Julie King. Much slower than expected actually! But I didn’t want to wait before sharing one of my biggest takeaways from this book so far.
First of all, I bought this book because I found myself saying “hey, listen!” “you are not listening!” “you did not listen to me!” over and over again to my 4 and 6-year-old boys. It was pretty easy after that to determine an area in my parenting that needed some troubleshooting and that was “getting my kids to listen”.
It’s important to have an open mind when reading a book on parenting and expect that you are not going to agree with everything the author suggests. If you take the book for what it’s worth and apply principles or ideas that you think will align with your own parenting values, then it can certainly be helpful. Even in the first few chapters, I have found myself agreeing with some of the suggested methods, and disagreeing with others, but all parts have helped me think a little bit more deeply about how I speak to my kids!
The takeaway is this: If there is a way you can speak and relate to your kids in order to validate their feelings, do it. For example, let’s imagine the kids and I are playing outside. It’s time to go in for dinner so I tell the boys to wrap up their playtime in about 5 minutes. When it’s time to come inside, David gets upset and frustrated that his playtime outside is over and stomps inside with a frown on his face. My gut reaction a few months ago was to say, “David, I gave you a 5-minute warning and now it is time to come inside. Please do not have a bad attitude about it!” but after starting to read this book, I’ve tried to pivot how I speak to him when he’s upset about something like this. Instead, now I try to look at him in the eyes and say, “I know you love playing outside, I love it too. I love playing outside so much more than playing inside actually. Sometimes I think I would like to LIVE outside on a perfect weather day, wouldn’t you? It’s hard to end playtime outside, I understand, but I need you to come inside when I say that it is time, without stomping your feet and being angry please.” My effort here is to validate his feelings and connect with him (“I would feel that way too”) but also still inform him that his actions are not acceptable (“Please do not stomp your feet in anger”).
The book, quite obviously I’m sure, does a much better job of explaining this method for speaking with your kids. I like using this example because it aligns with my mindset of speaking to your kids respectfully, validating how they feel, but still remaining the authority figure.
I’m certain there will be many more helpful lessons as I continue to read, but as this one takeaway has already made such a difference in how my kids react to me, I wanted to share it with you.