My Biggest Takeaway (so far) from a Parenting Book I’m Reading

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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.

You can find “How to Talk so Little Kids Will Listen” on Amazon by clicking here.

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Comments (31)

  1. Posted October 30, 2019

    I can’t imagine being a parent – it sounds crazy and I know you’re doing well, no matter what you think! ❤️✨

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com

  2. Sherry says
    Posted October 30, 2019

    Great advice…..really hearing others and understanding their feelings can go a long way towards a pleasant outcome.

  3. Ashley says
    Posted October 30, 2019

    That’s pretty much all I got out of that book! And I continue to use in my parenting as well, because it has worked several times. The first few chapters were good, and then it became a REALLY slow read for me.

    • Kate says
      Posted October 30, 2019

      Interesting!

  4. Kandie says
    Posted October 30, 2019

    This post couldn’t come at a better time!

    Right now I am dealing with so much anger, attitude, and blatant sass from my almost 11 year old daughter and so much anger and frustration from my almost 13 year old son. It seems out of nowhere but maybe this is just preteen and tween normalcy? Influences at school? It happens mostly when it’s switching gears or doing something that isn’t their preference, oh and of course stopping any technology they are using. Not to mention lately they are at each other’s throats and they have ALWAYS been super close and kind to one another. I just know my old tactics are not working anymore and my taking the empathetic approach versus the loose my cool approach is just going over their heads, like mom is not authoritative enough for their age. Again, maybe I have approached the terrible teens 🙁 I’m def going to check it out and if anyone has any ideas/books, this mama is all ears!!

    Thanks Kate!!!

    • Holly Rhodes says
      Posted November 3, 2019

      Good Discipline, Great Teens is a book I just started! Seems promising.

      Also I read No More Mean Girls and loved it so much! Great advice in that book.

      • Kandie says
        Posted November 4, 2019

        Thank you for the recommendations Holly! Much appreciated!! I’m going to look into those.

  5. Rena says
    Posted October 30, 2019

    Oh, I really wished I had known this when our children where little. Thanks for sharing!
    xx from Bavaria/Germany, Rena
    http://www.dressedwithsoul.com

  6. Jessica says
    Posted October 30, 2019

    I started reading this based on your instagram recommendation, and after a few chapters find it works better with my almost 3yo than 6yo. But there were a lot of good takeaways and I am waiting on the audiobook from my library so I can finish it. Transitions are the hardest time for us too, and getting ready and out of the house for work and school. Then we’re all yelling and crying and its just a miserable way to start the day.

  7. Brienne says
    Posted October 30, 2019

    This is a super helpful learning!! You should also check out the Raising Boys and Girls podcast (two seasons)… it’s wonderful in providing insight into where kids are at different developmental stages for boys and separately for girls, i.e. “who they are” at each developmental stage and “what they need” in that stage. These things will also fuel how we respond/instruct them. The podcast is interviews with licensed counselors who have also written other super helpful books such as “Raising Girls,” “Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys,” “Are My Kids on Track?” and “Raising Worry-Free Girls.”

  8. Aimee McNicholas says
    Posted October 30, 2019

    I have mixed feelings on the whole idea of validating their feelings. I do this as well to try and get my 5 year old to listen. I think that he needs to know that I understand his frustration (even after I have told him 8 billion times to do something). I just feel that too much of this is not really preparing them for the real world. Later on in life, no one validates your feelings. Your teachers or employers do not say “I’m sorry that you are frustrated that you have to do homework or you have that deadline, but I need you to get that done.” They just expect that you do what you are expected to do. I just worry that we are raising a generation of children that will not be able to function later in life because no one validates them.

    • Kate says
      Posted October 30, 2019

      I agree that not every single move they make needs to be validated, for sure. And I can see how younger generations can sometimes lack responsibility and fulfilling the whole “my yes means yes and my no means no” concept. What I appreciate is that the book has made me think about how I speak to them–which has a great impact on how they feel, process, and understand the world.

    • Cassie says
      Posted October 30, 2019

      I think the point is not so much validating the child’s feeling just for the sake of validating it, but rather for the child to learn to understand what they are feeling and hopefully see how it is influencing the behavior. If you teach a child to name and understand his feelings, hopefully he can become an adult that understands that his feelings drive behaviors, and those are things that he has the power to control.

    • Allison says
      Posted October 30, 2019

      I see what you’re saying–your boss may not validate your feelings (although it’d be nice if she did!), but hopefully when your kids is grown up s/he will have people (partner, friends, etc.) who will validate their feelings, so parents can play that role as a close, loved one. And, like Cassie said, I think it’s so helpful for kids to start to understand and deal with their emotions when they’re little. Hopefully when they’re an adult, they’ll be better able to understand and deal with their emotions than when they’re five. 🙂

    • Beth says
      Posted October 30, 2019

      Our homes don’t need to be a place where we toughen children up for the realities of the “real world”. Our homes should be a haven from the harshness of the “real world”
      If children feel validation and love within our homes it will help them feel secure about themselves and their feelings, regardless of whether or not their boss when they grow up understands the same principles.

    • H says
      Posted October 31, 2019

      Middle school teacher and mama here. I agree with some of the other comments that our job as parents isn’t really to prepare them for the harsh realities of the real world, especially with little ones! There’s plenty of time for that as they get older. On the teacher end, I do try to validate their feelings and then explain why that behavior/whatever was not appropriate. For example, I’ve been struggling with a student calling out in class and talking over students. We discussed how I know he’s really excited to share and that he’s really passionate about the topic, but we need to let others have the spotlight so they can participate too. If anything, I think parents are doing too much “real world” preparation, and we’re dealing with students that are more stressed/anxious/depressed than ever (statistically, the next generation of kids has much higher levels of anxiety, self harm, eating disorders, etc.). I’m trying to talk down 12 year olds who are in tears over a late assignment, less than an A, etc. Meanwhile I’m like “guys, this is middle school. It’s okay to not have a 100, turn in work late, be disorganized, etc.” They’re still learning and dealing with a lot!

  9. Cassie says
    Posted October 30, 2019

    This reminds me of the takeaway I got from “The Happiest Toddler on the Block” (or at least the chapters I was able to get through so far – life with toddler, ya know!). Empathize with your listener, try to relate to and engage them, and then they are more receptive to what you have to say. It works with toddlers, children, adults – basically all of us!

  10. Allison says
    Posted October 30, 2019

    I actually *just* read their book for Teens… and man, it has been helping! I am using the same sort of validation when it comes to my high schooler and his attitude towards homework, and it has helped keep both of us calm and collected!

  11. Anita says
    Posted October 30, 2019

    Thanks for sharing.
    I think that is good advice for any age. I know if I am upset about something and my husband or friend tells me it is nothing, it only makes it worse but if they even hint that they empathize, I am happier and my frustration dissipates! Simply human nature.

  12. Beth says
    Posted October 30, 2019

    My absolute parenting book ever! I’m so glad when parents discover it. Validate, validate, validate

    • Beth says
      Posted October 30, 2019

      *absolute favorite

  13. Martha says
    Posted October 30, 2019

    I am also reading this! I am finding it very helpful.

  14. Posted October 31, 2019

    Wow, this is a great tip. I think it can also be used with adults haha.

  15. JeRre Bergeron says
    Posted October 31, 2019

    First of all, I so admire you Kate that you are seeking ways to continue to strengthen your parenting skills. It is tough to carve out time when your kiddos are little in order to do so. However, It is a critical time to strengthen skills. The techniques you are learning in this book both challenge me and encourage me to think through the eyes of the child. And by doing both, helps me communicate with my little grands. Yes, parenting techniques continue throughout life. Thanks for sharing this terrific book.

  16. Sheila says
    Posted November 1, 2019

    As an Early Childhood Educator I often see adults not validating children’s feelings. As a Mom I remember just how hard that can be in everyday life! Thank You for promoting this ! Also I want to add that I love how real you keep your “live” videos but if the kids actually need you, the video is done right away! Thanks Kate!

  17. E says
    Posted November 2, 2019

    I started reading this too but life got in the way and my library loan expired. I’d love to hear more of your takeaways as you continue! I love the way you speak to your kids on stories

  18. Hilary Valenstein says
    Posted November 2, 2019

    I just as that’s book too (actually the audiobook)
    You’ve got the right idea in the scenario, just take out the “but.” The child still won’t feel heard. You can say “the problem is”

    It takes a lot of brain power to implement it. I’m working at it too!

  19. Tania says
    Posted November 2, 2019

    I have a 2.5 year old (and almost 8 month old) and I do this and it’s sooo helpful. I name the emotion and validate it and he can be having a full blown tantrum and will instantly calm down because he feels heard. Then I can talk to him about it.
    I’m actually a psychotherapist and see how not validating and teaching children how to regulate their emotions impacts them as adults. It’s so important for children to feel validation and learn to identify emotions and how to cope with those emotions.

  20. Lindsey says
    Posted November 2, 2019

    I recommend you follow the Instagram page @simplyonpurpose. She is amazing!!! Helps so many in the parenting world.

  21. Jennifer says
    Posted November 4, 2019

    Wow this honestly just made so much sense to me. I get so incredibly frustrated when my husband says stuff like that! Thanks for your comment, it really hit home!

  22. Kristina says
    Posted November 12, 2019

    I read this book so very many years ago when my boys were little and I found it so helpful! It’s probably worth a re-read. This is probably one of my top 5 parenting books. Another I really enjoyed was Love and Logic. Now that my oldest is 14 , I read Love and Logic for Teens. It was invaluably helpful to me!