‘How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen': Advice from the author

February 15, 2017
in Kids

Joanna Faber didn’t set out to write a sequel to the best-selling “How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk,” co-written by her mother, Adele Faber, and Elaine Mazlish in 1980. In fact, she resisted it. “Those are big shoes to fill,” said Faber, herself a parenting expert and educator who uses the “How to Talk” concepts in parenting workshops. The book, which detailed parent-child communication methods, sold more than 3 million copies. But Faber, along with colleague Julie King, wanted to offer practical advice geared specifically toward young children. “We heard from so many people, saying, ‘I love this approach, but what do I do when my 2-year-old won’t put his shoes on?’ ” Faber said. “It’s hard to translate theory into action, especially when you’re in the midst.” The result is their new book, “How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen: A Survival Guide to Life With Children Ages 2-7.” We spoke with Faber about why kids tune out parents, the power of playfulness and why giving commands can backfire. Washington Post: How is your book similar to or different from your mom’s book? Joanna Faber: The principles are the same, the feeling is the same. The driving force is based on finding ways to build relationships that respect the needs of the adults and the needs of the child. It’s different in that we took those tools and put them into chapters by common challenges. If you have struggles at bedtime, you can go right to the bedtime chapter. And we added a chapter on kids with special needs: Often these parents don’t see themselves represented, so we collected a whole bunch of stories of parents using these skills in a modified way based on the developmental level of their child. WP: How can we resolve conflicts with our kids? JF: There are ways of making kids feel cooperative. That is key. It’s always about how you feel. If you don’t feel right you are probably not going to act right. We can use problem-solving. They might have a meltdown, but you can come back and reconnect with your kid. You are teaching a way of life; when we have a conflict what do we do? When someone does something you don’t like, do you think of a way to hurt them — smack them? Or think...

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