Ok, so I’ve been wanting to write a review for this book since I received it – when it first came out – but I can’t find it in my house. I think that my child took it and is reading it so that he can learn all our tricks. Haha. My child doesn’t actually read yet but I am lucky I did before it went missing because it has done no less than change my relationship with him.
How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen is full of great, doable advice that is general enough for any situation, but with specific examples so that you know exactly what the authors are trying to explain. The real-life examples could easily have come from my family. For example, the child who wants something that fell into a crack in his car seat and it is inaccessible to him and to me, the driver. Joanna and Julie give great advice on how to respond to difficult situations with little kids that could easily cause a major meltdown.
For example, when the thing falls into the crack in the car seat and I can’t reach it, in the past my child would start yelling and screaming and then move into a full-on tantrum. I always felt that I had two choices: 1: I could pull over and stop, get out of the car, open the door where his car seat is, and retrieve the thing. That would stop the tantrum before it starts, but it would teach him that he is welcome to have his way whenever he threatens me with a tantrum. Or, 2: I could not get the thing, tell him to live with it for the 10 minutes (or whatever) until we get to where we are going. That response would surely invite crying escalating, into a full-on, inconsolable tantrum as the ride went on. I would have to listen to the screaming for the whole ride and then deal with it when we got to where we are going.
Julie and Joanna suggest a great third response: agree with my child that the thing is really important. Tell him that I wish I could reach the car seat to retrieve it. Then really get dramatic with it: talk about having a button on the dashboard that I could just push and a hundred of those things would magically appear! And then ask what we could do with a hundred of those things, until my child is so caught up in the fantasy that he has forgotten how much he wants the thing and we get to where we are going safe, sound, and happy. I’ve actually had to do this a number of times since reading the book. My child’s response still amazes me every time!
It sounds like magic, but it’s not. It is a way of listening to your child and validating his/her experience. How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen gives lots of ideas, stories and examples of how to do this in any number of difficult situations. I do want to be clear, this isn’t magic, and sometimes even the best skills don’t produce sunny results. But more often than not, as a result of the skills I was able to pick up from this book, I can at least head off tantrums and other bad behavior before it starts, even if my child isn’t all smiles.