Book review: How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

Becoming a parent, as we all know, is easy – becoming a good parent is much more difficult.

By Pam Norfolk
Friday, 25th January 2013, 9:00 am

Parenthood is a challenge many of us face with little experience or education in childcare and from toddler tantrums to teenage mood swings, raising children is certainly not child’s play.

There are books galore out there with every kind of advice for frazzled mums and dads but, if you want to read just one, look no further than a tried-and-trusted ‘parenting bible’ that has been transforming family relationships for 30 years.

How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk, now available in a new edition, is the phenomenal bestseller written by two women with many years of experience in child psychology but, more importantly, once frustrated mothers themselves.

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Their approach is simple, effective, easy to follow and is based on methods that refrain from abstract theorising, affirm the dignity and humanity of both parents and children and deal only with the practical issues of parenting.

Using sensitivity, empathy, communication skills and lashings of humour, they teach how to break a pattern of arguments, engage a child’s co-operation, set clear limits without losing goodwill, express emotions without being hurtful and resolve conflicts easily.

It may sound too good to be true but is achieved by rejecting authoritarian and confrontational methods of punishment and instead encouraging your child to be co-operative rather than simply obedient.

You can learn how to avoid turning simple conversations into arguments, how to instruct rather than criticise when correcting your child, choose effective alternatives to punishments and show a child how to make amends for bad behaviour.

This invaluable book, with its very human, down-to-earth approach, really does give you the know-how you need to be more effective with children, enabling parents to improve and enrich relationships with their offspring.

With three million copies sold and enthusiastically praised by parents and professionals around the world, the book provides step-by-step techniques and is illustrated with playful, humorous cartoons showing the skills in action and demonstrating innovative ways to solve common problems.

And to bring this edition bang up to date, there is a thoughtful Afterword on The Next Generation by Adele Faber’s daughter Joanna which gives the time-honoured and tested techniques a fresh, new 21st century perspective.

(Piccadilly, paperback, £12.99)