It is virtually impossible to overstate the significance of good communication. Both your work and marriage greatly depend on your ability to share ideas and don’t get too excited about other people disagreeing with you. When it comes to children, the importance of establishing two-way communication increases by a factor of ten. What can you do to become a better communicator and eventually a better parent

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen

The answer is easy: read How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. First published back in 1979, this highly illuminating book is still both a good read and an excellent parenting guide. How to Talk So Kids Will Listen offers you a lot of advice and exercises to hone your communication skills; on the other hand, it is totally free of psychological jargon and buzzwords. Written in a clear and lucid style, this guidebook helps you to understand your kids and build up a rapport with them. Better understanding of your children’s problems and worries is what you need to manage conflicts and deal with tantrums: empathy with kids is the key to success.

One of the key ideas of the book is that it might be sometimes difficult for small children to articulate their feelings. Unable to express themselves clearly, they often get frustrated. Do not use direct orders like: ‘Forget this nonsense!’ or ‘Stop doing this silly thing’. Try to acknowledge your kid’s emotions and name reasons why she experiences them. Let your kids know that their feelings are important to you, and then proceed to find solutions to their problems.

For example, if your daughter’s toy got broken, and she is upset about it, do not tell her something like ‘There’s nothing to cry about. I’ll buy you a new one if you behave yourself’. It is better to accept that the girl has every right to feel unhappy (‘You really liked this doll – it could talk!’) and come up with a solution (‘We will really try to fix it, but if not, I’ll buy you a new one’).

Another idea of the book is that you should never directly criticize your kid (like ‘You are so lazy! You are always putting off doing your homework!’), but only address her behavior: ‘Time is running out, and your homework is still undone’. By calling your child names you insult her: she might try to refuse to do as you say in an attempt to get even with you. By calling her attention to her behavior you encourage dialogue and underline that you have no intention of blaming your child.

Although the book is easy to read, it contains a thorough analysis of numerous real-life examples. Funny cartoons greatly add to reading pleasure and make it easier to get the authors’ point. It is very likely that you will want to re-read this book just after you have turned the last page, and there are people who read it every five years or so. Highly recommended!