Sunday, March 13, 2016

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk

by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish, originally published in 1980.

A great review of this book is here:

Some of the techniques could also be used between adults, for example at work. To see if this works, I replaced "children" with "them". Here is the cheat sheet:

1. Helping Them Deal with Their Feelings
  • Listen with full attention; don't half listen
  • Acknowledge their feelings with a word "Oh", "Mmm", "I see"; don't question and don't give advice
  • Give their feelings a name; don't deny the feeling
  • Give them their wishes in fantasy; don't explain and argue using logic

2. Engaging Cooperation
  • Describe the problem as a matter of fact, instead of: blaming, accusing, name-calling, threats, commands, lecturing, moralising, warnings, martyrdom statements, comparisons, sarcasm, prophecy
  • Give information
  • Say it with a single word
  • Talk about your feelings
  • Write a note

3. Alternatives to Punishment
  • Point out a way to be helpful; don't yell, or threaten
  • Express strong disapproval; don't attack character
  • State your expectations
  • Show how to make amends
  • Offer a choice and then follow up with an action to prevent unwanted behaviour
  • Allow to experience consequences, for example exclude from the activity next time
Advanced problem solving:
  • Talk about their feelings and needs
  • Talk about your feelings and needs
  • Brainstorm solutions together
  • Write down all ideas without evaluating
  • Decide which ideas you both like/don't like/will follow through

4. Encourage Autonomy
  • Let them make choices - as a practice
  • Show respect for their struggle "it can be hard"; help, but don't do it for them
  • Don't ask too many questions
  • Don't rush to answer questions; encourage them to talk
  • Encourage them to use external sources; so they don't need to depend on you
  • Don't take away hope; let them explore and experience

5. Praise

Praise can make them doubt the praiser, lead to immediate denial, be threatening, make them focus on their weaknesses, create anxiety, be experienced as manipulation...
  • Describe what you see or feel; don't evaluate "good", "great", "you are genius"
  • Sum up using a single positive word: organisation, perseverance, self-control, friendship, loyalty, courage, willpower, flexibility, adaptability.

6. Free Them from Playing Roles
  • Look for opportunities to show them a new picture of themselves
  • Put them in situations where they can see themselves differently
  • Let them overhear you say something positive about them
  • Model the behaviour you'd like to see
  • Be a storehouse for their special moments 
  • When they behave according to the old label, state your feelings and expectations

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