How To Talk So Your Kids WIll Listen

The importance of encouraging our children to be their ‘own people’

How To Talk So Your Kids WIll Listen
Will this book help us?

This is my review of Chapter 4 of ‘How to Talk so kids listen’ about ‘encouraging autonomy’.

This is an interesting chapter for me after Curly Headed Boy asked me a few months ago “when are you ever going to let me out on my own”.  As a 13yr old boy was killed on the crossing near school at Christmas my answer was very nearly “never ever ever ever”.

But despite that I’ve always been very keen on not over-helping him so that he can gain confidence in himself and learn from his own mistakes.

I’m very aware that a person who grows up dependent on another ends up feeling helpless, worthless, resentful, frustrated and angry.

Plus that being and overly supportive parent often creates a child who is an easy mark for bullies at school (not the only reason, but one of them).

In the book they recommend:

1) Letting the child make choices (clothes are a good example of that)

2) Showing respect for your child’s struggle (i.e. don’t rescue them, give them tips)

3) Don’t ask too many questions

4) Don’t rush to answer questions (e.g. ask ‘what do you think’)

5) Encourage them to use sources outside the home (i.e. other people/children or the internet)

6) Don’t take away hope


The only one I take issue with is ‘Don’t ask too many questions’.  A few more questions from my parents would have shown that I was bullied from 4-17 at school, and that I made decisions based on assumptions that were wrong.

For example I didn’t do French/German for A level because I thought it meant I would HAVE to travel and that my responsibility was to care for my elderly parents (both rubbish ideas).

I think it’s more about asking when they are in the mood e.g. at dinner time or bedtime (CHB becomes a very talkative little boy at bedtime; funny that!).

I’m not sure that answering without taking away hope is wise when CHB makes plans to become a werewolf either; but I did what they suggested and just asked him to talk about it, rather than saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’

Perhaps some reality is important to stop our kids becoming X Factor rejects.  But I get what they mean; after all anything is possible.

We have had a REALLY interesting conversation in the last 2 weeks though.  CHB asked me “Daddy doesn’t believe in werewolves, does that mean I can’t believe in them?”.  I’m so glad he asked, as I was able to explain that there will always be things that our loved ones don’t agree with and THAT IS OK.

Funnily enough we repeated the conversation about Skylanders the other day as he had spent some of his birthday money on one.  I explained that Daddy totally understood and agreed with the idea, but that I was worried that he would wish he had saved it for something else as he has a few now.  But that just because I wasn’t keen, didn’t mean he shouldn’t spend his OWN money on it.


Other tips they have are:

1) Let them own their own bodies (i.e. stop fussy over them)

2) Stay out of the Minutiae of a Child’s life (i.e. get off their back)

3) Don’t talk about them infront of them

4) Let them answer for themselves

5) Show respect for your child’s eventual readiness (i.e. explain that everything comes with time)

6) Watch out for too many ‘Nos’


Instead of No try:

1) Give information (see previous reviews)

2) Accept feelings (see previous)

3) Describe the problem (see previous)

4) Substitue a ‘yes’ (i.e. when it will be possible)

5) Give yourself time to think

I don’t think that this chapter is as ground breaking as the others, but maybe it’s just much more basic about stuff that we often forget.  What do you think?

I wonder how I will do in a few months time when the whole summer conversation happens again, and CHB wants to play outside without us watching.


Here are my reviews of the other chapters:

Ch1: The importance of not disagreeing with their feelings

Ch2: Tips on getting kids to do what we want

Ch3: What to do when punishment or more discipline isn’t working 

Why I started reading the book. 


How To Talk So Your Kids WIll Listen

Tips on getting our kids to do what we want/need them to do

How To Talk So Your Kids WIll Listen
Will this book help us?


So here are are onto Chapter 2 of ‘How to Talk so kids will listen’; ‘Engaging Cooperation’.


With a 7yo Curly Headed Boy and soon to be 3yo Little Dimples, life has become a little shouty of late and we were looking for some alternative options, as being stricter wasn’t cutting it.  So I decided to read, review and test out some books on my blog and last week was Ch1 of this fab book.

By now the kids are meant to be feeling more listened to, and therefore be opening up to us.  They will also be better at finding their own solutions to their problems.  (I’ll let you know how we are finding it at the end of the reviews in a few weeks).


Engaging Cooperation

i.e. getting the little blighters to do what you want them to do!

Two naughty children
Ready to cause chaos!

Traditionally we apparently tend to use the following tactics:

1) Blaming and accusing e.g. ‘How many times do we have to tell you not to wind up your sister when she is tired, are you just looking for trouble’; yep we are guilty of this one and there is way too much blame going on in this house.  It’s like a viscious circle.

2) Name Calling e.g. ‘How stupid can you be to do that again’; this I had a lot of as a child and really hate it as anyone who tries it on my kids quickly finds out.

3) Threats e.g. ‘If you keep doing that we will take away your toys’.  We’ve been trying the threat thing and it basically doesn’t work for us at all.

4) Commands e.g. ‘Hurry up and put your clothes away right now!’; we tend to be pretty polite in this house, but once it’s been asked once I get irritated, that’s for sure.

5) Lecturing and Moralising; basically a long description on why they shouldn’t do stuff that would bore anyone to tears.

6) Warnings e.g. ‘Be careful’ repeated over and over, which is an easy trap to fall into.

7) Martyrdom statement e.g. ‘Will you stop all that noise, you are giving me a headache!’.  I have to be really careful of this and that the kids don’t think my Fibromyalgia is there fault.

8) Comparisons e.g. ‘Your 3yo sister has better table manners than you’.  We aren’t too bad at this one luckily, but it is tempting!

9) Sarcasm: looking over at a certain Northern hairy one for no apparent reason ;o)

10) Prophecy e.g. ‘Those cats are not going to be your friend if you keep chasing them Little Dimples’.  Actually, the cats seem to be pretty forgiving, especially for a treat.



Getting our kids to do their chores
Hoover that floor child!

So here are the tips they give for what to do instead, I must admit some of them are great, time saving, and really easy to do.

1) Describe what you see or describe the problem e.g. ‘Your Pyjamas are on the floor’.

2) Give information: e.g. ‘If they aren’t put in the washing basket they miss getting washed’.

3) Say it with a word: e.g. ‘PJ’s’; THIS TIP IS PURE GENIOUS!!!

4) Describe what you feel: ‘I feel unappreciated sometimes when it seems that clean clothes are taken for granted’.  This one is tricky because we need to avoid the word ‘you’ in order for it to not be blaming or accusing e.g. “When you leave your PJ’s all over the floor I feel unappreciated, will you never learn?”.

5) Write a note: e.g.on a yellow sticky on the wall by the basket (I have got monster HUGE yellow stickies!).


In Summary

We’ve had a quick play with these ideas, but will focus on them a lot more this week, my favourite’s so far are (1) and (3).  I think that for us the most difficult is changing from being polite and then getting angry, to being more direct and talking about how we feel before we blow up.

They have a good tip about the word ‘Please’; funnily enough I’ve been saying to the big Hairy Northern one that he says please a lot to the kids when asking them to do something.  I suggested to say ‘please’ first time only.  They say not to use it at all, because when we think we’ve taken the time to be polite and the kids still ignore us, it leads to us feeling more angry.  They suggest you just use it for the simple little things like ‘Please pass the ketchup’.

Another tip is to make sure that the request is suitable for the kids age, reasonable and that we give them the flexibility as to when and how to do it.  It can be easy to want them to do something or not do something just because we are tired and grumpy, than for any real reason.

They also remind us to be really careful of the word ‘You’, which I talked about a lot in my old post about ‘do we teach people how to treat you‘ that you might want to read for more ideas on how to describe how you feel.  Remember, you aren’t trying to be constantly patient and calm; it’s fine to be angry, just not to use words that will hurt our kids and make them shrink.

A huge thing for us to change is the use of Curly Headed Boy’s name, which tends to end up a bit like this: ‘Oh Maaaaaaaaaaaax’; I realised we might be over using it when Little Dimples started copying us.  They always say not to use a dogs name when telling it off, I reckon that must be the same for kids


Have you read this book?

I’d love to hear what you think.  Or other books you think I could review?

If you’ve written a blog post about this book, let me know in the comments and I will put a link to it in my final review.


Here are my reviews of the other chapters:

Ch1: The importance of not disagreeing with their feelings

Ch3: What to do when punishment or more discipline isn’t working 

Ch4: Encouraging independence in our children

Why I started reading the book. 



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