Book Advice in Action: How to Listen So Your Kids Will Talk…

Okay, so I found the book How to Listen So Your Kids Will Talk and Talk So Your Kids Will Listen at the book sale for 50 cents the other day, and I’ve been studying it ever since, as I’ve heard rave reviews about how it helps you get your kids to cooperate instead of tangling with them all the time.

But I’ve obviously not got the techniques down very well.

Instead of telling your kids “no,” you’re supposed to do non-confrontational things like Describe a situation, Give Information. When kids hear a description or get information, they supposedly draw their own conclusions and make the best informed choices, ie, cooperate and behave.

So, my daughter goes from
painting the paper to painting her hand.

I say, describing, “You are painting your hand purple.”

She: “I AM… it’s purple!”

I say, informing, “We will have to scrub that extra hard.”

Happily agreeing, she says, “In the sink!”

I try again with informing: “We don’t paint on our hands. We paint on paper.”

To which she replies, “We don’t paint on paper. We paint HANDS.” So sweetly. So charmingly. So WRONGLY.

I run to the book – what am I doing wrong? I guess I should move to Giving Choices – “You can either stop painting your hand or -” or what? No, I want her to stop painting her hand! What the hell am I supposed to do now? How do I avoid NO right now?

I worry…

…and then notice that she has moved on to painting her toes.

Oh Good Grief.

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3 Responses to Book Advice in Action: How to Listen So Your Kids Will Talk…

  1. Craig says:

    That was great, Amy! Thanks.

  2. ChrEliz says:

    LOL! That was hilarious!

    OK, seriously though, the immediate response and “choice” that I’d offer in that situation would be, “Freeze, kiddo. Hands up. Do you want to walk over the sink to wash that hand, or do you want me to carry you?”

    and then, once the situation is cleaned up, I usually say something like, “Paint is for paper, not for hands. Let’s let the paint have a little rest up on this high shelf and in a little while, if you like, we can try it again on the paper.”

    and then, later, “Would you like to paint some more? As long as the paint stays on the brush and the paper, we can keep painting. Paint goes on paper. Can you remember to keep the paint on the brush and the paper, so we can keep using the paints?” If her answer is no, then the paints stay on the high shelf til my little artist says she can remember. Then, again, if the paint gets intentionally applied to the hand (or the pants, or the fill-in-the-blank) then the paints go on the high shelf and the artists gets a choice of washing her own hands or mommy washing hands. After two willful paint applications to hand, the paints get a rest in my house for a day or two or three.

    Cheerfully and gently, if the reply to THAT (you wash hands or mommy wash hands) choice was “Neither, I’m going to stay here and keep making a mess.” then I repeat, “That’s not one of the choices. Either you walk over and wash your hands, or I’ll carry you and wash them, and if you don’t choose, then I will get to choose.” If she continues to turn a deaf ear, then I’ll start counting, “One, two…” and at three, I pick her up (sometimes with her protesting quite vociferously) and I’ll calmly and neutrally (i.e., not angrily) wash her hands.

    The other thing to remember here is that sometimes they just like to be reminded that SOME paints ARE for hands. “I can’t wait til the weather gets just a LITTLE warmer and we can do finger painting outside! Are you excited for that, too?” and “But inside paints never go on hands, remember. Only on the paper.”

    I do say “No” in my Talk/Listen application, but it’s not just plain “No!” (usually, unless there’s imminent danger). It’s no with explanation or no with choices, etc. Trying to avoid uttering the word No at all is sort of hard. I’m not aiming to be a Faber/Mazlish purist.

    Loved your hilarious blog post.

  3. Elizabeth says:

    But…I love the thought of her little purple hand! Of course, the thought of purple walls, couch, clothes, bed — not so charming.

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