Required Reading:  How to Talk So Kids Will Listen...
Imagine opening your eyes to a new world where problems are solved seamlessly, everyone feels appreciated, and you feel heard.  How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish helps you to create this world in your own home.
Though I read heavily on anything that might help my teaching technique and my own personal growth, I seem to collect a lot of unread books as well.  I’m sorry to say that for almost a year, How to Talk..., belonged to this unread category.
Its bright yellow jacket leapt out at me last week.  My eyes thought twice before dismissing it as I’ve been expanding into personal family interventions over the past two months.  
The first chapter is about helping children to deal with their feelings which in itself was very good...however, it wasn’t until I began reading the next chapter on engaging cooperation that I got hooked.  
One family hires me as both an educator and an aide to their two daughters.  After our lessons are done, the children and I usually have tasks that need attention before we can relax for the evening.  At times I have felt like the task master, making sure that everything is getting done and everyone is in their place.  I would end up nagging and frustrated from repeating myself.  Though the girls and I have a lot of fun, I didn’t like being “the nag” and I’m sure they didn’t like it either!
I finished reading the section on engaging cooperation on Wednesday and put some of the techniques to use when I saw them on Thursday.  Their room was getting out of control and I wanted to take the time to do some pick up.  I told the girls the plan for the day and we got started in their room quickly.  
The usual blame game went something like this:  “Your clothes need to be put away....pick up your’s not finished, your desk is such a mess!”
By the end of clean up time, I would find myself doing most of the pick up and all of us being a little huffy.
One of the new techniques that I put into use was to describe what you see without placing blame.  Another technique I used was to give information. While reading about it, it sounded a little corny.  I figured that the girls would find it silly too.  Here’s what happened:
Danielle: I see clothes on the ground  (describe what you see) where they can get dirty (information).
Kid One:  Goes to pick up clothes and puts them in the hamper.
Danielle:   I see a wet bathing suit (describe what you see) that will dry when it is hung up (information).
Kid Two:  She immediately hung up the bathing suit, no comments or questions.
Furthermore, the girls continued to clean up without my continuous prompting.  It was a great day!
I also started to use the techniques at home with my partner Andrew.   With just a few changes household chores have been easier and I’ve even gotten him to go dancing!  The best part is that we’ve both felt heard & understood.  I didn’t anticipate this book helping me so much at home to be both empowered and truly real with my thoughts & feelings.
As an educator there is a particularly good chapter on how praise is best managed.  I could clearly go on and on about this book....but just one more thing.
I see a book with amazing tools for human connection through respect, love, & understanding.  Read it!
Sunday, July 16, 2006