I recently re-discovered the book How to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. It’s great inspiration for parents who want to connect deeply with their children and need some practical ideas. It works because it takes a mindful, respectful and compassionate attitude to the parent-child relationship (unlike some of the old style authoritarian parenting books).
There’s many simple reminders about supporting children’s natural resilience and mindfulness.
Here’s 6 of my favourites:
- Taking time to reflect with children on difficult feelings when they happen. Empathise and help children to name feelings, rather than immediately advising them. Sadness, anger and discomfort are part of life and we can’t pretend they don’t happen – we have to find ways to ‘be with’ suffering and come out the other side.
- Helping children feel empowered by coming up with their own solutions by giving them an atmosphere of empathy and support rather than quick fixes and distractions.
- Being clear that all feelings are permitted, but not all behaviours.
- Showing them that sometimes hugging and empathy are enough to feel better – talking is not always needed, especially with small children.
- Teaching kids to reflect daily on their favourite experiences, to help them consciously notice what’s good in their life and what they enjoy most.
- Giving kids specific, descriptive praise rather than a general “well done” or “good girl” = more authentic, mindful and ultimately helpful. E.g., “I like the way you put your cars in that box and made your bed this morning. You even put the cushions on the bed. That really helped me out.”
Such simple ideas promote greater mindfulness, communication and closeness with kids, and a good thing about this book being an older publication is that there’s probably a copy in your local library or online super cheap. Worth a read for anyone who spends time with kids and wants to be sure it’s quality time.
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