Monday, December 27, 2010

Adel Faber & Elain Mazlish: How to Talk so Kids Will Listen & Listen so Kids will Talk

Review: How to Talk has been in print for 30 years. My copy, printed in 1999, says it's in it's 20th edition. I remember my mother reading it and talking to me about it as she read it. Because parenting is more than intuitive I'm all for these types of books. Now, I'm not sure where I sit on the punishment issue. This book is anti-punitive. That's fine. I am anti bribery, which the opposite extreme of parents who spank or take away stuff. This book is anti-bribery. Great! Anyhow, I like this book. It teaches communication skills that are valuable no matter who you're speaking to. More importantly it encourages the reader to practice by role playing, by writing out lessons, and by having key concepts posted everywhere. Really the authors are attempting to make empathetic speaking and listening come naturally to angry control freak parents. It's a cultural revolution.

Take Home Lesson:
  1. My children will talk to me/others the way I talk to them.
  2. I need to give my children more physical space and stop mauling them with hugs and kisses.
  3. The easy part is listening. Figuring out what to do next takes a lot of work.

Leonard Sax M.D. Ph.D.: Why Gender Matters, What parents and teachers need to know about the emerging science of sex differences.

Review: This book is basically a 250 page advertisement for gender segregated schools. I am convinced. Reading one book does not an expect make, still I do have a son. He truly is a different beast from my daughter. Occasionally I find myself looking at him and thinking - You. Are. An. Alien. (My husband too). It could be personality or birth order that makes raising him different, but really I suspect it's because he's a boy. I read this book to help me understand him better, so that I can help him succeed in his is life pursuits. Incidentally, this book has been more helpful for my relationship with my daughter. There are better tips in the girl sections. It has convinced me to be more gentle with her, and less indulgent with him. The book has taught me to be less afraid of the word feminine, to be able to define what it means to be a man or a woman without feeling guilty that they are not the same. I suspect when my children are older (in their 10's) I'll have to reread this book. It's a valuable resources.

What I want to Remember:

  1. Boys are less risk adverse. Danger is thrilling. Instead of saying if you run in the road you might get hit by a car, just say don't run in the road.
  2. Boys don't hear as well as girls. If he isn't following your instructions try talking louder. Try 'yelling'.
  3. If he's having trouble sitting still in kindergarten he might not be developmentally ready to sit still. It might not be ADHD. Get lots of opinions. Don't be afraid to hold him back until he is ready for school. This is crucial to his feelings about school and his feelings about academic success.
  4. Because girls and boys have different brains (they see and hear different, and solve problems with different parts of their brains) they need to be taught differently. If she says I suck at math, then try a different approach. If he says reading is boring, he might need reading material geared to his interests. [Review how male and female students learn math best]
  5. In high school: Male teachers teaching science or math classes may inadvertently discourage their female students by talking too loud or seeming to be unsympathetic or by being unable to modify their lessons to suit female strengths. Female teachers teaching languages or humanities might alienate their male students by talking too quietly, by being too friendly, or by talking too much about feelings instead of facts.
  6. Dating is important for boys. Because of the way boys make and keep friends it is important for their future emotional health that they learn how to be friends with girls. We need to teach our girls to set their personal value high so that boys can't take advantage of them*. That is if boys want sexual intimacy they must also offer emotional intimacy. NCMO victimizes girls now, and bankrupts boys later. (*ummm, is it really only up to a young girl to say "No"? Boys need to be taught some responsibility too. Also feelings of self worth are negatively impacted by social aggression among girls. Leonard Sax recommends sports where appearance doesn't matter to help build selfworth among girls)
  7. Boys need a socially approriate outlet for their aggression, especially boys who are not naturually athletic. If your boy doesn't make the team, be sure to provide him with a physically rigourous activity.
  8. Make sure your son has a positive male role model. More than one, or even a group of men would be great. And make sure he has 'man' time.
  9. Make sure your daughter has a positive female role model. More than on, or even a group of women would be great. And make sure she has 'woman' time.