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Book Review: How to Talk so Little Kids Will Listen: A Survival Guide to Life With Children Ages 2-7 by Joanna Faber and Julie King


Elliott has always had a good nature about him. He’s kind and funny and thoughtful. But he is also two, or more notably two-and-a-half and it seems even the nicest of children still go through the terrible twos. There’s been nothing truly awful, a few lay down protests in Sainsbury’s, the odd bit of spitting, or hitting, telling us that the food we’ve prepared him is ‘disgusting’. When you write it down, it sounds awful and we’ve got one of the more well-behaved little ones. So, yup, the terrible twos is not without it’s challenges.

Parenting Books

I always like to think that the answer to pretty much anything can be found in a book and so I turned to Amazon. I had heard YouTube Mummy queen Mrs Meldrum recommend the original version of this book, ‘How to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk‘ but during my search came across the ‘little kids’ version written by one of the original authors daughters which seemed more appropriate for Elliott’s age.


How to discipline toddlers

It wasn’t so much that I thought I was going wrong with my discipline. It was more that I wanted comfort that what I was doing was right. It was more that I didn’t know how to take things to the next level once they had escalated past reason, which was a challenge I was increasingly facing. Where do you go once gentle parenting isn’t working and screaming your child’s name is more a last ditch attempt at preventing you from swearing than actual resolution?

The circle of respect

That’s what I hoped this book would tell me and it kind of did. The book is broken down into two parts. The first part explores the fundamentals to their approach. The second part looks at how to apply these in situations such as food, sleep and lies. If you were a fan of The Baby Whisperer (as I was) then you will probably like this book a lot. It seems to fit in well with Tracey Hogg’s concept of the ‘circle of respect’, something we’ve always been keen to have with Elliott.

The book talks about solution-finding with your toddler, or child, as a way to overcome disagreements and problems, rather than methods such as the naughty step or time out. If you’ve read a lot of management books this concept will be a familiar way of gaining employee engagement. Who knew raising little people and managing a company drew so many parallels?

One area where I did struggle is all of the advice in here is great if you can get your child to actually listen in the first place. Sometimes when Elliott is at the height of overtired mischievousness his selective hearing means no matter what I say I am not going to be listened to and there’s not really anything in here to help with that. But that’s a small grumble and it may be because Elliott is so young too (the book covers a wide age span from 2 through to 7).


Each chapter has real life examples. Things that make you breathe a sigh of relief and realise it’s not just you having those issues. Each chapter is also rounded off with cartoons which highlight the key lessons learned in that chapter. A great way to refresh your memory when time is short.

The structure of the book is great too. Whilst I read it from cover to cover initially it’s written in a way that makes it easy to dip into to find the key bit of information you need to troubleshoot the particular tantrum that you’re dealing with today. There’s even chapters for non-neurotypical children too.


Has it changed the way I parent? A little. I ask more questions now and I give Elliott’s emotions more consideration. I’m also more respectful of the fact that he has emotions (why do we think toddlers always have to be happy when we’re not?). Do I still shout? Yup! Not often and I try to do it more in the way that the book suggests (yes, there’s even a section on ‘if you need to shout’) but sometimes it is the only thing that will work. Has it answered all of our tantrum issues? Nope! But would anything? After all, whilst it may be annoying what Elliott is doing is completely normal for his age. Reading this book has made me realise it’s not so much stamping out the behaviour, more working with the little ones to teach them how to handle it.

Definitely worth a read if you want to find some creative and constructive ways to handle your child’s behaviour.

Find How to talk so little kids will listen by Joanna Faber and Julie King on Amazon.

*Post contains affiliate links. All views are my own.



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