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Describing is better than attacking

July 12, 2013

Here’s a life-changing idea…                                                                                                                          

In their book, How To Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk, Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish say,
“It’s hard to do what needs to be done when people are telling you what’s wrong with you. It’s easier to concentrate on the problem when someone just describes it to you.” p. 5

In other words…

When we get frustrated with our kids we might be tempted to say something like, “You’re so irresponsible! You always forget to take out the trash! Do you think our house is a dumpster?” or, “You haven’t taken the dog out all day. You don’t deserve to have a pet.” Attacks on our children’s characters puts them on the defensive. They become focused on defending themselves instead of solving the problem. A more helpful response would be, “Johnny, the trash is full.” or, “I see Rover pacing up and down near the door.” When we simply state the problem without putting our children down, it will be much easier for them to focus on taking care of the problem.

Here’s how you can use this idea to have a better life…                 

The next time your child does something that exasperates you, refrain from making derogatory comments about your child. Instead simply point out the problem.

To find out more…

about parenting, check out The Parenting Journey, Getting Our Hearts Right, or See the World Through My Eyes programs at, like us at or contact your local county Extension agent. You might also enjoy reading How To Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk.

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