Parenting Translator
Parenting Translator Podcast
How To Get Kids To Actually Listen (Audio Version)

How To Get Kids To Actually Listen (Audio Version)

An interview with the authors of How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen, Julie King and Joanna Faber

Dr. Cara Goodwin: Hi, everyone, welcome to the Parenting Translator newsletter. I am beyond excited because I am here with authors Joanna Faber and Julie King. I read their book, “How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen” around the time my first child was a toddler. And it was a huge life-changing book for me because it gave me some real effective strategies for getting your children to listen to you, and dealing with other sorts of behavioral problems that start coming up in the toddler years. So I'm so excited to have you both here. I cannot wait to pick your brains. But first, would you mind introducing yourselves and telling my audience where we can find you and all the incredible resources that you provide?

Julie King: Sure. So this is Julie King. We are the authors of two books, “How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen”, a survival guide to life with children ages two to seven. And our more recent book, which is “How to Talk When Kids Won't Listen: Whining, Fighting, Meltdowns, Defiance, And Other Challenges of Childhood”. You can find our books wherever books are sold. You can also find us online at We're on Instagram, howtotalk.forparents. We’re also on Facebook, FaberandKing, or if you search for the title of our book (How To Talk So Little Kids Will Listen), you'll find us there. We also lead workshops, work privately with clients and parents, and give talks. So we have a whole range of services that we provide. Do you want to add anything Joanna?

Joanna Faber: Alright. Julie pretty much said it all. But I will offer that I am Joanna Faber, and one of my claims to fame is that my mother is Adele Faber who wrote “How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk” back in 1980. So I grew up with this whole method of communication. I've known Julie since she and I were babies/ I think we were around six months old when we met. So we grew up together and we grew up with parents using this style of communication. So we're kind of saturated in it.

Dr. Cara Goodwin: That's so amazing. I had no idea you guys grew up together. So I'd love to jump right into the questions I have. As a parent of three little kids, I am experiencing children not listening on a regular basis. So why is that young children don't listen to their parents? Is it that they don't hear is? Is it that they do hear it, and they just don't want to do it? Or is there something else at play? I think it would really help us parents to know why does this happen?

Julie King: So many ways to answer that question. Here's how I'm going to start. Oftentimes, kids don't listen to what we have to. Let’s step back and say what do we mean by “listen”? What we usually mean is our kids don't do what we say. They don't obey. One of the things that we talk about in our book is that there's a connection between how kids feel, and how they behave. If we want them to behave better, we want them to listen, we have to pay attention to how they're feeling because there's a connection. If they feel better, they're more likely to behave better.

In fact, that's not just true for kids. It's true for all people. If you think about those times in your own life, Cara, when you're glad that you didn't accidentally leave the Zoom camera on when your kids are running into the room and you say something that you're glad nobody heard, those times tend to be also when we ourselves are not feeling our best. Maybe you're feeling stressed. In fact, if you were doing a podcast and your kids came running in, you might be stressed that you're getting interrupted and something's happening. For those of us who have in the course of our lives maybe we had a hard time at work, or we got into an argument with our spouse, or we're just exhausted because we've been up all night, those tend to be the times when we are not our best selves. We tend to say or do things as parents, that other times we might handle more with more grace.

So it's true for adults, and it's true for kids. If we want them to behave better, we need to pay attention to how they feel, and how can we help them feel better?

Well, one of the things that we can do is to accept their feelings, which sounds so simple when I say it like that, but can be really hard. It's easy to say and hard to do. When the kids are having happy feelings, it’s easy to say “You're excited about getting Lego for your birthday. It's so wonderful.” But when they say “I didn't want Legos. I want the blocks.” We are like, “You should feel grateful you got anything”. That's when we tend to want to sort of deny those feelings or think they’re having the “wrong” feeling. Or especially when they say something like, “I hate my baby brother,” we want to say “That's a terrible thing to say. I don't want to hear you talking about that. That's your brother. We love each other.”

So if you're asking why do kids not listen? One reason is because we're expecting them to behave in a way that they don't feel that doesn't match their feelings. They don't feel right. And so they don't want to do what we want them to do. Did you want to add something Joanna?

Joanna Faber: I guess you've given what we want to say. So I'll jump in with what we can say if we're in that moment, when we're able to think it through and be helpful. So for the kid who comes and says, “I hate my brother,” and we want to say, “You have to be patient with him. He's only two years old. And don't say that that's not nice. He's your family, we love each other.” Instead, we want to accept those feelings. We can say, “You sound really annoyed with your brother right now. It's not easy always to have a two year old around. They can really get into your stuff.”

That's a scary place to go for us, because I think the fear is we don't want to magnify those negative feelings. It's sort of counterintuitive. But what we find is that when we accept the feelings and acknowledge the feelings, child is able to calm down and think a little clearer because now he doesn't have to argue with us. Now, he has someone who understands like, it is hard to have a two year old around. Where can I put my Legos so that my little brother can grab it and break it? So now instead of arguing, he can think.

I think as adults, we're that way too. When somebody denies our feelings, we become more ferocious in them. All we all you have to do is look at the political dialogue that's going on these days, you really can't convince a person by telling them they're wrong. You have to start by listening and accepting, which is very soothing. It makes a person feel understood, and it makes a person be able to think more clearly.

Here's a classic example: “I hate this homework. It's too hard. I can't do it.” What do we as parents want to say? “Long division isn't hard at all. Here, I'll help you.” That's kind of enraging and upsetting. Kids are left to think “Oh, the thing that I thought was hard, really isn't hard. It's easy. That's how stupid I am.” It's actually going to be more helpful to that kid if you say, “Oh, long division that can be so frustrating. There's so many steps to it, it can drive you crazy. And you have 10 of them, that's a lot.” Now a kid feels understood. Now, she might be in a frame of mind where she can accept some help with how could we do it. You could say: “What should we do? Should we try just one and then do a few jumping jacks?” Once your feelings are accepted, it allows you to move forward.

Dr. Cara Goodwin: That makes a lot of sense. So this makes me think what is it about our kids that's not listening that is so frustrating for us as parents? It seems to be like a trigger for a lot of us parents. It’s really frustrating that you have to ask the same thing over and over again and they're not listening. What is it about not listening that is so frustrating?

Julie King: I think it'd be it could be a number of things. One thing is that it makes a person feel powerless when I say “You've got to put your shoes on” and the kid goes running away. Now I feel like I've been ineffective. I can't make this kid do what he needs to do and I feel frustrated and it feels personal. It feels like I've been disrespected. So that can be why it can be so frustrating for parents.

A lot of us growing up, we were told “when you're told to do something, you do it.” And there was a consequence, there was some physical punishment that was painful if you didn't obey. So we learned that you do things when you are told to do things. Then it’s hard to have kids who don't do it. A lot of us are trying to change the way that we respond to our kids and not use physical discipline, consequences, all of that. Yet, what do you do? Because I still need to get to the car because his brother's waiting at pickup.

Joanna Faber: There are so many things we have to get our kids to do, just to get through the day— get them into their clothes, get them to brush their teeth, get them out of bed before even at all, get them to the car, and get them to buckle in. It can just feel exhausting. When every little thing is a fight, it can be misery. But by the same token, think of it from the kid’s point of view. The kid is being ordered around all day. None of us as human beings appreciate being ordered around. In fact, orders make us feel defiant.

So in our book, we do a lot of “try it out on your self” exercises. We'd like to say imagine you come home from work and your spouse says to you, “Oh good, you're home. Don't touch the computer. Go hang up your coat, wash your hands, and come set the table. Did I tell you to look at the mail? Put it down now. Hurry up, dinner's going to be ready. Can you hear me? I said no”. Now I'm imagining that you're feeling like turning around getting back in the car and going out and having pizza at the corner joint. As soon as somebody gives us an order, we're like, “Whoa, you can't control me”. So when we give kids orders were sort of working against ourselves, we're stirring up defiance in their little souls, instead of the feeling of cooperation.

Dr. Cara Goodwin: That makes a lot of sense. So all of this, I think helps parents to understand this whole process and why it's frustrating on both ends. But on a practical note, is there a way that we can phrase what we're saying that might make our kids more likely to listen? Because like you said, we do have to get them to do things— they do need to get ready for school, they do need to brush their teeth. So is there a way we can say it, or something we can do to get their attention that makes them more likely to listen?

Julie King: Well, we have a whole list of ways you can do that. I don't think we're going to have time to go through them all. But I will share with you one of my favorite tools that we have for getting kids to listen, and that especially works for little kids, is to be playful. I shouldn't say especially for little kids, even adults like to have a little fun instead of just feeling everything's drudgery.

But for little kids, let's just take the example of trying to get them to put their shoes on. No kid wakes up in the morning and thinks, “I can't wait to put my shoes on this morning.” Well, except for kids with new shoes. But most of them are thinking about something else. They want to play. That's what kids like to do. So your two-year-old, your three-year-old, your four-year-old gets up and they're not thinking “What do I need to do this morning before we have to go out to the car?” No, they're thinking, “Look, I left the Legos out. I was going to finish that block tower I was building”. They're not thinking about the shoes.

So how can we make it more likely that they would like to cooperate and get their shoes on? Well, being playful like as I say, that's one of my favorite tools.

A lot of parents will say to me “Be playful? I'm not really a playful type. That's my spouse or I don't even know where to start.” So we have a bunch of ideas of how to be playful with kids. One of my favorites in that list is to make an inanimate object talk. So instead of grabbing that child's foot and trying to jam the shoe on which we all know what that's like (“Hey stop moving around. You do not kick me young lady”— that sort of talk). You can make this shoe talk like “I feel so empty. I need a foot in me to warm me up.” Now suddenly, that little kid who was wiggling around is like trying to jam their foot in the shoes and saying “Here you go. Here I'll warm you up.” So turning something into a game or making it playful. It just changes the mood and makes kids feel more cooperative.

Joanna Faber: And lest we be concerned that this is being too permissive, and a child needs to learn to do what he or she is told (“When I say jump, you should say, how high?”). I just want to throw in here that play is a child's natural way of learning and that is how we are wired. So we work with the nature of our humanity.

There have also been studies that have shown that the more we interact playfully with children and give them choices and let them take the lead, the more likely they are to actually listen, when we have to rap out a command like “Oh my goodness, we're late, we really have to hurry up. Let's go now.” Kids who have been told what to do all day long and if you rap out five commands in a row, they will start to withdraw because there's no reason to engage.

Playfulness makes kids feel connected. Once the little talking shoe has nibbled the delicious toes, you can ask a kid: “Do you want to hop to the car like a bunny or should we slide to the car like a snake or we fly like dragon flies?” It's just a nice way to go through the day, and it makes people feel connected.

Can we do it all the time? No. But if we do it, some of the time, it creates a bond and it makes everything go better.

Julie King: And I would also add, because sometimes parents say, “Don't they just have to learn that there are certain things you have to do even though you don't want to do them.” And I would say, first of all, absolutely. And not to worry, they will have that experience that will happen in the course of their lives.

But I also think that learning to take a chore that we have to do and turn it into something pleasant is a good life skill. I think we do it as adults. When we have a sink full of dirty dishes do we say to ourselves, “I hate washing the dishes? But I'll do it” and wash them in misery or like me, we put on a podcast, maybe somebody's washing dishes as we speak. Or we put on music? Or we talk to a friend while we're while we're washing dishes, I think that that's what we're teaching kids is that we can change how we do something even when we have to do it.

Dr. Cara Goodwin: I love that reframe. Work in some playfulness, work in some choices, but what do parents do when you just feel like you're repeating yourself over and over and over again and kids aren't listening? When you get into this bad cycle of you literally have to say it a million times or you have to scream for them to finally listen. How can parents kind of get out of those bad cycles?

Julie King: I’m just wondering, Cara, since you have three young children, if you would want to volunteer an example, because I think that can be useful to think about it in terms of a concrete example of something you're trying to get your kids to do, and they're just ignoring you.

Dr. Cara Goodwin: So I think the struggle that I deal with a lot is getting out the door to school in the morning. We have to be at school at a certain time. We can't be late every day so there is a time limit. And we don't always have time for all the playfulness, and for all the validation of feelings. Some mornings there are and some mornings there aren't, it's just real life. So I think that is probably my prime example of what I deal with when we're on a time crunch.

Joanna Faber: I can still relate because I have been driven into screaming frenzies so many mornings in my past, just trying to get my kids not to miss the bus. So that I don't have to put everybody in snow suits and get the ice off the windshield and drive them to school and go in that long line. It’s a horrible consequence for us, and it's no consequence for them. So I can completely relate.

I think that when it's hard to do something when you're in the moment, which is why one of the tools in our book we call “problem solving,” which you can do not in the moment, but at some peaceful time when everyone's feeling relaxed and open minded. The idea is not to come up with punishments or consequences, but to invite your kids to sit down with you and tell them we have a problem, and I want us to put our heads together and see what we can come up with. One of the keys to this method is that you have to start by acknowledging your kids’ feelings because if you don't start with their feelings, you're probably not going to get them engaged in the first place.

So you might start by saying “Boy mornings are tough. You have to get out of bed when you're tired, you have to rush to do something you don't even really want to do, which is go to school. It’s no fun being yelled at by your mom.” Try to reflect their experience. Now, they're listening.

Then you can say the problem for me is, “I dread missing the bus.” You make your part brief, I'll just stop there. Because you don't want to go on and on lecturing your kid.

So key phrase is “we need ideas” and pull out your pencil and paper. If you can just sit and wait, give your child some space to come up with the first idea, which you will write down no matter what. So if your child says, you can just drive me to school every day. First idea, mom will drive little Zipper and Buzz to school every day. Because you say, “Oh no, that won't work”, then you're done. Every idea can be in there. “Hire a helicopter to take us to school,” put it in.

In fact, in my family, we went through this process, and I heard from a lot of families who went through this process, and all kinds of ideas were regenerated that were then helpful. One key point of this is that instead of the parent asking again and again and again, instead of the parent being the one who's in charge of nagging, there's something written.

In our case, we had a little chart. We decided what do you have to do to get ready in the morning. We made little pictures and there were boxes that the kids could check off and the final box, when you finished everything, was play. The kids know you finish everything in time you get to play and they love checking off the play box.

So now if the kid seems like to be drifting off, you can say, “Look at the chart”. And now the chart is going to tell the kid what to do. It also helps a young child who can't always keep all this stuff in his head will first have to do this, then this, then this and this. So it really is helpful having a child learn how to take responsibility and learn how to organize their time.

One parent used this device called a “Time Timer” for her young child who would always run out of time and end up screaming and crying as when she tried to rush him. She realized that when she was saying “There's only 5 minutes left,” it was making him frantic. He didn't really know what that meant. So she got him this little clock, where you turn the dial, and as you turn the dial, the face turns red. So for 15 minutes, a quarter of the clock face turns red. And then the child can see as that red slice gets slimmer and slimmer. So he can have a visual sense that the time is going by. And he can be in charge of setting.

Now your kid is learning to organize his time and be responsible. And he really liked setting the timer. He watched it go down and he did his little chores. At the end, he came up to his mom and said, “Mom, we have to go, there is only a sliver of red left”. So he's engaged. He's really relating to this.

Julie King: I would add that I did this with my kids too, because we didn't have school buses. I had to get three kids into the car by five minutes to eight on my own, because my husband was always already at work. There were mornings where it was loud and unpleasant. We'd get in the car and we'd say, “That was no fun for anybody.” We did some problem solving and we came up with a whole plan as Joanna was talking about.

A couple of weeks would go by and it would be really great. Then we'd start to slide backwards and take another minute to make a plan. Then we'd get in the car again, and when my oldest was in middle school, he was the one who started to say “Well, that was no fun. We need a different plan.” I thought “I have arrived!"

This is a skill for life. It's how do we resolve conflicts with other people? How do we find solutions and what if we use those solutions and then they stop working? We have a system to figure out something else. For example, at one point one of my kids just could never find his shoes. So we came up with the idea of how about we have a “shoe corner” and when you take them off you always put them in the “shoe corner.” To this day, even though my kids are out of the house, my husband still puts his shoes in the “shoe corner.”

Joanna Faber: So it's an approach to life— when we have a conflict instead of fighting against each other, we work with each other to find a solution that will satisfy all parties.

Dr. Cara Goodwin: I love those suggestions. I'm a huge fan of timers. It's actually what we've done in my family— we have two timers. So when the first goes off that means you have 5 minutes until it's time to leave. Then there's another timer that goes off that means it’s time to leave. Because at first we only had one timer, and then everybody was just shocked when the timer went off, and they're not ready. So when the first timer goes off, that means it's getting close so get yourself ready. Then when the second timer goes off, it's time to go. If you're totally ready when the second timer goes off, you get a point for the day. This plan has transformed our mornings and made it a lot easier.

The other thing we do that is similar to what you were saying is that they aren't allowed to play until they've had breakfast and gotten totally ready. So once you do all the things you need to do, then of course you can play but until then, you need to do those things first.

Joanna Faber: You pick an order that works for your family. Certainly, one of the things I found in my family was my kids were very leisurely eaters. So we had to put things in order where first you get dressed then you get your books and eating was the last thing before playing. Some parents maybe would front load that, but not for us. But that's another variable you can play with, is what order should things be done. And like Julie's comment that, it's going to be an ongoing process. So if it falls apart, don't throw up your hands and say, “Well, this method failed”. Just stroke your chin and say, “Boy, this is like life itself, just entropy things fall apart, and then we put them back together—a great life skill”.

Dr. Cara Goodwin: I love that idea of involving them in the problem solving method. I think that's such an important skill to teach children. So my next question is, how do we respond as parents to kids not listening? And also how do you respond on the rare occasion they do listen to encourage that to keep happening?

Like you mentioned earlier, that the way a lot of us were raised in previous generations was, if you didn't listen, parents would follow through with a harsh punishment. And we're learning through more recent research that harsh punishments are actually not an effective teaching tool. So because that's what a lot of us grew up with a lot of us are at a loss of what do I do? How do I respond when they don't listen? And how do I respond when they do listen in a way that it encourages that to happen more? And I'm guessing the response should not be what some of us got as children, so I feel like a lot of us just need some new responses.

Julie King: We don't have a one thing you do instead of punishment. So I'm tempted to ask you, if you could give us an example from your own life of a kid who didn't listen, and you're wondering what to do. Then I can show you how we think about it using your example.

Dr. Cara Goodwin: Why don't we stick with getting kids’ shoes on in the morning to try to get them out the door? So you say “Put on your shoes,” you try a playful approach, “This shoe needs a partner” or whatever and they're still not listening and the timer is going off meaning it’s time to leave or you will be late for school. Is that when you do wrestle them down and get the shoes on? Or do you decide this isn’t worth the struggle and keep trying more playful appraoches? At what point do you need to just follow through and make it happen?

Julie King: So I think about it in two ways, what to do in the moment, and then what to do about the moment. In the moment, it's really hard to get shoes on a kid who's completely unwilling. They're going to be kicking, they're going to be screaming, they're going to be running around. So that might be the child who I pick up and I say, “I see it's just too hard to get your shoes on. We have to go now I'm going to pick you up and put you in the car without your shoes. I'll carry them to the car.”

So in that sense, I'm taking action, but even then I'm not saying: “It's your fault. I told you have to get your shoes on and now you're not cooperating, you're losing your privilege of watching with the iPad.” It’s not that. It's that “I can't let this go on. I have to get in the car because school is waiting and the doors will close. And so we have to get going, and I will do what I have to do to protect myself from being late for the sake of the other kids who need to get to school on time.” But that's what I would do in the moment.

But outside of the moment, I'm going to ask myself, “What's going on for this kid? Why does he not want to put his shoes on to begin with?” There can be so many different reasons and that's why I say there isn't one answer. Some kids don't like the feeling of their shoes. Some kids are tired, and they just can't get themselves to do anything. So there's so many reasons why they might not be wanting to put their shoes on.

Joanna Faber: They might dread school, maybe something's happening there.

Julie King: Maybe we need to think about what is going on there and give them some strategies or talk to the school about what's going on. There are so many reasons.

I had a dad in one of my groups who could not get his kid to put his socks on. His kid would complain unless he had one of three pairs of favorite socks. So he was yelling at his kid: “It doesn't matter which socks they are! You just have to put them on. The other socks or in the laundry. Put these on.” Of course, the kid you will not be surprised to hear, did not say, “Oh, they're in the laundry, no problem. I will do it. Thanks for explaining to me.” I know that didn't happen, because then he wouldn't have come to my workshop.

I told him, I shared with him how one of my kids has had and still has very sensitive feet. He was very sensitive to socks that had seams on them and this the feeling of something touching his feet was very over-stimulating for him. I said to tis dad: “It really does make a difference. Those three socks that he likes can we get more of those socks? Because that would be a reasonable solution.” I don't want you to think of it as giving in to this child like he's been controlling. It’s more that he actually feels the difference.

Well, he actually ended up buying more of the socks this kid liked and the sock problem disappeared until the babysitter came over and she grabbed some pair of socks that wasn't one of the preferred ones. Somehow she found them. Of course, the kid complained and she's trying to force the kid to put his shoes on while he’s screaming at her.

So what we have to ask ourselves is— What's going on for this child? Why are they behaving this way to begin with? But if you want to solve this problem, especially a sock or shoe problem, which you're going to face at least every morning, if not several times a day, it's worth asking—Why does this child not want to put their shoes on?

Joanna Faber: It could be that the child doesn't have sensory issues. It could be something very simple. For example, one couple that I had in my workshop told me that their child was playing with Legos in the morning. As a young child, he would just become so deeply engaged that it was painful for him to pull away. They just decided all together that they couldn’t have this kind of play in the morning, because it's too much of a tease to the child.

It's not that the child is “bad,” but he becomes deeply engaged, and it's too hard to pull away. So we need to put that away for the morning, and find something else that you can do for a short amount of time and pull away from, so it doesn't always have to be some kind of deeper issue. It could just be a way of arranging the morning. But again, as Julie said, instead of just thinking about how do I get a child to do something, it's really nice to sit back and say, what is going on? What's going on the child? What are my needs? What are their needs? How can we make it work?

Dr. Cara Goodwin: I love that. I also have a child who is very particular about their socks, and we tried maybe 100 different types of socks until we found the type that she was happy with. Then the issue with shoes in the morning was totally eliminated. So I totally agree with you on that suggestion, and that sensory issues are real. In general, children have a strong need for routine and things to be the same, and that's a real need, just recognizing that these needs that might seem ridiculous to us as parents are actually real needs that children have. I think that's such an important perspective shift.

Julie King: I was just going to add about that whole morning problem, because I think that is such a challenging time for so many families, because children weren't designed to get up and go, go, go, and do the things they have to do, but that's the world a lot of us live in. For my kids, I realized at one point that the transitions are hard— stopping one activity and starting another. So when my kids would start playing, of course, they didn't want to stop playing to go to school.

So I would try to eliminate transitions whenever I could. Many mornings, I remember saying, “Let's pretend we're trains.” They were playing with trains so I would say “We’re going to be trains” and I'd say, “Who wants to be the engine? Who wants to be the caboose?” We would all go “Chicka, chicka, chicka, chicka, choo, choo” into the car. There was no stopping the play. So eliminating transitions is another strategy that can be a playful strategy.

Joanna Faber: For my child, I love the tool of putting the child in charge. Because he was very much “If you say up, I'll say down, if you say left, I'll go right.” So every morning, we would have the obligatory fight over wearing the coat when it was below freezing out. He also ran hot and he didn't like to wear a bulky coat. But one thing I put him in charge of was checking this thermometer. We actually got a thermometer and we made little pictures of kids dressed in different outfits (the bathing suit for 80 and above and all the way down to the winter coat and the mittens for below 32). I asked him to like check the thermometer and tell us what we need to wear this morning which delighted him.

Because now instead of mom telling him what to do, he's telling mom what to do. Again, he's being responsible and he's relating to his environment. I actually had a friend who helped my child make his own fleece coat, which was very light and not bulky. He loved it because it was light and he also loved it because it was this marvelous sewing project. So again, it's not so much permissive as it is about learning wonderful life skills and being in charge of yourself.

Dr. Cara Goodwin: I love that. I was just reading a lot of research that's come out recently about this type of parenting style where you're really supporting your child's autonomy and putting them in charge is associated with all of these amazing outcomes as adults. So there's a lot of research backing this up, it isn't just permissive parenting, like you said. It's really supporting your child in having choice and having autonomy over their own world within limit.

Of course, we're not going to just totally give them free rein. But there's so much research backing up that it’s really important for parents to learn strategies like this that give children autonomy in a way that still works with our lives.

This has been so incredibly helpful, but I just have one more question, what about neurodiverse children? So we talked a little bit about sensory issues, but what about children with ADHD or autism or other sorts of developmental delays? How do we adapt these strategies to be effective for children who maybe have more trouble listening and cooperating than a neurotypical child?

Joanna Faber: I just remembered a story. I think it was from one of Julie's groups, where there was a parent whose kid with autism would bang on the screen door when she was working in the kitchen, because he wanted to go out in the yard and play with the other kids. Because this kid was on the spectrum, she really needed to be outside supervising, making sure he didn't wander into the street or what have you. So she would try to distract him away from the door and say, “Come here, help me” and he would go and cry and bang and sometimes she would just put up with it.

One of the things she learned in the group was the same old skill which is acknowledged feelings, but again we can't have enough practice at it. She learned to say “You see the other kids outside and you want to go to play with them.” Because he was nonverbal, hearing that put into words allowed this kid to calm down. Then she would be able to say to him, “I just have to finish making the salad and putting up the stew or what have you, come help me rip the lettuce leaves, and then we'll go out.” Then he would be able to stop crying and banging and come and help her.

So it's another example of putting into words what kids want to say and acknowledging feelings even when they're negative feelings and even when they are feelings about something a kid wants to do that you don't want to let them do. Acknowledging that will help him to calm down. It will help him think straight and will help you both come up with other solutions. So even more important when you have a nonverbal kid who's getting more and more frustrated, because he can't say to you what he wants to say.

Dr. Cara Goodwin: Well, this has been so incredibly helpful. I love how you guys give us such practical tips that will actually work in our lives. I think there is just so much useful information in here for really helping parents make this incredibly hard task of getting our children to listen a little bit easier. So I cannot thank you enough. If you could tell my audience just one more time where to find you if they want more information?

Julie King: Sure. We have our two books, “How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen: A Survival Guide to Life with Children Ages 2-7", that's our first book. Our new book is, “How to Talk When Kids Won't Listen: Whining, Fighting Meltdowns, Defiance, and Other Challenges of Childhood”. Either book, you can get online or at your local bookstore, wherever books are sold. And if you want to find us, you can find us online at You can find us on Instagram at howtotalk.forparents. You can find us on Facebook at FaberandKing or search for the title of our book, “How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen ''. That should do it. You can email or you can message us from any of those sites. So we're very findable.

Dr. Cara Goodwin: Wonderful.

Julie King: In terms of what we do, we have books, we have workshops, we do private consults, we do speaking, and we laugh with each other. That's what we do. I think that pretty much covers it.

Joanna Faber: We make bad puns.

Julie King: Yeah, we do.

Dr. Cara Goodwin: Well, thank you so much. This has really been so helpful. And I know it'll be helpful to other parents as well.

Julie King: Thank you for having us.

Dr. Cara Goodwin: Thank you.

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Welcome to the Parenting Translator newsletter! I am Dr. Cara Goodwin, a licensed psychologist with a PhD in child psychology and mother to three children (currently an almost-2-year-old, 4-year-old, and 6-year-old). I specialize in taking all of the research that is out there related to parenting and child development and turning it into information that is accurate, relevant, and useful for parents! I recently turned these efforts into a non-profit organization since I believe that all parents deserve access to unbiased and free information. This means that I am only here to help YOU as a parent so please send along any feedback, topic suggestions, or questions that you have! You can also find me on Instagram @parentingtranslator, on TikTok @parentingtranslator, and my website (

DISCLAIMER: The information and advice in this newsletter is for educational purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical, mental health, legal, or other professions. Call your medical, mental health professional, or 911 for all emergencies. Dr. Cara Goodwin is not liable for any advice or information provided in this newsletter.