How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen

We recently hosted a Parent Education Speaker Series with Julie King, co-author of How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen. The evening focused on building respectful, compassionate relationships with young children ages 2 – 7. Julie engaged our audience with many relatable moments and shared experiences. Her reminders are much appreciated by parents and teachers alike! See a few keys points she made during the talk below, as well as some links to a few resources related to her talk.


We all want our kids to:

  • Behave

  • Do What We Ask

For both adults and kids, there is a strong connection between how we feel and how we behave. Three tools to help with communication:

  1. Acknowledge feelings with words. Use statements rather than asking questions. (“You are angry that your brother took that toy.”) Positive feelings are easier to acknowledge than negative feelings. We do not want to discourage negative feelings by dismissing them because it is important our children are seen/heard and learn what feelings are. Think of it as “emotional coaching” by acknowledging and identifying feelings.

  2. Use Fantasy. Child: “I don’t want to go to school!” Parent: “I understand. If I could, I would use a wand and magically make it the weekend.”

  3. Be Playful. Rather than issuing commands or threats, try “irresistible invitations.” This can make kids more cooperative and lift spirits. For examples:

    • Make an inanimate object talk. Parent pretends the child’s pants are speaking “Please put me on, I really want to go to school with you!”

    • Turn something into a game or a challenge. “I bet I can put away more toys than you can!”



Podcast (Click Here): This podcast is a lengthy interview with Julie, covering similar topics from her talk at MTS. (This podcast discussion is for dads, moms, and anyone who works with young children.)

How To Talk So Little Kids Will Listen Highlights Document (Click Here): This document contains tools and highlights from the book, for reference.

Pocket Parent; companion app to the book (Click Here): Julie and company created an app.

We hope you appreciate these wise words from Julie King and Joanna Faber as much as we did!

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