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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Book review: Ten Powerful Things To Say to Your Kids

I am truly honored to write my first book review on such a phenomenal book!

The book is called...
"Ten Powerful Things to Say to Your Kids"     By: Paul Axtell

I have mowed over and over in my mind on how to review this book.
I don't want to give too much away because its definitely worth the read.

The first thing I decided to do was try out some of the phrases and advice that the author Paul wrote about in his book. I have the perfect family of test subjects. Teens that I have been having a hard time understanding lately, and a 6 year old that is full of intellectual energy, and a husband that is a words person.

I began by starting my experiment with chapter ONE... "I like you"
One day after my 12 year old son had came home from school with tears streaming down his face because  his sister and him had been bickering about something, and it had ended in a rash spouting of yelling at each other with his sister calling him names. (After I had  a conversation with his sister about the effects of words on her brother, and they had properly worked out the issue with each other) I noticed how my son had smoothed out the situation calmly even when he was hurt. I pulled him aside and said simply, "Did you know that I really like you?" I then began to list the reasons why. Instantly his face lit up and he hugged me and said,"Thank you mommy." This is one example of using a simple phrase that makes a difference. And it was instant!

In the book Paul Axtell explains that "I like you." "This is a different statement from..         I love you. This statement says, I like who you are as a person. Use them both."

(excerpt from chapter one)
"So you know all the reasons to tell your kids you love them. You might wonder, then, why you need to say I like you. Well, this is different then love. Love is unconditional. You love them just because they are your children and it will never change, no matter what happens. Saying I like who you are as a person lets your kids know that you admire and respect them. It means you like to be with them. It means you like who they are becoming as they grow up."

I was pleasantly surprised while reading this book, that the author had found the secret recipe to use when talking to teens. From the moment when I began to use some of the phrases and ideas from the book, I saw a positive and drastic change in the way my children communicated to me. And right away!  His advice is so simple. One major quote that was only 3 pages in, slapped me back into reality and opened my eyes. This was something I already knew, but I needed to be reminded. And why shouldn't I be using this advice with my children? I think about this when I talk to adults.......

(excerpt from book)

"Think before you speak"
"Although everyone grows up knowing the basics of how to speak and listen, day-in an day-out many people simply don't think about their conversations-about what they say or how well they listen. And, like most things in life, when you stop thinking about what you are doing or saying, you lose your ability to be effective in the moment."

I realized with my teens that I needed to open up conversations by changing my wording just a little bit.

For example:(from the book)

 Instead of ...."How was school today?"

Say: "Tell me about your day."

This simple change of moving some words around  and  just changing the way I phrase a sentence to my teens and my six year old, has made a huge impact. I am hearing complete details about my children's days now. Before they would simply answer in  one word. "fine"

In the book, the author gives lists of questions to ask.

After trying the phrases and getting instant results, I couldn't wait to finish reading the book. This book is filled with short stories and antidotes from the authors life that keep the book interesting. He also talks about how it is never too early to began to have good communication with your kids. The author talks about the importance of even reading to your children before they are born. He gives reference to "create a space within which your relationship can grow"  Going on about the importance of listening to young children when they are explaining things to set the stage for great conversations with your kids forever. I think that the information in this book can be used for any age.

..I specifically found it most helpful with my teens. (Maybe if I start with my six year old now we can breeze smoothly through the teen

Another item he discussed (speaking of teens) was the importance about
making agreements with your teens.

(excerpt from book)

"What recurring problems in your family might be resolved if you put some agreements in place? You want as few agreements as possible and only ones that truly matter. What agreements are best for you and your children will depend on you, the age of your children, and what matters in your family."

Then he goes on with some examples to use, in which I don't want to give away :)

Although, I would like to share another excerpt from the book that I am particularly fond of.

Check in with people. "This is a lost art. For whatever reason, we don't ask people about their weekends, trips, or kids as often as we used to. I think this is a missing piece, and it's a simple piece to add to our conversations. And when we ask we better be prepared to listen flat out for four to eight minutes, because that is what it takes to honor the response."

Another thing I found helpful that was in the book, was to ask your children "What do you say to them most? " Just listen to the answers  I got.

My 6 year old said," Mommy! you always say, I love you too."

My 12 year old son said, "I don't really pay attention to what you say to me"..
"Oh wait you always say," Ben!"

My 13 year old daughter said, "You don't really have a catch phrase or anything, I sort of tune you out."

My 16 year old daughter said, "You always say,"Make a sandwich," "What's your plan for today ?"and "Have fun at work !"

Just hearing these answers made me want to change the way I talked to them.
As I scoured the book for more answers about talking to my teens, I realized that maybe it all could change around here. If I give myself a few basic rules about talking to my teens maybe I could actually have a whole conversation with them, like I used to when they were younger. So far the results have been stellar. Moving forward I am excited about actually being a parent that my teen wants to talk to.

This book is worth the read.

There is much more to this book then just the examples I recited. I was going to list out my favorite chapters, when I just realized I had liked something about each chapter. If you would like to read some samples of some chapters or purchase the book online. Paul Axtell has a website: 
This blog is not meant to be an advertisement. I really honestly believe in this book. It has genuinely begun to strengthen my relationship with my kids.


Anonymous said...

Great review! I am going to down load the book. I felt from your review that it can still be very beneficial in many relationships/communications in all age groups. I work as a nurse every day and communication on a personal level opens doors into helping them with their lives. Thank you. K

Paul Axtell said...

You made my day! Thank you for the kind words. Paul