What Not To Say: Tools for Talking With Young Children

How many times have you uttered a standard, knee-jerk phrase when trying to counsel a young child or respond to irritating behavior? Even when it’s clear our typical verbal reactions and directives aren’t working, many adults just don’t know what to say instead. Changing the way we talk may be a daunting prospect, but What Not to Say: Tools for Talking with Young Children succeeds in steering parents, teachers, nannies, and others in how to revamp their communication with 1- to 6-year-olds. By understanding the importance of what children hear from us and utilizing the book’s practical tools, readers can begin to think twice and alter how they typically speak to the children in their lives. Confrontations and misunderstandings can be turned around with clarity, honesty, consistency, and humor.

Sarah MacLaughlin addresses the need for a succinct guidebook, one that is short on theory and long on practical help for busy, often overworked caregivers. Utilizing 66 common expressions–those things we have often heard and sometimes say ourselves–she explains why many everyday interactions with children can be ineffective, if not downright damaging. Offering empathy rather than guilt, MacLaughlin reveals how our words sound to a child and gives examples for replacing ineffective sayings with more positive and productive language for various situations.

The book’s chapters on important areas of communication–for example, labels and nicknames–provide a basic framework for assessing and guiding young children’s behavior. Charming cartoons illustrate the themes and there is an up-to-date list of the best resource books for further reading. What Not to Say shows parents and caregivers how to have more positive interactions with young children–and better behaved, happier kids.