The Art of Talking with Children
Adding the joy and fun of great conversations into your everyday lives
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Science has shown that the best way to help our kids become independent, kind, and happy is by talking with them. And yet we often find ourselves distracted, exhausted, or at a loss as to how to have meaningful conversations.
Harvard lecturer, speech pathologist, and mother, Rebecca Rolland offers an essential, evidence-based guide to communicating more effectively with children of all ages, revealing that a great conversation has a double benefit: helping adults and kids connect better in the moment and boosting children’s learning and wellbeing for years to come.
Dr. Rolland’s tools for communication will help you learn to:
- Engage in more “rich talk”—a methodology for a quality conversation;
- Promote your child’s empathy, curiosity, and ability to embrace challenges;
- Make you feel more effective and confident as a parent.
Foreign rights have been sold to multiple territories, with translations to Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean, among others.
This book is full of life-changing insights, wise advice, and easy-to-adopt habits – every chapter is a new “a-ha” moment.
Learning the secrets of “rich talk” can strengthen your connection with your kids, help you be a more effective parent, and empower everyone in your family to express themselves and celebrate each other more fully. The Art of Talking with Children is sure to be a new timeless classic for parents. I am so glad I read this landmark book, and I am giving it to every parent I know!
– Jane McGonigal, PhD, LICSW, New York Times Bestselling author of Reality is Broken and SuperBetter
In this thoughtful and thorough exploration of “rich talk,” Rolland dives deep into the how and why of meaningful conversations with kids.
Using compelling research and engaging anecdotes, Rolland offers a powerful and pragmatic guide to one of the most underappreciated skills for building and strengthening our relationships with our children and supporting their learning, independence, and confidence in almost every aspect of their lives."
Rolland’s book opens us to being the kind of thoughtful, curious, fun people ANYONE wants to talk to — including those still young enough to suck applesauce from a pouch."
How This Book Came to Be
Kids of all ages fascinate me. From infants to teens, I love the puzzle of figuring them out—and discovering along with them what they think and feel.
For over a decade, as I’ve worked with them and their families on their speech, language, reading, and writing skills, I’ve been surprised, sometimes even startled, to realize what makes them tick. This puzzle doesn’t go away when you get to know a child better. In fact, it can get even more complicated—and the surprises of a child’s heart and mind even more surprising.
That’s where the power of deep conversation comes in. It helps you get to know kids, and helps them to know you, even as you strengthen your bonds.
For me, writing this book has been a labor of love, born from my twin passions of teaching and raising kids. The idea was sparked over a decade ago, when I first started learning about language development. I still remember the first child I saw as a speech-pathologist in training. He was a six-year-old boy with trouble understanding the sound structure of English (what we call phonology) and so, when he spoke, almost no one could understand what he said.
Even his own parents said they understood only about a third of what he said, and ended up saying a lot of “uh huh” and “Hm…” as a result.
This child was understandably frustrated, and more often than not either went silent, or started throwing things when he couldn’t get his point across.
Understanding his speech meant recording everything he said, and then transcribing it into a notebook—then finally trying to figure out which sounds he’d substituted for what. Only then did I “crack the code” of the errors he was making, and start to help him with his speech. It wasn’t an easy process, and I wasn’t the only one helping—but I was fascinated to see how, over the course of the year, he started blossoming as his speaking skills improved.
Soon, I came to see his journey as a metaphor for so many other kids. Most kids don’t have those kinds of speaking issues—but they may well be challenged to express what they mean fully. And we may have a tough time really understanding them.
Maybe we’re just burnt out or tired to listen deeply, or our kids are too worried to tell us something important. Or maybe your teenagers have stopped opening up at all…
Or maybe you have an infant or young child who isn’t talking much yet.
As you’ll see in my book, all kids, from babies to teenagers, can be supported to have deeper conversations. (Keep in mind that conversations don’t have to involve words.)
And helping them with what I call “rich talk” lets you all have more fun in the moment—and builds skills like creativity, confidence, and kindness in the long term.
Print length: 496 pages
Publication date: March 1, 2022