*What Not to Say: Tools for Talking with Young Children* Giveaway & Book Tour

This is my very first book review on this blog, and even more exciting is that I get to give away a prize to a random reader! Sarah MacLaughlin is someone I’ve had the absolute pleasure to get to know as a person and a mom. I’m thrilled to be the first stop on the book tour celebrating the e-book release of her book What Not to Say. Before I jump into the book review, allow me to introduce Sarah.

Sarah MacLaughlin has worked with children and families for over twenty years. With a background in early childhood education, she has previously been both a preschool teacher and nanny. Sarah is currently a licensed social worker at The Opportunity Alliance in South Portland, Maine, and works as the resource coordinator in therapeutic foster care. She serves on the board of Birth Roots, and writes the “Parenting Toolbox” column for a local parenting newspaper, Parent & Family. Sarah teaches classes and workshops locally, and consults with families everywhere. She considers it her life’s work to promote happy, well adjusted people in the future by increasing awareness of how children are spoken to today. She is mom to a young son who gives her plenty of opportunities to take her own advice about What Not to Say.

As parents, teachers, or caregivers to children there will probably be a million times that a sentence or phrase comes out of our mouth and as soon as it hits the air we wish we could extend a frog tongue and snap it back in. Sometimes we know exactly why it wasn’t the right choice in words (“What is wrong with you??”), sometimes it just didn’t sound right (“Good boy!”), and sometimes it just elicits a bewildered stare from your child that tells you the language was not processed (“Come on! Give me a break!”). Without wagging a finger at you, Sarah MacLaughlin’s book, What Not to Say: Tools for Talking with Young Children, sheds light on language adults use with children.

I realize that raising a child to grow into an adult with minimal therapy cost really comes down to communication. I also realize that I model language skills and communication skills to my children (and the children I babysat and teach in school). Sarah goes through all of those cliche parenting quips from “I’ll give you something to really cry about,” to “What’s the magic word?” and gives adults the alternative. It’s hard enough knowing you’re saying the “wrong” thing, but Sarah doesn’t leave you high and dry there, she runs through a suggested scenario using words that you won’t feel phony hearing come out of your mouth. You won’t have to bite your tongue and smooth down your hair before coming up with a response to your toddler darting into the road, refusing to put on shoes, or sticking beans up their nose. What Not to Say gives you the tools to communicate in an authentic way. A way that you and your child can respect.

Even better [,says the bookworm,] than helping you deal with your child’s emotions and behavior is the fact that after each specific phrase that you shouldn’t say and the alternative suggestion, a children’s book is recommended that directly relates to the behavior exhibited by your child. This gives you another way to communicate with a young child using relatable language.

The end of this book refers to the power struggle parents often find themselves in due to the language and often physical response it evokes. Sarah refers to this as the “balancing act.” Being in control, but not having it be about control.

The day I began reading What Not to Say I had taken Liam and Nora to a friend’s house to swap around gendered baby clothes. As Liam scrambled up onto the couch and tore through every piece of folded and sorted miniature clothing I thought in my head, What the hell is wrong with you??? Except that’s just the archaic response our brains have been trained to react with. I’m smart and intuitive enough to know that my 2 year old just spent the day at daycare, is probably hungry, and tired of being corralled into one room when he really wanted to explore this new space with lots of other off-limit rooms. As discussed in Sarah’s book, I narrated the disaster I was watching before my eyes, stating out loud what he was doing and that it was not okay because those belong to someone else who worked hard to make those clothes neat. Liam responded by clambering up the side of the recliner and swiping at the stack of clothes there. I told him that was enough, I understood he was ready to leave and I was trying to get everything together as fast as I could. I asked my 25 month old for some patience. {sigh} I’ll keep practicing this. Maybe by the time Nora and I need to communicate beyond nursing, pooping, and soothing to sleep I’ll be a pro, thanks to What Not to Say.

Here comes the 1st ever giveaway on The Bebe Diaries!

Please comment on this post so that you can enter to win an ebook copy of Sarah Maclaughlin’s book, What Not to Say: Tools for Talking with Young Children, in the format of your choice: PDF, epub, or Kindle format. Sarah will be giving away 1 copy at each blog stop! (Other stops during this Blog Tour are listed here: http://sarahsbalancingact.blogspot.com/p/blog-tour.html)

Also, be sure to enter at Sarah’s site (http://sarahsbalancingact.blogspot.com/p/blog-tour.html) for the Grand Prize Giveaway: a Kindle Touch.

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29 thoughts on “*What Not to Say: Tools for Talking with Young Children* Giveaway & Book Tour

  1. Oh how I desperately need help in this area! I have a short fuse zero patience & absolutely no clue HOW to communicate with C – it ends in frustration & anger from both of us every time! :(

  2. Hi Katie – the book sounds wonderful. And I agree – it’s easier for me to pick out those things I definitely shouldn’t say (but might think), but it’s harder to come up with just the right thing. And there are things I find myself saying a lot (aka, along the lines of, “we don’t scream at Mommy”) whose effectiveness I honestly wonder about. Eeek!

    • Knowing that you’re missing the mark with what you say is an important firsat step! One BIG reframe is getting some developmental perspective. Young children just can’t respect us, follow directions, and generally be pleasant in the way we want them to. If they are having a hard time (think whining, crying, tantruming) try to interpret it as a literal “cry for help.” Stop what you are doing, get low, look them in the eye and be calm and present with them. Take a break from trying to gain compliance. It is truly your best bet. Watch my blog for some upcoming posts about gentle discipline and emotional intelligence!

  3. Just bought the .99 version for Kindle. Hope it can help me with my 12 year old a house full of child care kiddos!

  4. I’m always trying to check my words and tone when I’m frustrated with my daughter but the more tools the better! Sounds like a good book!

  5. I need to read this book! I recently went to the beach with my sister and our two little ones…while we were there we overheard a very frustrated mommy shouting commands at her toddler (Get over here right now! etc..) and I realized I don’t want to be “that mom” EVER!
    Thanks for sharing Katie :-)

  6. Having 3, each wanting a different part of you, you definitely need to remember what not to say in frustration and it is hard. This book sounds like perfect guide to deal with any situation…

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