Book Review: 'Now Say This'

Fiona Fennessy

Now Say This - the right words to solve every parenting dilemma
By Heather Turgeon, MFT and Julie Wright, MFT
Now Say This is published by Scribe, $29.99 

It's no secret that little children have big emotions. Daily, I navigate the emotional minefield that is my two year old twins, Jack and Mia. I frequently experience tantrums from 2 year old Jack. He wanted to pour the porridge. He was served his food in the wrong colour bowl. He wanted to be the one who opened the garden gate. The tantrums were becoming difficult to handle. I was embarrassed when it happened in front of other parents.   I passed it off as being “just one of those days”. Knowing I couldn’t anticipate and prevent every single future tantrum, I was desperate to try something different.
(Photo: Jack and Mia, aged 2 years)

When I picked up the new book Now Say This, I felt as though the authors had been secretly observing our lives and wrote a book especially for us. Firstly, it was comforting to know other people were experiencing the same issues as me. Secondly, I now understand that Jack is telling me, through a tantrum, that he needs me. I should be supportive, not angry. I should listen more and not try to hurry on with our day, dismissing his feelings. After reading this book, I now have a guide on how to tackle tantrums and use the power of my words in a better way. I carry the book around in my bag and re-read the scenarios and particularly chapter three “Difficult Feelings and Tantrums”. This chapter outlines six “Attune Tools” which explain how to better communicate with your children. The tools tell you exactly what to say and, importantly, what not to say. By simply changing what you say, you can help your children to begin to understand, to communicate and manage their feelings better. 

Parenting is a constant struggle to keep cool, calm and collected in heated situations, especially with two tantrum-ing toddlers. How can little children press all of your buttons and fire you up before 9am?  Keeping the peace at home is a challenge. Since having twins, strangers would kindly comment “I don’t know how you do it” or “you make it look so easy”. Truth be told there are many times when the tantrums and meltdowns made me feel like I was not doing such a great job. 
(Photo: Mia and Jack at the park, aged 18 months)

Now Say This teaches a 3-step ALP (Attune, Limit, Set) method so parents are equiped with scripts, problem-solving tools and tips on managing sibling relationships. Furthermore, it outlines the benefits to parents of avoiding certain behaviours such as trying to make our children happy all of the time, bribing or negotiating with them and trying to prevent them making mistakes. I definitely could plead guilty to all of these. Attuning or leading with understanding can lower your stress levels once you see problems from your child’s point of view. I have moments of repair and reflection, circling back and asking myself what I could have done better. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

I highly recommend this book to parents of young children. We all aim to be wonderful role models for our children, we want to teach them right from wrong and how to cope with their emotions. The hard part is that we don’t always have the right words or framework. Now Say This teaches you both of these things. I quickly realised I am not and cannot be a perfect parent. There is no easy magic fix formula but the book shows what I can do differently; to look beneath the water line, adapt and adjust my understanding; listen, guide and attune myself to the perspective of my children. 
(Photo: Mia and Jack on Hyam's Beach, aged 2 and a half)

Pick up a copy of Now Say This from Scribe, $29.99