Dr. Haim Ginott: Unsurpassed in Parenting with Empathy

In  the mid-1960’s there were only a few widely viewed daytime talk shows and Haim Ginott frequently appeared on them because of his revolutionary approach to honoring children’s emotions in a respectful manner that maintained their self-esteem.  His book, Between Parent and Child, published in 1965, became one of the best selling parenting books ever written, selling millions of copies; it is as pertinent and useful today as it was then.  Although I have read many parenting books, I’ve never found one to be as valuable as Between Parent and Child.  Haim Ginott provided the groundwork in the 60’s, upon which many other psychologists developed their own humanistic and empathetic communication techniques.

As a teenager, I listened to Dr. Ginott explain how parents should speak to children and his words resonated with me so profoundly, that they ultimately formed the core of my own educational philosophy and practice which has been in place for over forty years.  Today, my own training organization, Empathy Warriors, is, based upon Haim Ginott’s fundamental beliefs about how to talk and listen to children, and I blended those with the most current best practices in brain research.

Dr. Ginott’s unique style of communication with children and teenagers provided an entirely new perspective parents could easily use to observe and interact with their children more effectively to forge more intimate and respectful bonds with them. Decades before neuroscientists started producing evidence-based findings about the nature of the human brain and its functions, Haim Ginott was educating parents and teachers in what appeared, at the time, to be just simple, down to earth, common sense approaches to dealing effectively and humanely with children.  Today, neuroscience is continually and progressively revealing and confirming Dr. Ginott’s theories to be founded in factual evidence regarding how the human brain is hardwired.

Check out the following website and listen to some of Dr. Ginott’s television interviews:


http://www.betweenparentandchild.com/index.php?s=content&p=video_1 (focuses on how to protect children’s feelings)
http://www.betweenparentandchild.com/index.php?s=content&p=video_4 (explains how to give children their wish in fantasy)
http://www.betweenparentandchild.com/index.php?s=content&p=video_2 (explains how to express your anger without insults)


4 thoughts on “Dr. Haim Ginott: Unsurpassed in Parenting with Empathy

  1. Today, I went to the beach with my kids. I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and
    said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She placed the shell to her ear and screamed.
    There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear.

    She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is completely off topic but I had to tell someone!

    • Thank you so much for your comment and your story is not at all off topic; it’s exactly the kind of experience that parents have that provide an opportunity to listen and respond with empathy. Here is how I think Dr. Ginott would have dealt with it. First of all, he would have checked her ear to ascertain whether or not there was an injury that needed attention. Once that was ruled out, he probably would have looked at her face and said to himself, “What do I think she is feeling in this moment? Probably surprise, disappointment, sadness, and possibly some anger toward her mother for suggesting she put the shell to her ear.” Then, he probably would have said something like, “Oh, that must have really surprised you! When I told you to put the shell to your ear, you never expected it would hurt! I’m sorry that naughty little crab pinched your ear and hurt you! If that happened to me, I would be surprised and angry and I might even be afraid of shells and the beach.” Then, he would have waited for her response to see if he nailed her feelings correctly or not. If he did, she would have said something like, “Yeah, I was surprised and now I’m afraid of shells and the beach!” Then, he probably would have said something like, “I bet you wish you could surprise that naughty little crab and pinch him in his ear!” At that point, she may have smiled and agreed.

      There are two wonderful books I will recommend to you that are written by two women who faithfully attended Dr. Ginott’s parenting classes and kept his work alive after his premature death. Both of these books are delightful and fun to read and full of very helpful cartoon illustrations that every parent can relate to. Also, please feel free to write to me with any questions regarding parenting with empathy.

      Here are the books:

      How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Faber & Mazlish
      Sibling Rivalry by Faber & Maxlish

      Just google the titles and you will find lots of options or you can just borrow a copy from your local library.

      Best of luck and remember, that if you give your daughter the right to be afraid and let her know that you might also be afraid in the same situation, then give her her wish in fantasy–she will probably be willing to return to the beach and even pick up another shell! By naming and validating her right to feel all her feelings, you help her to develop the skills to authentically identify them herself.

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