Your Children Are Listening


From Dr. Jim Taylor, a trusted parenting expert and author — a practical guide to staying “on message” with your children, including the nine essential messages to get your children off to a great start on life.

At the heart of this insightful, resonant, and practical book is the realization that children become the messages they get the most. These messages are imparted not only through parents’ word, emotions, and actions, but also through simply who parents are. Given the inherent power that parents have in shaping their children through their messages, the core question parents should be asking themselves is, “How can I be sure I’m sending the healthiest messages to my children?” Your Children are Listening equips parents to answer this oh-so-important question.

Your Children are Listening is based, in part, on my own professional experience as a so-called parenting expert. But, just as much, it is based on the real-life parenting experiences my wife, Sarah, and I have had in raising our daughters Catie and Gracie. As Catie is now in kindergarten and Gracie is a pre-schooler, our memories are sharp, our concerns are fresh, and our joys continue during this critical period of child development.

Your Children are Listening will show parents the nine essential messages that children need to get to have a life of meaning, connection, happiness, and success: love, competence, security, compassion, gratitude, Earth, respect, responsibility, and emotion.

Though many books address important aspects of children’s development, none focuses on the oh-so-important role that parents play in laying the foundation for their children’s personal and social futures. From the clarity of its own messages to the “I can totally relate to that” stories of a so-called parenting expert learning to be a real parent to the useful strategies that are put forward, Your Children are Listening offers readers a clear path on which to travel to a very desirable destination on the often-bumpy journey through childhood.

Five Messages From Your Children are Listening:
  • Why the messages they send to their children are so important;
  • The different “conduits” through which parents send messages to their children;
  • “Message blockers” that prevent their messages from getting through;
  • Nine essential messages to give children a great start to life: love, competence, security, compassion, gratitude, Earth, respect, responsibility, and emotion;
  • Practical catchphrases, rituals, and activities that parents can use to communicate healthy messages to their children clearly and consistently.



Chapter 1: Why and What Messages?
Chapter 2: Are Your Messages Getting Through?
Chapter 3: What Can Block Your Messages?

Chapter 4: Message #1: Love is Your Child’s Wellspring (“Sooo Much”)
Chapter 5: Message #2: Competence is Your Child’s Strength (“I Did it”)
Chapter 6: Message #3: Security is Your Child’s Safe Harbor (“I’m Okay”)

Chapter 7: Message #4: Compassion is Your Child’s Hands (“Sharing is Caring”)
Chapter 8: Message #5: Gratitude is Your Child’s Heart (“Mo’ Grat”)
Chapter 9: Message #6: Earth is Your Child’s Home (“We’re a Green Family”)

Chapter 10: Message #7: Respect is Your Child’s Measure (“The Look”)
Chapter 11: Message #8: Responsibility is Your Child’s Shoulders (“That’s the Job”)
Chapter 12: Message #9: Emotion is Your Child’s Palette (“Feel Good, Feel Bad”)


Radio interviews

KGO San Francisco, June 18, 2011


“Dr. Jim Taylor’s strengths are his compassionate voice, his insights into parents’ and children’s psyches, and his ‘boots on the ground’ approach to helping parents send healthy messages to their children. In a world filled with harmful messages, Your Children are Listening will resonate with all
” Michele Borba, Ed.D., author of Parents Do Make a Difference and The Big Book of Parenting Solutions

“In a world where children are surrounded by negative messages, Dr. Jim Taylor gives parents the tools they need to effectively communicate healthy, positive messages that will infuse their childrens’ hearts, minds and souls.” Michelle LaRowe, Author of A Mom’s Ultimate Book of Lists,Working Mom’s 411 and the Nanny to the Rescue! parenting series


I’m a “Parenting Expert”

I have a Ph.D. in psychology, am the author of two previous parenting books; I have a consulting practice that involves working with young people and their parents, and I regularly speak to gatherings of parents, educators, and students around the world. For many years I’ve been a “parenting expert.” But here’s the hitch: I wrote those parenting books and became a so-called parenting expert before I had children.

In the instant when my first daughter, Catie, was born, I went from being an authority on parenting to just another baffled parent trying to muddle through raising my children. In fifteen years I may write another parenting book titled, I’m Sorry, They Seemed Like Good Ideas at the Time.

That said, my professional experience has demonstrated that my ideas about raising children do stand up to the test of real-life parenting. Now that I am the father of two young girls, five-year-old Catie and three-year-old Gracie, I have initial, firsthand experience to support the value of my ideas about raising children. Plus, being a parent has helped me to better understand what actually works and what doesn’t in the real world of raising children.

How Do Children Become Who They Become?

The key question that intrigues me as both a parent and a so-called parenting expert is: How do children become who they become? Certainly, genetics plays a formative role; intelligence, physical attributes, and temperament all have been found to have a strong hereditary component. Evidence is equally strong that the environment also contributes significantly. It is no longer a dispute between nature versus nurture, but rather a collaboration of sorts involving nature via nurture; how children are raised and the environment in which they are immersed influence what genetic predispositions emerge as they develop.

So what aspects of the environment impact children’s development? Some have argued that parents have much less influence than they like to think; peers and popular culture affect children more. However, I believe that during these early years, you have a window of opportunity before your children become integrated into the larger social world—during this period your impact on your children is greater than that of outside forces.

They Get the Message

At the heart of Your Children are Listening is this message: children become the messages they get the most. Given the inherent power that you have in shaping your children through your messages, the core question you should ask yourself is, “How can I be sure I am sending the healthiest messages to my children?” The answer to that question has two parts: First, you need to be clear about what messages you want to communicate to your children. And, second, you must develop your own skills in conveying those messages.

The messages that come early in your children’s lives are particularly significant because, before long, your children will be getting messages from many, much less controllable and less benign sources. Peers and popular culture will inexorably bring children all kinds of information and attitudes—good, bad and downright dangerous. All you can do is attempt to ingrain positive messages early in your children’s lives as a form of immunization against the onslaught of harmful messages they are certain to receive as they get older.

Gift of Messages

What values and beliefs do you want to install in your children? What kind of people do your want your children to become? How can you prepare them for a future that is largely unforeseeable? These are fundamental questions that all parents ask. The answers that you come up will determine how you raise your children.

From my work I know that the vast majority of parents come up with similar answers. We want our children to thrive, to be kind and generous people, to find success, happiness, and meaning in their lives. We want our children to feel good about who they are, to pursue meaningful goals and do well in school and career. We want them to be thoughtful, respectful, and responsible. We want our children to develop healthy relationships, feel connected with the world in which they live, and find love. Ultimately, we all want our children to become decent human beings. And the way to realize these hopes for our children is to send them the right messages. Your hopes and your messages are the gifts that you can give your children every day of their lives.

A World of Unhealthy Messages

In earlier generations, being a good parent was easier. Parents could trust that most of the institutions that composed their society—schools, communities, youth sports, and popular culture—sent mostly good messages, messages that were aligned with those of the parents. The cumulative effect was that children were inundated by healthy messages from just about everyone and everything around them and unhealthy messages were by far the exception rather than the rule.

Because of these powerful negative influences on your children, as they say in the political world, you have to be “on message 24/7.” If you’re not, your children will not only fail to get your messages, but they probably will get the unhealthy messages to which they are going to be increasingly and continually exposed.

Nine Essential Messages

Your Children Are Listening will describe nine essential messages that your children need to get their early years to have a life of meaning, connection, happiness, and success. This book is divided into four parts. Part One, Get the Message, will introduce you to the importance of messages, all the ways that you send messages to your children, whether consciously or otherwise, and, equally important, what prevents your messages from getting through to them.

Part Two, I Like Myself, focuses on the messages that help build self-esteem, which is the foundation of children becoming confident and capable people. This section will examine the messages of love, competence, and security in the development of self-esteem and the best messages to send to instill this all-important positive perception in your children.

Part Three, I Like Others, explores the messages that will help your children develop the ability to relate to and connect with others. This section considers how compassion, gratitude, and the Earth play essential roles in this relationship.

Part Four, Others Like Me, looks at the messages that your children need to understand for the world at large to connect with them. Respect, responsibility, and emotion are the messages that are highlighted.


 I loved it!, August 26, 2011 By Anonymous

I loved this book! As a parent of 2 young kids (3 and 6), I found every page full of great ideas for how to interact with them in ways that will send all the wholesome messages and values that I want them to absorb. Totally practical, easy to read, and inspiring! Having read this, I feel confident that I can help my children become adults I’ll be proud of – responsible, independent, kind, loving, respectful to our planet, and confident. This book also helped me become more mindful of what I am communicating to my kids in every day interactions. It helps well-intentioned parents distinguish between the subtleties of what seems like good parenting on the surface, and what actually is good parenting, by teaching the reader how to recognize the ways in which our parenting messages are ACTUALLY being received by our kids, and empowering us to be in the driver seat. Brilliant!

An Amazing Resource, August 12, 2011
Dr. Taylor takes many of the important messages that as parents we are trying to instill in front of his readers in an easy to understand way that all will appreciate. Too often the messages that we are trying to convey gets lost. Whether this is due to our own miscommunications, or if there is outside interference, we have continual issues in trying to convey these messages so that they both listen and hear the message itself.

This book helps parents to relate to their children and hopefully our children to better relate to us in the end.Not only does the book share personal examples of people, but it brings in strong research to support his claims as well.

The author takes a compassionate tone that makes the book easy to read and it is easy to see that he is on a mission to help parents and children to grow mutually together.

Overall this book was great, and if you are looking for a book that will make you re-evaluate your own techniques and how you are coming across to your own kids, this book is an amazing one to have in your collection!

 Grateful to have found such a terrific parenting resource, July 7, 2011

Dr. Taylor provides parents who are essentially suspicious of parenting fads or extremes a thoughtful and reasonable approach to communicating with our children. I expect to turn to this text whenever the fast pace and clutter of life knocks me off course. It is very handy to have a resource that actually articulates what we should always have at the forefront of our minds when we relate to our children. Combine that with solid research based insights and helpful tips and this is a book that I’ll keep on the bookshelf for at least the next 18 years.

August 29, 2011

Dr. Jim Taylor truly has great insight when it comes to kids. When I got the book, I thought the book would be more for kids under 10 but I was wrong. I have a 13 year old daughter, soon to be 14 and Dr. Taylor’s messages are spot on. From loving your child to helping develop your child’s self confidence, these messages ring true. I would highly recommend this book, Your Children are Listening to anyone who has kids.

Yes….the Children ARE Listening, August 11, 2011

In our fast-paced, high achieving, electronic-gadget oriented society, Dr. Taylor’s book provides some sound principles and very specific suggestions for how to keep engaged with our children. Nine basic messages that will help provide a solid foundation to your child as they move through the vagaries of life later. Dr. Taylor encourages how to truly be present for your children and how to understand them as emerging individuals. He hits in on the head that we help shape our children’s “default behaviors” through repeated teachable moments and conversations. As the parent of two older teens—I can attest that these messages are mostly secured by the time your children are about 12. You may not even realize those messages are there until you hear reports from others about your children when they are not around YOU. Most importantly, Dr. Taylor illustrates the importance of carefully understanding one’s own values and assumptions and continually revisiting those explicitly with your spouse in order to consider what messages you are relaying to your children through both word and action—and what messages you really want to relay. It is a wondrous and continually evolving journey in tandem.

About Your Children are Listening


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What They’re Saying

“I have had the pleasure of hearing Jim Taylor lecture a group of CEO’s and Presidents, of speaking with him one-on-one and of reading several of his works. He provides a unique window into the head, heart and soul of top performers at their field. His perspective is special in that it combines performing at one’s best...”

Seth Waugh
former CEO, Deutsche Banks America