A guide on how to talk to your children...have things come to this?

(116 Posts)
INeedSomeSun Wed 19-Jun-13 18:23:53

DS got given a guide for parents today, on how to talk to your children. Apparantly 'children who talk at home achieve more at school'.
Some of the ideas are:
- Have a chat while you are in the car
-Walk & talk
- Turn off the telly at mealtimes
- Talk about school & things they are interested in

There's even a list of subjects you could 'start a conversation about'.

Really? Are things so bad that parents need a guide?

bochead Wed 19-Jun-13 20:27:49

Tosh, and a total waste of public funds that would be better spent on decent speech and language therapy for the small percentage of children that NEED it, in a timely manner (That's proper therapy, with measurable targets set & monitored btw)

Why on earth have we decided that perfectly sensible women lose their brains along with their placenta as standard?

I live in a deprived area yet have yet to meet the legion of "poor parents" so beloved of the media and certain sections of the political and educational establishment.

Most Mums are guilty of popping the telly on while they take the dinner out of the oven, a generation ago they left them at the bottom of the garden while they did the week's laundry by hand. It doesn't translate into an epidemic of poor parenting aka Romanian orphans.

This is along the lines of the "healthy eating" crusade, started as a way of deflecting attention from poor service provision by the LA with the lowest secondary educational results in London. In reality sensible Mums have been telling their kids to "eat yer greens" since the beginning of time.

Lastly it's an incredibly hurtful myth to perpetuate considering that children that DO have valid, clinical reasons for speech and language issues find it so hard to access the help they need. (If I'd talked to him more my child wouldn't have a cleft palate, be deaf, have ASD etc).

HollyBerryBush Wed 19-Jun-13 20:31:21

Best 20 mins of the day is running the kids to school, me ranting at the radio in a state of apoplexy delivering lectures on world politics, history, civil wars, the state of the economy - they are well versed in current affairs - shame there isn't still a GCSE in it grin

More of a monologue than a two way conversation

Turniptwirl Wed 19-Jun-13 20:38:43

If it helps a few people who otherwise wouldn't have asked their child how their day was then good!

I agree it's not a new thing for parents to ignore their kids, but with consoles, tablets, smart phones, computers, endless tv etc there's a lot of easy ways out of having to talk to them. And let's be fair, a computer game quite possibly is more interesting than a toddler telling you what happened on fireman Sam that you just watched ten times!

pointythings Wed 19-Jun-13 20:43:17

boc my experience says otherwise. Where I used to work there were some very deprived areas and it was common to see parents with young children whose only mode of communication towards those children was to shout and scream, usually loudly and using swearwords too. Mind you, I doubt a leaflet would have done anything useful in that situation but it did make me sad and made me realise that normal conversation was actually not that normal any more.

Jinsei Wed 19-Jun-13 20:47:09

'children who talk at home achieve more at school'.

Blimey, dd should have a PhD by now if that's true! grin

bochead Wed 19-Jun-13 21:07:55

Often people find themselves in deprived areas due to disability/illness/family breakdown impacting on family finances. Once there, far too many professionals resort to stereotyping as a way of gate keeping access to vital services. Disability in the family is often a causal factor in low income, which means having to live in cheap or social housing.

LaGuardia Wed 19-Jun-13 21:47:56

Women who give a loud running commentary whatever they are doing with their children make be want to get stabby. Performance parenting.

IloveJudgeJudy Wed 19-Jun-13 21:57:02

I do think part of the problem is that buggies are outward-facing, not facing the parent. I especially bought a pushchair that could be changed so that I could look at DC when I was walking with them. We had loads of "chats" like that.

hazeyjane Wed 19-Jun-13 21:59:08

total waste of public funds that would be better spent on decent speech and language therapy for the small percentage of children that NEED it, in a timely manner (That's proper therapy, with measurable targets set & monitored btw)

^^ yes to this

Women who give a loud running commentary whatever they are doing with their children make be want to get stabby. Performance parenting.

^^ bollocks to this

exoticfruits Wed 19-Jun-13 22:06:07

You have to make a distinction between talking to your baby and 'performance parenting'. Perhaps they need the guide- you do have to pause for interaction otherwise it just washes over the DC.

exoticfruits Wed 19-Jun-13 22:06:52

I am convinced the DCs of loud performance parents just switch off.

exoticfruits Wed 19-Jun-13 22:09:01

It is quite possible to give a running commentary to the baby without it being performance parenting.
However - at least the performance parent talks.

Unfortunatelyanxious Wed 19-Jun-13 22:16:43

The very small numbers of parents who do not engage in conversation with their dc will be the kind who chuck this in the bin without reading.

willowstar Wed 19-Jun-13 22:18:08

It is Interesting...I talk all the time to my 3 yr old...explain things in terms she can understand but don't shield her from many things as she is curious and I like her that way. We have some interesting conversations, she is good company. My friend who is a bright woman has a daughter a few weeks younge...her daughter's speech is barely comprehensible to anyone outside her family and many of her words are made up baby words' however I have noticed that my friend really babies her a lot and I don't think she does have real conversations with her and I think it shows.

TheCrackFox Wed 19-Jun-13 22:18:40

I think these type of leaflets should be given out by midwives and Health Visitors.

Some parents simply do not engage with their children and the problem is getting far worse with the rise of Smart phones.

hiddenhome Wed 19-Jun-13 22:23:10

I didn't talk to mine for about the first six years of their lives.....they actually did all the talking, I just had to sit back and listen grin

DoJo Wed 19-Jun-13 22:43:05

When you consider the number of threads on here berating parents who talk to their kids for 'performance parenting' or 'loud parenting' it makes you wonder where the middle ground is between pissing off all and sundry by engaging with your child too noisily and ignoring them to the extent that they cannot function socially. For my money even if the guidance starts a conversation about how stupid it is between a parent and a child who are having problems communicating then it's probably worth it.

exoticfruits Thu 20-Jun-13 07:04:48

People still don't understand the distinction between loud, performance parenting and talking to your child all the time- there is a huge distinction!
It is easy to give a running commentary in a normal manner.

thecatfromjapan Thu 20-Jun-13 07:14:18

I think the distinction between the two (performance parenting/talking) is subjective, you know. And I'll bet even with an individual, the boundary shifts depending on the mood of the observer. And I think it's dodgy, too, and a way of berating and sneering at other mothers. Just my opinion.

Anyway, going back to the OP, I really wonder about this. It's made me think. I've personally never met a parent who doesn't talk to their children. I just haven't. I'm not saying they don't exist. I've never set foot on the moon, but I believe it's real. But ... has anyone on mn actually met one of these people?

And yet, you'd think I'd be pushing them out of my way as I walk to my car from the amount of anecdotal space they take up.

I'm wondering if bochead doesn't have a very good point.

Mrsrobertduvall Thu 20-Jun-13 07:16:09

I agree with unfortunatelyanxious...the people it's targeted at will chuck it in the bin. They are the same parents who don't turn up for parents evenings.

exoticfruits Thu 20-Jun-13 07:42:55

You see those who don't talk all the time when you are a teacher.
Performance parenting is the sort that stand up comics could use and we nearly all recognise it and find it funny. There is no mileage for a comic in a parent giving a normal running commentary.

exoticfruits Thu 20-Jun-13 07:44:13

Those who need the leaflet are probably not posting on MN.

SummersHere Thu 20-Jun-13 07:47:02

I agree these leaflets should be given out by health visitors. School age is too late. Whilst I suspect some may well chuck them in the bin there are plenty parents who are a bit clueless and who might just need it spelling out for them.

My parents live next door to a couple who had a child in their mid forties. Their child is 3 now and barely talking. He's taken out in his buggy with a dummy in his mouth, never allowed to walk. On the rare occasions they take him out to the garden they don't talk or interact with him at all except to follow him around in case he falls. They have a huge garden but not a single toy, he plays with the recycling bin sad.

I really feel sad for the little boy peering through the fence watching ds and his cousins playing in the paddling pool (they won't let him come round).

The mother also screams at him every night/morning without fail to the point my parents are looking to move and leave their home of 40 years.
On the outside they seem like a perfectly pleasant middle class couple. It not always the case that these children are living in deprived areas.

cory Thu 20-Jun-13 07:53:20

This won't be based on observations that show that children from all areas have equal chances when it comes to language based performance. The truth is there are huge differences which cannot be explained merely in terms of inborn SN.

And language based performance makes all the difference when it comes to chances in later life.

Whether a leaflet will make a difference or not is a different matter. But I don't think anyone can doubt there is a genuine problem.

What I have found with some friends is that they do talk a lot to their babies: pointing out butterflies and counting fingers.

But then as their children reach school age and even more so junior school age, they don't go on to the next stage which is conversation. Discussing things, asking for the child's opinion, telling them about their adult experience.

And while this is not essential for learning to speak in the first place (babies do learn to speak even in cultures where nobody ever addresses a baby), it probably is essential for the kind of high level linguistic performance that is expected for most reasonably well paid jobs these days.

The reason middle class children have better chances of getting into a good university or a well paid job is a thing apart from the relatively small number of children from all classes who have actual speech defects.

It may well be that the current government are trying a diversion technique for nefarious reasons of their own. But the problem is one that has been recognised by all governments for a long, long time. Similar information was handed out when my children were little, under a Labour government.

Cherriesarelovely Thu 20-Jun-13 08:06:23

It's hugely important and yes, it is needed. Not just the talking to them but really listening to them as well. In my experience it is what children really want and crave, one to one adult talking/listening time. People are often so busy and preoccupied or as one person mentioned they are glued to their mobile phones. It's such a simple thing but so powerful and we find at school that if we highlight something like this (or something like bedtime stories) it really does make parents think and do it more.

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