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?

MerryOnMerlot Wed 19-Jun-13 18:24:55

Unfortunately, I think many do.

GlitterFingers Wed 19-Jun-13 18:31:45

Some parents do need help. My ddad still can't start a conversation at 50. Bless him smile

yegodsandlittlefishes Wed 19-Jun-13 18:34:57

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

What a load of tosh! There are plenty of quiet, uncommunicative geeky overachievers around, and I am related to a number of them! grin

Taking to them when they don't want to talk doesn't improve anything, the same as trying to talk to them when they don't want to at school. We all talk enough when there is something to say.

CashmereHoodlum Wed 19-Jun-13 18:35:12

What are the things you could start a conversation about?

peteypiranha Wed 19-Jun-13 18:36:25

Its aimed at parents who never talk to their chikdren as they often have speech and language problems, or general communication and understanding difficulties.

quesadilla Wed 19-Jun-13 18:38:46

You would be surprised. A lot of people find the whole concept of a conversation totally alien even with adults. Not sure that these sorts of people are likely to take much notice of this sort of intervention though.

Former speech therapist here, yes a lot do but many of them need to be given this before they leave the delivery unit.

tupuedes Wed 19-Jun-13 18:50:02

Parents paying their kids no attention is not a new phenomenon.

Indith Wed 19-Jun-13 18:51:26

Some people do stick the telly on and ignore their kids. IT is sad that a guide like that is needed but in many cases it is.

dyslexicdespot Wed 19-Jun-13 18:54:48

Interesting article about the importance of talking to children.

talking to children

Catsnotrats Wed 19-Jun-13 18:57:02

yegods Actually it isn't tosh. They aren't referring to people who are naturally quiet. I have quite a few of them in my class and their academic achievement is not an issue. This is probably because they are surrounded by high quality talk and will naturally absorb this, as well as having a greater interest in reading.

The children they are referring to out ones that I see really struggling at school. They have parents who don't engage with them (and when they do it is normal to shout/swear at them), who are too busy on their phones, are babysat constantly by tv, Xbox etc. These children really struggle to structure coherent sentences both verbal and written sentences, and also struggle to comprehend texts. As you can imagine this means that they are underachieving if they can't manage basic life skills.

exoticfruits Wed 19-Jun-13 18:57:59

I am not surprised it has come to this but, as nicknamegrief says- it needs to be given out at birth.

mrsslc Wed 19-Jun-13 18:59:55

I don't understand how anyone can ignore/ not chat with their children....if I didn't speak to my children I'd be silent all day..... My husband may find that a good thing grin but I don't! We have some strange conversations, but I love it and so do they.
It is sad that some people need to be pushed to take notice of their children, but there are some people who genuinely do not know how to talk to a baby or child, these leaflets may help those parents, without them having the embarrassment in admitting it.

mamij Wed 19-Jun-13 19:02:16

Unfortunately this is true in some cases. I know a boy who didn't start talking properly until he started preschool at 4. His dad wasn't a great talker and had the tv on a lot, but he is great at sports! School really helped his speech come on, probably from the conversations he's having with teachers and peers.

exoticfruits Wed 19-Jun-13 19:04:35

You see them in cafes- parent on a mobile ignoring the child.

mrsjay Wed 19-Jun-13 19:35:19

lovey I work with pre schoolers and the parents dont know or care to talk to their children it is sad that they would rather ignore them or instruct them to do something rather than just chatting about nothing they dont know how to do it, there was a scottish campain about this recently I think it is nationwide now. I know how you feel bad sadly many parents dont want to just chat and talk to their children

mrsjay Wed 19-Jun-13 19:37:57

I had a few random conversations today 1 about fairy wings and flying another about how the dinner was hot and i had to blow and another how his pants were sticking up his bottom grin I love my work

GW297 Wed 19-Jun-13 19:42:22

Teacher here - yes, these things will be radical and simply not have occurred to some parents to do them.

musicposy Wed 19-Jun-13 19:47:46

I remember when DD1 was a small baby. I would always chat to her in a running commentry as I went through my daily life. You wouldn't believe the number of people who came up to me in the supermarket/ street as if I was completely bonkers and said "she's not going to answer you, you know."
Yes, you wombat, but she's never going to learn to speak a language she doesn't ever hear, either, is she?

Sadly I suspect it is very much needed.

mrsjay Wed 19-Jun-13 19:50:35

I always spoke to mine when they were wee even as babies you need to interact with them by talking loads of parents I have seen don't do that , I see a lot of speech and development delays ( i am not saying all speech delay is down to not talking to children)

RhondaJean Wed 19-Jun-13 19:52:23

There is such a strong link between talking and singing to your child and their literacy levels in later life, and sadly some people don't realise it. It's like anything else - its easy if you know how to do it, if you don't then it isn't.

TurnThatFrownUpsideDown Wed 19-Jun-13 20:02:35

I had that too, musicposy.

DD was in the baby part of the trolley and I'd be chattering away, "Okay, what else did Mummy say she needed? Bread? Okay, let's go get the bread. Does that sound nice? Yummy bread."

And loads of people came up to be during this baby stage and said things like, "Oh, you seem a bit young to be talking to yourself." "Talking to yourself is a sign of madness, you know."

My child was clearly invisible to all but me.

Even so, with me rabbiting at dd every day, she's had ongoing speech and language therapy from the age of 2 (she's now 5).

intheshed Wed 19-Jun-13 20:17:31

In DD's school they do something called Big Talk, which is all about speaking for writing. The idea is that if a child can't put a sentence together verbally they are not going to be able to write it down. It's all about getting them to talk in full sentences and extend their vocabulary. So instead of 'I like chocolate' they could be encouraged to say ' I like chocolate because it is sweet and delicious'.

Wonderstuff Wed 19-Jun-13 20:27:38

Generally the incidence of speech and language problems is about 10% in some socially deprived areas it rises to 90%!

Lots of parents don't engage with children. I'm sceptical how much a leaflet is going to help. I personally think architecture is an issue, the number of modern houses without space for a table, it really encourages people to eat in front of the telly which IMO affects conversations and quality of diet, meals aren't a thing, you eat while doing other stuff, technology is an issue too.

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.

Meglet Thu 20-Jun-13 08:07:06

Mine have turned out to be good little talkers. Partly because we have such a tiddly little house we can't get away from each other so we're always able to interact. They were always forward facing in the pushchair from birth so they got used to talking to strangers when we were out and about. Much more stimulating than talking to mummy again.

We have the tv on all the time, but again they don't sit there in front of it and we're always talking. DS has even had his thumb wedged in since 3 months old but teachers + nursery staff have all mentioned how good their speech is. I think I've found this parenting business so draining I've basically talked my way through it and it's paid off.

Cherriesarelovely Thu 20-Jun-13 08:16:53

Talking to your kids doesn't have to be loud or showy at all, it's anytime, not when you are out and about to be seen by others.

peteypiranha Thu 20-Jun-13 08:21:32

Thecatfromjapan - I have met 100s of parents that dont interact with their children, but a leaflet probably wont help most of them.

Meglet Thu 20-Jun-13 08:25:59

Oh, and stories every night from six weeks old. That's always guaranteed to encourage them to talk.

peteypiranha Thu 20-Jun-13 08:31:17

I agree meglet. A lot of people think whats the point in talking/reading/singing to a baby as they dont know what your on about. I hear that frequently as a lot of people dont understand the importance.

Bonsoir Thu 20-Jun-13 08:38:42

Conversation is an art that it is difficult to acquire without exposure and practice. We always sit down to dinner as a family and have a multi-way conversation. We remind the DC not to interrupt, to speak for anyone else or to have conversations between themselves that exclude others.

We also ensure that each DC gets significant one- on -one conversation with each parent, regularly. And we also model adult conversation including complex decision making, negotiation and conflict resolution.

cory Thu 20-Jun-13 08:39:44

All the things Bonsoir said.

MumnGran Thu 20-Jun-13 08:40:49

Did the leaflet carry an explanation of the difference between "talking at" and "talking with"?

Amazinggg Thu 20-Jun-13 08:43:20

I don't believe 'performance parenting' is a thing. I don't think anyone does the running commentary thing being actually aware of what anyone thinks. I waffle away to DS when we're out and about with the buggy, I'm sure people think I'm performance parenting but why the hell would anyone do that? I I'm praising him for pressing the button at the traffic lights and waffling on about cars and stuff and going a bit OTT about it, it's probably because I haven't had any adult company all day so I'm going a bit bonkers. When I see women who are full on interacting with their eg 5mo at toddler groups, doing all the activities and talking at them, I just feel a bit sorry for the mum tbh and think 'chill out'. Parenting doesn't have to be done all at once, in a rush!

God parenting is hard enough without having to think I'm being judged for looking at my phone in a cafe instead of talking to my toddler. I'm in the house with him all bloody day talking to him, don't I get a break? He's quite entertained watching the world go by, I bloody hate it when MNers judge someone's parenting on a tiny snapshot.

Meglet Thu 20-Jun-13 09:18:36

Eek! Sorry if I offended anyone with my previous post, I realise that reading to your children won't magically make it all better if your child has special needs. blush

exoticfruits Thu 20-Jun-13 09:48:46

You have to treat children as normal people! They want space too- not a constant barrage of sound. I have problems with the 'performance parent' because they never stop and let the child speak. It is all very well with babies but after that the sort of talk the parent is doing really doesn't need any response- or they are rhetorical questions. You never see the child instigate the conversation. You see families out in cafes and the adults are in conversation and the DC isn't included. No wonder they are bored.
It is really what Bonsoir says- I doubt whether a leaflet tells you that.
You also need a wider variety of openings- I found that if you asked 'what did you do at school today'- you got the response 'nothing much' or similar.

Eyesunderarock Thu 20-Jun-13 09:52:46

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

In many cases, yes. It's not as simple as 'talk to your children' though.
It's whether you have interactive conversations rather than telling them what you want them to do, listening at least as much as you talk, conversations being not just at a basic functional level but exploring new ideas and playing around with concepts.
How many have 'What if?' rambling, philosophical ramblings with their children?
Not enough.

MiaowTheCat Thu 20-Jun-13 09:55:30

It's not so much "children that don't talk" don't achieve - the way it was always pitched to me, and makes more sense, is if you can't (either internally in your head, or externally) verbalise something - how on earth can you write it?! And yes, you see it so much at school gates - a total lack of interaction, kids picked up by parents plugged into ipods who don't even speak to them to say hello... it's things like that which all of this is trying to work on.

I do think it's slightly mistargetted in some areas and can be preachy in how it's put across. I had the HV developmental check recently - and had the whole "you should be reading to them" routine that she HAD to go through, despite the fact DD1 was sat in the middle of a mountain of board books (she'll spend hours "reading" stories to the dog - I think trying to make the dog all educated and literate is a lost cause but she's determined bless her - and it's well cute) and there was a huge basket of story books on the coffee table - mainly because I love love love kids' picture books (I'm an ex Early Years teacher - which I used as an excuse to buy them for years and now I've got two more excuses!) and so the kids get bedtime stories without a question - because I flipping well want to have the snuggly story thing going on!

I think one thing that made a massive impression on me though, as well as seeing the language skills coming up into schools and the impact of that, was that my old head (the most fantastic headteacher ever - such a bloody loss that she's retired) had a bit of paper on her office wall that's driven me nuts trying to find ever since, and basically it had a list of figures about the number of different words, sentences and the like that a child would have been exposed to by the age of five if they were read to for five minutes every night... for some reason it really really stuck in my mind (possibly I continued my glorious school career by spending too much time in the head's office even as an adult).

I've had numerous scraps with DH who didn't quite get the point of speaking properly to the kids to start off with - back to the "they can't understand so what's the point" - he's finally starting to realise that I wasn't talking out of my arse when I was explaining it was things like exposing them to the pattern of language and songs and things like that - but that took a bit of doing.

MiaowTheCat Thu 20-Jun-13 09:58:03

I also think that kids will have answered "nothing" to the "what did you do at school today" question since the dawn of time, and will still be doing so at the end of the world. That particular one is beyond help and loosely translates as "I'm as tired as fuck, really don't want to talk, hand over the food and we'll discuss this one later mum."

exoticfruits Thu 20-Jun-13 10:06:23

Yes, Miaow- but how many parents never actually find out anything? There are subtle ways of discussing it much later than the school gate.

Eyesunderarock Thu 20-Jun-13 10:10:18

I could just have said 'What cory said' blush grin

Bonsoir Thu 20-Jun-13 10:15:35

I ask very specific questions about school (did you do division with Mrs X this morning? Did you rehearse your play with Mrs Y this afternoon? Who was away today?) as I get better answers.

mrsjay Thu 20-Jun-13 10:16:09

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

I think they do we all know of a loud parent but look at the kids they are glazed over not paying attention as it is all Blah to them , exotic you are right there is a huge difference between performance parenting and actually chatting to your baby and young children

Lancelottie Thu 20-Jun-13 10:17:09

That's interesting, Cory and Cherries. I've found it hard to switch, as they get older, from the steering and nagging instructing mode of parenting to one in which their view really gets heard.

mrsjay Thu 20-Jun-13 10:17:13

MY dd never does anything at school hmm but as bonsoir said asking specific questions then you get the answers

zzzzz Thu 20-Jun-13 10:20:15

I think there is a lot of stereotyping being bandied about. We live in an incredibly language rich enviroment and frankly unless children are subjected to serious levels of isolation and abuse they are likely to acquire language adequate to their surroundings (so vocabulary and sentence structure in line with those that care for them).

For a significant minority however I would say there is an underlying speech or language deficit/delay. This is not caused by their upbringing and to suggest it is, is both inaccurate and offensive.

Eyesunderarock Thu 20-Jun-13 10:22:46

I agree zzzzz, but I have also met a number of children with good comprehension skills and a wide vocabulary that don't understand how to nave a conversation. Some of them are the consequences of being talked at rather than to, PP take note.

zzzzz Thu 20-Jun-13 10:24:18

Or they have a communication disorder.

zzzzz Thu 20-Jun-13 10:26:17


Speech and language development delay is the most common developmental disorder in children 3 to 16 years. The prevalence ranges widely mainly due to variation as to who should be considered having a speech and language delay.

Estimate of Speech disorders in UK (2000):

1.5% at 3-5 years

4.6% at 5–7 years

12.6% at 6-12 years

7.3% at 12-14 years

Estimate of Language disorders varies according to age with a median prevalence of 5.95% in children up to 7yrs. In children 2-6 yrs old, 85000-90,000 cases are estimated as referred to speech and language therapists per year.

Language impairment affects more boys than girls.^



zzzzz Thu 20-Jun-13 10:26:45
mrsjay Thu 20-Jun-13 10:29:50

speech disorders are different from what this leaflet is on about I think i said in one of my posts that not all Speech and developmental delay is caused by not conversing with children, but children need interaction babies need interaction from the get go to thrive and talking to and not at your child is really important for them even if they do have a SAL disorder they still need conversation and interaction from parents,

Eyesunderarock Thu 20-Jun-13 10:30:50

Oh, and I agree about the stereotyping and assumptions.
We lived in an economically-deprived town, huge unemployment and we lived in one of the worst areas. OH was a SAHP and we didn't have a lot of 'consumer goods' He also dressed like the Oxfam devotee he is.
For some reason the HV got it into her head that OH lacked education and thus couldn't get a job, so she started going on about access courses.
Took him a while to work out what she was suggesting, it didn't compute and he was confused.
But on her next visit, she came with leaflets and he quietly pointed out that he had 4 A levels, an Oxford double First and a Doctorate. So what sort of further education did she think would be useful?
Then he asked her about dry skin on DD, which he did want advice on.

It's too easy to see the trappings and jump to an inaccurate conclusion.

ouryve Thu 20-Jun-13 10:32:45

Unfortunately, I do see lots of parents who can be quite engrossed in talking to each other, but only ever at their kids, when the kids are running off or being too slow, or whatever.

And it starts young. I remember sitting in waiting rooms at baby clinic with my kids sat sideways on my lap, so they could look around and at me. Not many parents did this. Most sat their babies facing outwards and talked to their friends. (Ironic that my boys both have social communication disorders, but hey ho!)

They'd probably just screw the leaflet up, though. Even though it sounds so obvious, it's one of those typical things that wouldn't even reach the people who really need it.

Eyesunderarock Thu 20-Jun-13 10:33:00

'Or they have a communication disorder.'

Yes, but if you offer all an enriched linguistic environment when young, then most will thrive and you can spend the limited time and resources in school targeting help effectively to those that need it.

cory Thu 20-Jun-13 10:33:08

zzzzz Thu 20-Jun-13 10:20:15
"I think there is a lot of stereotyping being bandied about. We live in an incredibly language rich enviroment and frankly unless children are subjected to serious levels of isolation and abuse they are likely to acquire language adequate to their surroundings (so vocabulary and sentence structure in line with those that care for them). "

Which is precisely what people are worried about. Language adequate to your surroundings is not necessarily a great tool for social mobility.

It is a very real fact that children who get early opportunities to practise adult conversation and thinking skills will do better at school, almost certainly end up in higher sets with consequent greater chances of getting good exam grades, and will do better at interview.

This doesn't mean parents have to be highly educated themselves: my dad's parents came from a very working class background with little formal education but because they always involved him in family discussions he developed thinking and arguing skills from an early age (and was able to modify his accent later).

Noone is saying that NT children will end up with aphasia.

pinkballetflats Thu 20-Jun-13 10:33:49

And then you have the numerous threads about "loud parenting" here on musket ripping parents apart for parents talking to their kids. In sure that sometimes people are being showy and loud etc...but for those of us that do have a running commentary with our children it doesn't help to know we're likely being judged when out and about.

piprabbit Thu 20-Jun-13 10:36:18

It's not just about talking to/at your children. It's about listening to what they say and having a conversation.
Too many parents talk to their children in a series of instructions rather than (even occasionally) just nattering about stuff.
Even non-verbal babies enjoy a good conversation, taking turns, responding to each other's expressions and sounds.
I love this video.

Eyesunderarock Thu 20-Jun-13 10:36:24

There are two fantastic childminders at our school, neither of them highly educated but the level of interaction and conversation they offer the children they care for is lovely to see in action.

cory Thu 20-Jun-13 10:36:41

I have friends, well educated people who have long involved conversations with each other and with friends, yet would never think of involving their 11yo in a family discussion. They speak to him as to a small child, very lovingly, but never in a real adult exchange of ideas. There is no doubt that it has had an effect on his language skills and on his general willingness to think and reason. Other children tend to think he is much younger than he is.

cory Thu 20-Jun-13 10:37:32

Yup, series of instructions is what I was after.

"We live in an incredibly language rich enviroment"

Baby's and children live in the environment created by their parents. If there is little interaction, then the child often grows up in an environment rich with nothing.

We mix with other family's who share the same values as us, so many on MN may not come across parents who are silent with their baby and each other.

One of the courses that i run for parents is Webster Stratton, which teaches why a "running commentary" works well for children, it combines other factors.

I met a little girl who barely spoke but communicate partly through makaton, which she had picked up from "Something Special", her brothers did not speak, within two months of being in Foster Care, they were as verbal as you would expect, in a child without SN.

Children can often appear as having disabilities when SS first get involved, it then proves to be purely environmental

It is dis-pairing that many on MN seem to want to deny that there are children being damaged by a deliberate lack of care.

I think that technology is now having an effect on males, in particular.

zzzzz Thu 20-Jun-13 10:41:28

Mrsjay I would suggest that very little speech or language delay is caused by not conversing with children. Speech and language are not like learning to read, more akin to learning to crawl. While I understand there are people who spend many hours laboriously "doing tummy time" with their babies, the truth is that most children crawl in there own sweet time, not as a result of superior parenting.

ouryve Thu 20-Jun-13 10:41:34

And agreeing that being forward facing in a pushchair doesn't have to preclude conversation. DS1 always liked looking at the world around him and both boys would simply look up at me if they wanted my reaction to something.

Bonsoir Thu 20-Jun-13 10:42:51

I have always consulted DD about things that concern her. This is a very alien concept to French parents and DP was very skeptical at first. However, now she is 8 and able to take on board the complex choices available to her and rapidly take ownership of decisions that affect her he is entirely won over as he sees how much easier it is to parent a child brought up this way than DCs brought up expected to follow adult instructions, as the DSSs were.

mrsjay Thu 20-Jun-13 10:45:04

Too many parents talk to their children in a series of instructions rather than (even occasionally) just nattering about stuff.

^ ^ that dd2 is still in school and she witters natters about who is going out with who what drama happened at school etc I think even if it bores you to tears grin that being interested in the small stuff means they will be comfy talking about the bigger stuff

and that video is fab

cory Thu 20-Jun-13 10:45:56

zzzzz, how do we know that the government are worried about actual language delay?

might they not simply be thinking about social mobility?

there is a big gap between actual SN and failing to get any job interviews

there are plenty of people who can technically speak but cannot hold their own in a discussion or present themselves to a potential employer

these things matter too

mrsjay Thu 20-Jun-13 10:48:08

the truth is that most children crawl in there own sweet time, not as a result of superior parenting.

not 1 person on this thread suggested superior parenting or that they were superior and you know what yes children will develop these things because they are human and most humans learn to crawl and walk and talk this is not what we are talking about letting children develop without guidance and conversation has a huge impact on them ime

ouryve Thu 20-Jun-13 10:48:53

>This doesn't mean parents have to be highly educated themselves: my dad's parents came from a very working class background with little formal education but because they always involved him in family discussions he developed thinking and arguing skills from an early age (and was able to modify his accent later).

Quite. There's a dad I see regularly - looks like a bit of a carpet carrier - strong local accent - definitely not educated. He's always chatting with his daughter, though, about all sorts of topics, including the hedgerows around the school field, the pigeons flying around the allotments and anything else that seems to come to mind.

zzzzz Thu 20-Jun-13 10:51:35

I'm not sure what you mean by "actual language delay"? Do you mean speech and language deficits that are not caused by neglect?

curryeater Thu 20-Jun-13 10:53:08

I don't think intelligent parenting necessarily has anything to do with class or formal education. I know a very posh Oxford graduate mother who learnt at a parenting class run by the council that you should always use "please" and "thank you" with small children to encourage them to do the same. It blew my mind that it came as a surprise to her that you model what you want to see. Dutifully, she informed her husband that this is what you should do, and they do, but the sad part is she feels embarrassed doing so in front of her own mother who she thinks is despising her for being polite to a toddler sad

wordfactory Thu 20-Jun-13 10:53:35

I think a lot of it is personality.

I have twins. They have been brought up with me nattering away about everyhting and anything (in two languages!)...

DD is a great conversationalist, chatty, warm, engaging. DS is quiet. Hate small talk...

mrsjay Thu 20-Jun-13 10:55:48

thats quite sad curryeater that this grandparent thinks that, some folk forget that babies and toddlers are little people too,

Onetwo34 Thu 20-Jun-13 10:56:32

Summershere Gosh, what has the local HV / SS said when your parents reported the people next door with a son who only has a bin to play with, and who they shout so much at daily that your parents feel forced to actually move?

JJXM Thu 20-Jun-13 15:05:42

My DS is 3.2 years old and I have been talking to him since before he was born. I've tried to encourage him but as he refuses to make eye contact, it's proving to be impossible. We now have a younger DD and the differences are so stark that it is almost like they are different species.

We're going to his diagnosis meeting tomorrow where he will be diagnosed with severe autism. We've been waiting a year for speech therapy and are still waiting.

Btw I have a PhD in languages.

Biscuitsareme Thu 20-Jun-13 16:55:40

zzzzzzzzzzz it depends how you define 'speech and language delay'. In order to do well at secondary and higher education children need above average reading, writing, speaking and thinking skills. Those who are not involved in conversation much at home, are barked at rather than listened to, and don't see their parents model respectful adult conversation, are less likely to do well in those areas and so lag behind. They may not be 'clinically delayed' but are unlikely to make good communicators, which is essential in most better paid job sectors. So they do lose out. Also, it's a real shame for children to be treated in such a way. I wonder what the link is with poor self esteem.

zzzzz Thu 20-Jun-13 17:02:54

Speech and language delay, I think is generally considered to be more than two standard deviations below the mean. That would be the 7+% at 12 yrs mentioned above in the gov statistics on speech plus of course those with language issues.

Wonderstuff Thu 20-Jun-13 17:21:44

Speech and language delay is different to speech and language difficulty, the later is linked to poverty in some way, there are children with innate language difficulty, but there are also problems when parents don't converse with their children and this is very much linked to socio-economic factors. It isn't that if your poor your children will have less language exposure, rather if your poor your children are likely to have less language exposure and this is in turn linked to poor educational attainment. More schools are starting to put more focus on developing language skills.

Wonderstuff Thu 20-Jun-13 17:22:56

more likely sorry

zzzzz Thu 20-Jun-13 17:24:44

Ahhhh! I think that's more about the swelling of the middle classes, than any real speech or language difficulty.

Wonderstuff Fri 21-Jun-13 00:16:38

There is debate over social register, and the mc register being what is needed to access higher education and higher level job opportunities. Kids what don't speak right ain't getting on in life an that.

MrsMook Fri 21-Jun-13 00:57:47

A lot of parent-child speech is very instructional rather than genuine conversation, so not very enriching to the child.

I've taught countless teenagers who swear because they lack alternative vocabulary to express themselves. Most tend to apprecate alternative suggestions if only for comedy value.

A lot of middle class families don't have much time for conversation either as parents work long hours, children are activties and the family is in and out of the house on different shifts, but the children will be exposed and involved in conversation at child care and activities which is some mitigaion, but not the same as family contact.

Having DCs is great. I now appear to have an audience to justify talking to myself in the supermarket and look slightly less batty than I did pre-DCs. I struggle when not accompanied by DS1 to resist pointing and shouting "BUS!" etc with great enthusiasm. Children are a great cover for a bad combination of scattiness and verbal diahorea grin

DoubleLifeIsALifeHalved Fri 21-Jun-13 01:53:54

I do love chatting with my ds (3yrs), I am genuinely interested in what he has to say, as it's still all very new to get hints into the way he sees the world! I'm a linguistic as well so I think deep down I view it as a lovely treat to see it happening up close and personal!

What I do notice is that whenever ds stays with my parents, his language just leaps forwards, it's quite amazing! He just blossoms under the attention of two very adoring grandparents, and his vocab, sentence length, grammar, all just bloom. I can see such a strong role for extended family for that reason, it's just me & ds otherwise, and I really appreciate that I don't have to feel guilty about it in the way mothers trying to do too many things at once...

Kiwiinkits Fri 21-Jun-13 03:59:13

Pretty much any teacher or SLT will tell you that it's easy to pick out the kids whose parents engage in conversation with them and the ones whose parents don't.
I'm more judgey about parents attached to mobile phones than I am about so-called 'performance parents' TBH.

maddening Fri 21-Jun-13 06:23:37

I think that it obviously happens - parents not speaking much to their dc - but I doubt it's a new phenomenon - I would hazard a guess that these types of parents have always existed.

Ruffello Fri 21-Jun-13 06:49:30

My teenage DCs could do with a guide on how to talk to parents! Most of our efforts to engage them in conversation are met with grunts and eye rolling except when they want something.

Bumply Fri 21-Jun-13 07:17:05

Reminds me of the HEBS advert


"Listen to them now and they'll talk to you later"

TimeofChange Fri 21-Jun-13 07:22:39

I know Oxbridge educated parents who don't talk to their babies and toddlers.

It is not just a deprived area problem.

cory Fri 21-Jun-13 07:42:59

zzzzz Thu 20-Jun-13 10:51:35
"I'm not sure what you mean by "actual language delay"? Do you mean speech and language deficits that are not caused by neglect?"

I meant: I am not sure the government are talking about clinical speech delay in small children, the kind of thing that might need a speech therapist. For that kind of delay to be caused by neglect, you would indeed need a serious level of neglect and very few parents are that neglectful (and if they are, a leaflet isn't going to do much good).

And conversely, if your child has SN, then a communicative parent won't take the SN away, though s/he may still make a massive difference to his chances of doing as well as possible. But this is not what the discussion is about imo.

I think they are talking about social disadvantage in older children: what Biscuitsareme mentioned, missing out on the good communicator skills that are essential for higher education and well paid jobs.

In other words, we are talking about children who can speak perfectly well for their ordinary everyday needs, but who haven't got used to the kind of reasoning and thinking out an argument that you need to do well even at A-level.

When you do your university interview, a heavy working class accent isn't going to do you any harm, nor is the occasional swearword (unless you swear aggressively at the admissions officer). But the inability to develop an argument, the lack of habit of reasoning your way through a problem will tell against you.

Nobody thinks this is a new problem, only that our modern society places far higher demands on communications skills - and that we are no longer happy with the concept of the rich man in his castle, the poor man at the gate, which seemed a perfectly satisfactory arrangement to the Victorians.

MumnGran Fri 21-Jun-13 08:13:23

....and not just babies and toddlers. I remember being stunned by the times my girls would come back from play-days in the holidays, and say they hadn't seen the parents all day apart from being told that their lunch was on the table ....and eating it sans adult.
( And yes, middle class/middle england and Oxbrdge )

Equally surprising were the number of return playdays when children clogged up my kitchen table for ages, chatting and helping.
Children want to converse, if invited.

Eyesunderarock Fri 21-Jun-13 08:24:33

'I know Oxbridge educated parents who don't talk to their babies and toddlers.

It is not just a deprived area problem.'

Absolutely, I've worked in some of the wealthiest areas in the country, and some of the poorest and it is a problem that crosses boundaries.
Some of the most emotionally mature, logical and philosophical thinkers I have known have come from the poorest non-English speaking families.
EAL language acquisition is much faster for children who are accustomed to discussing and thinking and asking questions that get answers in their own language.

mrsjay Fri 21-Jun-13 08:53:16

I know Oxbridge educated parents who don't talk to their babies and toddlers.

It is not just a deprived area problem.

more than likely these parents dont feel the need for small talk iyswim, this is a parenting problem where ever you come from or went to uni

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