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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?

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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"

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.

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.

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.

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...

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

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.

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 Thu 20-Jun-13 17:22:56

more likely sorry

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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,

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...

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

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?

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.

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

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