Let’s talk about…

Published 10:20 am Friday, January 10, 2014

by Rachel Hancock

On a recent article on National Public Radio, they talked about a study that found that the more that children are talked to in their early years of life, the more vocabulary words they will develop later on. It continued to say that a lot of parents don’t actually know what to talk to their children about. This is why I am starting this column, in order to help parents and/or family members talk to their kids.

When I talk to my teenager peers, it seems that they have this problem in their families more often than not, seemly stemming from a problem of miscommunication and silence. Sadly the most common reason for these problems is the fact that the parents no longer understand their child and how they never seem to listen. I wish to help parents, with not only talking and maybe even better understanding their teenagers, but also to learn to talk to their younger children. What some parents don’t understand is the importance of talking.

The next question you’re probably asking is: “What are we to talk about?”

That is the other aspect of this column, your starting point for a conversation. I know it can be hard to begin a conversation out of nothing, let alone keep it going, but an important part is to always ask questions; that is, to engage your child, not to see if they are listening so much, but to keep their interest in your conversation. Another factor that some parents don’t like is that when they are talking to their children they don’t seem to be listening, yet that is not always the case. Just because you child isn’t staring at you doesn’t mean they don’t hear what you say. If you believe you need some sort of interaction then ask a question every now and then, as stated before.

Another important aspect to remember is to make sure not to get angry. Sure it can be hard, when either your child truly isn’t listening or talks back, but when has shouting at a stone that can shout back ever brought other than more shouting? If it is hard to keep your cool, then stop, breathe and wait until both of you are ready to talk again.

Although you may have to be careful when talking to teenager, it is considered to be less of an effort to talk to younger children. Yet then you again have the problem of what to talk to them about. To me (though others may see it differently) the younger the child the more options you have to choose from when trying to find something to chat about. If you talk to the adolescent about anything that you think is interesting, it not only shows them what you think but can maybe even get them see something in a different way, not to mention the more words that they will become familiar with. Give them a chance and talk to them, about anything that you enjoy, no matter how boring the conversation would be to others. It is important that you talk to them, and to let them know that you have something else to say besides telling them “No.”

Rachel Hancock lives in Sedley and is a junior at Southampton High School.