By Kathleen Brown
Some of you parents are hurting my soul when I watch you not communicating with your young children. Moms and dads are ignoring their children and seem entranced with their phones.
I see this almost every time I go out to a store or eat at a restaurant. So many of the small children are also entranced with their own electronics! I watch this and think this may be why children are having a hard time carrying on a conversation.
As an educator for over 30 years, I have seen children’s verbal skills getting worse and worse. It seems they have a very limited vocabulary and lack some very basic understandings. Many have trouble carrying on a give-and-take conversation with their friends.
As their first teacher, you have the ability to show your child how words can convey emotions, actions and aid in relationships. This will lead to success in school and eventually in life.
At restaurants, I witness families gathered around the table and instead of talking to each other they are all on electronic devices. This is a missed opportunity. You have a captive audience! These young children want to share their thoughts and talk about their day.
Parents of young children may forget that there will be a day when their children refuse to talk to them and so these precious opportunities should not go to waste. Too soon these small children become teenagers and will give you one-word replies (if you are lucky).
You will miss their cute sayings and eagerness to share their dreams, worries and life.
Researchers Betty Hart and Todd R. Risley found that the key to early learning is talking. Specifically, a child’s exposure to language spoken by parents and caretakers from birth to age 3, the more the better.
Even more recently, evidence is showing that the flow of parent-to-child baby talk is very, very important. The greater the number of words children heard from their parents or caregivers before they were 3, the higher their IQ and the better they did in school.
TV talk not only didn’t help, it was harmful, according to the long-term study they conducted.
Checking and responding to your social media should never be more important than building your relationship with your children by carrying on a conversation.
These deposits you put in their emotional bank account will come in handy during the trying adolescent years when many withdrawals may be made by your child’s newly emerging independence.
Please, please, please be in the moment with your child. Talk to him or her. You’d be surprised how much children really want to say!
Kathleen Brown is a special education teacher in the Grand Island School District.