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Parenting Advice and Tips
Tip Number 1
TALKING MAKES A DIFFERENCE!
If you were to focus on one thing to give your child an advantage then talk with them MORE.
The links between school achievement and parents' ability to engage in conversation with their children from a young age is indisputable.
The language stimulation children receive when they talk with parents is one factor. The language of first borns is generally more extensive and richer than their siblings who spend less time in one-on-one situations with a parent.
But engagement in conversation with parents benefits children in a far broader sense. It is easy to say that children learn a great deal from their parents but, in fact they do when we talk with them.
In many ways it is through conversations that children get a real sense of us and who we are. It is by talking with our children that we impart some of our knowledge, ideas, wisdom and thoughts as well as how we get a window into their world and how they think.
Getting conversations going with children can be a massive challenge. Busy schedules, homes designed for individual enjoyment rather than group living, and children that clam up are some of the blockers to conversation that parents meet.
So you may need to be a little cunning, a little proactive and little inventive to get some chat going at home.
Here are five ideas to help you get more conversation going in your family:
- Turn off the TV (and other screens): Most homes have a range of electronic screens that you compete with to get their attention. Don't be afraid to take control of those screens and create a little conversational space. Start with a screen-free day each week or screen-free hour each day.
- Turn on the TV (and other screens): If you can't beat them, join them. Some television programs provide great conversational fodder particularly for older children and teens. This can range from quizzes to "Who do you think will win....?"
- Have more mealtimes (with the TV off): The family that eats together talks together...or they should. Families with a strong food culture (i.e. they love food and value the whole eating experience) have strong bonds. So make mealtimes special and insist that children sit until everyone finishes. Avoid turning mealtimes into food fights that you can't win.
- Move more: If sitting and chatting is not your child's thing then try getting them up and moving. Boys will often talk when they walk or play so consider getting some action happening. When their hands are busy the tongues will often loosen up.
- Try shoulder-to-shoulder parenting: Sitting together in a car, washing dishes and playing a game can provide opportunities for talk. Take the eye contact out of the equation and you may find the talk just flows.
Every family has their own way of getting the talk happening. Figure out what works for you and make sure it happens. The best communication in families happens when no one is working at it BUT in busy modern families we need to make time to communicate.