Every time I see a parent pushing a stroller while tapping and swiping their screen, I want to stop them.
Stop them? Why would you want to do that?
This is the very alarming sign that babies, toddlers, and kids are not getting enough parent talk.
Soon, of course, the babies themselves will have toy smartphones and all talk will cease!
The problem is that research shows that kids who are not talked to, just do not fare so well at school and can even lag behind other kids by up to six months.
Smartphones have taken over and parents are not connecting with their kids like in the past.
“I was a wonderful parent before I had children.”
― Adele Faber, How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk
Look at what goes on when you start talking to a baby or toddler.
They are getting used to real language and learning what communication means. Research at Stanford University shows that the best way of all to help kids acquire language is to start talking to them.
What is going on in your baby’s brain?
The kid’s brain is making connections as it absorbs all this information and it is the first three years that are crucial.
By talking to your baby, we are helping their brains to develop. Explaining new words and helping them take the first steps in learning new words and beginning to read are all essential. According to the WebMD site, this network of connections can happen at an astonishing rate (700 connections a second!)
Is there a connection with ADHD?
There is no research that shows that a lack of parent talk will lead to ADHD. But one interesting study by the University of Glasgow has shown that there could be a correlation between the two but more research would have to be done.
This study found that when the mothers talked to their babies more (180 mothers were videoed), this lessened the risk of developing ADHD. Even with a reduction of 5 vocalizations a minute, the risk of developing ADHD was increased by 44%.
Lack of parent talk may affect kids negatively
Poorer performance on language comprehension tests when they start attending school. There is convincing research from the Boston Children’s Hospital that shows conversation can boost a child’s brain development.
Kids are more likely to be sullen and may develop anxiety if they are ignored. Other studies show that they may be more liable to delinquency in their teen years.
How we talk to our kids is so important
Apart from giving infants and toddlers enough language input to help their brain develop, there are certain ways of talking that we should avoid as they start to get older. If all our talk is just to criticize, nag, blame and warn kids, then they are not getting the right input and the results will be awful.
Try this instead:-
Make sure you set aside a few minutes a day to connect with your child. Talk to him or her, connect and tell the siblings they have to do something else or go and play. This is the time your child needs to connect with you. No phones, texts, TV shows. Just you and she and you get some real connection time.
Lighten up and start being more positive. Try to be more cheerful, play, joke more, relax, and enjoy your kids. Part of the problem is that you are trying to be a perfect parent who will produce a perfect child. Get real!
Talk less and listen more
The parent’s best and most valuable gift is being a great listener. When your child wants to tell you something, just listen, don’t interrupt with advice, warnings or criticism.
SHOW you are listening by using appropriate body language — nod, get eye contact and of course, switch off your phone. Make a few comments such as “I understand” or “I hear ya” but keep these to a minimum.
Talk about your values
Set the example by caring for others. Talk about your values of
· Hard work
· Caring for the less fortunate.
Teach them not to be so critical of people because of their appearance, race or sexuality.
Kids are great copy cats so why not set them a great example? That is a treasure they will cherish all their lives. Hopefully, they will pass on the same values to their own kids. They will truly be citizens of the world
Let’s face it. The biggest threat kids face today is being left alone while their parents check their smartphones. They are chatting to their friends on Facebook!
Can’t we do better than that?
“Children begin by loving their parents; as they grow older they judge them; sometimes they forgive them.”
― Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray