Thursday, August 9, 2012

Talking To vs. Talking At, What's the difference?

By Renee Jamerson

While in conversation with a friend of mine, who has dedicated his life to Youth Development, the topic of "Parents talking to their children and why it's important" came up .  I always take time on the weekends to reflect on whether or not I spent the week "talking to" my children or "talking at" them.  There is a difference that a lot of parents don't realize. 

Coming from a background of Southern roots my mother was often "talked at" by her parents and never really "talked to".  Against the criticism of a lot of the older generation, my Mother made it a point to talk to us.  Not to say that we weren't often "talked at".  As a parent in this busy society it is almost unavoidable the habit of "talking at" our children.  Why? Between juggling work, bills, relationships, and other children it is easier to bark an order of what you want done rather explaining why we need it done.  That's when those damning replies of "because I said so" or the plain old retorical "because" come in. 

Needless to say, talking to your children builds worthwhile relationships and keep the lines of communication open for when they reach that point in life where they might not want to share everything.  It also ensure that they have a reliable source of information throughout life.  Let's face it what they don't learn from you they will learn from TV, their friends, or other older folk that might not be the best role model. 

Talking to our children is not only important for those teen years, but also in early development.  Studies have shown that babies who have parents that speak to them have higher IQs than children who were not spoken by their caregivers.  It has been proven that talking to your baby advances their vocabulary, understanding, and ability to express themselves clearly.  Speaking first hand, I totally agree with these facts.  My daughters are able to express their wants, needs and thoughts in clear sentences, while having other adults understand them.  People are always shocked when I tell them that my youngest is only 2 years old after having been told of one our of many and most funny conversations. 

So, despite what you may have heard talk, talk, and talk some more because simply stating "because I said so" isn't good enough if you want to raise smart, articulate and trustworthy children.

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