Today children will tell us how to talk with them. Our guest expert is an author, dad, lawyer, and teacher of ethics. Michael Sabbath wrote The Good, The Bad, and the Difference: How to Talk with Children about Values. He knows about parenting and what children need and think. Listen as they tell him how to talk with them. Would you consider following their advice?
Be Our Size!
"Praise works with only three types of people; men, women, and children." - Anonymous
I arrived early at Erik's fourth grade class. Mrs. Nelson was reading to students sitting in a semi-circle on the floor. She waived me in, finished the lesson and walked to the back of the room. I approached her empty chair, and, for no reason that I can recall, I asked the class if it would be okay if I sat down.
"Yeah!" Molly hollered. "Be our size!"
A tingling jolted up my spine. I had struck gold. Molly had said something profound, something metaphoric, something that demanded further exploration.
I asked Molly what she meant. Her nose wrinkled. Her words emerged slowly. "It's like you're the same as us," she replied. "It's like you understand us better." Clayton chimed in: "You're just talking to us instead of telling us what to do."
Hundreds of children have interpreted Molly's words. "You're not standing over us," Alexandra said. "It means," Stephen said, "you see things from our perspective," Morgan said: "To see the world as a kid sees it." Cara said. "It's that you are not so powerful." "It means to be a child with us," Ellis said.
Did Ellis really want adults to be children, I asked?
"I mean," she clarified thoughtfully, "to respect us, that we're kind of equal."
I asked children if there were specific ways that parents could talk to them so they could be "their size." Their heart-swelling answers gave instruction on voice tone, topics, vocabulary and concerns about disagreements between parent and child. Of course, the children quoted here don't speak for every child, but their thoughts are representative.
LAUREN: "What's an effective way to talk and get us to think about stuff? Ask questions. We might not know the answers right away but we'll start to think about it."
DAVID: "Try to think on the same level instead of using difficult language."
DIAMOND: "Get eye to eye contact. It shows us respect."
NICK: "Just ask what would happen if you did this or that."
BETH: "Talk with a calm voice and don't yell. If adults yell, the kid will get mad."
ALEXANDRA: "You should explain because kids get confused, and it doesn't feel good...Pages 13-14.
To read more you'll find his parenting book, The Good, the Bad and the Difference: How to Talk with Children about Values at Amazon.com
Let's give Michael Sabbeth a BIG HAND for sharing what he knows about children and how they'd like to be spoken with. He'll talk about parenting and how to share your values too.
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Jean Tracy, MSS
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