Are you someone who has a telephone voice?
You know what I mean, once the receiver is at your ear you have an uncontrollable urge to speak clearly with all your sounds beautifully pronounced. Then you realise it’s only your mate and your voice instantaneously reverts to its slang ridden, dropped sounds and grammatical incorrect self.
I have a theory that a similar phenomenon happens to some people when they talk to children. Or rather, they talk AT children.All of a sudden, complete sentences, respect and softness are lost.Imperative words take over the vocabulary:
“Don’t do that!”
“No-one wants to listen to you!”
And all of this is said in a tone which sounds to all around as well as the child like
You’re not worth my time.
It is easy to tune out sometimes especially when a young child hasn’t stopped talking for 2 hours solid about a whole range of unconnected topics but I don’t believe there is any excuse for talking AT children with the lack of respect that sadly seems to be prevalent in so many societies today.
And then we wonder why children and young people don’t know how to hold a conversation!
Why do some people, including parents, feel that they don’t have to use their ‘telephone voice’ when they speak to children?
While you are out and about today, have a look around you. Look out for adult/child conversations and let me know if you notice more than four positive happening. In fact, have a think about your own manner when speaking to children. It’s surprising to realise that we are all capable of forgetting our courteousness when it comes to these little people.
Let’s have a look at some of the strategies that can be used to improve those conversations we have with children, whether they are our own or others.
- If at all possible, talk to children on their own level, eye to eye. This helps to keep the conversation on an even keel as well as helping us to remember how intimidating it can be to be a little person. Having that eye contact with a child helps understanding whether you are praising or scolding.
- ‘Do as you would be done by’
Yes, this is an old fashioned expression but sometimes it is just the saying you need. Consider your tone of voice. Would you be happy if someone spoke to you in that abrupt manner? What if they were insulting or rude?
It seems natural to speak to people in the same way in which you would except to be spoken. Or maybe this is just old fashioned. What do you think?
- Speak in sentences.
Don’t bark out orders or instructions and, if possible, give a reason.‘Because’ is a wonderful levelling word. How many times have you heard, ‘Oh just do it.
- ‘Please’ and ‘thank you’ are just good manners and don’t cost anything.
If you go to a cafe, you’d ask for ‘a cappuccino, please’ and, I hope, when it arrives you would say ‘thank you’.
Children deserve exactly the same courtesy.
Exasperation can cause a lapse in respectful conversation whether with an adult or child. Sometimes it is just a release of tension but this should be a rare occurrence and not the norm.
Talking with children helps them to learn, not just about the topic of conversation but about relationships, respect and principles.
Now, listening to children – oh boy, that’s another can of worms but it’s probably best left for its own space.
Do you know someone who speaks rudely to you for whatever reason? How does it make you feel?
Do you feel valued?