Monday, 1 March 2010

Talk to your child not your mobile

It’s a long time since I knew the difference between a pram, pushchair, stroller, or buggy. But my parenting isn’t so ancient that I’ve forgotten the importance of talking to your child when you are out and about.
I would have thought it's only sense to have very young children face you when you are pushing them along. But let’s say they are a bit older and so require more street stimuli – other children, dogs, pigeons etc.
So they have their backs to you. But that doesn’t relieve you from the necessity of giving your child a running commentary as you go along. How else are kids supposed to absorb language and cognitive skills? It doesn’t matter how much they understand – an important bonding process is in operation and one day they will.
This preamble is aimed at condemning those parents who take their children out into the world and rather than extend the horizons of their young ones, they prefer to chat on their mobile or cell phones. They appear happy to talk to anyone indeed apart from to whom it counts most – their own offspring.
It saddens me the increasing frequency which I see this. The unfortunate child has a vacant stare because they are not being given any help to comprehend the external world. Sometimes they are handed a biscuit or sweet to keep them quiet.
If it’s a childminder or elder sibling doing the pushing they must be encouraged to engage with their young passenger.
Parents should instinctively know better. But these are probably the same insensitive people who engage in long intrusive phone conversations on public transport or else are prepared to look as though they have lost all reason by seemingly babbling to themselves as they walk down the street employing a hands free phone.
It makes you wonder what happens when the child arrives back home. I fear the isolation continues with the child dumped in front of the television. It seems unlikely that such parents would consider reading an old-fashioned picture book with their child as a key aid in helping develop his or her’s brain and word power.

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