Why does family talking matter?

This guest post is by Sarah Newton, one part of the Family Communication Duo is an eclectic mix of sensitivity, wonder, common sense, wisdom and humour.  With business partner Lisa Warner, Sarah runs Fink tm. Fink Cards produce conversation cards that get families talking so they can improve their relationships, nurture their children and have more fun! The Rest of the time she is a happy mum, loving wife, adventurer and closet 50’s Diva.

I think we often underestimate how powerful family talking can be and the impact it can have. As we investigate here at Fink the benefits of talking, we find more and more research that just compounds what we already know – talking really matters.

Family Talking Research

Here is the most recent research I found, that totally blew me away, a study by Hart and Risley in New York.

They were concerned that a massive amount of funding had gone into improving educational achievement and that the results were not as expected. So they did a study into children under 4 and found families in professional’s homes spoke 1500 words more per hour than the working class or those on welfare. In a year, this adds up to 8 million words and in 4 years, 32 million words. So by the time the children of professionals got to school, they had heard 32 million more words, which gave them a huge advantage and therefore led to greater achievement.

This just got me thinking, how many of our social issues could be decreased if we only encouraged parents to talk more to their smaller children?

So how can you make sure your family talks more?

We talk a lot about what we call Talking Moments. But what exactly is a talking moment?

Talking moments are simply snippets of time in your day where you have an honest, open conversation with your children. A conversation that really has no purpose, is not aimed at getting them to do something, but instead is aimed at deepening your understanding of your child and your relationship with them.

These moments don’t have to be complicated and we highly recommend you make them as simple as possible; snippets of time in your daily routine, not a time out, let’s have a chat sort of thing.

Here are some suggestions of how you can inject talking moments into your daily routine.

We think there are three key moments in the average family’s day:

  1. The school run – now I don’t mean the manic getting out the house, I mean once you are in the car driving. You have a captive audience, so make use of it.
  2. The evening meal – we believe that the family getting together and having a meal is essential at least three times a week. It is valuable bonding and communication time. You can use these moments to talk in general or start conversations about items in the news or of interest to the whole family, like your next family holiday.
  3. While watching soaps or TV programme – we think this is a great idea as so many issues are raised in soaps that can spur a conversation afterwards. Wait until the programme has finished and ask them what they thought about a topic raised.

And as the holidays are upon us there is no better time to start talking.

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