Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Parenting: Noise

Children make noise. You did not need me to tell you that. 

Children make plenty of noise as they explore, play, and interact. In fact, they often find it a challenge to even come through a door without making noise.

Yet, noise is not necessarily good for children. The problem is not the noise of the slamming door, or excited argument. The noise problem for children is background noise that adults have learned to tune-out.

One part of the learning brain is called sensory memory. The function of sensory memory is to take in all sensory information and filter out what is not important. From adolescence on this part of our brain is fairly strong in its ability to filter out useless noises and tune in on speech. 

Yeah, I realize I just said adolescents are good at hearing voices over background noise, however, this does not include a promise that they are interested in listening.

For younger children this ability is not yet fully developed. It is harder for them to hear family conversation, for instance, while a television is playing in the background. For young children, still learning language this is especially important. As adults, if we miss a word due to a noise, our brains are able to fill it in and we continue with the conversation. Young children have more difficulty filling in missing words and often get off track which leads them to drop attention.

If children do not learn to pay attention to speaking voices it will harm their ability to learn.

Please consider turning off the television, (or the video player in the car). Replace this noise with good conversation that promotes language development and family relationships.

Turn off unnecessary media to help children give their full attention to conversation. 

As much as possible, maintain eye contact when speaking.

Make sure your children know that when they hear their name they should turn and look at the speaker. Do this gently as if there is background noise, children may not have heard their name spoken.

Read and talk with children to develop language.

All of these things will help your child to listen better and pay better attention in school, at home, in conversations with friends, and at church.

All bets are off with teenagers, though.

And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. I Kings 19: 11-12

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