I sometimes wonder, just how slow off the mark I can be. For several years now I have been writing, lecturing, teaching about the language we use when talking with our children, and how so often the words we use mean nothing at all to the children. When we tell them, for instance, to 'hurry up' the words do not depict any useful message to the child - so they don't understand, can't cooperate, and therefore get into trouble for being naughty. "Hurry up" is an old mining term, and does not mean 'move faster', and nor does it have a clear pictorial message as would the word 'run' - if we bothered to use that instead.
The letter reprinted below, written by an excited new client,
really woke me up to the fact that we have a long way to go yet.
I will be including the instructions "Come here", and "wait there"
in my seminars from now on - and welcome such contributions from
any parents, teachers, or diesel thinkers (dyslexics) themselves.
"Yesterday I realised my eleven year old son does not really
understand the words "come here" and "hurry up" and thanks to
you, I now understand why and how this is so.
I went for a walk with him and asked him "What does come
here mean?" He looked a bit confused and said ..."I'm
I said "Why would you be in trouble?" and he said "I
I let him walk ahead of me and then he stopped, I said to him "If
I said come here what do you think I mean?"
I could see him thinking hard and he said "Walk towards
I said "Yes, what if I said come here like this (I did
some come here hand gestures) would that make more sense to
He said "Yes that makes more sense".
Then I said "What if I said Come and stand right next to
me, does that make any more sense?
He quickly walked over to me and stood next to me and said "That
makes much more sense".
I was sooooo excited. I have made many mistakes with my son and
now I am just beginning to really understand. You see every
morning getting ready for school we have had so much frustration
with him. (I have another son and 2 girls and what works for
them does not work for him, so to some extent I understand the
frustration that teachers must feel with him).
Usually I am in the kitchen making lunches and when I want him (
maybe to bring his lunch box, maybe to check that he is still
getting ready for school or whatever) I used to always call out
to him (he would usually be in the lounge or his room), and I
would say "R, come here". I would repeat it a few times,
then my partner too would call "come here!" When he finally
comes to us we are annoyed and frustrated that he didn't come
the first time.
He usually says "what?" And that is how it has been for
years, because it never occurred to me that he didn't really
understand those words.
This morning we were getting ready for school and I was in the
kitchen and I said to my partner "Listen to this.... R,
I want you here in the kitchen now." We waited and he said "coming!"
and he was in the kitchen ready and willing to do whatever it is
that I asked of him.
I cannot describe how excited I am to know that there are ways
that I can really help him.
Sorry this is so long I just felt a need to share with you the
progress we are already making.