Tuesday, 16 October 2012
I really need some advice. In my household, we've never spoken "baby talk" to our children. Each word spoken is pronounced correctly, none of that "Is ooo hungwy?" kind of nonsense. I had a lot of trouble when my children were babies because it seems that everyone talks to small babies that way. I ignored it and I wish I hadn't. Now I'm having trouble because it seems that most people talk down to my children just because they are young. It's really not just MY children, but any child under three feet tall. It's like they associate height with intelligence or something. Now, I'm not saying this to brag, but my kids are pretty darn smart. My daughter is 4 1/2 and can carry on a conversation as if she's ten. My son is 2 1/2 and can carry on a conversation as if he's five or six. And they notice when people talk down to them. We recently went to a school function and were introduced to several of the high school students. They wouldn't talk to my son at all except to ask him what his name was and how old he was. They took turns introducing themselves to my daughter and insisted that she repeat each of their names. The look she gave them was priceless but unnoticed by them. "Can you say 'T.J.'?" Um....yeah she can. And it's not just the school kids who do it either, it's nearly everyone we've met in our new town.
I probably would be tempted to ignore it for the sake of politeness, except that my daughter has noticed how people talk to her. She told me after the school function that her feelings were really hurt because they were talking to her like she is a baby. I really wasn't sure what to tell her right then, except to reassure her that they weren't being mean or trying to hurt her feelings. I'm thinking about having a talk with her about it. I feel that she should be able to say to them "Please don't talk to me like I'm a baby. I'm a very smart person." It would reassure her self-esteem, prove that she's not unintelligent, and may give them pause for thought about how they talk to small children. I am concerned about offending someone though. I'm afraid if I say something about it to them, they will consider it rude. My husband just recently became a teacher at this school and I really don't want to cause any strife for him later. But I don't think it's fair for my daughter to have to put up with them talking down to her.
What do you think? Should I just keep reassuring her that they aren't trying to be mean and ignore it? Or empower her to speak up for herself? What would you do in this situation?