Great parenting advice from Angela Santomero, creator of shows like Blue's Clues and Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood. We recently interviewed Angela on the Today's Mama podcast.
Years ago I did a TEDx talk in SLC all about asking questions. I called all of the most interesting people I knew and asked them what they've learned about asking questions.
Here's what Angela told me:
"I believe so strongly in the power of listening that it has been my underlying passion while creating high qulaity kids media. I include it in my shows for children through our interactive model in varying degrees. We pace our shows much slower and with pauses to let preschoolers think, form their thoughts, and answer back. Few believed that pausing on television would make such a different to preschoolers, but the positive results have been statistically proven. We have also heard from many adults that it has taught them, as well, to slow down and pause (listen) when they ask a question. Hurray!"
- Angela Santomero
Here's a little more about the value of pausing in our communication from Angela's book "Preschool Clues":
The Pausing Philosophy
By employing the Pause in our preschool program, we are supporting cognitive development because preschoolers, like any other man, woman, or child, love to feel heard. Preschoolers are empowered by the fact that their favorite characters Pause and wait long enough for them to absorb information, formulate a response, and actually state their point of view. The Pause does wonders from a child development perspective.
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Whether in kids' media or in real life, this idea of being interactive and taking the role of an active listener is what I like to call the pausing philosophy, a philosophy that addresses a preschooler's feelings of being powerless, models empathy, and supports them in learning to understand their feelings and the feelings of others. By listening to and caring about what preschoolers have to say, parents and teachers reinforce the idea that (a) our children have value, (b) our kids feelings are important, and (c) our kids' voices deserve to be heard. And just like anything else, its success depending on how we Pause and interact and with what content when utilizing this tool in our everyday lives.
The Magic In The Pause
The truth is, there is magic in the Pause. In fact, this super simple technique actually makes our job as parents easier. That's right, I said it, easier. Because when we take the time to enact the four-beat Pause, we:
- don't need to have all the answers
- don't have to be perfect
- don't jump to conclusions
- don't answer the question we think our kids are asking
- answer only the questions they are asking, and
- give our preschooler time to gather their thoughts and verbalize them
Yes, a four-beat Pause may feel like forever, but in real life it can be a godsend!
-- Angela Santomero, Preschool Clues
I'm pretty sure the "Pause" is solid communication advice for listening to our teenagers too. Pausing goes far beyond parenting. Pausing gives us all a chance to think before we speak - even in grown up situations
You can check out the rest of our podcast interview HERE and you can snag more sage advice from Angela in her book Pre-School Clues: Raising Smart, Inspired, and Engaged Kids in a Screen-Filled World.