Happy Talk: Captain Sensible Is Actually Very Sensible September 09 2013

The internet and social media are drowning on those lists and videos that say things like ‘If you were a child in the 70s or 80s this is for you.....cue lots of photos of retro toys, music and fashion. Well I’m adding to those lists!

If you were a child in the 80s you may remember Captain Sensible, ex-member of The Damned? Well, I certainly remember his signature red beret. Despite looking far from sensible, in actual fact his cover of ‘Happy Talk’ (a 1949 Rodgers & Hammerstein show tune from South Pacific) suggests that actually he was really very sensible.

Have a listen below and you’ll see what I mean.

Right there in a nutshell is the one key message we’re trying to convey to parents of young children. We need to have lots of ‘happy talk’! Positive interactions between parents and young children where parent and child act as equal conversation partners.

Look at the lyrics:

Happy talking, talky happy talk’ - well we show how you can do this our videos by taking turns, being face to face, and making time for talk with your child.  

Talk about things you like to do’ – well, that goes with our ‘Let the child lead’ and ‘If you see it, say it’ tips!

When parents talk about what their child is playing with, the here and now rather than the past or future, children understand. Children can also see what the parent is talking about and this gives visual clues to go with the words they are hearing. This makes learning new words a lot easier. Even better – when parents talk about what their child is interested in and follow as they naturally flow from one toy or topic to another – they keep the child’s attention.

Children have short attention spans and when very young they can only attend to things they have chosen to do themselves and only one thing at a time. It’s also a well established fact now that children learn best when they are interested and motivated - with young children this means playing with toys how they want to (not how adults think they should be playing with them!).

You’ve got to have a dream, if you don’t have a dream, how you gonna make a dream come true’. The point Captain Sensible makes in this line is truly universal to all children and a core principle of positive parenting techniques. Regardless of what a child’s dream may turn out to be – spaceman, doctor, shopkeeper, pilot, hairdresser – they’ve got to have supportive and responsive parents who will nurture that aspiration.

Spending time playing and talking with your child is the only way to find out what makes those little brains tick. Hopes, dreams and aspirations are all played out before your eyes when you engage in pretend play with your child. One day they’re a fierce knight, the next a fairy ballerina. On Monday they’re a vet in the animal hospital, by Wednesday they’ve switched careers to be a train driver.

So, you see he, was a lot more sensible than he looked!

Take a look at our free ‘Top Tips’ video to see simple ways in which you can create happy talking times with your child today.

Now, let me dig out my old Bananarama records – I wonder if they had anything useful to say about parenting and communication?