Recently, 8-year-old Marty showed some signs of misbehavior when his mom exclaimed, “Boy, you’re in hot water now.”
Marty started having a meltdown, screaming and crying, “I don’t want to be in hot water!!!!!!! I It will hurt me!!!”
Seven-year-old Marissa became upset after her mom told her that her dad was not going to be home for dinner because he was, “tied up in traffic.” “Why are they tying him up,” Marissa cried? “What did he do? Who’s tying him up???”
When Walter started to get frustrated with his math assignment, his dad told him, “Oh, come on Walter, it’s a piece of cake.” Walter looked at his father like he had lost his mind, saying his math work was a piece of cake. What did he mean by that?
Georgette came home from school upset that children were making fun of her on the school bus. “OK, Georgette, tell me about it. I’m all ears.” Horrified, Georgette started picturing her mother growing ears on her head, which then shut the conversation down. Her mother was simply too weird to talk to her about anything.
Freely interspersed within our everyday language, we sprinkle different expressions and other figurative language such as similes and metaphors. Such language can be quite lively and descriptive.
For many children, though, they don’t readily translate and they have no idea what’s being said leading to a form of communication breakdown.
What’s the solution? It’s not to stop using them.
One answer is that you make sure you are aware of your usage with such language. If your child’s eyes start to glaze over in confusion, then back up and ask, “Do you know what that means?” If not, then clarify.
Make no assumptions about figurative language. Many children will have no idea what different expressions, similes and metaphors mean.
Use the opportunity for enhancing your child’s language facility.
Don’t miss that boat!
Strike while the iron is hot!
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