This piece was published in the ‘NT Sun’ on June 26 2018.


The importance of adult example is often discounted. Parents, teachers, politicians, church leaders and sports club coaches are among those who offer advice to young people about behaviour, deportment and expectation. The way this advice is shared needs to be carefully considered.

Children are very perceptive. Their awareness of the world around them is often discounted by adults.

Parents and teachers dealing with children should consider the importance of how they speak. It often happens that conversation is directed ‘to’ or ‘at’ young people. This method of communication can be very off-putting because it discourages them from responding. Genuine two-way conversation is inclusive. It encourages children to express their opinions and offer viewpoints on matters being considered.

‘Talking down’ to young people is an unfortunate habit that can be too easily embraced by adults. It discourages a response and can cause young people to feel resentful. It can lead to directives being given without an explanation of why they are necessary. This method of communication can become learned behaviour on the part of those to whom it is directed. In time it will become part of the way they speak to others.

Adults generally stress the need for children to be well mannered, polite and considerate of others. Part of this may include the way they speak to each other. The need for appropriate language is stressed. Speech should not include vulgar or racist expressions and should not be hurtful.

It is unfortunate that these ambitions held toward the development of young people, are often poorly modelled by adults. ‘Do as I say but not as I do’ seems to be the thinking of far too many people who should be setting a better example to young people. Crass speech, bad manners and poor behaviour are too often on display. This has to be confusing for those growing up to become tomorrow’s adults and leaders.

News bulletins are full of stories reporting the dark side of life. Verbal jousting, argument and acrimonious situations are shared on television, radio, print and social media. Manifestations of verbal, physical, mental and sexual abuse abound.

Young people come to understand that these social negatives, both historical and contemporary, are condoned by adults. Yet they are urged to change the way things are by an adult population who fail to show a better way through the lives they lead themselves.

Today’s adults must model the behaviours they want to see in our upcoming generation.

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