“All grown-ups were once children… but only few of them remember it.” — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
Speaking with children is not always intuitive. As we age, it’s easy to forget how to relate to children, let alone speak with them. We’ve been spending the better-half of our lives refining our mature selves by undoing our immature aspects. It’s only natural. Regardless, communication is an art, and with children, it is all the more so. To communicate properly, we must understand our audience, and if our audience speaks another language, comes from another ideology, or has differential learning abilities, we must adapt our language to suit. The gulf between adults and children, particularly as technology hastens generational divides continues to widen over time.
The most illustrative imagery of this valley is performed perfectly in this interaction in the Little Prince.
In order to begin to understand how to communicate with children, we must first learn how to think like them. We must peel back our understanding about the world (especially time and logic), and imagine things from their perspective.
“Grown-ups love figures… When you tell them you’ve made a new friend they never ask you any questions about essential matters. They never say to you “What does his voice sound like? What games does he love best? Does he collect butterflies? “ Instead they demand “How old is he? How much does he weigh? How much money does his father make? “ Only from these figures do they think they have learned anything about him.”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
Yes, that’s us. It’s a two-way street and we live in a metric-driven society and it is as if we have forgotten our childhoods entirely, the importance of them, and how to foster it — mostly because we don’t even place any value on childhood anymore. Speaking of metrics, this is crucial to understanding children: they don’t have any. Yes, you heard it right: children don’t use your mature metrics like time and logic. They don’t really care if you have to be somewhere, sometime. They don’t understand the logic in wearing socks because it’s cold outside (especially if it’s warm inside). These metrics that defines…