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Listening and Talking - Great activities

For Immediate Release
16th October, 2000

Listening and Talking - Great activities for Children’s Day

As New Zealand’s first ever day for celebrating children approaches, the community is reminded that listening and talking to children helps them to feel they are valued and appreciated.

The inaugural Children’s Day takes place on Sunday 29 October and will become an annual event, marked on the last Sunday of October each year.

Planning is well advanced for the Day with a wide range of events to mark Children’s Day organised throughout New Zealand. Among the many events registered are a joint Citizens Advice Bureau/school fun day in Mt Roskill, a memorial service at St Matthews in the City in Auckland, a huge Halloween bash in Wellington and a kohanga reo marae based children’s party in Taupo. (Information on other events is available on the Children’s Day website.)

In addition to planning events and activities, many New Zealanders are making an individual pledge to do something special with the children in their lives on 29 October. In Auckland, this can be done by signing a Children’s Day banner currently hanging in a foyer at Auckland’s Aotea Centre.

The agencies behind Children’s Day (Child, Youth & Family, Barnardos and the Office of the Commissioner for Children) are hoping all New Zealanders will take up the challenge to celebrate children on the day. That includes individuals, whether they have children of their own or not, families, community groups and organisations.

Five key themes have been identified for the day, and listening and talking to children is one of these. The three agencies say talking to children is the best way of teaching and encouraging good behaviour.

“Children need to know they can talk to adults and have their point of view heard. They will also respond well to having adults explain things to them, talk about expectations and discuss feelings,” says Jackie Brown, Chief Executive of Child, Youth & Family.

“Children will mirror the kind of behaviour they experience as they grow,” Jackie Brown says. “If we talk to them, treat them fairly and with respect and listen to what they have to say, they will learn to treat us in the same way.”

The agencies behind Children’s Day agree that listening and talking presents particular challenges as children grow and enter adolescence.

Jackie Brown says it can be difficult for caregivers who are used to making most of the decisions about their children’s lives, to adopt the different style needed to guide young people through the last stages of childhood.

“It is vitally important that we talk and listen to adolescents, even if we don’t like what they tell us,” she said. “We have to let them start making decisions for themselves and respect their choices, despite the fact that they are probably going to be very different from ours.”

At the same time she says, adolescents, like all children, need clear rules and boundaries so they feel safe.

Preparing a checklist on the theme of listening and talking to the children in your life is just one of the ideas for marking Children’s Day. Things to include might be:

 Identify and explain to children what you expect from them.
 Give reasons for your decisions – children are able to understand reasons from about 3 years of age.
 Listen to what children have to say and respond. Make sure you do it before decisions are made.
 Be honest. If your children know you are truthful they will learn to be honest themselves.
 Set aside time every day to talk to your children, whatever age they are. This could be when they first come home from school or day care, are in bed at night, when you are driving somewhere together or at mealtimes.
 If you are not sure what your children think or would like – ask them!
 Say sorry when you get things wrong.
 Talk, don’t shout or lecture.

To find out more about Children’s Day or list your event on the Register of what is happening around the country on the day visit the website at or call the Freephone on 0508 222 000.

Sue Lytollis, Project Manager Children’s Day
Child, Youth and Family
Mobile: 029-513454 e-mail:

Released via Mediacom
16 October 2000

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