The secret to writing the perfect child letter is in the word choice, says physio-surgery graduate Andrew Kavanagh.
The advice he offers to parents is to “try and do your best to be as clear and concise as possible, but also not too precise”.
It’s not as simple as writing down what your child says in a whisper, he says.
“What you want to do is try and convey your thoughts in a way that is understandable for your child, but not necessarily that you can actually understand,” Mr Kavanah says.
For example, if your child is saying ‘I can’t breathe’ it may not be clear to the parent what exactly that means, he advises.
“So if your baby is saying, ‘I’m dying’, you’re going to want to be clear and precise in how you describe it and try and describe it in a very simple way.”
You should also use a word like ‘not sure’, Mr Kavanna says.
He advises parents to avoid using terms like ‘numb’, ‘dumb’, or ‘buzzy’ in the letter.
He says that when it comes to talking to your baby, the key to success is to try and make your child’s thoughts sound as natural as possible.
“That’s a little bit like saying ‘no worries’ in terms of your feelings or thoughts,” he says, “so it’s more about giving your child the feeling that it’s OK to ask questions about things that are in their head, and not necessarily be afraid to ask those questions.”
The next step is for your children to think about the word choices that you’ve made, and how they will convey them to their child.
“It’s a process, it’s a long process of trying to come up with a word that’s appropriate for their own vocabulary, or a word to say to their friends,” Mr Wollman says.
But when it’s time to write your child a letter, it should be as concise as you can.
You should use a simple phrase to say what your baby’s saying, and avoid making it too long.
The next thing to do for parents who are struggling to write letters for their children is to read the letters aloud to them.
“If you’re not able to read them out loud, try and watch a child write one for their friend, and then take a second to try to make it clear to them what’s going on,” Mr Suggs says.
Your children are your best advocates When it comes down to writing letters for your family, Mr Kavenagh says parents have a lot to lose by not doing so.
“You’ve got to put yourself in the child’s shoes, and that’s what a lot of parents struggle with,” he said.
“There’s a lot more than just a word or two, so a lot has to be said to the child, and you have to be able to understand that what you’re trying to say is not going to be understood, but at the same time, you’ve got the right to be really respectful of that.”
You can find out more about the National Letter Writing Month from the Australian Council of Medical Royal Colleges.
The ABC is presenting National Letter Writers Month from 10 July at 11:00am.