If you have raised kids past the age of learning to talk, then you are familiar with the phrase “guess what?”. In fact, I would submit that you are not only familiar with it, but the mere beginning of the phrase sends chills down your spine. Every newly enabled talker in our family has employed this little phrase as their means of ensuring full parental attention to every word they are saying.
There is always that happy moment you enjoy when your little offspring begin to have the ability to really communicate. I don’t mean just “no” (which is of course nearly always the first word every learned because they hear it so much up to that point in their life), but really start to express themselves. The reward is not only that you have raised a child that is apparently capable of expressing themselves in a manner other than crying, but also someday they will hopefully be a contributing member of society.
That moment passes soon after they learn to leave out the pause for a breath between sentences in order to keep your undivided attention indefinitely.
Truly it is a lot of fun to have the ability to actually carry on a conversation with your child. Given that you have your wits about you and the time to look them straight in the eyes for an extended period of time, the experience can be a pleasurable one. The problem arises when you are trying to accomplish other tasks, and your child simply does not believe you are paying attention unless you are looking directly at them through the entire dialog. There may be some truth the fact that you are catching only some of the words in an attempt to split your time and simply guessing at their intended communication.
In order to be sure that you are with them, your child starts to use the “guess what” at the beginning to get your attention. Once that works, guess what starts to be used repeatedly at the beginning of every sentence; then later at the end, middle and whenever they feel like they don’t fully have you there. The habit develops, and soon you have more guess what’s then you do actual content to the communication.
I am not sure if it happens more with girls than boys, and I am likely predisposed to think it is girls because I currently have a 6-year-old girl that is in the throws of the guess what phenomenon. Of course, I have an eight-year-old boy that has evolved from guess what to simply saying “look at me” when he doesn’t think you are paying him the proper amount of attention.
I keep reminding myself that improving communication skills is perhaps the most important developmental process a child can go through, so I just smile and casually remind my daughter every so often that the guess what is really not necessary…especially 2 to 3 times in the same sentence. It has become a laughing point because she doesn’t even realize she is doing it. Someday I will get the guess what to go because it really does need to go!