ABSTRACT

Listening to young children can be complex (Rinaldi, 2006). Rinaldi (2006, p. 65) cautioned that listening to the voices of young children should not be seen as a “simple natural act”, rather it required a “deep awareness” by adults. On examination of the literature, there are two key assumptions commonly held by adults which add to the complexity of listening to the voices of young children. First, adults frequently assume they can instinctively listen to young children without the need for attentive effort (Clark, Kjørholt, & Moss, 2005). As a result of this lack of attention, adults do not fully listen to young children and therefore are commonly not aware of children’s deeper thinking about what is important to them in their lives. Although Article 12 in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) claims children have the right to discuss any matters that affect them, adults still do not always attentively listen to young children. The second assumption raised in the literature is that adults often consider young children are “not trustworthy” in the stories they tell about their lives (Clandinin, Huber, Menon, Murphy, & Swanson, 2016, p. 251) nor capable of telling valid stories for research purposes (Skelton, 2008). Research has also shown that as a result of this lack of trust in children’s capacity for storytelling, young children’s opinions, stories or conversations are often “excluded, marginalised, ignored or just seen as something cute or funny” (Dahlberg & Moss, 2005, p. 101).