Kate’s Corner
Jun 25 2015

  Talk, Talk, Talk

If people always tell you that you talk to your children too much – Congratulations for being a great parent!

Talking to children is so much more than offering them words to learn.  Yes, vocabulary is critical.  Children learn to identify objects, name people, ask for what they need and tell about what they like.  The language of the family will be the language of the child.  Through words we teach our children all about our culture, traditions, our faith and customs.  We invite them in.

Consider how this works…

Infants babble and coo

They click and smack, babies oooh and ahhhh.   And we love it!  But to support babies and encourage them to keep using their voices, we must talk and sing back to them.  When you hold your baby, look at them, smile, use your voice and keep language going by changing bbbbb to baby to my baby to I love my baby.  You are building their brains.  You are creating positive patterns that your child will want to keep and use.  You are sending important messages of love and acceptance; telling them who they are.  They literally fall in love with you during infancy and their first connections are touch and the sound of your voice.  They will keep your voice forever.

Toddlers have learned that language = power.

These cooing babies have become language junkies! They want to know it all.  Give your toddlers labels.  Tell them what every name is for every thing and person that they see.  Toddlers start to string words and labels and we quickly hear “cookie” turn into “my cookie” then the demand of “I want my cookie!”  This should be music to your ears.  Toddlers are looking at their world and counting on you for important words and phrases that solidify their place in it.  The developmental job of a toddler is to learn language and use it.  They soak words up, and are capable of understanding about twice as many as they can actually verbalize, according towww.babycenter.com.

Preschoolers are putting it all together.

Three year olds are still curious and continue the question of “why?” for everything – they are looking for words to explain what they see, what they do and what they want.  By the time your child is in their fourth year, they have a working vocabulary of over 500 words which grows exponentially when they are surrounded by conversation and literature.  They have expanded their world to include friends and neighbors and are at the very beginning of understanding that it is not always their word that is most important.  Language now has meaning in so many ways!  There is a difference between the language of sports and gardening, meals and travel.  3 and 4 year olds have discovered the language of authors, musicians and artists.  They are wonderful, magical story tellers.  Now they are inviting you in.

Keep talking to school agers!

While you may have to catch them coming and going; make the effort!  Children need to know that you are with them, care for them and respond to them at every age.  Engage them in conversation by starting with what they are interested in and expanding this interest to include layers of brand new knowledge.  Keep giving them language for feelings and friendship.  Open the world further through books, trips and people.  Don’t assume that silence equals disinterest, it doesn’t.  It’s sometimes just where development takes them.  You are always their guide.  Use loving, supportive words.  These are what will be repeated.

“The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.”

P. O’Mara