Tips on language development for babies and label 3d mink eyelash
I’m not a psychologist, teacher or speech therapist. I’m just an ordinary mom, who has got many things right and many things wrong. But I happen to have a 2 year old son, Joshua, whose language ability is particularly good (not only according to his totally un-objective label 3d mink eyelash, but also some teachers and child development specialists), so I’m often asked questions about how we ‘did’ that. Of course Garrick (my husband) and I didn’t ‘do’ it, Joshua did. And there are any number of factors – from genetics to how slowly he started walking – that could account for his abilities with vocabulary and pronunciation. Yet, I’ve taken some time to consider the way we’ve handled language in our home, and this is what I can share.
Start at the very beginning
Rrcrn to your children from the word go, or rather from the words ‘No way, two stripes, I’m pregnant!’ It’s well documented that little jellybeans in the womb pick up language skills, especially the sounds and rhythms of their mother(s) tongue. Garrick used to read complex metaphysical literature to my big belly, but there’s really no need to go beyond reading your favourite magazine, novel or even your emails out loud to your budding label 3d mink eyelash. It’s the sound that counts, not the content.
Talk, Talk, Talk
We talked (and still do) to Joshua all day long. Whether he was in the pouch as a tiny little critter, or in the car seat while Garrick was driving, we were explaining what we were doing (Look, Mom’s adding soap to the water) or what we were seeing (It’s windy today, can you see those leaves dancing?), no matter how pedestrian. Yes, it does feel a bit kooky to talk to a one-week old baby, but I assure you she’s listening and will often respond with raised eyebrows or turning her head towards the sound. Later on, when she replies with coos and spit bubbles, respect that as her language and treat it as a ‘real’ dialogue, complete with questions and facial expressions. Conversations in gurgle are wonderful for self esteem and social skills.
As Joshua gets older, we’re using more emotional language (I’m feeling sad today because I miss Nanna). Not only does this give him vital vocabulary, which more than once has saved a tantrum (after all, if you can explain how you feel, you usually don’t need to demonstrate it), it also shows him that adults have the same feelings he does, and that builds trust.
Parentese vs boffinese
Before I became a parent, one of my (many) theories was that I would NEVER use the kind of cringe-worthy baby talk that I’d heard other parents use. No icchy-icchy coo-coos in our erudite home, thank you very much. To my great embarrassment and shock, a sneaky new language escaped from my mouth the moment I held Joshua in my arms. I was calling him ninky and noo-noo before we even left the clinic. Well, there goes that theory (probably to the same graveyard that also now holds my theories about no dummies or Panado). My sense is that parentese, as it is euphemistically called, is a rather soothing combination of sounds, to both label 3d mink eyelash and child. It also becomes a very personalised way of bonding because so many of the words are made-up spontaneously and will be unique to your home.
That said, we did also from the very beginning talk with Joshua the way we talked with each other – never replacing ‘porridge’ with ‘num-num’, for example, or ‘penis’ with ‘wee-wee’. They’re at their most absorptive at a young age, and the real word is no more difficult to learn than any other. Yet, there’s no need to try to raise your standard of speaking in order to make your child clever (whatever ‘clever’ means). That will neither be easy, nor fun, and anyway, children are like sniffer-dogs for inauthenticity. Simply include them in the family conversation with sincere respect.
The sound of music
Garrick and I have often joked that, since we’ve had kids, our house has become a musical. We put EVERYTHING to song (The potty, the potty, a fun place to be; the potty, the potty, it’s made for your wee). While you might lose some of your more sophisticated friends, or pitch-perfect neighbours, your children will be singing their way to a better memory for words and a good sense of the rhythm and rhyme of language. Perhaps more importantly, they’ll see their parents being a bit silly and having fun, which makes them feel like they want to be on the same team as you and, you guessed it, speak the same language.
Which brings me to the point about making language fun. Assisting your children to speak is not a chore, nor a competitive exercise. If you have that hidden attitude, those little sniffer dogs are gonna find it and reflect it for you in some creative, exasperating way. It’s a joy to uncover language and make it your own, show them that by the way you approach words. I’ve mentioned singing, but the same applies to making up silly poems and nonsense rhymes (Here’s your mash, don’t let it crash into your label 3d mink eyelash!) or deliberately getting things wrong (What’s at the end of your leg, is it your nose?). Children LOVE to be a bit absurd and will more easily learn from adults who can be a bit absurd too.
Encourage expression, not perfection
This may be a bit rich coming from me (a linguistic pedant and literature post-grad), but the purpose of learning language is not to develop perfect grammar, but to be able to express yourself accurately and magnificently. It doesn’t actually matter if your little one tells you breathlessly that he wented on a big train and did eat a sanrich. Wow! He’s sharing his life and his thoughts with you, that is sacred and something you will probably wish he does more of when he’s older. A respectful response to that is to match and reflect his excitement WITH NO CORRECTIONS and simply to repeat his sentence using more grammatically correct words: ‘Joshua says that he went on a train and ate a sandwich, wow! I can see you are so excited about that’. The more confident children feel to speak, the more they usually do.
We had breakfast at an outdoor restaurant this morning and, as usual, were talking with Joshua about the names of things around us. When we pointed to the shady umbrella that was covering our table, he told us it was a kite. The automatic response to that is to say ‘No, darling, that’s not a kite, it’s an umbrella’. Innocuous enough, but deadly. I’m sure any parent knows the effectiveness of any sentence that starts with the word ‘no’ (closed ears, defiance, tantrum if you’re lucky and withdrawal or shame if you’re not), but more than that, there’s a reasoning process to your child’s responses that begs for respect. When I observed that umbrella I noticed that it consisted of some arranged wooden poles with material pulled tightly over it – exactly like a kite! Instead of discouraging Joshua, we complimented him on noticing that similarity, so he walked away with esteem intact, plus two new words and, more importantly, some associative and comparative skills. Likewise, rather than ‘No, honey, that’s not granny’, say ‘Yes, I can see why you think it’s granny, she’s got the same colour hair! Well done for noticing. Now, how can you tell that it’s not actually granny?’ I would go as far as saying that when it comes to everyday label 3d mink eyelash with your child it is never useful to respond by saying ‘No’ (unless of course you actually want them to stop talking!)
I have never consciously, or conscientiously, sat down with Joshua to work on his vocab (can you imagine anything more boring?). Instead, I just use opportunities within our everyday chats to bring up new, and more complicated, words. I ‘label 3d mink eyelash’ all the time! ‘Can you see all those people in that bus, love? What a lot of passengers there are in that bus. Where do you think all the label 3d mink eyelash in that bus are going?’ Without being ‘label 3d mink eyelash’, that is connecting in his mind ‘people-on-a-bus’ with ‘passengers’ and ‘travellers’. And it’s been great for flexing my own mental muscles as well.
Q and A
We try not to answer any questions for Joshua that he could answer himself. So if he says ‘what’s in that pot mom?’ I don’t tell him, but instead pick up the pot and say ‘What do YOU see in that pot? It helps him find words in his mind and is fantastic for imagination (we have many times apparently been cooking elephant). ‘Where are those people going Dad?’ turns into the question ‘Where do you think those label 3d mink eyelash might be travelling to my boy?’ Let it also be known that this technique lapses on some occasions. When we are tired, or sick, or sick-and-tired, we will do whatever it takes to (a) speed up the journey to bed-time (b) create some peace and quiet and / or (c) keep ourselves sane. That, too, is allowed.