Talking to children

Here's how parents can encourage the development of their child’s language, make them want to communicate, and promote dialogue. 

Life always makes us learn. Every day, children learn new things and grow by exploring, looking and, mostly, by acting like people they know. We help them walk on all fours, we give them our hands to show them how to walk, and we teach them how to go down the stairs on their bottoms by sitting on each step. We have the capacity to adapt to our child’s development by observing our own actions and by simplifying our message. We constantly give them an example that we invite them to follow. The same goes with your child’s language! They learn from their experiences with other people.

Naturally, when a child is only a few weeks old, we tend to look a lot at their language. We get close to them, we look at them, we make sounds to draw their attention, we modulate our voice, and we call their name… We clap our hands, we make simple syllabic repetitions like “gagaga” “papa”, and we use an appropriate language for a baby. It is possible and even essential to continue this stimulation as the child grows but without making it a heavy and strenuous task.

Repetition is essential in the development of language. By hearing a significant someone repeating the same sounds, the same words and the same sentences over and over and always in the same context, children eventually manage to repeat them.

In what follows, I will try to make your life easier by giving you simple tips and tricks that will stimulate language development on a daily basis, through things you can add to your routine, so it doesn’t seem like an additional chore.

I am sure that you will realize, reading this article, that you already do many things, without knowing, that are excellent ways to boost your child’s language. However, you may realize that in the midst of our busy life, we don’t leave much time for our children to speak.

Here are some attitudes and strategies that can help promote communication and to which you should pay attention to on a daily basis.

First, get down on your child’s level.
Lean towards them, sit them on the counter or on cushions, sit next to them on the floor or on the couch. It is much nicer to talk to someone when you can see their face. By speaking to your child at eye level, they will be in a better position to look up to you as a model because they will be able to look at your mouth and see how you place it to pronounce the sounds. That way, you will keep them focused and expect them to look at you. They will feel important because you are talking directly to them, and because you are paying attention to what they say.

Adjust your language.
Speak slowly, clearly. Use short and simple sentences without using baby talk. If I ask a three-year-old child: “Would you like to eat a good red apple that we picked yesterday?” I am not at their level. In general, it is recommended to keep your language simple yet slightly more complicated than what the child is normally capable of. For example, if the child usually expresses something with two words “Want juice!” you can say: “You want juice?” Feel free to change the tone of your voice.

This also applies to the overly fast or complicated requests that we make. Remember that it is very important to respect the child’s level and their development stage. For example, the sentence: “Come change your diaper my darling, we are going to your grandma’s house for dinner” would be far too complex for a three year old child. It contains too many elements.

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