Many of us instinctively know that talking regularly to a baby or toddler is important to their development. But perhaps it is even more important that we recognize: As research into child development shows that supporting a child’s language development is not just about the number of words they hear –It’s also about the back-and-forth interactions between a child and their caregiver.
“Twenty to thirty years ago there was this feeling it’s all about the number of words kids hear,” he said Rebeca Parlakian, a child development expert at the nonprofit organization Zero to Three. “But the reality is that babies and toddlers don’t learn language through lectures; they learn language when we have engaging, responsive interactions with them.”
How interaction helps babies build language
Even with a baby responding to his coos and gurgles with language, like “Are you a hungry boy?” is part of how they start learning language. As they get a little older, it’s the back and forth of language where a toddler might say, “What is that?” with the reply of her parents: “That’s a puppy!” this really lays the foundation for learning the language.
“Children learn language best when they’re in a relationship with someone who is responsive and engaging with them,” Parlakian said.
When your toddler asks what something is In addition to answering your question, it would be helpful to provide additional information:the helps Answer questions they cannot verbalize. “Toddlers run out of language at this point because they don’t have the vocabulary,” Parlakian said.
So if you continue saying something like, “Oh Look, the puppy is sniffing the tree.” this expands the conversation beyond the initial question: “What’s this?” and helps answer some of her non-verbal communications of “What’s happening?”
“When we talk about the birth of three-year-olds, at least until the age of two, they communicate primarily through gestures, facial expressions, and vocalizations, but not necessarily through words,” Parlakian said. “It’s a lot about noticing, responding to cues, and using language to label, tell, and respond to what interests our children.”
Use descriptive language
Most of our interactions with our children tend to use very utilitarian language, like “Have you picked up your toys?” or “Are you hungry?” During these are certainly important, parents should also take care to introduce new vocabulary. During the early days of a child it is Well try something Be as descriptive as possible when talking about your surroundings. As you take a walk around the neighborhood They could point to a cat fluffy fur, the tall sunflowers, or the puffy white clouds in the sky.
Other good way to introduce yourself language What you might not otherwise use in your everyday life is reading books with your children. We mustn’t talk about pirates who have to listen or very hungry caterpillars, or small engine that could regularlyBooks offer the opportunity to expand their vocabulary.
“Book sharing, singing, rhyming, all of these experiences expose children to unique vocabulary,” Parlakian said. “Books in particular use a lot of words that we don’t use in everyday speech.”
“Baby talk” is a natural instinct that we should embrace
The natural instinct when talking to a baby or toddler is what to use Researchers call “parentesic” characterized by lengthened syllables and emphasis on key words. As Parlakian points out, this is an instinct found all over the world that parents should embrace. “Pretty much every culture uses some form of parentesis,” Parlakian said. “It seems to be something unconscious.”
There is evidence that using parentesis can help with a child’s language development, and that the more back-and-forth interactions a parent has, the better it is, especially in those very early months and years. For parents worried their baby talk isn’t age appropriateappropriate – we also adapt instinctively.
“PQuite unconsciously, kids tend to use parentese, and quite unconsciously they tend to adjust their language as their child grows,” Parlakian said. In other wordsas children grow older, parents tend to change their use of parentesis to adapt to their child’s needs without consciously doing so.
“As our children’s language grows and becomes more complex, we adults, as their caregivers, subconsciously adjust the complexity of their language,” Parlakian said.