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Five More Things to Learn From Chatterbox Parents.
Have a look at our previous post to find out more about exactly what a chatterbox parent is and to read our list of the popular intro’s that chatterbox parents use. (We encourage you to focus on how much more comfortable it is to talk to a child when you start your sentences with these phrases. Not only do they steer your thoughts to what to say next, they also serve to focus your child’s attention on you and what you’re about to say.)
Here are five more things to learn from chatterbox parents:
- They don’t feel silly saying things out loud what the child already knows. Why? Because, in essence, they understand that their talking isn’t primarily aimed at sharing new information – their main goal is to program their child with the ability to understand words and eventually string them together.
- They repeat key words and phrases as they speak. Why? Because building language is not like building a house where you lay a brick once and immediately get to move on to laying the next one. Programming words and language patterns into a brain is more like building a muscle. Repetition and persistence are key. A child needs to hear a word many times – some researchers say hundreds of times and in many different contexts – for his little brain to lay down the new brain wiring that will make that word or phrase stick and permanently fix it into his vocabulary.
- They use what a child says for building longer sentences. A baby may, for instance, say: “Da!” when he sees a dog. A chatterbox parent will typically grab onto this golden nugget and build on it by saying: “Dog! Yes! That’s a dog. The dog is hairy. Look at his long hairy tail!” Or a toddler may say: “Mommy car!”, after which the parent will take the cue from the child and extend the child’s words into longer sentences: “Yes! Mommy is getting ready to get into her car. Mommy drives her car to get to work. She’ll be working today.”
- They model correct speech instead of correcting a child’s mistakes. When the child uses the wrong word, or pronounces something incorrectly, chatterbox parents deliberately ignore the mistake and respond with the correct word built into their response. Here’s an example: The child says: “I catched a fish!” And the parent responds with: “Yes! You caught a fish! You caught the red fish with your fishing rod!” They do this to give the child the opportunity to learn from hearing. They don’t resort to teaching or reasoning. Instead, they trust the child’s almost magical innate ability to detect and absorb good language by simply hearing the right way of saying something.
- They use bigger words and longer sentences as their children progress. This means that their children grow up to be smarter simply because they get to hear more words and learn to use better language. In fact, researchers say that intellectually advanced children typically understand and use almost twice as many words when compared to children who struggle in school. They are also much more likely to join loose standing sentences with connecting words such as: and, then, before, after, but, so, or, if and because. This makes sense, because thinking is essentially nothing more than having a private conversation with yourself in your head, which means that children who can talk better can naturally also think
The most important tip. Honestly, the most important pointer for building a child’s language skills is a no-brainer. Love spending time with him. You’d think it would be natural for every parent who loves a child to also love being around that child, but it isn’t. Feeling comfortable in the company of a young child requires being able to shift gears from time to time – whenever a situation may call for it – and many parents find that it takes some getting used to. It’s a matter of learning to intentionally focus your attention and your emotions on your child.
Practise being present in the moment. You’ll have more to say and feel much more comfortable when you can enjoy the moment with your child; no matter how silly or childish your conversation may sound to whoever may overhear you, even in public places.
On the topic of what people may think. Let’s think about it for a second: do you really value the opinion of anyone who doesn’t simply love witnessing a loving parent connect with an adoring wide-eyed little baby, toddler or two year old?
When a person gives you a funny look, shrug it off. Focus all your attention on your child and continue chattering about anything and everything under the sun. Be thick skinned. Put your happy hat on and bask in the knowledge that your choice to enter into your child’s world without inhibitions is a small price to pay for the relationship that you’re building and the immeasurable intellectual benefits that your child will reap for the rest of his life.