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Talk is Not Cheap

June 22nd, 2012 by Miss Kristin

“There probably is no more important stimulation than parents talking to their child. The language areas of the brain respond, resulting in superior language skills for a child. Children also need a warm, emotionally supportive environment, which results in more connections in those parts of the brain responsible for developing emotions. The result? Children who are blessed with feelings of security and an emotional well-being that spreads throughout all aspects of their lives” — John Dacey, Co-author of Human Development Across the Lifespan

Research has proven time and time again that a child’s relationship with his/her primary caregiver is irreplaceable, and the foundation of that relationship affects the child’s long term development and security. With this fundamental truth in mind, I can’t help but think about all the energy we put forth in other activities and interactions that don’t have the same drastic affects. Don’t get me wrong, puzzles, science experiments, and preschool activities definitely have their place in a child’s development, but this issue of positive communication has challenged me to be sincerely more intentional with the little ones I have the privilege of interacting – and communicating – with on a daily basis! So, how can we communicate with our kids in a way that fosters an emotionally secure environment as well as encourages cognitive development? Great question. Since I know you are all very busy parents with plenty of things on your plate and mind, I did the digging for you and my findings are below :)

Set the example

Kids pick up their communication cues from the conversations they hear. I know I’ve talked about this topic before in my Parenting series, but it’s one of those issues that is so so so important! As parents and caregivers, WE set the example of how to speak with others to our kids. So, if your kids hear you demanding help with the groceries in a not-so-beautiful tone to your spouse, they will pick up on and remember that manner of asking/demanding for things they want in the future. So, if your little one approaches you with demands, whining, and nagging, it may be helpful to reflect on the atmosphere of communication you have at home. I’m not pointing fingers here, I promise! I’m just pointing out how kids receive and develop language!

Below are some “talk tips” to keep in mind as you shape the culture of communication in your household:

  1. Address family members by name
  2. Speak courteously to each other
  3. Use the “please” and “thank you” ‘s
  4. Make eye contact when someone is talking
  5. Listen attentively to each other by cutting down on the multi-tasking …(at least for just a couple minutes!)

Avoid the “baby talk.”

Interacting with your baby via goo-goo’s and ga-ga’s is not only fun and expressive, but it is also quite developmentally appropriate for an infant. However, when your child grows past infancy and turns the magical age of 1, the baby talk can become a detriment to verbal and language development. Talking with toddlers and young 2 year olds in short, directive sentences is one of the best ways to communicate needs, wishes, and commands. Once your child approaches the late 2′s to preschool age, you can extend the conversation to two and three step sentences. For example, if you’re speaking with your older two year old you can say, “Put your blanket on your bed and let’s go to the potty.” OR “I need you to wash your hands before dinner. Go to the bathroom, wash your hands, and then come back to me.”

Explain Yourself

So we are all on the same page…explaining and reasoning are different. Giving your child an understanding as to why you have family rules helps to reduce frustration and also aids in parent-child partnership. For example, if you tell your child to “clean up her toys” and follow it with a “because I told you so!”, it shuts down the communication between you and your child. One the other hand, if you share “because we have lots of toys all over the ground! …someone could trip and fall if we don’t pick them up!”, it creates opportunities for dialogue & cognitive and emotional understanding. :)

Establish Rapport

This may sound silly because clearly you have rapport with your child!!! So, this is just to encourage you to continue building the emotional connection between you and your kids! When it comes to conversation with little ones, some parents tend to have “serious talks” more frequently than they do positive ones. Usually, the focus of the communication is what the child should not do. One thing to keep in mind is that kids develop positive connections by encouragement. So, “serious talks” do have their place, but positive communication about what your children are doing well is not only beneficial to their security, but also fundamental in how they will receive direction from you!

“Take time to talk with your children and share the joys and sorrows you experience.  Using techniques of communication and accepting each other’s feelings will build parent-child relationships.”
– Arizona Cooperative Extension FamilyTask Force

What’s the culture of communication in your household? Do you have any “talk tips” to share with us? We’d LOVE to hear!
winning ways to talk to children
Human Development Across the Lifespan — text



Posted by Miss Kristin

Bio: My name is Kristin, but most here at SLC call me Miss Kristin :) I have been working at Scottsdale Learning Centers since 2007 and LOVE it. It is such a blessing to be a part of the amazing SLC team in the front office and as a pre-k teacher in Room 11! When I'm not at SLC I volunteer as a leader for junior high girls at my church (I am crazy...I know), and needless to say, I have a passion for kids!

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