A child starts talking around his first birthday. The development of speech is influenced by innate dispositions, environment, but also by whether or not the child uses a pacifier.
At first, a child uses one word or one-syllable expressions about certain situations or people.
Interjections are replaced with verbs. When a child says: “toot”, it can mean: “look, I have a car”, or “I see a car”, etc. He learns to use “mine” or “my”, understands the difference between “me” and “you”, and reacts appropriately to “yes” and “no”.
Tips for Parents
- We should always articulate and not use “baby talk”.
- We should talk calmly and clearly.
- Our tone should be distinctive but not exaggerated.
- We should repeat what the child says with correct articulation and not criticize his shortcomings.
- The child should be able to see our face while we talk.
- We should take regular breaks and not overload the child with unnecessarily long activities. We should stick to a regular sleeping schedule.
- We should regularly sing with the child, say rhymes, read simple stories, look at books (folding picture books), comment on activities that we do together and try to get him involved into an active communication during play time.
- We should not be forceful. It is forbidden to say anything along the lines of “say”! The child has to want to talk to us and we should encourage his ambition to talk through a positive feedback.
The importance of questions
Around a child’s third year of age, he may start asking questions like “What is it?” and soon the famous question comes along: “Why?”. The goal of these questions is first of all to obtain desired information. But over time, we start noticing that a child repeatedly asks about the same things over and over gain. By doing this, our child is telling us that he wants to communicate with us; he wants to talk.
A perceptive parent reacts to these questions with patience. If a child hears: “Leave me alone! What do you want now?…” he will stop being interested in communication with us and stop asking questions.
Pacifier and speech development
If a pacifier is used long-term, there could less room for a natural development of speech organs; the shape of the jaw may be affected and gradually also articulation.
If a child uses a pacifier or his thumb often and for too long, his tongue moves forward. An incorrect swallowing process is then enforced, where the tongue doesn’t move upwards to the hard palate, but instead between the teeth. The result is an open bite, an incorrect teeth development, a crooked jaw and an impaired articulation. The consequences are difficult in terms of time and money invested in orthodontists and speech therapists when the child is older.
A pacifier is not a universal solution to any baby’s dissatisfaction. We should always try to find out why the child is dissatisfied.
Television and speech development
Why are children so attracted to TV? The moving pictures are fascinating for children. However, a child has difficulties grasping and mentally processing all these rapidly moving sequences of pictures.
A child’s effort to process what’s going on TV results in the decline of concentration and an overload caused by the amount of images coming at the child. A child’s brain isn’t equipped to handle such activity and the consequences could be a reduction in memory capacity and concentration abilities.
During a dialogue, which consists of listening and answering, a child develops his communication skills. But there is no communication with a TV.
When a child listens to a story, he creates images in his head based on his experiences and his imagination. If we need, we can pause the story telling, “explain” anything and the child can add anything at any time. We help naturally develop his speech and thought.
Watching TV should only be a special occasion and it’s a good idea to help him grasp what he has just seen though a discussion afterwards.
The power of fairy-tales
A child is able to perceive short fairy tales and stories at around two years. All children like repetition, so we should let him hear a story several times before introducing him to a new one.
The best thing to do is tell a story by memory so we can shorten it if we have to.
When a child listens to a story, he identifies with the main characters and experiences all their adventures. In his fantasy world he tries out courage, endurance, loyalty and love for the good – basically all that he will later need. These intense and deep experiences fulfill his psychological needs and help develop his personality. Children that do not experience this may later try to fulfill these needs with inappropriate means, such as drugs of other adrenaline experiences.
While our delivery of the story may not be as professional as the ones we hear on CDs, it can be more emotionally charged.
There is no other narrative genre that has such a positive and intensive impact on children as fairy tales do.
In order for a child’s speech to be properly developing, it’s important to create a loving environment in which he hears proper speech. We shouldn’t forget to sing and rhyme with our child, help him recognize and name people and objects in his environment, look at books, show pictures…
…and during all that: talk, talk, talk…