What’s with Baby Talk?

Ever since having a child, have you noticed an interest in magnifying your choice of words?  It can be so tempting to bequeath the societal and generational “baby words” or expressions and at the same time feel obsessive making the effort to refrain from them. When my tot was nearly 6 months, a chiropractor friend highly recommended that I check into the books and courses developed by The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential, in Pennsylvania.  I reviewed their website and watched the posted YouTube videos of Glenn Doman, the Founder of IAHP.  It was brought to my attention that I could speak to my child with specific and useful words, rather than patronizing infantile language used by adults when in communication with children.

Expressions including:
“Do you have an ‘owey’?”
“Put that down! That’s ‘yucky’.”
“Ewww….that’s ‘icky’!”
“Look at the bow wow.”
are the types of phrases that would be considered laughable and patronizing if used in communication with another adult.  Yet, I vividly recall them being used in my childhood and I still hear overhear such talk being used wherever children are present.  Before you know it,  a child will soon imitate and refer to things as “owey” ,”ewww”, “yucky”, “icky”, etc., etc., until they realize the truth.  They will quickly observe that adults don’t talk this way to each other and that adults only talk this way only to children.  Children realize they are being patronized.  If you were learning a foreign language, it’s doubtful you would first want to be taught baby words, animal sounds and incomplete sentences, before you learned correct and proper vocabulary and sentence structure.

Even if a baby isn’t yet talking, we all know the brain grows the fastest before 5 years of age and they absorb everything. So, teaching a child these types of general phrases and names will eventually compromises effective communication. Secondly, using these types of phrases and words may seem cute or the most effective way to communicate to a non-verbal or newly verbal child, but all it does is disregard their magnificence and demonstrates a parents lack of confidence in a child’s ability to pronounce and understand words such as train (choo choo) or cat (meow meow). Doesn’t it seem that this type of adult initiated conversation does anything but support or guide a child’s ability to learn, practice, express and accurately understand a vast vocabulary, not to mention create a baby talk habit for the parent?

Here are some options to consider:
– Instead of saying, “Oooh, you have an owie!”
Option: “You have an abrasion or contusion or a cut, etc.”
(This one has the most importance. If a child isn’t feeling well and he knows is “owie”, he won’t know how to convey he has an ache, cramp, or contusion.)
– Instead of saying, “That’s icky!”                                                                    Option: “That may have bacteria or pathogens.  Touching that could result in a stomachache.”

– Instead of saying, “Ewww, don’t eat the food you dropped on the dirty ground!  Yucky!!!!”
Option: “Do you see the dirt on the sidewalk?  Please put the food that fell on the sidewalk into trash can.”

Instead of saying:  “Your face is so dirty!  What a messy eater!”
Option: You have some avocado on your chin. Here is your napkin.

Instead of saying:  “Oh, look at the bow wow! What a nice doggie.”
Option: “There is a Golden Retriever (or St. Bernard, Chihuahua, etc.)!” He is really running fast.”

Instead of saying, “More num-num?”
Option: “Would you like more soup?”

Instead of saying, “Here’s your ba-ba.”
Option: “Here is your bottle.”

This is fun and definitely keeps the Mommy brain in creative mode. When noticing the overuse of, “Would you like to help?”,  how about switching to “Would you like to assist?”, then “Would you like to support?”, etc?
The trusty thesaurus can come in handy again, since tots absolutely love learning and find using new words fun and interesting.

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Lessons we Learn by Being Parents

As I watched parents related to their children, it came to me how we as parents learn so much from our children.  Oh the lessons I have within the toddler years of my son’s life.  From the birth of “me not being ready,” till now has been quite the adventure.

Here are a few things that stick out for me and I am sure for other parents too.

1. Our child is a mirror image of us.  I have never seen myself before “act up” until I have seen my son in action.  Really brings me back to seeing how I am being with him and other people, especially when things do not go my way.  How I shifted my behavior is to recognize what my son was doing, then be aware of my actions and the next time things were not going my way, how I acted out the same way as my son.  To pause and recognize what is going one with my son and then with me is a big lesson and tough to do.  What works for me is taking a deep breath and shifting my energy, and choosing other words that are as a matter of fact.  Now I do not do that every time as this is a practice and I am not being an example to my son to deal with tough situations differently.  Another great method is recognizing my behavior toward my son and journal it. This allows me to learn how I can shift to serve my son.

2. Patience.  Having a child challenges me with patience.  Instead of yelling at him, which he NEVER deserves. Learning patience is the healthier choice. If a babysitter is late, and it is my biggest pet peeve if someone is 10 minutes late or more, now I just accept that this is happening, re-manage my schedule and have a talk with the babysitter and if it happens again, I find someone else to watch my son.  When my son spills something, my reaction is “great! would you like to help me clean it up?”  I love being on time and when I am not I usually get really anxious, now if my son is refusing and we are having a time getting him in the car, I go with it and breath, wait a few more minutes and then ask him again if he will get in his seat.  I add respect to him by my tone of voice.

3. My child is me.  This weekend I can see how my unhappiness affects my child.  When my smile is not apparent, then his is not either.  Ouch that hurts.  A parent’s emotional stability completely determines the child’s.  One Mom I know is very calm and articulate and so is her 2 year old son.  Learning to watch my emotional imbalances and how I handle situations; calmly or anxiously or do I break down.  Some times I do all three.  To balance myself as a parent, I sit in a quite place and meditate for 10-30 minutes 4 days a week.  Exercise helps tremendously, I personally choose weight training and tennis.  Then journaling before going to bed works well to get all those childish emotions out.  The trick is during an upset, what do we do as parents so we teach our children who are watching us?  If we remember, we can react then breath, breath again and figure out how we want to handle the situation and even involve our children to help and participate so they can learn.

For example, the other day my son and I get into the car and the car wont start.  We had a full day planned and I freaked out.  Then realizing my son was with me, I made a few phone calls.  Then told him the situation and he asked me to pop the hood and took a look to see if he can fix it.  We ended up making calls the entire morning and went back in the house to eat lunch and hang out a bit then AAA was the last solution and rescheduling my plans for the day was what ended up happening.  It did not matter at the end of the day as I still got quality time with my son and by me handling a situation that is stressful for me, he got to learn that this does not have to be stressful.

Life is about learning and developing, as a parent I am and will always be learning how best to raise my child.  Having children I like to say is a lifetime personal development course as our children are teaching us more about ourselves than we could ever learned if we did not have children.

Music Together: A Most Special Experience to Share with Your Little One

About five years ago, I met my dear friend Dorothy at a conference in Calgary, Canada. She is a Music Together teacher in New Jersey.  Music Together is Music Together is an internationally recognized program that is a beyond words incredible for baby or toddler or young child and their parent (or Grandma or Nanny). The class teaches babies and little children the language of music, from rhythm to tonal patterns and much more. Much in the same way as children learn to speak by being immersed in the language of their culture from the time they are born, so do babies and toddlers learn the language of music by being immersed in the musical learning environment of the Music Together classroom experience which includes tonal and rhythm patterns as the basic building blocks of music among so much more.

When my daughter was about 18 months, Dorothy reminded me that there is an amazing Music Together teacher in my area.  Her name is Judy Woodson and she teaches in Irvine!! When it worked out for my schedule, we enrolled. We have been doing Music Together for almost two years, every Thursday morning for 45 minutes. During class the adults role model by singing and moving to the music. At first the little ones typically watch whats going on in class and then either at home and/or at class, as soon as the music starts to play, baby shows a definite connection to the music through movement!  When I play the CD at home, my tot imitates the unique movements and hand gestures used for the different songs in class. She also adds in her own unique dance moves. I just watch in awe as she is completely in HER joyful musical moment of expression having the best time.  I’ve spontaneously sung the songs at times to ease Little One, make the car ride interactive and introduce a new word or concept. The songs are fun and relate to life. One night I started singing a song on the CD called “Great Big Stars” and pointed to the starry sky and began singing along. Now in the evening she points and says, “stars”.  I shared the star experience with Dorothy and she mentioned how Music Together and these songs will be always special to Isabella and me, similar to a very fond memory that occured as a certain song was playing in the background.  She also told me how musical development and appreciation is similar to language use…starting early and consistency is key. I hope you check out Music Together in your area and post your experience.

Classes in Orange County and Palm Desert, California (Judy Woodson): http://www.southcoastmusictogether.com/

Classes in New Jersey (Dorothy Sikora): http://www.joyofmusic.info/

Main Website: http://www.musictogether.com/

The Detriments of Praise. Good Job!! Good Sharing! Good Climbing! Good Drawing!

After reading a couple of the most impactful parenting books by Alfie Kohn, I became very sensitive to the phrase, “Good Job!”.  The research he presents on the detrimental impact of praise and rewards and how they influence a person socially and emotionally from childhood into adulthood, deeply got my attention. After my journey through his books, I realized that these two words lacked depth and meaning and are mostly said wherever babies and children are present. 
 


When is “Good Job” said to adults? When they show up at the office? When a deadline is met? When they do their taxes on time? When dinner prepared and served? How about, none of the above.  When a tot performs any socially expected behaviors, such as sharing, or “firsts”, such as drawing with their crayons or even stepping down the curb without a stumble, that seems to spark the flow of “Good Job!” for years.
 


After reading Alfie Kohn’s books, Unconditional Parenting and Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A’s, Praise, and Other Bribes, I clearly understood the damage of “Good Job!” and now notice it is said very often.  The over the top enthusiastic, “Good Job!” is exclaimed by parents, grandparents, older siblings and caretakers.  “Good Job!” is like a spotlight on the child and is most frequently said when the child is DOING, not when he is simply BEING his amazing self. What is the outcome of this? Overtime those overused words also shifts the motivation for why a child chooses to do an activity or contribute. Whether it is exclaimed for positive reinforcement or a very brief acknowledgement of the child’s ‘accomplishment”, the research reveals that the child will be motivated to get more remarks of approval and seek to do things in order to hear those two words from their beloved parents. The child becomes very addicted to hearing the praise of “Good Job!” and eventually looks to the parent to acknowledge his every action.
 
We all want to see our child simply share because he feels the desire ann compassion, rather than share because an adult is near to witness and offer the comment “Good Sharing!”.  Over the years, if he becomes accustomed to being told “Good Job” and he isn’t told that every successive times he rides his bike without training wheels, he’ll eventually wonder why or look to the next thing he does that warrant a “Good Job!” from Mom and Dad.  I still remember hearing these words when I was a child and clearly recall how amazing and approved of that I felt when I heard them.  


 
Studies that Alfie Kohn cites in his books reveal that stating the facts is an acknowledgement that creates connection, alternatively praise creates children who are addicted to and motivated by praise and approval. Alfie Kohn provides acknowledgement examples  in his books. For instance, instead of an evaluating statement such as “Good Job” or “beautiful painting!”, the alternative could be “You did it!” or “I see you chose to draw a purple flower and you added a big yellow sun. I love watching you have fun!”.  
 


For more information on the detrimental impact of praise and rewards, read Unconditional Parenting and Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A’s, Praise, and Other Bribes. Both books are authored by Alfie Kohn. 




The Baby Talk Dilemma

Ever since having a child, have you noticed an interest in magnifying your choice of words?  It can be so tempting to bequeath the societal and generational “baby words” or expressions and at the same time feel obsessive making the effort to refrain from them.  When my tot was nearly 6 months, a chiropractor friend highly recommended that I check into the books and courses developed by The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential, in Pennsylvania.  I reviewed their website and watched the posted YouTube videos of Glenn Doman, the Founder of IAHP.  It was brought to my attention that I could speak to my child with specific and useful words, rather than patronizing infantile language used by adults when in communication with children.

Expressions including:
“Do you have an ‘owie’?”
“Put that down! That’s ‘yucky’.”
“Ewww….that’s ‘icky’!”
“Look at the bow wow.”
are the types of phrases that would be considered laughable and patronizing if used in communication with another adult.  Yet, I vividly recall them being used in my childhood and I still hear overhear such talk being used wherever children are present.  Before you know it,  a child will soon imitate and refer to things as “owey” ,”ewww”, “yucky”, “icky”, etc., etc., until they realize the truth.  They will quickly observe that adults don’t talk this way to each other and that adults only talk this way only to children.  Children realize they are being patronized.  If you were learning a foreign language, it’s doubtful you would first want to be taught baby words, animal sounds and incomplete sentences, before you learned correct and proper vocabulary and sentence structure.

Even if a baby isn’t yet talking, we all know the brain grows the fastest before 5 years of age and they absorb everything. So, teaching a child these types of general phrases and names will eventually compromises effective communication. Secondly, using these types of phrases and words may seem cute or the most effective way to communicate to a non-verbal or newly verbal child, but all it does is disregard their magnificence and demonstrates a parents lack of confidence in a child’s ability to pronounce and understand words such as train (choo choo) or cat (meow meow). Doesn’t it seem that this type of adult initiated conversation does anything but support or guide a child’s ability to learn, practice, express and accurately understand a vast vocabulary, not to mention create a baby talk habit for the parent?

Here are some options to consider:
– Instead of saying, “Oooh, you have an owie!”
Option: “You have an abrasion or contusion or etc.”
(This one has the most importance. If a child isn’t feeling well and he knows is “owie”, he won’t know how to convey he has an ache, cramp, or contusion.)
– Instead of saying, “That’s icky!” Option: “That may have bacteria or pathogens.  Touching that could result in a stomachache.”
– Instead of saying, “Ewww, don’t eat the food you dropped on the dirty ground!  Yucky!!!!”
Option: “Do you see the dirt on the sidewalk?  Please put the food that fell on the sidewalk into trash can.”
– Instead of saying:  “Your face is so dirty!  What a messy eater!”
Option: You have some avocado on your chin. Here is your napkin.
– Instead of saying:  “Oh, look at the bow wow! What a nice doggie.”
Option: “There is a Golden Retriever (or St. Bernard, Chihuahua, etc.)!” He is really running fast.”
– Instead of saying, “More num-num?”
Option: “Would you like more soup?”
– Instead of saying, “Here’s your ba-ba.”
Option: “Here is your bottle.”

Also, when noticing the overuse and repetition of words and phrases such as, “Would you like to help?”,  how about switching to “Would you like to assist?”, and then on to “Would you like to support?”, etc?  This is fun and definitely keeps the mommy brain in creative mode.  The trusty thesaurus can come in handy again, since tots absolutely love learning and find new words attention grabbing, amusing and interesting.

The Real Problem with Cell Phones, iPads and Laptops

Did you know that if you are holding your cell phone with one hand and holding your child in your arms or touching their hand, the radiation does travel through your body and directly impacts your child’s developing body?  We have to remember to have no babes in arms, when on the phone.  Yes, in this day and age we have to be mindful to protect our tots processed GMO filled food, tap water,  and something that many people don’t realize is harmful……Electromagnetic Pollution.  If parents did know the harm, then the hurried mom I saw in the crafts store would not have handed the cell phone to her 7 year old to handle the call.

There was a mom in one of my mommy groups that was asking about this topic, because her husband is a computer programmer and they have lots of electronics in their home. Her concern is that her spouse doesn’t believe all of the laptops, iPads, and computers are harmful to their toddler and young child. He wants concrete studies. I found it so interesting that someone whose business requires constant exposure to electronics and wifi, had no idea of the impact to the body on a cellular level and is even skeptical of the imposed effects.

Have you heard of Dr. George Carlo? Many years ago he was hired by the cell phone industry to study the health risks of cell phones. His findings were unfavorable to the industry, so a gag ordered was placed on him to keep quiet and his life was even threatened. While in hiding, he wrote a book called “Invisible Hazards of the Wireless Age: An Insider’s Alarming Discoveries About Brain Cancer And Genetic Damage”. In the book is incredible documentation of studies from his research along with thermography photos of the cell phone impact on an adult and a child. The radiation and electro-magnetic frequency is very intense on an adult and you can only imagine how much greater the EMF penetration is on a child, with their developing brain and body. Gratefully I attended a lecture of his about 6 years ago and heard him speak on his research and findings. He spoke of a woman who had developed a brain tumor and the location of the tumor was in the same exact area that her cell phone antenna was at her head when on the phone. The tumor even mimicked the shape of the antenna. It was brought to the attention of phone manufacturer and some news leaked, but not much was reported by the media. Another speaker at the same conference shared that the bombardment from cell phones, computers, hotspots and electronic environment in general can absolutely contribute to or heighten the symptoms of what people call ADHD and even autism.  Also, it lowers the immune system of adults and especially children.

Any pregnant woman can protect herself and unborn child by using a corded headset for the cell phone and landline (if cordless) or speaker phone. The phone should be kept a minimum of an adults arm length away from the body…the farther away the better, especially for iPhones. A tot should never play with the cell phone (‘airplane mode’ will heavily diminish the bombardment). Also, a tot should never touch a laptop, even with EMF blocking stickers/chips. The entire keyboard is right above the electronics and the area above the hard drive puts out the highest frequency. When your older child is on the laptop, make sure to set up a corded keyboard so the child is not touching the laptop or sitting close to it. The same goes for IPads amd Kindles unless they are on airplane mode. When the iPad is playing music or loading a webpage the bombardment is high. If you want to see the impact of your electronics and the hotspots in your home, consider purchasing a Trifield Meter. They start at about $160.00.

I am sure after reading this, you will be highly aware of the harmful impact of your tot playing with your iPhone or computer to play their games. Let’s share this awareness with others.  It’s time adults and children keep a safe distance from cell phones.

(CIO) Cry It Out = Compassion Intentionally Obscured

(CIO) Cry It Out = Compassion Intentionally Obscured

Quite a few parents share they let their child “cry it out”, even on Facebook.  We felt moved to write this for all of the parents who have an off feeling about doing this and yes there is another way.

Compassion is Intentionally Obscured (CIO) when leaving a little infant or child behind closed doors to cry alone. Would an adult ignore another family member who is intensely or hysterically crying? When someone ignores anyone, especially a crying child, they are ignoring their heart.  To ignore another isn’t in our nature. We are born compassionate.

Alfie Kohn, Author of Unconditional Parenting cites a study, where the heart rate of infants increased the highest, not as a result of a startling noise, but when they heard another baby cry. Ignoring the pain of another is choice of disconnecting from the heart and a choice to suppress compassion that only an adult with reasoning capacity is capable of doing no matter how far fetched their justification for disregarding any soul.  Why does our society condone an overt lack of compassion expressed toward a pure and innocent child who clearly is frightened or uncomfortable and simply desires to be near his parents, held and comforted, when it becomes dark and the family goes to sleep?

Jean Liedhoff, author of the Continuum Concept, talks about tribes in the jungle where adults and children know they are ALWAYS welcome and wanted. Why does the “civilized” western world think it’s okay to shun an infant or small child, a pure blessing from our creator?  Parents who condone ignoring their child’s cries, because they have read that a child is “learning to self-soothe”, must wake up and realize that is complete nonsense.  Anyone, especially a child whose cries of fear and distress are met with no response, eventually shuts down or feels insignificant and insecure.  This is traumatic for a little child whose only figures of love and care have intentionally ignored his need for comfort and closeness.

In addition to the psychological trauma, how about the physical harm?   Dr. Sears writes, “The blood pressure goes up. The pressure gets so high, new blood with oxygen can’t flow into the brain. So the brain can be deprived of oxygen.  And that’s not all. It gets worse. The brain can be flooded with stress hormones, and we know that stress hormones can damage sensitive developing nerve tissue. So, night after night, weeks and weeks of crying can actually harm a baby’s brain.”

We say we want a world of love, peace, contribution and compassion. If this desire is really true we must start with our children and be their rock of everlasting compassion, otherwise the cycle of indifference, cruelty and disregard for life on earth will continue to be tolerated and familiar.

Our hearts deepest compassion goes out to parents, children, our children’s children.  We credit Jean Leidhoff as the inspirations for this article.