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.
“Do you have an ‘owie’?”
“Put that down! That’s ‘yucky’.”
“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.