Talk, talk, talk with your babies/kids

Two incredibly powerful predictors of a child’s future intellectual (and probably emotional) success are: 1) the number of words her/his parents spoke to her/him while growing up; and, 2) the ratio of positive to critical statements from her/his parents.

So this article is no news, but it’s a valuable reminder of parents' responsibility to talk to their babies and engage with their young children and a warning not to let high-tech gadgets (cellphones, iPods, etc.) disrupt parent-child communication, which is essential to children’s intellectual and emotional growth:

Ms. Jacoby’s general advice to parents: “Reward your little one’s communicative attempts with your heightened attention to his/her conversation. Be prepared to put down your cellphone and look them squarely in the eye as they share their thoughts with you.”

Communication begins as soon as a baby is born. The way you touch, hold, look at and talk to babies help them learn your language, and the different ways babies cry help you learn their language — “I’m wet,” “I’m hungry,” “I’m tired,” “I hurt,” “I’m overwhelmed” and so forth.

“Talk to your baby whenever you have the chance,” the American Medical Association advises parents. “Even though he doesn’t understand what you’re saying, your calm, reassuring voice is what he needs to feel safe. Always respond to your newborn’s cries — he cannot be spoiled with too much attention.”

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association urges parents to reinforce communication efforts by looking at the baby and imitating vocalizations, laughter and facial expressions.

“Talk while you are doing things,” the association suggests. “Talk about where you are going, what you will do once you get there, and who and what you’ll see.”

You might say things like, “Now we’re going to put on your socks,” “We’re going in the car to see Grandma,” or, “When we get to the playground, I’ll push you on the swing.”

Posted by James on Tuesday, September 29, 2009