Sunday, January 4, 2009

Vocabulary Building

Around these here parts, we speak to our children... a lot. I realize in times long ago children were "seen and not heard" - and they were dressed like little adults, so we can assume they were expected to behave themselves accordingly. However, being a wee bit more modern, and having a smidgen of education about the developmental needs of children, we decided when we embarked on this journey we call parenthood that we would treat our children in ways that met their needs. One of the basic needs is human interaction: talking, playing, smiling, cooing, touching.

Verbal interactions are meant to shape the infant into an oral communicator, but we always liked to add in baby sign language during the months before Baby could be expected to speak. In our experience, this reduced screaming and pointing to a minimum, and we all knew what Baby was asking for. Ergo, we could better meet Baby's needs. [insert smug smile here]

Eventually, Baby grows into Toddler, and speech develops. Not long after speech appears, Toddler begins stringing words together. Now we're talkin'! Those words increased, and soon Toddler began putting more of them together until she was speaking in precious sentences. We began to have conversations with our 2-year-old. Conversations that, while simplistic in nature at first, morphed into complex communications tools. For example, what started as "wahee" (translation: water) became "want wahtah inna cup" (translation: I want some water in a cup). And what was once "waaaaa waaaaa Mommy waaaa" is now "Me sitta Mommy lap." We are thrilled!

Now, don't get me wrong, there are times when I really want to say, "could you stop talking to me? Just for a few minutes? Or an hour?" But, being a Modern Mother, I realize the long-term, lasting effects on my child were I to react in this manner, so I pride myself on only saying things so nasty when I am at my wits' end. Hmmm... now that I think about it, that may not be a good plan, huh?

Oh, well, the point I am making here is that the vocabulary of a child builds over time and it begins in infancy. If we are really lucky, by the time they are five, they will have found someone else to talk incessantly to. Oh, the joys of parenting young children!

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