Learning to talk and express themselves is one of the most critical skills that children will develop. As parents we can help them develop this critical skill.
Here are some tips on what we can do to help children under the age of 2 (babies and toddlers).
- Talk to your child from the time he is born. Even infants learn from us and the more they hear verbal expressions, the more they get used to them.
- Describe everyday activities to your baby. For example, "I am folding your shirt", "I am cutting cauliflower for our lunch". This helps him understand different words and the various things that you do.
- Point out different objects and name them. Use descriptive language (colours, sizes etc.). For example, say "This red bucket contains warm water for your bath". This also helps her understand the words used for various things and activities.
- Respond to the sounds your baby makes like "aaa", "daa" etc., These responses show them how conversations take place.
- When your baby is making sounds, look at her and make eye contact. Keep the eye contact when responding. This helps her realise that you are listening to her.
- Do use baby talk with your baby. But do not ignore using natural language. He needs to learn the rhythms of natural language also.
- Sing nursery rhymes or other children's songs to your child. She will learn the rhythms of music also.
- Use varying tones when talking to your baby. When you are asking a question, use a certain tone. When you telling her something use a different tone. When you are just cuddling with her, use a different tone. It helps the baby learn intonations and helps her identify the context of speech of the words spoken to them.
- Use hand gestures to augment the words. For example, wave your hand when saying goodbye, clap your hands when saying clap, repeatedly move your hands towards your chest when asking him to come near you etc. This helps him learn non-verbal cues.
- Use your baby's name a lot and point towards her. Similarly, name yourself (Papa or Amma etc.,) and point towards yourself when doing so. Use these names often in a conversation.
- Use complete sentences whenever you talk to your child.
Different children develop verbal abilities at different times. Every child is unique. Verbal development cannot be forced. These tips can help them develop this skill by providing an enabling environment. If you feel that your child is falling behind in verbal development, talk to your paediatrician. Sometimes, delayed verbal skill development may point to a different problem.