Talking to your child and using lots of animated facial expressions are important for your child’s language development!
Believe me, hearing the sweet voice of your child say “Ma Ma” or “Da Da” is one of those moments you always remember. Later, I can remember thinking….”Maybe I should change my name, I am tired of hearing “MO-OMMMM!” Suddenly it was a two syllable word that rocked the house! Now, I love hearing “Mom” when I get that phone call or one of the kids bursts through the door for a visit! The fact is, language development in your child is exciting and fun, and early development is important. Studies show us that the number of words your child hears is proportionate to the size of his or her vocabulary that is developed. This is through direct spoken words to your child, through conversation or reading, not words heard from the TV or radio, or conversations around your child. Some experts tell us that a parent should be saying 30,000 words per day to their child. Wow, that is a lot of talking! Now I tell you this as a fun fact, not to have you tally mark each word you say to your child! I don’t want to add another task to your day, or worry to your list! The 30,000 per day number does send the message home though that talk is important, and as parents we have to work at talking and reading to our children! In this age of TV, computers, I-Pods and I-Pads, and smart phones; sometimes the spoken word and art of conversation is lost. As a parent we need to bring that art of truly talking with our children back!
What can we do to foster language development in our children?
- Talk to your child! When your infant is looking at you or an object…talk to your child! When your child coos, coo back…this is the start of the art of conversing. Describe what your baby is seeing. Talk about what you are doing during the day. Read stories and talk about the pictures in board books. Studies show that children that hear 30,000 words a day from birth to age 3 have better language skills at 3 but also have an academic edge still in 3rd grade…no matter the socioeconomic level! TALK A LOT TO YOUR CHILD! It can be the great equalizer for academic success!
- Repeat. This helps a child link sound and the meaning of words. By the time a child is about 1, they have most of the sounds that put words together, they just don’t have the words! Repetition helps a child put those sounds into words.
- Always respond to any sound your child makes. When your baby coos, talk back. When your child squeals with a favorite toy, talk about how much your child likes that special toy. When your child babbles and reaches for an item, say what the item is before you give it to your child.
- Play taking turn games. This teaches conversation! Blow on your baby’s tummy and wait for his response. Repeat it again. Play peek-a-boo and other games that encourage taking turns in conversation…cause and effect.
- Eye contact. Your child needs to see your face when you are talking. This helps your child see how the words are formed by watching your mouth. Your smiles, facial expressions and encouragement gives your child positive reinforcement for their attempts in communicating.
- “Motherese” is good! The high-pitched sing-song voice most moms use to talk to their baby is good! Babies like the pitch of this type of talk and the slow pace helps them understand better. Teach Dad how to do it! It tends to come more naturally to Moms.
- Give your child the opportunity to talk. Don’t anticipate every need, allow your child to point and make attempts to ask for what he or she wants.
- Narrate your day. Talk to your baby as you change a diaper, give a bath, cook a meal. Describe what you are doing and what your child is doing.
- Expand your child’s communication. When your child says “dog”, you can say “Yes that is a dog! It is a brown dog!”
- Read. Reading is a great opportunity to engage with your child. Your child will learn more words and will develop a love of books. Hearing the same book over and over helps to make language connections in your child’s brain.
- Go on field trips! Take your child to the grocery, the post office, on hikes…talk about what you see! Watch your child, and see what he or she is interested in or excited about. Talk about that rock or stick he or she picks up!
- Use music. Music encourages your child to pronounce words and practice putting sentences together. Songs also help children remember things…I still can’t put things in alphabetical order without singing my A B C’s! 🙂
- Play language games. Point and name games like “Where is your nose?” “This is Mommy’s toes, where are your toes?” Helps your child become
- aware of himself and make language connections, plus it is fun!
- Don’t worry but refer early. There is a wide range of normal with speech development. Don’t obsess and worry over your child’s development of speech. Every day work on providing the opportunities to allow your child’s speech to develop. If you have questions or concerns, the earlier you refer for evaluation, the easier most speech delays can be handled.
Language Milestones from The American Speech – Language – Hearing Association
- Baby will startle to sound
- Quiets or smiles when you speak to him
- Recognizes your voice
- Smiles at you
- Babbles and uses sounds with p, b and m
- Makes excitement sounds and unhappy sounds
- Makes gurgling sounds
- Likes music
7 Months – 1 Year
- Likes “peek-a-boo”, “patty cake”, “soo big!”
- Uses “speech” not crying to sometimes get your attention.
- Uses gestures like pointing, putting arms up, waving.
- Recognizes words that you say like “cup” and other common words.
- Starts to follow 1 step directions.
- About the first birthday will have about 2 or 3 words like ball, ma ma, da da, dog.
1 Year – 2 Year
- Points to pictures in a book when named.
- Knows animal sounds.
- Points to a few body parts when asked.
- Can say a two word question or sentence by age 2.
- Vocabulary expanding every month.
2 Year – 3 Year
- Follows two step directions.
- Has a word for almost everything.
- Is understood most of the time by those with him often.
- Speaks in 2 to 3 word sentences.
- Starting to understand concepts like big and little, up and down, in and on.
When do you refer?
- A baby who doesn’t respond to sound or who doesn’t make vocal sound.
- A child who does not point, or wave “bye bye” at 12 months.
- A child at 18 months that uses gestures over words to communicate.
- A child at age 2 or older that only imitates speech and does not speak spontaneously.
- A child at age 2 who can’t follow simple 1 or 2 step directions.
- A child at age 2 who parents are unable to understand at least 1/2 of the child’s speech, or a 3 year old child that a parent cannot understand 3/4 of the child’s speech.
- A 4 year old child who is not understandable by others.
- Don’t sit and worry….refer early. Most speech referrals are made between 15 months and 2 years of age.
Remember, infants, toddlers, and preschoolers are like little language sponges. Talk, talk, talk, and turn that TV off! Your child will soon be yelling “MO-OMMMMM!”….be careful what you wish for!! 🙂
Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.
Parents must be sure that their child’s car seat is being used correctly…we all have precious cargo!
I read an article this week that really shocked me. There was a study where 22,000 children in car seats were randomly checked at gas stations. Only 3 percent of children between the age of 1 and 3 were in a properly installed backward facing car seat. Only 10 percent of 8 to 10-year-old children were in a properly installed booster seat or car seat! That is such a scary thought since car accidents are the leading cause of death for children. But to be honest, car seats are not easy to install correctly! The manuals are long and sometimes confusing, there are different recommendations by auto manufacturers, and I know the installation of a car seat has caused many an argument between Moms and Dads!
The newest recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics state that until at least age 2 your child should sit in a rear facing seat and preferably a child should be rear facing until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by the car seat manufacturer (that means your child most likely will be older than age 2 and still rear facing). Children over the age of 2 can sit in a front facing seat with a 5 point harness until their weight and height exceeds the car seat’s recommendation for the seat. A booster seat should be used until a child is 57 inches tall, which is the average height of an 11-year-old (wow…bet you didn’t realize that!) No child should sit in the front seat until age 13!
Types of car seats:
- Rear facing only
This seat is used for infants up to 22 to 40 pounds depending on the seat. They are small and have handles to carry the seat. Some have a base that can be left in the car.
- Convertible seats that can be used for rear facing
These seats can be used rear facing and then “converted” to forward facing when your child is older. They are bigger than infant seats and do not have handles or a separate base. They often have a higher rear facing weight and height limits which is great for larger babies. They should have a 5 point harness.
- 3 in 1 seats
These seats can be used rear facing, forward facing and as a booster. They may be used longer by your child. (But remember every seat has an expiration date…about 5-6 years)
Installation for rear facing
- The shoulder straps should be at or below your baby’s shoulders.
- The straps should be snug (you shouldn’t be able to pinch any slack) and the chest clip should be at the nipple line.
- The seat should be tight in the car. You should not be able to move it more than an inch side to side or front to back.
- Never put a rear facing seat in the front seat of a car!
- Make sure the seat is at the correct angle so your baby’s head does not flop down. Many seats have an angle indicator or adjusters that can help with this.
- I recommend having a certified car seat technician help install the car seat. This will help with the many questions parents have and may even prevent Mom and Dad from having an argument! 🙂 Check out this website for information on locations of car seat technicians in your area. http://www.nhtsa.gov/cps/cpsfitting/index.cfm
Common questions about rear facing infants
- What if my child’s feet touch the back of the car seat?
No problem…your baby will cross his legs and find a comfortable position. There are few reports of leg injuries from a crash with a baby in this position, but a leg injury is a much less severe injury than a head and neck injury which you are helping to prevent by keeping your child backward facing until age 2 or older.
- What do I do if my baby is slouching in the seat?
You may put blanket rolls on both sides of your baby and a small cloth diaper or blanket between the crotch strap and your baby for a while until your baby grows a bit. Do not ever put padding or blankets or anything behind your baby or add any car seat insert unless it came with the seat or was made by the manufacturer of the car seat. Any additions to a seat may make it work a bit differently and provide less protection for your baby!
- What do I do about winter coats?
Remember that thick winter coats, blankets, or clothing should not be put under the car seat harness or straps. Dress your baby in thin layers and then tuck a blanket around your baby over the harness straps if necessary.
Installation of forward facing seats
- Always know the restrictions of your model. Know the maximum weight and height limits for your seat!
- The shoulder straps should be in the slots that are at or above your child’s shoulders. (This is the opposite from the rear facing position)
- You may need to adjust the angle of the seat when you turn it to forward facing, check your car seat manual.
- Choose to use the LATCH system if your car or van has it OR the seat belt. Do not use both. Check your car or van manual and your car seat manual for proper installation with the LATCH or seat belt. Latch does have a weight limit of 65 lbs total, meaning the weight of the car seat plus your child. If the car seat and your child together weighs over 65 lbs, then you must use the seat belt to secure the seat.
- Use a tether strap. This is a strap that attaches to the top of the seat. It is often on the seat back of the car or van. This gives extra protection by not allowing the car seat and your child’s head to move too far forward in a crash. All vehicles manufactured from 2000 on have them. Check the weight limit for the use of the tether anchor.
Common questions about forward facing car seats.
- Where is the safest spot for the car seat in the back?
The safest spot is where the seat can be installed properly, it is convenient for you to use safely every time. Some LATCH systems are only on the sides of the back seat. Some car seats only fit well in the middle. It depends on your car seat, your vehicle and the number of children you have on where is best for the car seat!
- Should we use a car seat on a plane?
Most infant and convertible car seats can be used on planes. The seat must have a FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) approval label on it. The FAA and the AAP recommend that children use car seats when flying until age 4. This keeps your child safer during takeoff and landing and in turbulence.
So much information…but so important to keep your child safe. We will continue the conversation over the next few days with more tips. What car seat do you use? Why do you like it?
Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.
The reward of choice at our house during potty training… one M&M for peeing, two M&Ms for pooping and Mommy always got some too!
We have talked about when to start potty training, how to “ditch the diapers” and get moving on the process, what to do with some “potty pitfalls” and a technique to help a resistant trainer…now, for the question your toddler will think is the most important…“What do I get when I potty?”
As a parent, we quickly learn that children respond to reinforcement. We can encourage behavior that we like with reinforcement, and unintentionally, we can encourage behavior we don’t like with reinforcement! Rewards or reinforcement come in many different forms and different ones work for different kids!
The first thing to remember about children is that your attention is the biggest reward or incentive to a child. That attention is so important in your child’s development. This is the important part, attention is attention to a child. Negative attention, lots of yelling, words, emotion and time spent on a negative behavior will probably increase that behavior! So lots of yelling, words, emotion and time spent on potty accidents or pottying resistance will increase that type of behavior. Ignoring or giving very little attention to potty accidents or pottying resistance will decrease that type of behavior.
So let’s talk about some incentives that have worked for toddlers that are working on that huge task of potty training.
- Positive attention. Hugs, words of praise, clapping, high fives, song singing, and yes the potty dance. A little dance celebrating that poop or pee in the potty!
- Stickers. Many children after the age of 2 respond well to stickers and a sticker chart. Let your child pick out stickers at the store and place that sticker on a chart when your child sits on the potty at first, and then later as they go poop or pee. Some children prefer to “wear” their sticker, or even get to wear one and place one on the chart too.
- Treats. M & Ms were the treat of choice in my house with potty training. As I have said, I used them to reward myself too for the success! Again, you would start out rewarding for sitting on the potty and then eventually for going potty. Other suggestions would be raisins, marshmallows, or any other treat that your child would not receive routinely. Sometimes a jar of these treats placed in plain view is a motivator for children.
- Dye the toilet water. Put a few drops of red or blue food coloring in the water, when your child pees…wow it changes to orange or green! A motivator for learning to pee on the toilet! Also helpful when little boys are learning to aim a bit better. A handful of Cheerios as targets also work.
- Stamps. Some children are more excited about stamps than stickers. Put a stamp on your child’s hand, cheek, tummy, let them decide! The problem may be convincing them to wash them off in the tub!
- Coloring book. Pick out a coloring book together. Every time your child has success, let him color a page.
- Marbles or coins. Every time your child is successful, let him place a marble or coin in a jar. After a certain number of marbles or coins, he gets a prize. This works well for a child that has been progressing in potty training and is trying to go several days without accidents. Not a good choice for the very start when children need an immediate reinforcement every time there is a success.
I know there are other incentives or reinforcements that have worked. The point is, your child has to think the reward has value to him and it must be a reward and not a bribe. A bribe is given before the potty success…a reward is given after a potty success. Always reward, don’t bribe. Rewards that are temporary also seem to be more effective too. The sticker will be taken off, the stamp washes off, the candy is eaten…..this gives incentive to get another!
All of us respond well to positive reinforcement. All of us like to be rewarded. Find one that works for your child and your potty training experience will be a little easier. It might be nice to find one for yourself too….wish they would have had peanut butter M & Ms when I was potty training my kids!
Share a potty training incentive that worked for you and your child!! We all are in this together. 🙂
Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.
The next 6 steps a parent can take to help a child develop that ever important self-confidence!
7. Promote independence
- Let a child explore his or her world freely. Make your home as safe as possible so mobile infants and toddlers can explore safely. Let your child “step away” from you! Take a deep breath and let your child go down that slide or climb those monkey bars! Expose your child to new experiences whenever you can. The more people, places, and experiences the better a child will be able to navigate their world.
- Give your child chores. Toddlers and preschoolers benefit from taking on new responsibilities. School age children and teens need daily responsibilities at home that increase with age. Children that have chores feel a part of the family and needed. This builds their self-confidence.
- Break things into small tasks. Many children will look at a task and simply say “I can’t”. As a parent we can help by breaking things down into very small steps. When learning to tie a shoe, it is much easier if the child practices one part at a time, and then we can encourage and celebrate when that small part is mastered. When an older child comes home with 30 math problems, break those problems down into groups of 5 and then celebrate or take a break after each five. Accomplishing parts of the whole, builds a child’s confidence to tackle large projects and embark on new ones.
- Introduce your child to other adults and encourage them to have loving relationships with these adults. Spending time away from you with grandparents, aunts and uncles, Godparents, and close friends shows your child that others can meet his or her needs too—and that many people love and care for him or her too. This is especially important as your child gets older, he or she may need to look to other trusted adults for advice. Knowing that others care about them and can offer support and advice, builds confidence in decision making. Surround your child with loving adults!
8. Give your child moral guidance
- Instill moral values in your child. Every child and adult will at sometime find themselves in difficult situations, and they will need self-confidence in their values to make difficult decisions. Root your child in their faith and/or family values, this will provide them the confidence they need to make those tough moral decisions.
- Help your child be comfortable with his morals and values well before the teen years. Moral values should be taught at a very young age, and incorporated into daily life. This will help a child to be confident enough in his values to confident to resist peer pressure in those crucial teen years. By age 3 children are beginning to develop empathy and the beginnings of a moral core. By age 7 children have developed a conscience and will have defined right and wrong.
- Raise a caring child. A child who truly cares for others and gives of himself or herself expecting nothing in return develops confidence. As a parent ask yourself if you are a good role model of caring. Do you volunteer in the community? Do you provide opportunities for your family to volunteer together? Do you provide activities that may encourage good deeds like a “caring basket” that children can draw a good deed out of each day? Remember children will model the behavior that is most prominent in a home. Behavior is more influential than words.
9. Give your child a secure home
- Keep your home peaceful and protect your child from adult problems. A child should not witness parents yelling and arguing constantly. Adult problems should be kept adult so a child feels confident in their security at home.
- Consistent loving discipline will help your child feel secure and confident in their behavior. Knowing what is expected and the consequences of misbehavior will help your child feel secure. Discipline should never be scary or demeaning because that type of discipline undermines a child’s confidence. Your child should know that his action was not acceptable not him.
10. Do not attempt to buy your child’s self-confidence.
- Parents need to remember that they cannot make children happy and confident by buying the newest and best. Buying the latest toy, video game or outfit will not make your child more confident with his or her peers. The happiness or confidence will be very short lived, as it is not an internal quality. Raising a confident child means that you have given your child the tools needed to be successful and happy—not bought them.
11. Be a good example to your child.
- You must be aware of how you react to your own mistakes or shortcomings. If your child consistently sees Mom or Dad melting down in frustration, or beating themselves up after mistakes or continual negative words about themselves, then your child will pick up on this reaction. Children learn by your example, and will react similarly when something goes wrong for them. Try to demonstrate positive reactions to frustrating situations, rather than anger or negative self talk.
- Be a “can do” parent. Accept challenges at work and at home in a positive way. Once again, if you negative talk, your child will learn that behavior.
12. Help your child deal with defeats.
- Let your child know that your love and support does not change with a failure or defeat. When a child experiences a failure or defeat, help your child concentrate on the process. What went wrong? What did you learn from it? Your child will use this new knowledge the next time a challenge comes. Your child’s self-confidence will not increase when you protect him or her from disappointments, it will decrease when he or she finally realizes the truth, life can be challenging and not everything is successful.
- Your child’s self-confidence is affected by your thoughts and feelings about him. What you think of your child will result in what your child will think of himself. Children will experience plenty of criticism and adversity in life—that is why a parent’s love and confidence in them is so incredibly important. Watch your words and actions, love your child unconditionally, support your child when he or she fails…help your child regroup and start again.
Self-confidence is more than just a warm and fuzzy term. Studies show that people who have high self-esteem and confidence are more successful in school, get along better with friends, are less influenced by peer pressure, and better handle the difficulties of life. There is no quick fix for confidence. It is built slowly; it starts with a good foundation during infancy, and with ongoing care throughout a child’s life. Hopefully when a child becomes a teen, they have developed enough confidence to stand for the values you instill, and not bend with peer pressure. As an adult, a confident person will be very successful. Starting now, with positive parenting, your child will develop a healthy self-esteem and the confidence they will need in life.
1. Establish trust
- The development of a healthy self-esteem and self-confidence starts at birth. The infant/parent bonding process is so important. How well a parent responds to a child’s needs is what builds a secure attachment and trust in Mom, Dad and the world. Feeding, holding, cuddling gives a child basic trust in the world that helps him feel confident later in life. You cannot spoil an infant!
- As your child gets older, it is important to spend quality time. There should be time spent that is simply fun. With several children, there must be one on one time with each of the children in the family. This does not have to be large amounts of time and expensive outings. This can be as simple as a few minutes each day at bedtime. Your child needs to feel that you like being with him…
- You must accept your child. Every child is different. Some children will be the life of every party or have many friends, other children are more introverted or cautious. This world is a better place because we have many types of personalities. If your child only has a couple of friends, this does not mean that he or she is not confident. This may be just their personality or temperament. Do not compare your children if you have more than one, and do not compare your child to your own personality. Your child must trust that you accept him or her for who they are.
2. Be consistent
- Consistency helps a child feel secure which helps a child concentrate on discovering the world. By simply comforting your baby every time he or she cries and saying goodbye every time you leave your toddler and preschooler you will eventually let your child know that he can trust you. As your child grows, you must continue to parent consistently. There must be consistent rules in the home and consistent consequences. A child feels more secure if there is predictability in the home. Discipline does not break a child’s self-confidence; it helps a child build it. Consistency allows your child to be comfortable enough in his life to embrace challenges.
3. Be a mirror…reflect who your child is back to him.
- Children see themselves through the eyes of others. Parents start this by mirroring a child. When an infant smiles, you smile back. When an infant coos, you coo back. When a toddler draws a picture, you describe it back to him. This shows the child that he is valuable just being himself. Continually telling your child that he or she is great or is nice is positive but not as helpful as mirroring. A parent needs to be more specific. Example: “You have built a great tower using all the square blocks!” “You sat so quietly in church today, I am so proud of you!” This is not empty praise, but constructive praise.
- Praise should be for the process, not necessarily the end result. Some children may fear losing their parent’s love or pride if they don’t hit a home run or get an “A” on a paper, even if their effort has been there. It is not the home run or the “A” but if your child has given their best that deserves the praise. When a parent speaks to effort, anyone can be encouraged. Emphasizing effort and improvement, results in a child who believes that giving his or her best is success. If children give their best, most likely, confidence and success will follow.
4. Teach your child self-love
- Pure and simple, self-love is the basis of self-confidence. Children who are loved and love themselves take more risks, try new things, initiate relationships, and develop confidence. Giving your child lots of hugs, kisses and time alone is a good start for this. You also need to celebrate your child’s accomplishments with specifics. Think before you speak. Even small children are sensitive to your emotions, positive or negative. Concentrate on the behavior. Dealing with a bad behavior by screaming at the child will not make the behavior any better but can erode self-confidence. Take a 10-second time out and then speak.
- Help your child see his strengths. Point out the “specialness” of your child. Do not allow yourself or your child to compare himself or herself to others. Discourage friendships that erode your child’s self-esteem. Do not allow siblings to build themselves up at the expense of their sister or brother. Use the dinner table to focus on successes of your child, and the talents that he or she has. This is a great dinner conversation!
5. Encourage competence
- There is nothing more exciting and gratifying than accepting and meeting a challenge. How great it is after weeks of stumbling and falling when your baby finally walks. There is such a look of pride even in a 15 month old’s eyes as he or she toddles across the floor. There is such excitement the first time a child truly connects a printed word in a book and “reads” it. These accomplishments teach a child that he or she is capable and will result in him or her tackling new challenges rather than backing away. Encourage challenges. Even when a child fails, the fact the challenge was embraced will foster confidence. Encourage challenges that are both in your child’s comfort zone and out. When children succeed in areas that are in their comfort zone, it gives them confidence to try challenges outside of their comfort zone.
6. Foster interests
- It is important that a child have opportunities to explore many areas of possible interest. A parent should honor their child’s interests rather than their own or those they think their child should have. Having the opportunity to discover what a child is good at and having the resources to develop that talent is the basis for self-esteem. In whatever your child is interested in, do not overemphasize perfection. Emphasize the joy of working toward a goal.
- Do not “pigeon hole” your child. Children should be able to experience many things! A child that has tried only one sport, or dance, or musical instrument may miss what his or her true passion is! A person who has passion is confident! Let your child find his or niche!