Many parents and adults speak gibberish to toddlers because they believe that their brains are still too young little to comprehend ‘adult speak’ but child psychologists from all around the world are saying that this is wrong.
A study carried out in 2013 by Adriana Weisleder and Anne Ferald, and published in the November issue of Psychological Science revealed that the more parents speak to their infants, the better they get an understanding speech and learning words.
The subject has been explored several times after that, and the psychologists are saying that parents must learn how to start speaking to toddlers as though they were talking to adults and ditch the idea of speaking gibberish to them.
Here are ten reasons they gave for this:
#1. Standard Language is Easier for Your Toddler to Understand:
Your child’s brain is learning a lot and trying to grasp and learn how to use linguistic rules, norms, and sounds of their native language. They can learn all of that when you speak the standard language to them and not when you go “bra bag a gag a tata dada.”
Gibberish is virtually useless to your child so why speak it to them in the first place, why not just use standard language which is easy and useful to them?
#2. It Helps Your Toddler Develop Good Language Skills Early:
Your child is not going to be communicating with those nonsensical sounds as they grow, they are going to need to learn vocabulary, syntax and other components of grammar in order to communicate and even though we underestimate them a lot, young brains are mighty when it comes to language learning – they pick up things very fast.
So the more you use proper language and vocabularies to communicate with them, the faster they would develop the appropriate language skills they need as and when they grow.
#3. It Helps Them Learn Social Norms:
Your child gets to learn how to speak to other children from a young so when you switch to gibberish from standard language when you are talking to children; you’re essentially making your child lose out on the opportunity to learn how to participate in a normal conversation.
#4. It Makes Your Child Feel Important:
Your child already feels physically small compared to the adults around them (this is especially true for toddlers with older siblings). So when you speak to others normally, and you turn to them and start speaking less intelligently because you think they are not (of which most toddlers are more intelligent than we give them credit for), it may affect their self-esteem and make them feel like they are less important or unintelligent.
#5. It Teaches Your Child to Develop Problem Solving Skills:
If for instance, your child stumbles on something and gets hurt, and you start speaking gibberish to them, it doesn’t teach them how to avoid getting into that situation. But with explicit language, you can show them to watch where they are going next time or to avoid passing through a problematic route and go through a much safer route next time.
You may think that your toddler doesn’t understand what you’re saying, but research has shown that toddlers develop comprehension skills earlier than they develop speech and language skills so your toddler understands what you teach even though they may not be able to respond to you as intelligently.
#6. It Helps Them Develop Emotional Literacy: Speaking like an adult to your kids help them understand how to identify and understand their feelings.
One of the practical ways to teach your child how to control their emotions is to teach them how to recognize and label them.
You should teach your child how to say what they are feeling instead of throwing tantrums, acting out, and kicking things. Speaking gibberish to your child is not going to teach them the right words to use when they need to express their feelings.
#7. It Helps Them Practice Normal Conversation: When you speak normally to your child, and they speak back to you normally, you are helping them learn how to hold intelligent conversations and express themselves. This skill will go a long way in helping to shape up their academic performance.
#8. It Encourages Your Child to Ask Questions:
Again, when you speak to your child intelligently, there are a lot of things that your child may not understand and they’ll be encouraged to ask you what it means because they know that you’ll answer them and satisfy their curious young minds and not just give them some unintelligent reply because you think they are too young to understand.
Responding to your child’s questions intelligently helps them expand their knowledge base and inspires curiosity as they will always feel free to ask you about things that they do not understand.
#9. It Teaches Them Respect:
You teach your child respect through communication, but you’ll be creating segregation by being condescending towards children when you speak gibberish to them and speaking normally and respectful to adults.
You are not teaching your child that respect must give given to everybody regardless of their ages and status rather you’re indirectly telling your child that it’s okay to be disrespectful towards fellow children and respect is best reserved for adults.
Communicating with everyone the same way, whether they are adults or toddlers, teaches your child to respect everyone and treat them the same way.
#10. It Teaches Them the Right Social Skills:
Children are not born with social skills, they have to learn them and who better teach them if not their parents?
From a child’s first day on earth, they start learning positive body language, the tone of voice, eye contact, turn taking in conversation, empathy, and even conflict resolution.
The way you speak to your child sets the standard for how your child will speak to others and the social skills that they would imbibe- it’s called the parrot effect.
Children mirror their parent’s social skills most of the time so when you speak to your child in actual language, they get to learn all of the social skills that they need to get by in life.