Do You TALK With Your Baby?

My daughter, almost 3 years old at the time of this writing, started to talk when she was about 16 months. Initially with words, after a few weeks with phrases and now complete sentences and sometimes paragraphs.

A few weeks ago, I had a fortuitous conversation with another mother of an almost 3-year old toddler. We zeroed in on the topic of speech because her daughter is still not able to speak a 3-word-sentence, which was the proficiency at 3. She went to a speech therapist and lo and behold, there was some 200 other kids waitlisted for the speech therapy sessions. She called other speech therapists within and near her vicinity and, found it very difficult to schedule a session.

Apparently, many other toddlers are “delayed” speech-wise. Don’t get me wrong, I am sure this does not predict future success or anything like that. but I also feel for the other parents who, at this point, have not been showered with this particular joy of conversing with and hearing his/her baby chatter.

Here, I would like to share some of the things that we practiced and still do at home. Maybe, these would help you, too, in your parenting journey.

Disclaimer: Not saying these are the only contributors to my baby’s early hold on language. I also give credit to her own abilities and unique God-given gifts plus those she inherited from me, her dad, her grandparents and so on, you get what I mean. I know that all cases are unique.

Here are our four practices. It can be represented by these four letters – T.A.L.K.

Talk

I know we, parents and people in general, often think that babies and toddlers do not understand us, so why even bother, right?

Wrong!

More and more, research findings today point us to the possibility that babies do not come to us in tabula rasa state. Memories (along with features and other genetic factors) are embedded in their DNA.

Since my daughter was born, we started talking to her. And I am talking about talk that is ironed out sentences – as if talking to another adult, albeit, a bit more animated and with all the cheerfulness that we can afford.

I learned this from my parents. They also taught us the value of communications early in life. In particular, to keep an open line of communications. I think that was what got us through our teenage years sane and responsible. Talking to my daughter is an early action to achieving this goal. Talk.

Attend

Be attentive to their reactions. Take note of your observations and try to see if patterns will emerge. As I was deep in thought on these matters, my brother, Francis and sister-in-law, An (both officemates and I hope I can say this soon, fellow bloggers) shared this link with me.

Oprah Baby Language

I invite you to view this link, too, and share your thoughts in the comments section below.

As for me, I observed the same from my baby. Perhaps, babies really do have a language. I remember leaving notes back home for my parents to reference when I returned to work. It included the types of cry and what they meant. It made it phenomenally easier to tell whether it’s milk or diaper or so. That’s one huge parenting stressor addressed! Attend.

Listen

How many times I observed parents doing a monologue in grocery stores or while waiting for a well-baby check-up. No, they were not alone nor were they crazy. They were talking to their babies or toddlers. What happens is this – they dish out instructions and turn their back on the other person. The other person being the baby/toddler.

As a person and HR practitioner, I am sure this is not the proper way to ‘communicate’. I am sure you will agree. So, why are so many of us doing this? Perhaps because this was easier, faster and makes us, parents, seem more powerful. But parenting is not about easy, not about fast and definitely, not about power.

Let’s try to exercise diligence in this area, as many times as we could.

One time, several months ago, I was sooo tired and my baby spilt food. Of course, I had to clean it up. As I did, she was also putting in her little hands here and there, which created more mess. That did it. I raised my voice and said, “Stop it! What are you doing? Can’t you see I’m trying to clean up. What are you doing?” I looked at her. Her tears started to flow, her lips shaking, “but mom, I’m trying to help you.” I stopped what I was doing and hugged her. My heart just melted, I felt guilty, too. Even now and every time I recall that, I feel something not quite describable.

This was when I sealed the idea in my head. They have their own point of view even as little people. They deserve to be listened to. Listen.

Keep Your Word

This is the last in this blog, and is most important. I think and feel that if we all did this, the next generation will greatly improve in terms of integrity and authenticity (which is also a new buzz word in business).

How many of you are familiar with this phrase, “parang kagat lang ng langgam yan” of injections? Of course, that is not accurate, right?

My daughter cries at the sight of a. hospital and b. doctor. I am ok with it, she will outgrow that. One time, her pedia’s wife and secretary suggested for us to just tell her this, “pupunta tayo Jollibee” when going to the hospital. I told her my practice. Which is to tell my daughter at least a day in advance 1. where we are going the next day or so, 2. what we will do there, and 3. what to expect. These are all based on reality. And my daughters pedia agreed that this was the right thing to do – to tell the truth. (An update and more on this in The Doctor Is In: Not-A-Surprise-Booster-Shot)

If I told her, later, then later it is. If I promised a surprise, she is getting a surprise. Simply, whatever we say, will happen, as long as it is controllable for us.

Keeping your word also helps build a trusting parent-child relationship. It also teaches them the value of honesty early in life. Who wouldn’t want that? Keep your word.

These are some ways in which we practice TALKing with our daughter.

Now, it’s your turn. I am looking forward to hear about your parenting journey or other topics you would like covered. Please drop a note below and we can exchange ideas and best practices.


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About Emile Therese

Emile Therese is a graduate of the University of Philippines in Diliman with a degree in Psychology. She is happily married. She and her husband, Dennis, are blessed with one amazing daughter (and hopefully at least one more child). She believes that values and character ought to be taught as early as possible and that these are key to community and nation building. This was also how she and her siblings were brought up by their two awesome parents! She is a Certified HR Professional who advocates employee engagement in its entirety. Emile believes that true employee engagement rests on the pillars of basic human needs and in ensuring that process and leadership basics are in place - the employee engagement imperatives. She hopes to contribute to making this world a better place for all of us now and the next generation. She loves sipping tea, conversations, reading and writing. The latter gave birth to two blogs - Purposeful Parenting Journey (purposefulparentingjourney.com) and Engagement Imperative (engagementimperative.com).

11 Responses

  1. No baby talk since they learned how to speak. Straight words mostly para daw hindi mabulol. When they were kids, they were so fond of writing me short notes and paste them at the bedroom door so I always had love letters when I reached home.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Russ

    Everything is on point and I am currently practicing those except that I am not aware or observing the types of cry of my second born. Will definitely start listing and observe! Thanks Emile. 😊

    Like

  3. Agnes

    What an awesome article! Wonderfully written and so on point. I have not been blessed with motherhood, but speaking as an aunt to a number of nieces and nephews, I agree with your pointers. We often underestimate how observant children are and discount their babbles. Baby talk only facilitate language delay and lying to your children causes anxiety and mistrust. Even the simple act of leaving for work causes one little niece anxiety while another niece would wave cheerfully “goodbye!”.

    Like

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