Tags: language development
What's the best way to handle the situation when your toddler says a bad word and why did they say it in the first place?
Using bad language is fairly common in toddlers. They pick up new words from other children at nursery or school and suddenly you hear them say things you've never heard before! Using a bad word is a way of expressing frustration or anger. They may say it because they think it's funny or because their best friend at school said it. But, what ever the reason behind saying that word, your reaction is the most important thing.
How to react
- Try not to react too much. Ignore it if you can the first time. They might see that there's no reaction from you and never say it again! Certainly don't go crazy and tell them off as this will get them lots of attention which may be what they are after! Just explain calmly there are some words we don't say.
- If they are over 2 years and know how to say sorry, ask them to apologise to you or whoever the bad words were directed at. Explain that it was offensive or hurtful and try to make it clear that it's not nice or acceptable.
- Don't laugh, because they will think you've found it funny and will do it again and again to make you laugh even more.
- Think of other words to say when they are angry. 'Upsy Daisy' or 'Oh Dear' when they fall over or stub their toe rather than anything more aggressive.
- Look around at the environment or the people round your child and see where the language might have come from: an uncle who uses bad language, older cousins who might have said things between themselves and been over heard. If it's just 'potty' talk, then it is probably just children at nursery, but do have a look at the people who spend time with your child just in case its a family member and you may need to request a "toning down" of their language.
- If they keep using profanities, then you have to make clear what will happen: introduce "time-out" or withdraw privileges as a means to make it clear that you do not approve and will not tolerate the bad language.
- Television may be the cause. Make sure they watch appropriate programmes!
- If they are using bad language to get something definitely don't let them have it. Say 'no' and explain that using bad words will not get them what they want!
- If they are copying an older sibling, trying to be like them, make it clear to the older child that it's not acceptable language and show how it's causing problems. Copying and imitating older children (in language and behaviour) is a way of learning, so it's not something they are doing wrong necessarily.
Make sure you don't use bad language either... watch what you say because they will hear, copy and think it acceptable to be like you!
1 in 1000 babies are born with hearing problems, some of which can be corrected, all of which need to be managed, so it's important to test your baby's hearing early on to diagnose problems. Within hours of birth, you may be offered a hearing test called an automated otoacoustic emission (AOE) test. 'Oto' means ear and 'acoustic' is sound; in this test a probe is placed in your baby's ear and a clicking sound played out. The ear should respond with an echo created by the outer hair cells in the cochlea. The test only takes a moment and can signal if there are likely any problems. If there are, a further test can be arranged.
A more involved test is the automated auditory brainstem response (AABR) screening test. This involves sensors being placed on your baby's head and soft earphones placed over their ears. Sounds are played out and again the response is measured. Surprisingly, both the AOE and AABR test can be carried out while your baby is asleep!
Hearing problems can lead to difficulty acquiring language skills so it's very important to catch them as early as possible. It is also believed that if the brain isn't stimulated to process and create sound within the first 6 - 12 months that the ability to develop spoken language may be completely lost.
Sign language is taught to babies and young children in most preschools and schools. Even though there may not be any children present with hearing difficulties, sign language assists the development of language more broadly, particularly for children that haven't mastered the ability to speak: children can communicate by signing long before they are able to communicate through speech.
Research has found that the majority of parents read bedtime stories to children under the age of 5; bedtime reading is an important activity offering a number of benefits. We've talked about the importance of establishing a routine before, and stories just before bedtime signal that it's soon time to go to sleep. Stories also offer the oppportunity to wind down and relax, if the children have been jumping around whilst getting ready for bed, they can now calm down again as you sit in a cuddle and they listen to stories.
Stories offer the opportunity for youngsters to hear language and to begin to understand writing and reading. They are exposed to words and this forms an early foundation in the learning of language. Very recent research, however, found that for older children who can speak, conversing with them instead of just reading to them is six times more beneficial for them to learn language. As your children grow older, make sure you talk with them as well as to them, at the end of the day. Recap what you have done during the day, and if they are at nursery or spending other time away from you, ask them about what they did in that time.
Story time also gives you the opportunity to spend dedicated time with your babies. You probably spend most of your time with your children, but how much of it do you spend interacting with them directly rather than just pushing them in a buggy or being with them? The end of the day provides an opportunity to dedicate one on one time with each of your children as they snuggle down, hopefully for a good night's sleep!
Nursery rhymes have been chanted by young children for generations. The origins of many rhymes are disputed, and a considerable body of research exists into their history. The earliest nursery rhymes still known today date back to the 18th century and most are believed to mock political, royal and religious events. Whilst once they might have represented the height of political satire, for the last few generations, they have simply been rhymes recited in childhood to aid the development of language. Children love to learn and sing short rhymes and in this respect, nursery rhymes work wonderfully well!
Research suggests that babies who blow bubbles develop language sooner than babies that don't! Blowing bubbles, licking lips and other complex mouth movements help to develop essential control required for language. Making hand gestures, waving or making shapes in the air, is another sign that your baby will develop strong language skills. Language development is not linked with the ability to walk, and surprisingly, strong mental skills such as the ability to do puzzles also do not appear to be linked to the development of language. However, the ability to pretend, such as pretending that a cardboard box is a car, is another hint of strong language development. Babies develop language at different times, so don't worry if your's is late in developing - it does not necessarily mean that your child will have problems in learning.
Sometimes, our use of everyday language can be very confusing to toddlers who are still picking up the nuances of our language. How often have you asked 'Would you like to pick up your toys?' or 'Shall we go for a walk?', when actually what you mean is 'Pick up your toys!' or 'We're going for a walk!'. As toddlers learn language, they will interpret your rhetorical question as a literal one, so don't be surprised if they reply 'No!'. Try to avoid rhetorical questions - tell your toddlers affirmatively what it is that they are going to do, and you will avoid confusing them!
Books play an important role in the learning of language and development. Start reading simple picture books with babies as early as you can. Babies will enjoy the sound of your voice, this can help to settle them before they go for a sleep. As they develop, move onto simple story books, and interactive ones that 'pop up' or have flaps to lift. Stories at bedtime establishes a routine for older children. If children enjoy books then they will learn how to handle them nicely, and by the time they are ready to learn to read, you hope they'll be keen to!
Can you imagine how confusing it would be if you were put in a car and driven off with no idea of where you were going? That is the reality for your baby every day! You carry her around the house, drive her off to different places, take her to meet other people and so on. Whilst this is planned in your mind and you know what you are doing, your poor baby has no option but to tag along with no idea what's intended! Tell your baby what you are doing, where you are going, who you are going to see! At first it will mean nothing, but continual chatter with your baby will help your baby learn and begin to associate words and language with actions, people and places. Tell her that we're going to change her nappy, that we're going to eat tea, that it's time for bed, that we're going to playgroup, that we're going to the shops. In time, your baby will begin to understand what's coming up, and will have learned their first words!
Play music to babies and toddlers to help them pick up the rhythm of music and language. As your child develops language, you will hear them singing along to songs that they hear repetitively, not singing the words but mimicking the sounds of the words. As their understanding grows, more and more of the sounds will become the proper words as they begin to distinguish the words and as their vocabulary extends. Later on you can use songs to help your toddlers learn counting, the alphabet, colours, the sounds that animals make and so on.
Babies can distinguish your voice even before they can focus and see you properly. It is remarkable that within three years of birth, they have begun to master language to the extent that they themselves can talk and converse in sentences. Babies and toddlers learn language simply by absorbing what is around them and by mimicking sounds. You may feel daft talking to your baby constantly, but it is so important to do so because they are constantly listening and learning. Make sure that you explain what you are doing and where you are going - they can understand much of what you say before they are able to communicate back. Talk with your babies and toddlers constantly while you undertake ToucanLearn activities with them, every little bit will help with their own mastering of language and communication.