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Clinical Reference Systems: Pediatric Advisor 10.0

Communicating with Your Baby and Toddler

The word "communication" actually means listening. Most parents talk too much and listen too little.

Communicating with Your Baby

The easiest way to teach yourself how to communicate with your child is to begin communicating with her before she has any intelligible speech. Try repeating what your baby says as closely as you can. It may sound like gibberish to you but it may make good sense to your baby.

Communicating with Your Toddler

There are two cardinal rules for speech development in toddlers: (1) Be responsive to your child's speech. (2) Do not correct your child's speech.

To be responsive to your child's speech, do something that is related to what your child has just said. If he looks at a glass of milk and says "Coke," do not correct him. Pick up the glass and/or say "Coke." In this way, your toddler will learn that speech serves an important function.

Not correcting your child's speech may be difficult to do. Most of us are used to adults who can and do profit from being corrected. However, a young child may take your correction as a sign that he did something wrong. It won't do any good to explain that you aren't mad at him. Just refrain from correcting him if you possibly can.

Reprinted from Christophersen, E.: "Beyond Discipline: Parenting That Lasts a Lifetime," 1998.
Copyright 1999 Clinical Reference Systems