Blink—And They're Grown

Parents, Families and Child Care

How We Talk With Children Matters

I recently began noticing how much and how frequently Sweet Pea was pointing to objects and seeking more information about them. It is fascinating to me how in tune infants are with their surroundings; no one has to teach them how to be inquisitive or how to be curious. They just are.

Someday the simple pointing and investigative grunt will become a game of 20 questions (though it feel likes one thousand), obsessing over the same things and always why, why, why? I remember there were times when Schmee’s constant barrage of questions drove me crazy. I had to remind myself how important it was to remain calm and try my best to respond in appropriate ways. Sometimes, when I was plumb out of appropriate responses, I would turn the question around for him to answer such as, “Well, why do you think dogs have tails?”

I indulged him because I understood that the outcomes of such repetitive opportunities would result in someone who would continue to seek answers and uncover marvels. Those opportunities, those questions answered, lead to a child that engages with their environment. And when they receive positive interactions, children’s language will develop further, allowing them to be better able to communicate their needs and become more confident about their place in the world.

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) has a great article on ways families can support language development in their infants and toddlers. It’s a good reminder – or an introduction to – the reasoning behind a lot of what infants do and how I can support my children. They may be natural detectives but they need positive interactions to help make their knowledge concrete. They need positive interactions to learn how to communicate need and how to engage with others in a social context. They need positive interactions to attach themselves to people important in their lives.

And they need positive interactions to thrive. I can’t think of a better way to set them on the right path than to talk with them about what is interesting to them.

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