Lost in Translation?

I love seeing the inner workings of a toddler’s mind clicking over. The conversation this morning went something like this…

Immy: “Car”
Me: “Mmmm.. a car?” (Not really sure where we are going with this yet!)
Immy: “Red” (Though it sounded more like ‘wed’)
Me: “Oh, a red car, yes, Grandma’s car?” (My Mum drives a red car and Immy LOVES it)
Immy: Murmers a sound that indicates she agrees, pauses then “Gone”
Me: “Yes, Grandma’s red car is gone.” (My Mum is trading in her red car for a new one today)
Immy: “Black”
Me: “Yes, Grandma’s new car is black.” (Which it is)
Immy: “BRRRROOOOOOM!” (Yes, I am sure it will be doing just that!)

Immy is adding new words to her vocabulary daily now and is also beginning to share information, and initiate and engage in conversation (like the one above). Although she used only single words in her responses, she was clearly linking ideas and choosing the words that she thought would tell me what I needed to know.

It is important to engage in conversation with babies and toddlers, and such a delight as a parent when they begin to engage you back, both with babbles as babies and with words once they are speaking. With early talkers, parents can encourage further speech development by;

  • Talking often with them.
  • Not being overly concerned with correcting punctuation, instead repeating the word in its correct form back to the child in their own responses, “You would like me to pass you the ball?”
  • Introduce your child to new words by using a rich vocabulary and introducing new words to the conversation in your responses, “You would like me to pass you the big, red ball?”
  • Read, read, read often to your child.
  • Paying attention to your child’s words, gestures and body language as they talk to you will help you to correctly interpret what they are trying to communicate, hopefully reducing the likelihood that they will become frustrated as you don’t understand.
  • Remember that although they understand more than they can speak themselves, they may still not understand everything you tell them. Try re-phrasing or changing your one of voice when your child appears confused or uncertain.

And, learn to become a good listener. That way nothing will get lost in translation!

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  1. Oh yes – I am talking care of a 2yo little people while their parents went holidaying. Anyway, she still learning new words but I had fun watching and listenign to her when the Making of Kung Fu Panda was on. Even though it was a one-sided conversation but it was real cute.

    And talking about understanding your child – I still don't get what my other going-to-be 7yo little people were talking about, when he wants to tell me he loves break dancing to Low something. Sorry darling

  2. says:

    I agree it is so important to engage children in language development from the day they are born.
    I love watching Miss 3 trying to have a conversation with Mr 1. She is so exact in everything she says and he grunts at her.

  3. And can I say that she loves my new black car just as much as the red one which is now gone – a girl after my own heart – fast cars and motorbikes – bbrrrooommm indeed.

  4. It is interesting and delightful to see the workings of a little person's mind.

    My three year old is now at the age where she she is constantly making us laugh with the conversations she initiaites. The other day, she suddenly said: "Mummy, will you ring Santa on your mobile and tell him I've been good all year".

    My fifteen month old boy is at the stage where he gets a reall thrill out of repeating words and this tickles the funny bone of my three year old who is constantly asking him if he can say certain words. He of course gets lots of praise when he does.

  5. I was just thinking the other day about how much I'm enjoying my 20-month-old right now. She's at the stage where she's trying to communicate her stories using a relatively little vocabulary. And so when she wants to tell you something, "Okay" is never an okay response. She will repeat the word over and over again until you repeat it back to confirm that you understood it. Then she'll move on to the next part of the story! (Plus her gestures just melt my heart. "Daddy! Wh'are you?" with the little shoulder shrug!) I love watching them learn to get their point across–and getting to be part of the process.

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