Are moms or dads better at talking to their kids?
Listen to a mother or father talk to their young children and you will probably notice that they talk to them differently.
According to researchers at Washington State University, moms vary the pitch of their voice more frequently and speak in a more childish way when talking to their preschool-aged children. Dads commonly speak to their children like they were talking to other adults.
Both styles of communication offer different benefits to children.
“The basic idea is that moms provide the link to the domestic, more intimate type of talk, while dads provide the link to the outside world,” said Mark VanDam, the study author. “In that sense, moms and dads provide different kinds of experiences that give kids more comprehensive exposure to what kinds of language they need in the real world.”
Dr. Aaron Traeger, a pediatrician with Advocate Medical Group in Normal, Ill., discourages parents from using baby talk, and instead encourages them to use more simple language with more inflection in their speech.
“Nonsensical language does not really provide any value to your children,” says Dr. Traeger. “What is better is more singing, rhyming and playing with language. ‘Where are your TOES! Oh my, here is your NOSE! That is fun to say and will also teach them that there are subtle differences with words that have great differences in meaning.”
Mary Burke Dawson, a speech-language pathologist at Advocate Children’s Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill., encourages parents to take three steps to help their children with language development:
- Use imitation and modeling – This means that when a child says the word “ball,” the parents can say “big, red ball.” When modeling, make sure to use short and simple words that have a lot of meaning and leave off the little words that do not carry a lot of meaning.
- Read aloud – Reading to a child is critical in brain development. New research finds that it is beneficial for children to have their mothers read to them in utero. Reading to children during the first two years of life is also key for developing early connections within the brain which is critical to early language and literacy skills.
- Limit technology – The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting technology use with children under the age of two. The children are more interested in technology and are spending less time interacting with adults and peers. With decreased communication interactions, this impacts their developing play skills. Plays skills are tied to their thinking and reasoning as well as their language development.
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