Telling Your Children to Use Their Words
The ability to communicate is one thing most adults take for granted.
"Use your words." I cannot begin to count the number of times this phrase has come out of my mouth since I became a parent.
The ability to communicate is one thing most adults take for granted. I know I do. But for babies and toddlers, everything must be learned.
Communication and language development can be a source of extreme frustration for babies and toddlers, not to mention their parents.
Baby cries—you check her diaper, burp her and check to see if she’s in pain, only to finally realize she’s hungry. Then she’s calm. Next time, you go straight to feeding her, only to realize this cry means she’s soaked. Why can’t they just tell us what’s wrong?
The same holds true for toddlers. They think you understand exactly what they want. He’s pointing and gesturing and you hand him his toy. And then he proceeds to throw himself on the floor in a massive temper tantrum. Wrong choice, Mom, he wanted the sippy cup.
While language develops at different rates for every child, there are certain developmental milestones your baby is expected to reach. The American Academy of Pediatrics outlines developmental milestones your child should be meeting. For instance, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a 2-year-old should be able to use two-to-four-word sentences and follow simple instructions.
But, as with any guidelines, you must trust your instincts. You know your child best. If he or she starts to lag behind on any developmental milestone, it’s important to bring concerns immediately to your pediatrician. Early intervention is pivotal for your child’s well being.
With my first child, language seemed to come very easily. He was meeting and exceeding my expectations for language development. I encouraged him early to use his words and he learned quickly, but I also spent an incredible amount of time with just him.
My second boy is also meeting his age-appropriate language milestones, but he doesn’t have anywhere near the vocabulary my older boy had at his age. I realized recently that the undivided attention I constantly gave my oldest was lacking with my youngest. While he speaks about 20 words, many are not all that meaningful. His ability to say Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and airplane don’t exactly ease his communication frustration.
I’ve gone from feeling guilty about this to understanding this is just the way it is. I cannot beat myself up about it, because every child is different, not to mention that juggling two children and a busy work schedule is far more challenging for me now. Always giving undivided attention is unrealistic.
It’s certainly much easier to just react to my 17-month-old's grunts, points and gestures rather than ask him to use his words and tell me what he wants, especially if I already know what he wants.
I'm trying to not always take the easy way out and help him work on gaining a broader vocabulary. Until then, we'll both continue to be disgruntled with our inability to effectively communicate.