Your Words Matter!
When people say that children are like sponges, they are not mucking around! The ability of children to establish, retain and implement new skills and information is truly astounding.
Language is such a pivotal skill that will assist children through all areas of development. The ability to collect and understand information through receptive language as well as communicate effectively through expressive language will serve children through their whole lives.
Children are always listening. Even when we aren’t actually talking to them, they are still listening! When you look in the mirror and say “I won’t swim today, I don’t like how I look in these swimmers”, or “I’m not doing that course, I’m definitely not smart enough”. Our children hear this. They feel this. This is what can become their inner voice. Try to be kind to yourself to not only benefit yourself, but the little people around you too.
Children often have very big feelings just like we do, however, they haven’t had as much time with these feelings to understand, verbalise or work through them. Consider your language when these feelings occur to empower rather than dismiss.
Immersing children in language rich environments can also have a massive impact on their language. From when your children are tiny babies, talk. Talk heaps. “Mummy is going to warm up your bottle now”, “Let’s see if the sun is out today”. Allowing children to hear lots of language can assist in their ability to retain language and extend their vocabulary. Make reading and singing a regular part of your day too. Sing together in the car, read each night before bed. Words matter.
When speaking with children, keep in mind that they can be very literal and often lack the capacity to interpret meaning if it is not directly obvious. If you say to a child “Your room is a mess”, they may simply think, “Yep, it is” and not understand that this is a subtle cue for them to clean their room. Perhaps try “We need to tidy your room, what should we start with?” The way we structure our sentences can also encourage further conversation and explanation rather than one word answers. Try to ask more open ended questions.
Below is a table of some suggestions you may consider trying when interacting with your child or even in their presence.