Speech and Language Development – Five Common Mistakes Most Parents Make

All parents want what’s best for their kids and when it comes to nurturing speech and language development, there’s really no such thing as trying too hard.  Unfortunately however, the fact that parenting is a job that comes with no specific manual or rule book means that no matter how dedicated, caring and well-meaning you may be, it’s inevitable that you are going to make a few mistakes here and there.
Of course, this is all just part and parcel of being a parent and these are most certainly not the kinds of mistakes that will have any detrimental impact long-term.  Nevertheless, there are certain bad habits all parents should be aware of when it comes to the subject of speech and language development which despite being less than earth-shattering in seriousness are nonetheless known to be unhelpful.
Playing on the carpet mother and a little son
Here’s a quick rundown of the five most common mistakes made by parents on the subject of speech and language development:
1 – Working to a Schedule
First and foremost, speech and language therapists the world over are united in their advice against working to any kind of schedule or timetable. This applies not only to speech and language development but indeed every aspect of your child’s development across the board as there will never be any two children who develop at exactly the same pace. Some excel in certain areas while others face on-going challenges – this doesn’t for one moment mean that one of these children is ‘normal’ and that the parents of the other have anything to worry about.  Development is something that happens in its own time and can very much be encouraged and nurtured, but must never be measured in accordance with a schedule or deadline.
2 – Panicking at Every Stumble
Likewise, no child has ever gone through the various stages of early development without facing the odd challenge and stumbling from time to time. It’s natural as a parent to find yourself concerned when and where something doesn’t appear to be ideal, but to panic at the first sign of even the slightest of speech development challenges can be counterproductive to say the least. There’s a time and a place for considering childhood speech therapy, but at the same time it’s important to maintain a relaxed and stress-free environment when looking to encourage and nurture speech development skills.
3 – Not Listening
This is one of those instances in which the difference between hearing and genuinely listening must be acknowledged and understood. As your child builds and develops new communication skills, chances are they will be talking, ranting and babbling pretty continuously. Now, realistically speaking it isn’t as if you can sit at the table with them, gaze into their eyes and listen to what they have to say on a 24/7 basis. Nevertheless, in order for your child to gain the kind of confidence that comes with knowing what they are saying makes sense, is being heard, is being appreciated and is something to be proud of, they need to know you are listening to them. Or in other words, instead of just filtering it all out as background noise and responding with the occasional grunt, it’s beneficial to at least listen to extracts of what they are saying and respond accordingly.
4 – Prompting Shame
If you think back, chances are you can remember at least one or two occasions where you said something that was either inappropriate, stupid or interpreted wrongly by those around you. And given that you can still remember what happened to this day, chances are you experienced the kind of shame that never fails to live with us long-term. Now, imagine just how the same scenario and situation might play out in the instance of a child who is learning to talk. Suffice to say, being criticized for saying something wrong, chastised for talking too much, laughed at for making mistakes or generally made to feel shame over something said can be even more detrimental to confidence as a young child.
5 – Making it a Chore
Last but not least, it’s no secret that trying to get a young child to take even a passing interest in something they are clearly not interested in can be like drawing blood from a stone. As such, the very moment they even begin to suspect that what you are doing is anything but 100% fun and enjoyable, chances are they will develop an immediate aversion to it. It doesn’t matter how tired you are, how little time you have or indeed how long-winded and occasionally frustrating the process may be, you need to give the impression that you are having nothing short of the time of your life.

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