Why You Should Be a Talkative Parent

Talking comes very easy to some parents, but not everyone finds it easy.  If you are a talkative parent, this post will be a helpful reminder to you of why talking to your child is beneficial.  If you are not, hopefully, this will give you some reasons to be a little chattier.  

From before they are born, babies are listening. Babies begin hearing at about 18 weeks in utero. At that time, they are mostly hearing their mother’s voice.  After they are born, their hearing is not fully developed until they are about one month old. Babies will start cooing initially, and by six months of age, they begin to babble. As they grow older, the variety of consonants and vowels they use will grow and thrive.  For that first year of life, babies are SUCH sponges, listening to everything around them and absorbing at an unimaginable rate. For some, it may seem like nothing short of magic when a child says their first words, but those first words are the product of all of the listening and processing they have been doing since they entered this world.  

For that whole first year of their life, they are relying on you to tell them about their world and what is happening around them. You are their instruction manual. Research has shown that the more parents talk to their children from birth to age three, the more likely it is that the child will be academically successful. If the only thing a child hears is commands such as ‘stop doing that,’ ‘come here,’ etc., they are missing out on the rich language of the world around them.  So what we do? We talk about everything.  Think of yourself as a tv or radio commentator.  When your child is playing, talk about what is happening (‘the car is going fast,’ ‘the blocks fell’) and describe what you see (‘the monkey is eating a banana,’ ‘the cat is little’).  While you read them their favorite books, talk about the pictures in the books.  You don’t have to read the books word for word (especially to young children who may not have the attention span).  When you are in the car talk about what you see, describe the trees, the other cars, any buildings you pass – honestly, anything you lay your eyes on. Keep a constant stream of commentary going at all times.  

Particular note to the dads out there: by nature, females are more talkative, and some research has suggested that a mother’s talking accounts for 75% of the language a child hears.  In today’s society where we see more dads taking on a primary caregiver role, it is important to point this out.  It may feel awkward to talk as much as needed to create a language-rich environment for your child(ren), but even if you could adopt this practice for small portions of your day, it will yield highly positive results.  

Remember that even if it feels silly to you, it doesn’t seem ridiculous to your little one. Remember that what is more important: a stranger giving you a funny look as you talk out loud about your cereal options in the grocery store, or how much you are teaching your child about the world through an act as simple as that?