Communication. This word is one of the most – if not THE most important words in the English dictionary.'Why ?' – I can hear your ask!
Because, if we all tell each other in plain English - how – when – why – and what, no-one will be confused about almost anything.
And what does this have to do with babies, I hear you ask again! Babies can't talk!
And you are absolutely right.
The next question is 'how do they learn?
They learn by listening, by watching – initially – their mum and dad's facial expressions and having every little part of this learning stage repeated over and over again.
I read a chilling report recently in the NZ Herald covering results from a country- wide survey in England where child psychologists carried out in- depth interviews with teachers, parents and child care experts. The final outcomes were frightening.
I can't quite remember the number of children covered in this survey but it was in the thousands and the results showed that high numbers of 5 year olds enter school with limited vocabulary, many unable to put together a sentence, many who can't socialise verbally and many who are not potty trained.
How frightening is all this and how did it happen?
I do not have a degree in psychology (the science of the human mind) – but I do know a lot about communication and have vast amounts of experience in communicating with babies and small children!
Right from day one you must talk to your baby – use lots of happy smiley facial expressions and do it over and over again. I remember when my first baby was born and on about day three – still in the warm and comforting surrounds of a maternity ward, an ex-flat mate and school teacher brought a wonderful gift – three Dr Seuss books, and on that day I started to read 'One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish' to my baby.
The book was not in digital form, no electronic device – no screen, just me and my baby and the book!
Lots of facial expressions from me – lots of variation in tone – and – you might laugh here and think it's odd – but yes – Telling the baby to 'turn the page.'
The other three women in my ward thought I was peculiar reading a book to a three day old baby but as I pointed out, he could hear my voice.
My three children have all been read to from a very early age and as adults are all fantastic readers of books – not kindle – but books with pages that you turn!
Back to the UK survey. The report from the child psychologists laid much of blame on the deficiencies in these small children on the world of electronic devices used by parents to communicate with friends and family members. Mobile phones were top of the list where adults and many young people spend hours and hours texting and sending fb messages, answering fb postings – the mobile phone never leaves their hand.
What effect does this have on a baby/small child?
I spend a lot of my time just watching m
ums and dads and their children and I am ofter flabbergasted at what I see. Little children asking question – read the first part of my blog again about that word 'communication'. Little children ask questions all the time, or want to tell their mums and dads something really important and on many occassions, from my observations, the child is never heard because the parent had in her/his hand a mobile device which they were totally wrapped up in – not even hearing the VERY IMPORTANT question or remark made by their little child.
If there is limited communication with a child from birth, then that child will suffer from the inability to learn words, use words in sentences and to be able to be part of a group where words and sentences are essential. This means that mums and dads have to be responsible parents, put away their electronic devices and interact with their babies/small children/growing towards school children.
Another electronic device is a 'tablet' where a child can sit and watch stuff for hours – and, of course, there is television. No interaction with a mum or dad – no talking, listening, answering their questions, having them watch your facial expressions.
The electronic devices can be dealt with when the baby/small child has gone to bed – after you have read a book or two before tucking that child into bed, and as you read that book, and listen to the questions, ask your little one – from a very early age to 'turn the page'. Look at your little one when you say 'turn the page' with a big smile on your face! You might have to repeat this over and over but very soon your baby will know exactly what to do, and probably wants to turn the page way before it's time!
Small children of the toddling age onwards – even fast moving crawlers - can come to great harm while a mum or dad is engrossed in their mobile device. Children on driveways, outside, toddling rapidly towards a water hazard, in a car-park – the list goes on. PUT AWAY THAT MOBILE PHONE.
When you are out and about with a small child – NOT WITH YOUR MOBILE IN SIGHT – alaways hold the hand of that small child. They may not want to – but you are the boss and if you do it every time you're out and danger looms, your beautiful small child will understand that when you say 'hold mummy's hand' that is what you mean.
FINALLY, IF YOU ARE FOREVER HOLDING AND USING YOUR MOBILE PHONE and your child never gets a response from you, you know what? That child of yours will stop asking questions – stop wanting to interact. Scary eh!
At the beginning of this blog, I mentioned that the UK survey picked up the fact that high numbers of young children entering school were not potty trained!
As a parent you are responsible for potty training your children. It takes a concerted effort starting young – I can see another blog coming on!! Again – if that time consuming mobile device it put away and dealt with when your small child is asleep, potty training can be the focus over a few months – lots of effort on your part will produce results and guess what? No more yucky dirty nappies and think of the savings each time you go through the check-out at your local supermarket.
A child will not potty train himself – you as a responsible parent MUST do that.
Happy parenting – put away your mobile – get out some books – start listening, talking and reading to your child.