Parenting Perspective: The First Language
A few weeks ago, Sienna looked up at my husband one morning and said "Da-Da". She hasn't stopped since.
It was an incredible moment and both our eyes welled up, and we didn't stop smiling all day. Now we both realize that Sienna was saying "Da-Da" indiscriminately. In fact, after she said it once she didn't stop saying it all day (if she was a few months older it may have left me with a bit of a complex).
The babbling is of course her first step towards talking and language development. Although I'd like Sienna to stay a baby as long as possible, like many parents, I'm anxious to hear those first words so I can figure out what's going on in that little head of hers. I do spend a lot of time helping with pronunciation (or over-pronunciation) of words like DA-DA, MA-MA, BA-BA BABY& you get the idea. But after reading this article http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/23/health/23mind.html?em, I realized I've been teaching her language skills from the minute she was born.
According to Dacher Keltner, a psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley, body language is "&the first language we learn". So the estimated 150 kisses and 130 squeezes we give Sienna every day all contribute to her language development. Not to mention the smiles, the dramatic expressions when she does something cute or the games of pat-a-cake we play before she goes to bed. Keltner adds throughout our life it "remains our richest means of emotional expression."
As much as I hope for Sienna to be linguistically advanced, it is equally important she is emotionally connected. In fact there is strong evidence pointing to the importance of positive body language on a child's intellectual development, or at the very least enthusiasm. Studies have found students who received a supportive touch on the back or arm from a teacher were nearly twice as likely to volunteer in class as those who did not.
So, instead of searching every few weeks for the newest, age appropriate Baby Einstein toys or flashcards, Sienna will continue to benefit the most from the way in which we interact with her and more importantly the ways in which we show her we love her.
parenting - erin o'hearn, parenting, erin o'hearn
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