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Talk to Your Child Like an Adult

Talk to Your Child Like an Adult

A bit of baby talk and mimicking a child’s sounds during the earliest months of life makes an infant feel connected and understood and stimulates an infant’s brain. One study found two-year-olds who heard the most baby talk knew an average of 433 words, while toddlers with quieter families knew only around 169. And earlier studies reveal how often a parent talks a child and what kind of words are used (meaning not always No, No, No) has an enormous impact on emotional and intellectual development.

Now, research reveals that at around 10-20 months of age, kids need Mom to talk to them as if they were fully verbal and let them know she gets what they’re feeling and thinking. Then, at five years old, the child will have developed the ability to understand others’ thoughts and to emphasize.

Clearly, experiencing this mind meld (researchers call it mind-mindedness, but we like the Vulcan phrase better) helps your child grow into a loving adult. So put down the cell phone, turn off the TV and talk to your child about how he or she is feeling and acting; describe what’s going on around you. Pretty soon you’ll be amazed by what an expressive, kind kid you’ve got! 

Medically reviewed in February 2020.

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