Helping your child talk

As a parent, we are blessed with both the joy and the responsibilities of parenting our children. In a bird’s eye view of things, we often glow with pride when our child shows us his first social smile with that gleaming look in his eye, or when he first sits up on his own and shows us he is strong like the Great Wall of China.

We tell everyone when he takes his first stride and walks like he is the Neil Armstrong of our household. When he eats solids, we pride ourselves in Googling up new recipes to try even if it is without any seasoning! And when he eventually spurts out his first words, we glow with joy in this remarkable human being whom we named who is walking and talking.

For some of us, this journey is easy — and each milestone appears even with very little effort of our own. For others amongst us, there appear to be struggles, either from the part of the child or on us, as we labour through each milestone.

Are these milestones set in stone? Universally, although we acknowledge that children are different and unique in character, there is scientific evidence that ascertain that typical development occurs at certain ages. Taking a motor development perspective for example, children of all backgrounds universally should be walking on their own latest by one and a half years old. Anything later than this signifies something amiss either due to a physical reason such as a motor or muscular difficulty or even the lack of experience of being able to learn to walk.

With speech and language development, the parameters are many. Often, we hear people saying various things to seek counsel, perhaps seek to understand their own child or perhaps to dismiss what is calling for attention. We use our own emotional and belief filters for times like these. Hearing someone say some of these thoughts are not uncommon: “Oh, he’s a boy“, “The problem is he doesn’t have siblings” or “He’s just taking his time”, “Talking is not his thing, give him a few more years”, “Perhaps it is because he has never gone to school yet”.

As a rule of thumb, universally, all children begin to connect with their caregivers as early as a few weeks old. There is that meaningful joy of looking, smiling and engaging with sounds called cooing between parent and child. Eventually, babbling comes along and our child sounds like a bubbling brook producing simple strings of consonant and vowels such as ba-ba-ba, ma-ma-ma and such as he has practices having a early conversation with us.

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