Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Magic Words

Even before children are born, they are able to hear you. In fact, babies learn the sounds of their native language by the time they are six months old! This means that even before they start speaking themselves, they are listening to you, and learning to form their own words.

• Start using words and phrases like ‘please,’ ‘thank you,’ I’m sorry,’ ‘excuse me,’ and ‘may I?’ as much as possible when interacting with your child. Even though it may sound silly for a parent to ask their child something such as “may I change your diaper?” focusing on speaking these words as much as possible around your child will make it easier for them to do the same once they are able to start speaking.

Your young child may have a hard time grasping why we need manners, and what good they will do for them, so the best thing to do is to consistently incorporate proper etiquette in your everyday routine. Repetitiveness is the key!

• By the time your child begins to speak, they are able to say the words you have been trying so hard to teach them. By age 21/2, they should be able to remember to say things such as please and thank you. This shows appreciation and respect. It is also important to encourage your child to maintain eye contact while speaking to another person. You should prompt your child to say any of these things whenever they may forget. However, these words are only as good as the sincerity shown while speaking them. It must be authentic and sincerely spoken; otherwise it is just as empty as saying nothing at all. This also goes for apologies. In cases when your child should apologize to another person, actions speak louder than words. A hug, a note or even a picture, along with an apology, make it more heartfelt and sincere.

“I have been a believer in the magic of language since, at a very early age, I discovered that some words got me into trouble, and others got me out.”
-Katherine Dunn

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