Parenting Principle #2: Talk, Talk, Talk

What are the parenting principles for raising happy, well-adjusted children? Here the focus is on the importance of talking to babies and children.

Maybe this sounds silly to you. But the fact is that parents differ tremendously in how much they talk to their kids.

Lots of studies have tracked how much parents talk to their babies and toddlers. Projects have literally recorded parental talk and counted up how many words were spoken – especially those directed to the babies and toddlers. The results can be summarized simply. The more the parents talk to their babies and toddlers, the more advanced the language skills. Not just short term, but over time as well. Babies and toddlers absorb language. But they need to hear a lot of it – and the reality is that not all of them hear as much as they should.

Parental talk doesn’t just improve language development. It’s the tool parents use to help kids direct their behavior. Finding the right words to explain rules and limits in a consistent manner makes for the most effective parenting at any age. Think about it this way. Imagine you are observing parents and toddlers in a parking lot. One parent is trying to make the toddler stay with them by grabbing their arm and giving them a spanking. Another parent is holding a child’s hand and explaining that he or she can’t run off by themselves because it’s not safe (keep in mind that the parent is holding the hold to be sure the child doesn’t run off). Which do you think is more effective, both in the short term and as a long-term parenting strategy. The power of explanation, combined with consistency and follow through, are characteristics that define an “authoritative” parenting style – the style that has been shown across decades of research to be most productive in terms of fostering positive development.

One other big thing happens when you talk to your child a lot. They tend to talk to you too. Which means that they will be comfortable confiding in you across the ages. That’s a huge benefit that will come in very handy.

More in This Series

 Keep track of your child’s milestones.

Development Milestones: What to Expect at 6 Months
Development Milestones: What to Expect at 6 Months
Development Milestones: What to Expect at 6 Months

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