Posts Tagged ‘ Kids Vocabulary ’

Why You Should Talk To Your Babies

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

You may hear about lots of educational products that will make your babies “smart.” You may download lots of apps to try to give them an early cognitive “edge.” But what’s a simple thing you can do that will, over time, have huge effects on their development that far exceed whatever “benefits” the latest marketing fad can achieve? Talking to your baby.

Yes, just talking. Studies continue to show that there are huge differences in the number of words that babies (and toddlers for that matter) get exposed to – in the home. A new research study has revealed part of the effect of exposure to lots of words – it helps babies and toddlers process words quicker. The key here – as pointed out by lead researcher Anne Fernald at Stanford University – is that the faster an infant can process one word, the more ready they are to process a word that follows. While this should sound intuitive, the meaning is very deep in terms of brain processing – differences in processing speed can mean one infant is understanding a simple sentence, whereas another is not.

What’s the net effect of all of this? A language gap that starts in infancy and reverberates and grows larger through childhood. Kids who were exposed to lots of words frequently will have much better language skills.

So what can you do? Talk to your babies – a lot! Use child friendly language. Make it playful and fun. If you are out taking them for a walk and they see a dog and smile, look at them and smile and say “Doggie! Cute Doggie!” – and keep talking.

Sounds simple, right? Sounds obvious too. But we continue to see studies that suggest many babies do not get nearly enough of this. It’s so easy to do, costs nothing, makes your baby happy, makes you happy – and predicts good language development and eventual reading ability and success in school. So put down the silly toys and give the phone a rest – and talk to your baby.

Track your baby’s development with our Baby Milestone Tracker, or shop for the perfect baby book to read to your little one.

Mom With Baby via

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Spanking Doesn’t Work

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

There are two things we know for sure about spanking: a lot of parents in the US still practice it, and it does have an effect in the moment. But research continues to show that, over the long-term, spanking doesn’t work – because it leads to worse, rather than better, outcomes.

Yet another paper was published showing that spanking has negative effects on child development. Here’s why this study is important:

  • A large (over 1,900 families) sample was used – providing confidence in the findings
  • A longitudinal design was used – kids were studied from age 3 through age 9
  • A number of statistical controls were applied to focus on the specific impact of spanking on later development

Perhaps the most important finding was that while a majority of parents engaged in spanking (e.g., 57% of mothers at age 3), not every child experienced spanking – which allowed for enough variation in the sample to have a good look at the effects of spanking over time. Put another way, the researchers could compare developmental benchmarks in kids who were spanked, and those who weren’t. So what were those results?

  • Spanking was associated with more behavior problems at age 9
  • Spanking was associated with lower vocabulary (receptive) scores at age 9

Let’s keep in mind here the argument for spanking – it’s purported to improve children’s behavior. Studies continue to demonstrate that it does not do this, and in fact often predicts worse behavior. So despite the personal stories and folklore about how a good spanking can change a kid, each empirical study that comes out suggests that it changes a kid for the worse, not better. If these stories ring true, why don’t we see huge positive effects of spanking when we study kids over time?

Parents who feel that there is no other way to shape their child’s behavior would do well to speak to their pediatrician to try to get training in behavioral techniques that actually work. Everyone will be happier and, in the long run, kids will show improvements, rather than declines, in their behavior over time.

What’s your parenting style? Find out! And watch this video on how to discipline without spanking:

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Increase Your Child’s Vocabulary By Putting Emotion Into Words

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

Toddlers and young kids learn words rapidly. It’s amazing to watch their vocabularies grow. And one of the ways they learn naturally is by attending to the emotion in words. 

This may sound obvious. But think about how we often teach young kids new words. Drills, lists, repetition.

All of this could be spiced up pretty easily by adding some emotion to the words. Let them hear how the words are really used. Almost any new word can be used in a way that emphasizes some type of emotion – even if it’s a little subtle.

A new study published in Child Development demonstrates this principle experimentally.

While there’s still a lot of nuance to understanding more about the role that emotion plays in children’s ability to learn new words, it’s quite clear that a little affect goes a long way. So embellish those lists and flashcards with a bit of emotion.

Brain and Heart via

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