Trying to Express Themselves

As with any new skill, learning a language can be frustrating. Don't be surprised if your child expresses irritation -- or even bursts into tears -- as he struggles to express himself.

angry baby Denis Horan

Most of your 1-year-old's developing skills are interrelated, and this is especially true of language and social development. The abilities to speak with others, convey information, ask questions, explain herself, and express her feelings put your baby on a higher social and cognitive plane. Her interactions take on a new complexity, as does her exploration of and understanding of her expanding world. Advances in vocabulary enable your baby to participate more actively and thus more fully in the life of your family. Now that she can talk, she can make her needs known in ways that are felt to be more socially acceptable than crying.

Learning any new skill brings moments of frustration, and learning language is no exception to this rule. There will be moments when your baby, exasperated by his inability to produce the correct word to express what he wants to tell you, will dissolve into tears or tantrums. Be prepared to bring a lot of creativity to bear on the guessing games that will accompany the interpretation of your child's forays into conversation. You and your baby both may be in for a bit of frustration as language learning progresses. Do your best to be patient with your child as he tries to find the words he wants, and help -- but don't hurry -- him. If his attempts to find the right words just aren't working, ask him to show you what he needs by pointing to the object in question.

Mastery of language is a great self-esteem builder for your child. Once the two of you can speak the same language, many of the everyday miscommunications and misunderstandings that once led to hurt feelings and tantrums lead now to increased mutual understanding -- and greater satisfaction for you and your child.

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.