When Preschoolers Revert to Baby Talk
It’s a common occurrence. Your little learner is progressing brilliantly with their language and communication skills. They have started forming coherent sentences and having well-structured conversations. You have even started telling friends and family how proud you are of their speech development, when…
“Can me has some bikits, Ma-me. Pweeese me have chocwik bikits, Da-da!?”
Baby talk can be adorable of course, especially when they are still babies! But it can feel like developmental regression, and even become quite irritating when your chatty young child suddenly starts talking like Tweety Pie.
Many of us are guilty of slipping into cutesy talk with our loved ones, children, and pets. We are usually just being silly or feigning a ‘loving’ or ‘needy’ voice, and this is often what our youngsters are trying to do, just in a more exaggerated form. After all, when they are babies, before they can talk, we pander to their every need.
So, baby talk can simply be an attempt at getting something a child wants, whether that’s a treat or your attention; positive or negative. Think of those puppy dog eyes a fully grown dog will still give you when he thinks he might get something tasty. It’s the oldest trick in the book, but it can pull on the heartstrings, in moderation!
If your little one is going through a phase of blabbering whiney requests in undecipherable code and refusing to speak properly or ask for things politely, there are a few tips and tricks we can try.
They may be competing with younger siblings.
Your child might have noticed that a younger sibling with less speech development is receiving a lot of time and attention. This can bring on a baby-talking phase. In this situation be sure to praise the older child for their skills and ensure they receive a good amount of positive attention. Perhaps they can be included in celebrating some of their younger sibling’s milestones.
Paying too much attention may encourage it.
Sometimes children are just attention seeking, or looking for a reaction. Try not to make a big deal out of baby talk and try not to discuss it at times when your child is not doing it. They may have forgotten all about it, for a while. Try to stay calm and direct if you do need to ask your child, “Please can you speak with your grown-up voice?”
Pretend you can’t hear or understand baby talk.
You can try simply ignoring your child’s requests in baby speak. Or tell them you can’t understand those words. If your little one only gets what they want by communicating properly, they will soon learn. You can remind them to use their grown-up voice and offer lots of praise when they do.
Teach new and interesting skills.
Sometimes baby talk happens when a small group of children play together and start adopting it like some sort of new exclusive language. This might signify that it’s time for some new and more useful challenges. Introduce a new game or activity which they can practise together instead.
With this in mind, it can be difficult for parents to supervise baby-talking that is happening in the early learning centre or preschool. This is why state-of-the-art services, like Cherry Bridge Station Early Learning & Childcare in NSW, ensure that every child has access to a curriculum packed with fun-filled activity-based learning. The children in our centres enjoy challenging language games and tasks, and parents and guardians are kept up-to-date on their child’s progress with a daily diary.