How To Help Your Child Talk and Grow Smarter: Why Listening Matters

Here’s extract number 8 from How To Help Your Child Talk and Grow Smarter: your chance to learn more about the way your child learns to talk.

This extract introduces Listening, the second of the Five Keys that will unlock your child’s language skills.

If you’re a new reader, CLICK HERE to read How To Help Your Child Talk and Grow Smarter from the very beginning.This link takes you to the first post, so you can read the extracts in sequence. At the end of each week’s post you’ll see a link to take you on to the next extract. I try to post every Friday, by noon GMT.

Listening skills
Scientists know what happens to children when no one talks to them. Sadly, some children grow up without any conversation or play. Studying these children in detail have shown how lack of stimulation destroys their chances of being the smart people they should become.

Listening: parents
Genie was a ‘wild child’, severely neglected by her parents who locked her in her room for 12 years. Her father hated children and terrified her mother into ignoring her completely, apart from giving her some basic food. Rescued at the age of thirteen, Genie learned to talk a little, but she never managed the kind of language skill most children show by 5 years of age.

Your baby learns to talk best if he listens to you talking regularly. The person who cares for him most of the time makes the best teacher for your baby. In most cases, but not all, his mother or father takes on that role. He uses this parent as his model for the future.

He needs to hear you clearly and concentrate on what you say. He may have perfect hearing, but if noise from the TV drowns out your words, he won’t be able to pick out what you say. Turn all external noise off for at least an hour every day.

Children raised in noisy places find it hard to concentrate. They may find it hard to sleep properly, and they find it hard to listen carefully and concentrate on one thing at a time.

Help your child learn to listen.

Listening: infants
Learning to listen is a skill he begins to learn at birth, when he turns his head to your voice. Your quiet voice soothes him, while loud noises startle him and may make him cry. He may like to listen to the washing machine or vacuum cleaner, as their quiet rumbles sound a little like the noises he heard before he was born. He likes to listen to you talking or singing quietly.

Listening: hearing
A newborn baby has good hearing and he quickly learns to turn towards a familiar sound. He starts to recognise your voice and relaxes when he hears you talking to him. New parents find they can soothe their baby by talking or singing quietly.

Hearing problems are a key reason for delayed language development. Many babies undergo hearing checks soon after birth, to pick up any problems as soon as possible. You should mention any worry you have over your child’s hearing to a health professional as soon as possible.

Come back next week for another extract, all about your baby’s listening skills: why they matter and how you can help him learn to listen. A link will appear HERE.

Can’t Wait To Read the Rest? BUY NOW and download How To Help Your Child Talk and Grow Smarter in seconds for only £3.53 ($5.73).

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SpeechContacts Human Communication Skills Newsletter 3


We’re amazing creatures, we humans. Our opposable thumbs aren’t the only things that set us apart. Almost daily, research seems to uncover more astonishing detail of the way we think and communicate.

Here’s just a small selection of items from the recent news, on brains, music, attention skills and bilingualism.

 Communication News Roundup

Your brain feels someone else’s pain
The ABC News website reports research into the embarrassment subjects felt when they watched other people’s pratfalls and other misfortunes. Read more

Brain research moves fast. The views we held on language and communication a few years ago are starting to change.

Mirror neurons in our brains help us recognise what other people are doing and what their intentions may be. Now we can see that empathy is more than a vague desire to be fluffy and kind: it’s an important reality.

For a fascinating, and easily readable, discussion of the neurology behind this, you may enjoy V S Ramachandran’s The Tell-Tale Brain (Click the link on the right of the page to find this Amazon Kindle).

Music
“Musical activity throughout life may serve as a challenging cognitive exercise, making your brain fitter and more capable of accommodating the challenges of aging,” said lead researcher Brenda Hanna-Pladdy, PhD.in a study published by the American Psychological Association.

The research suggests that studying music, especially at higher levels, benefits your brain throughout your life, even if you drop your musical studies in later life. Read more from WebWire

Attention Skills
Low working memory capacity can be a problem for some, reports The Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition. You need to be able to focus on more than one thing at a time, and to move your attention wherever it needs to be, to read the world around and avoid incidents such as road accidents.

Read more on the mangalorean.com website 

If you have a baby or toddler, check out the chapter on attention skills in SpeechContacts’ own Amazon kindle, How To Help Your Child Talk and Grow Smarter

Learning Two Languages
Bilingual people may become more flexible thinkers.

The University of Washington’s Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences, co-directed by Patricia Kuhl and Andrew Meltzoff, is actively researching early learning, and has some insights into the ways babies and young children learn language.

The research reinforces recent suggestions, that learning a second language has benefits for children that reach forward into their lives. The research touches on the importance of play for social development and on how a child’s relationship with her parents may predict how soon she is ready for school. Read more

Here’s another post about early language development and bilingualism 

If you see a news item on communication, language, speech or wellbeing that you think will interest SpeechContacts followers, why not send me a message through Twitter, leave a comment here on the blog at or write on the facebook page.

How To Help Your Child Talk and Grow Smarter: 15 Ways to Encourage Attention Skills

Here’s extract number 7 from How To Help Your Child Talk and Grow Smarter: your chance to learn more about the way your child learns to talk.


This extract sums up the information from the Attention Skills section of the book, with a checklist of the very simple things you can do to build attention skills in your baby and toddler. Why not print them out and put them on your fridge door, so it’s easy to keep them in mind.


If you’re a new reader, CLICK HERE to read How To Help Your Child Talk and Grow Smarter from the very beginning.This link takes you to the first post, so you can read the extracts in sequence. At the end of each week’s post you’ll see a link to take you on to the next extract. I try to post every Friday, by noon GMT.


Attention skills: checklist for babies


• Make eye contact.


• Speak gently.


• Notice which sense your baby is using.


• Play peep-bo and sing nursery rhymes.


• Limit the number of toys around him.


• Let him sleep and be quiet.




Attention skills: checklist for toddlers


• Alternate quiet times with activity.


• Limit TV and encourage his own activities.


• Watch for overstimulation and let him relax quietly.


• Call his name and wait for him to look at you.


• Get down to his level so he can see you.


• Keep calm when he gets frustrated.


• Consider signing with him.


• Tell bedtime stories.


• Sing nursery rhymes.


Come back next week for another extract, all about your baby’s listening skills: why they matter and how you can help him learn to listen. A link will appear HERE.


Can’t Wait To Read the Rest? BUY NOW and download How To Help Your Child Talk and Grow Smarter in seconds for only £3.53 ($5.73).

How To Give Advice: Communication Skills That Work


Face it: your wise advice may not be helpful to your friends, family and colleagues. Even if they asked your opinion, chances are you won’t say what they want to hear. As for giving the benefit of your experience to your teen or your partner: that seems like an impossible task. How can you avoid the rolled eyes or fixed smile that shows you said the wrong thing?

The following steps may help you avoid some of the multiple pitfalls and booby traps associated with advice.

Listen
Always start by listening carefully. Don’t take the question at face value. Think about what you’re being asked, because it’s rarely as simple as it seems.

Every partner knows a seemingly straightforward question, like, “Do you like my new dress?” is laced with subtext, such as, “Am I too fat?” “Do I deserve to spend money on myself?” “Don’t I look a lot better than that tart I saw you ogling at the party yesterday?” The honest answer may be, “I don’t think blue suits you,” but you know that’s not what’s needed.

This kind of question is a plea for approval, and your answer should recognise that. It’s a foolish man who hesitates before telling his partner she looks wonderful. Forget honesty, this is about support.

Other calls for your advice, though, may be around personal problems, such as “What should I do about my son’s school refusal/my husband’s neglect/my mother’s forgetfulness.” These queries stray into a different area. The person asking your advice here is trying to decide how she should act.

Tread very carefully, as you are not the one making the decision. Your friend has to make her own judgement, because she will live with the consequences. Don’t ruin a friendship by saying categorically what you think she should do, have her follow your advice and find it doesn’t work. You can help best by enabling her to think through her options.

Question
Ask a few questions of your own, designed to make the issue clearer. Use the “wh” questions, “Who, what, when, where, why and how?” to explore the problem. These questions help her think more widely and deeply about the problem. Focus on the words she says. A useful technique is to pick out a word, repeat it in a questioning voice and ask an open “wh” question about it.

For example, you might say, “Refusal? What happens exactly?” Use her response to move farther up the conversational ladder until the problem becomes very clear. She may say, “He says he hates his teacher.” You can then use another “wh” question, “Why do you think that may be?” to help her think further.

Problem solving
Your aim is to help her find her own solution, not to impose one of your own. These questions may help her to clarify what she thinks about the situation, and she could well see and clarify her decision as she talks it through.

You can then help by asking what she thinks will happen if she follows her own advice. Use the same open question ‘laddering’ technique to take her through possible consequences. This may help her feel more confident about her proposed actions. It may on the other hand, lead to her changing her mind.

By using these steps, you avoid imposing your own solutions on your friend, help her to make her own mind up and support her decision.

More posts to help you build your own communication kit:

How to Banish Guilt Through Positive Thinking

Solve Your Problem: Communication Skills That Work

SpeechContacts Human Communication Skills Newsletter


Here’s a taste of the communication news I’ve found interesting recently.

Communication News Roundup

Making music with eye-pointing after devastating stroke

TV presenters, jargon dysphasia and conspiracy theories

Listen, don’t talk. Good advice

A plea for face to face communication in an online world

Stories of hope for locked in syndrome sufferers

Who else wants to publish a Kindle eBook? (this one’s a guest post I wrote recently).

Happiness
This week, Action for Happiness launched in the UK with a Facebook page.

I’m pleased to say that SpeechContacts was ahead of the game, with our iHappiness app for iPhone and iPad already available.

Once you’ve uploaded this FREE app to your device, click the icon every day and read a new suggestion to help you build your resilience, flourish and grow happier and more contented.

Click the bird on the web page HERE to find your app.

SpeechContacts is on Facebook

Maybe you’d like to visit our new SpeechContacts Facebook page and leave a comment.