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February 5, 2008

I come from a family of talkers, so does my husband. People always remark at how clearly Bug speaks, how articulate she is, and often how chatty she is. There’s no shortage of talking in my house, so she comes by it honestly. I also come from a family that can be, if I may say so, “Grammar snobs.” Well educated, chatty, and opinionated (by opinionated I mean we point out others spelling & grammer mistakes and make fun of them-I’m sure I’m making some mistakes here and that my mother will point them out).

 This background leads me to my first real blog topic–I hate babytalk. I hate babytalk, even with babies. Okay, for little babies, a little goo-goo and ga-ga here and there is okay.

But why do people insist on talking to their 2, 3, 4, even 5 year olds like this? “Cookie? Johnny want cookie?” or “No! Open! No open!” This little phrase somehow, means, “No, don’t open that door.” WTF? How do you expect your child to speak properly, and at an appropriate age level (let alone think at that level), when you’re teaching him to speak like a baby? Seriously, I know people who do this, then question teachers who feel that the child has speech development problems.

Before we had children, my brother had 2. When my oldest nephew started talking, J. remarked at how “grown up” he seemed. No baby talk, clear sentences, etc. Of course, he sounded like a little kid, imperfect grammar, etc. But J. felt that our nephew must be a genius. Now, I happen to believe he is a genius, but I actually believe that he spoke the way he did because my brother and sister in law spoke to him that way. Kids learn from what they hear. If you talk to them in baby talk, of course that’s what they’ll do. If you just treat them like the intelligent, capable human beings that they are, you will see that reflected.

No, I don’t believe that kids are simply “short adults.” But just because they’re kids doesn’t mean they shouldn’t develop and learn about speech patterns, sentence structure, inflection, grammar. With the exception of some subjects and curse words (that I use too often), J. and I speak to our kids the same way we speak to each other and to other adults.  My 4 year old, Bug, is perfectly capable of saying, “Can I have a cookie, please?” I do not require that she say, “Excuse me, Mother, may I please enjoy a delicious cookie, if you please?” I just require full sentences and please and thank you.

And not only does babytalk on the part of some of our friends drive me CRAZY, I really do believe it’s bad for the kids. Speech development is linked to when and how well children read.

I try not to judge the way other people raise their children, but this is a pet peeve and one that I think is actually detrimental to children. And I don’t get it. It’s annoying. Who wants to hear more baby talk than necessary? Do some people like it, or are they not giving their kids enough credit? Do they think they’re so different from adults at age 4, for instance, that they can’t understand complete thoughts?

One Comment leave one →
  1. August 19, 2008 2:21 am

    OMG, I could have written this. I completely agree!! Babytalk drives me totally nuts.

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