Language Development in Children and What Parents Need to Consider
Language development in children starts from birth and even from their journey in the womb. The child needs to process the prior knowledge of the language to speak as well as reach the language maturity to speak. This happens by listening, observing and experiencing. Language skills are important for meeting individual needs, ensuring social communication and information sharing.
Crying is the first source of communication for babies when they are born. They give information about their needs and current situation by crying or staying silent. The primary caregiver determines the baby’s needs over time, based on the tone, shape and other distinguishing factors of the crying. For example, the baby may cry and express that he/she is hungry, has gas, has dirty diapers or is sleepy.
The baby’s language development continues in the development curve of crying, babbling and chirping until the age of 2 when active speech begins. Although language development in children is similar, each child’s developmental speed and time is different. Just as some children take steps without crawling, some children walk early and some late. Like other developmental steps, speech is subjective to the child.
Although language development differs from child to child, it should not be neglected if the child does not show certain language and communication skills. Language development can also be delayed due to reasons such as hearing impairment, mental retardation, lack of stimuli, and autism.
What stages does a child’s language development go through? What can parents do to support language development? When should you consult a professional? You can find the details in the rest of our article.
Language Development Stages in Children
Children’s physical and mental development is much faster than adults. Therefore, when talking about the development of children, it is necessary to take months and even weeks as a basis, not years. Especially in the first two years, changes and developments are seen in the development of the child from day to day, from week to week.
It can sometimes be difficult to notice this development for parents or other people who constantly spend time with the baby. However, those who see the baby less frequently will observe large differences in development.
First 6 Months of Language Development in Babies
Babies will spend their first month adapting to the outside world. During this period, they can be easily startled by every sound and become uneasy. They need a lot of mother’s warmth, attention and touch. In order to establish a secure attachment, the baby should be provided with the continuity of the environment in the mother’s womb during this period. The calm, rhythmic, warm and caring womb environment should be replaced by compassionate arms in the mother’s lap. During this period, the baby calms down and relaxes when he hears familiar sounds.
White noise sounds like mom, dad’s voice or womb-like sounds are good for the baby. Language development in children in the first month consists of crying. In the second month, the baby’s social smiles begin, and it seems as if he is listening to what is being said around him. Cries are also the dominant communication source in this period. However, the cries became more meaningful by the person concerned.
From the baby’s crying tone, the basic caregiver understands what his needs are. As of the 3rd month, they follow the speaker with their eyes. He watches and observes his gestures. Social smiles begin to be accompanied by gurgles. The baby’s mouth muscles continue to develop. The sounds the baby makes during this development process are reflexive. The baby is happy when it makes sounds.
By the 4th month, the sounds the baby makes increase. Social smile increases. They begin to react to the gestures of others. Understands angry, sad facial expressions, can also understand emotional transitions in tones. She reacts to these differences by crying. Tongue curling and rolling skills are developed. It starts to react to its name around 5 months.
Language Development in Children Becomes More Meaningful After 6 Months
By 6 months, babies begin to spell repetitively such as mama-ma, grandfather-de-de, father-ba. The child is motivated by positive reactions to these sounds. Screaming loudly, listening carefully to what is being said, and reacting with laughter begin in this period. While he is happy when he is contacted, he reacts with the sounds he makes when he is indifferent. Around 7-8 months, simple games such as ce-ee begin to attract his attention.
Language development in children becomes more noticeable during this period, especially by the family. Sighs, murmurs, repetitive simple syllables increase. When his name is called, he stops his activity and begins to pay attention. By 9 months, he begins to understand the negativity of “No”. Their muttering increases as if they are talking to themselves. He acts as if he is inviting those around him to talk with his looks, sounds and facial expressions.
After 9 months, the baby begins to prepare well for speech. Understands simple commands. For example; He can give the objects in his hands when requested. Can say simple words. It’s like “cat, udder”. Even though it sounds like spelling, sounds turn into meaningful discourses, not random. Can show objects, people, asked with eyes or head. Around the age of 1, words begin to become clear and increase in number.
Between 12-18 months, the baby can understand 50-70 words. Becomes able to use up to 3-20 words. The amount of words used can vary according to the course of language development in children. In this period, simple two-word sentence constructions can be seen. Every month, 3-5 words are gained regularly. The child learns and repeats the words he hears frequently.
Begins to notice and understand new words each week. New fruits, vegetables, items, colors, like names. Interest in speaking is quite high; can try to learn the names of objects by showing or holding them. In this period, the efforts of asking should be supported in order to contribute to the development of the child’s vocabulary.
Language Development Speeds Up With Social Skills By Age 2
Learns to form 3-word sentences by adding a new word to 2-word sentences. He strengthens the meaning of his words with his gestures and tone of voice. It begins to imitate surrounding sounds, animal sounds. Vocabulary develops. Can understand and react to longer sentences. Can understand the personal pronouns and the attachments of the words. Recognizes kinship relations, uses words that determine the degree of kinship, such as aunt, aunt, uncle.
Begins to recognize and show body parts. Like where are your eyebrows, where are your eyelashes. The vocabulary of a 2-year-old child has reached 300 words. By the age of 3, language development in children will increase and the number of words that the child can understand will reach 900. The number of words he can include in his sentences is about 500.
His sentences start to get longer. Makes jokes, can understand the jokes made to him. Can explain exaggerated events by exaggerating. They can add adjectives and pronouns to their sentences. He starts to use words that indicate time and place more accurately. The singular plural begins to distinguish between small and large.
Around 3-6 Years, Speech Becomes Appropriate to Grammar Rules
During this period, the child begins to speak with more regular and correct pronunciation. The order in the sentence takes its place in order. The use of time and space is increasing. When they make a mistake, they quickly correct themselves or realize the mistake of the one who made the mistake. He’s making jokes by using words incorrectly. Language development in children around the age of 4-5 approaches the adult level. During this period, the child’s speech becomes close to the speech of an adult.
Sentences become longer and more complex. They can derive their own question sentences. They can generate ideas and develop alternative solutions. Story creation, storytelling is on the rise. They can describe in detail what they do during the day, in accordance with the time and place. The vocabulary of a child around the age of 6 is about 2000 words. The speaking time, the number of words in the sentence and in addition to all these, the listening time has also increased.
What Can Parents Do to Support Language Development in Children?
Language skills in children can differ according to the conditions of their upbringing, social environment and the child’s own developmental speed. Although each child’s developmental speed and shape is unique, it can be developed by external support. At this point, responsibilities fall on the family, social environment and pre-school educators, if any. Consideration should be given to ensuring the correct language acquisition as well as supporting the child’s language acquisition.
Speak with Eye Contact
One of the most important factors in establishing healthy communication is maintaining eye contact with the person you are communicating with. It is important to establish eye contact so that the child understands you, listens to you and sees himself or herself in communication. If possible, it is recommended to lean on your child’s level and make eye contact during communication. Thus, the child becomes able to communicate directly with you.
Using your body language, facial expressions and tone of voice during communication also supports language development in children.
Do not use digital resources such as televisions and tablets for the first 2 years.
It is quite common for children to use screens to speed up the learning process, to have a pleasant time and to keep them entertained. However, the mental development of children should be given importance as much as their language development. The use of digital screens in the first two or even 3 years is not suitable for children. If digital content is to be given to the child by the age of 2, the time must be limited and given under parental follow-up.
Restricting the use of digital resources in babies born into the digital age does not feel right for many parents. However, uncontrolled and long use of tablets, phones and televisions causes problems in children. Problems of focusing and maintaining attention, learning difficulties can be seen, restlessness, aggression and hyperactivity may occur in children. In addition, children are exposed to one-sided communication in front of the screen. Therefore, language development and communication in children weaken as a result of uncontrolled screen use.
When the contents that the child watches are not controlled, they may be afraid, worried and traumatized. Sleeping, eating disorders, vision problems can also occur with long-term use. In addition, there may be delays in fine and gross motor skills that the child will develop by running, jumping and playing with real toys.
Arouse Curiosity, Encourage Conversation to Support Language Development in Children
Children, especially at the age of 1, begin to ask about everything they see around them. They try to learn by first showing them, holding them in their hands, and then asking “what is this?” Thus, their vocabulary develops. Sometimes they try to express their needs with their limited vocabulary. For example; A child who says “this is this” may be asking for water.
Mostly, families think that they are doing good to their children and meet their needs before they want children. The child who says this is immediately brought water. This reinforces the child’s continuing to say “this” to the water.
The child should be asked questions where the correct word is used, both to correct his pronunciation and to improve his vocabulary. “Are you thirsty? Do you want me to bring you water?” as. “It’s a book. A red book. Do you want me to read this book to you?” as. Therefore, in order to support language development in children, parents should be in a role that arouses curiosity and encourages conversation.
Children may ask you questions over and over with excitement during the learning process. May ask the same question over and over again. This can be challenging for the parent at times. Here, the enthusiasm of the child should not be discouraged. If the parent is not available, the child should be informed about when the parent will be available by descending to the child’s level and showing physical proximity. At the promised time, time should be spared for the child’s questions and his excitement should not be discouraged.
Read to Him, Tell Tales, Sing Together
You can read picture books suitable for the child’s age so that your child can see their pictures. At younger ages, rich picture books with small and large writings are preferred. As the age gets older, the font size decreases, the number of words increases, and the images become detailed. Telling tales that the child will add to and singing together also supports language development.
Language Development Delays in Children Should Not Be Neglected
The language development course of children may be adversely affected by physiological, biological, mental, environmental or psychological reasons. Traumatic experiences, lack of stimuli, mental retardation, hearing loss and similar problems can cause speech delay. Sometimes, regressions can be seen in acquired skills. These regressions can also develop as a result of traumas. Loss of parents, sibling jealousy, absence of a loved one, environmental changes can trigger these regressions.
Language development in children should be considered in early childhood. The development of the child should be followed according to the month/age range of the child. By the age of 2, the family’s awareness of language development should increase. If the child’s language development around the age of 2.5 – 3 does not show parallelism with his peers, if the above-mentioned signs of development are not observed, support from a specialist should be sought.