Taking what is heard to heart

20 May 2020

Effect of Language to Children

Have you ever thought about the power of language?

The old saying, ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me’ isn’t true!

Language is powerful. Children typically understand a lot more than they are able to say. Children listen to conversations that they are not directly part of and take what’s said to heart. A child’s developing sense of who they are is shaped by the ways that the adults that they love talk about them.

When you meet up with an adult friend or another family member, try talking positively about your child in a conversation that they’re not directly part of but should have the opportunity to overhear. For example, ‘Grandma, guess what. Alex was a really good helper. After lunch, Alex carried all the cups and plates from the table to the kitchen. We worked together; I feel so happy that Alex helped me.’

If there is more than one child in your family it can be helpful to try to avoid making comparisons between children e.g., a child who hears their sibling described as ‘he’s my sporty / chatty / clever one’ may automatically assume they aren’t sporty / chatty / clever and may feel less motivated to persist with developing their skills.

Print out this positive affirmation list and stick it somewhere for all the family to see. If your child is old enough, talk to them about positive words and see if they can add some of their own to this list.

For more tips from our Listening and Spoken Language Team, why not try these Everyday Listening activities?

Positive Phrases for Children Checklist

Contributed by Sally Hewett, Listening and Spoken Language Therapist

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