Baby Communication: From Baby Babble to Preschool Chatter
By three to four years of age, children should understand common verbs and adjectives, and should comprehend when/where and yes/no questions. A preschooler’s average sentence length should be four to five words.
If parents didn’t believe their child could possibly have more to say than when she was a toddler, the preschool years will prove that it indeed is possible. Given all the new experiences in their lives, it’s easy to understand why these little ones have plenty to say. Preschoolers want to talk to you about all that they are learning and they want to be sure you are paying the utmost attention to every minute detail.
Additionally, many children have a self-created routine (that can change on a dime, by the way) to which they need everyone around them to adhere. Should you stray far from it or underestimate their needs in this area, you could be in for a fit that you neither anticipate nor comprehend.
“Our communication challenges with our three-year-old daughter, Celie, often revolve around our inability to talk with her regarding why she’s so upset at times. She has such a hard time if, for example, we try to put on her shoe when she was planning to do it,” comments Ben Strain, dad to Celie and one-year-old Dominic in Olathe, Kansas. “Sometimes, there’s just not time for her to explain (in great detail) why she’s flipping out. It’s as though she assumes we should know what she’s thinking, and she doesn’t seem interested in our explanation as to why her shoe needs to be put on immediately.”
During this time, Kunce reminds parents: “The best thing parents can do is provide a good speech model. Speak slowly and clearly, and try to remove time pressures for speaking. Let your child know that you are interested in what they have to say and you are more than happy to stop and listen.”
When should you worry?Cook recommends, “If hard-to-comprehend speech or other communication issues continue, become more severe, or your child seems constantly frustrated by speech and language challenges, contact a speech-language pathologist for an evaluation.”
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