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If you've ever spent any time with a toddler, you'd know that the most important thing to watch, other than the kid of course, is your language. Babies are like sponges. They absorb every thing your throw at them. Sometimes they learn words quickly (like when you inadvertently blurt out the "c" word in an act of road rage and your kid says it for the rest of the day). At other times (like when you want to show off to your family) they don't. The key they say is repetition. If you want your kid to learn the language, you have to be consistent, and repeat the words, again and again, until he gets it right. Right? Well, kinda.

If you're like me, you couldn't wait to teach your daughter (son for many of you) how to say the word "Dada." There's a moment of pride when your child finally looks at you after hours, days, even weeks of you repeating the same two syllables together and says: "Da..........(long pause, possibly a few minutes, possibly a few hours or days)....Da!" You call your mom. You call your dad. You call everybody you've ever known to tell the world that your child can speak! But wait... you didn't really think that one through now, did you?


Here's the problem as I see it: once you open that box (the voice box in this case) you can't close it. So your taught your kid how to say "Dada." Well guess what, now that he knows the word he's going to use it. And once he learns a whole bunch of them, he's going to start stringing small phrases together, like "Hi, Dada." Or, in my case, "Hi, Da-Deeeeeeeee." And, sure, "Dada" was awesome the first few hundred times that you heard it, but when you come home every night to a child that says: "Hi Dada" a thousand times in a row its a bit much- even if they are said with a beautiful, toothless smile. Or, how about when your wife teaches your daughter how to say your name, and you wake up one morning to hear her screaming it at the top of her lungs: "Ah-lum" (a variation of Adam) over and over again? Or you get your daughter to say "Love you" one night before she goes to bed, and you wake up the next morning to hear her repeat "Love You, A-lum" a million times before the sun comes up... (well, actually, that one was kinda cute, even if it got me out of bed before 6 a.m.)? How would you feel about teaching her the language then? I mean, honestly, in light of this, was crying so bad?

And, forget your repetitious child, what about family get togethers? Once the word is out that your kid can talk, it becomes fair game to treat her like she's a friggin parrot. "Say this...." and "say that...;" that's all I ever hear any more at Friday night dinners at my in-laws house. I've got grand parents, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, cousins all trying to get my child to repeat words I no longer care to hear, because by the time they're hearing them for the first time, I've heard each and every one of them so many times that I actually want to start a write in campaign to have them removed from the English language.

What am I saying? In as few words as possible, I'm saying talking is over-rated. And as fantastic as it is to teach your child how to say "Dada" or "Mama" or "Doggy" or "A-lum" (if you know one), don't be in such a rush. Your child will have many opportunities to learn new words in the next few years, but you will only have a few short years to adjust before your child learns how to really use those words against you.

"Hi Dad. Can I have four-hundred bucks for the newest video game system? No! Well, f@#% you!"

Serenity now...

Here's more on repetition and language basics for toddlers:



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Reader Comments (2)

Sounds great, can't wait for that. Right now, otherwise mute Bub has started what the doctor called "raspberry-ing." I call him the world's smallest motorboat. With no motor. And he doesn't float. But I'm just gonna shut up and enjoy it.

June 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMan vs. Baby

Ya. My daughter skipped right over that and just went into her Oliver Twist impersonation... "More?" I had to keep the house stocked full of berries (blueberries- her favorite food)just so I didn't have to hear it every five seconds. At least she took to the concept of "please", but only recently. Enjoy!

June 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAdam Dolgin

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