It Takes a Village: Getting Everyone on Board to Support Your Toddler's Language

It Takes a Village: Getting Everyone on Board to Support your Toddler’s Language

“It’s takes a village to raise a child.”

Having an active toddler of my own and the support of a several key people, I agree with this proverb. I would also assert that it takes a village to develop a child’s language skills. Before I tell you HOW to use your village to encourage your child’s language development, I want to stress WHY parents need the support of a village.



Photo Credit: molly.layde

Having trusted help is good for your child and it’s good for you.

If you don’t have any help caring for your child, I bet you’re exhausted. I see clients 3 days a week. In between my daughter’s naps and after she goes to sleep, I squeeze in time for blogging and writing. When I work, Kerrigan’s either at daycare (she attends 3 hours in the morning), or with my mom or my lovely next door neighbor. My in-laws also lend a hand, when they come in from out of town. I’m fortunate to have amazing help.

Exposing your child to the love and care of trusted adults helps him or her to develop healthy emotional connections. According to Dr. Edward Hallowell, a child psychiatrist and author of The Childhood Roots to Adult Happiness, “A connected childhood is the key to happiness”. The more social connections and bonds your child has, the happier he or she will be. I agree with Dr. Hallowell because I see it with my own daughter. Her eyes light up when she sees grandma and a huge smile forms when she sees her favorite Uncle or dedicated babysitter. When we pull into the school’s parking lot, Kerrigan cheers and says “Yay! School”!

Kerrigan also learns from her village members. It’s amazing what she picks up when she’s not with me. My mother-in-law (aka mom-mom) introduced her to a game we call, “Horsie”. She sits on mom-mom’s leg and she pumps it up and down, while clicking her tongue to sound like a horse trotting. Kerrigan thinks she’s riding a horse and loves it! Even though I do lots with Kerrigan, I haven’t thought to do that with her. I turned “Horsie” into a way to promote her language skills by encouraging her to say “horsie” instead of just pointing to mom-mom’s legs for a ride. Now, she’ll say “horsie” when touching my legs AND make the trotting sounds with her tongue.

Social connectedness and support from family and friends also benefits parents. Caring and raising your child is very rewarding but it’s STRESSFUL. Without any help or access to social outlets, burn out rate is high. Being connected to others allows us to take a break and to vent. It also decreases feelings of isolation.

Why am I writing about this topic? Two reasons.

Firstly, I have encountered many parents, several having children with delays, who worry that the family member, babysitter, or other hired help will not do things the “right way”. Instead of getting help, these parents attempt to do everything by themselves. Some will not even accept or trust the support of a spouse. I have also known families that prefer not to share worries or disclose information about their child’s development to family members and friends. They have consciously made efforts not to tell anyone that their child is receiving speech therapy. This is TOTALLY understandable.

If you find yourself in either situation and you’re feeling overwhelmed and anxious, I recommend building your village sooner than later to prevent burnout. Life is too short to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. If you decide not to disclose information about your child’s development to family and friends, then I might assume they will not be part of the village that assists in developing his or her language skills? If so, that’s fine. With a little creativity and brainstorming, there are other ways to build a village by using outside support (babysitters, daycare, support groups, virtual forums, mommy groups, etc).

happy parent quote

happy parent quote

Secondly, if you’re fortunate to have a village and you’re trying to promote your toddler’s language, everyone needs to know what to do, how to do it and when to do it. Working together will ensure more efficient and effective progress.

Sound complicated? Well, it can be. But, it’s worth making the effort. Stay tuned – my next post is HOW to get your village on board to promote language development.

Sorry, for being such a tease. I’ll share one quick tip.

  1. Increase awareness. Talk about talking. You want your village to be mindful of your toddler’s communication. Plant the seed by asking questions and seeking their advice or input. Ask your village, “What have you found helps Janice to communicate? Others may notice things you haven’t and their insight is valuable. Or, ask, “What do you think it means when Henry does this or does that?” Sometimes just asking thoughtful questions helps others become more mindful of certain behaviors or situations. Or, remark, “I’ve noticed that whenever I do X, Mary is more likely to do Y. Have you seen that too?” Increasing awareness is the one of the first steps needed to make change, to break old habits and to form new ones.

More tips to come in the next post.

How have you gotten your village on board? Feel free to share tips.

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