Thursday, 30 August 2012

Talkin’ All That TV

Sometimes I forget to talk to Mr.T. I usually forget in the morning, when he has woken up at 5:30am and I haven’t had my coffee yet. I feed him in silence, change his nappy in silence and walk sleepwalk into the living area, put him down and make a coffee. After a few sips I might be ready to say a few words to him. I try to make up for this lack of conversation around lunchtime when I’m awake wired.

Mr. T is saying “mum” constantly. He says it happily, angrily and mid-cry. Everyone keeps telling me how strange it is that he is saying “mum” as “dad” usually comes first. Like babies ever fit the ‘norm’ spectrum anyway. Now that his language is developing it’s got me thinking about ways I can encourage his speech development.

All too often I’ve seen the effects of children placed in front of the TV constantly at home. A 5 year old can enter my classroom on their first day of Prep and have a conversation with me and I can usually guess, unless they have some kind of developmental delay for other reasons, that this little boy/girl probably doesn’t engage in much conversation at home. A writing task usually confirms this as all the child can come up with is “I play my Wii” or “I watch Dora”.

I know it might seem a little rough and as a parent too, I’ve popped Mr.T down in front of some irritating children’s cartoon while I’ve gone and gotten a few things done. So I’m certainly not judging! But I think if parents are aware, if you keep it in the back of your mind to have a conversation with your child here or there during the day and try and squeeze in a story or two, there is no doubt your child will benefit.

Some people genuinely think that hearing all that speech on TV is going to help a baby or child talk. There’s even DVDs marketed just for that. But I really think that nothing can compensate for 1:1 interaction. What about eye contact, copying your gestures or the intonation of your voice? Then there’s the imitation of facial expression and knowing that speaking is a way of communicating to another live human being. Ok, rant over.

So, I’m sitting here, writing this and not talking to Mr.T but I’ll be sure to make up for it during the day by telling him about  what I’m doing, imitating him, reading him stories, singing and playing peek-a-boo. I’m confident it will make a difference.

What do you do to encourage your little ones to be talkers? Do you have toddlers who can help out?

This post is linked to Flog Yo' Blog Friday at With Some Grace


  1. My twin toddlers are talking up a storm these days. We read a lot of books to them and I love the interaction and the closeness you get from doing it. I must say though, I don't know what I'd do without ABC4Kids and Thomas the Tank Engine DVD's. They are life savers!

  2. Oh gosh, twins. Would be so cute watching them interact! I think I'm concious that my little guy doesn't get much interaction with other children. I'm all he's got for the majority of the day so I feel like I need to make sure I talk to him a lot.
    Ohhh yes, there's certainly a place for ABC Kids and DVDs in the world, that's for sure :D

  3. I put my hand up to being that TV parent with Miss6. And we're paying the price - plentiful delays etc. etc. I honestly had no idea how harmful it could be in such massive volumes. Thankfully, the twins aren't remotely interested in TV, and I know better than to rely on it for babysitting either way.

    So, where were you when I was an over-tired, naive, first time parent who was happy to play Sesame Street on endless repeat? Heh.

  4. hehe well if it was 6 or so years ago I was probably too busy engaging in midweek piss-ups and scrambling an essay together minutes before it was due to contemplate the effects of TV on children. Don't feel bad. We're all guilty of doing it. My son's only 10 months and I'm already doing it. You're putting in the effort now - Miss6 still has the rest of her life to 'catch on' :-)

  5. So my daughter could talk under water and watches a bit of tv. We both made an effort early on to talk to her whenever we could - I think the "immersion" approach seemed to work well for us