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Baby Talk

There is nothing as adorable as a babbling, cooing, lisping baby. But when you're five year old lapses into baby talk, it's not cute - it's revolting and annoying. Yet this is quite a common happening. Many parents report that their children suddenly regress back to cutesy-pie, whiny baby language. Children labour under the misapprehension that it will trigger off an outpouring of love and affection from their parents. While this is usually not the case, as parents tend to react as they would to an annoying buzzing fly, it is attention-getting, even if the attention is negative. 

This regressive behaviour in the language department is usually triggered off by some environmental factors that are disturbing the child. There are many possibilities. Some children feel threatened by the arrival of a new baby and think that baby talk is one way of clinging onto their position as baby of the family. For other children, the transition from kindergarten to proper school, or a run-in with a teacher or their mother's new job is enough to set them off. But there is no need for parents to get alarmed. This situation is usually just temporary till the children learn to cope with what's bothering them. Parent should keep in mind that if they make a fuss about the baby talk, it is likely to last longer.

Tips for coping with baby talk

  • The first thing parents should try to do is to ignore the baby talk. Reacting with ridicule, amusement or annoyance will only fulfil the children's purpose in getting your attention.
  • Talk to your children as you would to another adult. Explain firmly, but kindly that you cannot understand what they are trying to say and you will only converse with them when they revert to their normal speech. 
  • Praise them immediately on how adult they sound if they do respond to your admonishment by speaking normally. 
  • As mentioned earlier, lapsing into baby talk is a signal that your child is disturbed about something. A little tender loving care from you may do the trick. May be you could take the time out to give your child a hug or put him on your lap and tell him a story. You don't necessarily have to probe into what's bothering him. An outward display of affection goes a long way in soothing insecurities.
  • Express your irritability to him, but in a way that he is made to realize that it is not him you find irritating per se, but his habit of talking in a babyish manner.
  • Tell him what you will do the next time he annoys you by talking like a baby and follow through consistently.
  • Make him realize that he is growing up and that talking like a baby is not consistent with his growing maturity. Gradually give him small tasks and responsibilities and do not mollycoddle him by doing things for him that he can do himself.
  • If you can't identify what could be bothering him at home, go and see his teacher to check if there is a problem at school. Once you have discovered the root of the problem, you can help your child cope with it in a more normal fashion. 

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