The journey from murmuring to blabbering to talking is a joyful experience. Children learn to talk by observing and hearing us talk. That means they absorb language by listening to us and watching our lips move. As soon as they start talking, we tend to teach them new words. We use pictures in books or ask them questions and provide answers. But do they always understand or relate to what is being taught? For example, a child is given a name when he is born. From day one, he keeps hearing his name and one fine day he understands that it is his name. And when someone calls out that name he starts to respond. Only when he has enough experience of hearing and responding to his name, will he be able to answer the question, “What is your name?”. Now if we try to teach him how old he is and give him a ready-made answer, he will surely learn and repeat but will he be able to relate? Will he know what age really means or what that number means? They learn language by repeating words spoken to them but they can only relate to language when they experience something.
If we show them the picture of a ball, they will only learn the name but if we first give them the real object, they will explore and play with it and then when we teach them the name, they understand “oh! this is a ball, and it is something that I can play with”. My observation here has also shown me that children observe the shape of an object, and every round thing now becomes a ball to play with. If they see and experience a round object that is used differently, then they realise that not every round thing is a ball. That is why I think that experience should always precede language.
“The training and sharpening of the senses has the obvious advantage of enlarging the field of perception and of offering an over more solid foundation for intellectual growth. The intellect builds up its store of practical ideas through contact with, and exploration of its environment. Without such concepts the intellect would lack precision and inspiration in its abstract operations.” – Maria Montessori, The Discovery of the Child
“NO”, is the most common word that we as adults use for children. I agree that we are so busy with work sometimes that we end up saying ‘no’ for many things. But this is not the solution. It just adds more stress to our life as well as our child’s life.
Let me give you an example of my son. Just as he turned 1.5 years, my helper noticed that he had started touching his private part. She started to discipline him by jerking away his hand and scolding him. I told her not to do so because he was doing that unconsciously and by jerking away his hand and scolding him, she was making him aware of his wrong action. He started to do it even more. She was not convinced when I told her not to do that and as time passed, she started hurting his hand whenever he did that. The habit increased and we ended up making him wear a full-length suit at night. We decided to let go of the helper as she did not agree with our parenting method. When the same thing happened in front of me, I would just tell him that the floor would get wet if he peed anywhere and helped him to pull-up his pants. I used a casual and calm tone whenever I did that so that he wouldn’t try to test the limit by waiting for a reaction from me. I asked everyone at home to do the same thing. We were then just pulling up his pants without saying a single word. After a few days, he started coming to us saying that if he pulled down his pants, his pee would wet the floor. And finally, the habit was gone.
Young children don’t understand the word ‘no’ easily. It is simpler for them to know what to do rather than what ‘not’ to do. Pulling up his pants made it easier for him to control rather than by hurting him in any way. From my experience, I have also learned that children try to test our patience and will want our attention. If we give them attention for the right things, they will want to do the right thing and same goes for the wrong thing. When should we say no then? We say no when the child has the comprehension of the word ‘no’. Until then, we redirect and give him physical cues to stop the action that is inappropriate.
So, create a physical and psychological environment at home, where the necessity to say ‘no’ is minimised so that you can relax and enjoy your child’s childhood!