What parents need to know about language acquisition

Therapist Julie Wright, MFT, shares advice for parents on how the language acquisition process works in babies and toddlers and what parents can do to help improve their child's development
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What parents need to know about language acquisition

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When parents today think about language acquisition, often, they're hearing advice about how important it is to talk to your child. And this is true, it is important to talk to your child and studies do show that children who hear more language speak better and have a larger vocabulary. However, there's some interesting research that takes it a step further and my concern often is that I hear parents who are literally trying to talk a lot to their kids and it starts to feel artificial and it starts to feel like sort of pouring volumes of language toward their children. And the research that I find so fascinating-and once I explain it, it sounds very logical, too-is that, even among the group of children that they might research whose parents speak the most to them, there are still variations. And what they find is that the children who actually-even in that group of high speakers-the children who learn language the best have parents who are attuned to them and who respond to the sounds and the words the child makes. So, what this does is it relieves us of feeling, again, like we have to do, do, do. It actually makes it much more important to be aware, to be conscious and to respond to the sounds and the vocalizations that your child makes. They've done some fascinating experiments where the child's language leaped in even ten minutes, where the mom was coached to respond to the sounds that the baby made. And when you think about it, it makes perfect sense. We're geared to learn in a relational way, and this is how language evolves best.

Therapist Julie Wright, MFT, shares advice for parents on how the language acquisition process works in babies and toddlers and what parents can do to help improve their child's development

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Julie Wright, MFT

Psychotherapist & Author

Julie Wright, MFT is a marriage and family therapist with an extensive background in infant mental health and early childhood development.  She trained at Cedars Sinai Early Childhood Center and co-developed a program for parents and babies from 0-3 at LA Child Guidance Clinic. Julie specializes in mindful parenting, sleep issues and attachment theory.  She also works in private practice with infants, children, parents and adults.  Julie lives in Los Angeles with her son and often visits family on the east coast.

Julie has written the book, "The Happy Sleeper," Penguin 2014 with her colleague, Heather Turgeon, MFT. The Happy Sleeper gives the topic of baby sleep a fresh perspective. Their approach moves beyond old school ideas like “sleep training”—it’s grounded in research and shaped by new thinking. The Happy Sleeper gives you a clear, easy-to-follow system for transferring the role of independent sleep to your capable child, as they have done for thousands of families in their clinical practice.

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