Watch Your Language Around Young Children

Filed Under (NLP life coaching) on 01-06-2012

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Why is it a good idea to watch your language around young children? If you are a parent or guardian, this will inspire you. And you will think of this article and watch your language around young children.

Never underestimate young children…  

The ability to learn language is value neutral.  Every child will learn whatever is current parlance in the child’s environment.  Some children will learn to speak strings of obscenities, because that is what they observe from parents and other adults.  Other children may learn specialised vocabulary if that is the linguistic climate in which they grow up.  For this reason some young children will learn words or phrases that many older children do not know. For example ‘biodegradable’ or ‘sibling rivalry’.

Very few 6-years-olds know these words because few adults use them when talking to young children.  But if a 6 years-old hears ‘sibling rivalry’ and someone explains it as ‘brothers and sisters fighting over something they want’, the child will  accurately report that “there’s a lot of sibling rivalry in our house”.

If you’re a parent, guardian, or teacher of very young children, bear the following in mind.

When children begin making sentences, they structure them in the order of subject – verb – object. They say “Mommy give juice!” or “I want ball.”. This is the standard order of words in English.  Passive constructions don’t make sense to children under 5 years of age. The word order in the passive construction is reversed: objet – verb – subject.  When young children hear a sentence such as “The truck was bumped by the car.”, they think that the truck did the bumping.  They assume that what comes first causes what comes next.

Young children also think that the order of ideas in a sentence and the order of sentences is a clue to time sequence.  So to a child under 5 a sentence like “You can go outside after you pick up your toys” can mean ‘go outside, then pick up your toys’.  Consider then what is likely to follow from “Before you eat dinner you must wash your hands.”!

If you have very young children in the family or immediate environment and could do with more practical NLP advice, let’s talk.

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