What is one piece of advice you’d share with expecting parents of their first child?
You are a unique human being. So is your partner and together you created another unique little person. Be ready to get to know who your baby is, their natural abilities and struggles, and their true nature.
5 ways to communicate for optimal early cognitive development with your child before they can talk.
Our infants and toddlers can’t talk to us yet, but they are thinking as they process the world around them. How we talk to them before they can talk back matters. Here are five practical tips for using intentional language for optimal early cognitive development!
1. Use sentences that are six words or less.
This allows your baby to fully process and comprehend the meaning behind your words.
2. “Narrate” their experiences and yours.
It’s like holding a linguistic mirror up to their every activities. You are playing with the yellow blocks. I’m washing dishes while you eat your snack.
3. Include a wide range of emotional vocabulary.
Raising emotionally regulated and intelligent kids with empathy and compassion (2 indicators of success in school) is a big job. We often lump a baby’s feelings into two camps: happy or sad. Saying things like “I see how frustrated you are. It’s ok to be disappointed. It looks like you are overwhelmed. Would you like some help?” supports this early development.
4. “Forecast” upcoming activities or events.
Babies and toddlers like to know what’s coming next. They feel safe learning inside the routine and predictability. You can say things like “In ten minutes it will be time for lunch” or “Today we are going to bank and the post office” or “When we get home it will be bath time.” You are supporting early time-management and cognitive planning skills.
5. Replace “Do you want?” with “Would you like?”
We spend the first two years of their lives asking them what they want then are often shocked when they start demanding things using, “I want” as their sentence starter. (how rude!) Using “would you like” supports early decision-making skills and results in a child with manners when they start to talk back!
Recommend a book, article or podcast in the child development space for families to read or listen to.
I find this article about the science of a mother’s mindset and its effect on their baby’s early development compelling and timely.
What is your go-to parenting hack?
Shifting our perspective. If we are able to see our interactions and experiences with our kids from at least two different perspectives we can avoid emotion-based knee-jerk reactions. We can stop, think, and respond with intention.
Cara Tyrrell empowers parents to be their child’s first teacher and has a passion for lasting relationships among the family support network. Cara has Bachelor degree in ASL and Linguistics and a Master’s degree in Education. She’s a trained Early Childhood Teacher, Early Years Caregiver, continuing education consultant, and parent coach. In her preschool and Kindergarten classrooms, she identified a pattern of underdeveloped skill sets in her students leading to a professional pivot as an online Early Childhood Parent Educator.
Cara founded Core4Parenting, an online community and course platform for parents and caregivers that follows the developmental path of the young child while educating, empowering and engaging parents and caregivers to be their child’s brain architect between birth and 5 years old, setting them up for success in school and life.