How to Teach Your Children Good Language Skills


Early in life, your child will have a keen awareness of whether he or she is “fitting in” with peers, school­mates, or teammates. The ability to fit in is important. It helps give the child self-definition. It helps the child form a sense of what role to play in a group and a sense of belonging and acceptance.

A number of factors will be subconsciously moni­tored by your child and others to determine whether he or she “fits.” Perhaps the common denominator of these factors—over which you have some control and ability to train—is language. It’s critically important that your child be able to speak the same language as those around him or her.

If your child speaks a language other than English and lives in an English-speaking nation, make certain your child learns English, too, at a very early age. The same holds true for an English-speaking child living among non-English speakers. Don’t let your child be linguistically handicapped in the larger society.

Language skills also include the ability to be fluent and readily understood in the common language of the culture, and to speak without “impediments” that might cause others to misunderstand.

Your child will need speech therapy. At some point in their development, most children need corrective ther­apy, even if its only that provided by a mom or dad who says, “Say it this way. . . .” If your child has problems lasting longer than a couple of months, have his or her hearing checked. If there are no hearing problems, ar­range for professional help if the speech impediment doesn’t clear up after six months. Most schools have speech therapy programs in elementary grades. Your pediatrician is also a good resource for recommending speech teachers. The earlier the coping, remediating, or compensating skills are learned, the better the re­sults.

Don’t assume that your child will simply grow out of a speech problem. That may not happen. Furthermore, your child may be socially ostracized or stigmatized in the meantime. Again, fitting in among peers is impor­tant. Don’t let a speech impediment stand in the way if it can be corrected.

Your child will need grammar therapy. I’ve yet to meet a child that has never made a grammatical error. Making mistakes are part of learning language. Children will try out various combinations of words; if incorrect combinations aren’t corrected, the child is left with the impression that he or she has spoken correctly, and the child will likely adopt the wrong pattern of words. When you hear grammatical mistakes, gently correct them. Be consistent and persistent.

Good grammar is a calling card for your child, not only at school, but throughout life. Many people have been overlooked for promotions because of bad gram­mar (although that may not be the stated reason). Many children have been judged intellectually inferior or of a “lower class” because of bad grammar. Don’t let your child grow up with the handicap of bad grammar. It may well keep him or her from fitting in later in life.

Your child’s language will need editing. Children learn words from peers and television that parents don’t want as part of the child’s vocabulary. Children find pleasure in trying out the sound of certain words. Some of those words are going to be curse words. Some will be slang phrases. Some will be derogatory or racist remarks. It’s a parent’s responsibility to say, “We don’t say that.” Or, “That’s not a word we use.” Otherwise, the child will assume that the word is an acceptable one.

A child with good language skills has confidence that he or she can communicate in a socially acceptable man­ner. He or she has the assurance of fitting in.

Good language skills do not automatically build self-esteem, but bad language habits can bring about the rejection and criticism that destroys self-esteem. Don’t let that happen to your child.

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  4. How to Improve Your Grammar?
  5. How to Teach Sign Language to Adults

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About the Author: Roberta Southworth is a psychiatrist by profession. She likes to help out people by writing informative tips on how people can to solve their family and relationship issues. She is currently staying in Ireland. She has 5 years of couple counseling experience.

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