short and simple
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a conversation with a baby is different than having a conversation
with an adult or an older child. When we talk with any young
child, we make our face and our voice expressive, we try
to say interesting things, and we use short, simple phrases
and sentences. We repeat a lot, because we know that young
children are not just trying to understand what we tell
them, they are also trying to learn about the language we
are using. Babies who are deaf and hard of hearing are trying
to accomplish those same jobs. Because they have to be paying
close attention to get a message, they need many, many opportunities.
Because the job of acquiring language is complicated, our
messages need to be short and simple.
You have practiced responding to signals,
commenting on your child's interests, following your baby's
lead, and guiding conversations into new and exciting worlds.
Every time you use one of these skills, you will also need
to practice keeping your conversational turn short and simple.
Adults talk to babies differently than anyone else. They use short, animated phrases and a lot of repetition. These changes serve an important purpose.
Here are some examples of parent conversation
turns that are just right, or just a little bit too much:
|Short and simple:
||Maybe too much
for right now:
||You ate a big bite
and your mouth is full!
|Time to go night-night.
||Brush your teeth and
then go to bed.
|That's my sock.
||This is mommy's sock
and this is your sock.
|Mmmmm, good cereal.
||That cereal tastes
Here are some phrases parents might
use with their babies. All of them are about ideas that
might interest a baby or respond to a signal. Some of them
are a little too long. Which ones do you think are short
baby holds up an empty cup.
A. "Do you want more milk
or are you done?"
B. (look in cup) "All gone."
(hold up milk) "Want more milk?"
The two phrases in (B) are each short
and supported by an action. Your baby has a chance to catch
the meaning and the language.
baby fusses and pushes a toy away.
A. "No more toy? Ok"
B. "You don't want this
toy anymore. Let's find
something else for you to look at."
The phrases in B express good ideas, but they are rather long for a young child with hearing loss. Shorter phrases, like in A, affirm the baby's idea and invite the baby to play something new.