Why to Avoid Using Toddler-Talk with Your Toddler

When children become old enough to start school, they have already developed some kind of language ability. The degree to which kids use and understand language is important and has an enormous impact on their entire educational career.

How Do Young Children Develop Language Skills?

There is a growing body of evidence that points to a strong parental influence on early language development. How many words a child hears as an infant and toddler is an important factor is language development.

But beyond the number of words a toddler hears, how those words are spoken matters as well. According to a study published in Cognitive Psychology, talking “baby talk” to your child may not be the best strategy to get them to adopt language.

It’s common for parents to use “cutesy” language when speaking with their child. They may say, “Do you have to go potty?” instead of “Do you have to go to the bathroom?” or “Do you want some wa-wa?” instead of “Do you want some water?” While it may seem harmless to speak this kind of language, experts are now suggesting it may actually slow down language development in young children.

The Case for Complex Speech

Janellen Huttenlocher, Ph.D. and head of the developmental psychology program at the University of Chicago, observed 305 local children in 40 preschool classrooms. She found that students whose teachers used complex speech – those are sentences that include multiple nouns, verbs, or clauses – had higher language-comprehension skills.

Other researchers have reached the same conclusion. Research teams in Japan and Paris published findings from similar studies that looked at how parents and mothers speak influences language development. What they found is that parents tend to use language as a way to engage children and show emotion. But this tends to make the language in and of itself unclear.

While more studies will likely need to be done, what’s clear is that sing-song-y baby-talk is not very clear for your child, often containing too many syllables. It is this difference in clarity that seems to help boost or detriment language retention.

If you are a parent of a toddler or young child, you may want to do some more research on your own to determine if you want to use baby-talk with them. In the meantime, engage with your child as often as possible and be as clear as you can when you’re speaking with them.

4 Tips for Making Friends in Your Golden Years

Though young people seem to dread getting older, the truth is, many things get better with age. We tend to have more self-confidence, more money in the bank, and more time to explore our goals and dreams.

But in some ways, getting older can be difficult. We tend to lose connections with friends and can find ourselves feeling alone and isolated. And it’s not as easy making friend in your 60s, 70s, or 80s as it was in your teens and 20s.

Human beings are social creatures. We become depressed and anxious when we become isolated. And studies have shown that we age better and are healthier when we surround ourselves with friends.

Though it can feel challenging to make new friends in your golden years, it is very possible to do so and here are some tips to get you started:

Commit to the Process

Making new friends will take a bit of work and commitment on your part. You can’t expect to give it one week and find 5 new close friendships. Just commit to the process knowing it is, in fact, a process.

Change Up Your Routines

You can’t expect new people to come into your life by doing the same old thing day after day. You’re going to have to step out of your comfort zone and try new things, visit new places and explore new hobbies and opportunities. The good news is, while it may feel a little uncomfortable at first (especially if you’ve gotten very comfortable in your daily routines) the payoffs – those amazing new connections with wonderful new people – will be entirely worth it.

Be Open Minded

Be open to friendships you may have never been open to in the past. If you don’t think you could ever be friends with someone from a different political party, economic background, or someone younger, think again. A new person with different life experiences can greatly enrich your life and perception of the world. That’s a beautiful thing!

Lose That Fear of Rejection

A fear of rejection is one of the biggest we humans face each day. Yes, you are going to feel vulnerable putting yourself out there, and yes, not everyone you feel a connection with will necessarily feel the same. But here are a few other truths you should remember:

– Most people feel the need to connect with others and are happy to make new friends.

– We all feel awkward with small talk and the beginning stages of any new relationships.

– All of your most meaningful relationships you’ve ever had started with you getting to know a stranger. Even your own children were strange new beings that you had to get to know.

 

Don’t allow yourself to become lonely and isolated. There is a big world out there with wonderful friendly people who are just waiting to get to know you! And if you are suffering from social anxiety and would like to speak to someone about that, let’s talk about how I may be able to help.

What Causes Insomnia? 15 Key Culprits

If you’re someone who spends most of the night tossing and turning and checking the time on the clock, you’re definitely not alone. According to the National Institutes of Health, close to 20% of Americans suffer from some kind of sleep disorder. That’s a lot of people walking around cranky and groggy!

Symptoms of Insomnia

People troubled by insomnia experience difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or getting back to sleep when they wake up at a very early hour. These sleep disturbances cause stress and anxiety, and make every day activities like working, remembering, and thinking clearly very challenging. Insomnia also typically causes irritability and fatigue. Persistent insomnia may also be a contributing factor of depression.

Causes of Insomnia

Insomnia is a complex condition that is still being studied. So far we do know that there are certain conditions that make people more prone to insomnia:

– Age – people over 60 are more susceptible

– Gender – females, on average, are more susceptible

– A history of depression can make you more susceptible

 

The main culprits of insomnia are:

– Jet lag

– Shift work

– Anxiety

– Grief

– Depression

– Stress

– Stimulants like nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol taken too soon before bed

– An overactive thyroid

– Steroid use

– Certain prescription medications (if you’re currently taking any, speak with your doctor about insomnia side effects)

– Restless leg syndrome

– Menopause and hot flashes

– Gastrointestinal conditions such as heartburn

– Conditions that make it hard to breathe like asthma and sleep apnea

– Chronic pain

As I mentioned, depression is one of the most common causes of chronic insomnia. In these cases, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help. CBT targets the thoughts and actions that are disrupting your sleep night after night. This therapeutic strategy encourages good sleep habits while relieving anxiety.

Some therapists may use a combination of relaxation therapy and biofeedback to reduce anxiety in clients. Others may employ different strategies like breathwork and positive thinking.

Therapists recognize that each client is an individual with individual needs. One-on-one talking therapy will help a therapist determine the specific causes – in some cases there may be multiple culprits – and put together a comprehensive strategy for relief.

If you are suffering from insomnia and would like to explore cognitive behavioral therapy, please get in touch with me. I’d be more than happy to discuss how I may be able to help you get the rest you need.