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Daily Dose

Using Foul Language Around Children

Watch your language around your children. They hang on to every word you say especially when using foul language.I really don’t watch much TV, but I am a big fan of the show Brothers and Sisters. I often tape and watch when I have a few free moments.  So, I was trying to catch up today and watch an episode from several weeks ago.

In one scene Kitty (Calista Flockhart) is holding her 3 year old son in her lap while she is on the computer trying to buy a purse during an online auction. When Kitty doesn’t succeed in getting the winning bid she blurts out  “Damn, Damn, Damn” right in front of her son!!!  Never even flinches or says Oops or anything. Now, I am not a television censor, but I mean REALLY??  Although the language that is on television is often disturbing to me, I realize that “we” can turn off the television and choose what to watch. I also think that is really important for parents to continue to monitor the television programs that their children watch, which includes the language that is used on the program. But in this case on Brothers and Sisters,  (I am not picking on that show I promise), not only did I think that the language was inappropriate, it was amazing that they would “show” a parent swearing in front of their child. Talk about bad parental modeling!  A 3 year old child is listening to every word that their parent says, and at that age they don’t know the difference between the word darn or damn. What they do know is that Mommy used that word so it must be okay. This was a good reminder that children are always listening to the language that we use. You can “get away with” using “bad” language when a child is an infant (not preferable), but as a child enters their second year of life, so after their first birthday, they are beginning to mimic language.  When a child hears any word they may repeat it, whether that word is appropriate or not. Many a parent has come into my office and asked “why is my child saying _________”. If their child is saying that forbidden word, it means that they have heard that word somewhere.  Maybe not from you, but from another caregiver, an older child, or yes, even on the television. It is especially important to keep language appropriate in the earliest years in order that a child will understand the difference between good words and bad words.  As a child is older and they are exposed to more situations and even more inappropriate language they have an understanding of words and what they should not be repeating. A little one does not get that. While I still love Brothers and Sisters, I think that a show about families,  would be prudent to forgo the bad language, especially while a mother is holding a child in her lap.  Even if I can’t get the writers to change, it is a good reminder to all of us that our children are listening! That's your daily dose for today.  We'll chat again tomorrow. Send your question or comment to Dr. Sue!

Your Baby

Babies May Never Outgrow Their Native Language


How early are babies able to learn their native language? According to a new study from South Korea, as early as the first few months of life.

The study takes an interesting look at the impression that language makes on newborns and whether babies actually retain any birth language ability even if they are adopted and grow up in a different country.

For this study, adults that were adopted from South Korea as babies by Dutch-speaking families were asked to pronounce Korean consonants after a short training course.

Researchers found that the now Dutch-speaking adults exceeded expectations at Korean pronunciation when retrained after losing their birth language.

The two languages have little in common. Korean consonants are unlike those spoken in Dutch.

The participants were compared with a group of adults who had not been exposed to the Korean language as children and then rated by native Korean speakers.

Both groups performed to the same level before training, but after training the international adoptees exceeded expectations.

There was no difference between children who were adopted under six months of age - before they could speak - and those who were adopted after 17 months, when they had learned to talk.

Because of the young ages of the adopted children, researchers suggested the language knowledge retained is more abstract in nature, rather than dependent on experience.

Dr Jiyoun Choi of Hanyang University in Seoul led the research.

The study is the first to show that early experiences of adopted children in their birth language, continues to give them an advantage decades later, even if they think it is forgotten, she said.

Other studies suggest that babies may learn their natural language as early as in the womb. Typically, babies begin uttering vowel sounds at about 6 weeks, but won’t be able to make words - associated with meanings - until around 12 to 16 months of age.  How early a child learns to speak is dependent on factors such as, how much parents, siblings or relatives interact and talk to them, along with good hearing and health.

''Please remember that [the] language learning process occurs very early in life, and useful language knowledge is laid down in the very early months of life as our study suggests,'' Choi said.

''Try to talk to your babies as much as possible because they are absorbing and digesting what you are saying.''

Talking to and positive interaction with your baby not only helps him or her learn language quicker, but also builds a foundation for feeling safe and valued as a unique and important member of the family. 

Story source: Helen Briggs,

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Why texture is important when introducing new food to your baby.


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