When the baby called "Dad, Mom" ​​for the first time, the excitement and joy of the parents were indescribable, but this was not the real "talking" of the child.

Babies actually combine meaningful sound form with conceptual content, usually after the age of 1.

Do babies before that age have the ability to communicate?

The answer is yes, and this communication ability develops in the home environment and is very important.

The performance of children's prelingual ability

  Communication is the process by which people share ideas, ideas, information, and feelings with others, and is a fundamental indicator of social interaction.

Communication can be verbal or non-verbal.

During the first year of life, babies are almost always learning how to communicate with the outside world.

The period before the baby officially starts to speak is called the "pre-language".

  Children's prelingual ability refers to the ability to communicate with the outside world without language before the child speaks, including non-verbal abilities such as voice, facial expressions, gestures, eye contact, and imitation.

Prelingual ability plays a very important role in children's future speaking and communication.

  Shortly after birth, the baby begins to actively integrate into the interaction of the family environment.

For example, signaling with a "cry" and parents will respond.

Families respond to crying in a variety of ways, ranging from "hug" behavior, to voice responses, or to giving food.

After a positive response from the parent, the baby stops crying.

Regardless of the form of response, the baby gradually acquires this communication ability and slowly learns to express their needs.

  Generally speaking, babies will respond with voice when they are about 3 months old. Although there are fewer voice forms at this time and the sound is relatively monotonous, it may be just a "coo / chirp" sound, but this is the starting point for entering the door of communication.

This "coo" sound is a throat sound that babies make when they start trying and succeed with vocal cords.

Parents should respond positively to these voices.

Many caregivers only respond to the child's life needs such as food and drink, and even think that a child who does not cry or make trouble is a good child. These practices are unscientific.

  As the months grow, so will the baby's own "voice library".

At about 6 months, the child will pronounce "a, i, u, e", and can even play with a combination of "ba, di, mu" by himself.

In communicating with the outside world, babies often use these voices to send invitations or respond, and with small facial expressions, the communication intention is very obvious.

These sounds, which have no verbal meaning, are invaluable to babies.

They are accumulated bit by bit and stored in the child's memory.

In the future, infants develop language by slowly combining sounds and concepts of things.

At this time, parents should also have voice interaction with their children like chatting.

  Although there is no language, the baby gradually learned a magic weapon for efficient communication - gestures at the age of 8 or 9 months.

Babies begin to use gestures or movements to communicate with others.

For example, a baby uses his fingers to move his eyes back and forth between the adult and the desired item, and uses his characteristic voice and tone to urge everyone to meet his needs.

These actions or behaviors that reflect the infant's intention to communicate play an important role in the child's future speech.

  Prelingual ability is an important foundation for children to speak, just like a seed, it needs the soil of the communication environment to promote it to take root and form the language ability that accompanies us throughout our lives.

High-risk signals in the prelingual stage

  Children's prelingual ability is the foundation of future expression and understanding.

Scientific research has shown that whether infants have better speech perception ability around 6 months is closely related to whether they have better word and sentence comprehension and expression ability in the future.

If a child's prelingual skills are relatively weak, he may also have some difficulties in the following areas, including social skills, language comprehension and expression, play skills, attention, etc.

Such children may be easily frustrated because they do not have the foundational skills to learn or use language.

For example, if the baby wants something that cannot be pointed out to the family accurately, and cannot be satisfied, he will lose his temper.

In terms of games, they can't interact with their family members, and they get less fun from activities, thus reducing their initiative.

In terms of social interaction, non-verbal interaction with others is not possible because of weak communication skills, and it is easy to conflict or compromise with others.

In terms of verbal expression, the use of words may be delayed because the child has not yet learned the skills to repeat words and language.

  If parents find that their child's prelingual ability is weak, in addition to creating more opportunities for communication in the family environment, it is also necessary to go to the hospital or professional language institution to assess the child's language and overall development level.

When the child is about 1 year old, if the following symptoms occur, such as no cooing; no sound or repeated syllables; no eye gaze; no search for the source of the sound; no response to sound; no fingering things; can't imitate; no response when calling names; lack of social smile; can't use different voices to express hunger, happiness, sadness, etc. It is recommended that parents take their children to do a systematic evaluation and check, and combine the relevant indicators of language development to confirm whether the child has Delayed language development or other problems.

  Delayed language development not only indicates low language expression ability, but also may have obstacles in language comprehension and psychological growth.

If parents ignore these high-risk signals of children in the prelingual stage, children may have some difficulties in learning to speak, language comprehension and expression, social games, and even schoolwork and work in the future.

Scientific research shows that early detection of communication problems, enhanced communication and interaction in the environment, and timely targeted reinforcement measures are very beneficial to the improvement of children's language ability.

If there is no diagnosis of other diseases, children are simply below the level of language development at the same age. Through intervention, 50% to 70% of children can catch up with children of the same age.

  Adults pay attention to the development of children's prelingual ability as soon as possible, which can better prevent possible problems in language.

Or, even if there are some obstacles in the child's language development, language intervention can be involved early, and scientific intervention methods can be used to help narrow the gap in children's language development.

How to develop children's prelingual ability

  Children's prelingual ability can be cultivated and improved.

In the first year of life, infants are very sensitive to stimuli from the environment (under normal cognitive and auditory development), and their communication behavior is deeply influenced by the family's communication environment.

Therefore, the language environment of the child during this period is particularly important, and family members should have a positive communication attitude and awareness.

Specifically include:

  Respond positively.

When the baby makes sounds, family members can use "baby talk" to interact with the child.

When the baby says "a, a", the mother can repeat the response with a single syllable, forming a "back and forth" communication pattern with the baby.

You can also teach your child the causal nature of communication.

For example, the baby makes a noise and points to the bottle, and he can get milk.

The baby will gradually discover that his words have an impact on others, and slowly learn to communicate with purpose.

We keep repeating these words in the environment and babies form memories.

  Actively communicate.

Parents must not think that the baby can't talk, so don't chat with the baby.

Parents need to "look for words when they have nothing to say, ask and answer themselves", they can talk about what they are doing, or they can follow their children's eyes or interests to introduce the world they see in words, and help children learn to associate words with things and actions. .

For example, when bathing a child, a parent can say: "Let's take a bath, make bubbles, and flush the water. It's so comfortable."

At this time, it is recommended to turn off the background sound at home (such as TV, mobile phone, etc.), so that children can better distinguish a person's voice.

These seemingly unimportant exchanges of life constitute the essence of human communication, the origin of the first dialogue.

  Positive communication.

Through observation, babies can not only capture speech changes brought about by mouth changes, but also learn facial expressions.

Parents can use rich tones and exaggerated expressions to get the child's attention to improve the time of the child's gaze.

For example, "Hide and Seek" or "Tickle" are very interactive communication games. Parents can take turns playing with their children. They have both movements and expressions. They can also cultivate eye contact and encourage children to pay attention to adults' faces.

  Action communication.

After the child is 9 months old, parents can properly teach the baby a batch of "actions" to enrich the means of communication.

For example, nodding (OK), shaking his head (don't), waving (goodbye), reaching out (hug), etc.

  Interactive rotation.

Rotation is a way in which parents and children take turns in a game, for example, pushing a car back and forth.

In the rotation, there are not only role changes, but also parents' demonstration and children's imitation, which is a very good communication activity.

  Hear both.

Parents should encourage their children to listen to more sounds, either at home or in the small park outside, and then actively discuss the sounds they hear with their children, for example, tell them "the dog is barking and barking."

Parents should give their children the opportunity to express their needs. If the child needs something, wait a moment. Don’t rush to help him, but let the child express it by himself. The way of expression can be with a finger or a simple voice.

(Author: Duan Haifeng, Lecturer at the Department of Chinese Literature, Minzu University of China)