Among the most important skills that we acquire during our childhood, speech and language have a very special place, and its significance cannot be overstated. Without language, it’s incredibly hard to learn more about the surrounding world.
But nowadays, when parents seem to always be on the run and can barely say a dozen of words to their kids and grannies prefer working, television and computers become children’s ultimate teachers. Needless to say, this has a significant influence on how our kids’ speech develops.
How does child speech develop normally?
At all times and in all places speech develops in close contact with native speakers who communicate a lot. Basically, your child (even if he’s not the most talkative one) listens to how you speak and to what you say and learns from it.
The process of speech development can be divided into several age stages. The most productive and important of them is toddlerhood (1 to 3-4 years old). During this short period, your child learns the basic rules and melody of his mother tongue. By the time your kid turns 3 or 4 years old his vocabulary should consist of about 1000 words. From this period on he will not use any onomatopoeic words or word substitutes because at this point he must be able to build correct grammatical structures (sentences and phrases). In addition, by the end of this stage, your child must have no problems with retelling small and simple texts, with telling a little about himself or about some event and to analyze someone’s actions.
Speech issues and disorders: modern aspects
However, today we more and more often see children who experience problems that seriously delay speech development. Why did it become such a big issue in recent years? It’s no secret that technologies are evolving rapidly and all kinds of technological gadgets play an increasingly important role in our lives. But while technological devices make our lives easier on many levels, they at the same time are a source of many issues, including delay in speech development.
Kids get addicted to watching TV or using computers or other gadgets and gradually lose the ability to communicate with others. Of course, it can’t be said that kids don’t get any idea of what speech and language are like from TV programs they watch or games they play, but you need to ask yourself whether this idea is the correct one. After all, your kid doesn’t really have to use speech while watching a show.
When spending time with TV or gadgets becomes more traditional than actually talking to others, kids’ speech issues start being developed. These are too many and too varied but here but the following ones are the most frequent.
Understanding spoken language
It may be hard for kids to understand the meaning of words and concepts. They have a hard time understanding tasks and game rules or following instructions and find it difficult to absorb the information they receive from others. Quite often kids who experience this issue can understand something only when they follow other children or try to guess what is going on. This can prove to be difficult, though, as they can’t fully understand everything they are told.
This can be another source of issues: children face the problem of building phrases and sentences, expressing their thoughts or commenting on their actions and feelings.
Sometimes kids can only produce a limited number of sounds and it’s hard for them to pronounce certain sounds in both simple and long words. It’s not always easy to understand what they are trying to say, and thus such kids try to keep silent out of fear of being misunderstood.
Attention and listening skills
Some children among those who experience language and speech issues also face listening problems (even if there is absolutely nothing wrong with their hearing). They just find it hard to focus on a task or on what adults say.
Causes of language and speech issues
There are lots of factors that may influence the way your kid’s speech develops and cause certain issues. Pregnancy-related pathology, birth trauma or unfavorable environmental situation are a few of them, but the most important one is a lack of communication between parents and their children. The less you talk to your kid (and by talking we mean full-fledged communication, not just some short phrases you may say from time to time), the bigger is the chance that your child will experience some issues while learning to talk and to communicate with others. When a child spends more time in front of a TV or a computer screen than talking to his peers and his family, he loses the perception of what live speech should be like. What’s more, he loses the ability to understand grammatical structures and, as a result, develops a speech disorder.
Consequences of speech disorders
The above-mentioned issues can make it hard for a kid to follow a day plan or to make good progress in school: because understanding instructions is an issue, it’s just as hard to do everything your kid is told to.
The kids who find it difficult to make others (both adults and kids) understand them, tend to be very restrained while doing something, asking questions, telling things or trying to make friends with other children. For such kids, singing a song or reciting a poem is a complex task and memorizing fairy-tales and other information is an issue.
Kids can’t fully enjoy the games other kids play. Inability to listen to others, to follow rules or to focus on all kinds of important matters may lead to a lack of confidence and unsociable behavior. Kids may express their rage and disappointment openly or just become very reserved and quiet — if they feel that communicating with others is just too hard for them.
Besides, as all the educational goals are based on a child’s ability to absorb and transfer information, learning may become very difficult for your kid if there are some speech and language development issues.
No matter what kind of the issues we mentioned your child experiences, he needs your support that will help him gain a little bit more confidence and learn as much as possible. Remember: if you did find out your kid has speech issues, don’t waste time to help him get rid of them. Spend more time with your kid, talk to him, see a speech therapist if necessary. Just don’t leave these problems unattended as they only tend to get bigger in time.