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to be concerned at how little I seem to talk to my toddler?

(106 Posts)
innishvickallaune Tue 16-Aug-11 16:04:18

Ds (21 months) is home this week (chicken pox). He hasn't been ill at all with it, barely has even scratched.. but we have been at home now for seven working days, nine days in the house and I'm surprised at how undemanding he is of my attention.

My SIL works in a Children's Centre and she is always rabbiting on about how kids need to be talked to and you need to be down at their level and commenting on what they do etc.. but this just doesn't come naturally to me.

I am feeling really guilty I don't play more with him. Every day, we have come down here and had breakfast together, then he just plays away happily in the corner with his cars and buses.. he calls me if he is stuck "duk! duk! and even says "duk!" and signs "please" to get me to help him. He comes over and asks for drinks, he shows me things and about once or twice an hour he plops books on my lap and we read a few. Once or twice a day we have a bout of singing e.g. sleeping bunnies and incy wincy etc.. or he'll point out an "incy wincy" (he thinks anything that looks like a stray hair or bit of fluff is a spider) and we'll play.. or he'll spot some things that are the same and start counting and I will count along..

But when he is playing with cars I just... don't... have anything to say. When he was little and I was on mat leave I used to sit on the floor and play with him all the time, but now I feel downright neglectful.. he just gets on with his thing and I get on with mine and I stay away unless he calls for me. He doesn't particularly like you to direct his play so things like jigsaws and blocks he wants to do alone, he'll have a few mins of ball play here and there and when I am normally about (usually work a four day week, dh too so he has one day with me and one with dh) we always do something like baking or painting and obviously I chat through this..

But my SIL says that the major distinction in language development is the amount of words a child hears and that children in higher income families hear 1,000,000 more woreds than children in lower income families by the time they enter school. I doubt that's true in this house.. it's pretty quiet here most of the time.. She has been hinting he should be combining words and understanding longer instructions and I don't think he can, he can say about 60 or 70 words though?

Am I just the crappest mother ever? And if so, what do I do about it?

choclatelickurs Tue 16-Aug-11 16:05:34

Message deleted by Mumsnet.

innishvickallaune Tue 16-Aug-11 16:06:02

Helpful, thanks

StrandedBear Tue 16-Aug-11 16:08:25

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

innishvickallaune Tue 16-Aug-11 16:10:16

What do you mean, "narrate your life to her", like "I am sweeping the floor now, watch me sweep the floor" etc?

Meglet Tue 16-Aug-11 16:10:18

I'd love to not talk to my 2 for a while. They question everything all the bloody time. I rarely play with them though, I'm a better teacher than a player.

I don't get on the floor with mine either, they get dragged around museums or we read books.

harecare Tue 16-Aug-11 16:10:46

Don't be ridiculous. It sounds as if he is having a lovely time and so are you. Just because you have quiet times you're probably not noticing how much you speak at meals, how valuable the stories and singing are. If you want to do a little more just comment every now and again on his playing as you do other things "Are you having fun with your cars? That's the yellow one isn't it? Can you put it down the slide?' etc
But really, you bake with him and sing and read and paint, lots of language used there. Stop worrying over nothing.

ragged Tue 16-Aug-11 16:11:26

gosh, some people are just such.... Assets to the Internet, you know? hmm.

OP: I am not a chatty person, either. I do have DC with speech delay & even I admit I may not have been the best help re their speech development (DC4's speech came on best after he started watching a lot of TV, in fact).

When your child is playing try to talk to him in 2-3 minute bursts, once every 20 minutes would be plenty. All you need to do is do a slow-paced commentary on what he's doing. The idea is that you are telling them the vocabulary they can use to describe what he's already doing. So like he's playing with cars, and you say "Mummy came to watch you play. You are playing with the red car. The red car is in your hand. You are pushing the red car along. Now you have a red car and a blue car. The blue car goes fast." Etc.

It's dull babble to you but it's all he needs at this stage, just do it in little brief spells around other things you both need to do.

redskyatnight Tue 16-Aug-11 16:13:35

Well it's good that your toddler plays by himself.

I find cars (and when's he's older it'll be Star Wars mini figure battles) deadly boring too. At his age I guess you could talk about the colour of the cars or which one is biggest or what the (imaginary) driver might be like.

I find I chat to my children more naturally when we are doing an activity together. Toddler DD used to love "helping" me clean the house and so I'd give her a duster and we'd talk about where the dusty bits were.

(not when he has chicken pox obviously) do you go for walks and chat about what you can see?

I also narrate what I'm doing - "Mummy's just going to sort out the washing, oh look here's Daddy's red shirt ..."

innishvickallaune Tue 16-Aug-11 16:13:44

We do a fair bit of museum stuff ordinarily, go to playgroup etc.. and books.. I find it much easier to point stuff out and talk about it out of the house, at home I find it much harder to keep that level of talk going unless I have a very specific task. I can be all Delia while cooking, for example, but I just don't know what you're supposed to do with buses and trains and all that when you've done all the "choo choo", "crash" etc stuff. When he's older I can see you could tell stories and act stuff out, but I am more scientific than literary-minded and it doesn't come easily to me.

ImperialBlether Tue 16-Aug-11 16:13:45

I know this sounds harsh, but I really think you're treating your son badly.

NOBODY wants to sit and play cars FFS! We're all adults, why would we want to? But we should do it because it's what the child is interested in.

I agree with your SIL absolutely. The more you talk to your child, the brighter he will become. The brighter he becomes, the more interesting he will be to you.

I can't tell whether you're depressed or whether you just can't be bothered, but I have to say it sounds like the latter.

PenguinArmy Tue 16-Aug-11 16:15:05

I do what ragged says. What helps me is try and get her involved in what I'm doing, then everything gets narrated. In the mornings I find it easier, 'do you want breakfast, climb into your chair, lets do your teeth, does you nappy need changing etc. While she's playing I leave her to a lot more and MN She's 17 months at the moment, doesn't talk a lot compared to her peers but understands loads.

itisnearlysummer Tue 16-Aug-11 16:15:15

I also narrated and asked a lot of questions that I then answered.

"Shall we get ready to go to the shops? Silly mummy forgot to get some bread yesterday and we need bread if we're going to have sandwiches, don't we! Whoever heard of a sandwich without bread?! That just wouldn't do, would it? Of course it wouldn't" ad infinitum!

Once at the shops "Can you see the apples? Ooh look I've found some bananas. How many are in this bunch? Shall we count them..." again ad infinitum.

I also found it difficult bored me shitless to play cars/trains/Thomas. I thought I'd find it easier with DD, but I didn't. I did what I could and then encouraged them to play on their own. As long as they know what the game is supposed to look like.

YANBU to worry about it, but very few people are perfect! So don't yourself up about it either.

If you're talking to him at other times, don't worry about not talking to him constantly. And if you want, just narrate your life to him!

SherlockHolmes Tue 16-Aug-11 16:15:32

I think you know that you should be talking more; if it doesn't come naturally to you then maybe you will have to make the effort. As Stranded says, just chat away while you're doing stuff or ask questions, or even sing while he's playing. He sounds very contented, but probably would benefit from more stimulation. I have a friend who was a bit like this, and both of her children have had speech problems (one much worse than the other). Not saying this will happen to you of course, but it can't do any harm to push yourself a bit can it?

BTW, this may sound a bit harsh, but you did ask for opinions on whether you're doing the right thing smile.

innishvickallaune Tue 16-Aug-11 16:15:41

Why does it sound like I can't be bothered? confused

PenguinArmy Tue 16-Aug-11 16:17:40

Personally it sounds you're doing fine.

If you talked non-stop then people would judge you as they couldn't play independently.

ihatecbeebies Tue 16-Aug-11 16:17:53

No you are not a crap mum.

My DS (4yrs old) sounds just like your DS, he prefers playing on his own with his cars making up his own little games unlike the more attention demanding children i know through my friends and family. I sometimes get caught up in housework and he'll happily play on his own without a bother until I engage with him. He starts school tomorrow and on the visits he made friends really easily and engaged with all the children without a problem and the teachers have no concerns there either.

If you are concerned and think you could/should talk to him more then try and join in with his play or create games that the two of you could play together to get him talking more smile

JosieRosie Tue 16-Aug-11 16:19:10

OP, you don't sound like a crappy mum, far from it. Please ignore the unhelpful (to put it mildly) comments from harecare and chocolatelickurs.

Excellent advice from ragged. Talk to him about what he is doing when he plays - he knows what he's doing, but may not always have the words to describe it. That's where you come in smile It's a technique called 'modelling' which allows you to demonstrate language use to your child. You can use this in daily routines too - bathtime, on the bus, in the shops, getting dressed etc.

Ignore harecare's advice and avoid asking him questions e.g. 'are you playing with your cars?' 'ooh, is that a blue one?' It's very easy to do this, but not so helpful because you're expecting him to give you an answer, and he may not be ready yet. Try to use comments instead of questions. Don't worry if he doesn't respond verbally, or copy what you say. You will be helping to develop his understanding, which children need to develop before their use of language catches up over time.

I'm an SLT and I work in Children's Centres. Your SIl has given you good advice by the way - maybe when DS is feeling better, she can help you to find out where your local CC is? Maybe you have been there already of course, but in case not, they really are excellent places and you will get loads of great advice on how to continue to support his language development at home. Hope that's useful

AuntiePickleBottom Tue 16-Aug-11 16:19:12

i play the games with dd (2 years old) that i like to do...i love playdough, k'nex, lego, bubbles, baking...we clean together and i like playing with her kitchen with her to name a few

however i hate some of the things she likes to play with like dolls hair, cars and there is a few others.

perhaps start doing things you like to do or what you did like doing as a child

MissPenteuth Tue 16-Aug-11 16:23:45

I think I know what you mean OP. I have a 17mo DD and I try to play and interact with her as much as I can but I seem to run out of steam quite quickly. I aim for short bursts with periods of her playing independently in between. Maybe there are parents out there who interact with their children every waking minute, but I don't have the energy for that!

60 to 70 words for a 20mo sounds pretty good going, so you must be doing something right. And learning to play independently is important too. Some kinds just prefer that.

halcyondays Tue 16-Aug-11 16:25:32

I used to worry that I didn't talk to dd1 enough, I did talk to her, obviously but not constantly. But she and dd2 had very good speech from a young age.
I did read to them and sing nursery rhymes. Looking at books can be a good way to encourage speech, you can talk about what's happening, count things, identify colours etc, But it just wasn't me to be constantly talking about everything I did, the whole time.

He's only 20 months, lots of children that age barely have any words.

innishvickallaune Tue 16-Aug-11 16:25:37

JosieRosie, we go to Stay and Play on a Friday but really it's just kids running riot! I don't know if it's different in your one but really most of the mums just sit around and chat.

I'm just confused by some of the advice from SIL sometimes. She says not to ask questions etc and to take turns.. but he doesn't really talk back iyswim e.g. if we are in the kitchen and baking, he will nod along when you talk but not really make that much sound. He will play sleeping bunnies and we change the characters e.g. we do sleeping lions, elephants even trains.. but he just doesn't really say a lot himself. I guess we are not a very verbal family. When we are out I always show him things and use gesture, like SIL says.. but he does seem to me like his speech is a bit behind compared to others of his age.. he seems to say all the same stuff = e.g. "mu" for "up" and "duk" for stuck and he calls all food "toos" (toast). Some of my friends' kids seem to be stringing together lots of words and little sentences but when we're together I can't see the difference in how we talk.. but I am guessing there must be one?

daimbardiva Tue 16-Aug-11 16:26:41

I think your son will become more demanding - my 2 year old has only recenlty started asking me to play with him, and it has been triggered by a new toy (a train set) which he likes me to play with with him.

Of course, I find it deathly boring, but I also find it nice that he wants my company as previously he was quite independent!

I do, however, chat to him a lot - and him to me, especially when we're out for walks. There;s always plenty to see and remark on outside.

innishvickallaune Tue 16-Aug-11 16:31:24

Miss Penteuth, BINGO. It's not that we don't talk, just that the way SIL was saying it I should be saying something like 700 words an hour and I just don't seem to have the creativity to do it. We seem to have short bursts of chat or play but then it just fades away and he heads back over to play in his play corner.. SIL says he is "exploring" and this is good too..

In some ways, no offence to her, but I wish I hadn't had as much input from SIL in an "expert" way as I wasn't really bothered at all.. but every time she comes over there is more "advice" so I have started to worry that I am really mucking it up. I can't see how I could talk all day, I just don't even know what I would say.. and I have been wondering if people really are sitting down and playing all day long and saying 700 words an hour or whatever it was she said.

porcamiseria Tue 16-Aug-11 16:31:33

please dont worry! he sounds like a self contained happy little chap. and ignore child development workers as they always make you feel insecure, my mate told me that my child should have 1000 words (or something) by the age of 2. as if!!!!!!! now he is 3.5 he has a gazillion words

he is not even 2 yet! so long as they have a few works and can walk by 2, you are OK! if you feel really bad make sure you read to him every day, thats the best thing for learning IMO

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