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9yr old dd talks like a baby

(18 Posts)
Daedalus Tue 21-Jan-14 09:29:51

My 9 yr old dd has a late August birthday and suffers quite badly from anxiety.

She is having a really tough time at the moment. She has decided that she is not a nice person and nobody likes her. Part of her problems are stemming from the way she talks and the fact her friends are starting to make fun of it and that she herself does not like it.

She truely does talk like a baby. She adopts a soft sibilant voice and babyish grammatical structures much of the time. She says many words incorrectly eg "conbersation" for "conversation" and it seems to be getting worse not better as she has now thrown a lisp into the mix.

She can't help herself either. For at least the past year I have prompted her to talk properly and when I do, she improves the way she speaks for about 2 minutes and then reverts to baby talk.

It is making her really unhappy and needs to be sorted, but I have no idea what to do. Can anyone help?


ReallyTired Tue 21-Jan-14 09:35:40

What are the school doing about her speech. Surely she should have had some speech and language therapy years ago. I assume that she must have some kind of individual education plan.

If your daughter is being bullied for having learning difficulties then the school need to come down hard on the other children. The head teacher needs to talk to the bullies one to one and if necessary bring in the parents. It is not acceptable in the 21st century to bully a child because they have speech language problems.

AntoinetteCosway Tue 21-Jan-14 09:48:46

Is it a physical or psychological thing? If she improves it when you ask her to maybe the latter? Has he seen any professionals about it?

Daedalus Tue 21-Jan-14 09:50:30

No - she has no help at all. Her vocabulary is quite sophisticated and she can make herself understood. It is the way she talks rather than what she says if you see what I mean.

I am going in to school to talk about the comments being made to her, but not sure what help they can offer with the way she talks.

Daedalus Tue 21-Jan-14 09:52:32

I think it is pyschological but is now a completely ingrained habit that I have no idea how to stop.

She has never seen anyone as I think we assumed she would grow out of it but it is now apparent that she is not going to. Of course we don't notice it all of the time either. Feel bad though that we haven't done something before now.

Dh has made an appointment with the GP to talk about this.

juneau Tue 21-Jan-14 09:58:16

I think the GP is the right place to start. She may need to be referred for other services (speech therapy, child psychologist, etc), but a GP referral is nearly always how these services are accessed and it sounds like things have gone far enough without intervention. You're doing the right thing by approaching the school too about the bullying. A two-pronged attack is needed though - tackling both the speech problem and the social issues that are arising from it.

steppemum Tue 21-Jan-14 10:00:10

my dd (nearly 9) does this a bit too, but not as much. When I pick her up on it she does stop, but I think she thinks it is cute. I wonder too if she wants to 'be little' if you see what I mean, my dd is a bit young for her age in some ways and I don't think she is ready to grow up. Not helped in our case by the fact that she is starting to develop physically.

I wonder if gently commenting when she is talking properly would help (I love talking to you when you are being grown up, it is fun to listen to your opinions as you get older) I am trying this with dd. Will let you know if it works!

Daedalus Tue 21-Jan-14 10:06:49

Steppemum - I too think it started by her thinking it was cute. I also think that because of her birthday she adopted the role of "class baby" and adapted to that.

I don't know what intervention could do though. She knows its a problem and that she needs to stop she just says though that she forgets she is doing it much of the time. How could professional help get around this?

steppemum Tue 21-Jan-14 10:25:31

sounds like she needs to break a habit. I am thinking off the top of my head here, but how about a focused half hour after school. Set the timer and do something together (even if it is just her helping with dinner) if she can go for the whole half an hour using a proper voice, then she gets 10p (or whatever) in a jar.

Then extend the time, or add a second time, or do it for meal time conversations or whatever. Focus for short bursts to get her to talk 'properly' Maybe also talk to her about growing up. The things that you enjoyed when little, and the things you can do together now that she is older, the benefits of growing up. (but focus on now - bed times, computer, bike riding etc)

cory Tue 21-Jan-14 10:29:32

sounds like other posters have hit the nail on the head and what started as an attempt to sound cute has now become a place which she retreats to whenever she feels threatened and needs to feel small

the problem being that the more she does it, the more she will fail socially, so the more she will do it... it's a vicious circle

I would take her to the GP with a view to possibly psychological treatment

and definitely see the school about bullying

I would also see about getting her into some kind of new activity where she can feel good about herself and make a new start among children who don't know her

and what stepmum says, about encouraging her to have more grown-up conversations, show that you enjoy hearing her views

Dinnaeknowshitfromclay Tue 21-Jan-14 10:33:29

Is she educationally where she should be for her age? Is it just her vocab is what I am asking I guess. My Dneice was like this but nothing was done about it by my Dsis and BIL. She is now in her mid 40's has never left home and, despite being reasonably bright, still speaks like a small child and behaves like one too. She dresses like a child also. Her parents treat her like a small child and the whole setup is a psychologists dream (or nightmare?) I think she is a classic case of arrested development enabled by her parents for some reason and as a result has abdicated all responsibility for her wellbeing back onto her parents (who are aging of course). She is utterly bone idle physically and mentally in that she refuses to learn anything that would mean anyone expecting anything of her at all. I actually suspect that she is cunning and manipulative and has done all this to get her own way and not have to work/become an adult. She has held down a job in the past and goes on holidays with her friends which she books and deals with herself it seems! I am a crusty cynical type though and thankfully I only see them every few years as it weirds me out somewhat.
I guess what I am saying is get this sorted at this stage. My Dsis and BIL have to consider a forty plus yo 'child' in every decision they take as they did not nip this in the bud when Dneice was a kid.

Daedalus Tue 21-Jan-14 10:37:45

Thanks both. I agree that it is a vicious circle and needs to stop now.

We also think she has attention problems although everyone keeps saying that it is in our heads and she is just a bit dreamy. We have tried to get help with this before, but because she is really quite bright and adept at hiding what she can't do, no one really sees what she struggles with.

I am wondering if the babyish talk is her way of feeling more secure about what she does not understand? Still, knowing that does not help her stop.

We could afford to privately access a SALT but don't want to put her through that if it would not help her.

As I said, she knows there is a problem but cannot remember to stop it.

On the activity front, we thought we had done just that as she has recently taken up gymnastics and loves it. However she came home recently saying one of the other girls had said she was really stupid and, I am guessing that it is because of the way she talks (as I can't imagine what else it could have been).

Dinnaeknowshitfromclay Tue 21-Jan-14 11:35:15

I think that speech/language therapy would help her as she actually wants to change and break the habit, unlike my Dneice (who I consider developed this persona in order to manipulate). She may just need the tools and techniques to break the habit and change. Dneice was catastrophically bullied and changed schools many times as a result which I think may have added to her long term problems. I consider Dsis and BIL weak for not getting it sorted early and taking the easy route by just changing her school and doing nothing more for her but it may be easy for me to look back at this as I have had no such problems with my DCs.

Daedalus Tue 21-Jan-14 11:56:25

Thanks Dinnae. Did your DN have speach therapy? If so, do you have any idea of what it involved.

I have found that it is so easy to believe that things are improving and take your eye off the ball and then before you know it, things are collapsing around your ears.

steppemum Tue 21-Jan-14 12:00:27

I think that getting SALT support is a great idea actually, because it helps her to see that she has to change. And at the same time gives her tools to change. It would also then, flag up if this is habit or a deeper problem that she needs help with.

Dinnaeknowshitfromclay Tue 21-Jan-14 16:20:34

Steppes last sentence is right. You need to be able to assess whether it is purely a habit of speech only or if she is behind in other ways too.
DNiece went to a child therapist and the parents were squarely blamed. This was twenty five years ago though. In my case I believe the therapist was right. DN was given her own way too much when v young and (in my view) she just milked it for everything it is worth up to today. If she didn't get her own way she threatened all sorts including suicide and both parents gave in every time and 'created' her. I suspect they have continued to indulge her out of guilt as they know they have made huge mistakes. As far as I know she only went once to be assessed during which the parents were advised on how to reverse it and it looks like they carried on as before (ie doing nothing) and things stand as they are today.
The reason I am telling you this is the first sign of all this was her speech was normal to about the age of ten and then seemed to stagnate and reverse. You seem much more 'onto it' though than my Dsis and BIL. Other members of the family were frustrated for ages as they seemed to indulge this rather than see the red flag it so clearly was. I strongly feel that her basic personality (genes etc and knowing other family members traits) predisposes her to this type of behaviour but if her parents had copped on to it and dealt with it properly and acted on advice given, DN would be closer to a fully functioning member of society. If you were to ask me honestly if I think she is clever but putting on an act or is feeble minded, I am not actually sure. It is so vital for her to maintain the image in order to be kept by her parents and indulged frankly and she has OCD in other ways that I suspect she never lets the mask slip. She seems to think carefully before she says anything and I see this as mask slippage prevention. Away from her parents though she doesn't seem to have an original thought in her head and can only repeat, 'so and so said this' and so and so said that', If you ask her what her opinion is, she doesn't have one apart from things like her favourite colour or the fluffiness of twels and the like so the overall impression is that of an eight year old girl in the body of a forty something woman.
I suggest you get her assessed fully. At least then you will know. Chances are it is just a habit but odd that she continues with it even in the face of ridicule from her school friends. I suspect that as you are able to talk to her about it and she herself wants to change, it will fade over time. My DNiece, I suspect was using the babytalk as a tool but to this day I am literally not sure with her which came first. The reverted in age speech/behaviour and the consequences or, her personality and some sort of problem mixed with the parents indulgence/inaction resulting in the situation of today. If it helps to make you less nervous OP. My DN was a difficult baby from the get go and had spectacular strops and appalling screaming sessions and was able to fix people with filthy looks from an astonishingly early age prompting one elderly family member to say,' Indulge that child and you will be making a rod for your own back'. Prophetic words indeed!

Dinnaeknowshitfromclay Tue 21-Jan-14 16:23:43

Fluffiness of towels, not twels, twels are never fluffy, well not the ones round here anyway! Sorry!

Dinnaeknowshitfromclay Tue 21-Jan-14 16:27:19

Oh and I learned to spell Niece. Harrf. smile

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