When they asked the little girl where her home was she replied - Where mother is

From the Mouths of Babes!

Published: April 22, 2007

It is believed that in today’s world, talk is cheap, however in my daughter’s case; talk is worth its weight in gold.

Every mom waits for the moment that their child says their first word or syllable. And my daughter was right on cue with her first sounds around 6 months with “Da Da” and “Na Na”. So it was expected that those words would transition in to longer words and other sounds would soon follow. However, not only did she not say any more than those two initial words, but now refuses to even use those existing two words.

At fifteen months old, my daughter uses grunting and high pitched squeals to get her meaning across for a variety of things. She nods a lot when she is agreeing with someone, and she motions to her diaper when it is full. She tells me she wants something by pointing it out. And will demonstrate that she understands the conversation with eye contact, and again, grunting or squealing.

I’ve tried everything to get her to come out of her shell and start speaking. We do picture cards every morning and repeat words over and over again with sounds throughout the day. I even use bribery with cookies to try and elicit some sort of sound out of her that resembles a word or beginning of a word, but nothing has worked up to this point.

What is strange about it is that she has been advanced in so many other ways, such as with her crawling, standing, and walking. She had also demonstrated a very early comprehension of words spoken to her and interpretation of emotions– so what is going on?

My pediatrician has advised that I am not to get too upset about the situation yet. He referred to it as possibly the “second sibling” syndrome. Apparently, when the second sibling figures out that they can get their older brother/sister or even mom and dad to do the things for them without having to speak, they become quite lazy. It’s as if there is no incentive to speak when they can quite easily point and have things brought to them.

I decided to test his theory at home. So one morning I paid close attention to the interaction between my son and daughter. When she threw her sippy cup on the floor, he picked it up for her without a word exchanged. When she would point to something, he would go and get it for her. And most importantly, when I would try to get my daughter to talk, and repeat the word over and over to her until she screamed, my son would say “Stop it Mommy, she doesn’t want to talk today”.

It became apparent that not only was I accommodating my daughter’s grunts and squeals for things, but so was my son. When I asked him why she doesn’t want to talk he said “She doesn’t like it, so she doesn’t have to!”

I had to explain to him what I was doing and why I was repeating myself so much to her. I told him that I knew it may irritate her a bit because I am doing it, but I am trying to get her to say something to us. We do want her to talk to us, don’t we? I asked him. He nodded in agreement.

And so yesterday when my son was playing with her, I overheard him repeating the names of every toy they played with. Now it has become a collaborative effort to get her to speak, and the best part is, my son is the one she listens to the most.

Yesterday I was sitting with her and was repeating different words to her, while she was eating. And suddenly in a very small voice, she said “Da Da”. Ah, hah! I knew it! Ok - so it’s a word she has already said, but at least she is back to using it again. There will come a time when I won’t be able to stop her talking about anything and everything, but until that day comes, every word and sound that she says is truly music to my ears.

Kelley Scarsbrook is a Stay at Home Mom who writes bi-weekly for Black Press. You can visit her website at www.thestayathomemother.com or email her at feedback@thestayathomemother.com