Why I Narrate To My Kids

I often narrate what I’m doing or what I’m about to do to prepare my kids for what to expect. I usually break things down into steps. I started this to prevent a tantrum when something happens out of their expectation but it helps tremendously in enlarging their communication and vocabulary.

Talking To Myself

When we had our son, our first, I was told to talk to my child often but once dad went back to work and and I was alone with him we were usually in silence. I always felt awkward talking to him because he couldn’t talk back so I felt like I was talking to myself, which made me uncomfortable. It wasn’t til I realized that he was actually understanding months later. At that point I forced myself to get used to it and I realized the power of narrating to my child.

These days, I’m a parent to two toddlers, who are surrounded by three languages in their daily lives. Despite theories of multiple languages causing speech delays, they are very verbal kids. I think this is mostly because I’m always talking to them. I got used to narrating with my son so by the time I had my daughter I was already used to it and she was exposed to it, as well as my now toddler conversing with me.

Daily Routine

Every morning I tell my son “good morning,” remind him to give us good morning hugs and kisses, and ask him how he slept. This starts off our verbal day.

Once he’s less groggy I tell him it’s time to get dressed and that we’re going to change his diaper, and it’s often a debate even though he knows it’s coming every single morning.

Then we come and say good morning to my daughter and we ask for kisses and tell her it’s time to get dressed before we can all have breakfast. While I’m changing her, he’s dressing himself next to me, and we talk about the outfit he picked out (he’s proudly becoming more independent) and I talk to her about her outfit I’m getting as well as what she’s going to eat for breakfast, since food is what’s most exciting for her.

During breakfast my son is usually pretty slow to eat so I tell him our plans for the morning and that we have to hurry so that we can go to [wherever we’re going] to see [whoever we’re seeing] and I ask if he wants to go there and see them…etc. and I do the same in the car on the way over.

Why I Started

I started doing this when my son was somewhere between 1 and 2 years old. At this stage, he started having little tantrums of frustration because he didn’t know what to expect next of our day. This way if I got him to understand, in detail, what we had to do next and why, he would be less likely to get frustrated.

I started to do this even more when we had our daughter because he was so young and I often had to sit him down quietly so that I could nurse her and make sure he wasn’t getting into trouble (like falling off the couch or something).

The Pro's

  • prevent tantrums
  • establish routine & structure
  • they understand patience
  • we understand them better and gain patience
  • understand consequences
  • expand their vocabulary
  • expand their general understanding of how things work
  • we develop better ways of teaching

I feel this habit has facilitated and hopefully prevented any frustrations with my kids as well as grown their understanding of patience. It has also helped me to develop a way of explaining things to them, particularly consequences for behavioral lessons.

They’re no angels though, who’s perfect anyway? They get distracted into their own worlds or when they’re so into the fun they’re having when together that they easily tune me out. But when I think of how they could be if I didn’t talk as much or didn’t narrate like I do now, if I was still as silent as the first few months of my son’s life, they would be little devils for sure.

We can grow their knowledge by narrating. I started so they would understand what’s going on around them, but its perfect for teaching them new things too. Like how to brush their teeth, we explain how, why and the steps it takes to get to the sink, brush properly, rinse, and then get down. Everything is a process.

I also have my kiddo’s help me with laundry sometimes so I try to explain to them the difference between clean and dirty, when we put things in the hamper and what the machines (washer and dryer) do to our clothes. They help me load and unload the machines sometimes and it gets them to understand the process.

Another example, is taking the dog for a walk. We have a dog, who often pees inside the house. I’ve explained to them that we don’t pee on the floor, that dogs pee outside and people pee in toilets. This will hopefully help, rather than confuse, the potty training process. And sometimes I let my kids hold the leash and watch our dog go outside and be rewarded for doing so outside rather than inside. They even tell him “good boy” or “bad boy” at the right time and warn me when the dog has been bad inside.

More recently I’ve been teaching my son to make his own sandwiches. He already loves baking with me but he mostly watches. Now that he’s more able to do things with his own hands, sandwiches are the perfect things for those little hands to feel some independence.

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The Con's to the Pro's

I think they only side effect of this is, once they reach the age when they can talk in full sentences, they’ll be narrating everything for us. It’s both adorable and annoying! Here’s some of my “kids say the darnest things” examples so far:

  • My son reprimands my daughter for me– HA! Good if he’s right, bad when he shouldn’t.
  • My kids tell me when the dog has peed or pooped inside the house (it’s a daily thing)– HA! This is actually super helpful and they know to be careful not to step on it. My 1.5 year old daughter repeats this until I’m done cleaning it.
  • My son follows me into the bathroom and asks me if I’m pooping– OH BOY!
  • My son follows me into my closet and starts asking about every little thing in my closet, “Mommy are those your pants? Mommy are putting on your pants? Mommy? Mommy?”Β -YES CHILD! Kudos to him as he understands, however there’s a phase where they give you no silence!
  • I’m in a public place with my kids and one points at a stranger and asks about “the man” or “the woman– CHILD, be quiet! Stop pointing at strangers!
  • I’m in a public bathroom, probably changing their diapers, and we hear someone relieving gas… I look at him and immediately speak over him before he can ask about farts or poop–Β πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™€οΈ

But hey, they’re understanding everything! Who can’t be proud of that!

Wearing Mom's Heals

Readers:

Do you narrate to your kids? are you constantly talking to yourself?
What kinds of crazy things do your kids say?

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alunderfullife
alunderfullife

I love this idea – my daughter just turned one I have been telling myself this more. I often find myself talking to her on our neighborhood walks and sometimes I feel so silly when people walk by me. But I kno it will help her develop her communication skills.… Read more Β»

Robin Cucurullo

I naturally talk to myself, and so that translates to talking to my 14-month old. But I never really thought about the benefits of outlining steps and narrating things! I’ll have to be more conscious to do this from now on! Also, I’m super jealous your kids will know three… Read more Β»

Portia
Portia

I do this too! It’s such a good way for them to hear everything. Because listening and copying is how they learn as well as watching .

Dana

I did this constantly when my kids were young and I really think it helped them communicate better and faster!

Mamie

Talking helps to develop their language and helps them understand processing. Two very important skills.

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