Language and Communication
Language and Communication as a Tool
When used consciously, language can serve as a bridge between adult and child and help establish a positive connection between the two. Language and communication encompass more than just spoken language and include listening skills, body language, tone of voice, pace, and volume.
These characteristics of speech provide the child with enough information about the current situation and the state the adult is in, even if the child does not speak or finds themselves in a setting where they do not understand the language offered. Here language serves more as a tool of social interaction than mere comprehension. The social dimension of language provides more information than just the actual words spoken.
The way a parent communicates with a child can thus help to make the child feel more relaxed and comfortable. When relaxed and comfortable, the child in turn is able to actively explore their surroundings and be more open for new experiences. Parents can be role models in using communication to comfort and support children in new and unknown situations and prepare them for an easier adjustment by helping the child to build connections to the people around them, and help them develop self-regulation and confidence in social interactions. Language, therefore, is a tool to guide and support the child.
The Pikler approach highlights the conscious use of language as a tool to assist in forming an authentic and deep bond with a child. The language used with the child is respectful and attentive, it mirrors the child’s actions, interests or initiatives. A calm and interested tone of voice coupled with the continuity of communication accompanies the child in their world of experiences and gives the child a feeling of safety, joyful interaction, appreciation and in doing so builds a relationship between the adult and the child. Using the Pikler approach, the adult observes the child's lead and comments on what the child is doing, what can be observed or what the child is about to do, and what will happen to the child soon. This use of language accompanied with the shared experiences between parent and child, prepares the child for any changes or unforeseen situations and provides a feeling of security, being seen and being in control which can be an empowering experience for the child.
Families can support their child through discussing their child's day with their educators, and in turn discussing positive experiences with their child at home in their first language. Continuing to support the home language/s and ensuring that the child has a solid language base for which to express themselves helps to attribute to a strong, positive sense of identity, crucial to consolidating a child's sense of belonging and understanding their place in the world.