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My 8.5 year old son (the younger of two boys) still uses baby talk at home frequently. As far as I know, he doesn't do this at school or with his friends. Here are sample situations: - He is feeling anxious about something, like going on an amusement park ride he doesn't like - He is being picked on by his older brother - He is tired and/or in a bad mood We've tried different strategies to deal with this problem, but it persists. What do you recommend? Isn't he way too old to be doing this?


Maureen Whitehouse Replied: First ask yourself, why does your son speaking "baby talk" bother you? Are you genuinely concerned that this is a problem, or is it because you are concerned about what others might think? Or, more iomportantly are you concerned because of what you think of him when he does this? Can you just love him whether or not he speaks "baby talk" - just ognore it and instead focus on what you perceive as his strengths and not his weaknesses. If you allow this behavior to be acceptable - to be exxentially nothing - your son will feel accepted, for whatever why he is being. One he feel this kind of unconditional love and acceptance, then he can make choices and decisions based on his own experiences, not on gaining or attianing your approval. He knows that he has your approval, no matter what. If he notices you focusing on his flaws - he'll feel flawed! Let him know that no matter what her does or acts like, that you love him. Then just sit back and watch him grow up and thrive!
Posted On 2010-06-21 20:09:46
Janet Price Replied: Thanks for writing in with this question. It can be so difficult to know when a behavior has become too immature for our ever growing and maturing (we hope!) children. With your 8 1/2 year-old son, the good news is that it appears that he confines his baby talk to home. That means he does possess more mature responses to interactions with others, and uses that knowledge to maintain his status with his friends. So, what to do about this behavior at home? Behavior is always about communication. So, what is your son communicating to you when he talks to you in this manner? As the younger son, he may not have outgrown his position as "baby" in the family and the "immature" bahaviors that accompnany that position. It also sounds like some of his whining might be coming from times when he is feeling powerless-- like worrying that he has to go on an amusement ride he is afraid of, or being picked on by his older brother. It is probable that he wants, and needs, to feel like he can be more babyish sometimes with you and get some comforting that you might typically provide to a younger child, such as hugging, holding- on your lap, with arms around, for example. It is not going to help in these moments to remind him that he is a big boy and shouldn't be whining. Instead, acknowledge his expressed worries, that you hear him and care that he is feeling anxious. Don't focus on his baby talk at all, just on the message he is conveying. I beleive that this response will reduce, and eventually eliminate, his baby talk. Once he knows that it is OK to be more babyish at home once in awhile, he will begin to communicate in a more age-appropriate manner, more often. It is important to remember that we all regress emotionally sometimes, and home is the best place to do so, away from the judgment of the outside world. As adults, we occasionally whine about life- our jobs, our relatives, our neighbors. For children, having the space to do so at home provides the opportunity for us, as parents, to both know what they are struggling with, and provide the comfort that they need now and will have to find for themselves when they grow up. Best wishes to you as you encourage your son to express his feelings and be able to receive acceptance and understanding for doing so. At some point, if he does continue to struggle in this way, and it is negatively affecting his relationships, especially outside the home, therapy is something to consider. Best wishes to you on raising healthy, happy, confident sons!! By caring as much as you do your are well along on this path already.
Posted On 2009-07-29 13:11:22
Mike Dolpies Replied: Sounds like his "baby talk" is routed in the principle of flight or fight. It's sort of knee-jerk reaction. It's turned into a condition response for him.

On your part some fun role playing may work- so when all is going well and everyones happy and he is feeling confident about himself- leverage positive mood to "pretend" so that he can "practice" confident responses to situations.

You may consider - trying to hook up with a children's social skills coach on your area to make some further enhancements. Then of course any programs that help build greater self-confidence can work too.
Posted On 2009-05-01 09:37:15
Pamela Waterman Replied: It's certainly a coping mechanism for when he's overwhelmed. I don't know what you've tried so far, but here are several ideas. Be observant to when he *is* using age-appropriate words, and praise him for that. Say, "I really like being able to have a grown-up (or man-to-man), conversation with you. It was hard when you were younger, but this is fun." When he's facing something scary, you can say, "I see this is hard for you. What other rides could you take that would make you feel like the big boy that you are?" The sibling issues are always tough - see the "Siblings Without Rivalry" book I recommend below for a whole range of ideas. Along the lines of praising when he does do well, I've always liked a star sticker chart. We used that with our children to note when they did something particularly nice or well. Ten stars got them an ice-cream, and 100 stars got them dinner out at their choice of restaurant. We also gave books for rewards. Best wishes.
Posted On 2009-04-29 12:51:10
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