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Why Do Young Children Need Language?

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The development of language – first nonverbal, then verbal – is an essential element in infants’, toddlers’, and two-year-olds’ constant efforts.

  • To connect in warm and mutually trusting ways with appreciative parents and caregivers – to develop a feeling of inclusion, a basic human need,
  • To cause parents, major caregivers, and other miscellaneous people around them to respond to the signals and grins the little ones give – and, soon, to their words, phrases, and sentences – in order to develop a feeling of personal effectiveness,
  • To create sense out of their surroundings – to develop confidence in their ability to comprehend – to develop confidence in their intellectual competence,
  • To coordinate and control to some small but swiftly increasing extend “id” part of their personalities (the purely emotional, volatile, not yet socialized part) – e.g. to use words instead of claws to get what they want (or they would soon be ostracized from the human community)
  • To become separate selves, autonomous people capable of stating their needs and of other communicative competencies
  • To become competent members of their cultures and communities (families, ethnic groups, child care programs, etc), able to understand instructions, express ideas and feelings in accordance with the cultural customs of those around them; become able to get peers; and grown-ups’ attention and cooperation; become able to assist in comforting peers and adults appropriately, and
  • To connect with siblings, cousins, little friends and neighbors, and regular baby friends in child care settings.

As they grow older, children need language for additional reasons, but these are the reasons that children younger than three need words and other communications skills.

Ask Dr. Susan