Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Sometimes I'm Uptight About Language

Let's talk about precision of language.

I'll admit, I might be a little too uptight about choosing the right words sometimes. For example, when we are driving down the road and see bovine ruminants grazing in fields, I say, "Kids, look at the cattle." Unless I know they are all female, I try not to say "cows". Josh gave me quite the eye roll when he read me the number two-point-OH-seven, and I gently reminded him it was two-point-ZERO-seven. He shot quite the glare when I said I bet Neil deGrass Tyson says zero. When I misuse a word in a post it really eats at me, but I'm learning to let it go.

Here's my thought process when it comes to speaking precisely around, and to, our children. They are like little sponges, we all know this. They are learning constantly, soaking up every word we say, making connections between words and the world around them. Synapses are firing. Brain cells are connecting. Pathways are forming. Wrinkles are being made. A lot goes into learning language.

But when we make up cutesy words for things, or use incorrect words to describe things, all that work is done and then has to be done AGAIN when our kids finally learn the "real" or correct word for whatever it was.

Think of the last time you realized something you thought you knew was wrong and you had to relearn it. If you're like me, it took a lot of effort to retrain you brain to think about it differently, to use a different word or whatever it was. Microseconds lost; bits of energy expended.

On some level that will be going on in our kids' brains too, if they have to relearn parts of their vocabulary. Tiny bits of effort, little bits of frustration or confusion, all adding up and potentially keeping our kids from learning other things in those moments. Potentially keeping them from making connections a little earlier. Potentially holding them back, even just a little, from reaching their fullest potential.

Yes, perhaps I'm being a bit uptight, but I want to give my kids every advantage I can. Using precise language is such an easy way to empower them in so many areas of life.