Express yourself

parents, baby and little boy eating breakfast

Whether your baby is one month old, one year old, or 3 years old you’ve probably noticed how they take any chance to communicate with you and have a say on what’s going on around them. Recent studies have been placing more and more weight on children’s right to be heard about matters that affect them. It is through their participation in daily matters that their self-esteem is enhanced, overall capacities are promoted, their sense of autonomy and independence is heightened, and they work on their social competence and resilience.

These studies suggest that, sometimes, we underestimate children’s capacity for participation; kids aren’t passive recipients for care and protection. Every day there is more and more evidence suggesting that from a very early age they are (1) experts in their own lives and are capable of communicating their unique point of view on any given experience, (2) they’re skillful communicators with a wide range of “languages” to articulate their views, (3) they’re active agents with the power to influence and manipulate the world around them, and (4) they’re meaning-makers capable of constructing/interpreting meanings in their lives.


The forms and extent to which your child expresses their opinion and is able to participate will of course vary as your child grows older:

  • During the first months, they will communicate through crying, gurgling, laughing, making body movements and gestures. The fact that babies look to participate in social activities and are expressive around other people means that they quickly pick up social cues.
  • Around 18 months, children begin to express themselves with words, drawing, and playing. They also begin sharing and playing with others, immersing themselves even more in the daily social interactions.
  • At 4 years, children have a greater sense of independence along with more cognitive and language skills. They can now begin to create their own rules and decision-making processes through play.

From birth, your baby begins to develop the skills needed to participate in communication. The level of responsiveness and respect kids receive from their caregivers will enhance and support the further development of these skills. What these studies state is that it‘s not enough to just listen to your children without subsequently taking their views into account, you should give careful thought and importance to their ideas. This does not mean complying with everything your child suggests, but rather giving proper consideration to the idea put forth by them and, if it’s not possible, provide an explanation as to why it can’t be done that way.

Can you think of ways to promote the participation and expression of our children in daily matters? Leave a comment and share with other parents out there!

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