-- Robert Preidt
THURSDAY, April 14 (HealthDay News) -- Parents who say "um" and
"uh" when speaking to their toddlers aren't setting a bad example;
they're actually helping the children learn language more
efficiently, according to researchers.
The study of children ages 18 to 30 months found that older
children paid more attention to an image of an unfamiliar item when
a voice explaining the item stumbled and said, "Look at the,
When a parent fumbles for the correct word, it signals to a
child that he or she is about to learn something new and should pay
close attention, said the team at the Baby Lab of the University of
Rochester in New York.
This effect was only significant in children older than 24
months, likely because younger children haven't yet learned that
stumbles and hesitations in speech (called disfluencies) tend to
precede new or unknown words, explained lead author and graduate
student Celeste Kidd and colleagues.
"We're not advocating that parents add disfluencies to their speech, but I think it's nice for them to know that using these verbal pauses is OK -- the 'uhs' and 'ums' are informative," Kidd said in a university news release.
The study is published online April 14 in the journal
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association outlines
encourage speech and language development.
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