My daughter is 9 months now. She's my first child, and thus I don't have a lot of experience with teaching & training children. I have had more experience with training dogs, which is probably the closest thing to parenting I know (besides helping raise my nephew when I was a teen).
My experience with dogs makes me wonder whether I should be trying to teach my daughter simple (unspoken) concepts starting NOW as opposed to waiting until she can converse with me. Why? Because with a dog you start the moment you get the puppy and teach:

  • how to be housebroken.
  • to come when you call.
  • no/off-limit things.
  • Start teaching various commands/tricks.

By parallel, there are some things that I am already starting to do with my daughter:

  • Reading to her consistently, to help teach her language and get her started on enjoying reading.
  • Trying to teach her to come when I call her.

What else can & should I start "teaching" her at this age?

asked 29 Sep '10, 14:50

Tchalvak's gravatar image

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edited 29 Sep '10, 17:58

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Tammy ♦♦


Do remember that dogs see their owners as the leader of their social pack, and thus are inclined to do things to please you. Babies don't have quite the same genetic drive.

(29 Sep '10, 16:11) ceejayoz

That's a good point. I guess that would make dogs easier to train, though I think there is certainly a "pack" instinct to humans, even if it's much much weaker. Still, if she exerts willfulness -against- stuff that I'm trying to teach her, I'm fine with that, I value that kind independence as well as obedience. Generally I just don't want to leave up to chance her learning discipline & important concepts early, even if her and I can't hold a dialog yet. Language , on the other hand, I plan to need a lot of patience with.

(30 Sep '10, 01:57) Tchalvak

We taught our kids just a little bit of sign language long before they could talk. Fundamentals used while eating mostly like "please", "thank you", and "more". It allowed them to communicate when they were still hungry by using "more" and started to solidify polite meal-time communication.

It's been a while but I think we also taught them words to let us know if they're feeling pain.


answered 29 Sep '10, 20:14

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Steve Hiner
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Good Point Steve - We also taught our daughter sign language. Please, more, milk, all done where her primary signs. It helped her express herself before she could verbally tell us what she wanted, and really decreased her frustration.

(29 Sep '10, 21:05) Tammy ♦♦

that is great, yes, I do plan to do that. I'm wondering what age you started with that?

(30 Sep '10, 01:51) Tchalvak

@Tchalvak we started with sign by about 3 months, I started by signing milk everytime she nursed or signing while saying "do you want some milk" when she was crying or fussing for food. We added signs slowly after that.

(30 Sep '10, 21:40) Tammy ♦♦

Your instincts to read to your daughter and speak to her in order to develop her language and vocabular are good ones. There are many studies that describe the importance of early language exposure to development such as this one that I found through google scholarly articles.

I would assume that similar principals apply to other concepts, such as politeness/manners, social interactions, societal norms etc... As Scott has said we have always tried to explain what we're doing with our daughter and basically have a running dialogue (okay monologue before she could talk) throughout the day about what was going on.

We also try to expose her to concepts such as quantity, colours, letter/sounds, animal names and sounds, even when her brain was unlikely able to grasp these concepts, we had no way of knowing when exactly that would happen and so at least the words were familiar to her.

Finally, I've always tried to act as though she was always watching and listening to the way I behave, never thinking that I could do something now because she couldn't possible understand. This was for two reasons, 1) who knows when she will start to understand/emulate/repeat and 2) it's easier to start these habits now instead of trying to break bad habits later.


answered 29 Sep '10, 17:46

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Tammy ♦♦
accept rate: 18%

edited 05 Oct '10, 19:23

I always talked to our daughter while I was doing something with her and just explain what I was doing. "It's time to do X!" "Let's go over to the Y!" It just provides extra verbal experiences. Even if she doesn't understand, I figure her brain is still learning to process those sounds. (I have no specific proof of that, but that was my theory.)


answered 29 Sep '10, 16:32

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Scott ♦♦
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Kids understand WAY more than they can say and WAY more than we expect.

(30 Sep '10, 05:23) Benjol
(30 Sep '10, 07:34) Benjol
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Asked: 29 Sep '10, 14:50

Seen: 4,019 times

Last updated: 05 Oct '10, 19:23