Question about 7-8 year olds and language/grammar

lovehadleyApril 1, 2010

Just curious if you think this is typical for a child this age.

I am kind of concerned about the way SS speaks. It could be a boy vs girl thing, too, though. But it seems to me that he speaks like a child much younger than 8 yrs old.

DD had always been very verbal. She has a really impressive and extensive vocabulary, to the point that teachers comment about it. So I cannot really compare her to SS because she has always been advanced in this area. DH & I always joke about it because sometimes she uses such odd words in sentences. For example, she came out of her bedroom the other day holding a new shirt on a hanger. And she said "Mom, this shirt is unfamiliar to me, I don't recall seeing it before." DH and I cracked up about it later. That is typical for her, and it's kind of a running joke.

I don't compare (but on some level, it can be hard not to) SS vs. DD. They are two different children and girls are almost ALWAYS more advanced in these areas, anyway, I know that.

But I am concerned by these things:

SS always says:

Hisself instead of himself. As in "My dad hurt hisself."

Much instead of Many. As in "How much dollars is it?" or "How much states are there?"

He always uses got instead of have. "I don't got my backpack." "Do you got any money?"

We consistently REPEAT whatever he has said the correct way. Like, if he says "How much days of school are left?" I will say, "How many days are left? About 60."

He also speaks like a very young child. He will say "sockies" instead of socks, eggies instead of eggs or potty instead of bathroom. It just sounds odd to me to hear an 8 year old boy say "I have to go potty." I stopped using that term with DD when she was about 4 or 5!

It's hard for me to describe, but he speaks in a very baby-ish voice. He has TONS of words that he mispronounces all the time.

Yogurt is yo-gret.

Spaghetti is pasketti.

Hamburger is hang-a-burger.

Ambulance is Ama-lence.

There are many others I can't think of off the top of my head. I guess there are words my DD can't pronounce, but it seems to me that SS's are more words that a 3-4 year old would struggle with, not an 8 year old. For example, DD calls her scalp her "scallop." LOL. I think it is just a misunderstanding, though. She just started saying it on vacation b/c she had braids put in her hair and I kept saying "oh, let's put sunscreen on your scalp." And now she calls it her scallop!

It just seems to me that SS's language is far behind age/grade level appropriateness. He is behind grade level in reading and works with a one-one-one specialist for 25 mins each school day. So I guess it wouldn't be surprising that his verbal skills are delayed.

Anyone have any thoughts? I don't know if maybe finding him a speech/language therapist would be a good idea, especially over the summer.

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colleenoz

That sounds more like dialectical speech to me; does SS hand around with the sort of people who might speak like that? My DD came home from the babysitter saying "youse" instead of "you" and I had to get her to repeat the correct word every time until she stopped.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2010 at 12:05PM
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mattie_gt

I was thinking the same thing as colleenoz; that it sounds like something he is picking up from elsewhere. My SS (same age as yours) comes home from school doing the same thing (I brung my book, I like them flowers, and the I don't got my jacket). Ours will be going to a new school next year; after a few visits we realized that not only were the students speaking that way in his class, the teacher was not correcting them! We do the same thing as you; either repeat what he said the correct way, or, for the ones that he's been told about several times (like "them flowers") make him repeat the sentence with proper grammar.

The other thing that is helping somewhat is, now that he's getting into longer chapter books, I think he's picking up on proper grammar to some extent from those as well.

Forgot to mention that other than the horribly mangled verb forms and such, he is normally very eloquent.

Does SS live with you or BM? The "eggies" and "sockies" may be something from there; I have seen plenty of people speak to an eight year old as if they were still a toddler.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2010 at 12:33PM
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imamommy

for years, my DD couldn't say strawberries. She would call them strawybears.

At his age, it may be a little delayed or your DD may be a bit more advanced. I would get him fun books a level or two below where he should be and do all you can to make it fun for him to read. Maybe do a family night storytelling to work on his verbal skills. When he messes up a word, instead of correcting him.. find a way to use the word more frequently in it's correct form.

I tend to discourage correcting too much because when we would correct my DD on words she skewed, she would say she feels stupid. Kids should not feel stupid or they might give up and not bother trying. However, correcting my son didn't upset him like that so it depends on the child.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2010 at 12:37PM
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lovehadley

He definitely picks things up from BM and her DH and even BM's parents.

They, unfortunately, say things like "He don't have his coat on" and I have distinctly heard BM say things like "Do you got your backpack?"

So yes, I definitely think he hears things at BM's house. I actually didn't mention the grammar issues in my original post because I KNOW those are from BM. Thankfully, in regards to blatant grammar mistakes (don't got no, them, all's I want, etc.) SS seems to be following our example and not BM's.

It is more the babyish voice and preschool-way of speaking that strikes me as somewhat odd.

BM does baby SS and no doubt, the eggies/sockies etc. come from her. He has a 2 yr old sister at her house, so I am sure she speaks to her like that, as well. But SS was speaking like this well before his sister was even born. I guess I am just surprised that SS is still speaking like that. He is already starting to distance himself (hisself! LOL) from BM in many other ways. Hopefully, the language area will be next.

He lives with us 50% of the time and BM 50% of the time. BM & DH share phys. and legal custody, but DH is the residential parent for school/mailing purposes.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2010 at 12:41PM
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lovehadley

Ditto about the correcting, Ima. When SS makes a mistake, we don't TELL him it was wrong. I will just repeat it the correct way, not in a punitive way, but just so he hears it said the right way.

Like if he says "My friend hurt hisself at school" I will just say it the correct way in conversation.

SS: "My friend hurt hisself today."

Me: "Oh no! Your friend hurt himself? What happened?"

That way SS doesn't feel like he is wrong or, like you said, stupid.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2010 at 12:45PM
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finedreams

he is probably somewhat delayed, he also struggles in school and particularly reading, so it is all tied together. some of the words might be just repeating what adults say, but he does come across as somewhat mildly delayed. saying "hisself" or "sockies" might not be a big deal, but "much" instead of "many" is more serious. neither my DD nor my niece or nephew ever spoke this way and mind you they are trilingual, so it would be more understandable. what do his teachers say?

on the other hand, DD22 sometimes says silly words similar to saying "sockies" for socks just as a joke. maybe he is just playing around by talking like a baby.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2010 at 1:03PM
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imamommy

There may be some of him hearing mom talk to the baby sister in baby talk... but he was doing it before and I also noticed with my son that he would regress and want to be babied... it was more common when there was conflict or court stuff going on. I think it could have been a little insecurity and wanting to be babied to feel more secure.

In SD, I see her being a little clingy for her age (She's 11 & in the 5th grade), almost unsure of herself all the time. She will wait to see if someone will do things for her, like tie her shoes or cut her meat. In school, she writes like a 2nd grader that hasn't learned how to form the letters. Every week, we get at least one paper from her teachers, saying "below grade level work" and she's been tested... tested above average. When she writes notes to friends, she uses good handwriting and better spelling. I'm sure it is an attention getting thing for her because it seems to be just in schoolwork. With your SS, I suspect he might want babying & attention. He's had it tougher than most kids his age...

    Bookmark   April 1, 2010 at 1:59PM
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ceph

I suspect a large part of it is how he hears others speak. My SS's maternal GM has truly frightful grammar: yous, don't got none, her she, him he, ain't, funner, etc etc.
Since he stopped spending much time with her, his grammar has improved by leaps and bounds.

When he reads more, his grammar is better. When he watches more TV, it's worse.
When he is in school for the year, his grammar is better. During the summer, it is worse.

But his speech troubles certainly play a role in his mispronunciations of simple words. For example, he has a hard time between soldier and shoulder. I don't think he hears a difference unless it's done bit by bit, "shuh--ole--der" "sol--jer"

I forget: does your SS have any learning disabilities or behavioral disorders? Sometimes learning or behavior problems are due to misdiagnosed hearing problems.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2010 at 5:35PM
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finedreams

"When he reads more, his grammar is better."

say no more, reading (good books) is a solution number one! even if someone reads to him!

    Bookmark   April 1, 2010 at 6:00PM
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azura123

I think you are sensitive to his dialect for a few reasons. One, your daughter has an extraordinarily advanced vocabulary and you are used to the way way she speaks. My 15 year old wouldn't say "I don't recall seeing this before." Or "This shirt is unfamiliar."

He is definitely hearing this poor grammar from somewhere. It is part his age, part being a boy, and part his environment. You just hear it more because you are used to living with a child who speaks well beyond her years.

I would correct it when he makes an error. But make sure he doesn't feel like you are picking on him, in the way lovehadley said.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2010 at 10:33PM
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crazydyz8

We have the exact same issue with my SS. He will be 8 in a couple of weeks. When we took him to a psychologist for a second opinion on his ADHD, the first thing that the psychologist picked up on was the language issues. He said that it seems as if SS can HEAR what is being said but can not process it. It might be worth looking into having him evaluated just to make sure there is no bigger issue.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2010 at 1:17PM
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lovehadley

"I forget: does your SS have any learning disabilities or behavioral disorders?"

Ceph, it is hard to say. I think he's very borderline.

Granted, he is only in 2nd grade and most LDs aren't diagnosed much earlier than this stage.

But each school year, his teachers have all said "he exhibits some signs of ADD, etc, it might be worth getting him tested" yada yada. But they all kind of downplay it, and shrug it off like "could be a problem, could not be."

So my theory is if he DOES have some behavioral issues/LDs, they are very mild.

He is definitely a young 8. He's always been young for his age, from the start. It doesn't help that he is VERY small (shortest kid in his class) and has a slight build. I feel bad for him because people will meet him and say "let me guess, are you in kindergarten?" OR "are you 6?" It's hard on him. If anything, it has taught me that when guessing a child's age, ALWAYS err on the older side of what you think. Most kids are FLATTERED to have someone think they are older than they really are, but not so much if someone thinks they're younger.

Anyway, he kind of acts the same way he looks. He has DEFINITELY matured over the last couple years, so I think he is on his own emotional growth curve, just not sure it's on par with his peers.

For example--he sucks his thumb A LOT. Is very into stuffed animals/Littles Pet Shops, etc. I know this sounds bad, but it just seems to me these are things either a younger child or a girl would like, as opposed to an 8 year old boy.

So I guess it's not surprising that his language seems delayed. And I DO think a lot of it is BM's poor influence in this area. Another thing he says a lot is "was" in place of "were."

As in:

"Was my dad and mom there?" (When he really means "Were my dad and mom there?")

He's going to be working with a reading specialist 2x a week this summer, so I think DH will speak to her about the language/grammar concerns.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2010 at 1:56PM
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ceph

I suspect working with a reading specialist will help his grammar a fair bit. It should also help his vocabulary.
IME, those who read a lot have better language skills than those who don't. (With exceptions, of course!)

    Bookmark   April 2, 2010 at 5:54PM
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sweeby

It just seems to me that SS's language is far behind age/grade level appropriateness. He is behind grade level in reading and works with a one-one-one specialist for 25 mins each school day. So I guess it wouldn't be surprising that his verbal skills are delayed."

The type of verbal language issues you describe are very consistent with this...

"But each school year, his teachers have all said "he exhibits some signs of ADD, etc, it might be worth getting him tested" yada yada. But they all kind of downplay it, and shrug it off like "could be a problem, could not be."

If more than one teacher has suggested it -- LISTEN! You've already got seen enough warning signs. And the sooner you get him help (if he needs it), the sooner he can start experiencing success instead of repeated failures.

Working with a reading specialist over the summer should help -- if he/she is a good one. You might also want the school's SLP to get involved if she hasn't already.

Since you're already modelling the correct usage for him and it isn't working, I'll suggest upping it a level. Next time he says something that is blatantly wrong (like 'hisself') -- I'd try "That wasn't quite right. Could you say it again please using your best grammar?" Praise him if he get's it right; explain the rule, then have him say it correctly if he didn't get it right on his own. Could be he's just being lazy or colloquial -- But either way, this should help.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2010 at 8:02PM
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silversword

"He is definitely a young 8. He's always been young for his age, from the start. It doesn't help that he is VERY small (shortest kid in his class) and has a slight build. I feel bad for him because people will meet him and say "let me guess, are you in kindergarten?" OR "are you 6?" It's hard on him. If anything, it has taught me that when guessing a child's age, ALWAYS err on the older side of what you think. Most kids are FLATTERED to have someone think they are older than they really are, but not so much if someone thinks they're younger. "

Love, my dd gets the same thing. She's 8. Someone guessed "4" for her the other day. I could have slugged them. Then we went to a store last week and the very saintly man behind the counter said, how old are you, let me guess, I'm really good at this..... 15? LOL. My DD was giggling all over the place. Then he guessed 10. Then he went down from there. By the time he got to 8 she was big as a pony and prancing with joy over the attention.

My dd also has very young interests. She will read SPOT if we'll let her. She also reads Magic Treehouse, silently... but it's not her first choice. She likes little pet shop and matchbox cars and marbles. LOL. I think it's great. She'll have TONS of time to become a tween. I nurture those young interests. There's only so much time to be that little.

She also has a very big vocabulary. But uses little "sockies" and stuff like that on occasion. It drives me crazy, but I let it go usually. She'll grow out of it. It is kind of hard for her in school though, I think. The other girls are SO mature.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2010 at 1:42PM
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lovehadley

"She likes little pet shop and matchbox cars and marbles. LOL. I think it's great. She'll have TONS of time to become a tween. I nurture those young interests. There's only so much time to be that little. "

LOh no, you misunderstood me. I wasn't encouraging kids to be/act older than they are. My DD7 LOVES Littlest Pet Shops, Webkinz, etc. I am GLAD she's not into all the teeny-bopper things yet--she does like Hannah Montana and Taylor Swift, but other than that, she's not too into the tween phase yet.

I guess I meant it seems odd to me that my SS, an 8 yr old BOY, likes those things. I see the boys in DD's class and they are all into baseball cards and sports, and rough/tumble stuff. That is what I meant by his taste seeming immature, like it's not on par for other boys his age. But I am fully aware this is my sexism coming out--expecting a BOY to be a certain way and have certain interests.

I just can't help but wonder...SS has this one kid in his class who picks on him unmercilessly. :( It's awful and DH and BM have separately been into the school on multiple occasions, the principal has spoken with this boy, etc. But he targets SS and I have to wonder if the LPS keychains hanging off of SS's backpack, and the fact that he sucks his thumb a lot contribute to this. I am NOT excusing this boy's bullying AT ALL, but just that I can see how, for a bully, SS would make an easy target.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2010 at 1:51PM
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pattybags

To this day, my adult sister says, "Alblums" instead of albums.

In general, Probly, Proberly is also very common instead of probably. There's another one that you hear everyday on television, I can't think of it at the moment but it drives me nuts whenever I hear it.

Do you read to him? How are his writing skills? Maybe seeing it in written and visual form will help his language develop.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2010 at 5:11PM
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silversword

gotcha. I understand. I think the keychains may be exacerbating the school bullying.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2010 at 9:05PM
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