The custom is to make resolutions for the new year, but as we all know, most of them fall by the wayside well before the shops start stocking chocolate for Valentine’s Day. As a parent of a bilingual child, what could you do instead? My advice is to forget about resolutions and think more about habits. A habit is not as onerous as a resolution. With a resolution, if you fail once, you have broken the promise you made and that’s it – the resolution has melted away to the taste of the chocolate in your mouth. With a habit you can just pick it up again and keep going. That means less pressure, which can only be good for parents, especially when it comes to something like bringing up bilingual children. Here are five habits for you to implement into your daily life throughout the year – if you already have these habits, treat yourself to a … nice fruit salad!
1. Have patience
It takes time to create something great – it might sometimes feel that your little one takes far too much time to utter those first words in your language, puts a sentence together or knows which word belongs to which language. Learning a language, never mind two or three languages is actually a humongous task and we are all different. Your child (like my younger daughter) might belong to those who need to take more time to get ready to speak. If you are truly concerned, speak to a language therapist who is used to dealing with bilingual children.
Also remember to have patience on those days when you think that you are not on track with your language plan for your kids. It is not a personal attack on you if they respond in the “wrong” language, nor does it mean that they have given up on the language. Circumstances change and it is important that you change with them if need be – by increasing the amount of language exposure, staying even more consistent or asking for others’ help.
Make patience a habit.