Awakening Children's Minds and uses the term "private speech" to describe this behavior. Berk states that private speech "becomes an indispensable tool for self-regulation--the central means through which children take over the support provided by others, turn it toward the self, and use it to guide and control their own thinking and behavior."
Benefits of Private Speech
Private speech is a normal behavior for children, is healthy, and even essential. It gives children an opportunity to master their emotions, become socially competent, and problem solve.
Mastering Emotions and Social Competence
Berk explains how private speech helps with self-control. She shares, "Private speech is richly influenced by children's social experiences, and it is crucial for overcoming impulsive action and achieving conscious control over thought and behavior.”
“In most instances [of private speech] children appear to be working through ideas, surmounting obstacles, mastering cognitive or social skills or managing intense emotion." Often children's private speech includes task-related dialogue such as describing actions, instructing, asking and answering questions, etc. Research shows that the more children talk to themselves in a task-related way, the better they are at problem solving.
Experiences that Encourage Private Speech
1. Social play involving rich, verbal give-and-take. Playful situations that involve conversation or fantasy play with different roles and situations encourage private speech.
2. Spend time with your child and monitor their play. These are great moments to teach self-regulation. A great activity to engage in is reading with one another because many children's stories have characters who use private speech to problem solve and reach their goals.
4. Learning environments that permit children to be verbally active during problem solving. Supportive teaching, challenging tasks (not too hard, but not too easy), and freedom to engage in private speech in a learning environment encourage children's use of inner dialogue. In the first part of elementary school, it is helpful for many children to speak out loud when working on assignments. This helps children cope with the difficulties or changes they are facing with keeping a longer attention span and being challenged academically.
5. Suggest to your children ways to delay gratification, resist temptation, be patient, and master and cope with difficult emotions. When parents make these suggestions it is often transferred to a child’s private speech which makes it more personal to them and easier to do.