So how did your week go? Did you find a little time every day to watch your child and see how they are already communicating? What did you see and hear? Were you surprised at anything you saw and/or heard? Sometimes when a family starts watching and listening to their child they are surprised to find out how much their child is already communicating! Now that doesn't mean that they are using as many words and phrases as you would like, or that they are using phrases that are more than a word or two in length. Those things may still be in the future. But, your child is telling you in some manner what their needs are and that they need your help to get those needs met. And some of the things that you noticed this past week can help you and your child get to the next step.
So, let's get to the new things we will try for this week. Actually there are a couple things that I would like you to try.
The first one is when you are trying to get your child to "pop" a word or phrase, I want you to use just a one or two word phrase to comment on what your child is doing. By doing this you are giving your child a chance to be able to imitate what you are saying. Your child will appreciate that you are understanding that it is difficult for him/her to string words together successfully like you do, but he/she just MIGHT be able to imitate a one or two word phrase. And if they start having success, they just MIGHT like being able to "talk" to the family and try more and more. Just like us, a child likes to be heard and successful and if using a word or words to get their needs met actually works, I guarantee that they will want to keep trying this new activity. And we all know how much a child likes to have some control and power in situations and once they understand the fact that saying a word or words gets them something, there will be no stopping them.
When your child starts venturing into imitation, you may get what is more a word approximation than a really clear word. And that's fantastic! If your child uses the same grouping of sounds for the same object or want, then that is the word/word approximation that is meaningful at this point. For example, the word approximation "ba" can mean many things. Some meanings could be "bottle"; "baa" for a sheep; "ball"; "Bob" (the Builder), etc. You get the idea.
At this point, don't worry about how clear your child is, just be very excited that they are adding to their expressive vocabulary, woo hoo!! So, the other thing I want you to try is that when your child tries to communicate with you, you say back to him what you think he is saying or would like to have said. For example, When your child says their very proud "ba" and they are handing you a ball then you respond "ball, yes that's a ball, thanks for telling me". Typically a child understands so much more than they can say at this point, so for them to hear you validate that you understood what they said is a wonderful feeling for your child.
The title of my blog is "communication from a child's point of view" and I just want to take a minute to have you think about how your child feels when he cannot get his wants and needs met by talking like everyone else around him/her. How would you feel? Sad, confused, frustrated, angry? Now think how you would feel if the people that mean so much to you finally figure out that they do understand what you have been communicating? I know how I would feel...relief, happiness, enjoyment, joy, etc. Communication is totally an emotionally based system. You really can't make a child talk. But you sure can set up opportunities and situations for them to communicate and the more they have success, the more they will keep trying. The more they practice the better they will get at this and all of a sudden you will have a happy child that is communicating and getting their needs met. Happiness for everyone!
So, good look this week on trying out these couple new suggestions. And as always, this should be fun and a positive experience. And I know how busy and full your life is. So, I don't mean for you to be trying these things all day long...oh no! But if you could just focus 5 to 10 minutes a day on your child when you are both relaxed and having fun, that is when you can try these suggestions out.
And as I mentioned last week, please feel free to ask me any questions or share any comments. I would love to hear from you. Have a great week.