3 Strikes & You Win

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Quick Printing

How To: 3 Strikes & You Win


3 Strikes & You Win is a great technique to encourage your toddler to use words instead of pointing or grunting. This technique models a word multiple times without pressuring your child to say it. Some parents feel that this technique is too passive, but it is not. It actually encourages your child to use words instead of pointing or screaming without frustrating him or her or you!

How to do this technique:

First, say a word while holding your child’s desired object near your mouth. This brings your toddler’s attention to your mouth. You want your child’s attention on your mouth because he or she can watch how you say a word and this visual input is critical! After simply saying the name of the object, wait 2-3 seconds to see if your child will repeat it.  

Second, if your child does not repeat the word, slowly bring the object toward him or her but still out of reach and say the word again. Wait 2-3 seconds for a response. If your child doesn’t respond, go to the third step. If your child starts to scream and break down, offer the object here.

Third, if your child still does not name the desired object but is calm, slowly bring the object to your child as you repeat the word for a 3rd time. After the third repetition, give the object to your child and praise him or her for patiently listening to you. 

If your child, at any time, says the desired word, give the object immediately. This method models the desired vocabulary word and provides your child with the opportunity to repeat the word without frustrating him or her. If your child becomes frustrated after 2 models, give the object. 

Below, you will find some games to practice this technique. It is extremely important so spend a bit of time here!

3 Strikes & You Win Games


Let's get practicing now!

What’s Included:

  • Practice activities for 3 Strikes & You Win technique
  • Space provided to make notes

Recommended Use:

  • Pick an activity and print it out. 
  • Place the activity in a frequented spot to help remind yourself to try it out for a few days. 
  • Jot down some notes on what seems to work and what does not.

3 Strikes: Mealtime


What You Need

Your child's favorite foods

How To Play

  • During meals, have your child's favorite food handy. This is very important! Your child must want to ask for the food.
  • Start your meal normally. Offer a food that your child likes but not their ultimate favorite.
  • After a few minutes, show your child their favorite food. For my son, this would be blueberries! Most likely, your child will scream or point to the food. If so, yeah! That is what we want.
  • Hold the food near your mouth and repeat the name.
  • Wait a moment to see if your child will respond.
  • If no response, say the food again as you move it half way to your child.
  • Wait for a response.
  • If no response, give the food to your child and say the name one more time.
  • Then repeat!

Tips

  • Finger foods such as berries, crackers, cookies, grapes, or raisins work the best. There are multiple opportunities for practice.
  • If your child says the name of the food at any time, give the food immediately and praise your child!
  • If your child is extremely frustrated and crying, you may want to only do 2 tries instead of 3.
  • Place the food near your mouth as you name them. Your child picks up a lot cues about words by looking at your mouth as you speak.
  • Wait time! Make sure you give your child a few seconds, even up to 10 to repeat the word. Don't rush!

If your child, at any time, says the desired word, give the object immediately. This method models the desired vocabulary word and provides your child with the opportunity to repeat the word without frustrating him or her. If your child becomes frustrated after 2 models, give the object.

Printable Handout:

3 Strikes Playtime


What You Need

A clear box with a lid is the most ideal. If you don't have this, placing desired toys out of reach will do.

How To Play (Farm Example)

  • During playtime, take out a few toys that your child may want to play with. Little people and animals works the best. However, if your child doesn't like to play house or farm, pick something he/she is motivated by. This is very important!
  • Start Playing
  • Get on the floor with your child. Get out the farm and an animal or two.
  • ​Place a few animals in a clear box so your child can see them but can't access them. Show your child the animals. Most likely, your child will point or grunt for an animal that he or she wants.
  • Take the animal out of the box and say the name of the animal while holding the animal near your mouth.
  • If your child still simply points to the animal, say the name again while you move the animal closer to your child but still out of reach.
  • If your child repeats the animal here, give it! If he or she doesn't say it, say the animal one more time as you give it to your child.

Tips

  • If your child says the name of the desired object at any time, give the object immediately and praise your child!
  • If your child is extremely frustrated and crying, you may want to only do 2 tries instead of 3.
  • Place objects near your mouth as you name them. Your child picks up a lot cues about words by looking at your mouth as you speak.
  • Wait time!! Make sure you give your child a few seconds, even up to 10 to repeat the word. Don't rush!

If your child, at any time, says the desired word, give the object immediately. This method models the desired vocabulary word and provides your child with the opportunity to repeat the word without frustrating him or her. If your child becomes frustrated after 2 models, give the object.

Printable Handout:



› 3 Strikes

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