If this is your first time, please read through all the information on how to "Set The Scene" for communication. It is necessary! If you have been here before, jump down to the games or download your copies right here!
Bend or squat down to the level of your child. Make sure you are looking eye to eye. This way, you have your child's attention and he or she has yours. Communication happens when people talk with each other, not at each other. Make sure your child can see your mouth. He or she picks up a lot of visual information on how to make sounds by looking at your mouth.
Life is not a quiz
Life is not a quiz! This means, don’t ask your child too many questions throughout the day. For some parents, asking questions is a natural way to start a conversation. Some parents ask their children questions to find out how much their children know. Some parents ask their children many questions (e.g. “Can you count to 10?”) when they are trying to teach a certain skill, such as counting or colors. of course, all this questioning comes from good intentions; however, for children, answering questions is difficult. Some children will even shut down and stop talking if they don’t know how to respond.
Instead of asking questions, make comments as you play with your child. There will be more on this later, so hold tight!
Naturally, there will be times when you should and/or have to ask questions but I will teach you a productive way to ask questions later in this book.
Take the pressure off!
Many well intentioned parents easily create a stressful communication environment for their children, accidentally of course. Parents become so consumed with the goal of helping their child to start talking that they inadvertently put a lot of pressure on their child.
For example, a child sees another child at the park. The parent directs their child to say “hi” to the other child. The parent might be thinking, “Hi” is a word my child can say! Social skills are developing! I want my child to talk to this other child. I know she can do it; she does it all the time. So the parent prompts with, “Say ‘hi’, Charlie,” like this:
Are you stressed? Because I know I am! Additionally, the parent gave so many commands so fast that she did not give her child a chance to respond.
To correct this situation, the mom should have prompted her son, Charlie, like this:
High pressure does not help your child talk. This makes sense if you think about it. You, yourself, most likely, have an easy time talking with friends when out to dinner. However, when you have to do public speaking maybe at a board meeting in front of people you may feel your words don’t come as easily. That is because you are in a high pressure situation. This is the same for our little ones.
Talk While Playing
Talk with your child while playing games, during meals and any other daily routines. While you are talking, make sure you have conversations with your child. This may seem like common sense for some parents; however, many parents give demands throughout the day instead of engaging in conversation. (i.e., “Play here, don’t touch that, walk slowly, where are your toys?”). These sorts of demands are natural as we want to keep our children safe.
Having a conversation with a child can be a little tricky for some children since children cannot communicate like adults. Therefore, parents need to try to communicate more like their child and discuss the color of the leaves as if it is the first time they have ever seen them change colors.
Okay, now we know we need to have conversations with our children. The other necessary component is making sure you talk all day long with your child during daily routines, including meals, bath, getting dressed, traveling and playing. In this way you don’t need to schedule time to practice talking with your child.
Society has us over scheduling ourselves and our children. We have a set time for almost everything. If your child is having trouble talking, do not set a time aside to work on talking. Instead, remember that we communicate all day long. Therefore, we can work on “talking” all day long while we go about our daily routines.
Summarizing, we have set the scene with the correct body positioning, time and place to practice talking, and general guidelines for the most productive type of speech. Now let’s learn some easy techniques to encourage language learning.
Let's get practicing now!
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