Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Encouraging Language in Toddlers: Part Four

Encouraging Language: Give your Child an Opportunity to Use Words

As parents, sometimes we have to be mind-readers.  Our newborn is crying, and we have to figure out why. Do they want changed?  Are they hungry?  Are they bored?  Eventually we start to learn that different cries mean different things.  We know just what they need, and we want to satisfy that need as soon as possible.  It's part of being a good mom, right?  Right.  Well, there comes a point where you need to stop being such a great mind-reader...or at least your child needs to think that your ability to read minds has suddenly disappeared.  Even though you secretly still know what they need.  What I'm trying to say is, 
Give your child an opportunity to use words.  

Here's an example: Your 14 month old is whining, and you know for a fact that he is hungry and wants a bottle of milk.  Before you just give him the bottle, take a few minutes and give him the chance to actually request it.  Take him into the kitchen and say "What do you want?"  Maybe he will point to the cupboard where you keep the bottles, or maybe to the fridge where the milk is.  Pointing is a good first step!  Encourage a word too.  "You want some milk?  A bottle?"  Pick a key word to use consistently and model it each time your child wants some milk in a bottle.  Or whatever the situation may be.  After you have given him the chance to respond and you have encouraged some communication on his part, then go ahead and give him the bottle.  Don't take so long that he gets really mad or really hungry.  The main point here is to give your child a chance to talk.  They might surprise you!

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