Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Encouraging Language in Toddlers: Part Six

Encouraging Language: Be Patient

My next tip is simple but sweet.  When you are trying to encourage language, whether it be their first word or whether you are trying to encourage them to put words together: Use wait time.  This means that after you ask your child a question and you want them to respond, give them LOTS of time to answer.  Wait there quietly for a good minute.  You will be able to tell if your child is thinking or formulating a reply.  Sometimes we think that lulls in a conversation are awkward or even incorrect - but they're not!  Especially with younger children.  Some children have slower processing speed and they just need MORE TIME.  Some children might have difficulty coordinating the movement required for speech (such as apraxia).  Some children take time to process what the actual question was.  For these reasons and many more - remember it's okay to wait.

Show them that it's okay for them to think about their answer and that they don't have to answer immediately.  Take off the pressure.  Smile.  Get down on their level.  And wait.  I'm not making any promises, but give it a try!  You might be surprised!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Encouraging Language in Toddlers: Part 5

Encouraging Language: Focus on Power Words

When you're trying to encourage your young one to start saying more words, try focusing on 2-3 specific words for a while.  Good words to use would be 'power words'.  I've also heard them  referred to as 'stereotypical phrases.'  These are words that can stand alone yet still give a clear meaning.  They are used often throughout the day and they are very functional.  There is often a clear action or gesture associated with them as well.  Some examples include: Bye, Go, More, Uh-Oh, or Hi.  Pick one or two of these and then look for ways to fit them in naturally throughout the day. 

One of my favorites is "Go!"  You can make it very exciting by adding suspense before doing anything fun by counting to three, then saying, "Go!"  For example, when playing with a car, you say "One, Two, Three.......GO!"  Then push it across the floor.  You can do it while making lunch.  You need to pour in the milk?  "One, Two, Three,.....GO!"  After you do this a few times, pause for a second before you say "Go!" and then see how your child reacts.  He might lean forward, or bounce, or reach his hand forward.  He might even say "O" which is terrific!  Keep bombarding your child with these words in natural contexts, and they'll start to pick up on it in no time!