1. The Trouble with "Say":
We all want our little ones to start talking, and it's only natural to encourage them. However, constantly prompting them to "say" a word can unintentionally set them up for failure. Imagine this scenario: You excitedly point to a dog and ask your child, "Can you say 'dog'?" Unfortunately, if "dog" isn't in their vocabulary yet, no matter how much you prompt or repeat, they can't magically conjure up that word. This can lead to frustration for both you and your child.
2. Let's Break the Cycle:
Instead of fixating on "say," let's focus on creating a language-rich environment that encourages communication in a more relaxed and enjoyable way. Here are a few tips to help us on this mindful communication journey:
a. Expand Your Vocabulary: Introduce new words and concepts naturally through everyday activities. Talk about the things you see, hear, and touch. Describe objects, actions, and emotions. By exposing your child to a diverse range of words, you'll broaden their language skills without the pressure of having to "say" a specific word.
b. Encourage any form of communication: Remember, words aren't the only way to express oneself. Pay attention to your child's non-speaking cues, such as pointing, gesturing, or using facial expressions. Acknowledge and respond to these cues to show that you understand and value their attempts to communicate.
c. Be a Language Model: Model age-appropriate language for your child by using simple, clear, and grammatically correct sentences. Repeat their utterances back to them in expanded form to demonstrate proper sentence structure and vocabulary. For example, if they say, "car go," you can respond with, "Yes, the car is going fast!"
3. Laughter Is the Best Language Booster:
Now, let's add a touch of humor to the mix because let's face it—parenting can be a wild roller coaster ride! Embrace those hilarious moments when our little ones' attempts at communication take us by surprise. Celebrate the creativity and ingenuity in their own unique language development. Laugh together, share funny stories, and create a positive atmosphere where communication is celebrated, regardless of the words used.
So, dear parents and caregivers, let's put "say" on the back burner for a while. Instead, let's focus on building a nurturing and language-rich environment that fosters communication and minimizes frustration. By expanding our vocabulary, encouraging all forms of communication, and modeling age-appropriate language, we can help our minimally speaking children on their exciting journey towards effective communication.
Remember, every child's language development unfolds at their own pace. Let's cherish those special moments, celebrate the progress, and sprinkle some humor along the way. Together, we can create a world where the joy of communication knows no bounds!
Happy talking (and laughing)!
Kim Marino MA,CCC,SLP
Licensed Speech and Language Pathologist/Feeding Specialist
And remember: “Little steps forward are the building blocks of progress."
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