Language development is a key component of childhood. We are teaching our children the rules of language from the moment they are born. But what should you do if your child is not crushing their language milestones? When families come to Talk and Groove or for a free screening at BDI Playhouse, our speech language pathologists often send them home with a few tweaks to their home environment before recommending an evaluation. None of our recommendations require purchasing of toys or materials because we want it to be a natural part of your routine! Here are the top 3 recommendations we make!
Withholding highly motivating items is a common strategy used to encourage language development through requesting. There are many ways children can use body language to request an item. Children can communicate a request through simple eye gaze, pointing, and dragging you to the item they want. However, what happens when a child cannot get past pointing for something they want? We withhold. Withholding the desired object sets you up to model and have your child request the item, through verbalization or sign. However, the key is to read your child for the best opportunity to do so. If your child is already “edgy” or “on the brink of a meltdown”, now is not the time to withhold in order to teach your child to use a sign or verbalization. We have the rule of 3 tries. Let your child try to imitate 3 times before moving back to an easier attempt to avoid frustration. For example, if you child has progressed to sign cookie and you are trying to get her to say “cookie”, after 3 tries, accept the sign and try again later!
This is a pretty harsh word for a fabulous technique but the word gets a lot of giggles out of our parents. Sabotaging your child for language development means taking an everyday activity and letting your child problem solve using language. An example of sabotaging your child would be to only give them a few cheerios in order to create the opportunity to ask for “more cheerios”. Another example would be to put their favorite toys inside a clear box or bag that requires assistance in “opening”. The beauty of sabotaging is that you can start with simply signing open all the way to creating phrases and sentences “Mama, open the box please”.
Take a trip
As much as we wish that this tip means you should get on an airplane and fly to Europe, it truly is as simple as taking a trip outside of your “normal day”. Think about your day-to-day life and all that your child is exposed to. Now, think about a “trip” that could be new. It could be as simple as walking to a different neighborhood and watching for dogs. Take a trip to a pond and see if there are any ducks. Drive around looking for buses and trucks!
Language Development is such an amazing experience to witness and be a part of. We are eager to see if these 3 techniques were successful for you and your child! If you would like some more personalized ideas or need additional help with putting these techniques to use, please reach out and schedule a free screening with one of our skilled Speech Language Pathologists. We’d love to be a little part of your journey!
Written by Jessica Keenan, MA, CCC-SLP/L, CLC