Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Why Would a Toddler Talk If He Doesn't Have a Reason?

If my husband waited on me hand-and-foot, did all my chores, and took care of every need of our children, we might actually talk less. Why? Because there wouldn't be discussions about who is going to take my daughter to soccer practice, what to add to the grocery list, and who is giving my son his bath. Because the answer is that he would do it all. Now doesn't that seem silly. Of course, because we should share the load. Now, we would still have conversations about the weather, our travel plans, politics, religion, etc., but not discussions on day-to-day issues. This parallels to children with language delays. If the parents are chasing the child around with food, picking out all of their toys and clothing, and not setting boundaries for discipline, then the child has no reason to talk. Give the child a reason to communicate!

If you want to help a child with a language delay, give him a reason to talk. I'm talking about a delay, not some disorder such as cranio-facial malformations or paralyzed vocal cords. Some tips for giving a child a reason to talk are:

  • Serve small amounts of food so that the child has to request more. This may be with words, grunts, gestures, or sign language, but at least that is a start.

  • Provide choices even if they don't seem important. Ask "Do you want to wear the red shirt or the yellow shirt?" Now the child may not know his colors, but when you hold up two shirts, he gets to make a choice. This gives the child a sense of being in control, which means he may be less defiant later when you want control!

  • Put favorite toys slightly out of reach, so that the child has to ask for help, point, or otherwise let his wishes be known.

  • Label what you are doing, playing with, or what he is doing. For example, when you provide the child with a cup, say "Drink, here is a drink". Keep it simple as opposed to saying some long drawn out sentence.

Some children truly need the help of a speech language pathologist (AKA speech therapist), whereas others just need the environment and caregivers to give them a reason to talk!

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