Tuesday, July 14, 2015

How to get my infant to talk: Tip #5!

It's Tip Tuesday and since I receive questions about facilitating and eliciting language in very young children often from parents all over the world I thought I'd do a series offering tips and techniques I have done (and still do) with my own kiddos to get them talking!  You will notice there will be very few speech pathology terms used here as the goal of this series is to speak directly to parents.  However this information can be used by SLPs, early interventionists, or early childhood educators as well.  These tips are targeted for children 0-3 yrs (or cognitive equivalent).

Tip #5 (you can find Tip #4 here):

Be your child's first toy!  Um, what?  Ok this sounds more difficult than it really is.  All you need to do is follow your baby, see what interests him/her and play with those objects or perform those actions to engage your child.  If your baby smiles and shows enjoyment, continue to do this over and over and over again.  You may see your baby laugh and you may even begin to see your baby anticipate your action.  Some good examples of this might be:  blowing raspberries on baby's belly, flying baby, laying baby "down" then bringing baby back "up" while sitting on your lap, shaking rattles or clapping hands when baby vocalizes, tickling baby, etc.

I know it can be difficult to think of ways in which you can become your child's plaything so, in addition to the above examples, allow me to share a few ways in which I have been my children's toy in the past.  My oldest used to cover me up and uncover me with pillows, covers, socks, (whatever he had at the time) to "find" me when he was a toddler.  My body has also been used as a racetrack, a limbo stick, a bridge, a jungle gym, and a basketball net. My legs have been ramps for rolling balls or racing trucks/cars.  My hands have been used as a canvas when my son decided to paint them rather than his paper.  My head has fashioned a number of wonderful stylish objects such as empty boxes, mega blocks, cars, bibs, and books.  I've been dressed up as Iron man, Captain America, Bumblebee, and Optimus Prime (usually only with the helmets as I can't fit in the actual costumes).  I am the builder when my sons want to knock down stacking blocks, the jumperroo when my baby wants to strengthen his legs on my thighs, a doggie, a monkey, a snake, a shark and a number of other animals when my boys want me to chase/capture them.

What is my point to all this?  No matter how ridiculous, tiresome or tedious it seems, if your child is into it, it's worth doing with him/her.  But your child will only continue to participate in this play as long as you make it fun and exciting.  You cannot just sit there and let your child play around you.  You must become PART of the play.  So remember to be over the top with huge facial experiences, varied pitches, and don't forget to laugh.  Laugh loudly and laugh often.

You can become your child's plaything in any place and at any time (in play, at bath time, at meal time, when doing household chores, when shopping, etc.), simply remember to follow your child's lead and do what interests and motivate him/her.

Why does it work?  You are not only showing baby you are his/her communication partner, but you are showing baby that you can take into account baby's likes and dislikes and can create fun play with that in mind.  Also, by being your child's toy, you will be making social connections with your baby that you may not have made in the past.  Be exciting.  Be animated.  Be fun!!!!  You are continuing to encourage joint attention as well as encouraging social interaction.

Check out Tip #6 here!

Happy talking and playing!
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