I spend a lot of time with what I call the “littles.” These are my youngest clients, birth to 3. When they need help with communication there are a few things I say all the time when parents ask me what they should do.
“Watch his eyes! Talk about what he’s looking at!”
“Look at her hands! Talk about what she sees!”
A lot of times our children guide us, in such wonderful ways, about what they need. So often we miss this. I do too. Even as an SLP, I sometimes forget to watch the child. But it’s so important and so critical. We have to follow their lead! It isn’t about our agenda. It’s about theirs. And we support them where they are with what they’re interested in.
It’s Really Not That Complicated
If your child is watching a butterfly, talk about the butterfly. If he notices an airplane, label it with a word or gesture for “airplane.” If she’s playing with blocks, talk about blocks! “Block on top” “Build up” “Oh no! Fall down! Try again!”
So often we think it has to be more complicated. We try to engage the child in picture cards, or books, or whatever we think they should look at. And don’t get me wrong, I love pictures, and books especially. Those are great things and we need to expose our kids to them. But it’s also ok, preferred actually, to talk about what they’re interested in.
And here’s a biggie – refrain from talking about something that’s already happened. Don’t expect them to talk about the party they were at yesterday, or what they said at breakfast. They don’t remember. Talk about the here. Talk about the now.
Remember to Watch
Watch their hands. What are they holding onto or pointing to? Watch their eyes. What are they looking at? Meet them where they are. Talk about what they are thinking about. This is where wonder, where thought, meets words. And then language blossoms.