Thursday, July 24, 2014

communicating with your toddler

Let me just start off by saying I'm probably not the greatest person [let alone expert] on communicating with your toddler seeing as how my 18 month old has a vocabulary that consists of about 5 words -with a "ba" sound mixed in there that can mean multiple words. So yeah, there's that. That's not to say he doesn't understand what we say to him or that he doesn't try to communicate with us, it's just saying he's not much for talking yet. 

There are a few things that I do with him countless times a day in hopes that one day he will run up to me, speak in a complete sentence and say something like, "Mama, let's read a book." [As a side note: one of my uncles didn't talk until he was over two years old at which point he mimicked my grandma calling their cat, Fluffball, and from then on out it was complete sentences for him. So there's my hope. Emerson's just skipping the little words and working his way to sentences before he talks much. :] Anyhow... as I was saying, there are somethings I do each day to help with communication skills: 

Read books out loud as many times as he wants me to. If this means reading "Dr. Seuss's ABC An Amazing Alphabet Book" 14 times in a row and skipping pages here and there, that's what we'll do. Boy LOVES books, so it's really something we do for most of any given day. Sometimes he prefers to read them on his own, but we read books a lot. He is learning what animals are in some of the books and will is starting make their sound, he also recognizes his ABC book, Farm book, Mickey books... all I have to do is ask him to get them. I always read the title of the book and point to pictures, words, and numbers as we read in hopes he'll catch on.    

Talk about what I'm doing. No matter what I'm doing I'll talk through it with him, "I'm washing my hands/ cutting a banana/ fixing supper/ cleaning/ reading... When we're at the store I talk about what we see in the aisles. I tell him if I'm happy or sad about something. I try and talk a lot so he can hear me and learn what I'm doing. 

Interpret his emotions/actions. Whatever he is doing, I will tell him. If he is dancing, clapping, climbing, eating, reading, playing... whatever it is, I'll say it out loud. If he wants me to hold him, I'll say, "You want up?" or something. If he's angry and throwing a fit I'll and tell him that he is acting angry [and that it's not a good way to act].

Sign language. Some people choose to sign with their babies and toddlers and some don't. I decided I would try and teach a few basic signs in hopes that it would help him be more well behaved. I didn't want my kid to scream when he wanted something and then get it, he needed to learn to ask. He has learned: more, please, all done, thank you, and help. Every time I say one of those words I'll sign it to him, when he signs it I will say it and sign it back to him. This has been especially helpful since he really isn't a talker right now. These few little signs help me a little know how I can help him a little bit better and have helped him learn how to ask for something without throwing a fit, which is really nice. 

Point out things that you see, like an airplane, plant, tree, flower, dog, bunny... anything you see. Point to it and say what it is. If it's a flower or something like that I like to throw in the color as well: green grass, yellow flower, purple balloon... you get the idea. 

Anyhow, those are things that I do with Emerson in hopes to get him to talk and to help him learn to communicate. I would love to hear about things that you do with your little one[s]. I know that some of you all have littles that are talking up a storm and I am amazed at their vocabulary! What do you all do?! When did they start talking? Do share :) 

July 10:  Keeping your marriage alive with a toddler
July 17:  Favorite summer toddler activities
July 24:  Helping Your Toddler to Communicate (Words, emotions, etc.)
July 31:  Dealing with Separation Anxiety
Aug 7:    Car Trip Necessities
Aug 14:  Deciding when the time is right for baby #2 (and/or how to handle these questions)
Aug 21:  Tricks for eating out with your toddler
Aug 28:  Feeling confident as a mom (How to feel this way, Your struggle with, etc.)


Leah @ Everyday Love said...

Great list! Baby sign language was one of the best things I did for Avery when she was younger. It's really helped with her communication today.

kelseylynae said...

We did baby signs too! What is funny is when Blythe gets really frustrated about something or isn't feeling well she reverts back to it!

I know I have a very gifted communicator on my hands [translation: she does not stop talking from the moment she wakes up…at all], but I think the best thing you can do is talk with them like they understand you from the get go. I did very little "baby talk" and rarely talk to Blythe like she is two. Raise the communication bar and they will quite often surprise you and meet you there [with words you NEVER thought they were capable of understanding, let alone using correctly :)!]

And this is a given: be careful about what you talk about around your toddler. Even before they can repeat it, they HEAR it, and it gets tucked away somewhere. We were going to try and listen to a country radio station the other day in the car, and within one minute the song had said "drunk, hell," and something else I can't remember now. Even though it didn't appear Blythe was listening, I changed it quickly because she HEARS EVERYTHING! It's a joke now, but around my parents she sometimes says, "KYLE! What were you thinking?!' because my mom said that to him once in her presence and it stuck! Sheesh. Ha.

Courtney B said...

Love this post!! I really need to be better about interpreting Mia's emotions and explaining them in the moment to her! I think it will help us both cope as we are trying to figure out how to communicate with each other!

Jillian said...

Great post Hannah!!! As you know, this topic is way close to my heart!!! Your tips are spot on! I am a huge proponent of sign language, since research has shown it to develop communication and vocabulary...Lucy signs a lot and is picking up on words quickly. As a speech therapist, the whole read to your child and always talk about what is happening around you are both great tips. I also recommend music- singing songs, nursery rhymes, etc. to develop speech and language. Children innately love music and so pairing a catchy melody to repeated words and phrases is a great way to reinforce language development. Also we do a lot of sound play (making animal noises, car noises, etc.). Once a child is saying some words, I encourage parents to offer choices rather than ask yes or no questions (I.e. Do you want milk or juice? Vs. do you want milk?)---by presenting a choice, you encourage them to say or sign the word rather than just pointing, grunting, or nodding their head. Very good post!!!