Humans communicate and it’s a gift that sets us apart as the most evolved and intelligent species! We communicate as soon as we are born with a birth cry. It’s an announcement of our arrival and the beginning of the communication journey ahead. Infant brains are wired to observe, hear and learn language from his/her primary caretaker.
A constant exchange of language between the adult and the child is a relentless source of learning and attunement which act as foundations of a rich language learning environment. What should parents do to introduce and sustain communication for their children with delays?
- Play a lot of games without toys. Silly games like tickling, peek-a-boo, jumping and run and chase can be the first steps to building lots of turns in an interaction. The child can have a lot of fun looking at you, smiling, taking turns and initiating the game.
- An unstructured play-time outdoors Everyday, like a walk or cycling or just running around can give a rich sensory experience to the child which might be lacking indoors and a talk and walk time with you.
- Identify at least one routine in a day, which your child likes, like brushing, cooking, feeding or bath etc where you can go slow without hurrying the child. Make it language rich by using new words.
- Do not ask too many questions when you talk. Conversation is not an exam. Always remember the hot seat in “Kaun Banega Crorepati”, You would not like to be in that position all day ever!! Same with your child.
- Keep a keen eye on what your child likes to do or play. It can be as silly as pulling a string or playing with water. Ensure that his favorite play item is used while you try to play with him. Imitating your child with what he does is sure to give you the first breakthrough in trying to be his play partner.
- Always sing rhymes to your child instead of playing them on the phone. It will give you invaluable eye contact, smiles and laughter that is sure to strengthen the bond for communication.
- Even if your child is not talking. Use words or simple phrases to describe what he is doing or playing. It is also called Parallel talk.
- You can also use Self-talk which means basically trying to describe what you, the parent is doing. Like when you are cooking and your child is interested in watching you. You can always describe it and use words like Switch on the gas, hot, cook, etc.
- Always pause after every sentence from your side to see how your child responds to your utterance and only then add the next question or comment.Think of a game of tennis where you cannot hit the ball till your partner has had his shot at it. If you keep hitting the ball yourself then it’s a solo sport which tennis is not!! Same with communication,
- Whenever you ask a question, remember that it's important to ask a question which the child understands. A “Yes vs. No” question or “Choice” question is easier than a “What, Who and Where”. “Why and How” questions are most difficult to understand. A difficult question always causes a breakdown in communication.
Remember, “Your child has the right to make his own choices & You have the right to decide how you respond”
Happy Talking :)