I think the first time I realized my kid didn’t speak english was when he was 2 or so.
Think about it – they are born, and we talk to them…. but they have no idea what in the world we are saying. We just sound pleasant. Our tone is nice, we can soothe them by humming or whispering – but the actual words we say – mean nothing. We literally sound like a Charlie Brown teacher – PWAH-PWA-WAH-WAH…
Eventually, they actually do start to communicate. Through trial and error, and by combining tone and facial expressions with actions they witness, suddenly they understand you!
Or so you thought…
Because then one day you say, “tilt your head back” – and they have no idea what that means. What does tilt mean? Did I ever establish this word in his life? And back? usually associated with their back, or give it back etc. So, you gently nudge their chin up, and EUREKA – “tilt your head back” is established. yet, I bet you $100 they have no idea what tilt means.
So you want tips – that’s why the mighty Google brought you here. Well, here is the best I have – and no I am not a language expert, I just have 1, 2 and 5 yr old children that frankly communicate really well these days. I don’t write these as an exhaustive list, just some tips, please add your own below in the comments.
Here are 7 tips for talking with your child:
1) Replace the action you want, with their perspective:
– “tilt your head back” changes to “look up”
– “swing your legs back and forth” changes to “put your shoes on the sky”
2) Ask for one thing at a time so as not to confuse them and build confidence.
3) Use shorter phrases and simple explanations
4) Get down to their level – ensure you have eye contact. Literally crouching down and speaking to them is really effective in establishing trust and building their confidence when they speak.
5) If you yell, they will yell louder. Use calmer tones – when possible, we all have our moments.
6) Don’t ask a question if you want them to do something – questions should always allow them to say “no” and mean it. If you ask questions just to be nice, then argue with them when they don’t do what you asked – don’t get mad:
– “Do you want to go potty?” vs. “lets go potty, or Please go potty now”
– “Do you want to go outside?” vs. “let’s go outside”
7) Offer a choice if a command is met with resistance:
– parent: “Please sit in your chair”
– child: “no.”
– parent: “Okay you choose: sit in your chair, or…”(no toy, it’s bedtime, timeout, etc.)
8) establish a pattern of consequence, and don’t deviate.
We like to use “1, 2, 3” meaning – not our idea, it’s magic that we read in this book given to us and used by a bunch of our friends – it freaking works!
I hope these tips helps you talk with your child and have easier communication. If you have any things that work in your family, please share below!