Communication is not just about what we hear, it’s about what we see too. When two people send messages of any kind to each other, even without words, they are communicating. Babies begin to communicate long before they can talk by crying, smiling, vocalizing, moving their bodies and reaching for something. Even as children grow they continue to let you know what they want through gestures, signs and speech. How and why the child communicates is important.
HOW: My child takes me by the hand and leads me to the Television.
WHY: My child is requesting for the Television to be turned on.
Learning more about how and why your child communicates will help you see and hear the messages they are sending to you. Children do not learn to talk all by themselves. They learn to communicate gradually as they spend time with the important people in their lives.
Top tips for promoting communication
- Allow choice: Let you’re child choose the activity. The best way to encourage your child to communicate is to let him/her start the activity. This allows you to spend time communicating about what your child is interested in. Your child is more likely to spend a longer time communicating and interacting with you if they are interested and motivated.
- Watch: Take the time to watch what your child is interested in, get to know what they like or don’t like.
- Wait: Take the time to wait for your child to initiate communication or respond to your attempts. Patience is a virtue and some children need that extra time.
- Listen: Take the time to listen. Sometimes if a child is not using words we can miss those subtle hints that’s he/she is already using to try and communicate.
- Highlight key words.: Use short, simple but grammatical sentences when you talk to our child. When you say less its easier for your child to understand as well as to remember the words you use.
- Show: Young children learn language best when they can see what our talking about. Point to what you are talking about. Show your child pictures, uses gestures or signs. This will help your child understand your words and will show them a way of communicating without words too.
- Take turns: Match your turns to your child’s turns. Let your child set the pace,Let our child chose the interest and let your child chose the length of the interaction.
- Avoid asking too many questions: Ask you’re a child a question that can help them take a turn. But when questioning puts too much pressure on your child it can bring your conversation to a stop.
For more information visit the Hanen website on www.hanen.org