My daughter is now two years old but she’s barely communicating in phrases. Although it can be quite worrisome, her teachers assure me that it’s normal and she does seem to excel in other developmental aspects – motor skills, attentiveness, and listening skills. I trust that she’s learning at a good rate and I just diligently practice alongside her.
Here are a few of the action points which I practice with my daughter with consistency
Eye-to-eye contact while having a conversation
I actually picked this trick up because of an article I saw about Prince William and Kate Middleton on Facebook. In that article, it details how they as parents would converse with their children – almost always at eye-to-eye level. This encourages attentiveness and responsiveness from the children.
This is most especially important when you’re still in the gibberish-kiddy talk stage. Janella will sometimes say “Mama” and point to something or pull me towards somewhere… If I didn’t take time to look and focus on her (or if my eyes were focused elsewhere), I may have missed a vital part of that conversation and we would probably have had miscommunication already.
As a parent, communicating with Janella this way has proven to be very beneficial. I can see if she understands what I am saying. She can see that I am trying to listen to her. I can see if she is trying to respond as well. Then if it gets to a point where she’s having a hard time responding or can’t find her words to get her message accross, I move on to practicing the next action point – asking questions.
Whenever I am in a conversation with Janella and she can’t seem to respond with words, or she defaults back to her action-responses, I ask her questions to help understand what she wants to convey. In my experience, Janella gets really frustrated when I can’t seem to understand her… and usually, this ends in crying or whining. Whenever this happens I communicate with her this way:
“Why are you crying?” – to which I’ll follow-up with ” Is it because of this (points to what I think is bothering her)… and she’ll almost always respond in “No No No Way” OR nod (meaning “yes”)
“Do you want ______________?”
*** “Are you hungry? Do you want to eat?” – Janella actually learned how to say “Eat” because of this phrase.. now whenever she is hungry, she says “Eat” which makes communicating during meal times easier. I also know when she wants a snack haha less crankiness cause of a hangry baby.
“Are you feeling ________________?”
“Is this (I point to what I’m referring to) what you need help with?”
“Would you like to go to ________________?” – if I can’t guess where she wants to go.. she’ll usually pull me towards the direction she wants to go… so this isn’t so bad either.
“Is this (I point to what I’m referring to) bothering you?”
These questions help me in a huge way in regard to communicating with my daughter. Most are structured in a way where she can answer Yes or No… but the trick is in introducing new words and possible phrases she can include into her budding vocabulary. Sometimes, she also learns new action-responses as well and uses them next time she wants to talk to me.
So far, From this action point, she’s learned to say these phrases and words:
“Mama, Up!” – which can mean a few things: “Go Up”, “Carry Me”, or “Look Up”
“No No No” (Sometimes, she has this cute “No No No Waay” expression too! – which definitely means “NO”.
“Okya” – meaning Okra, her favorite vegetable
“Yo” – meaning yogurt
“UppaDown” – meaning she wants to be brought down from where she is (can be her highchair, her stroller, or when we’re carrying her)
With these little improvements, we still always try to practice the next action point whenever we can to encourage a steady growth of her communication skills…
Prompting a response or a verbal communication rather than sign-language or an action-response
Although Janella can effectively communicate in her own way by using a mix of sign language, action-responses and verbal phrases of her own, I believe it’s still best to try and ease her towards using her words rather than actions.
Janella is comfortable when she communicates “Can I have” with sign-language/action-responses. It’s what she’s used to. She knows we understand what she is trying to say when she does her sign-language.
Usually, when I hear her whining at the end of the dining table and I ask “Why Janella?” she’ll always have her hand palm facing upward, and she’ll do an open and close motion. This is her way of communicating “Can I have”. It is one of the first actions I taught her to help her communicate with us adults. However, now that I know she can say this… but she just doesn’t want to, I always prompt her to say “Can I have” before I give her what she wants. She usually just says “Hab”… so I modified it to “Can I have please”… so now she says “Hab Psssh” haha
You can prompt a response from your toddler by saying “What are you trying to say? Please use your words.” then say the phrase and have your child repeat after you. – when they hear themselves being able to say the words (or even just similar sounding words) it encourages them heaps… even if it takes you several times before they get it, always listen and practice the last action point – extra patience required haha…
Practice Patience Always
It’s very important to listen and practice patience with your children who are at this stage.
Imagine communicating with someone who speaks a completely different language than you.. won’t you be frustrated if you can’t seem to get your message across? Won’t it be extra bothersome if the person you’re speaking to shows irritation at you just cause you can’t understand each other?
Believe it or not, it is harder on them than it is for us.
I hope this post helped some of you with communicating with your toddlers. Wishing everyone an awesome weekend! let me know if you have any communication tips to share – email firstname.lastname@example.org!