At his 18 month checkup the pediatrician asked us if Aamod speaks at least 20 words. V and I looked at each other and could remember barely five. "He should talk at least 20 within the next 3-4 months" she told us. We left with lots of questions with even more answers to find. In the subsequent months we tried our best to get him to talk without much success. We tried withholding objects. showed him baby Einstein videos, sang nursery rhymes and so on. But in our hearts we knew it wasn't working. We were missing something. And as expected at the 2 year checkup the doctor advised us to take him to a speech therapist. In the following weeks we learned that the therapy sessions costed a bomb - around 100 bucks just to play with a child,I thought. Meanwhile we received lots of support from friends, several consolations and options. Finally i decided to tackle it in my own way.
Everyday i would set aside an hour or more to play and communicate with him. We talked to him in short sentences and asked him yes or no.The first few times he would only nod his head or reach for the object.
I got several toys that were aimed to have fun with him. Toys that would promote communication, thinking and evoke response from him. Like the simple water bubbles, ball, counting match sticks, puzzles. We repeated words several times before him during the play.At first he was apprehensive but slowly we started getting one word answers from him. That was our first victory. Thereafter we started talking to him in short 2-3 word sentences giving him options to choose. .He started understanding them and following them . We had found our mojo and now there was no stopping.This exercise got us closer to him then ever before.
The other day when I was reading The happiest toddler book I found several of the strategies that i had implemented from above experience.These were general strategies that would make your life with your toddler a beautiful experience.
- First one was the fast food strategy as the book calls it. If the child is upset or is just chatting with you then repeat his/her words once he has finished. Just like at a fast food restaurant does after taking your order. They repeat it for you. Doing just this will help him/her understand that you get what he is saying and his little mind loves that. This trick is specially true when the child is upset at you or is trying to get your attention. Most of the throwing, screaming and whining in kids is to make the parent understand how upset the child is.
- Talk to kids in short sentences, that they can understand. Kids have smaller minds and they cannot process a whole of words thrown at them. However if you ask them things like "Aamod breakfast ?" " Cereal or toast" or creatively make up the words in your own language chances are they will be understood and received well by the toddler.
- The book also talks about this powerful tool of negotiations I love this one and i have used this to avoid so many tantrums. For instance if the child refuses to eat A and wants B. Then i ask him to have one morsel of A and then 1 morself of B. Thereby creating a win-win situation for both or he gets none of it. This is an art that may take time to master and initially you may win only 10% of it but slowly you will make it work so that you get 50% of the share. Believe me it works in things like controlling the TV time, getting him to bed, cleaning up and more.
- Then there are the yellow,green and red light behaviors Ones that you can tolerate, some that are sometimes ok and the red ones are complete no-no. Its up to individual preference to decide what is ok to do at home and what is completely forbidden. Actions that harm the child or any one else are termed as red-light behavior. You can use the strategies like timeout, taking away a favorite item as a means to control this behavior. Yes, there will whining and an hour of crying at first but the next time the child will be reminded and chances are that he will not repeat it.
- One thing that has worked several times for me is the power of hugs, physical proximity and praise. Its not just important to have love in your heart it is important to also show it. Since i do work full time I get 4-5 hour of everning time with Aamod. When preparing dinner i put him on a safe spot in the kitchen counter and chat with him. Give him some cilantro to pluck the leaves or just some Tupperware to play with. Even when he's watching some mickey mouse videos i ask him what is mickey mouse doing or what color is the clubhouse. And then repeat his answers to confirm. We do a lot of hugs and praise at bedtime to show our affection. I realized the more i show interest in his world and get him into mine the more connected he feels with me.
On a different note,Yes, I know the food has gone missing on this food blog. Next post will definitely have some, i promise.