In the last couple of years since the pandemic, we have seen an increase in the number of children especially toddlers being brought to us with speech and language delays and risk for Autism. On further probing we have deciphered that; parents are unable to spend quality time with their children, as they are too busy these days and there is too much on their plates to handle.
Assisting children in online classes (the more the number of dependent children at home, the harder parents find it to be able to manage).
Isolation (minimal moral support)
Lack of outdoor activities for kids (parks closed)
Sickness or fear of sickness
No day cares or schools
If you are a parent, who has handled the above challenges efficiently, then this two-minute read is not for you. But, if you are a parent who identifies yourself with these concerns, and looking for ways to providing speech and language stimulation, then this is for you.
I) The first and foremost thing you need to consider isboding and building a deep relationship with your childby embracing their interests and becoming one with them. Why bonding is important for language intervention you may ask? Here is why:
Bonding helps your child feel safe and secure: As a result, children are likely to explore new words and can use words spontaneously instead of using them for need-based communication.
Your child does not perceive language learning as a chore: instead, they see it as a time for fun with mommy or daddy and pleasurable.
II) Secondly, I see most parents are worried about manythings including, but not limited to the child’s - schooling, delays, therapies, relatives, folks, and the other child who can speak more better. These concerns can cause you to feel dysregulated and that in turn can rub on our children and cause them to feel dysregulated, as well. Therefore, by choice, work towards your calmness and regulation. This is the first step to successful language intervention strategies for busy moms, dads, and caregivers. Once you have comfortably worked on this, the rest of what I am going to share with you will be a cake walk.
So let’s get started with a few tips that you can implement in your day to help your toddler or late talker.
The first five minutes and the last five minutes of your child’s day: This is the time they need to feel your love and start their day feeling loved. Also, they are most receptive during early hours of waking. What you talk at this time can be magical and children soak them up pretty well.
Early mornings can start with hugs, saying “I love you”, kissing their little fingers and talking about how blessed you are to have them, etc. You will be using words like hug, kiss, love, fingers, hair, chubby cheeks, tickle, my, you, your, sweet and the like, which you probably may not be using during any other time of your day.
Just before sleep, ensure to tell them a story. This will not only improve language comprehension, but will improve your child’s auditory processing and help improve their listening skills which are essential for language learning and other executive functions as well.
Build play routines: Keep 20 minutesaside every day to spend quality time with your child without any distractions (TV, laptops, phones, I-Pads, and other gadgets) in your room. Avoid toys as well. You become the child’s toy. Allow them climb over you, comb your hair, kiss you and do whatever they like with you. Such quality time spent, can open several avenues to two-way interactions with your child and catalyse language development.
Read together:Reading is a great way to improve your child’s vocabulary. Depending on your child’s interests and available time at your hand, start with one or more books a day.
If you are a parent who likes to work out, have your child join along with a mat beside you. You will be using words like squat, push up, burpee, weights, mat, look, watch, etc. Furthermore, when your child is able to imitate your gross motor movements, they will soon be able to imitate fine motor and oral motor movements essential for complex speech development.
If you prefer going for evening walks, have your child walk along at least for about 10 minutes with you. During the walk, your child will sure be more interested in the environment than the walking. And that’s exactly what we want! As they look around, label what he/she is looking at; for example: dog, cow, tree, insect, stone, mud, plats, flower, crow, parrots, slow, fast, look, etc. If they’d like to spend more time looking at a dry leaf or an insect on the ground, you look at them too and describe it to your child (on opportunity to communicate and interact with what motivated your child).
If you are a parent who is busy withhousehold chores, engaging your child along with you can be a great way to build two-way interactions. You will be using words like cut, dust, wash, spray, sprinkle, throw, keep, over here, more, less and so many other words which you may not use otherwise. Only ensure it’s fun and play based.
Each child is different, so are families and individuals. Their needs and interests are UNIQUE. Therefore, choose what you can do best with your child and build on it. Add something new to what already exists in your routine to make it more engaging and exciting for your child.
A few bonus tips to make your time pleasurable:
See how you can find joy in it against seeing it as a chore. Be joyful and enjoy the moment.
Demonstrate how to play or use a word whenever required -
Toddlers learnby moving, doing, touching and manipulating. Don’t expect them to stay put in one place and learn.
Be careful not to over stimulate.Our voices, demands, facial grimaces, the environment etc., can be overstimulating if we are not careful to keep them in check.
Do not over expect.
Don’t try too hard to be perfect.
We hope the strategies suggested are useful in providing the required language stimulation your child needs through your busy Schedule.