In previous articles, I have discussed the critical role of parents and caregivers and how they can encourage speech and language development. In this article, I will explore why following a child's lead is so important.
It is natural and common that, as parents, we think about encouraging communication from an adult perspective—with ideas about the best ways to support our child's growth. Sometimes this includes structured games at a table or picking specific books to read in order to foster target words. However, it is important to keep in mind that growth can be achieved in a variety of ways—and that it is not always necessary for the parent or caregiver to choose the activity.
The most important thing is for parents and children to have a fun and playful dynamic that will encourage communication. It is often through play that we can capitalize on opportunities to turn motivation into meaningful communication. Sometimes, we can forget that fun can also be purposeful—and who better to remind us of this than our children!
Turning Motivation into Meaningful Communication
All of us can relate to, and most likely agree with, the following statement: We are more likely to communicate with someone when the experience is enjoyable. A child is no different. By following a child’s lead, he or she is more likely to seek out interaction.
When putting this into practice, it is helpful to:
Follow the love: Children communicate about the things they are interested in. By harnessing and embracing experiences that are motivating, we can encourage communication.
Get in the game: Get on your child's level and play!
Be flexible: There is no "wrong way." When we are having fun, it is all right to make mistakes. In fact, mistakes can be useful learning opportunities. It is perfectly OK to toss the directions aside and come up with a new, creative way to play a game.
By following the child's lead, there is no distinction between encouraging speech and language growth and play—it's all fun! Please contact me with questions.