Language Development for Toddlers: Set it up
Setting it up means you have designed an environment or situation that supports communication. Doing so motivates your child to talk.
This strategy is used by many speech language pathologists because it’s very effective. Many of us are so good at it that it doesn’t even seem intentional to those observing. But, believe me folks, it’s very intentional.
Our goal: To promote child initiated communication.
As parents, we take pride in knowing our children so well that we can predict and anticipate their every whim. Knowing their needs and wants can also prevent meltdowns and tantrums (sometimes). During the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it’s easy to give our children everything that they need or want BEFORE they even ask for it. But, when we do this, we’re eliminating an excellent opportunity to promote communication. Therefore, try not to over anticipate what your child wants or needs. Instead, set it up so that your child will communicate. How is this done? Let me explain.
First, we must motivate our child to communicate.
Ask yourself: “What motivates my child?”
Does your child have a favorite toy?
A favorite snack?
A favorite song?
A favorite book?
Build up a play routine that your child enjoys and will want to participate in. Doing so, allows him to initiate communication by knowing what will happen next.
There are so many wonderful toys that can be set up to temp communication from your child.
Currently, these two are my daughter’s favorite toys:
Kerrigan is now 14 months old. As she’s been getting older, she’s become more independent, curious and persistent in her play. She also enjoys toys that open and close and contain manipulatives or parts that she can pull out, touch, explore, and umm throw around her playroom.
I purposefully organized her play room so that she can play independently and keep herself occupied for short intervals. Being a speech pathologist, I also get pleasure by throwing in a wild card every so often; a highly motivating toy that will require some assistance to open or manipulate.
Let’s take the eggs –
If I want to foster independent play (or, if I want to finish making dinner) – I leave the egg carton open. But, if I want to tempt her to communicate, I close the egg carton because I know at this point she’ll need me to help her. This is a perfect example of how to set it up. NOTE: I only close the egg carton when I’m in the room and in close proximity to her. I don’t want to make her frustrated. I want her to think , “Oh, I need mommy’s help. Let me ask mommy for help.”
The Seasame Street Pop Up Toy is another fantastic toy. I purchased it at my neighbor’s garage sale. Kerri loves it. Since this toy is highly motivating, I have built a play routine so that she knows what to do. First, we’ll knock on the door. Kerri will imitate my knocking gesture, then she will try to open the door. Once the door opens, we wave hello and I say, “hi elmo”. The set up here is that she’s very motivated to watch the door open and wave hi to the characters. Sometimes she even says, “hi”. With this toy, she can request for help if needed, but she can also perform an action or two (knocking, waving) because she has seen my model and it’s set up into the play routine. When we started playing with this toy, she was responsive to my models. Then, as she became familiar with the play routine, she started initiating the gestures (knocking and waving) on her own.
1. Find something motivating for your child
2. Show your child what to do (eggs – request open/pop-up toy – knock, wave)
3. Be consistent and predictable so he or she knows what to do
4. Have fun!!
Think about your child’s favorite toy? How can you “set it up” so that he or she will initiate communication?
If you’re a speech pathologist, how do you set things up?
Reminder: Build a play routine around your child’s interests to increase his or her motivation and desire to communicate.
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