You’ve tried everything, but your child still doesn’t string words together. You’ve worked hard to teach him to repeat words, identify objects and express his needs. But it hasn’t translated to independent, thoughtful speech.
Yes, he has picked up many words, but even after months of training, generalization remains elusive. He needs a prompt to talk in sentences. He does well with his therapist – that too only when she rewards him.
The first thing your relatives ask when they see your child is, ‘is he talking now?’ You nervously smile that artificial smile and answer, ‘Yes, he’s talking more.’
Your heart crumbles when you think of all your effort and his speech still not taking off.
Your mind keeps repeating, “When will he learn to talk? If only he talks, everything will be alright.”
Here’s a query I received recently-
“Just wanted to share that I’ve started giving time to my child after asking question… but he seems to get lost and does not attend to what I say during that time. Often, I’ve to repeat things. How to go about it?”
It’s a great question which I’ll address via an open letter.
First of all, thank you for taking time to apply the important concept of slowing down. Believe me, you’re doing a huge favor to yourself and your child.
The question is, what exactly should you be ‘slowing down?’
1. Your Thoughts
Find a time of the day when you are mentally fresh to engage with your child. Leave behind your clutter of thoughts. Take those thoughts of worry, despair, fear and pack them in a suitcase.
Find that quiet spot within yourself. Most certainly put your phone on silent and away from your vision. Give your child your absolute, undivided attention. It’s only you and your child. This is the guiding mind state.
2. Your Actions
Engage in a simple back and forth activity such as walking together or tossing a ball to each other. Every action should be mindful.
Plan out your roles. What is your role and what is your child’s role?
If you’re passing a ball then you both have the same role. If you’re walking together you have the same role too. If he’s picking toys strewn around the room and you’re holding the basket – you both have different roles.
You can demonstrate a couple of times (or more). It’s not about the outcome, or how he does the task. It’s about him understanding his role and the pattern.
Connect with your child by looking at him. You may be surprised, but you’re probably not aware that you’ve stopped looking at your child. You’ve become accustomed to focusing on him getting an activity perfectly or answering correctly and the eye gaze between you both has flown out of the window. It’s time to bring it back.
Please note: I’m not talking about a fixed, unnatural stare. I’m referring to a dynamic, free flowing, natural, loving eye gaze.
Before you build a tower, the foundation must be in place. The study of emotion suggests that non verbal behavior is a primary mode in which emotion is communicated. Facial expression, eye gaze, tone of voice, bodily motion, and timing of response are fundamental to emotional messages. – Daniel Seigel
Dear Friend, you asked about speech. But I’ve given you tips build a relationship. I haven’t lost the plot. There is a solid reason behind this.
You can build speech with words, but you need 2 people to communicate. Understanding nuances and emotions is a must.
Work on these pointers diligently. Let speech emerge naturally. Don’t stress yourself to achieve speech targets.
Shift your thinking. Build a beautiful relationship by working on the 5 aforementioned points.
Speech will come with little effort- to adorn your relationship.