With toddlers, learning to verbalize & speak is an exciting, but somewhat challenging adventure. You see their little minds processing & trying to repeat your every word. The “sponge” as many people call it. We decided early on to use Baby Sign Language as a tool of communication & a pathway for Scarlett to start using her words.Baby Signs is manually signing words to allow your little one to verbalize their needs & wants prior to being able to speak. Using these signs
Baby Signs is manually signing words to allow your little one to verbalize their needs & wants prior to being able to speak. Using these signs has lead us into using words with signs, and in turn, speaking words alone. At 19 months, we continue to use them, learn new ones & mixing it up with both gestures and words!
A child can express themselves through non-verbal and verbal gestures.
Anyone will a little one knows that they will do anything to get your attention. If they can’t verbalize what they need or want, they sure can show us! As they grow into those toddler years, it can be astounding how many words they know and/or can say. By 2 years old, some toddlers have a vocabulary of 25 words or more!
There is always an opportunity to introduce new vocabulary to your child! Whether it is prepping lunch, walking to the mailbox, or just relaxing outdoors, talking about what you are doing in the moment is important. Having conversations with your toddler helps nurture their social-emotional development. As a parent of a toddler, my goal is to always be attentive & acknowledge when Scarlett is addressing me or showing me something. It is meaningful to her, so I take it in the moment & make it a priority to pay close attention.
I have now made a conscious effort of doing one very simple gesture with her every day during our conversations. It takes one second to do and will make a significant difference in how your child reacts to you when speaking.
Take a moment and kneel to their eye level.
Simply bending down & making eye contact with them shows them that you are genuinely interested in what they are saying, doing or showing you. It is the act of active listening and showing interest that takes it from “that’s nice” to “wow, what a beautiful flower! It is your favorite color!”.
“Quality time means giving a child undivided attention. For a small child, it means sitting on the floor…You must get down on the child’s level if you eventually want to lead them to the adult world.”
― Gary Chapman,
Once Scarlett started to verbalize her needs, I made it a point to get down to her level as often as possible. I forget here and there, but when I can, what a difference it makes to her. She becomes engaged, excited & she can’t wait to show me! This type of gesture shows a child that what they are saying is important & that it means something. It also helps build up their self-esteem & self-worth simply by being at their level.
Be sure to give them your full attention…they deserve it!
I had an exceptional high school teacher that ran a preschool program through the school. I attended her preschool 15 years prior to attending her high school class! This lady was amazing with children. Every time a child entered in her classroom, she made it a point to bend to her knees to greet each one. Even in times of distress, she would get to their level to comfort them and bring them close. She was a teacher for 30+ years and I can only imagine all the lives she impacted by making this one, simple gesture with every child, every time. I still remember this so she did her job and did it well!
What ways do you and your little one like to connect, whether it is verbal or non-verbal. Let’s all start trying to do this with our littles at least once a day starting today!
Chapman, Gary D. The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate. Chicago: Northfield Pub, 1995. Print & Website. http://www.5lovelanguages.com/