….I don’t mean the dreaded talk back you’ll soon get from your teenage kids. I’m referring to the talk back I practice with babies and toddlers in order to stimulate language and social skills. I was recently asked by a mom what I recommend to influence unprompted responses from toddlers. An example, of what I consider a prompted, pushed response would be:
Adult: “What color is the flower?….you know what it is, what is it?…..Please tell me what color the flower is.”
unprompted: Adult: ” I like the colors of these flowers.” Child: “I like the pink one.”
Getting to this point, in my opinion happens with consistent talk back, from the adult, from the very beginning. Some parent’s find “talk back” annoying and an aspect of overparenting, but I think it’s a very useful tool in getting babies and toddlers to learn how to say words, and to show them we understand and care about what they have to say. Hopefully this talk back leads them to feel socially valued and thus more willing to speak unprompted.
When your child is learning to talk, make sure to create conversation and ask them questions. Try not to solely ask, what-animal-is-that-questions, ask them free-response questions about their day, where right and wrong don’t necessarily come into play.
When your baby/toddler is first learning how to talk, and or learning new words, repeat what he said back, this will show him a few things: 1. That you understood him. 2. That you care what he says. 3. That you are listening.
Repetition is a great way for children to learn new information. Repeating words and sentences back also insures that you understood what your child is saying, and is a chance for you to annunciate the words correctly for your child to hear and learn.