Every baby is a gift, even if the wrapping is a little different.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Being Responsive to Our Kids

The next area I want to cover from Play to Talk by James MacDonald and Pam Stoika is being responsive.

While this book is specifically for children who are late talkers, I think this particular area can be applied to all children.

Have you ever been working on your computer, watching TV, or concentrating on a project when one of your kids is trying to tell you something important? Do you just kinda listen? I know I do. I fail to fully concentrate on what my kids are saying because I'm distracted by what I'm doing.

Confession: I need to be a better mom and pay full attention to what my kids are telling me every time they want to tell me something. I absolutely do not want them to stop talking to me because I'm not being as responsive as I should be. If it's important to my kids, it needs to be important to me, even if I'm working on taxes or in the middle of an exciting scene in a book or trying to fix dinner.

Goal: Be more responsive to each of my kids so they know that I value what they tell me.

For kids who are late talkers the authors of this book suggest that in order to be responsive we should:

Respond immediately
Respond to anything safe the child is doing by making comments about it and keep the child interacting
Respond to any actions with a sound
Repeat words the child uses and add other simple ones
Imitate actions
After responding, wait for the child to take his/her turn
Respond as if the child's behavior is an intentional communication

I've been trying to do this with all of my kids, but especially with my son. I keep eye contact and wait for him to communicate to me what he wants. I try to keep a conversation going by responding to what he's interested in.  He's really been using a lot of signs, including "please" and "thank you," but I'm trying to move him into simple sounds to communicate.

I believe that the more responsive we are to our kids, the more likely it is that they'll want to communicate with us. As an aside, I absolutely believe that the foundation of communication we build when our kids are young is the foundation we depend on when they are teens. If our kids know that we want to talk to them and value what they say and we're responsive, they will talk to us when they are going through the tumultuous teen years (and that's when we really want them to talk to us).

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