Yesterday I posted a lovely email I received from a mom about how much success she achieved in ONE DAY with her late talker by becoming more fun and tweaking their daily routine of bath time. If you missed that post, you can read it here.
Here’s a follow up question she sent and my reply.
“One question…once I have his engagement in an activity, how long should we play the same activity? I know in your book you recommend 10 min starting of engaged activity but switching activities. I’m pretty certain tonight he would have played the “ahhh choooo” game all night long If I didn’t tell him we had to get out of the tub. Is it bad to hold his engagement in the same activity for 20 min at a time (or more)? Or should I sort of push him a tad to switch gears onto something else? He struggles with transitions (I read that section and will read it again but implementing the songs saved us from a tantrum tonight when we had to say night night to the bath .) Thanks again!!! God bless”
“You’re so welcome Barbara!! Moms like you are EXACTLY why I started teachmetotalk.com and have done my DVDs, books, and Therapy Tip of the Week Videos!! Look at what you were able to accomplish in ONE DAY when you had the right tweaks in place. Well done Momma ; )
To answer your questions – keep him engaged as long as it feels right to you and you’re both having fun, but do help him switch gears and move on to a very similar activity, especially since he has difficulty with transitions. I think 20 minutes on one fun game is a good benchmark for you to use. You DO want him to develop a nice attention span when he’s including you. Rushing on to the next thing too quickly is as much of a problem as poor transitions are! You want to develop that nice “happy medium” time span.
Since his attention is good in the tub, you can introduce all kinds of new games there. I love your clapping and exclamatory words and his brand new words “yay” and “again.” Good job Momma!! Be sure to add a couple of new gestures this week for him to copy at bathtime. I’d start with him giving you a “High 5” or exaggerated showing of a toy with some new fun words too like “Wow!” and “Look!” during showing and “Uh oh” as the animals splash. You have a good list of things to try in the Building Verbal Imitation book with the chart on the back page. This can be your cheat sheet while you’re playing. Don’t try to do all of those things at once either – just add one or two new words or gestures to copy per routine every 3 or 4 days. Make sure you give him plenty of time to practice “again” and “yay” and all of his other new words too. You want him to “own” those words and repetition and practice are the only ways to accomplish mastery.
As far as transitions go…A cleaning up game is a nice transition time in the bathtub so that you can focus on helping him identify his toys and follow directions. That’s what we mean by working on receptive language, or what he understands and there are lots of examples for those kinds of games in the DVDs you bought – Teach Me To Listen and Obey 1 & 2. A fun way to clean up is to have a bag or basket and let him “throw” the animal/toy in as you tell him what to get next. The “throwing” part is why toddlers like to do it and you can sneak in that receptive language practice. You start by saying something like, “It’s time to clean up! Let’s throw the toys in the bag. Are you ready? I’ll go first. Where’s the ____? Here’s ____! Throw ____!”
Be sure you ask, “Where’s the ___?” even when you’re getting the animals first so he learns that listening is part of the game. If he can’t do it, then you do a few more to show him what you’re doing. Try to use the same words for every turn emphasizing key words over and over… “Where’s the ____? There it is! ____! Throw ___! In!!”
Keep it super fun and fairly fast-paced so you don’t lose him. If he HATES this routine or if it’s hard, you could just pick up a toy, say it’s name, and then “THROW!” or “IN!” as you toss it in the bag for a few days until he gets the hang of it. Then you could try asking him to find specific toys again to see if it works better after you get the routine going.
Keep singing your songs too from the book to help with the final transition – meaning as you’re getting ready to pick him up from the tub. Songs DO work wonders for toddlers with transitions because you’re teaching them to anticipate what comes next and the singing helps distract or redirect their attention.
Another thing that helps is to always make the step after the dreaded transition fun. When my children (now 25, 23, and 18!) hated getting out of the tub, I scooped them up in a towel and shook them around or ran with them to (gently) toss them on the bed to dry off and get those pajamas on to get ready for bed. When they didn’t want to come in from outside, I always talked about what was waiting inside – a cup of their favorite drink, a popsicle, a movie, whatever would make them “forget” about being upset.
Thanks so much for your sweet email and your question. Since I wrote you a book back (lol), I think I’ll use it as a post. I’ll leave off your name, but it’s fantastic information to share that will give other moms and dads HOPE that they can make a big, big difference in their child by changing how they play at home. Keep me posted on him and YOU!!! You’re doing a WONDERFUL job!!”
Isn’t she an AWESOME mom??? SHE is facilitating terrific progress in her little guy with her small tweaks to their daily routines. Did you catch the part about her also having a newborn at home? Here’s the take away message:
IF SHE CAN DO IT, ANY MOM CAN DO IT!
If you’re in this same situation, parenting a late talker, take this as inspiration and make a commitment TODAY to tweak a few of your routines by being FUN and PLAYFUL while you focus on language. If you need direct guidance for how to do that, check out my links below.
If you’re a therapist who works with late talkers, then YOU have to teach the moms and dads you work with HOW to make these changes. They need to see you being fun and playful so they can copy your model. In addition to showing them how to to do it, include very specific ideas like I’ve done for this mom. Parents CRAVE this kind of direct teaching. They WANT you to teach them how to do it. Don’t believe anyone who tells you otherwise!! If you need some direction learning exactly what to teach parents, my resources can help you too!
Until next time…
Resources this mom mentioned in her email…
Teach Me To Play WITH You – the book that mom mentioned with social games and FUN early play routines with step by step instructions – those “transition” songs and other helpful ways to solve 20+ common problems during play are included in the final chapter
Building Verbal Imitation in Toddlers – book to teach you HOW to teach a child to imitate words – it’s a process!
Teach Me To Listen and Obey 1 & 2 – DVD for parents with excellent examples of how to help your child learn to understand words and follow directions at home