CALLING GAME…Tips for Helping a Child Learn to Call People by Name

calling

Tips for Helping a Child Learn to Use Names

A mom recently asked me for suggestions for teaching her child to use other people’s names. Many times, children with autism or social communication delays have difficulty learning to do this. Sometimes late talkers struggle to call anyone by name. Here are ideas that have worked well for me:

Play calling games!

  1. The Mama Game

To help a child begin to use a person’s name, set up a game that I call “The Mama Game.” Since I’m usually working with mothers and their children during therapy sessions, and since it’s the one word moms want to hear most, “mama” is the name we target first. Actually, you can use this game to teach a child to say anyone’s name!

The most success I’ve had with this game is when we’ve placed the child in a confined area. I’ve used a crib or play pack, behind a baby gate, or in a room with a closed door and me. Mom hides outside the room, behind the door, or bends down below the crib so that the child can’t see her. Then I model calling, “Mama. Mama. Maaaaaaamaaaaaaaaa” several times using an exaggerated, playful, and animated tone of voice. I can’t stress how FUN and ‘over the top’ you need to be when you’re playing this game.

After calling for mom in this way several times, Mama excitedly jumps out from her hiding place with a big smile and shouts, ”Mama! Here’s Mama! Mama!”

Then we all laugh and smile and hug and tickle. We want it to be very clear that this is a fun game that we all want to play again.

And then, we play it again. And again. And again, until I think he’s ready to begin to try to imitate “Mama” when I model this word. If he even hints that he’s trying to say this word on his own, I ask Mom to pop up with the biggest reaction she can muster so that he links his action (saying the word) with her return.

Coach mom or anyone else you’re playing with to increase their affect if they’re not being as excited as they should be. Sometimes this one change in how mom reacts is what entices a child to begin to try to say “Mama.” When a mom can’t seem to respond as happily as she should, I go in to “goofy” mode to help everyone loosen up and let go. Making a fool of myself seems to encourage most parents to try a little harder : )

Expand the Game

Older siblings are GREAT at playing this game with mom and younger brothers and sisters. The act of having someone else “call” you and label you as “mama” sometimes helps a child solidify this concept. If you have no other children, then have Dad, grandma, your sitter or even a neighbor come in to help you teach your child this fun game. Don’t try to do it alone. Having another person call you “mama” is what makes this game work. Watch a video with more recommendations.

 

 

  1. Simon Says – The Toddler Version

To teach a child to correctly identify people using their name, include at least 3 people in this game so that a child can get it “right” or “wrong.”

This game works particularly well for children who seem to be “stuck” on one person’s name. For example, if a child calls both mom and dad “Da,” we work on this game to highlight the difference between the two and the consequences of using an incorrect label.

In this more advanced game, say a person’s name and then give a simple direction such as “Mommy… pat your head” or “Daddy… jump up and down.” Have the adults model the game for a while before it’s the child’s turn to direct the game.

At first you may have to cue the child with what to say, especially if he doesn’t seem to know how to take his turn. An adult should “whisper coach” the child. By this I mean, get behind him, bend down, and whisper in his hear exactly what to say. “Say…. Daddy… clap your hands.”

If a child isn’t this verbal yet, modify the game by saying something like, “Let’s all jump. Let’s take turns! Whose turn is it? Mommy…jump!” After mom jumps, then ask the next person such as, “Daddy…jump!” To simplify the game, especially in the beginning, use the same action word for several turns and change only the person’s name.

When a child isn’t verbal enough to add the second word, but she can say some approximation of “mom” or “dad,” then I cue her to use that single word and I supply the command.

For a while, pause after saying the person’s name for emphasis. Eventually, you’ll shorten your pause to sound more natural as in “Mommy, look at me!” Shaping the target response in this way will help the child begin to sound more conversational.

Again, everyone playing should exude playfulness so that a child becomes super interested in the game.

Expand the Game

To help ensure that a child generalizes using a variety of names, add other people to the game whenever possible. This ensures that the child will begin to generalize the skill. Older children can be fantastic play partners for this game.

Over time, be sure to embed “calling” in more casual conversation so that it does become spontaneous. Parents of children who struggle to use names may need more specific recommendations so that they can provide the level of practice a child needs. During sessions, I spend time with parents brainstorming situations when they can work on this at home.

Do you have any fun calling games? If so, I’d love to hear them!! Leave a comment below or email me at Laura@teachmetotalk.com.

———————————————————————————————————-

If you’d like other practical and FUN therapy ideas like this, you can find those in Teach Me To Talk: The Therapy Manual. It’s always on sale when you use a coupon code!

 

Posted in ,

Laura

Leave a Comment





Sign Up for your Free eBook

FREE-EBOOK
Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

Subscribe to the Podcast in iTunes

Browse Products

Featured Product

Recent Posts

Teach Me To Talk Testimonials

Happy Therapists, Teachers, Parents & Children

"I just received Teach Me to Play With You, and it is ALREADY WORKING! WOW!

Girl…my son is 3 years old, and he NEVER asks for something using words. We were playing “Get Your Belly” (from Teach Me to Play WITH You), and after several times, he laughed and screamed "BEWIEEE!!!"  It was a hoot. And I can't believe he said it! I have played with him like this before, but this time I took your advice and acted CRAZY!! I will act like a total lunatic if it will get him to talk to me!  Now I can give him "the look" from across the room, and he will say it. That manual is so amazingly practical, and it is a GODSEND right now! Thank you SO MUCH!”

"I wanted to send you a quick email to say thank you. I started watching your videos/podcasts about 4 months ago. My son has gone from losing words he previously used, only having about 7 words at his 2 year check up in August (assessed at a blended 10 month language level) -- to now having so many words, increased social engagement, following commands, spontaneously requesting things, and naming letters & numbers (not in order) as well as colors. We had our monthly meeting with our SLP through the state infants & toddlers program and it felt like we were just bragging the whole time, but I knew in the back of my head it was because I have been using strategies you taught me.

We still have so much work to do with our sweet boy, but I know in my heart he would not have succeeded without the education you provided. I will continue to read your emails & watch videos as we go along this journey and face challenges, but credit is due to you, Laura.

Thank you so much, endlessly."

KATIE

"I just want to tell how fortunate I feel to have found your website and you!! I became a special instructor in EI almost a year ago and I started with hardly any applicable training. I felt so lost and confused as how to help the kids I work with learn how to use words and play. Honestly, I didn't even understand the importance of play, although I always played with my kids. But, once I started to watch your podcasts and get some of your manuals I felt a weight had been lifted off my shoulders and that I could finally teach these kids and their families something of value from a real therapist and based on research!. Thank you so much for seeing the need to help other EI service providers and providing a forum to share your knowledge and years of valuable experience. I'm sure you get a lot of these emails every week if not every day, but I wanted to make I could add to those notes of gratitude!! THANK YOU again!!"

SS

"Just wanted to say a HUGE thank you for these emails and your books, I have them all and they have seriously saved and improved my sessions with my kiddos. Huge thank you."

REBECCA

"I was very frustrated with how speech therapy was going for my child. I would take him and drop him off and not hear much of anything from his therapist and teachers other than, "He had a good (or a bad!) day." Your materials were invaluable for us because I learned how to work with him on his speech. I learned how to teach him to talk and play. I learned how to pay attention to his cues and work with him to teach him to communicate. Without it, I have no doubt he still wouldn’t talk."

BRITNEY

"Hi! I just wanted to say (from an SLT perspective) how incredibly useful I am finding absolutely all of your articles, blogs and resources - I only discovered your site last month and have just received all your books which I feel I am learning more than on my entire university training course!! But also the way in which you give specific, realistic, fun, encouraging ideas for working with parents is really just fantastic, I only wish I have your site sooner! Thanks so much from the UK! Kind regards."

HANNAH

"I just wanted to reach out to say thank you for making things a little easier to manage for me this year. I made the transition from school SLP to private therapist about a year ago. While the change was welcome, it was a lot, and I was just getting my footing in the clinic when I began teletherapy full time. Your website has been a huge lifeline in helping me work with late talkers and coach their parents in an accessible but effective way, even remotely. I look forward to getting your emails each week. I am floored by the amount of valuable, free information that your website provides, and I’m looking forward to investing in your workbooks soon. A sincere thank you for all you do!"

ALLISON

"You are an inspiration! I am truly grateful for the way you put into words and writing how to do what we do as SLPs. At this time in my 13 years of practicing, I find your encouragement keeps me going. As a single mom, I find it a stretch to buy materials these days and I am so thankful for the freebies you so generously share that help me teach my families. I don’t have much time to put together lists or quick references for parents!! Much gratitude!!"

ANDREA