At the ripe age of one, my daughter knows what she wants and when she wants it. When I ask my friends where she gets her strong willed personality they laugh! Like mother, like daughter. Children know what they want from a young age. When those desires go unmet or are not understood, many tears follow (hence the terrible twos). As the parent of a very determined child, providing choices throughout the day helps me to channel her interests and meet her needs. She lacks the vocabulary to clearly tell me what she wants as a toddler. However, when I provide her with choices, it enhances our communication while reducing temper tantrums from miscommunication.
Providing choices is a great way to model language for children and provide concrete solutions, even at a young age.
Providing choices allows you to model a grammatically correct response. If you are trying to determine what outdoor activity to do, you might say “Do you want to kick the ball or ride your bike?” Through providing these two options, you have modeled the responses “kick the ball” and “ride your bike”.Your child heard you use a response that will be clearly understood. The response was embedded within the choices! This can be helpful for a child who is learning to use longer phrases instead of one word responses. The child hears the phrasing and grammar that will allow him to effectively communicate with others.
Providing choices helps your child learn a concrete, sensible response. In the example above, I provided the choice of “kick the ball” or “ride a bike” for an outdoor activity. By providing my child with these 2 choices, she hears “kick” and “ride” are actions for play. Now, she knows that I am looking for a response from her that involves action. This takes the guesswork out and helps focus the child’s attention. She might respond by pointing to the ball and saying “kick!” Or, knowing my daughter, she might shake her head ‘no’ and say “walk”, rejecting my choice altogether and telling me the activity she wants to do. In both solutions, the choice helped her communicate because the choice led her to a logical response that was understood by the listener.
Providing choices expands a child’s vocabulary. I find this to be most helpful when I am making a meal for my daughter. Often, she will hold my hand and lead me into the kitchen then point at the snack cabinet. Once we get to this point it can be a lot of guesswork and tears if I can’t figure out what snack she wanted! So, I provide a choice like “do you want fruit snacks or a granola bar?” and often she will respond with something that sounds similar to the desired item. When I provided a choice, she was able to learn the name of a food and often adds this to her vocabulary. Next time she will be able to tell me the name of that new snack.
Not only can you target language and speech skills through providing choices, but it is also an extremely effective behavior modification tool. When I lay out 2-3 options for my daughter it helps her pick an activity, food, or toy – whatever the scenario may be. When she is included in the decision making process it diffuses any tension or frustration that came from her limited communication skills.I have also found that when she makes the choice she is often happier and more willing to participate than when I make the decision for her. Of course, letting your child call the shots has a time and a place. But in the speech world, choices are a very positive tool! To see activities you can try at home to implement this speech technique, check out my free guide of speech techniques for home use.
For those of you following along and implementing techniques from my resource guide at home, how is it going? Can I provide any additional support? Reach out and let me know, I’d love to hear from you! Until next week – Stay warm and cozy!