Fun or Dull Interactions?
During the 12 years of my practice, I have come across different parents playing various roles. They carry a heavy weight of wanting to help their children in whatever way possible. However, sometimes it backfires! They often ask “when will my child progress”? “When will he speak”? “What are the factors that can speed up his communication development”?
My answer is always, it depends on each individual child. It is imperative to follow his pace by scaffolding and starting with emerging skills. Moreover, parents play a crucial role in language development. The more they are involved, the faster the progress is. It’s a golden rule in early intervention.
On the other hand, one can wonder if their involvement always has a positive outcome.
The aim of this blog is not to judge parents, but to raise awareness about the impact of their behaviour on their child’s language and communication. Let me introduce you to different roles of parents I encounter daily:
THE DIRECTORS direct and plan every activity of the day. They do most of the talking without realizing that over-directing affects children’s learning. They learn best by making choices and leading interactions.
THE TESTERS want to make sure their children learn everything by asking questions and testing their knowledge while forgetting that children learn through experimenting, fun interactions and activities they’re interested in, not questions.
The ENTERTAINERS take the lead in all activities and make sure children are amused without giving them opportunities to take turns in interaction.
THE HELPERS do everything for the child thinking it will help him learn, however it doesn’t give him a chance to demonstrate his skills nor the need to communicate since he gets access to everything without even requesting for it.
THE MOVERS do not have the time to spend on interactions, consequently they miss the chance to connect and interact with children in an interesting way for them.
THE WATCHERS are usually passive and don’t know how to play or interact with their child. Children do need to be independent but also require a language model through fun communicative exchanges to develop their own language.
THE TUNED-IN follow their child’s lead in communication, join in his play, are tuned-in to his interests, and balance comments and questions. Their aim is to keep the communication going.
At the end, we are all human. Parenthood does not come with a recipe. To understand it better, imagine speaking to someone about galaxies while this person is not interested in your conversation. Do you think they will try to converse with you again? Sometimes, we need to go down to children’s level and follow their interests.
Then and only then, their language would blossom.
Learn more about Rana here.
Jan Pepper and Elaine Weitzman, (2017) It Takes Two To Talk (5th edition), The Hanen Centre, Ontario, Canada.
Fern Sussman, (2012) More Than Words (2nd edition), The Hanen Centre, Ontario, Canada.