How to Communicate with Your Pre-verbal Child

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    Getting Through to Your Toddler

    Your toddler is super cute, you love him to pieces — except when you've got no clue what he's trying to tell you.  Even though you might not have a tantrum like your little one, everyone's frustrated when communication doesn't go smoothly.  Read on for ways to get through to your toddler while he's still building his vocabulary.
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    1: Signs

    Getting Through to Your Toddler: Signs You don’t have to go full-fledged American Sign Language to get your little one using his hands to tell you what’s up.  Baby signs are generally simplified versions of sign language.  Focus on a few that you use when you say something.  Milk, more, please … those words you spend your day saying over and over again, are a good place to start.  The smile on your kid’s face when you understand what he’s trying to tell you? Priceless.

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    2: Visual schedule

    Getting Through to Your Toddler: Visual schedule What do we do in the morning?  Let’s consult the schedule.  Knowing what to do and what comes next can help your toddler avoid some anxiety.  Cut out pictures from a magazine or put that computer clip art to work to make a daily schedule.  Eat breakfast, play time, clean up, books, nap, go outside.  Whatever you do, help her know what to expect.

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    3: Songs

    Getting Through to Your Toddler: Songs Ever since having kids I seem to be singing all the time.  Not just ‘real’ songs either, but songs about what we are doing or silly nonsense.  Getting dressed is less of a chore with a ditty about pants and socks.  Even if your toddler doesn’t know the words, she’s attuned to music and knows it means fun.  Sing your way through the start of a fit or have songs for different activities.

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    4: Touch

    Getting Through to Your Toddler: Touch The whole world is still pretty new for your toddler, so getting his attention can be tough.  Use more than just his sense of hearing or sight.  Turn his head to get him to focus or have him lead you to the thing he wants but can’t express.  Touch can calm building emotions and clarify things.  “Show me what you want,” is a frequent refrain at my house when I can’t understand my two- year-old’s requests, and it seems to work well. 

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    5: Pretend

    Getting Through to Your Toddler: Pretend Practice how you want your child to act.  Though you may have told her to open wide for teeth brushing, then spit, a hundred times, it still hasn’t quite gotten through.  Instead of words that go in one ear and out the other, act it out.  Pretend that you’re the kid and do the routine, or have her pretend to get ready for bed.  Either way you make the situation fun and emphasize the message you want her to learn.

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    6: Actions for feelings

    Getting Through to Your Toddler: Actions for feelings Stomp when you feel angry, twirl when you’re happy.  Emotions are hard for toddlers, especially when things change every few minutes.  Teach your little one to show how she’s feeling without yelling.  Practice together and then follow up next time you sense sadness.  “What can we do to show Mommy that you are sad?  Hug your bear?”  Adding action to the communication arsenal will help your toddler feel less isolated in the midst of strong feelings.

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    7: Pointing

    Getting Through to Your Toddler: Pointing More than ‘head, shoulders, knees and toes,’ the simple act of pointing to what you are talking about goes a long way in making yourself clear.  Have your toddler do the same, pointing to objects in books or real life.  Words plus a physical movement stick in the brain to make a more powerful connection than just one way of communicating.

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    8: Pictures

    Getting Through to Your Toddler: Pictures Laminate pictures of common objects or people in your life.  Let your toddler put them together to express herself.  Long before your child can tell you in words what she’s thinking, she knows what she wants to say.  Pictures are a great tool to help her get the message across to you.  Make it more fun by finding pictures together and making your own flashcards to aid in communication.

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Article Posted 5 years Ago

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