Working with toddlers and parents together is truly one of my greatest passions. I love learning about the relationship between parents and their children. I love learning about the things that make them laugh, what makes them feel silly, what puts them in their “happy place”, and even what frustrates them. We all know most toddlers experience all of these emotions within a 15 minute period--so they get lots of practice with this.
As a Speech Pathologist, it is my job to learn about the relationships that parents have with their child and highlight all of their strengths. It is also my job to help parents implement small shifts into their routines to help improve their day to day interactions. Here is one strategy that almost ALL parents can improve on (myself included)...
Research shows that in a child’s early years of life, more than 1 million neural connections are formed EVERY SECOND! That is amazing! While connections are rapidly forming, it does not mean that these connections are efficient yet. For this reason, allowing your little one some TIME to respond to your request, can be life changing! How often do we ask our children a question, just to answer it ourselves? Very often. (See what I did there?)
Mother: “Johnny, what do you see?”
No more than 2 seconds later with no response from Johnny…
As parents, we do this because we want to keep your busy toddler engaged. We want to flood them with all of the knowledge that we can. What we don’t realize is that little Johnny not only heard our question, but he was firing new or already-established neural connections in order to answer our question-- just to have it answered for him.
Next time you ask your child to answer a question, imitate a gesture (i.e. wave bye-bye, blow kiss), or say a word...WAIT. We recommend that you count to at least 10 in your head (slowly). If your child doesn’t perform the desired task, then you can fill it in for them. If you do this consistently, your child will begin to surprise you! There’s nothing better than waiting and watching their little brains fire connections-- it’s truly amazing.
A great time to implement WAIT TIME is when you are doing a predictable routine or singing a familiar song. When a child knows a routine well enough, there is little motor planning involved. If you love singing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” with your child, try leaving off the end of each line (i.e. “Twinkle, twinkle, little ____”). Your little one just might fill it in! Happy Waiting!