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Speech Development Blog by Tiffany Bartlett

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Delayed Response: Can't I just give him what he wants?

Week 12 Speech Development Tip:  If your child points or grunts for something, don't respond immediately.  You may try asking, "Do you want ____ or _____?" (give a couple of options).  If your child can not say what (s)he wants, model the correct response, by saying,  "Say, 'want juice'" or "Say, 'juice please.'"

As parents, we want what's best for our children.  We hate to see our children struggle.  We want to protect them and eliminate conflict in their lives.  We sometimes forget that difficulties and struggles help grow and mature us. 

The same is true with speech.  When our children want something it is easier just to give it to them, than to wait for them to ask, especially if speech is difficult.  And, quite honestly, its often less frustrating and faster to give in to them.  But, is it the best response?  Will it help my toddler grow and mature?  It will make her happy for the moment  - I agree.  But, we need to see past that moment and remember our vision for our child.  I want him to be able to communicate his needs.  I want her to be able to express herself.

So, how do I respond to the grunting and pointing?  I know he wants a drink of milk.  Can't I just give him what he wants? 
  • Step 1 - Know where your child is at developmentally - If your child is only making sounds, you can't expect him to say, "Mother, may I please have some milk?"  A better expectation would be - "/m/ milk...Jesse say, /m/."
  • Step 2 - Give your child a couple of options (even if you know what he wants) - Show him the choices and ask, "Do you want milk or juice?"  If he says one of the choices - praise him and give it to him. 
  • Step 3 - Model the correct response - If he doesn't use his words, only pointing or grunting, model the correct response before giving it. 
  • Step 4 - Give your child what he wants - it's up to you whether to give in after you've modeled the correct response, or whether you wait for the correct response.  You know your child.  You know what your child can handle.  You also know how much you can deal with.  However, keep in mind, waiting for the correct response (or an effort to respond correctly), may cause resistence at first, but in the long run may produce a better result.
These steps are simple, but not always easy to live out.  Please persevere and be as consistent as you can be.  The fast and easy way does not always get the results you desire. 

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