Count to 5.
Smile, look around, point, make a sound.
It’s called wait time, cues, and scaffolding.
When your 4 month old is reaching for a toy, count to 5 before handing it to him. Maybe nudge it a tiny bit closer so he can reach it with the tips of his fingers, before pushing it into his palm.
Your child can say “Bye Bye” or clap their hands at the end of the song, or ask for more. When these opportunities arrive don’t bark out “Say Bye Bye!” Give your child a chance to respond to the appropriate cues. You could say “Bye Bye” yourself or clap your hands. Modeling is the number one way babies learn what to do and when to do it!
We all know the reach-grunt-whine-“Mama, mama, mama, mama, mama, mama” when your child wants something out of reach. Whether it is a cup of milk, to be picked up, or the family pet hiding out under the table, you can assist your child to obtain their desired item without doing all of the work. Begin by letting your child know you recognize his wants and needs:
“It looks like you want something on the table, let’s look and see what’s up there”
Pick up and let your child scan the table, or maybe he will point to exactly what he wants. When you figure out what it is that he wants don’t give in yet! Have your child work for it!
“Oh you want this?” (Holds up milk cup). “Tell me, Mmmmmmm” (or use sign language).
When in the grocery store and the stranger behind you says hi to your baby in the cart, your baby may not say “Salutations” or make small talk about the weather, but they may smile, or shy away. Just don’t jump to “Say Hi, Say hi, wave your hand, say hi!” Remember again, your baby is watching and learning from you so how you react to others plays a BIG part.
The point is, give your child a chance to communicate on his own. This encourages language development. If he knows you will say everything for him, why talk?
All of this is a part of scaffolding. You are assisting your child to gain wants and needs while encouraging independence and self esteem. You want your child to try and do things on their own but you don’t want them to fail and be discouraged. Just enough help is what they need. It’s like you are trying to get to the second floor but there are no stairs. Build your baby’s steps one at a time, pausing each time to see if he can do it on his own. Around a year your child will begin to display pride at completion of activities and will look for your praise.
So remember, give your child a second, 5 of them!
Give them a time to figure it out.
Assist as needed.
Let the neurons connect!
Now, let’s play!