parenting

Language Development: Playing on the Floor Can Help Develop Social Skills

momparentingparentingages and stages

Mom on floor with her babyLanguage Development—People ask me, when their little ones are just beginning that wonderful phase of sound and sound play, what they can do to help their little one learn to talk. Those first words are one of the things we long for most.

And while there are quite a handful of things that help, one of my number one tips is “Get on the floor!”

When your child is still a wee baby – in that six to sixteen months between sitting and walking – you need to be down there with him. You need eye contact and attention, and the best way to get it is to be, well…eye to eye!

You want your baby to have the best view of you. You want him to be able to see your face when you speak so he can see the shape of sounds just as well as he can hear them. You want his attention – you want all that great sound and word information to get into his miraculously developing brain, so you need him attending to you. How do you get it? By being right there – in his face and in his space. (So to speak.) You are the most wonderful thing in your baby’s life, and when you’re lying on the floor next to him, he will come back to you over and over. (With brief excursions to explore the dog and the closest thing that you don’t actually want him to play with.)

But there is another side to this coin that’s just as valuable as all the sound and language that you are sharing. You are also giving him your attention. When you are on the floor with your little one, naming the toys and making silly sounds, you can’t help but notice all the things that he is doing, too. Listening and attending on your part is the other half of the feedback loop. When you listen and attend, you’re teaching your baby that the sounds and almost-words that he’s making are important and worthwhile. You are, even at this young, wonderful age, teaching your baby that his communication has purpose and reward. Research shows that being a good listener for your baby is just as important as being a good talker.

So get down on that carpet! Throw a few rugs on the linoleum! You want to be crawling along with your little one and sitting face to face. You want him to look at you and watch you, imitate you and laugh with you. Language is a dynamic process – it exists for give and take, it exists for sharing. And when you create an environment where interaction is so very natural, you’re doing exactly what you should be doing to give language the best garden in which to grow.

How do you help you child with language development? What are your favorite activities to do with your child to help them develop social skills?

Lori is a speech-language pathologist and hosts the website Your Child Talking where she shares advice on speech and language for parents of both typically and atypically developing kids. You can also find her on twitter @YCtalking.

Photo credit CynTurek via sxc.hu.

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Lori

Lori is a speech-language pathologist and hosts the website Your Child Talking where she shares advice on speech and language for parents of both typically and atypically developing kids.

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