Communicative temptations are a powerful way to provide your child with more opportunities to communicate with you in your day-to-day life. How your child initiates an interaction when you set up a communicative temptation depends largely on whether your child has yet to say their first words, is speaking in single or two-word utterances, or is beginning to use complete sentences. It is important to remember that communication can be both verbal (spoken words) or non-verbal (eye contact, gestures such as pointing or reaching, etc.).
When we see our child struggle to open bubbles, put on their shoes, or open the car door, our natural inclination as well-meaning parents is to immediately help them access the object/toy, or complete the task they are having difficulties with. However, these are all valuable opportunities for your child to initiate an interaction that is suitable for their communication level.
Instead of taking the bubbles from him or her to open it up, get down to your child’s level, hold eye contact, and be face to face. Next, the most important thing, and often the most difficult, is to wait. If your child has not yet started to speak, making eye contact with you, holding the bubbles up to you, pointing at the bubbles, or even taking your hand to the bubbles, is your child’s way to communicate a request, that is, to open the bubbles. Perhaps, your child is beginning to speak in single words, and pairs eye contact with “open” or “bubbles”. Remember, the pronunciation of the word does not need to be perfect. The most important part of your child’s request is not how they pronounce the word to request, but the fact that they are requesting! If your child is practicing question-asking, this communicative temptation is a great way to encourage a full question, “Can you open the bubbles, please?”, or, “I need help opening the bubbles”.
Communicative temptations take away the feeling of being “tested”. Although asking questions of your child can sometimes elicit a response, your child might feel pressured, simply not answer the question, or answer with a “yes” or “no” response when what you really want is a full sentence. In addition, they are not initiating, but rather simply responding to an interaction that has already begun. Setting up a communicative temptation allows for your child to initiate, or begin the interaction themselves. Furthermore, they are motivated to communicate in these situations, meaning they are much more likely to interact, and won’t feel pressured or tested as they do communicate with you or another communicative partner.
Below are some fun suggestions on how to integrate communicative temptations into your daily routine. The more you do them, the easier they become, and the more creative you will be setting them up!
- Give your child a small piece of their favourite food, and wait (keeping the food out of your child’s reach). The goal of this interaction is for your child to request more of this food.
- Put your child in the bathtub with no water, and wait. The goal of this interaction is for your child to request water in the bathtub!
- Keep your child’s favourite toy in a clear box that they cannot open. When you see them trying to open this box to access the toy, wait. The goal of this interaction is for your child to request help in opening the box.
- During craft time, give your child the pieces to be glued, but hold the glue out of their reach, and wait. The goal of this interaction is for your child to request the glue.
- When getting ready to go outside, if your child requires assistance to put on their jacket or shoes, give your child the jacket or shoes, and wait. The goal of this interaction is for your child to request help in zipping up their jacket, tying their shoes, etc.
If you are concerned that your child is not initiating, or engaging in interactions, contact Therapy Spot and one of our registered Speech-Language Pathologists can provide a comprehensive language assessment, and/or provide you additional tips and suggestions to facilitate appropriate and production interactions in the home!