Last night I sat around with other "speech nerds" and talked for hours about any and everything related to speech pathology. Any one else around would have been bored to tears, but we had a ball! Why? Because we had a shared interest, our conversation went on well into the night. Consider this scenario. You walk into a party where you know no one. One group is talking about the history of world religion in the 1900s and another group is talking about which singer they liked best on last night's reality television show. Which one are you going to feel most comfortable to approach? Unless you are up on your history, I'm pretty sure you're heading to the group where you might have something to contribute. Our quality of interaction and conversation is better when we share interest with others. We would all feel more a part of the party if we were able to interact on a level we were comfortable with. Now let's think of this in the context of our children. Do your children jump right into a conversation about your love of broccoli or, even better, the school summer reading list? I'm guessing probably not. But what if you went over while they're playing "Zombie Aliens" and asked them about the game? You're probably going to get more interaction there! Take some time today to watch and see what your children are interested in ~ what they are choosing to do for fun. Then share that interest for a few minutes and see what happens. What you should see is a longer interaction with your child. Even if your child doesn't yet have words, just showing that you are interested in something they are lends value to the quality of the interaction. Commit some time today to share some interests with your child. Remember, everyone wants to be part of the party!
Last night as I was finally heading to bed, my sweet little four-legged friend, Gladys, had another idea. Apparently she had no idea how tired I was! As I began to turn off lights she followed my every move staring up at me until I stopped to figure out what she needed. Going through the list of usual needs in my head, I worked through each one until I figured out what she needed. I knew I wasn't going to get any sleep until I figured it out. She was so persistent in communicating to me that she needed something, that I began to think about how this relates to our children. When they are babies and don't have the ability to "tell" us with words what they need, we are so persistent in trying to figure it out. There's no stopping a mom until she figures out what will make that little one happy again! But I started to wonder at what point we stop being so persistent in trying to understand what our children are really saying to us? Kids have a lot to say and they are pretty persistent with us in trying to get their point across. Sometimes they use words, sometimes they use behaviors, sometimes their mood, sometimes by their lack of communication ~ but always the communication intent is there. A statistic I love is that over 70% of behaviors we see in children are rooted in communication. They're talking, but are we listening to understand? To encourage our kids, no matter what age or ability, to keep communicating with us, we have to maintain that persistence that we had with them as babies. We must be persistent in trying to understand what they are saying to us. Try today to REALLY listen and understand what your child is saying to you ~ whether it's with words or actions. Gladys taught me a great lesson last night about that. I hope you can learn from it too!