Sunday, October 05, 2008

Social Language Development

I truly believe the best thing I can do for my little boy is to just enjoy him. I think as parents it's all too easy to endure the experiences or just get busy doing all of the things we are "supposed to do" (dishes, laundry, etc) and forget to just stop and enjoy. I think one of the greatest challenges in being a parent is not to be a parent, but to be a parent AND try to keep a functional household.

My mother must have told me a hundred times, "You are my pride and joy!" She believed I was smart and kind and fun and good. I spent my whole life trying to prove her right. I think children become who you think they are. So I spend lots of time letting my child know that I think he is delightful, good, smart, and kind. It's fun to listen to him announce a myriad of complements about himself. In the years to come he will have plenty of opportunities to have his self esteem bashed, now is the time to place him on a sure foundation.

It's funny to watch how that affects how he interacts with others. He tells Dave "You're a super Papa." "You're amazing."

I am a Speech-Language Pathologist, so it is natural for me to teach him language. I find myself modeling for him constantly the kindest way to say just about anything. He'll say, "Give me that." and I'll model, "Can I have that please?" It's amazing how powerful language is. He's young, so in accordance with his age, sometimes he will take a toy from another child. I find myself modeling, "Here you go, you can play with it." or "I am going to play with it for another minute, then you can play with it."

Sometimes I'll ask him to do something and he will say, "No." I'll say, "You need to say Yes Maam." (I know it's Texan, but it works for us.) Then I gently direct him towards what he needs to be doing. It's amazing because he won't say "yes maam" or "yes sir" until he is willing to follow through, but once he says it, he does it. It's amazing to watch him develop his commitment and follow through skills.

He recently learned the word Stupid from a slightly older peer. Every once in a while he will say, "Papa, you're stupid." It's amazing what a simple model does to turn it around. Ian, you need to say, "Papa, you are so smart. I am glad to have such a smart papa." Apparently, this is a topic he deals with regularly with this peer, the other day I heard him say as if he were talking to a peer, "I'm not stupid, I'm a very smart boy."

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