With the holidays upon us and schools closed for more than a week, families are going to be spending more precious time together. This is the perfect time to focus on improving your child’s speech and language skills. So, what can you do?
If I had a dime for every time parents or caregivers ask me what they can do to help to increase their child’s expressive language, I’d be rich. While there are so many strategies that speech-language pathologists and listening and spoken language specialists use to increase verbal language output, my favorite suggestion is using sabotage.
By definition, sabotage means to deliberately obstruct. While this seems unkind, using sabotage is an excellent way to encourage your child to vocalize spontaneously. While holding a needed item out until a child uses words to make the request also promotes spontaneous language, sabotage is more subtle. Sabotage is deliberately setting up situations that require the child to use language to make request. The following 10 examples are a few ways to set up sabotage in order to encourage your child to talk:
- Give your child food without a utensil
- Fill a cup with only a few sips of a drink
- Present a familiar toy with missing pieces
- Take the straw off of the juice box
- Hide the toothpaste
- Take the batteries out of a favorite toy
- Give your child a sibling’s shoes or clothing
- Start reading a book upside down
- Do something silly, like put your shoe on your hand or put his/her coat on upside down
- Give your child an empty play dough container or play dough without any tools.
There are so many more ways to sabotage throughout the day. Have fun with it!