Q: Dear Bryn,
I have done a part time program with my four year old boy for the past two years. He is really verbal now with beautiful articulation. Much of the time he talks to himself, and I am wondering how I can help him converse with people more. He is a big reader, and a lot of the talking to himself is reading everything and anything. I hear things like, “Made in the USA,” “Nutrition Facts,” and toy manufacturer names. I have been saying these things with him, which he sometimes notices, sometimes not. I am floored on how to build when he does notice. Thank you in advance for any ideas you may have.
A Son-Rise parent
There are numerous ways to approach this and I will give you some suggestions, as best I can. I also want to suggest that you consider calling us and arranging a consultation with one of our Son-Rise Program Family Trainers, as perhaps we could go even further with you, and also have opportunities to ask you more about your son etc. If you are interested, just call our office and they can help to schedule one for you.
Talking to himself...how wonderful that he is talking! Truly, the first place to start is to be aware of how special and great it is that he is talking and verbalizing and that he is able to do so. My first suggestion is to express that gratitude to him. The more we can let him know how much we enjoy his talking, the more he may be motivated to direct his speaking towards us. If we seem to enjoy it, and we express that - if we tell him, “I love how clearly you speak. I love that you use words to say things. I love the sound of your voice”, this may become a motivation for him to talk to you more.
There are numerous ways to address this. You could “join” him (as it sounds like an “ism”) in this, not only by repeating what he says, but also by talking to yourself! He is talking to himself, this may be his “ism”, therefore, to really join him would be for us to talk to ourselves. Pick a topic, pick the names of all your home-equipment. You can walk around and say, “General Electric”, “Hewlett and Packard”...you could say stories out loud that you have read. This could be a wonderful way to join with him, to give him the message that he is loved and supported just as he is, and would encourage him to look at you more and become more interested in you.
In addition, when he does seem to take notice of you...if he is saying, “Made in Japan” and
then he stops or pauses and looks at you - first, you could celebrate him giving you more of
his attention by looking at you. Then, use the opportunity to build. Perhaps you could write
down (before you are next with him) 15 ways you could “build” on his most favorite statements:
i.e. if he says, “Nutritional Facts” and then looks at you, you could say, “I love nutritional
facts! Let's play a game about them! Here, take my hand. Let’s skip around and say all the
names of foods that we can think of!” (Ok, it's not about nutritional facts, but we're near
the subject as best we can right?). Or, if he talks about “Made in U.S.A” I could suggest that
we make piles of all the green things in the room that are made in the U.S.A. and a pile of
all the red things.” In effect, I am suggesting that we do something interactive, in his area
of interest. If you could think about this and brainstorm (perhaps with others who are involved
with him?) you could make a list of possibilities, and then use them when you have opportunities
in the room.
Most importantly, we have seen, is consistency. So, if he has anyone in his life, or at school (if he goes to school) who might tell him to stop talking, or who tries to stop him, this may give him mixed messages that make it harder for him to “let you in” to this activity, so do look around and make sure he has the most consistent environment possible.
I hope this works well for you - enjoy.
Bryn N. Hogan