Say What?! 5 Ways to promote language development.

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I’m certainly no speech expert, but I’d like to think I am an expert when it comes to my babes. While I can recognize that every child develops differently, I knew that Giada was behind when it came to speech. She has some words and can get her point across, but I could tell she was getting frustrated. I expressed my concerns with my ped and she told me that typically there isn’t a worry until age 2. Since Giada’s birthday fell at the end of the school year, though, she said it wouldn’t hurt to take her in to be evaluated early since services aren’t offered during the summer..

We met with our local school district and the women there were beyond friendly, helpful, and extremely patient with Giada. They tested Giada’s hearing, her comprehension, and then her ability to communicate. Giada fell in the 24 month range for her understanding but only 15 months for her speech. Because of the discrepancy between her understanding and her ability they recommended speech therapy for her! I was SO happy I listened to my “mom-intuition” and didn’t go any longer leaving her frustrated. Sometimes… what works for one child doesn’t work for the next and us parents need to make some modifications to what we are doing. Language seemed to come very easy to Ari, but Giada needs some changes to her environment.

The entire evaluation experience was so educational for me. I was an early elementary teacher and knew so many of these strategies, but when you get caught up in the day to day you sometimes forget. Before we left the evaluation they gave me some super easy strategies to implement immediately. Honesty I can’t believe the difference it has made in only a couple short weeks.

If you have a toddler on the verge of talking or one that is struggling to talk I highly suggest using some of these strategies!

Ditch the Sippy Cups/Pacifiers – They couldn’t stress enough the negative impact these two items had on language acquisition. I read this post before and “knew” they weren’t the best thing, but I never really cared that much until I was sitting in a speech evaluation and being told my daughter needed ME to toss them.  I was nervous about giving her an open cup at meals, but overall the transition hasn’t been terrible! I got cups with handles from Target for $.79!

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Strengthen the entire body – The body works together in complex ways. They suggested doing wheelbarrows with her and getting her to try to balance on one foot!

Stimulate the Mouth – Some children need extra stimulation in their mouths. It was suggested we get her an electric toothbrush instead of a regular one. Giada loves it!

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Give her the words – This one made perfect sense now looking back. Instead of asking her a yes or no question you offer a choice, use adjectives, and give her the word you want her to say. The last word out of your mouth should be what you want them to say.

Example: instead of saying “Giada do you want this hairbow?” All she can respond with is yes and it’s not expanding her vocabulary. You say “Giada, do you want this clip or this PINK HAIRBOW?”. It allows her to repeat the last thing you just said because you are giving her the word. I’ve been using this technique a TON and I am so surprised at how many new words she is trying to say just by me changing my behavior!

Use songs/body movements – Using a song or a beat allows children to easily chime in at words they know. Now we’ve been singing songs every night that involve hand movements like “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and “Baby Bumblebee”. Giada has been so engaged and tries to sing along with us!

I’m sure there’s going to come a day when I wish Giada wasn’t talking SO much. But, for now, I’m determined to do everything in my power to help her get where she needs to be! In just a few weeks of doing these things I have seen such an incredible difference in her communication. I can’t wait until our actual first lesson! I will be learning as much as Giada.

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Be Who You Are…and let your kids too!

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I am lucky enough to be raising two very independent children.  At the young ages they are both of them know what they want and won’t back down until they get it. Sometimes it’s frustrating for me, but just recently it taught me a very important lesson.

Yesterday morning my son, Ari, woke up a little cranky before it was time to go to preschool. He had an empty paper towel roll but somehow it had been “smushed” during the night by our giant dog. He was crabbing and I was trying to get everyone out the door on time. Before we left Ari insisted I give him some string so that he could make a necklace out of his paper towel roll. Since the morning was already a little rocky I went with it. I knew if I didn’t it would take us even longer to get out the door. So I helped him quickly make a necklace that was about the width of his entire body. It literally took me 30 seconds and in an instant his entire mood changed. Ari was so proud of what he had made.

 

We brought the necklace in the car, but I was secretly hoping he would forget about it by the time we got to preschool. Silly me to think he would forget about such a creation. As we were getting out of the car I kept asking him “Are you sure you want to bring that in?”. Confidently he said “Yes”. Ari is one of the youngest children in his entire preschool program so I was a little nervous for the outcome. In the back of my mind I kept worrying what others would think… Are the kids going to make fun of him? He was wearing a paper towel roll around his neck! What will his teachers think of this necklace? Will he get his feelings hurt?

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Little man was not taking no for an answer, though. He strolled into preschool confident as ever wearing his paper towel necklace.  A few other boys greeted him and started talking about their plans for a playdate that night while I put his things away.  As Ari was sitting down to eat breakfast a few little boys started asking him about his “tube” and where he got it. They wanted one like him. As I was watching them talk I couldn’t help but notice the pride and confidence my son was exuding. Ari was smiling from ear to ear telling his friends about his necklace that he made.

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We live in a time where image is everything. Every single life event is photographed and uploaded. Social media feeds are plastered with images of how people should look. As parents, its all to easy to get wrapped up in that when it comes to raising our little ones. I find myself all too guilty of trying to create the perfect image. My children are always dressed to perfection and forget about letting them leave the house in something that isn’t photo worthy. Today, though, made me realize that isn’t what’s important.  All this pressure we put on ourselves is silly. Sometimes I need to stop and remember that these little babes I am raising are both unique humans with their own BIG ideas. Who am I to prevent them from just being themselves?

Instead of helping them look the best they can… I need to help them BE the best they can.

Even if it means allowing them to dress silly and wear paper towel necklaces to preschool.

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It takes a village to raise a Mom

We all know the saying. “It takes a village to raise a child”

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What about us moms??

Nobody warned me how physically and emotionally draining becoming a mom would be.  How do we get through the sleepless nights, the demanding toddler stages, and the never-ending whiney cartoon days?

A Mom Village.

 And we need one as large as we can get.  Majority of my close friends are not married and do not have kids.  They all adore my kids and are the best “aunts & uncles” to them, but when I became a mom I yearned for other Mom friends who “got it”.   I didn’t need just one or two mom friends.  I needed a village.  I needed a village who could share in mom victories, chuckle in my mistakes, and offer encouragement when things didn’t go according to plan.

I needed people who got it.

  • When I updated my status saying Mama needed wine, they got it.
  • When all I seemed to talk about was poop and pee, they got it.
  • When all I needed was to vent about leaky sippy cups, projectile vomit, or the never ending laundry, they got it.

Lucky for me I found a village that I am forever grateful for.  A friend of a friend started a private online community that provided endless support for me.  It is literally a network of 2000 + moms that are always there.  Always willing to laugh, offer advice, and just listen when I need to vent.   This village of moms has made me a better mom.  I can’t do it alone and most often someone else has been there, done that, and is willing to tell you all about it.  This group has moms with beliefs similar to mine, but also those who offer other opinions and parenting methods that I may have never considered.

Being a part of this group for almost 2 years now makes me realize how essential a village of mom friends really is.  It has made me open to making more mom friends in real life and allowed me to step out of my comfort zone.  Just the other day I was at our local outdoor mall and I recognized a mom there with her two little kids.  I had never met her, but knew her from the mom group online.  5 years ago I would have never dreamed of walking up to someone I didn’t know. But, it had been a long day, I was there alone, and so I put my insecurities aside.  I walked up to her introduced myself and just like that I spent the next hour talking to another mom.  It was just what I needed that day.

Moms.  Don’t do it alone.

Find your village.

When you are at the park, the mall, the grocery store and you see another mom, say hi.  Introduce yourself.   When you see a mom walking in your neighborhood, stop her, exchange numbers offer to arrange a playdate.  Invite other moms to be your facebook friend and interact with them.  Invite them to meet you at the park, the library, the mall; wherever.  Make friends with the other moms at daycare or at school.

Create your village.  Because let’s be honest, no one can do this alone.

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Roll with the punches.

ABM_1398690831Everyone has their own type of parenting style.  There are the crunchy parents, the attachment parents, the helicopter parents, and then there is my husband and I … I like to call it “Roll with the Punches”.  I plan ahead and schedule our lives down to the minute, but sometimes (or all the time) things don’t always happen the way you plan for, so we just go with it.  I like to think I’m helping my children to be flexible 🙂

 

Yesterday we had a family baptism.  Smack dab in the middle of naptime.  With 14 babies being baptized.  14 babies!  It would have been easy to skip the church and meet up at the luncheon afterwards.  But, I pride myself on being a go with the flow parent and not missing out on life’s events.  We have a schedule, both my kid’s nap at the same time, but you know what, their cousin only gets baptized once.  So we planned accordingly.  Church started at 2:15 and it was a half hour drive.  We ate lunch, negotiated with my 2 year old to wear his blazer and bowtie, and packed everyone up by 1pm.  I wanted a full hour in the car for rest time (I was secretly hoping they would both fall asleep at 1 and have a full hour of nap).  Well it didn’t go according to plan, neither kid fell asleep at 1pm, but I half expected this to happen so I was prepared to entertain 2 cranky kids in the event they (gasp) didn’t follow their normal schedule that day.

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During the 14 baby baptism ceremony the following items were crucial to avoiding any major meltdowns:

  • Papa and Grandma.  My 2 year old spent most of the time in the foyer with Papa, but hey he was still there and he just adores spending time with Papa.
  • Fruit snacks.  A silent snack that takes a long time to eat!
  • A matchbox car.  Another relatively quiet distraction.
  • Mum Mums for the baby.
  • A variety of teething toys and rattles for the baby.

Almost 2 hours later, the babes were tired and a little cranky, BUT they made it, and even posed for a family picture after.

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Anyone else follow the roll with the punches parenting method!?