Discover the secret of childhood from 0-3 year old:

Speak and communicate

What to Say When Your Child Gets It Wrong

Friday, January 11th, 2013 11:18 am | By Stephanie Woo

"This is a...?"

We went to the supermarket yesterday to do some shopping. As we were going through the fresh produce section, I picked up a good-looking cantaloupe and asked, “This is a…?” B (24 months) flashed a huge smile and the word “Watermelon!” burst out of her.

Here are couple ways I could have reacted:

  1. “Watermelons are green on the outside, this isn’t. What is this?” (Using an adult’s logic with a child to get her to the correct answer)
  2. “No, it’s a cantaloupe. Say cantaloupe. No, not ‘antlop.’ Can-TA-loupe.” (trying to get her to remember the word by making her say it over and over, till she says it perfectly)
  3. “Wrong, honey. It’s a cantaloupe.” (Flat-out telling her she’s wrong)

Instead, this is what I said:

“Yes, this DOES look like a watermelon. They’re both big and round. This is a ‘cantaloupe.’” (See it from her point of view and then acknowledge what she said – I mean, watermelon and cantaloupe are extremely similar, at least she didn’t say it was a ‘flower,’ right? And then just give her the correct word without using negative language.)

When you create a loving, accepting relationship with your child around language and speaking, she will want to communicate with you (selective mutism is when children don’t).  Listen to her attentively. Don’t insist on perfection. You don’t need over-the-top praises or enthusiasm every time she opens her mouth. All you need is to acknowledge what she says. It’s simple – take the time to repeat exactly what she said. This lets her know you’ve been listening and she was understood.

Mental Preparations, Reminders and Happier Toddlers

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013 11:23 am | By Stephanie Woo
M playing with her farm animals

M playing with her farm animals

I like to know my schedule ahead of time so I can prepare myself physically and mentally for the day ahead. Children need the same thing. This applies to the schedule of the day or the schedule of the next five minutes. Have you ever tried to take your child away from an activity he’s doing because you want him to eat dinner or take a bath? Sometimes he’s fine; other times, it turns into a screaming tantrum.  

Yesterday, M was working with her farm animals. It was time for dinner, so I took the cow out of her hands without thinking and she started screaming. I should’ve known better!  So I gave the cow back to her and said, “Okay, you can play with it for a little longer and then we are going to eat dinner.” She repeats, “A little longer.” Two minutes later, I gave her a second reminder, “Okay, we are going to eat dinner in two more minutes. In two minutes, you can put away the farm animals or I will put it away for you. You can choose which one.” After two minutes go by, I said, “It’s time to put the farm animals away.” She didn’t respond, so I stuck out my hand (rather than grab it) and asked her, “Do you want to put it away yourself or do you want me to help you put it away?“ She said, “By myself.” And then she puts it away and joins everyone for dinner.

 When you give this level of preparation, and follow through consistently on your word, then your children know that they have some control over the situation (because you gave them choices) but Mom means what she says. On days they still resist, it will be a whiny resistance that lasts for a short period of time, as opposed to the high-pitched screaming you might have to endure for a long time if you force the change on them.  When children feel like they have REAL CHOICES, they are much more likely to work WITH you, rather than against you.

Happy New Year!

Is that an ‘SUV,’ a ‘Jeep’ or a ‘Hatchback?’

Monday, December 24th, 2012 12:23 pm | By Stephanie Woo

Vehicles on the Road

Ever since B and M could sit up in the stroller by themselves, our daily walks would include identifying everything we see on the streets. It started with stationary things, like “mailbox,” “street lights” and “STOP sign.” Pretty soon, we got into vehicles.

Instead of ‘car,’ I’ll distinguish for them whether a vehicle is an SUV, jeep, hatchback, sports car, convertible, truck, commercial truck, 18-wheeler, school bus or bus. Before they could walk, I didn’t want people overhearing me enunciating “com-mer-cial tr-uuuuck” to 10–month olds, so I always got down to their level and  kept my voice low. When they were 20 months, whenever I emphasized to them that something is a ‘Jeep’ and not an ‘SUV’ (for a time, they called every vehicle an SUV) , I would look around and hope no one overhears me and thinks I’m a crazy mom. But now, when they walk down the streets and name the vehicles correctly, I know my hard work has paid off. When they say things like, “That’s a hatchback. That’s not an SUV,” I find myself clapping – for them and for myself!

Between 0-3, children are at the height of their Sensitive Period for language. I can just hear my Montessori Trainer, Judi Orion, say over and over, “You keep giving them the language and one day, it will come out.”