I was talking to a mom the other day who has a child with a language disorder. She described a breatkthrough with her child that illustrates the importance of language and communication for a child.

This is a soft-spoken, loving mom who saw that her child was getting up from the dinner table before he even started. She asked him to return, he got upset, she asked him more firmly and he returned, crying. Finally he said, “Can you wipe off my meatball?” Wow, she realized that he didn’t like the sauce but couldn’t initially communicate that.

She reinforced his communication by saying, “Thanks for telling me what you needed, so I can help you.” Saying a simple phrase like that not only reinforces his using his words, but also tells why it is important, the cause-effect of the situation. “When you tell what is wrong, then I can help you.” Obviously this mom had no idea what was troubling her son when he didn’t want to sit at the dinner table. Sometimes we can infer what the problem is and model the words for our child to repeat and praise them, “I don’t want to eat the peas.”

It feels so good to communicate!