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Want a toddler to answer? Wait

July 25, 2012
By Adrienne Brown , Mirror Moms

We can all relate to the experience of trying to converse with a toddler when the conversation quickly becomes entirely one-sided.

Like when the sweetheart with the sequined sandals and matching purse, or the little heartbreaker with his slightly spiked hair and plaid summer shorts, stares back at you after a question without any response and you think, " Wow, I was just totally 'dissed' by a toddler!"

Well, don't take offense anymore!

According to experts, young children may need as much as 5 seconds to 12 seconds to fully comprehend a question and to come up with an appropriate response.

Can you imagine how awkward a pause that long would feel during an adult conversation?

It just doesn't feel natural for us to talk that way. And to make it even more confusing for the kiddos, after a few seconds of no response, we typically change the question, making it even more difficult for the child to comprehend.

Now they have a look that reads, "Which question did you want me to answer, the first one that I'm almost ready to answer, or the second one that I have to start with from square one?!"

Now, I must admit that this type of patience isn't always easy and there are times when you will simply just forget!

But waiting a bit longer for responses from your toddler can help with their development of early language and literacy skills.

Over time, you will see that your child is able to answer questions more quickly, and soon you may feel like you're talking with

an adult.

Well, not exactly.

When I try this new technique out during story time, I have to be careful and explain myself. I don't want to keep a parent sweating because her child is in the spotlight, taking his good old time to answer my question about what noise the cow makes in the picture book I'm sharing. After all, story time at the library should be fun for everyone who attends: children, siblings, parents, babysitters, grandparents, helpers and the storyteller.

The sounds of songs, musical instruments, nursery rhymes, games, poems and stories can be heard from behind the story room wall.

And now, the sound of silence is OK, too. Think of it as the sound your child's complicated but amazing development taking place.

For more information on story time programs at the Altoona Area Public Library, please call the Youth Room at 814-946-0417, ext. 123.

Adrienne Brown is the Children's Services Supervisor at the Altoona Area Public Library. A human development and family studies graduate of Penn State Altoona, she has worked with children and families, created an incarcerated parenting program, served at an orphanage abroad and created afterschool programs in Blair County. She lives in Hollidaysburg with her husband, Christopher, and their two dogs.

 
 
 

 

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