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Choices, choices, choices

Friday, June 15, 2012

Coke or Pepsi. Cookies or ice cream. Goldfish or apples. The world is full of choices and we make hundreds of choices daily without even really thinking about it.  Making choices can be such a powerful language tool for all children.  As children become more autonomous, their desire for control over their environment increases. Giving a child a choice helps to decrease some of the power struggle that comes with parenting because, in reality, the parent/caregiver/speech and language pathologist has control over the choices, because they are the ones who are choosing what to allow for choices.

Let’s say I am in a therapy session working with a child that has some difficulty using language.  I have specific goals in mind to target during the therapy session, which would  include increasing his use of expressive language. Based on this goal, I pick fun activities that I know he will enjoy. Would he like to play with bubbles or a train set? Either one is fine with me, because both will allow us to work on his goal of using more language. However, to him, he is able to choose what he wants to do, and therefore he will enjoy it more, participate with me more, and feel like he has more control over his toys and his environment.  In the end, he is working on the skills I want to address in therapy (which is a win for me) while playing with a toy that he likes (which is a win for him).

Let your child choose between things that you feel are appropriate and use this choice making time as a chance to model language in the most natural of ways.  If you offer the choice between goldfish and an apple for a snack and your child chooses goldfish, expand their language and describe the goldfish (“see the orange goldfish”), model counting and numbers (“You have three goldfish” or “do you want 3 or 4 more goldfish”), and demonstrate requesting (“do you want more goldfish or are you all done?”). All of these questions work on important language concepts in such a natural way that you and your child won’t know that you are building language skills all because you gave a choice and they made their decision.

Choices, choices, choices. As you can see from my picture choice, I would choose goldfish over apples. You made a choice to read this blog over doing something else, and I am glad you did :)