I’m a pediatric speech therapist and also a mom and I absolutely love talking to parents about ways they can help their children communicate. One strategy I talk about often is communication temptations.
Communication temptations is a strategy where you structure or manipulate the environment so the child must use communication in order to receive the desired item. I use communication temptations often in my own therapy sessions and also used them with my daughters when they were little and learning how to talk.
Fun Ways to Build Early Language Skills with Communication Temptations
Listed below are some fun ways you can tempt your kids to communicate. Use these ideas to motivate your children to express their wants and needs as well as give them an opportunity to initiate communication.
- Place toys in bins and have your child request for each item by naming or asking for “more.” Small children may not be able to open the bin, so you can also work on “help” or “open.”
- Add toys to a Ziplock bag and use the same technique as described above, targeting the words “more” and “open,” as well as requesting for the toy by name.
- When playing with puzzles, don’t give your child all of the pieces at once. Have them ask for each piece, either by naming or requesting for more.
- Bubbles are also a fun way to get your kids to talk! Pause before blowing and work on “blow,” “go,” or “bubbles.” Close the bubbles each time and work on “more” and “open.”
- Place a motivating toy or food item in view but out of reach (on a shelf or up in the pantry) so he will have to ask for the item.
- Use toys that the child may not be able to operate by themselves such as pop-up toys with knobs that are difficult to turn or wind-up toys. This is a great way to teach the child to ask for “help.”
- Turn on some fun music and then stop the music. Wait for your child to tell you to turn it back on.
- For snacks, give your child only one cracker at a time, instead of a handful, or half of a cookie instead of the entire cookie, so he or she has to ask for “more.” You could also only fill their water or juice cup up halfway.
- At mealtime, give your child an empty bowl or plate and wait for their response.
- Push your child in a swing. Stop the swing and wait for them to initiate “more,” “go,” or “again.”
Things to Keep in Mind When Using Communication Temptations
- How does your child communicate? Are they using gestures such as pointing, reaching, or nodding their heads? Maybe they are using signs, or just learning to speak words. If a child is not using spoken words just yet, we typically work on signing for items (more, please, open, etc.). Remember that communication is about more than words.
- Always model how you want them to respond (gestures, signs, approximations, words, etc.).
- Choose toys that are motivating for the child. I have a client who loves bubbles, so that is my go-to with him. Other kids enjoy trains, so I might give them one train at a time or place one track on the table.
- Be face-to-face with your child and get down on their level. Small children will find it easier to communicate when they can see our face.
Do you use communication temptations with your kids? I’d love to hear how you use them! If you would like some more fun speech & language activities to use with your little ones, check out my Teachers Pay Teachers Store!