Model, Model, Model: Children with language processing delays often have difficulty understanding spoken language and what is being presented verbally. This can make following simple directions and language challenging, including the word “no.” Modeling an expectation is a way to communicate the idea of “no” while removing verbal processing demands. It allows children to imitate the expected choice and reduces unexpected choices.
- Example: Saying “no throwing toys,” + modeling gently setting the toy down or other safe/expected actions we can do with the toys.
- This example uses the concept of “ideation.” During early development, children are learning this process of creating and generating ideas. This can be through watching others, playing, or learning new experiences throughout childhood and within the environment. Providing ideas on what to do plus using “no” can help your child follow directions.
Language Choices: Using simple language of what they are expected to do instead of “no,” can be helpful, as children benefit from clear cut directions.
- Example: “we need to use walking feet” or “let’s move our feet nice and slow.” This varied language can be a helpful instead of “no running.”
- An extra step is to have them repeat the directions back to you! This can help them better process the language that has been verbally presented.
Choices: Providing choices for a child of what they can do. This is a great way to support our children if they are having difficulty understanding that “no” means “not an option.”
- Example: “we can read a book or play a game” as an alternative to “no tv right now.”
Problem Solving: Problem solving through the word “no” can create an opportunity to reflect about why their action was unexpected or unsafe.
- Example: “what might happen if we climb on the table? “instead of “no climbing.”
This can help them understand the cause and effect or impact of their actions. This can also encourage them to follow directions.
The idea of “no” and the effect it has is not only an important developmental milestone, but also a powerful concept that can be challenging for anyone to navigate. The above “trail maps” can support everyone involved when we are climbing Mt. “No” with our children. Have questions? Want to learn more strategies? Reach out to your child’s speech therapist (SLP) or ask if speech therapy services are right for your child.