- Kristin Chmela
At Home Communication Tips for Parents
Updated: Apr 13, 2021
CHECKING IN DURING COVID-19
These last few months have been challenging for families in multiple ways. For children who stutter, many aspects of “communication as usual” have changed. Some children are communicating with siblings more than ever before and others are talking virtually to friends, other family members, classmates, and teachers. For some children and teens, they are communicating with others much less than normal. We are honored to continue to provide service for so many of you. While so many aspects of our lives have halted or changed, our philosophy at CFC is to continue moving, and the direction we support is forward! With tha
t in mind, how can you as parents (along with your family) continue to support your child’s (children’s) healthy communication development? Please read the following explanation that accompanies the attached poster you can print out and put up somewhere in your home. Visual prompts are great reminders!!
At Home Communication Tips First and foremost, consider overall Well-Being Routines. Sometimes we call this “taking care of the roots of your tree.” What does this mean? It means maintaining routines of sleep, daily physical body movement, eating meals at routine times with healthy food ingredients, spending time connecting face to face with friends, and practicing daily mindfulness (such as paying attention to breathing, coloring, playing play dough or with sand, and/or taking a nature walk). If you have a teen at home, you may need to accompany him or her on a walk or bike ride to get them off the screen!
Second, consider Structured Communicative Interactions within your home environment. If you have younger children, create a turn taking stick or object with paper plates (decorated and stapled with some beans or rice inside of it). These objects can be very helpful for younger children learning how to take turns in talking at the dinner table or within other interactions. Play a family game (at the level of your youngest child) and control the dice or pieces as you say, “Whose turn is next?” for each turn taken. In either situation, wait on purpose as if you are thinking prior to your turn in a game or talking. Positively respond to your child by saying, “Thanks for waiting” or “I like how we are taking our time playing this game” or “I like how we are taking turns.” If you have a teen, create times to “have a conversation about…” and say it explicitly. Many teens report they are not talking much at all now that they are not at school.
Third, pay close attention and facilitate Calm Transitions. Transitions (within a situation, to and from somewhere, or even to another topic in a conversation) often are accompanied by more difficulty communicating. Create simple visual schedules with activities/times so your children know what is coming next. Pick a song and use it consistently when it is time to transition (such as into doing schoolwork, taking a walk as a family, or even getting ready for bed). Consider making an announcement, such as “Let’s have a relaxed transition upstairs.” Creating calm around transitions can make a marked difference in the communicative atmosphere of your home. Easy relaxed transitions are a choice and a way of living. They help us become more mindful, present, and clam.
Fourth, implement Core Practices as designated by your child and speech language pathologist. For many of our clients, this involves mindfulness practice for a small amount of time as well as practice of phrases and conversational speaking. Reward with encouraging praise such as, “I liked that pause” or “I like how you kept going even though that was tricky.” Core Practices relate directly to what your child is focusing upon in therapy. Regardless, talking and saying everything you want while maintaining natural eye contact is something worth practicing daily. This is a perfect time to start a mindfulness practice routine with your child, young or older.
Finally, Check-In with your child (children) daily or every few days. With each ongoing week during this time there are new concerns, emotions, and losses of expected activities. Making a list of what each person in the family is grateful for is an activity that creates positive emotion in the brain. It is not the job of any adult to “make a child feel better.” Rather, create space for them to talk about their feelings and let them know it is normal to feel that way. What are their wishes in three months? One year? These are important conversations to have as a family. Please feel free to call any of us at CFC with questions or comments. Be well, Kristin and the CFC Team PS. We miss you!