How to teach your child to say mommy? This word is probably the most important word a mother wants to hear. As a speech and language pathologist when a child is having difficulty communicating….and not able to say mommy….. I have found this to be one of the most important goals for mother and child.
It is pretty safe to say that hearing your child call you mommy, mom, or mama probably is up there on your list of important words when your little one is not communicating. I will use the term mama throughout this description….as that is what my kids call me….and that is why I am the speech mama….lol. Anyway…I have been working since 1993 as a speech and language pathologist….and over the years…I know from experience how important the word mama is for a little one’s mother to hear.
There is one therapy session that I will never forget…and when I think about it….to this day…my body gets chilled….and it really brings tears to my eyes…..so before I get into that story…..I want to give you a few strategies that have worked for me….in helping little ones say Mama.
Now parents will say to me…I don’t understand…..she knows that I am the mama…..she comes to me for comfort….I have heard her repeat the word mama when I say it…..but she never ever ever calls for me when she wakes up in the morning while in her crib…..she never says my name when she needs to be comforted and she never asks for me. So the goal is for us to teach your little one that the word Mama…..has meaning and that it will get your little one what she wants when she says it…..we need to teach her that saying “Mama” means something….making the connection between the word and the actual “mama”……once she learns and understands that the word mama means something…..she will begin to use mama with meaning.
Therapist and child should go inside the child’s room.
Mama should be on the other side of the door.
Mama should knock on the door.
Therapist in a very exaggerated way should say “Who is it!?”
Mama should knock again.
Therapist…with increased inflection and facial exaggeration should say “Who is it!?”
Therapist should open the door and shout: “Mama!”
Therapist, mama and child should engage in this activity a few more times….then stop and start this again on a follow up session. Sooner or later your little one will say your name.
UNDER THE BLANKET-MAMA
Same concept as above….however, cover mama with a blanket when the child is not looking…and in a fun and silly way….creep over to the blanket….and slowly take the blanket off……and shout Mama! Continue this a few more times……end the play activity and engage in it again during a follow up session.
Have family make a video of mama hiding behind furniture in the house…..have mama “jump up” from behind the furniture….therapist then says “Mama!” everytime mom is seen……Continue this activity a few more times…end the session and follow up in the next session.
Make a photo album of all family members. You should use a photo album that is small, easily held by your little one….and each page only holds one picture. The picture should only contain one family member per picture….so each family member has his or her own picture. Go through the book with your little one…and just name the person in the picture. Do NOT place any language demands on your child….YOU do the talking.
Okay….so back to my story…..I will refer to the boy as Zach…..
Zach, his mom and I had engaged in the above activities over many sessions….and one day while looking at a picture photo album of his family members…..and while being videotaped (how amazing that this is on tape)……Zach looks at the family members pictures….he turns to the page of his Mama….he says Mama as he looks at the picture….then looks up at her and says…..”mama!”…….and that was it….he made the connection…..he knew that mama meant HIS mama….and from that day forward….he continued to say her name…..mama and I both cried that day.
Please be sure to click on the teach me to talk page for more information on how to elicit language in your little one…
and remember to have fun with your little one or big one!