My toddler is a talker. All the time. She narrates her life and wants us to participate in the re-telling. Sometimes (okay, often) I long for just a little bit of peace and quiet. I often ask her, "Who taught you how to talk?" as a joke. She laughs and says, "I just laugh and laugh. Mommy teach me to talk." See- laughing alone isn't enough. She needs to also say "I just laugh and laugh."
Now my husband and I just have to laugh and laugh. When I do long for quiet, I remind myself that I'm the one who modeled this chatty behavior. I'm the one who inadvertently works on language expansion with her constantly. Sometimes I curse my years spent providing ABA therapy.
I help her learn to expand her language by simply modeling longer expressions. When she was younger, she'd say "eat". I'd respond with "I want to eat." Then when she was saying that whole sentence, I'd respond with "I want to eat, please." Now it's often, "Can I please eat ____?" I don't even mean to do it- it just comes out of my mouth!
If you're not a BCBA or a SLP or someone else who has spent years getting kids to talk, you may actually want to put forth some effort modeling expanded language for your child.
Child gives a response.
You model the response PLUS a little more.
Easy peasy. You just keep raising the bar a little bit at a time.
This is not the first time I've talked about this. Read this post and watch the video for more information.
Read more about pairing and other behavior analytic strategies for parents in my book, Parenting with Science: Behavior Analysis Saves Mom’s Sanity.
Leanne Page, MEd, BCBA