Magic Words according to me

My son verbalized at the age of 3 ½ years. The first word was “No”. And he managed with “No” for more than two and half years. That “No” gave me lots of hope that my son can talk to me one day more meaningfully.

When he was 5 ½  years old, he was about to leave to home from the school one day with his dad. One therapist held both of them back, pulled out a card with written words on it, showed it to my son and asked “what is this?”  My son said “Baby”. That was the first proper word he said after 2 ½ years beyond “No”. My husband called me on phone with this news and we were ecstatic. I consider “No” as a magical word that helped my son to start of his speech. Here I wanted to share few other magical words that expanded his vocabulary, understanding of what is happening around him, communicating basic needs to us and others.
My son is a hyper active kid. His participation for listening and learning was very less around that time.

In the beginning till almost 4, my son wouldn’t be able to verbalise anything. He did make sounds for some words. Only we parents were able to understand the sounds and was able to understand to associate it with particular object or action.
But he showed lot of frustration, when he was not able to communicate his needs. That’s when I took words like No, Yes, Finished/ Over, More and help helped me and my son to make our day smooth without much struggle along  with the words for basic needs like water, toilet, etc.
Let me explain why I feel these words are important and magic to me (even now also). And also I am going to share how I taught these words to my son.

The first word verbalized by my son. When I thought through one day how he was able to say “No” and not other words, I realized that I used “No” very frequently to my son. Yes, whenever he said “No”, he said it in a way I said. That’s when I realised one thing, my son needed lot of repetition to understand and to verbalise.
I think, the word can be easily taught to our kids. Since, whatever our kids do, mostly it would not be acceptable by us and vice versa is very much true.
When I understood this I started to use “No” consciously, calmly and effectively and my son too started the same way.

Yes” was not as easy as “No”. Since whatever I want to do with him, his answer was No. Ex. “Let’s do Brushing”-“No”, “Let’s eat breakfast”-“No”, “Now activity time”-“No”, “Let’s cut your Nail”-“No”, haircut, No….No…NO.

Then how did I achieve “Yes”. Junk Food was his main attraction. Whenever he wanted something to eat, he used to take my hand and point to the box of snacks. Here only I used the opportunity and asked him like “Do you want chocolate? “Or “Do you want Biscuits?” etc.

After a small pause, I used to say “Yes” and wait for him to repeat the same. Though immediately he was not able to say. Little later he started using, “Yes”. But he started it as “Yeah”.  He used “Yeah” for a long time. Of course he changed, “Yeah” into “Yes”. Whenever he said “Yeah”, I repeated “Yes” and gave him whatever he wanted.  So I used his interest to make him to say “Yes”.

Till 5 ½ my son had not got proper word apart from No. And his understanding about the world around him was also very less. We didn’t teach any sign language to him.  So for every request, to make him remember one word and make him say it, it was very difficult for us.  So, we used the word “help”. For e.g. If he brings his favourite Rhymes CD to play it. Instead of make him say, “Play CD” or “Play Rhymes”, we made him say “help”. If we give him some snack, and he wants to remove the wrapper, we made him to say “help”. When we go out we make him to wear shoes or sandals and we will wait for him to wear the shoes or sandals by himself.  At that age to put straps, he struggled. So whenever he struggled to put shoes or sandals, we made him request us for help. For buttoning or unbuttoning trousers, “help” and many other instances, it became a great opportunity and the word got reinforced for him again and again.
Simply put, whenever he comes to use for a request, like “Open”, “Play”, “Put” etc., we make him to say “help”.  Even now if he experiences something new, he automatically says “help”.

He learnt “more” easily though he doesn’t say it frequently, but he understood the meaning.  Whenever he wanted the same things again and again like playing his rhymes CD again and again (he didn’t know how to play it by himself in the beginning), then we said “More Rhymes” and played it again. Also food was also a big obsession. Anything more in quantity he needed, we said “More” and gave it. And myself and my husband still remember the day when one day in his breakfast he at last understood the significance of “More” and chuckling and enjoying to himself (his excitement is usually obvious when he discovers something new or is able to convey something successfully to us). It was a wow moment for us. We continued to use “more” for various other of his obsessions like, playing in water game(“More Water”), requesting for more bubbles(as we blew the bubbles initially and he did not know how to do it), though his usage of More has never been significant, but he understands the context and meaning when we say it.

When our son is obsessed about something he would not be able to stop by himself. Playing with something-eating some favourite foods etc. Our Speech Therapist introduced as the concept of saying “Finished” or “Over” when an activity gets over(with a  little cross sign by hand). She said it helps wraps up a stuff neatly in child’s mind and reduces anxiety and frustration.  So we used all opportunities starting with brushing. Brushing had several steps to do. Once they were complete. We said “Over”. Then breakfast time, when he finished eating, we said “Over”. Water was his obsession and my son will endlessly play with water. Because we kept wrapping up other activities with “Over”, during his bath time or when he played with water, when we said “Over”, he grudgingly accepted.

And my son had got the habit of wanting to repeat something in the same place in the same manner. If we had put Petrol in a petrol bunk, next time when we cross that specific petrol bunk, he will insist on putting Petrol, by calling and pointing out “Petrol” continuously(and we may not have need to put Petrol at that time). Soon we started applying “Over” here.  And this time he refined himself. Soon when we crossed Petrol bunk and he realized that we are not going to get in to put Petrol (or with a simple one time explanation we gave), he said to himself aloud, “Petrol Over”. And so the “Over” now became a self-control for him. When he knew myself and my husband were not going to budge and give him more snacks, he ended up his demands by saying to himself “Snacks Over”.

So “Finished” or “Over” has been one of the most important speech and personality improvement milestone for my son. I use this now for my daily educational activities with him. When we finished one section of activity, I called out as “over” and my son could get the sense of progress and doesn’t get anxious that the activities are going on endlessly.
When my son was young, he used to repeat sounds like “Ba ba ba…” meaninglessly throughout the day. I used to have tears in my eyes, when I heard these sounds.  I thought at least he should be able say simple things and started off with “help”, “more”, “over” and it started paying off after 5 ½ years only. Today looking back, this basic words, as they served his basic needs, it became a foundation for his further improving speech now.

You can check my other experiences on developing speech in the following articles:

How I made my son speak through Nursery Rhymes:

 How I changed my son's gesture into words:

Sounds are important

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