Category Archives: Social Development

Help Your Child Develop Imitation Skills: Part 2

Teaching Tips for Parents on how to develop imitation skills in their children.

1. Frequently imitate your child including babbling, mouth movements, hand movements-any kind of movement, especially ones that the child does over and over.  Do this as often as you can throughout the day.

2.  Continue to imitate your child and change what you do just a little bit.  If your child babbles “pa-pa”, you babble “ba-ba”.  Be very enthusiastic, if your child imitates your “new” action.  Write down some of your child’s sounds and movements and how you are going to imitate them a little differently.  Put your list on the refrigerator or other obvious place as a reminder.

3.  Continue to imitate your child, but change your action a little more.  If your child says “pa-pa”, you say “pie-pie-pie”.  If your child claps hands together, you put your hands on the floor.  Praise your child and be enthusiastic when the child imitates you.  Write down your child’s actions and sounds and how you plan to imitate them.  Later write in how your child imitated you.

4.  Give your child toys that resemble things around the house: toy dolls, toy dishes, etc.  Let the child play with brooms, pots, and pans and “dress-up” clothes.  These will give your child opportunities to experiment with actions you perform during the day.  The child can dress dolls, “cook” food, sweep the floor, or “drive” cars.

5.  When your child begins to say words, add one other meaningful word to it to expand on his/her speech and language.

Write down each action your child imitates without seeing you do it at that time.  Write down ways your child does things that show the child is thinking-using an action that has been imitated before to solve a problem that requires a similar action.  The child who opened and closed a puppet’s mouth by relating an open and closed mouth (the familiar action) to opening the puppet’s mouth (similar action) is an example.  This helps you note and remember your child’s development. 

Written by Leslie S. Mccolgin.  Communication Skill Builders, 1988

Even though this information was written in 1988,  the principles hold true for present and future ages.- Pam Hass, Speech Language Pathologist

Consult your speech language therapist for more ideas on how to develop speech, language, and signing development to facilitate communication.

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Motor Experiences and Social Skills

An article in the Advance for Speech-Language Pathologists & Audiologists (sEPTEMBER 19, 2011) described a new way to think about development.  Early motor experiences can shape infants’ preferences for objects and faces, according to a new study.  The findings demonstrate that providing infants with “sticky mittens” to manipulate toys increases their interest in faces, suggesting advanced social development. 

When 3-month-olds were given mittens affixed with strips of Velcro, known as “sticky mittens”, a brief swipe of their arm made toys covered in Velcro stick, as if they had successfully grasped the object.  Parents demonstrated this by attaching a toy to the mitten.  The toy was removed and the infant was encouraged to reach independently for the toy again.  When another group of infants were fitted with aesthetically similar mittens and toys that did not have Velcro, they were only passive observers, as parents provided stimulation by moving a toy and touching it to the inside of the infants’ palms.

After two weeks of daily training, the active group showed more interest in faces than objects, while the passive group showed no preference.  Infants in the active group focused on faces first, suggesting strenghtening of a spontaneous preference.  The more reaching attempts infants made, the stronger their tendency to look at faces.  Motor experiences seem to drive social development.
A key question researchers hope to answer next is whether these early changes will translate into future gains for these children.  This new research could point in a new direction for research on social development in children.

Opininion by Pam Hass, Speech-Language Pathologist.  Kids begin pointing to indicate what they want or need or for joint attention to communicate between 9-12 months of age.  If this process can be boosted through training with the use of more motor experiences at a younger age, kids, who may have social delays or social disabilities, may benefit from this early training.  The research needs to continue in order for this to become evidence-based practice.  

Libertus ,K., Needham, A. (2011) Reaching experience increases face preference in 3-month-old-infants, Developmental Science, online, Sept. 9.