Pragmatic and social skills development starts a long time before children actually say their first word and even before babbling begins. These pragmatic skills include eye contact, emotion recognition through tone of voice and facial expression and shifting of attention to faces and sounds. Simple games can be used to develop and enhance these skills early on, paving the way for speech in the near future.
Here are a few pragmatic activities commonly known as ‘People games’ because they require very little input of complicated toys and really just require face to face interaction. They can be played with your child in the cot, in the highchair or anywhere when you can be face to face.
This one is an old favourite for many parents and is a great game for a number of reasons. Not only do infants get very excited when you disappear and reappear within their view due to their lack of object permanence, it is excellent at building face-to-face interactions. It helps to improve eye contact, attention and gaze towards the face.
2. Playing with Tone
It is often best to use positive rising tones and reserve harsher more scolding tones only for when the child is misbehaving and other more serious situations. That way your child is able to distinguish and identify when they are doing something mischievous or dangerous. Being consistent in this area helps them understand different emotions and respond appropriately.
3. Recognising and turning to the sound source
Some children do not enjoy eye contact as much as others however it is still important that they learn how to locate and turn to the source of a sound. This can be modelled easily using a toy that makes some sort of sound. Start by doing some playful babble with the child then stop and slowly bring the toy into view away from your face. Make the toy produce sound as it comes into view and make a surprised face as you turn your gaze to the toy. The child should then follow your gaze toward the object making the noise. If not, slowly bring the toy towards your face until it is in their line of sight and once it has their attention move it further away from you again. Then lower the toy and repeat the process until they shrift their attention and gaze on their own.
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This article was written by our Speech Pathologist Ashleigh Fattah who is a Speech Pathology Australia member. If you have speech pathology related questions, make an appointment. We‘ll provide you with simple and effective therapy targeted to your concerns. Contact us today.