Updated: Jun 12, 2020
Whatcha doing ??? I get asked this a hundred times a day.... by my wee woman ( 2 years old) And I love it ! I see it as a wonderful opportunity to embrace her natural curiosity and encourage her desire to speak up and say whats on her mind! My wee one is actively seeking out knowledge in her world. She is taking an active part in her surroundings. She is not only making the right sounds now for communication and forming words, but she is trying to start a conversation! Right now she is a sponge, she wants to know what everyone is doing. And will ask any one in sight ... brothers, father, postman, boots counter lady who was very nice and answered her best she could
When she asks me 'what are you doing?' in what is the sweetest little voice. I try to , answer truthfully on a level she will understand. I say 'what am I doing... and insert activity , this morning it was 'Im eating my porridge ,'
This example of our typical morning exchange is wonderful on so many levels.
-I am helping her to understand that she can speak up and get heard.
- I repeating her question back to her in my answer to reiterate that she said it right and I understood her.
- Im answering her question, encouraging her to ask more if she isn't satisfied .. Which inevitable she will and it will be a never ending flow of questions and why ?
- I am showing her my bowl with its contents to assure her she got the right words and she can now positively link that sound with this item of food.
Secondly , I ask her the question back, inviting her into the conversation , allowing her to tell me about her food or what ever it is she has asked me about. The subjects, situations and topics are endless for this. I have and will be asked a multitude of questions over my years in dealings with wee ones. Some weird and wonderful, some a learning moment and some just plain silly, but I answered them anyway. In returning the questions , I am engaging her to link words to her items. If she gets stuck , I ask an answered question . 'what are you doing, are you eating your porridge too?' This way she is learning say , see, hear and taste the question. Which makes vital connections in her brain for the next time it comes up. She can now remember the word and taste of porridge in her mind. So even when asked about porridge when none is around , she will link these senses to help her recall and repeat. Like a mental description.
I am making a mental note myself to try to be available and honest in my approach to her inquisition ( feels like at times ) as how else is she to learn about the world and my expectations for her to function in it. (For me, manners etc ) I realised very early on in my career as a nanny , the perverted power we have with kids and how easy it would be to essentially mess with them. Disclaimer, I didn't do it but saw how , the complete trust they have in us and how we must do right by that could be easy to manipulate for innocent fun . What I mean is how , we could tell them anything ! We really could, we could say the colours the wrong way round, up is down and down is up. They are just words / sounds that we assign to objects and actions etc . So I take very seriously that I give my wee one ( s) the correct information and the most helpful in what ever situation I am asked the question. This is especially important in teaching them about morals and values. Something that is so important these days. To teach them right from wrong and love for everyone. Children learn judgements from us, the way we speak about and to others. They learn ‘ ism’s’ from us and our conduct. We can remove racism. Sexism. You name it in just our language to the next generation.
The next thing I try to do when they are seeking me out, is acknowledge them asking me something, even if its just a moments eye contact or I reach out to touch them to say physically , I heard you but I cant react right now to you . I might be in conversation or busy with something. But I will get to them as soon as possible. I feel this teaches them to find an opening in conversation, to not expect to be pandered too instantly. To wait a turn , etc. The waiting time depends on age of course, but is a good skill for them to master, starting young. People aren't going to drop everything every time just because they want you too . Once I can give them my attention , even if its sometimes not my full attention. I like to get down on their level or bring them up to mine. I spend a lot of time squatting down or her up onto bench so we can speak face to face. It's a wonderful visual clue for their confidence that you are listening if they are able to look at you and you them. Good skill in life to show you're paying attention and understanding if you have eye contact. Although my teens seem to have forgotten this skill !
For her age she is able to watch my mouth say the words , which I find helps for her to learn how to say things. Its all very cute for a bit when they don't say words right but as I stated it is up to us to correct them so they pronounce words for others to understand too. I get her to watch me, I put my finger to my lips and show her tongue placements , etc. If we show them what we need to understand, it helps them to actively participate in their wants and needs. It can help to take the guess works out of some of their thoughts. I have found with two sided communication it reduces tantrums. It won't elevate wobbles all together just gives everyone a platform to be heard better. Also in letting her ask and answer a question , I have found that she feels more involved in the process what ever it might be, by choosing her cereal in the morning to her clothes etc. She feels more in control ( with in my boundaries ) of her world. Can we do this today? .. etc. Sometimes the answer will be yes , sometimes no. But now I feel like I can talk to her about the day verses her just following along and having no part on her own activities. We both now have a verbal platform of common words to indicate expectations of each other. Fancy way of saying , I can tell her what happening so she can learn more words for her to tell me what she wants to happen.
You will be questioned in every way , every day , every where. But I try to see it all as a learning platform, especially as my wee one is nearing potty training age and I will only entertain the idea of moving forward with it , when her language skills are up to it. So right now while she maintains a presence in the bathroom with me, I'm going to use the opportunity of the queries to get her up to speed and mentally ready to move to the next phase of no more nappies !! This can be adapted to what ever situation you and your toddler find yourselves in.
This is a wonderful phase, trust me. We have all worked so hard together helping them to form sounds and link them to objects , people, situations. To nurturing their curiosity, questioning so that they can learn . We go from talking at them, to taking to them and soon with them. The reward of finally hearing their voices in every way is worth it. Yes, it leads to incessant questions and in the future boundary pushing and sometimes battle of wills. But I for one am looking forward to hearing what she wants to say about it all.