How can I help my daughter learn to communicate what she needs or wants?

One way to help your daughter communicate what she needs and wants is through sign language. Teaching her a few simple signs may make it easier for her to communicate with you and begin to see herself as a good communicator. As she becomes more confident, she may also try to use her words to communicate. There are many great books on baby signs (e.g., Baby Signs by Linda Acredolo and Susan Goodwyn), and many hospitals and baby centers offer classes on how to sign. It is also important that when you ask your daughter a question, you give her time to respond. As parents, we sometimes forget that young children may need more time to respond to our questions. Lastly, research suggests that one of the best ways to help your child’s language skills is to narrate your daily activities. So describe what you are doing and point and label everyday objects and actions. Narrating your day will expose your daughter to new vocabulary and teach her that words are used to communicate needs, ideas and desires.

Jennie Ito, Ph.D.

Child Development Expert

Jennie Ito is a mother of two and a child development consultant who specializes in children’s play and toys. Before becoming a consultant for LeapFrog, she was an intern at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, and later worked as a content expert for the Association of Children’s Museum’s “Playing for Keeps” Play Initiative. Jennie earned her doctorate degree in developmental psychology at Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada.