At only 22 months old, my son,Shane, has taught me some valuable life lessons. The one, however, that sticks with me the most is he importance of having a voice. Surprisingly, this lesson can be learned in the most unlikely of places. For us, it is our playroom.
Our playroom is dedicated to him. Because we keep most of his toys and books in that room, we spend much of our time there. From the get-go, inside of simply going through the motions, I talked to him, narrating all my actions in the room: “Mommy is going to turn on the light.” “Mommy is going to turn on the music, so that you can listen to your CD as you play”. ”Ok, we are all done, let’s clean up and put away the toys.” “Now we have to turn off the light.”
As a baby, my words seemed just words. I didn’t know what effect i was having on him. However, now that he is putting small sentences together, I’m hearing that my words do effect him. When we spend time in the room, Shane now uses his own voice to narrate our actions: “Mommy and Shane turn on the lights.” “Mommy and Shane turn on the CD.” “Mommy and Shane put away the toys.” “Mommy and Shane, turn off the lights.” Even though, in the beginning those words seemed like just words when I was saying them, it turned out that Shane was really listening and taking everything in. He was making sense of it all-he was processing! What a very small but powerful voice he has! He is always reminding me to “turn off the lights” and “put the toys away”. Now, for the most part we leave the room better than we found it. And you too can take those small voices and apply them to your own lives. By using your voice, you make your kids feel included. By talking through the task, you enable them to feel more connected to the jobs you assign them. By talking to them, they learn from very early age what you are doing and why. You never know what they might be learning from you or better yet when they are listening to you. By using your voice, you are not only teaching them to perform important tasks like cleaning, but you are also giving them the skills of communication, which is powerful even if it seems small.