Today, I want to talk about why pausing with your young child is one of my single most powerful tools in parenting and in my role as a pediatric speech-language pathologist. There are many reasons why pausing during any conversation can be useful… first, we pause to highlight grammatical structures - to mark the end of a sentence, or a shift to a new idea. We pause for social reasons – to build anticipation, to clarify that we have expectations, or to emphasize a point we’re trying to make.
Pausing is also a useful strategy for us as parents and caregivers to allow our young children to process what we’ve said. We know that infants and toddlers are often processing multiple pieces of information (what they hear, what they see, what they’re touching, the way their bodies feel in motion) simultaneously – it’s no wonder that it often takes our little ones more time to attend to what we’ve said or asked of them.
And finally, using a pause as a strategy to entice your little one to communicate can be very useful. Think about phrases that you use all the time – we all use them – those you just automatically know the way to finish them. For grown-ups, these are often successful advertising slogans like, “Just do ___”, or familiar idioms “When it rains, it ___.” These are unmistakably obvious to the majority of us, because we’ve heard them over and over again – they’re simply phrases that our brains automatically fill in.