Communication begins in the womb as a fetus remains in constant dialog with the surrounding environment. “Baby body talk includes various senses: responding to tastes and odors by abrupt behavior changes reflecting pleasure or displeasure; reacting against strong light, noise, pressure, or pain by gestures of defense or escape; and reacting to different types of music by either wild kicking or by calming down to listen or rest. We should not argue with baby body language!”
An infant communicates by crying or smiling to state his/her needs and as caregivers respond to these behaviors the infant learns the rule of cause and effect in the physical world outside of the womb. And so communication patterns are set; infant cries could mean a discomfort of some sort; infant smiling could mean pleasure.
Often times, toddlers will cry, whine, point, or grunt to indicate their needs and parents/care givers will provide the toddler with his/her needs to stop the “negative” behaviors (mentioned above). To replace previous “communication intents” with “verbal communication,” positively reinforce the child by saying: “use your words, I don’t understand what you want” and then model the verbal cues so your toddler can imitate after you. Depending on your child’s communication level, you may prob him/her for just the consonant (ie. /b/ for “ball”) or one word (ie. ball) or 2-words (ie. ball please). Keep in mind this will not happen over night and your child will need many repetitions to begin modeling.
We teach our children the rules of “cause and effect” almost every day by our interactions without realizing; even in the games we play with them such as “peek-a-boo.” Below are some suggestions for fun toys to buy them to teach “cause and effect” and they can be purchased through amazon.com.