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What is Intentional Communication and why is it important?

Intentional communication is using verbal language for a purpose. Children begin to use intentional communication when they are motivated. Importantly, children need to experience the gratification of cause and effect when they communicate.

For example, babies learn that when they coo or babble, their parents will respond with high pitched speech and maybe even a tickle. :)

For a toddler, verbalizing “ba” and then a parent/caregiver giving the child a ‘ball’ while saying “ball” will teach them that when they say “ba” they get a “ball”. Cool!

Another example would be a child at snack time, saying “open” for a snack they want to eat.

3 Tips to help encourage intentional communication

  1. Offer choices (would you like to put on the blue socks or the white socks?)

  2. Put things that your child wants out of your child’s reach, so they are motivated to request it.

  3. Respond to your child’s request to teach them language has a cause and effect.


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