Greetings are one of the first social routines that children learn (“bye bye!”); however, this is often one of the most difficult skills for children with language disorders to learn. This is difficult for our kids for many reasons including:
1. Increased social expectations: There is the social expectation of saying “hi/bye” and the social expectation of eye contact.
2. Unfamiliar people: Often when people say hello out in the community it is with someone your child does not know, making it even more difficult for them respond to greetings.
3. And much more.
Here are a few steps you can follow to help your child initiate and respond to greetings: “hi” and “bye”.
Step one: You will need a visual of “hi” and “bye”.
Step two: Most children with language disorders love music. So think of a fun “hello/goodbye” song that you can sing. If your child attends school they may use a “hello/goodbye” song, so ask their teacher if you need help.
Step three: Practice, practice, practice! You want to practice this over and over throughout your entire day within natural contexts: when Mom/Dad/siblings leave, when Mom/Dad/siblings return home, at the grocery store, at the park, at school, etc. The more your child is able to practice this skill the better.
Step four: How to elicit this language: Each time you want your child to say “hi” and “bye” do the following:
1. Point to the “hi/bye” card
2. Say “hi/bye”
3. Sing your “hi/bye” song
Remember that every child learns differently. Some children may begin to say “hi/bye” after a few days and some may take a few weeks. Here are two big tips: try not to say “say hi” or “say bye” or “what do you say” to cue your child. We want them to not only learn the greetings but we also want them to learn the social implications of greetings. In addition, don’t focus on their eye contact. Eye contact will come naturally with time.
Once your child begins to use “hi” and “bye” then you can work on them using names. Start with familiar names like “Mommy” and “Daddy”. Once they have that down, you can move to other names. When adding names you want to use the exact same method as above but you want to change the photo to your “hi Mommy” visual.
Have fun working on greetings with your child at home and out in the community while increasing their social communication!
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