You guys. Hank is driving me nuts. Like insane. Every time I ask him a question or give him a direction, he says “What?” And it isn’t big stuff. I am not instructing him to ask Siri for a number to the local dry cleaner. It is stuff like “Throw it away.” “What?” “Throw that away.” “What?” “Hank, throw it away.” “What?” And then he throws it away. Every. Single. Time.
John tried reversing it on him. Hank would ask John to do something and John would say “What?” I shut that down within minutes. Probably more like seconds. Because nothing validates a behavior like seeing your dad do it. And also, I can only handle one person in my home pulling these shenanigans.
So, I had to take off my mom pants and put on my therapist pants. It is a strangely hard thing to do in your own home. The mom pants are comfortable and stretchy and the therapist pants have a zipper and a button. Nobody wants to wear these pants in their own home.
Anyways, once the therapist arrived, I realized what was going on. Hank was processing. Which is great because it is a developmental stage he needs go through. But even at that, it is super annoying. What does it mean that he is “processing?” Oh, good, I was hoping you would ask.
You know when you are watching TV and your husband walks in and says “Did you remember to call my mom about next Sunday?” And you say “What?…..*3 second pause*….Oh yeah I did and that should work.” You know exactly what I am talking about, don’t you? Sometimes you need a minute to figure out what is being asked of you. And since Hank is three, and his language skills are at a crucial stage in development, he needs a few extra moments to figure out what is being asked of him.
I needed to allow him time to process before asking him 17 more times. When I repeated the same question or command, I was interrupting his thoughts and forcing him to start processing all over again. And as annoying as it was to me, think about how frustrating that probably was for him.
Instead of asking him 82 times, I need to ask him once. And then give him the time he needs for his little growing brain to figure out what I am saying. Even if he asks “What?” I need to sit and quietly wait until he acts on what I have asked of him. (And if you know me, sitting and waiting quietly isn’t really my thing.)
This isn’t just a thing for toddlers. This is a thing for all kids. Especially for kiddos who have speech or language delays. So, ask your kiddo once. Let them have the time they need to really figure it out on their own. And if they need a little clarification after a few minutes, go ahead and give it them. Even if it is annoying for a little while, we are helping create good problem solvers in the long run.
And before this blog post is over, I would like to thank the ladies of The Sampson House for offering me a haven in their studio. I needed to get out of my house people. I sat quietly, drank coffee, and wrote. No one once spilled their juice, showed me what they picked from their nose, or asked me to help with the potty. It was bliss. These ladies forever have a special place in my heart.