Research shows that reading aloud and talking with your child helps build vocabulary and enhance intellectual development.  A parent’s quality play interaction can have the same effect.  How does one use speech to enhance their child’s play?  Try this technique and embrace your inner Howard Cosell but maybe take it down a notch!

When your toddler is engaged in play such as taking care of baby or pushing their trains down the tracks, gently narrate the actions and behaviors you see without judgement.  To expand vocabulary, throw in a few big words followed  by a brief definition.  Here’s an example:

“The little blue train is slowing down so it can try and cross the immense bridge.  The bridge is so immense and big!  Will the choo choo make it across?”

Parents can also identify feeling words as the child plays in order to help the child build emotional intelligence.  If a child can understand and label how they truly feel, they will be less likely to show parents by acting up.  See below!

The choo choo train might be feeling a little scared to go over such an immense bridge!  Will the train be brave and face those scary feelings?”

Naturally, a parent will need to read the play situation and make comments that are appropriate to the child’s play and interests.    

And if your child tells you to be quiet, listen!