04: The Development of Language

04: The Development of Language

We are joined this week by behavior analyst, Sydnie Brinkerhoff. She is a world traveler, fellow book-lover and heart-warming optimist. Children of all ages adore her, which comes in very handy in her professional world. She has degrees in Communications and Special Education, emphasizing in Verbal Behavior. If you aren’t sure what most of that means, you are in good company! We weren’t quite sure about it all ourselves, which is why we asked Sydnie to come chat with and help us out!

In this episode we talk about:

1. What verbal behavior even is! A short and sweet definition is that verbal behavior is different forms of communication. Sounds, gestures, sign language, words, etc.

2. Verbal behavior is separated into six different categories, or verbal operants. Sydnie breaks down exactly what those six operants are and gives examples of them.

3. While most kids will learn how to communicate just fine without us as parents and caregivers understanding what these operants are, understanding them will give us the power to help our children in a new way. “In typically developing children these different operants will develop on their own. They don’t need any extra work, you don’t have to understand [it] for these operants to develop. …But if you do understand it you can be a big help.” 

4. Books are a great way to put this knowledge to work! You can identify which operants you want to work on with your child and use both the text and pictures (Sydnie gives us permission to go off-text and not just read the story, gasp!) to focus on those operants.

5. Knowing the different operants and when they start to develop in a typical child can also help you read to kids of all ages- especially newborns and small babies, which many people wonder about. You want to start the habit of reading to them as early as possible, but how do you read to a baby who does not understand the story? You can look at which operant the baby is developing then and use the book to emphasize it!

6. Sydnie created a chart for all of us to use (shout out to all our fellow visual learners!) that identifies the six operants, what they are, an example of them, as well as an example of how to use them when reading a book with a child. It is available to download for all who subscribe on our website! 

Sydnie left us with a great idea of how to get started on putting these great ideas into practice this week. She invited us to remember that environment has a huge effect on children’s development of language and we all have the power to help grow their language, even with something as simple as reading a book with them. So, everyone, go use your power this week! 

We are so grateful to Sydnie for taking the time to talk with us! More information about verbal behavior can be found in the following places:

Websites: Carbonne clinic http://carboneclinic.com

Books we mentioned:

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