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All of us have experienced it if we have toddlers and young kids in our lives. They wear that puzzled look on their faces. They want something and they don’t know what; we don’t what. They keep saying, “No, Mommy! That one.” “Which one, honey? The red one, the blue?” replies mom. Dad looks on; puzzled. With a frustrated face, the tot says “No Daddy, that one.”

Maybe they’re trying to identify something outside of the car window. Maybe they’re trying to describe a toy they encountered earlier but they can’t seem to name it or describe it.

When kids have moments where they just can’t find the words to name or describe, we’re all left scratching our heads.

That’s why, this week, speech is in the…mall.

Sure, it’s designed to sell you things you didn’t know you wanted. I don’t know; but the mall is also full of opportunities to model specific language on topics of letters, colors, numbers, logos/shapes, patterns, delicious eats and thanks to the schmanciness of Dallas malls: specific language related to huge art sculptures, sports cars, colorful plants and even live ducks and turtles.

Next time you’re in the mall, think about describing what you’re looking for as you shop aloud. That kind of casual language-modeling might just save you a raised eyebrow or two next time you’re offering up every object in the house as you try to decipher what ‘that one’ is on any given day.

Do your little ones get antsy like mine? Turn a mall visit into a game of eye spy. I like that the walking pace gives them time to investigate what their eyes see in a way that buzzing by interesting stuff on the highway just doesn’t. Plus, while they’re looking for the ‘striped round thing’ that Mommy spied, she has time to work out the math on 15% off in store retail price plus an additional $15 off your purchase of $40 that dad found on his couponing app.

You get the idea. Speech is in the mall.

(photo credit: nffcnnr Trio of sculptures at NorthPark Center, Dallas, TX 11/13/11 via photopin (license))

About K. Joi Uzoh, M.A., CCC-SLP

Joi is an ASHA licensed Speech-Language Pathologist and the Owner and Director of Speech and Language Services at ClearWay Speech and Language Center, a family-centered speech and language therapy private practice located in East Dallas. She has been helping families improve the communication skills of their loved ones since 2007 and especially enjoys working on language disorders, complex sound disorders, and stuttering in persons of all ages. Through individualized service and caregiver education, she helps families realize their communication goals.

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