• Anna

What type of communicator is your child?

Updated: Jul 19, 2019

Have you ever taken a personality test? I have been riding the Enneagram train for a couple of years now and continue to be fascinated at how different types of people see the world and interact with others. Personally, I am a 9 - the Peacemaker. I'm generally easy-going, optimistic and like things to be calm and in order (which does not happen very often having 3 young children at home!) but I also tend to lean towards the 3 - the Achiever. I love a good to-do list and being productive is one of my favorite ways to spend my time.

What type are you??? (If you want to learn more, this is my favorite Enneagram book)

Children are no different...we all come into this world with unique strengths, weaknesses and ways of interacting in our environment. And if you have more than one child (or at least observe a group of children on the playground) its clear that no two children's personalities are exactly the same.

One of my favorite parts of being a pediatric speech-language pathologist is studying each client I work with. I love figuring out the puzzle that is the unique, individual child- what makes them light up, how do they respond to correction, what motivates them? The questions to these answers differ from child to child.

Not only do children have different personality types but they also have different COMMUNICATION STYLES. A child's communication style has a lot do with their personality, as well as their comfort level with a particular situation. Elaine Weitzman in the book, It Takes Two to Talk: A Practical Guide for Parents of Children with Language Delays outlines these different communication styles in children.

There are 4 major types of communication styles:

  1. Sociable

  2. Reluctant

  3. Passive

  4. Own Agenda

Sociable Communication Style: These kids often start interactions with others and enjoy communication and interacting with others. They are often the ones at the grocery store waving and smiling to all that pass. Little sociable communicators may not be able to use words, or may be hard to understand, but that won't stop them from trying.

Reluctant Communication Style: These children are much more likely to respond to others than actually initiate an interaction on their own. They are ones who need "warm up" time, especially if they do not know the person. Sometimes their communication messages may get lost or be hard to pick up because they are not outright in their attempts to communicate.

Passive Communication Style: These children rarely initiate an interaction or respond. It can be difficult to connect with them because they might not show a great interest in other people or objects. Children who are unwell or on certain medications that cause fatigue may have more of a passive style than they would otherwise. Some children with developmental delays may also show a passive communication style.

Own Agenda Communication Style: These are the children who like to play on their own and may seem to "tune out" others around them. They seldom initiate interactions with others, and when they do its usually because they have a need that needs to be met. They might play with a toy for a long period of time or have a shorter attention span, moving from one activity to the next. They have a hard time sharing play with others.

What kind of communication style do you think YOUR CHILD demonstrates?

Children who show a reluctant, passive or own agenda style often need extra support to get involved in interacting with others. But it is worth the effort to do so because the key to learning to talk is INTERACTION. Even our sociable kids can benefit from a parents efforts to interact more and make interactions more fun. As a professional, my job is to teach your child to talk through play and interaction. However, parents, in many ways, can contribute to a child's speech and language development just as much - if not more - than I can. You are the constant in their lives and can turn every day moments, i.e. getting dressed, taking a bath, snack time, playing, reading, errands, all of it - into developing communication skills that will propel them forward with learning and talking.

In my Talking Teddys class, we talk about the strategies parents can use with their kids, no matter the communication "style" they show, to develop their speech and language skills. Fall classes are open for registration! Click here to learn more!

Keep tuned to the blog because I'll be sharing more tips here as well!


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