Do Not Do ThisBossy Adult: You try it (pointing at a toy)
Child: (ignores adult)
Bossy Adult: Your turn (picks up toy and hands the toy to child)
Child: (takes toy but does not know what to do with it )
Bossy Adult: Takes the toy out of the child's hands and operates it then hands it back to child.
Child: takes toy and looks at it but still does not know what to do with it
Testing Adult: More? (Adult wants the child to say "more" in order to get adult to operate the toy again)
Child: ignores adult
Testing Adult: Say "more"
Child: Ignores adult
Testing Adult: Is it fun?
Child: Ignores adult (but if the child could he or she might say "No, this is not fun! Not even a little bit fun! I don't even know what to do with that dumb toy!")
Bossy Adult: Give it to me
Child: hands toy to adult
Testing Adult: Say "help me"
Child: ignores adult because the adult has not sold the child on the idea that playing with this toy is fun and the child does not actually want help.
Testing Adult: It is not wound up? Can you wind it up?
Child: Does not respond but looks at the toy again
Bossy Adult: You wind it up.
Child: Wanders off
Video tape yourself playing with your child and I know that some of you will find, to your horror, that this is exactly how you "play" with your child. When you are teaching a child to play or teaching a child to communicate using play, you have to play. It is a skill you had at one time and can get back. If you don't play with the toy, why should the child play with the toy? How will the child know what to do with the toy? There was nobody leading this not-so-theoretical child into play. What the adult needed to do was start to play by first showing curiosity, about the toy. The adult needed to look at that toy like a child would and let the toy be an inspiration for exploration and playfulness. The adult could have made this toy an inspiration for social interaction, play and language by focusing on play, playing, and then inviting the child into the play.
Adult: Look at this
Adult: Let's see what it does.
Adult: Cool! I like it. (adult needs to actually look excited about the toy and focus attention toward the toy not toward the child) Turn, turn, turn--wind it up!
Adult: Wow! Your turn. (offers toy to child)
Child: Takes toy from adult but does not know how to operate it
Adult: That's tricky. I'll help. Give it to me. Turn, turn, turn!
Adult: turn, turn, turn (grin at child because repeating words is fun)
Adult: Here you do it, it's ready! (hands toy to child)
Child: Releases the toy so it will fly across the table
Adult: Wow! That is so cool. Let's do more!
Adult: Yep! We will do more. I will wind it, you let it go. Turn, turn, turn....