By Vanessa Dominguez
Will your toddler bring you a toy if you ask for it by name? Does he ask for things by pointing? These are signs he is ready to play the name your body part game. There are several fun ways you can teach him the names and location of his body parts. Learning can be quick, fun, and an anatomy lesson all in one.
Start off with something easy such as the nose. Point to your own and then his. You can say “Mommy’s nose” when you point to yours and “your nose” when you point to his. He will soon find this amusing. If you exaggerate your voice he will learn faster as he will view your talking and pointing as a game that ignites his curiosity. Do this a couple times a day, then every other day, and finally every day for a week.
You can then ask “Where is mommy’s nose?” Once he’s familiar with your nose, ask “Where’s your nose?” When he points to either nose, celebrate. Clap, cheer, say “good job” or “way to go.” The more you use positive reinforcement, the more likely he is to enjoy learning.
Bath time is a great time to identify body parts as you wash them. He will pay close attention if you make a song out of it. Say the part as you wash or announce what part you will be washing next so he can anticipate what you’re about to do. For example, you can start with his hand and say, “Mommy is washing your hand” then you can announce that you bill be washing his arm next. You can do the same after bath time, when you are applying lotion with the same name game.
There are several games you can create as you go, remember this is new to him and he doesn’t have any game rules except that they are fun. “Head, shoulders, knees and toes” and “Hockey-Pokey” are great songs/games that involve naming your body parts. You can also make up your own such as taking his favorite stuffed animal and saying “Mr. Bear or (name of animal)” is going to hug your…..” so if you were to say “Mr. Bear is going to hug your arm,” then have the bear hug his arm. You can also play the sticker game. As we all know, toddlers love stickers, be careful that he doesn’t put them in his mouth when playing. You can say “I’m going to put a sticker on your (body part).” He will love watching where the sticker goes and as he learns you can ask him to take the sticker off and place it on another body part. All of these games can be modified as your toddler learns and becomes more advanced.
You are always reinforcing learning when you ask questions. Also, these games can serve as a great distraction, when needed. If he is a little fussy ask him “where’s your nose?” This will distract him and reinforce what you’ve already taught him.
Remember, every baby is different and will learn at his own pace. If he learns where his nose is in three days he’s a fast learner. If it takes him a couple weeks before he gets the hang of it, be patient. He will get the hang of it eventually. The key is to have fun while learning and encouraging.