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  • Writer's pictureKate Coyne

The Power of "More"

When your baby starts to communicate with you it's so exciting! They can finally share with you some of the things they are understanding. First words are typically nouns such as , "mama", "dada" "ball". My daughter's first word was "da" for dog. Interesting because we don't have a dog, but she was so excited to let us know every time she heard a dog bark or saw a dog walking by.

I was thrilled with her new found ability. Her comments served as a tool to tell me something she could see or hear. She could point and say "shoe", "bird", "dog". I could respond back to her. "Yes, "mommy is putting on shoes" or "yes I see the bird." We were having a real conversation. However, her new found words labeled items I was already aware of. What about the things that I was unaware of? What words could she use to tell me what she needed that I was not aware of? Enter the power of the word "more". This may sound strange to you but the word "more" is a very powerful word. Think about it for just a moment. What do babies/toddlers like to do after then learn a new skill, see something for the first time? They like to do it more! Once your little one comprehends the meaning of the word "more" they can learn to use it to request more of almost anything that they may need or want. They can request more kisses, more food/drink, more silly play with mommy and daddy, more bubbles, etc. The possibilities seem endless, as long as you reinforce it. A key factor in teaching this skill, like any skill, is that you must provide the reinforcement immediately following their use of the sign/approximation/word.

How to teach the "more" so that your child can use it to communicate with you!

First you want to choose an activity that is highly motivating for your child. (I often start teaching during snack time because you can give a small amount of a food (like a few raisins) then wait as they look for you to give them more. Once they look to you say "More? You want more?" They may nod their head yes or just scream but your job is to again model the word "more" while signing it and hand it over (reinforce) right away. I like to sign more and say “more” at the same time. Remember to say the food item after the word "more" to expand the phrase and increase vocabulary!⁠

Next, you can try to target signing/saying "MORE" while playing with a toy that has multiple pieces or opportunities...such as, a puzzle, play coins in the toy piggy bank, or different shapes into the shape box. you must be the keeper of the pieces! Give your child one piece and use the remaining pieces as the reinforcer to teach "MORE"!⁠

I started this when my daughter was around 8 months old. She loved to eat (highly motivating) so I only put a few pieces of food on her high chair tray. When she had finished I would ask her, “Do you want MORE food?” I emphasized the word “more” (while also signing it). I repeated this several times during the snack or meal so she was hearing the word “MORE” and the food item again and again in context. After doing this for a few weeks she started signing independently to request “more” and approximating/saying "more" at 13 months. ⁠It takes time, but your consistency and persistence will pay off! Give this a try, I truly believe it will increase your little ones communication and decrease tantrums.

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