“Great works are performed not by strength but by perseverance.” Samuel Johnson
I just got done doing some rhyming words with my 7 year old. That may sound like a simple thing for most 7 year olds, but here’s the deal- I’m so stinkin’ proud of her for doing so good with her pronunciation because some “slips,” or tongue movements, have been so difficult for her.
But before I dive into that, here’s a bit of her story-
Amari has always been the huggiest, friendliest kiddo you could ever meet. Even as a tiny newborn, she had a way of laying HARD against you. I have no idea how she did it, but it was like she was trying to get inside you to cuddle. She still wants to be hugged and held first thing in the morning. As a baby and toddler, she had a huge grin for anyone who halfway paid any attention to her, and after she was mobile, she ran up to anyone, including strangers, to give them hugs. One of my elderly friends once chided me about letting her love on everyone. “What if she loves on the wrong person?” I understood her anxiety; I had my own at times. But I always stayed close and told her she couldn’t run off unless Daddy or I was with her. (She STILL runs up to people to hug them, and as a gangly 7 year old, it’s not a great habit anymore. She has the ability to knock over someone who isn’t paying attention. Not so cool. We’re working on that. ) There are people who will come to her asking for their hug. It’s established. She gives stellar hugs! 🙂
She won’t miss a party and would rather hang out and goof off than get anything done. She is ornery and loves to do anything that she thinks will get people to laugh. She’s quite a clown!
So this is what my lil Sweet Pea is like in personality-she doesn’t know a stranger, and she’s a friend to anyone!
But there’s been something that has at times held her back. She has had trouble with pronouncing all her sounds correctly, and while I’ve never had her diagnosed, I’ve done research and gotten tips to help her learn to do the tongue exercises that will help her with her speech. Sometimes it felt absolutely pointless to try to work with her, because she turned half of the exercises into jokes or opportunities to clown around and make me laugh. At times I doubt myself and think that I should just enroll her in a speech class, but then someone will comment on how she is doing so much better since they last talked with her. Those observers have no idea how encouraging they have been!!
The last few months, though, I feel like she has turned a corner with her speech. Some of the sounds that seemed impossible for her are (at least most times) coming out of her mouth correctly! And she will say a word incorrectly, stop, start over, and correct herself! Even when she’s reading books out loud to herself, I hear her correcting words she isn’t saying correctly.
I’m so stinkin’ proud of her! Her persistence and patience with trying to mimic what I’m doing with my tongue when it has been so difficult for her to understand and learn to do the same with hers is hugely encouraging to me! Back to the rhyming words-there was one word that had two back-to-back difficult sounds for her. She took her time and nailed that word!!!
Two things I’ve learned from this part of her journey-
- It really is OK when our children aren’t on the “normal” schedule that most children are in an area of development. They need us to encourage them as they push through the tough stuff . They need us to be their biggest cheerleader!
- They absolutely know when their struggle bothers us, and we aren’t OK with their “failing.” Being critical doesn’t help; becoming frustrated doesn’t help. Loving them just the way they are but encouraging and helping them as they learn is the biggest deal in this!
Is her speech perfect? Not yet. Does she still have a long way to go until every word just rolls off her tongue? Probably. But the progress I’ve seen and her determination to make that word come out correctly is amazing.
And, oh, I’ve been learning a few things about perseverance from that little clown.
Do you have experience with children not being on the “normal” schedule of development? What have you learned? How have you been encouraged by it?