In the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day and tricky little leprechauns, using sabotage can be a valuable strategy when expanding your child’s expressive language skills. Here are some tips and tricks for using sabotage at home with your little ones. 

What is sabotage?

We find that Dave Sindrey from Listening for Littles says it best…

“Imagine an island where everything you ever needed was given to you before you even thought to ask. If you spilled something, a servant would rush in and clean it up and give your hands a quick wipe as well. Your staff would be trained and adept at anticipating your every need. You would rarely find the need to even speak to them.

“As parents our strongest drive is to care for our children and to meet their needs. When we do this too well we rob our children of the chance to try, to fail, to succeed, and to learn. Sit on your hands. Wait. Stop anticipating your child’s needs. Play dumb. Give your child time to think about how he is going to make his needs known. Each word your child speaks is precious. Give lots of opportunities for this to happen.”

Looking for easy ways to try this at home? Here are some of our favorites:

Mealtime sabotage

  • Forget to give your child a spoon to eat her cereal. Wait and see how they communicate this need to you.
  • Give your child just one piece of a food item that they love. See if they will ask you for more.

Playtime sabotage

  • During play, say silly things and see if your child catches the discrepancies. Such as, when playing with animals… “Here’s my cow. He has spots, he says ‘quack, quack’.”
  • Try ‘searching’ for an item that is within your child’s sight. Ask them in a silly tone, “Where is it!? Where did it go?”.

Routine sabotage

  • Hand your child something (a toy, a snack, a container of any kind) that needs to be opened. Don’t open it for them. Wait and see how they communicate with you that they need your help.
  • Give your child an empty container (milk, toothpaste, water bottle) that is typically full. Watch to see how your child indicates that this is not correct!

Looking for more resources? Here’s an article from Hearing First called Sabotage, Silliness and Trickery

Leprechaun Tricks

For a fun morning on St. Patrick’s Day, use these tricks with your child to find and talk about what the leprechaun switched around the home! You can also read a leprechaun book to help prepare your child for the St. Patrick’s Day.

Ten Lucky Leprechauns