My child doesn’t talk?
Here are three tips
Does your child find it difficult to communicate and express himself/herself? Do you feel that there’s a difference between how they talk and their peers? Or maybe his/her teachers told you they’re concerned about his/her language?
In this article, I’ll give you some tips to help you support your child in expressing themselves easily and clearly.
As already mentioned here, we can divide language into two sub-categories: receptive language (understanding) and expressive language (use).
Language expression, the ability to use words and phrases to communicate our interests or needs, is influenced by a multitude of factors, the most important of which is receptive language (the ability to understand language).
In order for a person to be able to express a certain concept, it is necessary that they understand and learn it. If you want advice to improve your child’s receptive language, read this article (link to previous article).
But if your child understands everything, or you are already working on understanding, how can you support them in saying more words?
There are some simple techniques that help children improve their expressive language.
Here are some of them:
Give them time to respond
Talking a lot with your child is very important to introduce them to an environment rich in stimuli. Repeating the same words multiple times, in fact, helps the child understand and learn them.
But we must keep in mind that communication is a turn-based game, i.e. the sender (A) sends a message that the receiver (B) receives and understands, and eventually the roles are exchanged: B elaborates on a reply and becomes the sender, and A becomes the receiver.
If, on the other hand, we do all the talking and do not give our child time to answer, the roles become fixed (parent: sender and child: recipient) and the child will not have the opportunity to practise saying the new words they have learned by listening to us.
When you say something to your child, be it a comment or a question, wait at least 5 seconds for your child to take his communication turn. These seconds of waiting will allow him to understand the question, elaborate on an answer and express it.
Here is an example:
Parent: Uh look, a little doggy. That’s a small dog, ours is big. How does the dog go? .. Woof-woof! Here he goes, bye dog!
Parent: Uh look, a little doggy! (waits)
Child: … Doggy!
P: That’s a small dog, ours is big (waits)
C: Signs “big”
P: How does the dog go? (waits)
P: Yeah, woof-woof! Here he goes, bye dog! (waits)
C: Bye bye
Don’t anticipate their requests
From the first moments, parents are used to understanding what their child needs from the type of cry, facial expressions, movements, and time of day.
In a short time, the parent develops this sixth sense so much that he/she anticipates the child’s needs (that is almost a superpower!).
Although this denotes a special connection between parent and child, unfortunately there is also a disadvantage: by anticipating our child’s requests, we are taking away an opportunity for them to communicate.
If you know that your child usually has a snack just after they come home from school, try to wait a bit before giving them the snack and see if they ask for it.
Or, if you see that your child wants to play with Legos and is having difficulty opening the box, wait a moment to see if they will call you and ask for help.
What do I mean by “asking”?
By “asking,” I don’t just mean using words to make a request.
The child can make a request in various ways, all of which are communicatively effective:
- Taking you by the hand and leading you to the object he wants;
- Pointing with their finger or hand to what they want;
- Communicate with their eyes what they need (perhaps looking at you first, and then to the desired object).
Ask open-ended questions
Questions are a fundamental tool for stimulating our children’s conversation and language skills.
However, there are different types of questions, two of which are called “closed-ended” and “open-ended.”
Closed-ended questions are questions that can only be answered with “Yes” or “No” (for example, “Did you play in the park today?”).
Open-ended questions, on the other hand, do not allow the receiver to answer only with a “yes” or “no.” Therefore, they support the elaboration of longer and more elaborate answers and consequently support language (for example, “Who did you play with today?” or “Where did you play today?”).
By choosing to ask open-ended questions, you give your child the opportunity to come up with more complex answers than a simple “Yes” or “No”, helping him to improve his language.
These are a few tips that will allow you to support your baby’s language. However, each child is unique, and may need more focused exercises.
Let me know if these tips were helpful to you, and contact me here for more information!