We all want our children to be able to verbally communicate with us clearly and easily, and it can be frustrating and worrying when they develop these skills later than other children. However, your child may be communicating using a different method (e.g., body language/gesture) or may just require some support to learn the most effective ways to get their message across.
The most important thing to remember when encouraging children to communicate is that we play a key role in accelerating or decelerating our children’s language development. It is therefore essential to positively reinforce all attempts to communicate.
From an early age, children communicate using non-verbal means such as gestures, body language and facial expressions. These skills are the precursors to verbal communication (talking!). When parents interpret and respond to this non-verbal communication, they teach their children the importance of communicative relationships which encourages children to begin to communicate their needs intentionally with others.
There are many ways that parents can create opportunities which encourage communication. Here are some top tips for creating a communication environment with your little one:
- Put things just out of reach – your child will need to communicate with you that he wants the item!
- Be ‘forgetful’ – your child will love helping you to remember a regular routine such as getting dressed
- Use pauses to your advantage – e.g., when singing a favourite song, pause before the last word in a line and prompt your child to fill in the gaps.
Here are some other strategies to encourage verbal communication:
- Imitate – playfully copy the noises and sounds your child is making – this promotes increased engagement and shows the child that their message can get to you
- Interpret what your child is saying/doing – make meaning from your child’s gestures/sounds (e.g., “down the slide!”)
- Comment and describe what your child is doing as they are playing – this models good language and vocabulary and is engagement and fun!
If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s communication development, please contact Southern Highlands Speech Pathology on 02 4862 5063 or via email at email@example.com.