As parents, it's natural to feel discouraged when your child is having difficulty speaking. I'm often asked, "what can we be doing at home?". Even a few adjustments to the way we interact verbally with children can produce great changes.
Here at Sound, we have come up with a quick list of tips and tricks to encourage talking and help you figure out what you could be doing at home to encourage language use.
o Follow your child's lead. Talk about what your child is looking at or pointing to, from books, to toys, or cars moving outside of the house. Allow your child to drive the interactions. Repeat his babbles back to him, ask questions, and interact with him.
o Short utterances: use 1-2 words when speaking with your child to ensure understanding and to allow him to absorb the information around him.
o Turn Taking. Repeat the babbles you hear back to your child, ask questions, and interact with him verbally.
o Reading: This is one of the best tools for developing language. Take a few minutes each day to sit down and read, allowing your child the opportunity to point to items on the page. You can label what he is looking at or pointing to in 1-2 word sentences, and talk about the items that peak his interest.
o Talk your way through the day: Narrate the day as it evolves – Name foods at the grocery store, explain what you are cooking, and identify objects around the house. Turn everyday activities into narrative activities, for instance, "Now we're going to take a bath. Can you feel the warm water on your belly? When we dry off, we'll get dressed and take a walk."
o Enjoy music together. Young children love music and movement. When they listen to lively songs, like "Old McDonald Had a Farm," they learn about the world around them and the rhythm of language.
o Vocal Use: Use “sing song” voice. Use words and phrases that have a variety of rhythms and pitches.
o Expand: Add to your child's words, creating short utterances. For example, if your child says “apple” you can pretend to take a bite and say “eat apple” or “yummy apple” allowing him to start mapping two word combinations together.
o Sabotage: Putting loved items or often requested foods on a high shelf but visible will encourage your child to request help. When they point and vocalize or whine for the object indicating their wants/needs, give them the word that they should be using instead (e.g. help, more, apple, baby, etc.).
o Latency: When modeling a word we want our young ones to say we often say it to them "mama", then say it again... and again... and again! Children can only do one thing at a time. They are either listening, or speaking. So try saying the word once, and counting to 5 before saying it again, giving them ample time to try the word out themselves!
o Don't say, "SAY...": Children are more perceptive than even realize. They are often able to tell when we are trying to get them to perform. So next time you're trying to get them to imitate, instead of saying, "Say apple", just say the word "apple" and don't forget to wait!
Follow these quick tips and let us know how it works! Feel free to reach out if you have any questions on what this looks like in practice!