When I worked as a Child Development Specialist, I encountered many parents who needed help with their child’s speech development. Most of the children just needed a bit of help to take off in this area.
But before you implement these tips, it’s always a good idea to take your child to a pediatrician to make sure their ears are clear without infection and also, ask your doctor where you can take your child to get his hearing checked. Taking these precautions will give you a head start on finding the cause of your child’s speech delay.
Once you’ve had the physical ears checked, then you can feel confident that some of these tips will encourage healthy speech development.
1) Parents needed to slow down their rate of speech and shorten their sentences. This is frustrating to do, but really effective. Most of us aren’t aware of our rate of speech. We just speak. To a child who is having a bit of trouble with speaking, slowing down can help greatly. Also, be mindful of how you say things. Sometimes we overwhelm our child by saying, “Jackie, please come over here it’s time to go, so grab your shoes and jacket and let’s go!” Instead, try simply saying, “Jackie, time to go, shoes on!”
2) Using narration is a simple way to help your child with his speech development. During your normal daily routines, begin to narrate as if you were having your own talk show. If you are in the kitchen, then you may say, “I’m getting some eggs and cracking them. Oh this is going to be a tasty dinner.” Or for example, while bathing your child, name the part your washing, or better still, sing it. “I’m washing your arms now, washing your arms now, scrub scrub… feet, hair, etc.
Another good tip using narration is to narrate what your child is doing. If you see your child playing with cars, sit on the floor next to him and add some sound effects. Children usually love this and they will repeat things you say. If your child is playing with animals, make the animal noise and add a few words about the animal, such as “woof, woof!”; “where’s my bone?”.
3) If you’re child is speaking, but seems stuck using one word, make sure to add to what he already says. So, if he says, “cookie”, then you say, “yes, yummy cookie”. If he says juice, you say, “apple juice”. If he says, “outside”, you say, “go outside”. Adding descriptive words and verbs to his nouns will add to your child’s vocabulary without adding confusion.
4) Try to give your child time to ask and try not to speak for him. Many children with speech delay give up easily and begin to cry or whine for their needs and we parents give in. Next time, try waiting calmly and hold up two choices. If you know your child is hungry, hold up two choices, such as grapes and cheese. Say to your child, “would you like some grapes or cheese?” Wait to see if your child responds by pointing or saying the word. Either way, the child will be encouraged to ask rather than cry or whine and they will hear the words when you name their choices.
If you’ve applied some of these tips and both you and your child are frustrated, make sure to tell your pediatrician so that a formal assessment can be done. Then you will know what steps you need to take next.