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Top Tips! How to support your child’s communication at home.

April 17, 2020
Top Tips! How to support your child’s communication at home.

You can help your child while you are at home, even while you are waiting for your first appointment to see a Speech Pathologist. 

Here are some powerful things you can do:

  • Accept your child’s communication attempts rather than putting pressure on them to say words. Watch what they are looking at, their facial expression, body movements, pointing, reaching and whatever sounds they make to work out what they are telling you. For example, if you see your child reaching for a biscuit and they are making an “uh uh” uh sound you can guess they want a biscuit and say “You want a biscuit?”
  • Show your child what you are talking about, for example holding up a banana and pointing to it and saying “mmm banana”. This helps your child understand the meaning of words.
  • Try to match your words and the way you say them with what your child is doing and the way your child is feeling. For example, when you see a sad little face and a broken toy car, you say in a sad voice “Oh… the car is broken”.
  • Play copy cat games with your baby or toddler. Listen carefully to the sounds they make and look carefully at the facial expressions and body actions they use. Copy these sounds, facial expressions and actions for the same length of turn that your child had. Imitating or copying your child is the best way for them to learn to imitate or copy you.
  • Get face to face with your child. This means placing your own face at the same level as your child so that they can easily look at you and learn from your face, eyes and mouth. 
  • Follow your child’s interests. You may decide that you are doing a puzzle with your child but they might wander to the blocks. Your child will listen to you more and communicate with you more if you play what they are interested in at that time, for example, “It’s the blocks today!” 
  • Speak slowly to your child. Adults speak at more than twice the rate that children speak and some children feel pressured to keep up. Slowing down your speech gives your child more time to have their turn. Children are also much slower than adults to process what other people say. Slower adult speech gives them longer to understand what you say. 
  • Stress words and sounds in your speech. Stressing words and sounds means saying them a bit louder and emphasizing them. This helps your child to focus on certain words for the sounds and meaning. For example, “Look at that cat.”  
  • Keep sentences short. Pause for a second between sentences or after about 5 words. For example “We are going to Nona’s  .. PAUSE.. You can dig in her garden”. Children can remember a few words at a time.  Long sentences and lots of talking can sound like ‘BLAH, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH BLAH’ to them.
  • Talk to you child away from background noise. Children have difficulty picking out your voice from background noises such as the T.V or the vacuum cleaner.
  • Give your child choices. For example, hold up two things and saying, “Do you want a mandarin or an apple?”, “Do you want to play with the ball or the blocks?”. When starting with choices, offer the one you know your child will probably want as the last choice.
  • Keep your interactions playful so there is no pressure to repeat words or answer with words. For some children requests for repetition of words or to answer questions in words can be detrimental to them. A Speech Pathologist will know which children are not helped by these requests. If children are having fun they will usually use words if they are able to. If they are not using words while they are having fun then they may not be able to yet.
  • Use lots of sounds in your play. For example, “ooo” when a surprise is coming, “uh oh” when something falls, “oops” if too much is tipped out, “brrm” for a car and make animal noises like “moo” or “bahh”. Children who are not ready to talk often delight in making these sounds in play with you.
  • Help your child join in your everyday household activities like the washing and shopping. Children need to be involved in these real life experiences to ‘pretend play’ them. This pretend play is an important part of language and intellectual development.

TO FIND A SPEECH PATHOLOGIST:

Contact us…
T: 03 9890 1062
E: info@melbournechilddevelopment.com.au
W: www.melbournechilddevelopment.com.au

At Melbourne Child Development we are delighted to advise that we have the capacity to conduct a wide range of sessions using Telehealth. There are a variety of reasons why that might be desirable, beneficial or advisable.
Distance is no barrier, and we welcome clients from regional Victoria as well as interstate.

www.speechpathologyaustralia.org.au

www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au

Ask your Maternal and Child Health Nurse

Ask your GP or Paediatrician

The information contained in this article is general information and is not intended to be used as a substitute for obtaining professional Speech Pathology advice which will be based on the circumstances of each individual child and family.