Encouraging Language

Is your little one hesitant to talk or communicate?  Here are a few of my favourite “tips” for eliciting language.

Communicative Temptations

Communicative temptations can be used to help young children to begin to communicate or to communicate more.  They are designed to increase the child’s desire to communicate, and are a method to show a child that communication is a powerful way to express one’s wants and needs.  One way to provide a communicative temptation is to give your child a little bit of what they want, withholding the remainder until the express that they would like it.  For example, if your child wants Goldfish crackers, give them one or two.  When they look to you for more, you can say to them “Do you want more?  More?”, requesting that your child indicate that they would like more, whether it be verbally, by sign, or with a gesture (e.g., “pointing”).  Another way to encourage communication is to “forget” things, like a spoon at mealtime.

Repeating Back & Expanding

Use your child’s language to build a more complex sentence that you can model for them.  For example, if your child pointed at a toy car and requested it by saying “car”, you could model back “I want car” or “want red car”.  Try to keep utterances short and to the point.  Allow some wait time, in case your little one has picked up and is going to try to say it themselves.  How much time should you wait?  I usually recommend counting to between three and five seconds.  It seems like a long time, but it can be worthwhile, especially  when your child says a new word/phrase for the first time.

Reading and Talking

When reading to your child, take time to talk about the pictures or label items/objects on the page.  This can help children to learn new vocabulary words, and can provide them with an opportunity to try labeling new items that they maybe haven’t labeled in the past.  For older children, asking questions about the story or asking them to describe pictures can help to build their language and comprehension skills.

For more ideas on how to elicit, correct, or build your child’s language skills email andrea@blueheronspeech.com or call 250-618-9135.  Happy talking!

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