Top tips for helping children’s language development

  • Don’t feel you need to ‘teach’ your child to talk
  • Take all pressure off your child to ‘talk’ e.g. don’t ask them to say ‘thank you’, ‘hello’, and ‘goodbye’ etc.
  • Accept whatever they try to say as correct – if your baby says ‘ti’ and points to a ‘cat’ – then praise them by nodding and saying ‘yes…’, if they just point respond by giving them the word they are looking for ‘it’s a cat’
  • Try not to make their talking a focus. Watch what they are doing in play and what they are showing you with their body language. (Facial expressions as well as hand gestures).
  • Listen to what they are trying to say, don’t worry if their production is not 100% correct.
  • If their speech is unclear – praise their attempt with a nod and then repeat what you know they are trying to say extending the hard sound e.g. ‘look mummy a tar’. ‘yes – it’s a c…ar’
  • When you speak – keep your sentences to short key phrases and allow pauses between each phrase. Your child will be able to keep up and hear when one word finishes and another starts.
  • Keep the melody in your speech natural.

Listening time

During a specific play/special time with your child – spend 5 minutes trying out these strategies:

  • Don’t worry if your child is completely silent for the whole 5 minutes.
  • Let them chose the activity e.g. banging spoons and saucepans, playing in old boxes, or playing with toys e.g. duplo, playmobile, etc
  • Sit in a ‘communicative’ way – i.e. on the floor with them, opposite, at the same height and nice and close. When they look up they will know you are waiting and listening. Wait and watch what they are doing, don’t interfere.
  • Watch and wait for them to look at you.
  • When you feel your eyes meet - (they are ready to listen) - give them a word/name for the object in their hand, or the action they are doing.
  • If they say a word but it is unclear – nod approval for them having had a try, then say the word clearly e.g. child : ‘yu’, Parent : ‘yes it’s a cup’
  • If they say a word and it is clear, repeat the word and add on another e.g. child: ‘cup’, adult ‘yes….. teddy’s cup’
  • If they say 2 words that are clear add on another e.g. child ‘teddy’s cup’, adult: ‘Yes…….teddy’s blue cup’
  • If they say 3 words add on another word e.g. ‘teddy’s big blue cup’………….etc
  • When they look away, then STOP TALKING