Slow Down. My first tip may seem obvious, but slow down. I mean this in a few ways. First of all, life can get busy and we can sometimes sit down at the end of the day and hardly remember what we did because it was all done at lightning speed. Make sure to try to slow down when you can and really talk to your little one during those routines that you often don’t even think about. Children learn language in everyday moments. Everyday routines. Diaper changes, bath time, meal time…these are all so routine yet some of the best times to slow down and talk to your child. These are the moments he is learning the most. Also, slow down your own speech. This is especially important if your toddler is struggling with speech and language development. I have met many a parents who bring their child into me for an assessment and they are speaking to me at such a fast rate that I have a hard time keeping up. Though some of this is due to being concerned for their child and nervous about the evaluation, more often than not they admit to me that they often speak very quickly. In this fast paced world full of cell phones, computers, “on demand” TV and such, we are all moving so fast and talking so fast some little ones have a hard time keeping up. So…slow down your pace in life and your speech.
Look at Your Child (And Get Down at His Level). This may seem obvious but when you really slow down (remember how I mentioned that one already?) and take a look at the way you communicate to your little one, you may be surprised how often you throw out language to your child while they are turned away from you or while you are turned away from him. If you want your child to learn language and be a better communicator, you need to take time to slow down, look at your child when you speak, and when possible, get down at his level. This helps your child focus on you and your message. This helps phase out the distractions around him like toys, noise, and other children.
Wait. Fellow SLP Kim over at Little Stories has a fantastic series on the importance of waiting. In today’s world, it seems we expect everything in a millisecond. We carry smart phones that can do a Google search and give us what we want almost immediately. But our kids don’t learn language this way. They need us to help them, and they need us to wait. In terms of your little one’s communication skills, make sure you take time to wait for your little one to respond to you. When you ask a question of him, wait. When you ask him to do something, wait. Sometimes, we don’t realize it but we are not allowing our children to take part in important learning experiences because we are too busy responding and doing for them, rather than waiting to see if they can do/see/say it without us. Read Kim’s post at Little Stories to read more about the importance of waiting.
3 Things You Can Do To Help Your Child’s Speech Development