Kids are to be heard, seen and felt. But not all kids are able to express themselves early enough, even when they have a reasonably good grasp of the language. Some late talkers struggle with cognitive and social development when they fail to express their feelings as they would like.
That is why as a parent, you should help your kid to develop an expressive vocabulary.
Helping a late talker can be a stressful experience not only for parents but also for speech pathologists. With these five tips, however, you can manage to help your late talker toddler to start talking.
1. Control the usage of telecommunication devices
Studies show that kids who spend too much time using handheld devices such as phones and tablets are more likely to struggle with speech delays as compared to the kids who spend time playing with toys, with other kids. On the other hand, too much exposure to TV and the internet can damage a kid’s language development and reduce their emotional attachment to human beings and animals. Such kids don’t care too much about their parents or peers, even as much as the parents try to teach them otherwise.
They will know shapes, colors, and other educational and non-educational material they watch on TV, but they will struggle to utter simple words such as “hello” or “excuse me”. The remedy to this problem is to limit the kid’s exposure of telecommunication devices and encouraging more active forms of entertainment. When they play outside with their peers, their physical abilities, mental health and communicative abilities will improve.
2. Be a self-talker
This means talking about everything that you do; describing everything in simple to understand words and short sentences. If you want to pick something from the floor, say it in words. Let the kid know what you want, how you feel about everything in your surroundings, as well as the smells and tastes you come across. Keep your utterances short but complete.
Note the length of your kid’s sentences and try to shorten your sentences to match that length but ensure that your message is conveyed in full. For example, the kid could be using one-word sentences only, e.g. “food”, “ball”, “come”, etc. You will help him grow his vocabulary by extending the single words to two-word phrases, e.g. “throw the ball”, “come here”, etc. Once he starts to put a few two-word phrases together, you can advance to three or four words. You will need to repeat the phrases multiple times before the kid gets them; most kids learn through repetition.
3. Find professional help
Try speech therapy for children if the kid is struggling too much to stitch words together, and you are almost giving up. Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) are trained to remedy human communication disorders and to aid late talkers in developing language. They also have the necessary skills to assess oral and feeding development and disorders in kids. Visit such a professional so that they can identify the exact speech challenge that’s plaguing your kid’s development and find the best way to treat it. Note that speech therapy works best for kids below five years, although your kid can still benefit from it even if he/she is above five years.
4. Emphasize on words that occur throughout the day
Teaching your kid words that he/she will rarely use in their normal day will not help them much. Don’t waste too much of your time teaching the kid big vocabularies. Use the little time you have to teach him words such as “play”, “food”, “car”, “house”, “clean”, etc. Come up with words that can be used several times within a day and within your household.
5. Expand the child’s speech
Work on the areas where the kid uses gestures to express what they want. If he points at a ball, say “ball”. If he shakes his head, say the word “no?”, and if he shows emotion, say the word that best describes that emotion. Any communication that the kid tries to send across, put a label on it.
This is a bonus tip: taking your kid to public places like the beach and the park will help him/her learn new vocabulary. Go with him to the grocery store, expose him to different real circumstances, and try to find the most appropriate responses for his communication attempts.
Nora Price is a pre-elementary school teacher and a writer, she has been teaching kids for seven years now. She also works with kids that have problem speaking and she helps people to speak with confidence in their public speeches. The reason why she decided to become a teacher is that she believes that knowledge is power and she gives her best to educate her pupils.