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Parents Are Key

Parents play a very important part in helping kiddos who have a speech or language problem. There are a few ways that parents can encourage speech development at home. One is to focus on communication. Talk with your kiddo, sing, and encourage imitation of sounds and gestures. Read to your child. Start reading when your child is a baby. Age-appropriate books with pictures encourage kids to look while you name the pictures. This is also great bonding time that works well if turned into a daily routine.

Communicate Often

Use everyday situations to build on your child’s speech and language skills. Talk your way through the day. For example, name foods at the grocery store, explain what you’re doing as you cook a meal or clean a room. Point, name and talk about objects around the house. Keep your communications simple, but avoid “baby talk.”

Use “wait time”

When talking and interacting with your kiddo, pause and wait at least 5 to 10 seconds to give them a chance to make a sound or say a word. They sometimes need time to process language, so this gives them an opportunity to process and understand what you’re saying, and then decide whether they’re going to respond. Additionally, try to avoid predicting what your child is going to say or anticipating their needs. Wait until they have a chance to fulfill them and have a chance to express themselves.

Give Your Toddler Choices

By giving options, your toddler is provided with a model of what you want them to express, making it easier for them to say the words themselves. For example, ask your child “do you want juice or milk?” Using visuals when offering choices to your child sometimes helps them to understand the question better.

Use Gestures and Sign Language

If your child isn’t yet verbally expressing themselves, you can try to use some early sign language to help eliminate the frustration factor. Gesturing with your child teaches them how to communicate even when they’re not quite ready to use words yet. 

Engage In Imaginative Play

There’s no right or wrong way to play as long as you’re interacting, just have fun. Playtime is a great opportunity for modeling and exposure to language. Try engaging in activities that require taking turns-aking. Maybe try imitating actions or games of peek-a-boo. Language and communication are more successful when we take turns, so teaching and exposing our kids to this concept is very important.

Limit Screen Time

Use screen time wisely and sparingly. Sure, there are great educational programs for vocabulary development, but they sometimes significantly lack the social aspect of communication. Use programs sparingly to supplement in-person and real language exposure, but nothing can replace real one-on-one time between you and your kiddo.

Early Detection

Recognizing and treating speech and language delays early on is the best approach. Time with an experienced and qualified speech and language pathologist is the best resource for any child struggling to produce clear and fluent speech. Don’t wait to get started with speech therapy, the sooner your child gets started, the better the potential outcome. Call or contact Square Peg today if you have any concerns about your child’s speech or language development.