Talking, expressing oneself and understanding others are significant milestones and skills in a young child’s life. But not all infants learn at the same pace and some children talk much sooner or later than others. As parents, the key is for us to create various opportunities for our children to develop language and reach that milestone. Here are a few tips to help with your child’s language development:
- The most important thing to enhance the learning process is to have a distraction free environment when trying to teach the child. Making sure to remove all distractors such as television, music and so on is key to the learning process.
- Another important issue to address is that of the pacifier or dummy. During the day, letting the infant put dummy in his / her mouth for no particular reason can in fact contribute to language delays. It is recommended to associate the dummy to quiet sleep time during naps or nighttime. Try to avoid keeping the dummy, specifically when the child is trying to learn how to label things in the environment.
- Be patient and give the child some time to react. The calmer the environment and tonality the easier it is for the child to concentrate.
- Label things in the environment surrounding your child.
- Comment on what you are doing.
- Use simple language (one word only) and repeat it often.
- Focus on labeling simple one-word items in the environment of the child first (“milk”, “ball”, “car”) and avoid confusing the child with too many descriptive such as “red ball”… this will come at a later stage.
- Show your child the right way of pronouncing a word. For instance if the child is attempting to say milk but isn’t saying it in an intelligible way just yet, repeat the word a few times before giving your child the item.
You can also read: How positive language development impacts your toddler’s development
- Make it fun! Play, play and play some more when trying to teach a word. The higher the motivation for a specific item, the more the child will want to say it and ask for it.
- Always identify your child’s motivation before teaching. If the child is not motivated to play with cars, the likelihood of him / her saying the word car is much lower. Once you have identified the motivating factor, remove all other distractors and focus on that particular item. It can be an edible too! Don’t forget to label foods when you are feeding your child at a restaurant or at home.
- Encourage your child and reward all of the different attempts to produce sounds.
- If your child has started to babble one sound, go ahead and babble along while rewarding your child to show him / her that this is a great thing and that he / she should repeat it.
- The more the child is rewarded for his actions, the more likely he / she will reproduce it.
Some children may find talking harder than others and may need some extra help. If you are worried about your child’s language development, trust your instinct and seek help from a specialist in the field right away. First and foremost, rule out any medical explanations by contacting your pediatrician who will then direct you to a child psychologist or speech and language therapist that can assist you further. Remember than early interventions are key to making progress.
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