Some little children seem to know what they want to say, but it is really hard for them to get their mouths to cooperate! They say few words, and the ones they say are pretty difficult to understand. This may be due to a difficulty coordinating the movements for speech. See if these suggestions help:
- Pick a few words and short phrases to model during an activity.
- Say them as often as you can.
- Say them slowly. Occasionally say them very slowly.
- If your child makes a sound, repeat it. If they say a word, repeat it correctly.
- If they say a few words, do activities that encourage them to say those words. If they say “Mom” and “Dad,” look at photos of “Mom” and “Dad” together. If they say “eyes,” look at lots of creatures together, pointing to their eyes.
- Reduce pressure to talk. One way to do this is to ask fewer questions.
- Start sentences for your child to complete: “Oh look! It’s a _____” is easier and more encouraging than “What’s that?” for many children. If you don’t get an answer you can finish the sentence yourself and keep playing.
- Pause frequently, so that your child can choose whether or not to take a turn.
- Watch them closely and interpret their gestures and sounds. Model what they seem to be saying, without asking them to say it.
- Sing songs, do nursery rhymes and read simple books – the same ones as often as possible, and as slowly as possible. Slowing down reduces pressure and makes it easier to coordinate the movements for speech.
Remember that children need some down time to relax and consolidate their learning. If they are not having fun, it’s time to stop!