5 Tips to Encourage Language from Speech Delayed Children

These five tips from Mighty Mommy can help get your child talking.

Cheryl Butler
6-minute read
Episode #354

Tip #3: Expand on Playtime

One of the best tips I learned from the first Speech Language Pathologist that worked with my son was to use playtime to expand on language opportunities. My son loved playing with cars and trucks. In fact, he said the word car before he said mama! Her advice was to get down on the floor and label everything that was happening during his playtime with the cars. “You have three blue cars,” “Your truck is red,” “Your car is going to the store,” “We can buy milk at the store,” and so on. We did this over and over and over again for weeks on end, and then he suddenly started repeating the words and eventually using them on his own when he played. The reason this was successful was because it was something that interested him—playing with his toys. We took full advantage of building on his language by following his lead and engaging in labeling, describing, being enthusiastic, and basically being consistent by talking to him about whatever he was doing so that he was being bombarded with language. While we’re on the topic of toys, make sure you have basic toys that allow for many open-ended play opportunities, such as colorful wooden blocks, simple baby dolls, pretend kitchen and food set ups, puzzles, and other toys that allow kids to use their imaginations and engage in pretend play.

Reading to your child as often as possible is another great way to elicit language from him.

Tip #4: Read to Your Child Often

Reading to your child as often as possible is another great way to elicit language from him. Simply describe the pictures in a book without following the written words. Choose books that have large colorful pictures that are not too detailed. Ask your child, “What’s this?” and encourage naming and pointing to familiar objects in the book. You can also introduce animal sounds to associate a sound with a specific meaning: “The cow says moo.” See Also:  7 Ways to Keep Your Child's Brain Sharp 

Tip #5: Wait for It

In today’s fast-paced world, it’s difficult for kids and parents alike to wait it out for anything. We have knowledge and answers literally at our fingertips, however, for a child who is struggling to learn language, we need to be patient and give her a chance to come up with the response herself. So make sure you take time to wait for your child 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. Set up “communication temptations” for your child who does not typically use words to make requests. Put a desired object in a container that cannot be opened by the child. Hand the container to the child and when he/she cries, encourage him/her to use the word “open” to retrieve the object. As frustrating as it is to do this (I can’t tell you how many crying meltdowns we went through with our speech delayed kids, it’s exhausting, but well worth it when they start to use words), waiting it out will force language opportunities for your child. And when she does utter the right word or make an attempt to be verbal, don’t forget to praise the heck out of her! When you have a speech-delayed child you also take on the role of a cheerleader, equally as important as eliciting language.

If you feel your child might have a significant delay like mine did, don't delay in seeking an evaluation. Consult with your pediatrician for a recommendation.  See Also:  What If You Suspect a Developmental Delay?

What do you do in your home to help foster language in your late talker?  Share your thoughts in the comments section at quickanddirtytips.com/mighty-mommy, post your ideas on the Mighty Mommy Facebook page. or email me at mommy@quickanddirtytips.com. Visit my family-friendly boards at Pinterest.com/MightyMommyQDT.

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About the Author

Cheryl Butler

Cheryl L. Butler is the mother of eight children. Her experiences with infertility, adoption, seven pregnancies, and raising children with developmental delays have helped her become a resource on the joys and challenges of parenting. Call the Mighty Mommy listener line at 401-284-7575 to ask a parenting question. Your call could be featured on the show!