Parenting Tips to Improve Child Communication Skills
As a parent, you want your child to reach their potential. Communication with your child is crucial, and it’s an integral part of life that you want your child to excel in. But sometimes that can be challenging.
If your child has an expressive language delay, they will be behind in their language development and may have difficulty expressing themselves. So to help your child communicate better, here are parenting tips to improve child communication skills.
SIGNS OF AN EXPRESSIVE LANGUAGE DELAY DISORDER
Common symptoms of an expressive language delay disorder include:
- Language skills are behind other children of the same age by at least one year
- Inability to reach typical milestones for language development
- Inability to follow simple instructions
- Speech that is slow or difficult to understand after the age of 3
- Ability to understand language better than they are able to communicate
HOW IS IT DIAGNOSED AND TREATED?
Your child’s doctor will evaluate your child and look for signs of hearing loss. They may conduct a hearing screening, or refer you to an audiologist.
After hearing loss is ruled out, your child will then be assessed by a speech-language pathologist. During this assessment, they may use both verbal and non-verbal tests, along with observations and parent interviews.
There are usually two types of treatment that work together—working with the speech-language pathologist and having the child’s family use spoken language in play and everyday activities.
HOW TO IMPROVE A CHILD’S COMMUNICATION AND LANGUAGE SKILLS
Child education starts at home. So to help your child develop their language skills, follow these tips.
Talk With and Listen To Your Child
Make a point to talk with and listen to your child throughout the day, such as after work, at dinner, during bath time, and before bed.
Initiate conversations by saying what you’re thinking instead of always asking questions. It’s easier for your child to respond if you make comments more than you ask questions.
Pay attention to what your child is saying and let them finish talking before you respond. Also, repeat what you hear them say to ensure that you understand them correctly.
Don’t overcorrect your child.
Learn about your child’s interests so you can show interest in them. And always talk in a soft voice. If you seem angry or defensive, your child might block out what you’re saying.
Ask Them Questions
Ask your child open-ended questions to help encourage creative thinking and problem-solving, such as: “What could we do?”
Give your child enough time to think about and answer questions—about 10 seconds. This will give them time to process what they want to say.
Teach Non-Verbal Communication to Your Child
Whenever someone is showing signs of non-verbal communication to your child, such as a sibling or a friend from daycare, use these as teaching moments for your child.
For example, if your child is playing too rough with another child and the other child pulls away and hides their face, describe to your child why they are doing this—e.g., “Do you see how Anna is covering her face with her hands? She doesn’t like it when you throw the ball too hard.”
Understanding non-verbal communication is an essential social skill for getting along with others.
Help Your Child Expand Their Vocabulary
Teach your child news words to help expand their vocabulary by making connections between words and objects, actions, or feelings. A feelings vocabulary is especially important because it helps your child communicate how they are feeling.
If your child is sad because they have to say goodbye to someone, you can say, “You are sad because they are going away.”
Reading together is another great way to improve your child’s vocabulary and literacy skills. As you read, point to the pictures and describe them. You can also ask your child questions about the characters to encourage them to talk about the book.
Be sure to check word comprehension and talk about the sounds and meaning of words too.
Narrate Your Actions
Talk about everyday things and narrate your actions as you go about your day. Talk about what you are doing while caring for your child, and describe what you and your child are doing during play. This will help your child connect words with actions and objects.
Encourage Pretend Play
Children tend to express themselves freely during pretend play. For example, it might be easier for your child to communicate their fear of the dark by talking about how their favourite teddy bear is afraid of the dark.
Pretend play also lets children act out different roles, thinking and speaking the way other people do, which in turn develops language skills and even social skills like empathy.
Repetition Is Key
Remember that children need to hear words and sounds at least 100 times before they will start trying to say the word. So don’t hold back on repeating words. And consider singing songs and reading books that repeat words multiple times.
Be a Good Role Model
Your child observes how you speak. So be a good role model by talking to people with respect and kindness.
Also, to help build your child’s speech and language skills, talk slightly above your child’s level. This will model the speech skills that your child will build up to.
You can improve your communication with your child by showing them that you value their thoughts and feelings, which in turn will help them express themselves.
Much of child development starts with learning at home. So try these tips to help improve your child’s communication skills and make them more able and confident to express how they feel.