Why should I slow down?
Babies are surrounded by so much language. They are learning to listen to that language and process it so they can do the same thing when they get older. However, the pathways in their brain are new. They can’t process speech and language as quickly as we can.
Life is busy, parents are busy and children lead busier lives. When the pace of life slows, children can take in more around them. They can learn more from every experience. This includes slowing down the rate at which you speak to your child. Processing language is quite a complex task. Children have to:
- listen to the sounds
- work out what words are being said
- match the words they hear to their understanding of the words
- work out what thy want to say in reply
- organise their muscles to say words
- concentrate and focus on the other person’s face while they do this
When you slow down you give your child the opportunity to do this correctly. The more chance they get to do this successfully, the faster and easier it gets for them.
Speech Pathology strategies to use at home
Slow down your rate of speech
When you slow down what you say, and wait before you talk again, you allow your little one’s brain to process better. You can talk quiet slowly to babies and toddlers. You talk faster to preschool aged children but be aware of the rate of your speech. Always be conscious of how quickly you are talking. When you match your speed of talking to there level of processing then their brains are taking more information. Look for signs in your child that you are talking at the right sped. They will stay more engaged with you and look at you for longer when they understand what your are talking about.
Emphasise your sounds
In order for children to talk they have to quickly and efficiently process what sounds are in all the language ethyl char around them. When children talk they choose their words from their internal vocabulary. The ability to think of words and use them is based on knowing what sounds are in the words and being able to day them.
Speak very clearly to your child. Don’t mumble! Use what we called the ‘TV voice’ which is the way that you see and hear reporters speak on TV. They articulate each sound with more emphasis. This allows babies and children who are learning to talk to process sound better. In turn, they can speak more clearly and use more vocabulary.
Don’t bombard your little one’s brain with too much talking. Say what you need to say. Say it a bit slower and emphasis your sounds – then wait! Wait for at least 3-5 seconds. You can wait for longer. This gives your child the child to fully process what you said. If you say something or give an instruction, then you quickly repeat it or ask a question, all you are doing is overloading your child’s brain. Even worse, when you overload your child’s brain you can each it to switch off from what you say. This is because the brain learns that what you say is too hard to process.
When you wait, you allow your child to process what you said and then their little brains are ready for the next piece of information. Little kids don’t process language as quickly as adults do.
Repeat what you said
Babies, toddlers and children with language delays really benefit from hearing what you said more than once. Repeating what you said a couple of times helps them remember, organise and access the words you used. Say something to your child, wait, and then repeat it! After that, you can move on to the next thing you want to say. You don’t have to repeat everything you said, just the most important ones. Repeating things also helps when children are tired and cranky and they probably aren’t listening well in the first place.
Whe in doubt always wait a bit. When your child doesn’t follow your instruction or answer your question, always wait. When they are trying to tell you something or are having trouble working out what to say then wait. This gives your child brain the chance to work it out for themselves. They learn to use and improve the pathways in the communication parts of their brain. Yes, it takes time and patience but these pathways get faster and more efficient when you do this. Obviously we don’t wait too long. Just don’t jump in and repeat too quickly or answer for them without allowing some time for them to try themselves.
Use shorter sentences
There is a golden rule when you are talking to little kids. It is called the ‘One Up Rule’. This means that you talk to your child using one more word than they use:
- if your baby is too young to talk, speak to them in single words most of the time
- when your child is talking in single words, you talk to them using 2 word phrases
- if your can put 2-3 words together when they talk then you talk in 4 words
Once your child is using 5-6 word sentences you can usually talk to them in a conversational manner using adult like sentences.
Model language rather than ask questions
Questions are quite complex for children to understand. As a learning strategy, they aren’t effective for young children. Modelling language and saying what you want them to say is far more effective. You can learn more about modelling in one of our earlier blogs.
When do I use these strategies?
Start using these startegies with your child when they are a baby. Don’t wait until they start talking. Use then from birth.
Use this strategy consistently.It is something that can make a difference when you use it all the time.
These Speech Pathology strategies do not come naturally to every parent. That’s ok! Keep practising and it will feel more natural.
What should I do if my child still doesn’t talk more?
Speak to a Speech Pathologist. OneOnOne Children’s Therapy is a Speech Pathology clinic in Bondi Junction. Our Speech Pathologists can talk to you about your child. They can advise you about a Speech Pathology assessment and the best thing to do for your child’s talking. We can be contacted on (02) 8065783 or email us.