The Little Ways You Can Support Your Child with Speech Problems
A baby’s first words are music to a parent’s ears. Mothers and fathers compete with each other to get their baby to speak their first word. Both hoping their baby to mouth “mama” or “dada,” which is a delight of either parent. It’s nearly impossible to discern when a baby’s babbling and coos turn into a fully formed word. But hearing your baby’s first words will forever leave an imprint on your heart.
It’s exciting and nerve-wracking to wait when your little one speaks their first words, but when the child learns to talk can depend on their own time and pace. Most children begin speaking a few words by the end of 12 months. Speech development varies considerably between children, even within the same family. However, children tend to follow a natural progression for speech and language development. There are milestones that help speech and language pathologists identify when a child might need extra help.
A typical one or 2-year-old can speak between 3 to 50 words, and their vocabulary increases rapidly as they grow older. Your child’s brain is like a sponge during their birth and is developing at a rapid pace through the second year of life. But, if your young one hasn’t met those milestones, this may be a sign of speech delay or difficulties. Now, this does not always mean that there is something wrong with your child. Developmental milestones are just guidelines. It’s important that you speak with a speech and language pathologist before you diagnose your child. Speech and language pathologists are experts in this aspect, and they know how to assess the problem.
As much as possible, you would want to build positive communication experiences for your child; may the child be a shy one or have articulation problems. There are plenty of things you can do to help and successfully converse with your child with speech difficulties.
You might think that the best way to help your child with a speech problem is to try and finish their words, sentences, or thoughts for them. However, doing this is not only rude as someone interrupting you, but it gives them the impression that they are incapable of speaking on their own. You might think that you’re only helping, but this can actually discourage a child from even trying to talk. This often results in a child becoming shy or selectively mute. So, instead of interrupting them, give your child the opportunity to finish their words without putting any pressure. Show them that you’re listening to every word that comes out of their mouth.
Read Books Together
You’ll find that reading books together is a great way to bond with your child. However, this is also an excellent method to support your child’s speech development. Children with speech difficulties may have a hard time saying words clearly and sharing their thoughts with words. Reading together hits two birds with one stone. Reading to your child every day strengthens their speech and language skills. Books like Jo Ann Gramlich’s Talk, Play, and Read with Me Mommy is the perfect book to read together as this aims to help in the area you’re helping your child with. This book contains amazing interactive activities to enhance your young one’s speech skills. Moreover, reading not only helps your child, but you’re also giving them the best gift that will last a lifetime— the love of books.
Encourage Through Show and Tell
A child can have a hard time understanding a simple word and what it means. Children may also have a hard time pronouncing words which can be hard for you to understand. Hence, if you’re struggling to understand a critical word, ask them to show and tell you. For example, your child calls a bunny a bun bun. Ask them if they can show it to you. This way, they can attempt to communicate well with you, and you will be equipped to understand them the next time.
If your child tends to echo or repeat what you say, that’s how they’re learning. You can use this to your advantage. The use of repetition is a subtle way to correct your child’s pronunciation without giving the impression that you are criticizing or interrupting them. By repeating what your child has said, you produce a good language model and show them that you have listened to what they have said. The second way to use this is to encourage your child to fill the gaps of understanding. This shows that you are trying to understand what the child is saying. This also gives them a chance to repeat their message more clearly.
Lastly, these simple acts are only measures for your child’s difficulties that supplement the treatments of a speech and language pathologist. Bear in mind that parents are the critical factor to their child’s development. Hence, don’t give up, have patience, and continue supporting your child throughout.