Strategies to help your late toddler to communicate by AB SMITH

Strategies to help your late toddler to communicate by AB SMITH

Here are 10 effective strategies that encourage communication in young ones (based upon the Hanen Program®):

  1. OWLing (observing, waiting and listening) for child to initiate. When we “tune in” to toddlers and let them start interactions, they communicate more.
  2. Reduce “on-demand speech” (e.g., “Say cup”) so a child can enjoy communication. Asking toddlers to say words takes the joy out of communication.
  3. Take turns to extend interactions. Turn-taking routines can be verbal (conversations) and non-verbal (playing catch, tickle games, patty-cake, etc.).
  4. Give choices (e.g., “Do you want juice or milk?”) while putting desired items next to the mouth may encourage children to communicate.
  5. Imitate and comment about child’s message. Imitate the child’s message and then add a comment. For example, imitate your child driving a car and then add language like, “Beep beep! Go car, go!”
  6. Pause routines and try not to anticipate needs. Stopping and waiting during familiar routines and turn-taking games can encourage a child to initiate communication.
  7. Change/adjust routines and “play the fool.” For example, only putting one shoe on a child before it’s time to go outside may prompt your child to communicate that he/she needs a shoe.
  8. Encourage attention to speech by using slow, exaggerated speech that matches a child’s language development. This means that adults use slow, simple sentences with correct grammar that capture a child’s attention.
  9. Interpret child’s message to help language development. If your toddler uses a gesture or words that are unintelligible, interpret the message with clear, slow speech. Example: Child: “Dow ooh.” Adult: “The cow says moo.”
  10. Expand the child’s message. When a child has started to use some words, we can expand their understanding of language by turning a child’s word or utterances into a clear sentence. We can also add language by talking about what is happening, what has happened or what will happen. When we expand upon the child’s messages, we add a variety of names, describing words, action words, feeling words, position words, social words, possession words, and question words) to help expand a child’s vocabulary. Example: Child: “ride bike.” Adult: “You ride a blue bike.”
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