Simplify Your Language to Help Your Child Understand

This is third in a series of how to help your child understand what you are saying to him/her. 

Talking Tips for Parents:

1. Use a slower speech rate.  Even a small change in your speech rate can improve your child’s understanding of language.

2.  Use shorter remarks.  Pretend you’re sending a telegram.  It includes only the most important content words.  Use phrases and sentences just beyond your child’s language level.  For example, a child who says single words should be given two-word phrases.  For a child who is using two words at a time, three-or four-word phrases would be apporopriate.  Some examples are: “Do you want juice?” becomes “Want juice?” “That big horse is over there” becomes “See the big horse.”
“Do you want the cookie or the cracker?” becomes “Want cookie? Want cracker?”  “First you’ll take your bath and then I will read you a story” becomes “Your bath is first.  Then your story.” 

3.  Use simple sentences.  Sentences that contain a bsic subject+verb+object or adjective are the easiest.  For example:  Tommy + drank + milk.  Dog + is + big.  He+ ran + home.  As your child’s language develops, include more information in your remarks, e.g. Tommy drank all the milk.  The dog is big and brown.  He ran quickly home for dinner. 

4.  Use repetition.  When you repeat words, phrases, and sentences, your child has a better chance to learn and understand.  Expand on your child’s utterances. 
     Child:  Doll 
     Parent:  Sue’s doll.
     Parent:  Your doll is pretty.
     Child:  I like your doll.
New vocabulary was added each time and different sentence structures were modeled, but the child’s message was kept and repeated.

5.  Exaggerate important words with your voice.  Your child will pay more attention to words that you stress when you talk.  Put more stress on words you want your child to hear and remember. For example: “Big dog.”  “Juice all gone.”  “You’re a good boy.”

6.  Use gestures when you speak.  Gestures help your child understand the meaning of your spoken message.  Include natural gestures, i.e. facial gestures (excited, happy, sad, upset, interested), hand gestures (Come here. Give to me. I want. You want. Stop. Go. etc.), body gestures (arms out to indicate a hug, folded arms to indicate anger).

If you have any questions about the above information, please comment and I will reply.