Encouraging your child to communicate

For beginning communicators (such as young children, people with developmental delays, or people with social delays) knowing how to appropriately communicate can be very difficult. Some young children find it much easier to cry or tantrum when they want something, than to communicate in a more appropriate way.

“Communication Temptations” are efforts to tempt a child to communicate. I use the term “communicate” here because these methods work for verbal words, signs, or alternate communication methods (such as communication boards or bracelets). These situations encourage children to want to communicate with you because they need your help.

One way that I do this within the school setting is by almost performing a task. I might say “1….2….3….” and then I pause and wait. If needed, I will slowly start to prompt the child to say “go” by saying the whole word, saying the first sound, whispering the word, or signing the word. Then I phase my prompts out. I use this technique with blowing bubbles, pushing a child on the swing, opening the door, pouring a drink, etc.

At home and at school I find myself constantly repeating, “Use your words.” A grunt or cry is not acceptable for a child that can use words. A single word is not acceptable for a child that can use sentences. I have high language expectations and am constantly nudging my students up to the next level.

Even my older age students must politely request a drink of water using a complete sentence “Can I have a drink of water please?” And then sometimes I’ll throw them for a loop and say “Why?” I use the child’s desires to increase their language skills starting from a very early age and continuing until…. well, I don’t know since I haven’t gotten there yet!

Heidi wrote a great post about 8 Ways To Get Your Child to Speak. I highly encourage that any parent of young children, or parent of children with language delays, read her suggestions.

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  1. I say use your words all the time! Good to know I am doing what the experts do 🙂

    I just find the grunting and pointing really frustrating, especially when my 3 year old then gets angry that I don’t guess the right thing!

  2. So…what do you do when you say “use your words!” and your dear little stinker replies “words”.?

  3. We only just figured this out this past fall when we put our 5 yo daughter into pre-k. B4 that we could NOT figure out why she threw such terrible tantrums. But the teacher helps her to ‘use your words’ and we also don’t allow her to just whine a word as an answer anymore. This has taken time since we had to start by training her what to say first. For example, if she was obviously sad since someone took a toy, she would just whine and cry about it. After a few times of us saying “Are you feeling sad because someone took your toy?” she has started to volunteer this information with words instead of crying. It’s been like a whole new child has appeared in our house! I am so glad that someone helped us figure this out. Your posts are very informative also!

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