How can I support my child’s communication?

The most natural and enjoyable way for children to learn language is through face-to-face interaction and play. Here are some practical strategies that you can use in everyday situations to help to develop your child’s communication skills.


  1.   Let your child lead the interaction

○        Get face to face with your child to encourage him/her to take the lead. Sometimes this may involve laying on the floor or bending down to their level!

○        Observe: Observe your child’s body language, what he/she might be interested in at the moment.

○        Wait: Look at your child expectantly to tell him/her that you are ready to listen to what he/she has to say.

○        Listen: Pay attention to all of what your child is trying to say. This lets your child know that what he/she is saying is important to you.

Tip: Asking your child to say words for you might is generally not a motivating way to encourage him/her learn talk. When children feel pressured, they are less likely to engage. Communication develops when a child has something to say and knows that someone will listen.


  1. Creating opportunities for your child to lead

o   Helping your child to make a request: e.g. place a favourite toy in view but out of reach or offer a little bit of a snack/drink and then waiting for your child to ask for more.

○        Picking an activity that your child might need help with: e.g. a wind-up toy, bubbles, opening a screw-top lid.

○        Offering a choice: e.g “Would you like a snack or a toy?”

○        Pausing a familiar activity/routine: e.g. after a few rounds of peek-a-boo, pause after “peek-a-” to create an opportunity for your child to continue.

○        Changing a familiar activity/routine: e.g put your child’s hat on their tummy or socks on their hand.

○        When things go wrong, wait. e.g. when milk gets spilled or cutlery falls on the floor, wait for a few seconds for your child to react before fixing these problems. 

  1.         Following your child’s lead

o   Respond immediately with interest.

o   Join in and play with whatever he/she is playing with.

o   Imitate your child’s actions, facial expressions, sounds, and words.

o   Interpret your child’s message – using words to describe what you think your child is trying to tell you with his/her actions and words.

o   Using simple, clear language, comment on what your child is saying or doing at the moment.