Suppose your child wants to communicate something with you, but he cannot find the words or you cannot understand him. This is not only frustrating for you as a parent, but especially for your child. Jente Timmer is a language advisor and speech therapist with a Hanen® specialization and gives advice.
Timmer helps parents communicate better with their child if they have difficulty speaking. She does this in a pleasant, relaxed way in which the parents follow the lead of the child. She shares some important tips.
Ways to help your child if he has language difficulties
Jente Timmer gives the following advice to help your children communicate and talk.
1. Giving words
“If your child does not use any or too few words for his age, you as a parent give him the words he needs. It depends on the moment how you can do this. An example: your child holds up a car with a broken door. He makes eye contact with you and looks shocked. Then that’s all the way he’s trying to say something to you as a parent. As a parent you can speak for your child, so say what he would say if he could: “Oh, the car is broken” or “Oh no, the door.” The door is gone!’
2. At eye level
To be able to see and hear clearly what your child wants to communicate, it is important to look closely at your child. One tip is to sit at eye level. Children get the idea that you are a like-minded person, which also reduces the pressure. At eye level you can see what your child is looking at or how he is experiencing something, because you see the world from his perspective. They also like to see your face: they see better how you pronounce a word or understand words faster, because they see your happy or angry expression.
Imagine your child asks you his way to open a box of raisins. You can see on his face that it doesn’t work and he grabs your hand, for example. It is then good to use repetition by saying the word ‘help’ several times in this case: ‘I have to help! The box must be opened. I’ll help you with the box.’
Also by using visual support, words in your response stand out more and children know better which word they can say next time. You can reinforce your words through expression, pointing, holding up objects, or gesturing to the words.
4. Read aloud
Reading aloud is often a nice moment, because you can sit together and chat about the pictures. It does not matter whether the book is read from A to Z. You can also follow your child’s lead when viewing books. So if he wants to dwell on a certain picture for a long time, then you talk about it. Any words you say then will stick faster than if you try to finish the story at all costs, while your child has no interest in it.
Try not to lose the fun in talking and playing together. The basis of the development lies in the nice feeling he gets from the contact with his parents. If children get an unpleasant feeling during conversations, they are more likely to avoid contact. Remember that children develop at their own pace and that if they do not yet do or cannot do something, they do not do it on purpose or out of laziness. They need your trust and support.”
Jente Timmer guides families with the Hanen Parent Program. This is a method that gives parents tools to stimulate language development in a natural way and with pleasure. Hanen is reimbursed and has been proven effective.
“Talking to a baby who doesn’t say anything back? I found that more difficult than I thought’
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