If you suspect your child is dealing with a speech delay or disorder, there are plenty of things you can do support them. From speaking to your child often to seeking the help of a speech pathologist, you’ve got an array of options at your disposal.
Read With Your Child
Many families use bedtime stories as a way to connect with their kids and nurture their development. Help your child pick a book that interests them and read it aloud as they drift off to sleep. If they’re learning to read in school, encourage your child to participate and read some passages. While practice may not make their speech perfect right away, reading together will soon become a cherished part of their routine.
If your child gets anxious when asked to speak aloud, add an element of fun by singing their favorite songs with them. They’ll get to exercise their voice in a therapeutic way without the pressure of needing to speak properly. And if you know anything about kids, they love to listen to the same songs over and over again—they’ll soon have those words down pat!
Don’t like your singing voice? Don’t sweat it. Singing karaoke in the car is more about the time you spend with your child than the perfection of your vocal stylings. Plus, your confidence will transfer to them!
Learn Sign Language Together
Does your child consistently struggle to speak clearly? Give them an alternate method of communication. Take a sign language class together and learn some basic signs—“food,” “water,” “bathroom”—so if your kid has a need they can’t verbalize yet, they can still communicate it. Additionally, spending that extra time together shows your young one how much you care about listening to them.
Enlist Professional Help
If your child has a noticeable speech-sound disorder, such as a lisp, or does not speak at all, have a professional speech-language pathologist evaluate them. Your kid may benefit from a speech therapy course, complete with homework exercises and plenty of practice with difficult sounds. When you interview potential speech therapists, ask plenty of questions so you know what to expect from therapy.
Speak to Your Child Often
Kids with speech disorders often feel disconnected from the world around them. They find that when adults can’t understand them, those grown-ups simply stop trying to communicate with them. Don’t fall into that trap; talk to your child every day, using age-appropriate language and complete sentences. Avoid using baby talk with your child as they grow; when kids are accustomed to hearing complete sentences, they’ll be more apt to compose their own.
If you have a child with a speech disorder, don’t feel discouraged. Connect with them and use these ways to support them through their development!