Helping your child to talk


When a child talks, she is actually combining a lot of faculties, mainly those of listening, understanding, wanting to communicate, and good muscle coordination.

Following are a few tips for helping your child learn to talk:

  • Bend down to the child’s eye level. Get your child’s attention before you give a command.
  • Create opportunities for the child to communicate. For example, put food items out of his reach but within sight and wait for him to ask. Increased interaction and communication helps the child pick up language better and faster.
  • Talk to your child in short sentences. Talk throughout the day regarding what you/your child is doing. The child should look at the activity. Begin with names of objects/persons and action words.
  • Sing nursery rhymes or read storybooks aloud to your child. The more he listens to them, the more he is likely to join in the activity by singing or repeating words. Reading and talking go hand in hand. So develop the child’s reading skills simultaneously.
  • Avoid asking questions. Children learn by imitation and not by answering questions.
  • Don’t make a habit of correcting your child’s speech errors. It is more helpful to repeat what the child has said with the error corrected. For example, if the child says, “her gived me an apple”, you can respond, “How nice! She gave you an apple!” that way you can provide some useful information about forming sentences without making the child self-conscious.
  • Your child may hesitate or be unclear as she attempts to talk. Be patient with your child.
  • Give a lot of praise. Find out what reward works with your child. For example, food item or tokens. Over time, work towards using social rewards like ‘well done’, ‘good job’, or clapping.
  • When your baby is 3-4 months of age, start looking at picture books or magazines together. Name each picture you look at and when your child starts to repeat the names, make a scrapbook of magazine picture he recognizes. By the time your child is 8 to 9 months of age, set aside a short period every day for reading aloud.
  • If the child is exposed to two languages, it may so happen that his progress in one of them is faster or that he may mix the two up as he speaks. That is normal, and over time, most children catch up with their language difficulties.
  • Every child will have her own rate of picking up words and starting to talk. Accepting this and working with your child will patience will go a long way in helping your child learn to talk.